Bloodied Baltics {Ch.2}

title

breaking-news (2).png

Battlefield Map Week 2.png

Fig. 1.0 End of Week 1 movements and engagements by both Hvalltar and Arcadian forces.

Commonwealth of Hvalltar

  1. Objectives
    1. Defending the Dreisk line is critical. 1. Bde will focus on defending, whilst 2. and 3. Bdes perform defensive actions around Bialystok, to defend the refinery complexes. 5. Bde will continue to airlift soldiers to defend Elblag.
  2. Frontline SITREP
    1. Southern flank is relatively quiet, engagements against 2. Bde in the center are causing major issues. Northern flank severely threatened due to lack of heavy or mechanized forces.
  3. Strategic method
    1. No Change, continue to fight withdrawals and defensive actions.
  4. Brief description of forces
    1. 1LKGR Battlegroup is suffering from heavy casualties, all other Brigades suffering light casualties but have continued to hold.
  5. Opening moves at an operational level
    1. Prepare to move the King’s Own Hussars Battlegroup to counter a push by the 318th.

Kingdom of Arcadia

* Objectives – Secure Refinery at Elblag, Exploit Southern Flank, Achieve Breakthrough at Dreisk
* Frontline SITREP – Northern Front facing limited resistance, Southern Flank minor success, Center facing enemy center of gravity
* Strategic Method – Unchanged; Attempt to Encircle Enemy forces forward of the refinery
* Brief Description of Forces – 19th Brigade bloodied, all others intact
* Opening moves at an Operation Level – Southern forces attempt to exploit & prevent enemy reaching Refinieries, Northern forces secure Elblag, Center attempt to encircle and destroy via pocket forming

Decks and Units

20170716185336_1.jpg

Fig. 1.1 Wolfe’s Hvalltar Deck for 1. Bde

Wolfe: Hvalltar brigades are centered around the infantry, in this case for 1. Brigade, a hardened core of veterans from the Sudan. BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles encompass the most modern optics and targeting systems, supplemented by BMP-1s for the support troops.  A major focus for the army was the acquiring of modern anti-tank systems, so the APILAS and Spike have replaced conventional tank destroyers almost en masse. Lacking any dedicated attack or anti-tank helicopters, this is due to the focus on a modern fixed-wing air force, and the few squadrons of small rotor-wing attack units are kept in reserve. The majority of tanks are T-72s of varying vintage and type, although the upgrade programs to bring the T-72M1s have been steady, the PAIV standardation of the MBT program is far from complete. Noting the need for the most modern tanks as the Sudanese crisis came to a fervent pitch, the T-72M1MOD program was designed for a near-peer to other contemporary Western tanks.

20170716172142_1.jpg

Fig. 1.2 Millett’s Arcadian deck.

Millett: All Arcadian Regular Brigades are built on the so-called Standard Pattern. Their eclectic composition reflects the changing trends in Arcadian doctrine. This is clearly shown in the tank park – older model STRV 102 and 103 tanks represented a focus on the defense, whereas the more modern (and correspondingly more scarce) STRV 121 has far greater offensive power. Infantry too have the recently acquired STRF 9040 IFV in limited numbers, supplemented by more numerous motorized units. Though the artillery park is regarded as excellent, the lack of an advanced SAM has been keenly felt. Air power offers a balanced mix of capabilities, limited more by air-to-ground cooperation than any dearth in effective airframes.

Engagement at Dreisk

1. Bde fights off the Arcadian 318th to prevent the enemy from flanking 2. and 3. Bdes defending Bialystok.
Battle 2 Overview.png

Fig. 2.0 Situation, IVO (In Vicinity Of) Barczewo

W: In this game I was fortunate enough to have Hill, another co-author, defending my right flank as the 2 King’s Own Hussars Battlegroup. His job was simply to defend Maarlberg County, and had A Sqn from the King’s as his tactical reserve, with the most modern tanks and most veteran crews. My job was simply mirrored, defend the area North of Highway 2 and ensure the enemy did not break through/past that point. From now on Highway 2 will also be known as the ‘Dreisk Line’.

