Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cuba Libre - Liberation Batrep 15


It's 1400 on 1 Feb 1990, and the CLA's 1st Airborne Battalion, which dropped into Cuba early this morning, is hard pressed.  Having fought two battles already (#3 to seize a bridge, and #11 to fight off a counterattack) it finds itself occupied by the enemy's 3rd Infantry Battalion, which is now surging forces south to outflank the paratroopers' lines.  Captain Olejandro, acting Battalion Commander for 1st Airborne Battalion (Colonel Lucastro, decorated for valor during the bridge seizure, was seriously wounded in close combat during the enemy counterattack) puts out a call for help.

Having come ashore at Playa Colorada only minutes prior, Colonel Estevante of the 4th Infantry Battalion, responds.  He immediately provides a Warning Order to Captain Bronchovio, Commanding Officer of the 1st Air Assault Company: stand by to conduct a helo insertion into a hot LZ to counter enemy mechanized forces skirting 1st Airborne Battalion's southern flank.  Captain Bronchovio quickly briefs his men, who gather their equipment, break into their sticks, and mount their flying taxis...

So far we've had:
1) B Squadron SOF destroyed a radar site in support of amphibious landings at Playa Colorada (5).  B Sqdn then egressed and linked up with CLA rotary wing assets for their follow-on mission in Havana (6).
2) C Squadron SOF destroyed a the Cuban military's communications center.
3) 1st Para Battalion dropped in and seized a bridge to screen the landings at Playa Colorada (5).
4) 2nd Para battalion dropped in and eliminated a Castro-regime garrison to screen the landings at the Bay of Pigs (just west of (4).
5) 1st Marine Company, 3rd Infantry Battalion, made an amphibious assault at Playa Colorada.
6) A Squadron SOF attacked a Castro-regime SAM site near Havana, which failed to clear the way for B Squadron's helo assault into Havana.
7) 2nd Marine Company, 6th Infantry Battalion, landed at the Bay of Pigs then turned east and ran into a strong enemy force, which it handily defeated.
8) B Company of the UWG pursued and destroyed an enemy garrison in the Escambray Mountains.
9) B Squadron SOF conducted an aerial insertion into Havana to seize a radio station and broadcast news of the invasion.
10) 10th Popular Force Battalion seized and destroyed the Pedroso bridge to protect the Bay of Pigs landing site from the Matanzas garrison.
11) 1st Airborne Infantry Battalion successfully fought off a regime counterattack near the bridge at Sandino, protecting the western (Playa Colorada) landing site from the Pinar del Rio garrison.
12) 6th Infantry Battalion fought through an enemy ambush while pushing inland from the Bay of Pigs landing site.
13) 8th Popular Force Battalion ambushed a mechanized column of the enemy 2nd Armored Battalion, just west of Havana.
14) 2nd Airborne Battalion engaged enemy armored forces of the 6th Armored Battalion in the village of El Rincon, en route to the Bay of Pigs landing site.
15) 4th Infantry Battalion's 1st Air Assault Company conducts an air assault southeast of Sandino to counter enemy mechanized forces of 3rd Infantry Battalion (forcing 1st Airborne Battalion's right flank).

The opposing forces, with regime troops on the left and CLA troops on the right.  The CLA are made up of US troops from Pendraken's Vietnam range, while the Castro forces are made up of Argentinians from Pendraken's Falklands range.  The BTRs are from Minifigs, while the Panhard is also from Pendraken's Falklands range.

Commander, 1st Air Assault Co, 4th Inf Bn: Captain Bronchovio, leading the air assault to counter the enemy threat to 1st Airborne Battalion's right flank.

The CLA force, with a Command Stand, seven rifle stands, a TOW ATGM, and a single leader figure representing...

4th Infantry Battalion, Commanding Officer: Colonel Cledado Estavante.

The regime force, with a Command Stand, six rifle stands, a Panhard armored car (with 90mm main gun), and two BTR-60s (each with 14.5mm HMG).

Overview of map, north is up.  At top left (northwest) are the far right elements of 1st Airborne Battalion.  They are 'for show' only, they will not be active during this fight, they simply show 1st Airborne Bn's right flank.  At top right (northeast) are mechanized elements of the Castro-regime's 3rd Infantry Battalion, on a side road trying to exit the board at bottom left in order to get into 1st Airborne Bn's rear area.  1st Air Assault Company's Landing Zone (LZ) is at bottom right, southeast of the sprawling village of Babiney.

Elements of 1st Airborne Battalion occupying defensive positions atop a ridgeline, occupied to their front by elements of the regime's 3rd Infantry Battalion.

While a mobile force of the regime's 3rd Infantry Battalion mount up and try to flank the CLA paratroopers, with the village of Babiney visible at bottom right.

Two CH-47s of 1st Air Assault Company swoop in; the LZ is small, and they immediately begin taking ground fire.  Colonel Estevante waves off the remaining Chinooks to an alternate LZ.  Captain Bronchovio will have to fight this battle with only the troops in the first two ships...

