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Subject: A Modern History of Colombia - AAR Pt 5 Final rss

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Eric Williams
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Colombia still has a lot to deal with. FARC influence has been smashed but they still won’t come to the negotiating table which means they remain dangerous. The mortally wounded FARC created another problem – the AUC. They have capitalised (and contributed greatly) to FARC’s downward slide and are the main political insurgency threat to Colombia’s future. The Cartels refuse to give in and like the AUC have at some point reached a position in the war when they could justifiably claim victory. Only quick reaction from the government has prevented such a disaster.

This term of government, President Uribe’s second and last, will require a slightly different approach. Rather than further incursions against FARC, the strategy will have to be one of containment. The Government is going to have to focus more effort on the AUC and the Cartels.

1. 1st Division: The 1st division is about as close as the Colombian Army gets to a Tank Division. On the surface it comprises of the 2nd Mechanised Brigade and the 10th Armored Brigade. But that can be deceiving. Each Brigade has its own Special Forces Groups. The 2nd Brigade has Military Police specifically trained in civil policing supported by Engineers and an Elite Mountain Battalion. The 10th Brigade includes specialised troops for Infrastructure Protection. The effect is a heavy hitting Armored division, but one that can both secure an area and provide civic control very quickly. (The in game capability reflects the above – Civic Actions allowed in one area with control and ANY cube).

FARC desperately try to rebuild with new bases in Vichada and Atlántico and an infiltration back into Cesar. An indicator of FARC’s weakened state is that such actions are now draining resources. Extortion is no longer paying FARC’s way.

45. Los Derechos Humano: Human rights Watch publishes a damning report on AUC atrocities and claims Government complicity in the lack of real action the government has taken to curtail the AUC. The fallout from the report is a reduction in Foreign Aid (-5) and an immediate loss of Government resources (-6 to 35). General Mora is summoned to the President’s office and is tasked with formulating an operation to deal a blow to the AUC. The broad outlines of “Operation Bastante” are hatched.

In the midst of the media frenzy over the report the Cartels continue doing business. Muscle is raised in large numbers in Guaviare and more protection is armed in Santander where they cultivate another base.

24. Operacion Jaque: More bad press for the Government. A clandestine hostage rescue operation out of Pasto fails miserably resulting in a large loss of life and equipment. The city of Neiva reacts negatively to the news and falls to neutral. (-2 troops in Pasto). The government Patrols and also flies eradication missions over Putumayo destroying 2 Cartels bases in the Department. Aid climbs back to +28. (Game note – one FARC guerrilla is left untouched and underground on a 1 value LOC. This will ensure FARC go to terror instead of March).

68. Narco Subs: An ingenious idea but of no use to the Cartels as they have been pushed off all coastal areas. The Cartels rally and cultivate a base plus protection into Cesar. The AUC finally become aware of the FARC and Cartel activity to their north. They send a recon unit into Atlántico which manages to slip in undetected (march).

39. Soldados Campesinos: The Government launches three simultaneous Operations. The first, “Operation Avistar”, is the brainchild of General Ospina. It is aimed at flushing out underground terror cells in cities and areas of support and then placing them under “overt surveillance”. The usual surveillance and wire taps will take place. But under this approach the targets are to be left in no doubt that they are being watched and monitored which will severely impede their ability to operate.

The second operation is a more standard search and destroy effort which largely concentrates to the north.


The view of the three Operations together

The third is “Operation Bastante” into Antioquia. It has been planned meticulously and involves the best part of 2 full Divisions including 1st Division. The first stage is a huge infiltration into the Department with Special Forces and Mountain elites who have the dual role of identifying and observing AUC troop concentrations as well as clearing a path in for the troops and vehicles to follow. Because of the strong links between military and AUC not only has the operation had to be planned and implemented under absolute secrecy, even the commanders involved on the ground had to be checked and handpicked so as not to result in a “leak”. The planning and effort pays off.


Operation Bastante into AUC heartland

FARC takes the bait and initiates a terror campaign. The unguarded LOC is sabotaged and further attacks take place in Amazonas, Guaviare and Meta East. FARC kidnaps a Government official and several Cartel middle men but the pay offs are low. The government budget is reduced to 23.

66. Tingo Maria: The Cartels have been busy and discover a hearty coco variety resulting in new crops in Amazonas and Guainía. Cartels back up to 10 bases. The AUC, still feeling secure, launches its own terror attacks in Guaviare, Vichada and Putumayo against both FARC and Cartel targets. Another FARC base falls to the AUC pulling them back to 4 in total.