M: With acknowledged failings in tactical coordination, the decision was made to focus on a single main thrust to breakthrough the enemy lines. Once a penetration had been made, our armored forces would hook to their left and complete the destruction of the enemy rear areas. The area of Dreisk county was selected as our point of penetration, all other sectors would conduct economy of force actions.

Dreisk County.png

Fig. 2.1 1035h local, County of Dreisk

Imgur link for higher resolution + larger size: Link

For ease of reading, all of Millett’s responses are italicized.

M: The initial thrust would be headed by our two most modern tank platoons, together with mechanized infantry, mortars, and AAA. Unfortunately, the terrain was well suited to a defense, as there was a great deal of urban terrain and a dearth of covered approaches.

W: Dreisk County was my main focus for elements from the 1KH (King’s Own Hussars) Battlegroup. Pictured here is my rough disposition of forces. Pictured here is A and B Squadrons of the King’s Own Hussars. For those that remember, A Sqn is actually assigned as the tactical reserve for Hill to the East. In the town of Kurnt, a mechanized infantry platoon from C Company, 1st Battalion the Hvalltar Foot Regiment (1HFR) is dug into a defensive position. 3 troops of reconnaissance vehicles are fielded (Green/Blue flash), from A Squadron, the Loyal Njord Lancer Regiment (LNLR, the ‘Njords’). No. 1 and 2 Troops are fielded with No.3 held in reserve in the South-East. Lastly, the 42nd Field Squadron from the 1st Hvalltar Combat Engineer Regiment (1HCER) has laid a minefield to the North of the town of Jaarhold, which it currently is defending. It was in the process of replacing the tank obstacles (‘A’ shapes) with a regular minefield, with the intended location marked.

20170715161454_1.jpg

Fig. 2.2 1040h local, Arcadian 121 tanks come under fire from Hvalltar reconnaissance vehicles’ harassing ATGM fires. IVO of intersection of Hwy 1 & Hwy 1B.

W: Right about now I saw STRV 121s (Leopard 2s) advancing on me, so I returned scattered fires at them with 2 Troop, from the Njords, and as a result all vehicles save for one were destroyed. As 2 Bde had learned before at Grodno, the range of modern Arcadian tanks is long. I withdraw 1 Troop back from their position adjacent to Hwy 1, closer to Kurnt, still keeping them in the woods however to provide a screen. I start communicating frantically with Hill, and we both agree that it seems like the main effort will be Dreisk county.

M: With their hurried briefing concluded, tank commanders sprinted back to their charges. Engines revved, and Arcadia’s finest began their advance. They crossed much of the open ground unmolested, eyes and sensors scanning for any sign of the enemy. What few pickets were present were quickly smashed, and the tanks secured the first phase line. A halt was ordered, as the infantry close behind moved up to clear the town. Word had reached the tank commanders of the deadly effectiveness of Hvaltar infantry’s rockets, and no one was in the mood to take chances.

20170715161504_1.jpg

Fig. 2.3 1045h local, Callsign 6-1 from A Sqn, the Njords reverses away from incoming Arcadian MBTs.

20170715161747_1.jpg

Fig. 2.4 Arcadian helicopter-borne infantry attempt to flank Hvalltar forces dug in on the Dreisk line.

M: By nature of attempting to force a penetration near to the enemy’s rear, rapid enemy reinforcements were expected. It was hoped that 2 platoons of airborne infantry, inserted near the crossroad of Highways 1A and 2, would prevent the enemy from countering the breakthrough in a timely manner. This was a flawed assumption, as the enemy had occupied the crossroad already. Those few airborne units who weren’t shot from the skies were assaulted and overrun shortly after touching down.

W: At this moment the remaining vehicle from 2 Troop that was alive spotted a large formation of enemy rotor wing aircraft proceeding at a high rate of speed down my Eastern flank, following the Hwy 1A to the South, attempting to flank me and to presumably insert infantry and capture the town at the intersection of Hwy 1A and Hwy 2. I responded with BMP-2 fires from the infantry nearby, as well as utilising the light attack aircraft queued up by the JTAC to engage them. All helicopters were destroyed either by the light fixed wing or the ground fires from the BMPs in the right place at the right time. Although it was presumed no infantry survived as some helicotpers went down in the urban area, mortar fire missions and bombing runs were conducted regardless. A follow on platoon from the the Hvalltar Foot Regiment performed follow on to ensure the impact area was clear.

