It's 0700 on 4 August 1986, and Team Whiskey, as part of the beat up 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, is in full retreat. But the Soviet 8th Guards Army, which had taken an operational pause and been counterattacked yesterday by 11th ACR, never halted its reconnaissance assets, and the Soviet recon assets quickly noted 11th ACR's withdrawal from its forward defensive positions in preparation for a speedy withdrawal to its next line of defense. The 8th Guards Army quickly switched over to the attack, flinging its armored formations forward in pursuit of the fleeing NATO forces.
In this, 11th ACR was quite fortunate. The Soviets, in their haste to turn an orderly withdrawal into a route, and without good prior route reconnaissance into unfamiliar terrain, had gaps appear between their advance guard and forward detachments. With aerial reconnaissance and surveillance alerting them to the Soviet armored thrusts, Lt Col Lacy quickly issued orders. Captain Sighe, formerly the the Battalion S-6 (Communications) but now running India Company's 1st Mechanized Infantry Platoon, already had his platoon dug-in in the West German village of Bad Stulz as Team Whiskey's rear guard.
Lt Col Lacy, Team Whiskey's Commanding Officer, quickly dispatched TOWs, machine guns, and the 81mm mortars of Weapons Company, as well as 1st Lt Roberts' 3rd Tank Platoon, which Charlie Company's Commanding Officer is accompanying. Due to current unit locations, Weapons Company will reach Captain Sighe's India Mech Co, 1st Platoon before Lt Roberts' tank platoon.
So, Captain Sighe's 1st Platoon, with Weapons Company MGs, TOWs, and mortars in direct support, is lying in wait, with a tank platoon on the way, as a Soviet armored column comes flying down the road, oblivious (due to the loss of contact with their reconnaissance) that US troops have filtered into the gap and are preparing to ambush them.
I only got one game in this weekend, and once again I've got a busy schedule at work, kids' schoolwork, and baseball, so I'm forced to again release my batrep in two parts.
The US plan is for the TOWs (two in the southern treeline, two in the northern treeline, and one in the rear) to open the engagement against the Soviet armored column, and then for the US infantry to pretty much die in place, tying the Soviets up in the village/treelines while the TOWs displace and reload to hit the Soviets again, then pray the tanks get there in time. The Soviets, basically on a road march, comfortable due to the fact their recon missed these US positions, don't really have a plan, they'll just have to react on the fly (that is to say, execute standard battle drill for a "close ambush - front").
The three TOWs in the north are 1st TOW Section (TOW1), while the two TOWs in the south are TOW2.
The Soviets are broken up into four elements, in order of march: Mech 1 (six BMPs), Tank 1 (six T-72s, followed by the enemy CO), Mech 2 (six BMPs followed by the enemy XO), and Tank 2 (six T-72s).
Please note, when I say the Soviets are unable to acquire the TOW teams, that doesn't mean the Soviets didn't see and react to the TOW launches. This simply means they were unable to deliver accurate, effective fire on the TOW teams, which allowed them to fire their missiles, guide them into their targets, then fall back without suffering casualties or negative morale results.
But they have no idea of all the US troops in close proximity. They're about to.
But calamity strikes: the T-72 at center left (between the two targeted tanks) is able to acquire the two US anti-tank teams (at top center right), and he fires a 125mm HE round.
That's the end of Turn 1.
Off camera to top right, the pinned BMP kicks out its infantry.
I know, I'll have the two TOWs sprint north (left), where they can set up to engage Soviets coming 'round the north (gap in trees at top center), or fire into the flank of Soviets pushing up the middle (gap in trees off camera to right). A great plan potentially, but the TOWs sprinted and didn't make it to cover. So, now they are not only exposed to any Soviets that come through the north gap, they are going to need to use another turn to move into position, then one more to reload, before they can get back in the fight...
Soviet Mech 2 kicks out its infantry (top, next to each BMP that just moved up and shot). Now would be the perfect time for a US activation so I can ring my 81mm mortars up and whack these @#$%ers...
Two teams go left (top left), firing on the US MG up there, while one pushed up the road (center, just left of the road) and fires at a pinned US rifle team (far right, yellow bead), whilst another Soviet rifle team says 'hell with it' and charges the 'men down' US MG team in the building at center left (white bead).
You gotta be @#$%ing kidding me!!! I've done that several times, but I've never had it done to me! I s'pose turnabout is fair play, but in my defense, at least I was doing it to pinned/hunkered/men down teams that were lined up like bowling pins. He did it to a pinned teams, and two in good shape, dodging react fire three @#$%ing times!!! Quite a run. Now I'm really nervous about TOW1 being caught out in the field in the open before they can move into cover; they're off camera to top left, and nobody can see them right now, but if this team moves to the top left a little bit, they'll be able to spot them for sure.
So, just when things were looking dark, here comes the cavalry. But I don't know if it will be enough. So far, the US has lost 3 of 4 rifle teams, 1 TOW team, and 4 of 5 MG teams, while the Soviets have lost 4 of 12 tanks, 6 of 12 BMPs, and 5 of 12 rifle teams. While the US is in good stead with the arrival of the Abrams, don't forget the Soviet rifle teams have RPGs, and their BMPs each have a single ATGM shot (it can actually be reloaded, but they're not going to take the time to do that in the middle of a fight), as well as their cannon, which can kill an Abrams at very short range.
The big deal is my not getting the TOWs in place; that's looming large in my mind, and I hope it doesn't cost me the fight. Stay with me, the conclusion is coming as soon as possible, and the fight is knock-down, drag-out once again.