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CPX December 4

James Sterrett

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I'm looking for players and commanders for a CPX to be run on December 4.

It's a force on force (Blue vs Red) scenario involving a deliberate attack. Significant pregame planning will be required from some players, especially the force commanders: planning must be sent to me by Dec 1, to include a recon plan. I will game out the recon battle by the end of December 2, giving players time to tweak their plans on December 3. The plans will get implemented on the map if they get the plans to me soon enough to get them into TacOps by the start of play on December 4. smile.gif

The current scenario plan will easily handle 5 players per side (one CO, 3 maneuver, one fire support).

Map: 573

Scenario: US Army Custom

IRC server: schlepper.hanse.de, port 7024, default channel #tacops

Backup IRC: www.combatmission.com, port 7000, default channel #tacops

Start time: 1500GMT (1000 US Eastern, 0900 US Central) [And yes, I just rechecked the offset. But feel free to recheck it and correct me. smile.gif ]

Please let me know soon if you intend to play (james.sterrett@gmail.com), so we can get the teams organized.

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There is absolutely no way that I will play... mostly because I don't know what I'm doing, and my active participation would be disappointing to myself and others.

However, I would be keenly interested in entering in as an observer. Mostly for curiosity's sake, and partly because I want to see this game in action outside of the single-player environment.

Will this CPX thing allow for observers to connect in (if there are enough connection slots available)?

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Yes, it allows for observers; though I'll kick observers first if we're overloading the network (which we will not know until the time it happens :-/ ).

Though I think you'd be better off actually playing in order to really grasp what's going on. A great deal of the action in a CPX game doesn't take place on the screen; it takes place between the players on each side in the planning and execution of the plan.

Also, while competitive play may sound daunting, competitive play *on a team* means that you've got a bunch of teammates, all of whom have a vested interest in making sure you are doing well. In my opinion, a CPX team is a very newbie-friendly place to be for that reason.

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Umpire’s AAR: CPX 4 Dec 2004

James Sterrett

Files available for download at: http://www.tacopshq.com/cpx041204/

This is a scenario I’ve had waiting in the wings for a couple years - Matt Ohlmer and Panta nearly played a version of it as an umpired PBEM a couple of years ago.

At first glance, it’s a standard deliberate assault/deliberate defence. However, the attacking force is far too small to manage a conventional attack: a reinforced battalion attacking a battalion. The balancing factor? Nuclear weapons. The defence gets a single 1kt neutron bomb airburst, and the offence gets a pair of them.

However, there are a few wrinkles to introduce a sheen of realism to their employment. Both sides have to select a small number of potential target sites, before the game begins; and once they call in a nuclear strike, they have to wait 10 minutes before the bomb actually arrives. The bombs themselves are patterns of 9 “portable bombs” with a 1000 meter blast radius; one in the center and the other 8 in a box 500 meters from the central one.

The forward planning for these weapons puts a large burden of foresight on the commanders for the two sides. In their initial plans, they have to figure out what the battlefield is going to look like - and how to ensure it *will* look like what they want, so that their planned nuclear strike sites will prove to be useful.

Initial forces:

Time Left: 10080 minutes

Mission results:

Blue - As determined by players.

Red - As determined by players.

Blue exit % - 0

Red exit % - 0

Point results:

Blue Attrition Points - 0

Red Attrition Points - 0


Blue Status:


Tank, T80UM1 + ATGM............. 42 42 0 0

APC, BTRT....................... 13 13 0 0

Inf, Team....................... 39 39 0 0

ATGM, Milan..................... 27 27 0 0

APC, M2A2 Bradley IFV........... 13 13 0 0

ATGMV, Wiesel TOW............... 6 6 0 0

SAM, LAV25 Air Defense SAM/AAA.. 4 4 0 0

Howitzer, SP 155mm M109......... 24 24 0 0

APC, Stryker ICV AGL............ 13 13 0 0

Truck, Cargo 13t M977 HEMTT..... 1 1 0 0

Logistics Package............... 1 1 0 0

Radar, AN/TPQ36 Firefinder Ops.. 1 1 0 0

Aircraft, UAV................... 1 1 0 0

MCV, Trailer MICLIC Mk155....... 4 4 0 0

VLB, M60 AVLB Bridging Vehicle.. 2 2 0 0

Attachment, Mine Plow........... 4 4 0 0

LUV, HMMWV + AGL MK19........... 8 8 0 0

LUV, HMMWV + HMG................ 8 8 0 0

MRL, 227mm MLRS ................ 15 15 0 0

FSCV, Fennek FO................. 1 1 0 0

Blue had 10 airstrikes waiting off-map and 30000 points in the logpack.

