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Rinaldi last won the day on May 31 2022

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About Rinaldi

  • Birthday 12/12/1991

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    Official Warts n' All fan account


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    Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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  1. Surely you have firmer evidence, such as a contemporary ADREPS or TO&E? The former must surely be available as they were under Commonwealth doctrine. As it is, a handful of photos isn't going to sway anyone in the pre-order phase.
  2. Great job and quite the result both in the final mission and overall. Has been interesting to follow from a distance.
  3. Having a go at this in singleplayer since James and I had to end our PBEM due to mutual time constraints (both of us being teachers, being 7 hours apart and playing a regimental-sized scenario apparently did not occur to us to be an issue...). Some shots from the seizure and holding of Hill 203.1. Really itching to play since it's a slow period at work but my laptop is in for repairs. Praying that the replacement parts don't necessitate a reinstallation of Windows. I'll despair if I loss the save data.
  4. Sorry was letting the two sources talk over things before I came back here. As Greyfox already said, reproducible on 2.11. The screenshots I shared were on the same.
  5. Evening. Was asked to pass this along from a Discord community where some players don't have forum accounts, so I have not independently verified. Images of the apparent bug below with some context. 0005 Hours, condition: heavy snow. Artificial brightness is on, so don't be mislead by the image. Similar conditions as to the first picture. German infantry had been engaged by the partial contact, a lend-lease HT. Perhaps the most compelling proof. Test set up by a second player; thick smoke screen in front of infantry in and around treeline at night. Engaged with effect through the smoke. I do imagine this has been reported before, and if so, I hope it's helpful to show the bug is still extant.
  6. Thanks. Quite disappointed in myself I waited so long to play it.
  7. Have just caught up. Really glad this is still going on, and enjoying the aggressive use of the SPWs in supporting the dismounts. Those two destroyed Soviet infantry guns are in an...intriguing position. I think your opponent has been suffering from buck fever all game and moving a lot of assets forward prematurely to engage. More of the same perhaps with these new armoured contacts.
  8. Played through (a slightly edited) Getting Ugly. Likely would've been a bloodbath if the Germans hadn't done the old "immediate counterattack" schtick one times too many. Made a little vignette of the final attack. Read it here: Springboard: A Red Thunder Vignette AAR (rinaldiaars.blogspot.com) Some of my favourite shots from the blog: Consolidating behind Chernverka. Aftermath. Dying hard.
  9. Not dead, just busy. Sorry all. Had some trouble storyboarding this one too. Let's continue. ____ Rally Point Zulu, 1600 hours, July 16th. Southwest of Schlüchtern. CPT Sharp watched the vehicles enter the clearing in the woods. They came in at first in drips and drabs, waved in by MPs to camouflaged positions beneath the trees. He had already been at the rally point for about an hour, the result of hurried orders the night before to take his Company across the divisional boundary line. His triangular “SPEARHEAD” insignia made it obvious he was not where he normally should be, to be sure, but it was the presence of 11 squat, evil-looking tanks with their angular cheek plates that truly made his command stand out. For the tired GIs rolling in, it was the first sign that something was up. The next indication that the game was afoot was the image of the COL, their Brigade commander, standing on the engine deck of one of the tanks. Fists balled on his hips, he stood like a statute as his battalion coiled into the perimeter, eyes following one vehicle at a time. Sharp had initially thought the unit had been truly roughly handled, given how the initial men coming in had looked extremely disorganised and spread out. By 1630 however, entire platoons, and then companies, were rolling into the rally point. He made a quick count of the companies. The Alpha and Bravo callsigns looked to be down about a platoon of vehicles but clearly remained combat effective. Charlie and Delta looked a bit worse for wear, with several of the platoons down to only two vehicles each, one M113 coming in with an entire squad riding on top of it, Soviet style. Overall, 2-8 INF looked to have weathered the first 48 hours of fighting phenomenally well. A CPT of similar shape and build to himself was moving between the companies, hurriedly organising cross-munitions loading and refuelling, sharing a quiet word with the company leaders. Sharp was watching the man intently when he sensed, more than saw, the COL approach him. “There’s your man. CPT Booth. We’ll speak to him.” the COL spoke in practical monosyllables. His stern countenance and greying side-hair did nothing to mask the obvious fatigue and strain. “Where’s the LT COL, sir?” “There is none.” A tightening of the jaw. Clearly a sore subject. “Further, you are to take a platoon equivalent of your tanks and have them liaise with the C Company commander. They are to escort the unit to The Citadel.” Escort? The CPT was about to inquire but the COL, sensing the question, pre-empted him. “Soviets scattered company sized air assault units to hell and back all over the MSR. Once your detached tanks have reached the Citadel, they are to refuel, and begin running ROADRUNNERs of Brigade trains forward. Now, come with me…” What followed was the most “fragmentary” FRAGO Sharp had ever received. All semblance of good order and TOC-based SOP clearly thrown away by the expedients and urgency of the situation. The orders were entirely verbal, and CPT Booth received them almost without emotion, utterly passive. A few quiet questions from him, and in less than 3 minutes, the briefing was complete. It took another 5 minutes to organise a quick movement-to-contact, hashing out a map-based scheme with an overlay draped across the hood of a jeep. It was all so insanely hurried, that Sharp could feel a building pressure in his sinuses. It was insane, but it was nevertheless a scene being repeated all over the FRG, from the Baltic coast to the Alps. Their orders were simple: NLT 1700 hours, 2-8 INF (-) to move towards Schlüchtern and ascertain the goals and strength of the Soviet second echelon. If possible, fix and destroy the lead elements, observe, report, retreat. Destroy key communications infrastructure. A raid, a classic counterpunch. Unsurprisingly, Sharp’s unit would form the main punching power of the ad-hoc force, right in the centre of the line. CPT Booth organised his unit into three rough company teams. 