42. Senado & Camara: The AUC’s field commander in Antioquia stares at his ringing mobile phone. When he answers the unknown number the unmistakable voice of General Mora fills his left ear: “You and your men are under close surveillance. I like the hat you’re wearing by the way. Two Divisions are in Antioquia including the Armor. Close Air support is on standby. You’ll soon realise all of your outposts have just been overrun. Mechanized units with Mountain, Special Forces and Artillery support will be at your position in under 10 minutes. If you concentrate your men and lay down your arms the President is prepared to discuss an amnesty. It is your move.”

To the north and east of the AUC bases some resistance is met and quickly dealt with. But the phone call has its effect. For once, the AUC having former military leading it confers an advantage to the government. They realise just how badly outgunned they are. The vast bulk of the AUC army retreats to the bases. By the time the forward elements approach the bases it is clear the message got through and the AUC is demobilising.

Assaults are initiated in Cesar and Atlantico as well and the combined Operations net 2 FARC, 2 AUC AND A Cartels base plus the removal of 10 AUC guerrilla units. For the first time in 4 decades there is no operational FARC base in Colombia! Air support is not used. FARC hastily puts together a base in Vichada, the site of non-stop action between them and the AUC for years now, and once again manages to get a unit into Atlántico.


Taken straight after the turn. Uribe's home Department is liberated

48. Union Sindical Obrera: The Labour movement comes out strongly backing FARC’s political aims of more workers rights and the need for immediate Industrial Relations Reforms. The cities of Pasto and Cali drop from Active support to Passive Support and overall government support slips to 60. The Cartels move men from Meta East to Arauca and produce large drug shipments in Amazonas and Meta East.
15. War Tax: The light garrisons in Santander and Bogota have done their jobs alone long enough. Troops from Antioquia are moved into Santander and Bogota to reinforce and relieve the two areas. Air Ops are flown over Guaviare looking for targets of opportunity and manage to destroy two Cartel base operations in the Department. (Aid back to max +29).

Whilst support overall for the government remains strong, the middle class comes out strongly resenting the cost of the war and the increased tax burden that has fallen on them as a result. The city of Cali is now in Passive Opposition lowering government support to 57 and increasing FARC to 12
.
52. Castano: Carlos Castano helped found the AUC after him and his two brothers (Fidel and Vincente) formed a right wing paramilitary group of their own following the abduction and murder of their father by FARC. Hearing of the operation in Antioquia Castano sets up a new AUC base in Putumayo and is able to negotiate a “donation” from the local Cartel to lift AUC resources to 3.

The Cartels continue to keep on keeping on. They rebuild a base in Guaviare, slip away from surveillance and go underground in Santander, and cultivate a new base with protection in Vaupes. Cartels now at 9 bases and 47 resources.


Following "Castano"

63. Narco – War: The last Propaganda card flips. FARC manages to rally a new base into Guaviare and men into Vichada and Meta West but they are so weak now they are unable to extort anywhere in Colombia. The government, with Uribe’s second term as President coming to an end, decides to declare a public holiday gaining 3 resources in the bargain.

Final Propaganda Card:

FARC has managed to get back to 4 bases (2 in Ecuador) and still enjoys 9 public opposition for a score of 13. A shortfall of -13. The AUC never really recovered from “Operation Bastante” and with only 2 bases falls short by -2. The indomitable Cartels recovered from repeated hits by land and air to 9 bases and 47 resources (-1).

The government now finishes with control of all cities and the seven Departments of Atlántico, Cesar, Antioquia, Santander, Huila, Chocó and Nariño. Apart from the Ecuador border area, FARC can only claim slim control of Meta West.

Only 1 LOC with a value of 1 has been sabotaged. Government resources increase by a massive 29 + 29 Aid to 73. The Cartels have two shipments but no free base spaces where those shipments are and so are forced to cash them in. 27 + 12 drug profits takes them to a whopping 86 resources but it is the bases that keep them from victory.

The government is once again able to afford “Democratic Security” and conducts a total of 12 Civic Actions (including 2 in Antioquia thanks to 1st divisions’ capability) and lifts Cali, Pasto, Neiva, Cesar, Atlántico and Antioquia to active support for a final government score of 72. With a final difference of +13 President Uribe and the government can claim a dramatic “COIN Triumph”. The government strategy is a model success. Guerrilla’s are deserting or demobilising across the country. Narco traffickers remain strong but with little political power.


Pieces removed: The last Opposition in Colombia


Government support stretches from the far north to...


...to the far south

Epilogue: Support for President Uribe was so high that a referendum to allow him to run for a third term was passed. However the Constitutional Court rejected the change and declared Colombian Presidents can only serve two terms. His Defence Minister, Juan Manuel Santos was elected the 40th President of Colombia and continues the policies of Uribe’s Administration.


