Steve Rothwell
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How to Make War - After Action Report

Era:
NATO vs Warsaw Pact 1973

Scenario:
A Soviet Motor Rifle Battalion Attempts to Overrun a US Mechanised Infantry Company

Situation:
A US mechanised infantry company has been ordered to hold or delay advancing Soviet troops. A narrow valley gives access from the north to an East-West road running through the forests to the south. The US intention is to hold the Soviets at the opening to the valley or, if not possible, to block the route through to the road. The Soviets have sent a motorised rifle battalion to secure the valley from the North and to gain the East-West road.

Map:
Played with Map B from MechWar2: Red Star White Star. The river hex sides to the north of the valley are ignored (there are no rivers). The trail running from East to West through the heavy woods to the south of the map is treated as a road.

Order of Battle:
Soviets

Motorised Rifle Battalion (BMP-1):
3 X MR companies
1 X 120mm mortar battery
1 X Tank company (T-62) attached
1 X T-55 engineer tank section with mine plough
1 X engineer platoon

Light Artillery Battalion (SP122mm 2S1) – Off Map:
3 X light artillery batteries

US

Mechanised Infantry Company:
3 X mech inf platoons
1 X M150 TOW platoon (2 X vehicles)
1 X M125 81mm platoon

Medium Artillery Battery – Off Map:
3 X M109 155mm SP sections

Intentions:
The Americans plan to hold the Soviets in the valley for as long as possible. A hasty minefield is laid to block access to the valley from the North. This obstacle will initially be covered by the M150 TOW section on the Western hill and mech infantry platoons on the Eastern hill, the advancing Soviets to be brought under fire by the M150 at long range and by artillery called in by the infantry spotters. If as expected, the Soviets reach the minefield in force, the American troops covering the minefield are to withdraw with the rest of the company to the Northern edge of the woods at the head of the valley. There they will fight a last stand to impose as long a delay on the Soviets as possible.

The Soviets will enter the map from the North and the first priority is to get artillery observers on the higher ground with LOS to the valley entrance. The artillery will lay down a smoke screen to shield the advance of the BMPs and tanks across the plain and lay down HE fire on likely US positions. On reaching the minefield, the smoke will lift to the opposite side, to shield the engineers whilst they open two breaches through the minefield. The battalion will then pass through these breaches to destroy the American company and secure the East-West road to the South.

Turns 1-2:



The Soviets enter the map and get their artillery observers in place. The BMPs and tanks advance Southwards and before the Soviet smoke can be brought down, briefly come under American artillery fire, leading to the lost of one BMP vehicle and the suppression of three BMP platoons.



The Soviet artillery plan then takes effect, screening the advance and attempting to suppress any American units near the minefield. Shielded by this, the battalion advances Southwards. The American M150 section and infantry platoons displace to the South, their LOS blocked by smoked and unable to bring down any further artillery to disrupt the Soviet advance.

Turns 3-4:




The Soviets reach the minefield and the engineers deploy ready to begin breaching the minefield under cover of smoke and covered by BMPs in over watch. The Americans continue to pull back slowly.

Turn 5:



Having been given Engineer commands (Turn 5 is an Extended turn), the engineers begin work. The smoke has lifted to the far side of the minefield, shielding the engineers and the BMPs and T-62s queuing in open ground. The T55 engineer tanks quickly make a single lane breach and the first BMPs pass through in column. The Americans continue to fall back to the woods to the South, covered by the M150s acting as rearguard and hoping for a long range shot through any gap in the Soviet smoke.

Turn 6:



The first BMP company to get through the minefield heads at full speed up the road towards the head of the valley. The American M150 TOW section can’t get a shot as all LOS is obscured by smoke. An unwary M113 platoon is spotted at the edge of the woods and loses two tracks to the 73mm guns of the BMPs firing on the move. The surviving tracks fire their smoke grenades. Realising how vulnerable vehicles will be in positions at the edge of the woods, the American company commander resolves to withdraw his vehicles into the woods in the hope of attacking the Soviets singly as they advance without the advantage of long range LOS and fire.

Turn 7:



The BMPs continue to flood forward and destroy the two remaining tracks, taking out an entire platoon of M113s. American morale is Shaken by these losses. The T-62 company, protected by smoke still, closes in on the M150 TOW vehicles. The lead BMP company is brought under artillery fire but escapes with no damage. A second BMP company passes through the initial minefield breach. The engineer platoon opens a second breach and the third BMP company passes through.