1LT Noonan would lead B Team essentially unchanged, but newly reinforced by two replacement M60A1s and crews. Their objective was to probe towards Elm, on the right flank, secure it and shoot up the lead elements of any force that approached it. CPT Sharp, with a platoon of infantry cross attached from A/2-8 INF would advance through the village of Drasenberg to secure the hamlet of Gromfritz. This would secure a massive central ridge that dominated Route 66. They were to form BPs and engage by fire any lead Soviet elements they encountered. CPT Guidry would lead A team; his own company less a platoon of tanks and infantry, and establish an ambush at an underpass, securing the TF's right flank. The scheme was, in all reality, a guessing game. Sharp also noticed with trepidation that it left a massive gap in a forest series of side roads that could squeeze an enemy unit between his team and Noonan’s. Booth was banking on the Soviets sticking to doctrine. It made him uneasy; he would absolutely try to squeeze part of his own unit through there. He knew, though, that Booth’s assumption of risk made absolute sense. The Soviets were fighting and thinking in SOPs and frontages, and nothing suggested that was going to change. The plan, of course, was set to parry what was the presumed Soviet objectives. Successfully parrying their attempt to regain momentum after Neuhof could create opportunities for further exploit. Delay, delay, delay the COL had stressed in his brief talk. The Soviets couldn’t afford it. Their mission was to create one. 1700 Hours, July 16th. Route 66, Forward Edge of the Battle Area, near Elm. They were shortly to be in sight of their objectives, free from the claustrophobic environs of the tree-lined roads they were marching up in extended columns. The first sign that the enemy was near were the sign of Hinds, flitting just above the canopies in the distance. Whatever they were looking for, they were not particularly vigilant. Though .50 cals and Vulcans tracked the targets, they passed on without incident. 2-8 INF fanned out as they exited from the treelines, the individual companies heading for their targets. Radio silence lifted, as planned, and Sharp ensured one of his radios was monitoring the Battalion net. He was immediately greeted by a clearly frustrated Noonan trying to prevent his company from fragmenting in the difficult terrain. The inexperienced company leader was clearly suffering from the pressure. Sharp just prayed he would settle down before any contact, which was so clearly imminent. He didn’t want his flank twisting in the wind. More satisfactorily, at 1706 the reports came in from Guidry that his unit was at their destination and deploying in ambush. That’s one flank secured, at least. A small sense of relief. The slow winding-up of tension briefly paused. Sharp continued to scan from his cupola, straining every nerve as his unit wound its way up towards their first checkpoint. Adding to the pressure was the knowledge that the ersatz-CO was riding with him. The battalion net continued to squawk with terse reports and replies, 2LT Clausen, from Noonan’s team, was in position in the high ground to the left of Elm. The pieces were falling into place. In his own sector, things were going equally well. They had passed through Drasenberg without incident, slowly leapfrogging in sections of tanks and APCs through it. They had won the race for the high ground. Then, a burst of chatter: “Bravo Two Tango reports contact with enemy BMP. Am engaging” “Roger Bravo Two. Continue to report. Bravo Two push your tracks into Elm, hustle” came Booth’s response. Contact! Sharp looked down at his wristwatch, a modern digital watch his old man had bought him a year before, its chunky plastic band being perfect for the hazardous interior of a M1 tank. It was 1708 hours. He looked over, his right-flanking callsign oriented its turret ever so slightly more to the right, but otherwise, the fight was Noonan’s concern. “One times BMP destroyed. Visual on platoon sized element of enemy tangoes. Continuing to engage” calm and collected, Bravo team’s tank platoon leader continued to narrate the battle. Sharp listened intently, as was everyone else on the net. By 1711 enough information had come in for Booth to issue orders. Largely superfluous as they were, they reconfirmed the initial scheme. B Team were to put up a shield at Elm, where they had clearly hit the enemy CRP, and therefore the likely main enemy axes of advance. Guidry was to stay firm with A team. Sharp, for his part, had slowly been leapfrogging his company team; three Abrams moving near-silently along the reverse slope of the hill whilst the rest of the company waited just behind Drasenberg. His lead platoon leader, 1LT Rose, had already reported a good approach route. He quickly issued hurried orders via the company net; confident Booth’s command track would have the wherewithal to follow his lead. With a defensive fight developing in front of Elm, it was clear that his Company team was going to remain the main offensive element for the battle. The attack on Gomfritz was to be a straightforward matter of fire and movement. With a platoon grouping of Abrams in overwatch, an infantry platoon was to push through the forest to determine if the village was devoid of the enemy. The remaining four Abrams would push around the “blind corner” on signal of the infantry. It was a good plan for something come up on the spot. It never got put to the test. Just as the first group of Abrams nosed into their BP, the company team net exploded with simultaneous contact reports from the callsigns. Then came the reports that the enemy was burning. First it was one T-64, then another. Sharp moves himself and a wingman up, cognizant that the enemy would try to push through the fire if they could not identify the source of it. A handful of contacts quickly matures into an entire tank company. Sharp, peering “eyes down” out of his cupola spots a trio of BMP-2s flitting out of sight, working his flank. He knows the BP covering the right flank should be able to pick them up and doesn’t even bother handing off the contacts. “Gunner: Sabot, tank” he roars into the internal communications set, slewing the turret with override.