It's 14 August 1993, and the Legion is in action in defense of Estonia's fledgling democracy once again. Major Louis-Louis was intent on having his battalion press home its efforts to find, fix, and destroy Colonel Sirel's headquarters, when those plans were scrubbed due to reports representing an imminent threat: sources loyal to the liberal government reported the Sirellists had established a Surface to Air Missile (SAM) north of the capital, with 2km of the International Airport. It would be a tragedy should this SAM bring down an airliner, and a disaster if it were to destroy one of the French C-130s bringing in men and supplies. Currently public opinion was rather disinterested in the French intervention in Estonia, but Ffom Louis-Louis' standpoint, an incident such as this would be comparable to the Beirut Barracks bombing. "Orderly! Send Captain LaPieux's Sous-Groupement a Warning Order, standby to move in 1 hour. And send for the Captain please, I wish to brief him personally."
This is somewhat of an ad-hoc grouping as Capt LaPieux's Sous-Groupement suffered heavy casualties only a few days ago, and many of the Group's vehicles are still being repaired. As it is, the Panhard and two AMX-10s in action were only just finished being repaired.
Let's get ready to rumble!!!
Because of the extremely closed terrain (which negates the usefulness of much of the armor), the 1st Plt basically had two choices: 1) rush south down the road, team up with 2nd Plt, then move west to force the French blocking position and cut off the Striking Force. Generally speaking, concentration of force/effort is a good thing, but the fact is that, in such closed terrain, it's often just not possible. In my estimation, it didn't matter if the bad guys had 100 tanks, there simply wasn't room for them to operate, and even if the bad guys combined their platoons in the southeast, they'd still have to move west up the only road available, straight into the teeth of the French Covering Force.
So that left option 2: 1st Plt (in the SE) tries to force the blocking position, whilst the 1st Plt stays in the north, which led to another decision. Should 1st Plt move quickly to meet the French Strike Force, or should the 1st Plt lay back, allow the French Strike Force to reach its objective, then strike, attempting to isolate and eliminate them, knowing that in either case the T-72 and BMPs were not destined to be of much use. I figured the bad guys weren't all that hip to allowing the French to destroy their SAM site, i.e., the SAM site wasn't some sort of bait to lure the French into a trap, that the narrative made more sense that the bad guys had dispatched their regulars (with armor) into a less than favorable situation as they were desperate to keep the French off their SAM site, the existence of which they thought was unknown to the French.
Lt Harpin's squad was eliminated, the bad guys suppressed...
In the north, the Strike Force has taken a few casualties and lost a HMMWV, but otherwise is progressing well towards the objective, having mostly eliminated all enemy infantry in vicinity of the SAM site. Captain LaPieux would really like to get something done about the enemy armor to the east, but overall they are not in a position to influence the fight, so long as the French stay off the bridge. Capt LaPieux does intend on trying to neutralize the armor; he doesn't need the bridge to accomplish his mission, but it would make life much easier (and quicker).
Not pictured, but in other notable news, the bad guy infantry in the south try to rally themselves but fail, and are exhausted, which means the two BTRs there will sit tight, not wishing to confront the French Covering Force without infantry support.
That's the end of Turn 2, and Turn 3 started with the bad guy infantry in the south managing to rally, so stand by for some excitement with them and the two BTRs. If the rally had not been successful, this would have been a simple walk-off...
Cpl Desjardin (HMMWV at bottom center) swings his Mk19 right and pumps a string of 40mm grenades into the treeline, causing two casualties and suppressing the enemy squad (red bead). Then the enemy BTR activates again, and again uses its 14.5mm HMG on Sgt Oran's troops, but they're already using their shirt buttons to dig deeper into the earth's surface, and they experience no further ill effect.
Sirellists: 27 casualties, 8 captured, two tanks, and two BTRs (the two BMPs were damaged, but, as the rebels own the field, they should be able to recover and repair them).
French: Lt Harpin's squad was eliminated, Lt Bisson lost 1, Sgt Oran lost 3, Sgt Cheauvront lost 2, Sgt Bernier's AMX-10P crew was lost, as was Cpl Navarre's HMMWV crew, for a total of 14 casualties. One HMMWV was destroyed beyond repair (indeed, it was blown in place), though Sgt Bernier's AMX-10P was towed back to base for repair.
I need to go and update the campaign roster (which will have been done prior to you reading this), as we've lost a few leaders, and I need to account for the decorations for valor. Speaking of that, while the Legionaires accounted themselves well, sometimes in some desperate fighting, and they performed heroically, none accounted themselves above and beyond to the point of individual recognition. Lt Patrie's Panhard seemed to me to come the closest, certainly distinguishing itself by continuously placing the vehicle and crew in danger to good result (the bad guy infantry in the walled orchard, moving into the exposed position on the bridge to destroy the BMP, and moving into the exposed position in the road to destroy the last BTR).
Another fun fight, a little on the long side (Fight 2 as 4 hours, and this one was 3 hours!). Additionally, I made two mistakes in the creation of my scenario:
1) I had too many vehicles and not enough infantry on both sides, particularly given the close terrain. In my head I actually pictured a lot of close-in fighting, cat-and-mouse escapades in the many treelines, fields, knolls, and walls. But I screwed up the force composition, which meant the fights would necessarily be restricted to the roads. Which is not at all unrealistic in modern fighting, just not what I'd dreamed up.
2) I screwed up in terrain placement. This is directly related to problem #1, in that I had too many vehicles and not enough infantry. Given the fact of too many vehicles, the mistake I made was in placing too much terrain in the northeast, closing off the bad guy armor's ability to influence the battle. There simply was no avenue for them to move west, minus heading south to link up with the other platoon, then pressing west into the Covering Force's roadblock. So, that was my screw up, not understood until the game started and there was really nowhere for the T-72 and BMPs to go...
Nevertheless, it was still fun, and I look forward to my next opportunity for the Legion to cover itself in glory. In my last post I mentioned using this burgeoning issue as the seed for a larger campaign, that is, 'civil war' in the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland, amongst pro-Western supporters of liberal government, and pro-Russian "Sirellists," who wish to return to Soviet-style government and economics. What's going to happen is that I intend on playing 7-10 of these fights of the Legion in Estonia, and then the French will leave and I'll move them to another hotspot, like the Balkans, the Middle East, or Africa. This campaign will end either with the French killing Colonel Sirel, or the French trying to kill Colonel Sirel but failing and losing in dramatic fashion, enough to force the French to leave the country.
In either case, the stage is set for the Baltic State 'Civil War': either Sirel has been martyred, or he has been lionized. Stay tuned. We've got the holiday coming up this week, always a busy time, but I shan't neglect my wargaming responsibilities, no matter how much the wife hates me. I intend on getting some painting done, then getting Legion games in while I'm off from work on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I also want to get back to my 6mm stuff...