Red Status:


Aircraft, UAV................... 1 1 0 0

APC, SPz Marder 1A3............. 48 48 0 0

Inf, Squad...................... 25 25 0 0

Inf, MG 50cal Team.............. 9 9 0 0

ATGM, Javelin Team.............. 9 9 0 0

SAM, SA16 Gimlet................ 9 9 0 0

ATGM, AT5 Spandrel Team......... 7 7 0 0

Inf, AGL AGS17 Team............. 6 6 0 0

Inf, Team....................... 3 3 0 0

Gun, AT 100mm MT12/T12.......... 2 2 0 0

Truck, Cargo 10mt............... 1 1 0 0

Howitzer, SP 152mm 2S3.......... 12 12 0 0

Mortar, SP 120mm 2S23........... 6 6 0 0

MRL, 220mm 9P140................ 15 15 0 0

Radar, Artillery Locating ARK1M. 1 1 0 0

RECV, BRM3K CRV................. 1 1 0 0

SAM, 2S6 SP SAM/AAA............. 3 3 0 0

Tank, Challenger 1 Mk3.......... 10 10 0 0

Truck, Cargo 6mt................ 8 8 0 0

Gun, AT 125mm 2A45M............. 8 8 0 0

Truck, UMZ Mine Dispenser....... 1 1 0 0

Logistics Package............... 1 1 0 0

Inf, Team w RPG................. 6 6 0 0

Red had 5 airstrikes waiting offmap and 30000 points in the logpack.

The map was 573: 6.5km wide, but 30 km long, and thus including enough depth for both sides to deploy their artillery and fight a counterbattery war with their radars. In addition to having a 10-15 km battlefield for Blue to attack through.

The front line was roughly 13 easting. Red had to prevent Blue’s penetration of 21 easting. Blue had to seize and secure the airfield at 22/03.

Both sides were told that the umpire would play out a recon battle on the early evening prior to the attack, after which they would have to designate nuke targets, and could make some adjustments prior to the attack itself.

Red Planning:

Red’s planning was conducted by Hub (Kevin Peltz): he set up a very thorough set of plans and had then done well ahead of time. Planned as a delay in sector with lines along 14 and 17 easting, and an AT gun line near 20 easting, the most interesting feature of the defence was the use of all of their 15 engineering markers as mines. A “V” of mines in 13/03 was intended to force Blue to move out into kill sacks in the open terrain to either side, while an intermittent minefield in 13/00 was to break up attempts by Blue to use the close terrain in the south.

Red’s recon/counter-recon plan called for a line of LPs, and a three-squad push deeper into Blue’s territory.

Blue Planning:

Blue’s planning was much more haphazard - so much so that I very nearly postponed the CPX. The initial CO had to drop out due to technical problems, with only a week to go before the start of play. Ralf Pichocki became the CO. His attempts to get his teammates to help him with the planning met with limited success. Chaim Krause, as S2, produced his assessment of Red rapidly. Bernard Cousins, as S3, eventually produced a concept of operations, but too late for there to be any debate or cross checking of it. I’m not aware of other prep work by Blue, though I might have missed some - I’m sure, for example, that Matt Ohlmer put in some planning time to run the artillery.

As a result, Blue’s plan was nowhere near as solid as Red’s. Blue’s recon plan called for 4 groups of 4 hummers to advance slowly towards Red and see what they could find.


In general, Red won the recon battle on the ground. Blue’s recon effort was mostly stopped in its tracks. Red’s LPs got themselves into position, with one of them ambushed and destroyed by Blue’s recon forces. Red’s deep-roving squads eventually ran into much larger Blue forces and died. Red’s major loss in the recon, however, was its UAV. Sent on a deep recon mission, it met Blue’s LAV25 ADA. Scratch Red’s UAV.

Red did not wind up learning much from the recon battle, since it failed to identify the jumping-off sites for Blue’s attacks, because Blue had, through bad planning, not really set them up. However, Red did emplace a forward line of Ops, which gave it excellent spotting information during the opening stages of the battle. Blue, in turn, learned the rough location of Red’s forward line by the expedient of being shot at from it.

After the recon fight, both sides chose nuclear strike sites. Red’s tracked largely down the middle of the map, with one set to take advantage of the minefield. Blue’s were aimed deeper, into the final stages of its attack, the nearest one to the front being at 176019.

The Battle:

In rough outline:

Blue attacked in the center and south starting at 0630. The southern attack met Red early and remained in contact for some time, steadily moving forward, but suffering from mines, artillery fire, and Red’s ambushes. However, this attack did steadily chew apart Red’s first line of defence. By 0711, Blue was uncertain where to aim its attack, and was headed towards trying the center, but fired off its 176019 nuke shot.