“Identified!” his gunner confirms. He lets go of the controls. A blinding flash from the muzzle. “Target!” His gunner, dependably, starts identifying targets on his own and “fighting the turret”, leaving Sharp freedom to command his abbreviated group of Abrams. The T-64s, belatedly, begin to slew their turrets. They were aware. Sharp begins to micromanage the jockeying of his individual callsigns. Even as Sharp is fighting the lead elements of the T-64s, the dismounted infantry had begun pushing through to Gomfritz. They hear the roar of enemy engines even over the sound of battle and duly report it to Booth, who passes it back down to Sharp. More enemy armour was clearly heading their way. It was time to press the attack. Sure enough, another platoon of Soviet tanks appear and, skirting slightly to their left, continue to try and gun around Sharp’s flank. They dip out of sight, but not before another T-64 is turned into an inferno. Sharp had no intention of letting any enemy armour through. Four Abrams push up, line abreast, and catch the remaining Soviet tanks in the flank at alarmingly close range. Even as Sharp is savaging the enemy armour, 1LT Rose reports three BMPs destroyed. The enemy motor rifle platoon had carefully attempted to work its away through dead ground but, as it exited a draw on the far right flank, was quickly picked up by Rose’s tank section. They were all knocked out in a single volley, a frightening testament to the new tanks fire control system. Immediate exploitation was out of the question, however. Sharp and his three wingmen were looking over their handiwork, when he suddenly saw a green dot in the distance. It hung, lazily, in front of his eyes. He was confused for a moment too long – what was he looking at? Then, a wave of heat, a bright flash, and a mild-rash-like pain on his left cheek as he turned instinctually to avoid the projectile. An ATGM. They had just been hit! He was alive. Was the tank operable? He didn’t bother to check first, instead ducked inside the turret and fired off his defensive smoke mortars while roaring into the internal comms for his driver to reverse. The tank moved, evidently none the worse for wear. Even as Sharp moved to preserve his mount and its crew, a wingman identified the source of fire and knocked it out. A query came in from Rose; was all well? Sharp peered over the cupola. His face still stung, but it didn’t seem particularly bad. What the hell had happened? He soon had his answer: the .50 calibre was gone. Eviscerated by a direct hit. He decided not to question how the chemical jet from the missile did not kill him. It would be the closest call he would have in this terrible conflict, though of course he would not know it at that time. What the close call did signal for the immediate time was a halt to Sharp’s advance. Until the infantry had secured Gomfritz and established an artillery observation post, he could not risk exposure to other ATGMs with his precious MBTs. *** Sharp’s focus is entirely on Gomfritz and the targets to his front. As his tanks’ cannons bark, the background noise of the Battalion net fades into the distance. He does not hear the rising crescendo of battle near Elm, illustrated by the increasing strain evident in the voices of B Team’s callsigns. Elm has become a raging inferno. The Soviets FSE have arrived and, turrets oriented towards the threat, try to pass through the survivors of their CPR. The Tank section appears to be excellently positioned, able to enfilade their targets sky lined on the hill. Another T-64 burns. All appears well. Then from the dust and fury comes a booming report. A M60A1 burns, shuddering from the impact. No hatches open. Alarmed, the section leader (the Platoon NCO) jockeys out of position. The Soviets roar on, now no longer under fire from their flank. They remain under fire, however, from the front. ITOWs deployed in exposed hasty positions nevertheless possessed dominating fields of fire and make the most of it. Burning enemy bonfires begin to build up on the high ground to the right flank of Elm. Sensing danger, 1LT Menard roars out of his hide with his wingman tank under the cover of the ITOWs to try and blunt the Soviet advance at close range. Taking positions on the fly in his jolting cupola he directs his section to a low hedge separating cabbage fields; they do not have long to wait. T-64s come over the slope and are hit at “cannot miss” range. Menard’s knees sag slightly from this hair-raising encounter. If he had more time to ponder what he had just ordered and executed, he would’ve bailed out of his vehicle and never looked back. The line between courage under fire and irrationality was a fine one. Ensconced and hidden in a hedge near the ITOWs was B Team’s FIST. In alarm, he sees what appears to be the main body appear along the road running directly into Elm. It is not long before 155mms are working overtime to pummel the approaches to Elm. The Soviets, as always, push through it with determination. The FIST can hear over the dull crumps the hiss-pop of the ITVs continuing to engage. Quite a number of the BMPs that push through the indirect fire are knocked out by this re-engagement. The next set of BMPs try to follow in the footsteps of the CRP, perhaps believing the way remains open. By this point Menard’s PNCO has taken a new, hasty, battle position and is once again able to enfilade them. Another pair of BMPs is flamed between the tank fire and the ITVs. Noonan’s team is giving the Soviet tank battalion a destructive beating, but it’s not enough. The Soviets continue to push simultaneously towards the high ground to the northeast and down the centre road. B Team simply cannot keep up the rate of fire necessary to stop the Soviets cold. The ITVs are forced to pop defensive smoke as the BMP-2s begin to identify and fire back with their 30mms at their assailants. With the high ground finally under Soviet control, things begin to unravel quickly. Menard’s PNCO and another member of his crew are wounded heavily when his vehicle is struck by return fire, even as they attempt to jockey out of position. Driven by outrage more than courage, Menard attempts to repeat his previous