20170715161819_1.jpg

Fig. 2.5 1109h local, C Company’s BMP gunners get some aerial target practice as they engage enemy helicopters passing by their laager.

20170715161851_1.jpg

Fig. 2.6 1109h local, Hawk 151 light jet aircraft from 122 Light Attack Squadron, RHAF engage the helicopters in concert with ground fires from BMP-2s.

20170715162242_1.jpg

Fig. 2.7 1129h local, Arcadian CV90s advance South, crossing Hwy 1, slightly to the East of Hwy 1B, overrunning a troop of Hvalltar reconnaissance vehicles in the process.

W: Here was the first evidence of an enemy attack. Before they were surprised and overrun, 1 Troop managed to communicate that at least 3 platoons of enemy infantry fighting vehicles had moved rapidly through the woods accompanied by at least 2-3 platoons of MBTs, and while caught withdrawing 1 Troop was entirely destroyed. My reaction was to shake out A Squadron, King’s Own Hussars and prepared them for a counter attack should this come to manifest as an actual push. On Hill’s side, minor skirmishes at the platoon and section level kept him busy mostly with coordinating counter-battery fires and fighting a low-intensity conventional fight.

M: The Mechanized infantry go in. Learning from earlier mistakes, the infantry attacked in concentration, closely watched by nearby armored forces. The assault went well at first, with the two platoons overrunning enemy stragglers caught outside Kurnt.

20170715162421_1.jpg

Fig. 2.8 1135h local, Hvalltar T-72s belonging to A Sqn move from their Sqn hide and begin to close in on enemy armoured fighting vehicles to their North.

20170715162505_1.jpg

Fig. 2.9 1141h local, Hvalltar T-72s belonging to A Sqn begin butchering exposed infantry fighting vehicles from the Arcadian 318th to their front. Pictured, T-72 ‘Wild Thing’ , belonging to Sgt Joachim Rickein, 2 Troop, A Squadron observes as the 125mm APDS round fired by his tank causes a K-kill (catastrophic) on an enemy CV90.

W: Seeing that there wasn’t actually any enemy MBTs moving up with the infantry, I committed A Squadron to a spoiling attack as the first platoon was pushing out and the second was rallying in the woods. I managed to have A Sqn catch both platoons in their entirety, plus 2 reconnaissance CV90s, destroying them all for the loss of a single T-72M1.

M: At this point, things began to go horribly, horribly wrong. Amidst the curses and panicked screams on the radio, reports went out of a large mass of enemy armor launching a counter attack. It could not have come at a worse moment, catching the infantry platoons as they crossed the open ground. Though excellent vehicles, the STRF 9040’s armor is no match for a tank’s main gun. The unit’s only hope was a mad dash towards the cover of Kurnt, and half their number were lost in the attempt.

20170715162731_1.jpg

Fig. 2.10 1151h local, Arcadian CV90s manage to make it to North Kurnt and deploy their forces despite fires from both APILAS within the town and T-72s to the South-West.

W: The lone vehicle from 2 Troop of the Njords noticed at this moment that a small gaggle of CV90s had actually made it to Northern Kurnt. Communicating efficiently the enemy’s target grid, B Squadron from the King’s managed to deploy a singular platoon to the North-East, engaging the enemy CV90s, but were not able to prevent the infantry from dismounting. The following battle between C Company and the Arcadians saw them lose roughly a platoon of dead/wounded/captured to half a section of casualties for 8 Platoon of C Company.

M: Those infantry who made it into Kurnt found their reprieve short-lived. After briefly consulting a map and finding it useless, the platoon’s CO elected to find a block which appeared defensible, perhaps even hoping to exact some measure of revenge with their AT-4 rockets. Much to their dismay, they found that Hvaltar infantry had already occupied the town’s strongpoints in force, and a vicious firefight erupted. Outnumbered and outpositioned, the conclusion was inevitable, and Kurnt remained in Hvaltar hands.

20170715162918_1.jpg

Fig. 2.11 1151h local, 1 and 2 Sections from 8 Platoon, C Company, 1HFR close with enemy infantry disembarking in Northern Kurnt.

