This is the next in series of the Doves in Charge AAR. The match is between myself (Allies) and Pat (NLF) and covers the entire year of 1966.
Year start vital stats:
U.S. Morale - 511
Commitment - 99
SVN Morale - 81
SVN Draft level - 47
Controlled Population - 224
NVA Morale - 38
Commitment - ?
VC Draft Level - ?
Controlled Population - 136
Citing a concern for the increased level of fighting in Vietnam, the doves in charge in Washington reduced expenditures, and authorized a paltry 15 CPs for the upcoming season. On its own that would barely cover operations. So some of the divisions already in country had to give up some assets to make room for the 1st Infantry, which had already been slated to arrive this season.
I counted 34 new VC units on the map. The NVA built 1 HQ, 3 regiments, and 3 artillery. I orginally estimated this recruitment at 22 CPs. But the 34 VC units were later found to include 1 HQ and 6 regiments so the revised cost would be 26 CPs.
And speaking of NLF comittment costs, I have a pretty good system for estimating what the NLF is spending each turn. I use the total VC count method. I count VC units before and after recruitment and get the total purchased (unless my opponent just gives me a courtesy count). I then subtract 4 from that total, figuring they are free politicals. The rest are counted as battalions and the total draft level and supply costs are noted. If a unit turns out to be a regiment then the draft and supply costs are adjusted accordingly. And it doesn’t matter if the regiment was created from scratch or created from 3 on-board VC, because the final costs are the same.
For example, let’s say the VC recruit 30 units. 26 are assumed to be battalions so we count +26 draft and -52 supplies used (meaning at least 6 CPs of supply must have been allocated during a previous season). Let’s say from that group a regiment is later discovered during the season. The draft is corrected to +29 and supplies to -60 (25 battalions = 25/50 and 1 reg = 4/10. 4 politicals are free. Total unit count = 30). Now let’s say the regiment was recruited by combining on-board VC. Since the total unit count still has to equal 30, it just means those battalions were re-built somewhere else. Otherwise the unit count would have been 27, not 30.
The flaw with this method is that it is not timely. Sometimes it takes a couple seasons to discover a regiment so then I have to go back an make corrections. Another timeliness issue is when the NLF player uses big supply shipments to stock the VC supply pool (in which case my estimate would be lower than actual expenses). But the ultimate totals are quite accurate. In our two games (1st Clash and 2nd Clash) Erik and I could estimate within a few points actual NLF comittment using this method.
The highlight of operations this season was a large scale engagement in Thua Thien between the 8th VC division and the U.S. 3rd Marine. Unknown at the time, of course, but the entire VC division was recruited along the Thua Thien-Quang Nam border. During the first game turn it moved northwest into Thua Thien, appearing to me as if it intended to set up along the Laotian border. But then it doubled back and attacked a couple Marine HQs which had strayed too far from base. Fortunately an ROK 9th division regiment was close enough to lend a hand. One VC regiment was destroyed in the initial assault and the other two were destroyed in the U.S. counterattack. The HQ made it back to Laos.
Further south in II Corps, a large VC force had converged on Gia Nghia and declared a Search & Destroy operation against it. The Allies reinforced with ARVN ground and U.S. artillery. Free Fire was declared and some of our precious air support peeled off to aid the defense. The VC aborted the attack and moved northeast into Phu Bon, adding to the already large force that had assembled there.
Population barely changed. 1 point in SVN favor. I was planning on this being a re-stocking turn. But since casualties were so light last season (1 US, 3 ARVN, 0 air, 1 airmobile) we can afford to bring in the 4th division. Most of this division deployed in III Corps because I expected the VC to make a push in Long Khanh. As it turned out the real threat was to occur further north.
The rest of the interphase was uneventful . NVA started to mass again in the DMZ. Another 2 NVA regiments and 2 artillery were recruited to reinforce their northern army, while the VC fielded 25 new units (2 of which were later discovered to be regiments). 18 NVA replacements were dropped in the pool. Total NLF recruitment of about 20 CPs.
Allied forces were still spread out from the battle with the 8th VC division last season and didn’t have enough available to defend Quang Tri against this force. So a slow retreat to Hue was ordered.
There is a gathering storm in southern II corps. 25 VC units, some of which are sure to be regiments given what I’ve seen so far, have massed in Tuyen Duc. Some moved up into Phu Bon while most headed for Khanh Hoa. To deal with this threat we called on the 101st airmobile, 1st Infantry, 173rd brigade, and the newly arrived 4th Infantry.