feet, waving SGT Marx forward with him into a counterattack. All goes well initially, with Menard’s gunner destroying a T-64 from the gallop. Marx then identifies a T-64 to the northwest, across the valley. Slewing the turret on override, he knocks it out as well. Even as Marx’s loader hefts another sabot into the breech, he could see for himself the turrets of several other T-64s slewing in his direction. “How did –“ he doesn’t have time to finish the thought before a Soviet round slams into the turret of his tank. The resulting pressure blows him out of the turret where he shortly regains consciousness. Marx’s legs are spattered with shrapnel and all he can focus on is crawling. One arm over another. He does not notice the rest of his crew following his lead, nor his new platoon leader and his crew also crawling, dragging a loader whose face was reduced to a bloody pulp, from their own tank. *** Noonan had heard enough. One by one his call signs had either dropped off the air suddenly or reported they were retreating. The pressure was on. It was going to have to come to close quarters. He grabbed his M16 and ordered the ramp down on his M113. He waved at his RTO to grab a few LAWs for good measure before they departed. The Soviets were breaking in. 1st Platoon’s first squad had been wiped out, dying in place from a lethal combination of shrapnel, high explosives and machinegun fire which tore their fighting positions apart. The first Soviet BMPs had practically driven right up to the buildings and, when a LAW fired too hastily missed, had ripped into the buildings with everything they had. 2LT Leblanc had arrayed his squads in depth, mutually supporting one another. As quick as the 1st Squad’s end had come, revenge was not long in waiting. 2nd Squad opened fire with its Dragon and LAWs. Soviet riflemen came out of the lead BMP, even as it burned, the last four all human candles doing a grotesque dance. By the time the surviving Soviet infantry had organised themselves, their assailants had disappeared, falling back past the 3rd squad to a new position. So it went. The Soviet infantry were simply nut numerous enough to effect more than a break in. It appeared to Leblanc and Noonan that the situation might have been finally stabilised when the unmistakeable squeal of tracks against pavement began to compete with the crescendo of battle. The Soviet armour was going right into Elm! Noonan knew he needed more bayonet strength if he was going to hold against rampaging armour. “Bravo Two to Bravo Two-Two” “Bravo Two-Two, send it.” 2LT Clausen’s voice responded immediately. “Enemy MBTs have entered our BP. Punch out to your north and hit them in the flank.” A pause, this time. “Bravo Two-Two acknowledges. Out.” Noonan knew it was a tall order. He was out of options that he could directly select. His next call was to Booth. There was a promise of an Abrams section – but would they arrive in time? Clausen had been posted in ambush covering the forested route that could see a Soviet unit deploy in the gap between Sharp and Noonan’s company team. They had passed the minutes in unease, listening to the sounds of battle travel up the ridge to their left, roaring in the valley to their right. Privates gripped their rifles tight and fidgeted with the undergrowth. The whispered orders to remount came as a relief; action meant agency. Soon the M113s were cautiously groping their way along a rail line, riflemen and Dragon gunners hanging out the cargo hatches, straining every nerve. In Elm, things were falling apart. LeBlanc’s careful to-and-fro with the enemy could not keep up with the Soviets reckless urgency. The junior officer had just personally stalked and disabled a T-64 with part of his 3rd Squad, volleying LAWs into the vehicles side and rear, and spraying down nearby Soviet infantry, when he saw yet another tank roar through an allotment, crushing forgotten vegetables and crashing through a fence. They were being flanked. The M113 was just around the corner. There was time. They clambered aboard, and LeBlanc was roaring at the driver to advance when there was a bright red flash. The T-64 had worked its way through several backyards and had barrelled out at an intersection just to the East. Locking a track the commander guided his gunner onto the M113. A terse “ogon!” followed. The 125mm crashed out. LeBlanc was dead. Now bereft of a leader, the remaining dozen men made a dash for Company HQ, where they hoped they could make a last stand under the remaining ITV’s field of fire. Even as they ran the Soviets, like sharks in bloody water, ran amok. All was chaos. That chaos saved the remaining infantry of B Team, however. Amazingly, the Soviets seemed less concerned with finishing the job than they did trying to push right through Elm. It allowed the survivors to use every item in their arsenal they had left. One eagle-eyed SPC, seeing a Soviet tank with its cupola hatch open, manages to toss a fragmentation grenade in. He has little time to exult, his squad leader swiftly hustles him to the next scrap of cover. Slowly, but surely, the survivors of 1st Platoon find their balance. Noonan and his HQ thicken the anti-tank fire with their LAWs. The Soviets push to the southern edge of Elm, but no further. Derelict T-64s meters away from the Company HQ demonstrate the high watermark. The final remaining company of Soviet armour make the break for the eastern flank of the town, despite the congested terrain. The Battalion HQ follows with them. It is the definition of a forlorn hope. They meet fiery ends as they make their end run, when 1LT Rose and two other Abrams suddenly appear on their flank. The Soviets are savaged, but its not entirely one sided. The tank battalion’s attached ZSUs put up a fierce resistance, spraying the Abrams down with 23mm with such violence that it strips the turrets entirely. Fire control and thermal imagers are disabled and require resets. One of Rose’s NCO has to resort to boresighting, staring down the barrel. At such close range, they cannot possibly miss. It’s all over in minutes. A few enemy tanks push past, roaring through the fiery gap. It is a paltry amount, and the shattered survivors are not able to effect any type of effective breakthrough. They are ultimately policed up by Cobras patrolling the immediate rear areas of the TF. B Team has received a severe drubbing but has mauled the lead element of a Soviet tank regiment. The battle is over. The counteroffensive is not.