President Santos inherits a very capable force

Colombia is recognised to be at the absolute cutting edge of COIN strategy, tactics and implementation. Trainers and advisors are in most insurgency hotspots around the world including Afghanistan.

I sincerely hope my attempt to weave some real history into the fictional narrative created by this particular play-through of Andean Abyss has been as enjoyable to follow as it was to create it. This game actually followed history reasonably well and ended with a very strong showing by the Government. That is certainly not the case with every game I’ve played....





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Tom Shields
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Eric, this has been an awesome ride; entertaining and it's given us so much texture. Your a fine writer and thanks for putting so much extra into this. Next time I play it solo I'll lift my glass of beer in your direction.
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Ubergeek
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Yes, thanks. A very enjoyable read.
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Patrick Riley
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A great read! Thanks for writing up this series!

"You and your men are under close surveillance. I like the hat you’re wearing by the way."
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Eric Williams
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tjshields wrote:
Eric, this has been an awesome ride; entertaining and it's given us so much texture. Your a fine writer and thanks for putting so much extra into this. Next time I play it solo I'll lift my glass of beer in your direction.


Thanks Tom. I must've become an emotional sod of late because I found your words most touching. Made the effort more than worthwhile.

When I first thought about how I'd approach it I kicked around the idea of following a Colombian Army Officers career through the game. But taking the conflict down to ground level was getting a little too close to home and would've ended up being a novel rather than a narrative. I'm glad the above approach worked.
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Patrick Riley
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Eric, I'd be interested in some OOO post-game analysis if you have time to post those thoughts. Do you usually score this well or was it an unusual game?
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Eric Williams
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Post Game analysis:

The outcome was a result of a pretty good card draw and the success of a number of tactical moves I've learnt the hard way combined with good cards.

On the card front, the bots didn't get the events that replace or remove police. These events can bring the best laid plans apart and was the reason I often had 2 police in Departments rather than just one. Even with 2 police, I've seen the game not only remove the two, but remove them from several Departments and Cities in a single campaign. These events alone can ruin 2 full campaigns of hard Government work and make high support scores impossible.

Secondly was the order of cards. It is one thing to identify the opportunity to hit Departments. It is an entirely other story for it to always work as planned. Examples are opportunity to go is this activation but only have limited Op - or sweep phase was comnpleted as planned but the next activation is limited Op - or assault phase draws a pivotal capability card like Ospina - or rarely intervening card or events forces Govt ineligibility. During this particular game every major operation went off without a hitch meaning each move made counted for full value. This is rarely the case. I was getting full ops when the time was right and getting to follow up with full ops.

I can add dice luck in as well. During the 2nd and 3rd campaigns the bots had several opportunities to rally into area's held by a police cube or two and thus challenge control. They usually didn't. I've played many games that if there's one space on the board you don't want the bot activating in or rallying into, that will be the spot they roll as sure as night follows day.

Tactically things pretty much went like clockwork in this particular play through. When I didn't want FARC marching the opportunities to stop them were there. When I wanted the AUC hammering FARC (and not me) the AUC was for most of the game not in my spaces but crawling all over FARC's. I didn't even have to prop up the AUC to keep terrorising FARC. They paid there own way throughout the game which is most unusual. Even the Cartels helped me by nearly always having a double base area for me to eradicate that wouldn't impact on my support levels. Once again, that'll happen sometimes. But in this game it was almost ALL the time.

So in conclusion? The Government played well but got pretty much all of the luck. Nothing much worked for FARC. The AUC did the Governments bidding almost non stop. And when the Cartels got to 11+ bases (only once in the game) it was on about card 24 meaning the Government had the luxury of several turns to set them up for a fall rather than a hasty half baked effort.

I'd say things went about as well for the government as could've been hoped for.

I have reached 74 support a couple of times but we're talking 40-50 games played here. I'd say the average is in the mid 60's with "Triumph" depending more on trying to keep all factions at -3 or below rather than being able to score 68 or 69 support. The luxury of the above game was that it was clear to me we could get 70+ which meant all i had to do was stop the bots from winning. A bot score of "zero" was going to be enough for a full win.

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Volko Ruhnke
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I think that your forces knew that the world would be watching!
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Eric Williams
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Less them than me Volko! I was forced to double check every single activation that the bots were doing everything spot on and I wasn't missing anything.

The above game was honestly shuffled and played. It turned out to be a very good run but I would've preferred a "66" and forced to keep all the bots at -3. They make for heart pumping games and finishes and are not uncommon.
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Patrick Riley
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Thanks for posting that!
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