20170715162958_1.jpg

Fig. 2.12 1156h local, LCpl. Bjorn Hvlarsson, an anti-tank gunner with 1 Section earns his Expert Grenadier Badge after destroying an enemy CV90 with his APILAS.

20170715163123_1.jpg

Fig. 2.13 1235h local, Arcadian 121 tanks move up to reinforce positions just South of Hwy 1. In the background, mortar fires engage Northern Kurnt in support of 8 Platoon’s clearance patrol.

M: Hearing their infantry’s plight, the STRV 121s move to make a hasty counterattack. Ideally, they would exploit the open ground and their advantage in firepower to wreak havoc on the Hvaltar forces, but heavy casualties had been suffered by the group’s recon assets. The risk of advancing blind was decided to be less than leaving their fellows to their doom, and if Hvaltar heavy armor was truly present in mass, it would need to be countered sooner rather than later.

W: At this point I focused a lot on Hill’s flank, helping him with mortar fire missions in support of his infantry slowly counter-attacking towards Hwy 2 after an under-strength company of Arcadian dismounted infantry had pushed him back. Dreisk was on the back burner temporarily for me, although I kept a keen eye on reports coming in from both 8 Platoon’s observation outposts and 2 Troop’s remaining vehicle.

20170715163745_1.jpg

Fig. 2.14 An Arcadian A 32 Lansen bomber falls from the sky after being shot down by AMRAAMS launched by RHAF F/A-18s (pictured top of frame, high altitude).

W: Overall, the Royal Hvalltar Air Force again held its own and then some against the Arcadians. The easy thing to assume would be that outnumbered they would be constantly beleaguered, yet they stood fast. Air casualties were heavy during the delaying action at the Dreisk line, however enemy air losses were nearly double. Losses in the air interceptor wings was light, with the loss of a single MiG-29 constituting the only downed fighter. However Hawk 151s and the J 35s in their ground attack roles suffered heavily, with most close support or tactical squadrons suffering nearly half their aircraft in losses.

M: An uncomfortable trend was beginning to emerge with regards to the air war. Though often able to do meaningful work in destroying enemy ground forces. the Arcadian air support was unable to gain air supremacy or even eke out air parity. Enemy ground attack aircraft were able to complete the majority of their strikes, though both sides’ CAS aircraft would suffer heavily.

Dreisk County.png

Fig. 2.15 Situation as of 1300h local, the Dreisk line holds.

W: So at this point Hill and I were thinking that the defense was going well. Two infantry assaults had been repelled (one air assault and one mechanized). The main attrition was to the close air support aircraft, and the loss of my mortar platoon hit home as mortars are integral to my doctrine. However, I still had most of A Squadron, save for a few losses suffered at the hands of enemy anti-tank aircraft. Reconnaissance elements also had been pretty badly hurt, meaning my eyes-on North of Hwy 1 were extremely limited. As well – Arcadian napalm strikes onto the town of Kurnt had cost the lives of all those men in 1 and 3 Sections of 8 Platoon, meaning that the Platoon Warrant Officer was now in command of the fragile defense.

M: The initial thrust has been stymied. Heavy casualties amongst the infantry, and the presence of enemy infantry in Kurnt means that additional infantry will have to be brought forward, along with addition recon and anti-air units. The remaining tanks were ordered to hold positions and await reinforcements.

20170715164016_1.jpg

Fig. 2.16 1300h local, A Squadron goes on the attack to attempt to seize the woods just South of Hwy 1, in an attempt push the enemy back North towards their rear area.

W: A quick reconnaissance report passed up from 2 Section, 8 Platoon informed me that they observed from their Northern observation post that enemy vehicles appeared to be reversing, out of the woods just South of Hwy 1. After a quick conversation with Hill he agreed to release his own reserve of tanks from the King’s to become my reserve. C Squadron moved over, and A Squadron spearheaded the movement. They were ordered to assault the woods from a frontal axis, crossing Hwy 1C supported by reconnaisance elements from 3 Troop of the Njords, brought over from the Icklin Plant, whilst B Squadron supported by 2 Troop would flank from the West, attempting to capture the crossroads of Hwy 1 and Hwy 1B.