  10. Played the excellent Hobart's Funnies scenario and whipped up an AAR. Some choice shots: Phenomenal infantry set-piece. I wish I had the time this weekend to play Swansong, the variant without the Funnies, to see just how much more bloody it is without these innovations. Read it here: https://rinaldiaars.blogspot.com/2022/09/armatos-fundit-cm-battle-of-normandy-aar.html
  11. Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed. I am just typing up the rest of the July 16th actions but the silly season in the UK is busy season for me, so it's a bit delayed. Some thoughts on this mission to fill the time: I enjoyed Dollbach, it's a nice palate cleanser, not terribly much else to say about it design wise. The next nearest equivalent I've played is of course the mission from the TF 3-69 campaign in Black Sea: Poking the Bear. I found Dollbach much tamer by comparison. In the former scenario the Russians are much more aggressive and pro-active in counter interdiction and screening their flanks. I think the differences are explainable, of course: the Soviets are operationally under an unimaginable time pressure and would likely have elected to press on in reality as well. It's easy to call that "stupid" but it makes perfect, if ruthless, operational sense. Naturally, the two scenarios are also out to prove different points. Dollbach is clearly a love-letter to the I-TOW. If a US player has not learned, naturally, by Neuhof that it is this vehicle and its ammunition is the great equalizer for its infantry arm (and indeed, if memory serves, AT Platoon leaders were habitually infantrymen), then this mission will force them to learn. The Black Sea campaign instead is trying to show just how awe-inspiring joint fires can be when used well. The common undercurrent between the two scenarios of course is that discretion is the better part of valour and you don't need to slug it out to bloody an enemy terribly. As for my performance tactically: Let's not go into the usual cliche, but suffice to say my idea of creating overlapping fires into two separate EAs never went as planned. Nevertheless, the BPs I selected were chosen precisely for the opportunity to find a myriad of supplementary fighting positions within them, and it worked out in the end. I do think having EAs, even if they end up never getting used, is vital to success, especially when you simply have no holding power (a point I talked around a while ago here, on my blog).
  12. Good things come to those who wait, hope things have calmed down on your end MMM
  13. July 16th, 1145 hours. Triumph to tragedy. “Sir…I’m not raising TOC” the RTO said, hesitatingly. Booth met the man’s eyes. Silent dread communicated between them. He was about to tell him to try one more time when the FSGT came trundling back around the corner in his ‘peep.’ That’s not good. A gnawing, creeping realisation made its way up out of the small of Booth’s back and crawled up his spine. The NCO’s face was boulder-like. Jaw set… TOC had been hit. Hard. They had failed to displace for one minute too many and got plastered by Soviet artillery, much like the Soviets in Dorfborn were having their back broken by vengeful American artillery fire. Like one of the four horsemen, the FSGT had been tasked with riding back to his CO to deliver the grim news. Basically, every senior officer in TOC had been taken out: the LTC, S-1 and S-3 had all been wounded enough to warrant evacuation. The XO was severely wounded, an arm and a leg severed, his condition critical. The HHC CO killed, caught away from any cover momentarily, ripped to shreds by shrapnel. All that was left of the staff was the S-2, who refused to be evacuated despite painful neck wounds, and the duty NCOs. “You’re it” the FSGT growled, “you got seniority. The Battalion’s yours, sir.” A thunderclap. Booth was in command. The entirety of TF Dragon. Well over 700 surviving men, 700 souls. The burden could’ve crushed him then and there, and likely should have, but something turned in him. Eyes narrowing, he quickly told the dependable NCO to hurry ahead back to what was left of the TOC and have the S-2 re organise the NCOs into acting battle captains. He would follow shortly in his command track, handing off command of the unit to his equally dependable XO, 1LT Noonan. He would hurl together a hasty TOC and strain every nerve to get the unit back under control. Chapter 5: Thorn in the Side Northwest of Neuhof, July 16th, 1600 hours. Luckily, the TOC’s survivors showed themselves up to the task. They had worried Booth at first, most had some minor wounds and all had looked deeply shaken. The M577s were ruined messes, but neither had taken direct hits, and much of the vital planning material was salvageable. Whatever morale had been wavering was firmed up by the arrival of the CPT and the news that B Team had savaged the enemy to its front. Booth had energized the headquarters with his arrival, distracted grieving men by entrusting them with key tasks (appealing, subconsciously, to the professional pride of each individual NCO), and focused their efforts back on the fight – a fight he had convinced them they were winning. The impact was electric. Within the hour they were ready to receive orders from brigade, by 1500 the bulk of the battalion was pulling back, knowing full well the punch-drunk MRR to their front was in no condition to follow closely and fill the gap, let alone pursue with vigour or violence. As the skeleton TOC organised the move and conformed with orders, Booth was presented with his first command decision: the TF had mauled the MRR so thoroughly that a neighbouring Soviet unit had begun to shake out into the attack on a town called Uttrichausen with its right flank twisting in the wind. Brigade was willing to move boundaries on a dime and have TF Dragon nail the lead MRB of that unit from the flank. Booth leapt at the opportunity, and task organised his Scout Platoon and surviving anti-tank platoon to do so. They hadn’t had time to resupply, and thus the fight was going to be a tight one, but the potential payoff was worth it; success could likely keep the entire brigade counterpunching whilst the next line of defence was constructed. The Soviets were templated to be passing through Dollbach around 1630 hours, beyond which was their probable line of departure. Command devolved to 1LT Pemberton, the Anti-tank Platoon CO, and his surviving 6 ITOWs. 