It's now 2030 on 17 July 2002, fourteen days since the last fight, and the Royal Marines have caught a break in their search for their "Black Friday" assailants of 24 May 2002. Having discovered the death of the her husband, the Merchant's wife stumbled into one of 27 Commando's patrol bases. Distraught and incoherent at times, she spilled her guts to the Royal Marines; her motivation was the fact the Taliban had killed her beloved husband, and no one present had a mind to disavow her of that notion. But she provided information not only on who the leader was, but where he was currently located, and what he was doing, which just happened to be a meeting with his senior Lieutenants to hash out plans to strike hard against the Royal Marines of 27 Commando prior to their redeployment home.
The entire platoon was dispatched, with two Sections taking up blocking positions to isolate the objective, while our Section was the assault force. But isolating the objective would prove quite problematic: the meeting of the Taliban commanders was happening in an urban area, a house on the outskirts of Kabul. The mission needs to take place right away; SIGINT and other HUMINT reporting has indicated the meeting will end at 2130 and the leaders will split up and return to their home bases. The reason for only a single platoon assigned to the task is partially one of transport; there is not enough lift available. Royal Marine Chinooks could carry more men, but are ill suited for the mission; for such a precise insertion the Royal Marines will be using three MH-60s from JSOTF (Joint Special Operations Task Force) at Bagram, of which only six are available for the mission.
So the two Sections taking up blocking positions will have a very difficult time blocking blocking to the west, where the target compound abuts the rest the city proper; necessarily the blocking Sections will be more concerned with keeping Taliban in Kabul from rushing to, reinforcing, the target compound, and less focus will be put on blocking escape from the target compound, where there are simply too many routes to cover. But the Platoon is ready; broken into sticks, they mount the helicopters and begin winging south to Kabul.
On an admin note, this will be the last fight for this campaign, "Royals in Parwan." I've figured out that eight is about how many fights I can do before my interest turns to something else, so this is it for now. But I'm not leaving them forever; I plan on doing further blocks of eight games, following these guys to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Back to Basra in maybe 2005 or 2006, Afghanistan in probably 2008 or 2009, over to Libya in 2011, maybe to Syria after that. We'll see; in any case, stand by for a helluva fight!
I am running a die-driven clock to determine when the Taliban leader will begin his run for the board edge, and I am using a blind method to figure out which building he will start his run from.
Top left: Sherlock, Gimlet, Rip, Sparks, and the new guy, Marine "Belly" Gastro.
Bottom left: Knocker, Conk, True, and Able.
The Section is broken up into two sticks, each in a separate helo; the troops are shown in their sticks, one led by Sherlock and one led by Knocker.
And it's time to get this party started. The 'whup-whup-whup' of helicopter blades are heard in the distance, getting louder...
Sorry for so many photos, but I'm really happy with how my table has slowly but surely getting better looking.
On a side note, I can't help but notice, after eight games, that Knocker doesn't hit shit, no matter how many dice I give him...
If he falls back again he'll leave the damn map. Maybe he's not okay...
The Taliban was +3 in that D6 opposed die roll, by the way.
Sparks has turned into quite the little marksman. This is the third time I recall him hitting multiple targets with a single burst.
This wasn't a mistake, I didn't let the bad guy return fire twice. It was the Marines' turn, so True moved up, drawing react fire. Then it became the Taliban's turn, and the guy that just react fired at True activated first for them,
The bad guy at bottom right successfully self rallies.
The bad guys on the Marine left are finally in bad shape, with two guys knocked down, and no one reasonably close enough to go check on them and get them back in the fight.
Time is growing short; the Target is trying to run off map, into the urban maze of Kabul.
DAMMIT!!!!!!!!! Wow, what a fight, but this is a bit frustrating. Last fight, I was on the cusp of victory, about to take The Merchant alive, when Conk accidentally guns him down, and this fight, when Geeves is right there, getting to the other side of the wall, almost in striking distance, and Knocker takes the 'scare' shot, but misses...
Having said that, it works wonders for the campaign narrative. Despite the fact the next to campaigns will be in Iraq, the Royals shall return to Afghanistan, and guess who their nemesis will be? Yeah, this guy, the one that got away, The Target. And guess what else? In the post mission debrief, Knocker speaks up: "mates, I've got something for you. I got a good look at him, at the Target, and we know him." "What???" "Yeah mate, we know that bloke. Quite well actually." "Well, come off it Knocker, who in bloody 'ell was it?" "It was Pasha Gul." "You must be joking mate." "I'm not. I've... we've spent plenty of time with that bastard, and I'm telling you, it was Pasha Gul."
The fight itself was quite bloody, with the Taliban scoring a lot of hits. Must've been some highly trained foreign fighters or something ;) While the bad guys suffered another nine KIA, the Section was, once again, pretty beat up:
Rip - KIA
Able - Lost his left arm, being returned to the UK and medically retired.
Conk - WIA, but not too bad, out of action for a week or so of convalescence.
Belly - Suffered a concussion, but otherwise he's good to go.
Here's the campaign tally:
Taliban: 49 KIA, 3 captured
Royal Marines: 3 KIA, 4 WIA and medically discharged/retired, 1 WIA and retained for service but not fit for combat duty, and four other WIA that were able to stay with the unit.
The Section was getting ready for redeployment home, no longer required to go outside the wire, but they volunteered for one more presence patrol, one that took them back to Khowt Gin, home of Pasha Gul. But he was gone; it had been a day since the raid on the outskirts of Kabul, but he'd already grabbed his wife, cleaned out the home, and departed the area. "We'll see you again, Pasha."
Little did they know they're next deployment would not be to Afghanistan, but to Iraq...