M: Concerns about the lack of air cover and the exposed nature of their position led to a small scale withdrawal on the part of the tank platoons. Unfortunately, their lack of recon units meant the near presences of Hvaltar armor went undetected, and they were engaged by large numbers of enemy T-72s. Surprised, the Arcadian tanks began a brutal knife-fight as they struggled to extract themselves from what appeared to be a far more numerous force.

20170715164107_1.jpg

Fig. 2.17 1306h local, A Squadron comes under fire from Arcadian ground-attack aircraft as they advance against the retreating enemy armor.

20170715164221_1.jpg

Fig. 2.18 1319h local, A savage fight between Hvalltar and Arcadian tankers occurs just South of Hwy 1 as the King’s Own Hussars try and seize the woods, coordinating fires between 2 KH Battlegroup’s indirect fires sections as well as between both A and B Squadrons.

W: Blood in the water was smelt for sure – my T-72s rolled hard and fast, closing the distance on the 121s, a lesson they took to heart after the Withdraw from Grodno. Getting up close, the more experienced, Sudan-hardened tank crews butchered the 121 tanks they found, and while suffering losses they managed to drive the 121s out of the woods, overrunning their positions so quickly that soon 8 Pl’s OP was not able to maintain visual contact for coordination purposes.

M: Unfortunately this is where the tide of the battle turned definitively against the Arcadian cause. Caught in the jaws of a trap, the armor was unable to extract itself in time, and began to suffer heavily for it. From here on, I would be responding to the enemy’s moves, and attempting to hold what ground I had gained.

A Sqn Counter.png

Fig. 2.19 1322h local, A and B Squadron’s maneuvers pictured here, with the crossroad dash and frontal assault pictured against the enemy company of armor.

20170715164248_1.jpg

Fig. 2.20 1330h local, Arcadian armor and infantry fighting vehicles, accompanied by SPAAG and mortar systems frantically withdraw from the woods South of Hwy 1, crossing back from where they came and retreating Northwards.

W: B Squadron captured the crossroads shortly thereafter. The first soldiers there was actually a troop of modernized reserve T-55s, which began engaging enemy light armoured vehicles as A Squadron emerged from the woods. I consolidated Kurnt, moving 7 Platoon from the Icklin plant to relieve the exhausted and scorched 8 Pl, who withdrew to the Bgp CP (Command Post) in the rear to be treated at the aid station. I decided to keep driving as I had the momentum, and I had the skies mostly to myself thanks to the expert skill of my pilots.

M: With the assault no longer tenable, a general withdrawal began. Unfortunately, the forces were echeloned to support and exploit a breakthrough, not to resist an offensive. Hoping to buy time for the infantry and support vehicles to withdraw, the supporting older models of tanks threw themselves at the enemy. Though the price was high, most of the remaining forces were able to escape what threatened to rapidly become a pocket.

20170715164511_1.jpg

Fig. 2.21 1332h local, Hvalltar forces from A Squadron enter the bombed-out woods just South of Hwy 1 (pictured, top of frame). Just out of frame to the left, B Squadron moves and captures the crossroad.

20170715164741_1.jpg

Fig. 2.22 1351h local, Arcadian forces in a wooded area just North-East of the Hwy 1 and Hwy 1B crossroads engage advancing elements from A Squadron moving from the South of Hwy 1.

W: My advance elements from A and B Squadrons reported that the enemy had holed up in a wooded area just to the North-East of the Hwy 1 and Hwy 1B crossroads. A few stray 121 tanks put up what seemed like token resistance, and the commander on the ground estimated that they were running low on ammunition and fuel, so this was the opportune time to attack. I ordered A Squadron around the right, and B Squadron to continue North along the West flank, and during the engagement destroyed several 121s, at least 2 platoons of CV90s, as well as a battery of SPAAG and a SAM detachment, among other soft-skinned resupply and logistics vehicles. This was the culminating effort by A and B Sqn, and the consolidated in the woods, the troop commanders using their coaxial machineguns on the tattered corpses to ensure no surviving infantry could fire off a vengeful anti-tank weapon. Upon the consolidation in the wooded area previously occupied by the Arcadians, I ordered a halt, and discussed with Hill our next actions-on.

M: Here the importance of the withdrawal was amply demonstrated. Those units which had not yet escaped the pocket were faced on 3 sides by enemy armor, and staged a desperate last stand. Though they sold their lives dearly, the loss was still keenly felt, and the line collapsed to just barely ahead of our start positions.