1LT Horning, the battalion scout platoon leader, would race ahead with his extremely depleted force; two M113s, an ITOW (with only 4 missiles) and a meagre 3 Dragon missiles. He had two scout sections to spare, led by SGTs Roy and Chung. They would engage forward elements and buy time for Pemberton’s two sections and the attached air-defence joes. Pemberton, bumping along in his ‘peep’ hastily did a map recce and came up with BPs. He prayed to God the map was accurate to the terrain, there was no time to do a proper terrain walk. This was an aggressive interdiction, no doubt about it, the young man thought. His eagerness to hit the enemy when they were exposed was tempered by the ever-human fear of the unknown. How to execute this fight? Across the valley the enemy would traverse was a thick treeline. The Soviets must have known their flank was in the air by now, and if he was the Soviet commander, he’d have units in that treeline dominating the heights overlooking Dollbach. How to fire into the valley without exposing his vulnerable ITOWs? A crossfire, that’s what he’d have to establish, keyhole positions, he thought with finality. Pemberton had his plan. Taskings: BP1: Scout ITOW, 1st AT section (alternate) BP2 – 1st AT section (main) BPs 3A & 3B – 2nd AT section (main and alternate) EA Alpha – Forward of point 430, left-flank of Dollbach EA Bravo – Forward of point 401, right-flank of Dollbach *** The Soviets’ hackles were raised; thought 1LT Horning, as he watched a pair of Hinds flit in and out of sight across the valley, flashing over the thick, forested hills. They had put a lot of combat aviation forward, clearly cognizant of the exposed flank of this unit. It was a high summer day, and any vehicular movement kicked up hanging dust clouds, prompting Horning to spread his thin resources out, and give strict instructions for the tracks to make quick dashes, pausing frequently to let the dust settle as they sheltered under the next nearest copse of trees. Slowly, but surely, they managed to set themselves up in their assigned positions, finding decent concealment and cover to establish firing positions from. By 1604 hours, Horning and SGT Chung have set themselves up in excellent firing positions on the extreme flanks of the AO. As the scouts settled into their hides, a sudden pop is heard as a Stinger missile screeches upwards. One of the hunting Hinds had raised itself up too much, for too long, across the valley and an American AD man had chanced a shot. The Hind’s weapons operator saw the tell-tale report and, swearing, alerted the pilot in time. The Hind bucked down sharply, and the missile failed to track. The other hinds, spooked by their comrades’ close call, follow suit. The air threat abates, for now. SGT Chung, only momentarily distracted by the firing of the Stinger, shakes his head and concentrates. Over the distant thwock-thwock of the omnipresent Hinds, he can hear – more accurately, feel – the rumble of an approaching formation. A moment later, he can see it for himself: an entire MRC. He urgently whispers to his RTO to send the word. The RTO duly whispers the code phrase for contact: Rio Grande. The pre-arranged cluster mission begins to fire, forcing the BTRs to accelerate through the maelstrom. “Jesus, Mary and Stonewall Jackson sir, that’s got to be an entire company – what the hell we going to do about that with just one shot?” whispers Horning’s RTO in an awed tone. Horning ignores the man and presses himself further against the ground, putting his hands under his chest. He awkwardly cranes his neck downwards and rolls his eyes up, attempting to keep a good eye on the BTRs while masking as much unnatural colour – his skin, the whites of his eyes – as he can. He wished he had time to apply camo paint. If any of this mass of enemy units spotted him, they were dead. BTR turrets were awkwardly trying to scan for targets, but their 14mm machine cannons were bouncing around visibly. Good he thought, hope the bastard gunners are blind. More problematic of course, were the Soviet rifleman hanging out of the rear hatches, with the occasional BTR having a Soviet soldier bouncing a SA-7 on his shoulder, scanning the skies for targets. “Dragon 2 to Dragon 1 – “ Horning’s RTO scrambles to lower the volume on the receiver, as SGT Chung continues. “- I am engaging. Making this missile count. Out.” It takes a minute for Horning to spot an opportune target for his own position to follow the NCO’s lead. In frustration they watch BTRs briskly march past. Then, it happens: a BTR visibly slows down as it attempts to push through a small windbreak of trees. Tapping the Dragon gunner on his steel helmet, the 1LT points towards the target with an arrow-straight arm. The missile hits, but barely, almost passing between the wheels and underneath the BTR. “Get the track to make a run for SGT Roy’s OP/LP, he’s got the spare missile. Run him down here and lets see if we can’t hit something else. Once you’ve passed that message on we are displacing, shift 30m right. One at a time, keep low and copy my stance.” The Officer whispers urgently. *** Pemberton could see his young driver struggling to restrain himself from speeding forward. It was a battle the PFC was losing, as the distance inexorably widened between their ‘peep’ and the ITOWs and VADs that formed their small column. A soft word saw the vehicle pull back again. The 1LT couldn’t blame his driver’s haste. They had just arrived with the first section of his platoon, and already there was a thin spire of smoke reaching out from the valley, in what he estimated was EA Bravo. The lead Soviet elements were already in the area. There was no time to waste. The section raced towards its assigned BP, with VADs pulling off the road to take up covering positions. Horning was desperately trying to shift the artillery fires to the overpass and road bridge; this lead Soviet company was making tracks, pushing through their anaemic ambush with remarkable discipline. The tail of the column was now entering EA Bravo. He could hear SGT Chung ordering SPC Brody, the commander of their sole ITV, to engage. The