Blue’s center attack moved much more slowly. By 0700, it had begun to edge around the minefield to the north, and was taking losses to Red’s AT fires and artillery. At 0711, Red decided to fire its nuke strike at 131026. Red also used its UMZ minelayer to build a wall of mines at 18/01 – probably the first use of the UMZ minelayer in a CPX! [i was very excited by this. This probably means I have no life. smile.gif ]

When the bombs arrived at 0721, Blue was mostly out of the blast zone, though it did suffer some losses. Blue’s bomb, however, tore a huge hole in Red’s second line of defence just north of Red’s newly placed minefield.

However, Blue was by this point committed to trying to punch through the center of Red’s defence. Blue called for its second nuke on 201036, set to arrive at 0731. Red was reorganizing its defence, but was not sending significant forces to that site. Blue, in turn, was trying to push through the still-sound part of Red’s front line.

At this point, Red’s artillery officer, John Osborne, had to leave, and we wound up calling the game. Both sides felt they had a good shot at winning. Both sides have a case; in large measure the outcome would have been decided by:

- Blue’s skill in maneuvering around Red’s kill sack. Blue was set to maneuver into Red’s kill sacks. However, those kills sacks were rapidly running out of firepower.

- Would Red wind up deploying into Blue’s next nuke strike? I’m guessing the answer is “no”; though if Red happened to do this in force, it would have radically tilted the game in favor of Blue.

Thus the outcome would likely have depended on how relative loss rates between Red and Blue as Blue kept going forward. My best guess is that Blue might have made it to the airfield, but not in any great strength; and Red might have stopped Blue, but at such cost as to be largely gone by the end. Either way, a phyrric victory.

Lessons learned:

- While in theory enough time was provided for teams to get themselves sorted out and organized and to conduct proper planning, in reality the two weeks available were insufficient given the SNAFUs that inevitably seem to come up.

This, in turn, bears on the other key lesson: that employment of any powerful asset is only as good as the planning for exploiting its effects. Blue’s nuke strike produced excellent results against Red’s defence, but in the fog of war, the extent of the damage was unknown and Blue had not planned to exploit the nuke blast to enable itself to move forward. I am not clear on the logic of the strike planning on either side.

Red planned the effects of its minefields very well, and was ready to pound on Blue with AT and arty as it came around the mines: a very good practical example of a turning minefield. I do wonder, though, if Red might not have been better off planning to drop its nuke onto the probable backup of Blue troops on the western side of the mines, instead of about 1km off to the SW in the rear part of one of the kill sacks.

- There should be more, but it’s my bedtime for tonight. smile.gif

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm going to be frank here.

I initially joined the CPX about a week before the actual event and I was pretty excited. I received the briefing shortly after and I suddenly lost a lot of interest. In fact, I had the option to go in to work on a Saturday or sleep in a bit and play the CPX, but I decided to bow out of the CPX and go in to work because, in all honesty, the scenario did not appeal to me at all.

Nuclear weapons? Strange fictional orders of battle?

What I was really looking for in this scenario was something like we used to play back in the mid-late '90s in the TacOps community - straight up fights based on plausible real-world scenarios.

Back when Team A would have a US Battalion Task Force and Team B might have a BTR regiment and you were given a brief background on the scenario. Call me boring and old fashioned, but I think that's vastly more fun and interesting compared to nuclear weapons and a composite battalions made up of BTR-Ts, Leopard 2s, Strykers, T-80s, etc.

It just did not interest me, and I'm sorry I dropped out of the CPX but it wasn't at all like I was hoping it would be before I read that briefing. Had I been given some more detail about the mission before hand, like "Fictional battalion-level force on force" I would maybe have not expressed interest at all.

I do, however, look forward to when I might read a CPX call for players announing something like "North Korean push across the DMZ" or "Canadian Brigade Group in Bavaria '87!".

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That's ironic, because the scenario began life as a US armor/mech battalion team vs a dug-in Soviet BTR battalion; I changed it into heavily fictional forces for two reasons:

1) I didn't want to run any risk of getting involved in some political wrangle over nuclear release policies of the two sides;

2) To show off some of the newer equipment that's been added to TacOps, while avoiding problem #1.

On the other hand, I think you missed on out the nuclear angle. 1kt neutron bombs are big enough to be rather scary, but small enough that they don't solve your tactical problems for you - which was part of the point of the scenario.... Nukes change the tactical environment, but you still have to develop an effective plan for exploiting the effects of their fires, or they aren't terribly effective in achieving wider goals.

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