By the beginning of the 2nd turn the VC force had been split into two groups. One group was assembled west of Ban Me Thout. The other group had been condensed along the Khanh Hoa-Tuyen Duc provincial border. We didn’t have enough forces to go after both. So the decision was made to ignore the western group and focus on Khanh Hoa. Part of the 4th division was not able to participate, however. They had their own crisis to deal with near Saigon. So elements of the 3rd Marine were brought down from I Corps to help with the encirclement.
I had expected the VC to dig in where they stood, but instead practically the entire pocket decided to run the gauntlet to escape. Some moved into Phu Bon. Most went to coastal Khanh Hoa. Normally the VC wouldn’t fare so well in such a move. But as it turned out they had 2 full divisions, the 5th and the 9th, in that pocket. Stacks of regiments, supported by artillery, were able to run through our lines with ease. I was a bit cavalier about calling for incidental attacks and the U.S. wound up taking heavy casualties.
All enemy units from the pocket were eventually eliminated in follow up operations. By season’s end peace again prevailed in Tuyen Duc and Khanh Hoa.
Having been completely ignored, the group west of Ban Me Thout set up in central Phu Bon. I prodded them a bit near the end of the turn, looking for possibly another VC division. All I found were battalions and politicals.
Meanwhile, the NVA advanced in force across the DMZ as soon as I had pulled out of Quang Tri city. This was expected. I didn’t mind losing Quang Tri, but I can’t afford to let the enemy gain a foothold in Thua Thien. Forces will have to be introduced next season to counter this threat.
This season by far involved the most intense combat of the war so far. We lost 12 US and 19 ARVN replacements. For our efforts we destroyed 61 battalion equivalents - 2 HQs, 6 regs, 33 battalions, 4 politicals. All enemy losses were VC units. No NVA units were harmed in the making of this AAR.
We had a great pacification segement. Many of of the swing provinces were on “+” from last season and lots of 7’s and 8’s were rolled. Plus, the only provinces where significant enemy forces remained were Quang Tri, Kontum, and Phu Bon (two of those already being lost causes). The net result was a whopping +14 gain, to 240. This dropped NLF population to 120.
My elation at pacification was tempered by a generally miserable politics phase. Loyalty went down slightly and effectiveness went down significantly. The Leadership Training Program would take much longer than expected to bear fruit. The only positive thing to say about ARVN politics this season is that there was no coup, and “Big Minh” remained in charge.
U.S. morale received a net gain this season once news of our battlefield victory in Khanh Hoa reached back home. But that did’t convince the Doves to increase comittment beyond the 15 CPs already promised. Just the opposite, in fact. Now they believe we can get the job done on a shoestring budget.
The new comittment was used to reinforce Thua Thien with the 5th mechanized and a couple heavy artillery. Since a showdown with the NVA appeared imminent, we called in the New Jersey to provide some extra punch. The rest went to replacements. Last season was the third time I ran out of ARVN replacements so we stocked the pool well.
The NLF spent 22 CPs on recruitment. I counted 46 new VC units, 1 NVA HQ, 3 NVA regs, and 12 NVA replacements.
The NVA took notice of the arrival of the 5th mechanized and BB New Jersey into the theater and promptly pulled back to the Cambodian border, where the newly arrived NVA 3rd Division was already in position to cover them. I did not attempt to pursue. I was just happy to get Hue out from under their shadow. They bounced back in during the 2nd turn but only made it as far as Quang Tri city. I could live with that for the moment.
The NLF also attempted to cut the coastal highway and a series of road-clearing battles ensued. Most of the VC that clung to the coast were eventually destroyed.
IV Corps has sprung back to life this season with the appearance of a large group of VC in the northwestern corner of the delta. The enemy’s strategy was now becoming clear. He was going to be pressing wherever I was weak, forcing me to shuffle units around to fill the gaps. Every turn that a unit is redeploying to cover a new threat is one that it is not hunting VC. The most effective way for me to counter this was to bring in enough ground troops so that there would be no real safe areas for the VC to deploy. Something to think about.