ITV duly rumbled forward from the treeline it had taken as its hide in BP1 and inches forward along the flat plateau to its front. Brody soon identifies a plethora of targets. With a pop the first ITOW roars out, popping up then being pushed down by the gunner. It reaches out, a red dot in Brody’s field of vision. “Target!” the SPC roars, and then guides on: “Gunner, traverse right, two PCs forward of the line of trees” “On. Firing!” comes the excited response. The second ITOW races out, but Brody can already tell its going to be a miss, as the Gunner struggles to both chase the accelerating BTR and keep the missile down. It passes just high. Two sweating men in the cargo hatch quickly reload the last two missiles, but Brody’s crew once again have a mixed engagement. The third missile strikes another BTR, this one racing up a crop-filled slope towards a windbreak and the MSR. It explodes violently. Their fourth shot misses entirely, the missile going ballistic and slamming only a few dozen feet in front of them along the ridge, inert. “Driver reverse, back to our original position.” Brody says through gritted teeth, whilst deploying smoke to cover the retrograde movement. Bitterly disappointed, nevertheless his part of the fight is over. Even as he pulls back, he hears 1LT Horning report the entry of yet another mass of enemy vehicles. If only we had time to resupply. Unbeknownst to the disappointed Scout ITOW crew, however, Pemberton and his three anti-tank launchers had just taken up position in BP2. Pemberton and his RTO leapt from their Jeep and raced forward, taking cover among some trees at the lip of the ridge, to better direct fire whilst guiding his tracks into positions. The officer knew fire discipline would be key, not a missile could go to waste firing at a target another vehicle was already engaging. A bit awkwardly at first, but successfully, he used some landmarks to assign fire sectors to his three ITOWs. Like their Scout counterpart, however, the anti-tankers have trouble striking their fast, fleeting targets. Two TOWs miss, badly. It is not until the third TOW that a target is struck successfully. Pemberton puts out a calming word, his unnaturally even voice having its intended effect. The gunners redouble their efforts, taking their time to line up the shots. “Aim high, guide low boys, don’t rush things” the officer chides. ITOWs begin to hit with regularity over the ensuing minutes, and the enemy BTRs stop manoeuvring so smartly. Casualties and evasive actions cause the formation to become strung out, which only increases their exposure. The young gunners stop suffering from “buck fever” and are better able to pick out lone targets. From his vantage point, Pemberton can report an increasing number of burning enemy BTRs with exultant satisfaction. Between 1615-1616 hours, 6 TOWs are fired for 4 kills, illustrating the furious rate of fire and the cornucopia of targets. Whilst BP2 turns EA Bravo into a charnel house, the balance of the AT platoon arrives on the heights, and transit through the small town of Zillbach towards BP3. There’s just one problem, though: SGT Chung and his team, who boldly have remained in their initial firing positions to act as an OP/LP, spot a new threat. “Dragon 2 to Dragon 1” “This is Dragon 1” “This callsign currently observing four times enemy tangoes, treeline near road bridge. Out to you.” “Acknowledged, Dragon 2. We’ll let the AT know. Out.” 1LT Pemberton warns his leading SPC in the second section, and the determined enlisted man simply states they’ll keep the threat in mind and attempt to find positions masked to this new threat in BP3. Indeed, two of the three ITOWs can do just that. One, however, led by a SPC Catalano, running out of space to jockey, is surprised to find a T-64 aiming – at him! Catalano’s gunner fires twice in rapid succession, more from shock than aggressive mindedness. The first TOW becomes a satellite, spinning off into space, and the second slams into the ground just on the other side of their hull down position. Catalano sees a giant burst of flame, and briefly and irrationally believes his gunner has scored a hit…then sees a small green dot grow larger and larger. It passes over their vehicle, and even ensconced inside the vibrating M113 and through his CVC, he can hear a faint sucking woosh. Too close for comfort. Gathering his wits, he gets his driver to reverse. While BP3 struggles to find good positions, Pemberton continues to reap a grim bounty. Handing off targets personally and ensuring the pre-assigned fire sectors are maintained, BP2 continues to turn EA Bravo into a hellscape. Individual Soviet BTRs mill about in confusion. Their indecisiveness often fatal. Despite the presence of the T-64s making BP3 a no-go for firing into EA Alpha, the three ITOWs (including a recovered SPC Catalano) can take positions that allow them to thicken the fire in EA Bravo. The initial engagements are frustrated by low field of view and limited time to target, but they eventually tally a few BTRs themselves. Perhaps spurred on by the suffering MRB’s survivors, the Hinds make a belated reappearance. This time any pretence of careful flying is tossed aside; the Hinds roar up and forward, seeking to strafe the assailants. One Hind is able to get a burst off, severely damaging one of Pemberton’s ITOWs, but four Hinds are swiftly destroyed by the overwhelming amount of SHORAD provided by Booth. One Hind is struck by a stinger and crashes in the valley, destroying a cowshed as its flaming carcass crashes through the structure’s roof. The flight of the Hinds proves to be a bookend for the engagement at Dollbach. In BP2 the ITOWs begin to report going “black” on ammo, and one by one pop smoke and retreat into the cover of nearby trees. Pemberton himself taps his RTO on the helmet and dashes back to firmer concealment, where he begins to issue orders for the retreat. The last of the mauled MRB, under the cover of the suicidally courageous Hinds, presses past EA Bravo and out of sight. Trailing them come the T-64s, who break cover and roar forward, in odd mimicry of the Hinds. They wheel to their left and attempt to break past EA Bravo. Catalano is waiting, and along with the rest of his section in BP3, savage the tanks. In short