20170715165151_1.jpg

 

Fig. 2.23 1410h local, Aerial Reconnaissance photo of the battlefield within the county of Dreisk, observing the raging fires and the scarred, pockmarked battlefield.

20170715165253_1.jpg

Fig. 2.24 1428h local, STRV103 tanks defending the town of Flaaren begin engaging the remaining elements of A and B Squadrons located NE of the captured crossroads.

W: At this point I saw a counter-attack forming. A and B Squadrons reported up their status, and it was rough. Most troops were down to half their strength, meaning both squadrons floated between 40-60% combat effectiveness. Perhaps enough to defend, but hardly enough to carry on the attack. As well, with C Company stretched so thin, there wasn’t enough Hvalltar infantry to carry the attack through.

M: The STRV 103 was designed from the outset to be excellent in the defense, combining a low profile with a good gun and solid armor. As the Hvaltar forces closed the pocket, they came into range of the 103s’ guns, and paid the price for it. Those few Arcadian forces still forward of our lines dashed to cover under steady supporting fire, eager to reach safety. Seeing the enemy halted, local commanders gambled on a hasty counter attack, hoping to destroy the enemy’s armor and perhaps achieve a breakthrough after all.

20170715165437_1.jpg

Fig. 2.25 1456h local, STRV103 tanks begin taking casualties as A and B Squadron fend off one of the last enemy counterattacks.

M: In the Arcadian experience, “hasty” so rarely corresponds with “successful”. The enemy proved far less disorganized than believed, and this conspired with the 103’s unsuitability for offensive operations to bring the counterattack to ruin.

W: A Squadron yet again proves that they have fight in them, and that they won’t go out without taking Arcadians with them.

20170715165624_1.jpg

Fig. 2.26 1530h local, Upgraded T-55 tanks from B Squadron’s reserve troops withdraw past Hwy 1 to their start-of-day positoions as the battle has concluded.

M: In the end, this was a difficult battle, and we were quite simply outfought. Assaulting an enemy in prepared positions requires concentration of forces, rapid reinforcements, and close cooperation of all combat arms. These factors were all sorely lacking. The initial thrust, weak and poorly supported, was able to be countered and broken by an unexpected counter-attack. From then on, the enemy retained the initiative; an inexcusable failure in command. It was only through the tenacity of our fighting men and their willingness to pay the ultimate sacrifice that a more tragic disaster was averted.

W: At the end of the day – this was a victory. Hvalltar paid hard in lives, and the armor especially suffered, with A and B Squadrons, as well as a large contingent of the Njords falling victim to the dreaded Arcadian 121s. The overall conclusion is that whenever present, Arcadian infantry are the kings of the urban battles. The RHAF suffered the most – with the close air support and attack squadrons taking it in the teeth to enable the ground battle. Overall, a stellar performance from 1. Bde, living up to their title as the Army’s senior maneuver unit.

Feedback & Changes

A few points to note from user feedback, and our changes that we made accordingly.

*Could you re-post the map with the current combat area highlighted each time the battle switches to a new quadrant?

Hard to do, as re-editing the map constantly is a huge hassle. This being said, we focused on one area just due to how the battle played out, so I tried to make a super detailed map for players to follow, and included a HiRes, larger image link. I felt it was a lot easier to follow this time.
* Is it possible for each player to include the force they are playing as after their posts?

I tried to include as much information this time. Generally the Hvalltar units have more unit identity than their Arcadian counterparts, and on the map I tried to make it clear who they were and where they were. Hoepfully this helped.

*The constant flipping of player post order confused me at times

I italicized Millett’s blurbs to hopefully ease confusion.
* So many words

Added more pretty pictures.
* One problem is the lack of additional “Maps” or “overviews” demonstrating the maneuvers and such. Taking the map you start with and overlaying a few arrows to demonstrate where maneuvers took place would go a long way in better building an understanding of what occurred.

Had a halfway break in the battle so it felt right to post an updated view of the battlefield there with arrows showing the major A+B Squadron counterattack. Hopefully this helped demonstrated some of the attacks.
* Could we see the decks for the confrontations?

Posted these before the battle!

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s