This is the second part of my third Fulda Gap fight, starting at Turn 3. When last we spoke, Team Whiskey had two Mechanized Infantry platoons on the board, and the supporting tank platoon had just come on. Regarding the Mech Inf platoons, Captain Phillips' India Company had lost a couple Bradleys and 1st Platoon's infantry has pretty much been wiped out, while Captain Keepers' Kilo Company got the stuffins knocked out of it, down to two Brads and a five rifle teams.
It's Turn 3, and so the US side is able to bring in its AH-64 Apache for rotary attack support, but, to be honest, I'm a bit scared to call it up as the Soviets still have quite a few surface to air missile (SAM) systems on the table.
But the Soviets have suffered to, with their tank platoon decimated (one T-72 left) and half their SAMs gone, but they still have the majority of their infantry, and their four ATGMs are still in play.
Let's pick up the action.
The top three units, and the one in the middle right (it's an MG) are the ones Kilo's dismounts just spotted.
In any case, Travers' round hits the turret of the Soviet vehicle, knocking it off its ring, effectively disabling the tank. But the crew bravely remains in the vehicle; this is interesting from a game perspective. If they can rally and get the tank off-board, they rob the US of a victory point for knocking it out. Of course, the US is going to work to get that victory point by popping it before it can exit.
That's some handy shooting with the 25mm chain gun!
I am barely retaining the initiative in my counterattack, with my Mech Infantry forces shot to pieces. I do have most of my Abrams left, but the enemy still has some ATGMs and a whole lot of hidden, RPG-armed rifle teams lurking in various patches of woods, so I really feel like I need some help. On board, the Soviets are down to one remaining SA-9 (in good fighting order, seen at top right), and one Manpad SAM (off camera to top left), which is suppressed. If now is not the time, I don't know what it...
It all comes down to the dice now...
The Apache has moved forward and the SA-9 is now masked by trees. The Soviet commander had placed his SAMs in cover, with good firing lanes, but now that most of the SAMs are gone (knocked out, fled the table, or suppressed) there are serious gaps in coverage, meaning the SAMs are going to have to move, exposing themselves, to clear their lanes.
And that, my friends, is the end of Turn 3.
The plan is not really working for either side, but the US is gaining ground finally. If you recall, the US planned to rush its Bradleys into the first 'band' of trees (far right), dismount its infantry, then push into the second band of trees (far left). But Soviet tanks and ATGMs ripped the Mech elements to pieces, knocking a lot of rifle teams out in their vehicles, then Soviet mortars and machine guns ripped quite a few more to pieces while the infantry was still bunched up. But the few remaining infantry have been able to press ahead and spot enemy infantry in their hides (with help from SF Tm2 in the orange building, and some great spotting rolls) so the Brads and tanks could move up and use their heavy weapons (alone, the US vehicles have a very small chance of spotting dug-in enemy infantry).
The Soviets hoped to get the US infantry and vehicles into close range (after having ate some of them up with their tanks and ATGMs) and shoot them to pieces with RPGs and small arms fire, but the great US spotting rolls identified most of the Soviet rifle teams, allowing the US to bring heavy weapons to bear, as we see here.
Dammit, I missed a photo here: on the US right, the XO, Maj Kavscott rallied a rifle team while the Bradleys moved up, with one firing a TOW at an SA-9 in the northeast.
Except the MG, which melts away due to heavy casualties, all other successfully rally, but the tide has turned. The US clearly has the advantage now in numbers and firepower; it is now a race against time to knock out as many Soviet units as possible before falling back. Please remember that this was a limited counterattack, with the goal(s) being to 1) decisively defeat Soviet air defense elements in the area in order to make space for NATO tactical air, and 2) to punch Soviet armored elements in the mouth to keep them off balance, not to take and hold ground.
I keep pushing them back, but all of a sudden I can't kill them...
Off camera to top right, the Soviet mortars finally rally back into fighting shape, but they can see US armored vehicles nearby and are getting a bit nervous.
With their commander pinned, they set about self-rallying. the rifle teams at top left and bottom left rally, the MG team at top right rallies up to pinned, the commander successfully rallies, and the far right rifle team falls back off the map.
It really sucks that the Soviets in the southeast were able to basically get back in fighting shape, as the US really wanted to push in there and knock a bunch of enemy units out.
And that is the end of Turn 4. At this point I figured it was time for the US to start skedaddling back towards home, so, with Soviet forces basically beat down in all sectors, I didn't follow my normal rules, I started 'hand waving' (pencil-whipping, if you like) certain actions on the US left.
For this I went back to the normal rules, but then it looked so out of hand in the southeast that I just rolled it up.
So, with that, Kilo Company's infantry pushed aggressively (top center, top left, and center left) into the Soviet southeastern defensive positions, capturing the pinned enemy MG (top right, yellow bead) and the two 'men down' enemy rifle teams (far left and bottom center, white beads).
Wow, what a game. When I looked at the overwhelming US numbers, I was pretty confident of a US victory, but I had no idea it would come at such a cost, that the Soviet defense would be so effective. Team Whiskey made a successful counterattack, accomplishing both its mission objectives, but it wrecked itself on the Soviet defenses. These losses forced me to bring on the Apache (and it might seem like the Apache wasn't particularly effective; it's true it didn't eliminate many enemy units, but its rockets certainly had a great effect pinning/suppressing a lot of enemy units, which allowed the Mech forces to push ahead into the Soviet defenses) before all Soviet air defense units were eliminated, and, frankly, I was extraordinarily lucky that the damned helo wasn't shot down by that last SA-9, and that the Manpad SAM wasn't able to rally and shoot it down.
Here's how the losses panned out:
US casualties:1 M1
10 M2/3 Bradleys
9 Rifle Teams
1 SF Team
*Both Lt Webster (2nd Plt, Kilo Co) and Lt Tinman (3rd Plt, Kilo Co) were seriously wounded and are out of the campaign.
*Sergeant Bajers 3nd Plt, India Co) was awarded the Bronze Star with 'V' device for leading two close assaults that eliminated enemy rifle teams.
Soviet casualties:5 T-72
6 (of 8; one left, one forced to run off board) rifle teams
4 (of 4) machine gun teams
3 (of 4, one forced off table) ATGM teams
3 (of 4, one forced off table) MANPADS
3 (of 4, one forced off table) SA-9 Gaskins
2 (of 3, one forced off table) Command Stands
In the overall scheme of things, while Team Whiskey's counterattack was successful (though costly), 11th ACR, and indeed all of V Corps, has similarly been beat up, and so the Corps has begun an organized withdrawal to its next defensive line. 8th Guards Army has been beat up pretty bad as well, but their reconnaissance elements note the US withdrawal, and so 8th Guards Army again flips over again to the attack. Anxious to turn the US tactical situation from a withdrawal into a route, the Soviets launch armored columns forward, breaking out into tank country into pursuit of the withdrawing US forces.
More fighting will occur this weekend, hopefully two fights, but at least one, so please stay tuned. And thank you for sticking with me through multi-part batreps; I suppose it works, but I'm not a fan of it, so I'll try to keep it to a minimum. But real life, in the form of work, kids' schooling, and kids' extracurricular activities have a say in the matter, so if multi-part batreps is the best way to get the info to you guys, I'll look to keep that up, though it's not my preference.