Turn 8:



The Soviet advance continues. The M150 section is suppressed by artillery and the Soviet smoke lifts to give a clear field of fire to the T-62s and the only effective American anti-tank troops are destroyed, not having fired a single missile.

Turn 9:



The first BMP company, on the Soviets’ right flank is suppressed by artillery fire, called in by the infantry platoon. The American mortars are unable to contribute due to shaken morale.

Turn 10:



The American infantry platoon in the centre of the US defence is spotted by a T-62 platoon and BMPs. It is quickly destroyed but the American morale holds. But the Soviets keep coming and enter the woods in pursuit of M113s and destroy another platoon. This time US morale breaks (Panic) and all surviving vehicles fire smoke grenades and withdraw. The Soviets will reach their objective, the East-West road with ease within one or two further turns. The game ends with a complete Soviet victory.
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Mike Windsor
United States
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Re: NATO v Warsaw Pact: A Soviet Motor Rifle Battalion Attempts to Overrun a US Mechanised Infantry Company
Great report. Was this a solitaire game?

Did any American unit fire a shot?
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Steve Rothwell
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Re: NATO v Warsaw Pact: A Soviet Motor Rifle Battalion Attempts to Overrun a US Mechanised Infantry Company
Thanks, Mike - yes it was solitaire. The Americans were only able to bring their mortars and artillery to bear on the few occasions where the Soviets were not protected by smoke.

It would be interesting to play again:
- with the all the Americans deploying up at the minefield and staying there, maybe close assaulting the Soviet engineers
- attaching a platoon of M60s
- attaching scouts to maybe sneak a LOS on the Soviet traffic jam at the minefield
- having two companies?

Would also be interesting to play at different time periods:
- when US infantry had ATGM - Dragon, Javelin
- US AFVs equipped with thermal imaging before the introduction of anti-thermal smoke.

As a basic scenario it is a great introduction to most aspects of the game and the action appears to closely follow tactics as described in books such as 'The Defense of Hill 781' and 'Dragons at War'
 
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CJ
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Re: NATO v Warsaw Pact: A Soviet Motor Rifle Battalion Attempts to Overrun a US Mechanised Infantry Company
This is obviously a consim and to that end it would have been vital for the US to retain artillery observation onto the minefield. That is the sole barrier to the Soviet advance. Once the minefield becomes unobserved it ceases to be a barrier.
 
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Steve Rothwell
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Re: NATO v Warsaw Pact: A Soviet Motor Rifle Battalion Attempts to Overrun a US Mechanised Infantry Company
Well that was the plan .... until the smoke obscured everything. Your point is well made - an obstacle not covered by fire is not an obstacle
 
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Mike Windsor
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Re: NATO v Warsaw Pact: A Soviet Motor Rifle Battalion Attempts to Overrun a US Mechanised Infantry Company
If I recall correctly from my 1970's SPI days, one of the major benefits of the American tanks was better vision equipment. Seems like the Americans and Israelis could fire through smoke, and Soviet Bloc tanks could not. Is this game different, or am I remembering wrong?
 
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Martin McCleary
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Re: NATO v Warsaw Pact: A Soviet Motor Rifle Battalion Attempts to Overrun a US Mechanised Infantry Company
mwindsor wrote:
If I recall correctly from my 1970's SPI days, one of the major benefits of the American tanks was better vision equipment. Seems like the Americans and Israelis could fire through smoke, and Soviet Bloc tanks could not. Is this game different, or am I remembering wrong?


wrong era. Tank thermal sights offer a limited ability to penetrate smoke but even so, laser range finders do not and so the fire control solutions are poor at best. You end up shooting battlesight assuming the range estimate is correct. The US didn't get TTS until the advent of the M60A3 TTS and that capability didn't show up until around 1983 IIRC.
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Re: NATO v Warsaw Pact: A Soviet Motor Rifle Battalion Attempts to Overrun a US Mechanised Infantry Company
I think the earliest thermal sights available to US forces came with the M901 ITV introduced in 1978-79 ....which is interesting for this scenario as the M901 replaced the M150. Anyone have more details?
 
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