During the turn most of the VC pictured above moved to the central part of the delta. Near the end of the 1st turn I conducted a large redeployment to IV Corps. This caused the VC to splinter into 2 groups. The majority headed back northwest towards Cambodia. The smaller group made it to the swamps of southern An Xuyen. With most IV Corps provinces free of VC by the end of the turn, I decided not to disturb them lest I stir up a hornet’s nest.
Accepting an NLF presence in Quang Tri, Kontum, Kien Giang, and An Xuyen, we called it a day.
Similar to last season, we had a decent pacification phase followed by a horrible politics phase. Population went up +6 points, so we started receiving the morale bonus. But my coup roll was a 12, and the Minh government was overthrown by the traitor Ky. Then to add insult to injury, for the second season in a row I rolled a 4 for loyalty adjustment and my best leaders, the C’s , went down.
Despite the South Vietnamese political and military turmoil, the Doves authorized only 4 CPs for this season. We didn’t expect much help from the ARVN so we used it to replace U.S. losses from last season.
The NVA continued their buildup in the north with 19 new comittment (1 HQ, 5 regs, 9 repl). 21 new VC units were identified (2 of which later turned out to be regiments, and 3 conduits). With VC controlled population at 114, I believe that VC draft level is now well over that. So the VC draft cost would have kicked in. Total NLF CPs spent = 29.
In I Corps the NVA force has grown, and is now strong enough that the 5th mech is no longer a deterent. They bypassed Phong Dien and hit the ARVN 2nd Marine regiment. The ARVN took heavy losses on the first round and retreated to Hue.
At that point it looked as though the whole northern front was about to cave in. We stayed calm and cleared out the VC patrolling the coastal road. Any defense of Hue would require a clear path to the front. We then set up defensive positions and braced for the second wave. This time the hammer fell on my left flank. Losses were even on both sides and the position held.
Another NVA division, screened by lots of VC, has started operating in the central highlands. Where all these divisions are coming from is a mystery to me. But there they are.
The 1st Cav was ready to defend Binh Dinh. I had already decided that if the enemy came in force I would Free Fire and conduct a massive counterattack. But after a couple probing attacks the majority of the invaders pulled back into Kontum. Again, I did not pursue. At this point in the war I had to accept that the NLF would have their sanctuaries.
We played a lot of cat & mouse games along the border cultivated hexes in IV Corps near the end of the season. This is where I like to use the “Bump & Shove” operation. This is using a single unit (sometimes with support) to push a VC off its hex. The VC may be tempted to stay and fight since first round odds are in their favor. So you need to have offensive reserves on standby for this to work. Independent artillery in range is perfect for this assignment. If the VC fights, the artillery fires. If the VC run, the artillery deactivates and is available for another operation. This is just one of the tactics I use to get more mileage out of a thin force.
Year End Stats:
U.S. Morale - 510
Commitment - 148
SVN Morale - 83
SVN Draft level - 74
Controlled Population - 246
NVA Morale - 116
Commitment - ?
VC Draft Level - ?
Controlled Population - 114
Summary for 1966
During 1966 the NLF pressed hard in the north and central, and made sporadic forays into the south. Despite enemy aggression, the population rose to the mid-240s, U.S. comittment stayed < 150 and morale remained > 500. So far I would say the Doves in Charge strategy is working.
The intensity of the NLF response did catch me by surprise though. I would not have figured such a large force was possible so early in the game. I felt like I fell asleep and woke up in the middle of 1972.
- Last edited Thu Sep 8, 2016 6:27 pm (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Thu Sep 8, 2016 3:22 pm
Exciting game so far. Are you doing any strat bombing? Also, the SVN population is great (for this stage of the game) but what about the SVN morale? But you don't have any chance to use EA programs without going over the magic 150 commitment (which will set off offensives).
SVN morale is OK, but not great. I do sporadic bombing just to keep it over 80. I'd rather go the EA route but it's not in the budget right now. CPs are tight. But U.S. morale is in such great shape I can afford a little bombing.
patrick Le Bloa
Nice AAR and very interressant strategy.
Missed some 175 at the border.
An ifern wrote:
Missed some 175 at the border.
I started reinforcing Hue with heavy artillery the following season.
510 Morale at the end of 1966???
And your population control is incredible.
I'll be interested to see if you can hold the latter number with the large amounts of NVA in the field.
Giving a peek into what has happened so far in 1967, comittment is going up due to enemy pressure, morale is coming down due to the start of NLF Offensives, but the population continues to slowly rise. I have a theory on that which I'll present in the next AAR.