order, 5 T-64s are burning. An eerie silence descends… the only living creatures in the valley are wounded and burned Soviet riflemen and crewmen, painfully crawling away from their stricken mounts. The silence does not last, as mortars begin to search out for the Americans in BP3. A round crashes just behind SGT Chung. “Displace! Back to the track” he screams with furious urgency. The sound of the mortars fade, and all the SGT can hear is his own rattling breath and a pounding in his ears. He never hears the fateful round: there is just a flash of red, and then a disconnected awareness that something is not right…why am I on my back he ponders? He tries to get up. He cannot. He has no left leg. The realisation sends his mind into overdrive for a few moments, and his last conscious thought is simply an Oh my God before he lapses into unconsciousness and shock. Lying beside him are two of his men. One is killed, the other so severely wounded that he can only lay there in a heap, sucking air in a hideous rattle, before he shortly passes away. Chung’s RTO, on the verge of panic, drags his SGT back to the M113. It is the final part of this drama in miniature. As the mortar rounds continue to search out targets, the order from Pemberton is acknowledged across the net: the job was complete. Across the three BPs, the Scouts and Anti-tankers reverse out of sight, and then, slowly pick their way back to the rendezvous point. Accurately assessing the damage was difficult, and Pemberton could only provide his new boss an estimate. The measure of success would only come in the following hour: the attack had been stopped cold, and the enemy’s lead element was barely a MRC in strength.
  14. Many thanks. Some thoughts on this last chapter... Firstly, apologies for in media res. The idea to start doing the AAR only occurred to me three missions in to the campaign, when it hit me that this was probably one of the best designed campaigns to date (which is saying something, as I'm not light with praise for many others). Secondly, wow: a lot of targets serviced in a short amount of time. I'll try to unpack. If the standalone version of this mission isn't a planned demo mission, you're selling the game short. The fight for Neuhof might as well have leapt out of FM71-2. You're well rewarded for earlier successes by the time you get to this mission. Key cross-attachments that bring you up to a 'square' combat team, broad daylight (and all the forewarning of an attack that would bring), obstacle belts in place, and a battlefield where there are no discernible flanks for the enemy. What you get is a fairly doctrinal battalion level breakthrough attempt by the Soviets, which is again, high praise to the scenario designers. The enemy clearly came on in two main echelons, or more accurately, the battle begins with the second and third battle lines being deployed. The first battle line, in this case, was all the prepositioned Recon and ATGM support they had. What I think is most useful is comparing the final mission of the NTC campaign with the fight for Neuhof. If you paid attention, you could see the similarities between the two immediately. In both instances, the Soviet (or "Soviet" in the case of the NTC) battalion came in roughly 2-3 echelons, and the first companies always attempted to pry open the flanks and bypass poor terrain. So, in the first image, they tried to avoid the washboard and scrub-like terrain that is (like in reality) atrocious for any type of vehicular movement, and in Neuhof, they flowed like water around manmade obstacles, such as villages. My experience in the former helped me anticipate the latter. The enemy largely conformed to my expectations. In sum: the NTC campaign is a good investment of your time if you want to avoid later frustrations. As to what precisely was my thought process in this last chapter, obviously I provided some overlays about my defence, but I rarely give details. I'll try to do so now. My plan was based around the presumption that having multiple BPs you fall back to in succession is a recipe for disaster. CM has a bird's eye view and a lot of the natural friction that comes from falling back successively (like blue-on-blue, failure to communicate, etc) isn't necessarily modelled; and it's still complete chaos every time I have ever tried it. So I chose instead to make a fight from one main BP and ensure that I shaped what that fight looked like early on. It's easier to manage a few forward deployed units than it is to place entire platoons and companies forward and fall back with them. When you have picquets forward and you stay longer than expected, you lose a section of vehicles at most. When you mistime falling back from a BP, you lose entire platoons and companies. This, of course, is a criticism that was levelled about the tactical doctrine of active defence: (Source: https://youtu.be/QgwqT4fqU2E) Of course, it's much more difficult to capture AirLand Battle as so much of it relies on operational concerns that cannot be captured in CM. At the tactical level, it might be hard to distinguish between Active Defence and AirLand Battle. Nevertheless, I tried my best to open up the 'close' battle aggressively, with air and artillery and well forward deployed units. The idea of course was to create space and avoid a lot of the Soviet strengths (such as artillery integration). I think I did that well; notwithstanding the insane losses suffered from the A-10s in a short amount of time. As for what I chose for the forward deployment, ITOWs naturally dominate the list. In terms of situational awareness, they are king in this game; relatively common vehicles with excellent thermal sights that are essentially on an antennae-like stock. Much easier to hide, therefore, than a barn-sized TTS or an Abrams, who have similar or better sensor suites. Putting the attached scout section in Dorfborn was a massive assumption of risk but was absolutely vital to actually developing an idea of what the enemy was doing. Scouts win battles, even when they do not fire a shot. For the record, I'm currently on "The Citadel" in the campaign and I am hoping that the third time is the charm with this approach to defence against an enemy regiment.
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