The Chinooks flare, smalls arms fire punching holes in their fuselage.

And then touch down.

The helos disgorge their occupants, lift off, then wheel left and egress to the west as 1st Air Assault Company fans out.

The enemy reacts, pushing two vehicles forward while their infantry deploy.

CLA airmobile troopers take up defensive positions in the west (Captain Bronchovio is at bottom right)...

And in the east (Colonel Estevante and the TOW are in the building at bottom right).

The enemy pushes its Panhard and a BTR even further west, lining up on the CLA's far left flank, with infantry close in tow.

While back on the right, the regime forces push forward very aggressively, manning the walls at far left, in the center, hopping the wall next to the fountain at center, and in the building at top right (CLA forces are along the bottom).

Following the maneuver and counter-maneuver, the shooting finally erupts, and it starts with the enemy Panhard firing a 90mm HE round at the CLA's left flank, pinning Team 3 (yellow bead).

And then the BTR (top center) opens fire, forcing Team 4 to fall back (bottom center, red bead).

An enemy rifle team fires on Team 1...

Forcing them to fall back (bottom right, red baed, from white puff at center; that's the CO next to them).

More enemy rifles open up, this time on Team 2, who is wisely occupying a building.  The building's thick stone walls provide shelter for the CLA troopers.

The regime's other BTR (top left) opens fire with its HMG, trying to neutralize the CLA's TOW ATGM (bottom right), but the thick walls here stave off the enemy rounds.

The enemy is keen on neutralizing the TOW; a rifle team opens up, but still no ill effect.

In quite an amazing occurrence, an enemy rifle team opens up on Team 7, who is kinda just hanging out in the open next to the fountain, but the enemy's marksmanship skills are lacking and the CLA troopers shake off the enemy fire.

And then an enemy team fires on Team 6, to no effect...

As does another enemy team.  The buildings and walls are serving us well.  Or, the enemy's dice rolling didn't go so well...

In any case, time for some payback.

It starts with the TOW, who fires on the enemy BTR in the northeast...

Enemy riflemen lay down fire, and it's enough to throw off the gunner's aim.  The missile strikes the ground just before the BTR (center), and the BTR driver slams it in reverse and falls back out of LOS (top center).  The missile strike is close enough and violent enough to pin two of the enemy rifle teams (bottom center, yellow beads).

From the same building, Team 6 fires on their enemy counterparts...

Forcing them to fall back (far left).

Just behind Team 6, Team 5 (bottom right) opens up...

And clears the building by knocking out the enemy team there.

Team 7 fires, no effect on the enemy hiding behind the wall...

Then Team 2 fires, getting a pin.

Back on the right, Team 6 has a great shot on an enemy team in the open, and they cut loose...  And miss.

Team 5, just behind Team 6, opens up on that same enemy team, who apparently are sitting on a pile of rabbit's feet, horseshoes, and four-leaf clovers, because this round of fire also is wide of the mark...

Under this covering fire, the TOW team decides to displace (bottom center, from building at right).  They forced the BTR in the east to fall back, and there's not a great opportunity to get that vehicle back in the fight, so the TOW is looking to get into position to go after the Panhard and BTR in the west.

Captain Bronchovio starts behind the wall at center, and rallies Team 1 up to pin (yellow bead at right), then moves left to the wall to try to rally Team 3...

But it fails, and they fall back next to Team 4.  The regime opens up another torrent of fire...

The BTR in the west starts it off, firing on Teams 3 and 4 as Captain Bronchovio (top center) looks on helplessly...

Team 3 is knocked out, and Team 4 (bottom right, red bead) falls back off the field of battle.

With the CLA force in the southwest gone (Teams 3 and 4, that's Captain Bronchovio at bottom right), the Panhard turns east and fires on Team 2 in the building, pinning them.

An enemy rifle team fires on Team 2, but they can't be hit as they're all crawling around on the floor, trying to clear the stars and cobwebs from the recently impacted 90mm HE round that just hit...

But when another enemy rifle team opens up on them...

They decided they've had enough attention and fall back (red bead, center right).

The enemy turns their attention to Team 7, still hanging out next to the fountain, and they finally pay for their nonchalance, suffering heavy casualties.

The enemy CO tries to rally a pinned team (center), but it fails and they fall back (top center, red bead, next to hunkering BTR).

The enemy team next to the fountain fires on Team 6, to no effect, and they return fire...

Putting heavy casualties on the enemy team.

And then Team 5 (top right) opens up, and puts heavy casualties on the enemy team opposite the building formerly occupied by Team 2 (bottom left, with Team 7 at center with white bead, and the TOW at far right).

Colonel Estevante takes a good look around, sizes up the situation, and doesn't like what he sees.  "What is it Colonel?"  "It's a cluster@#$%.  Time to improvise, adapt, and overcome." ;)

And with that, Colonel Cledado Estevante leads Team 6 (far right) into close combat; the enemy CO (bottom center) decides now is not the time to lay it on the line, so he falls back...

The CLA troopers and their Colonel put the enemy team out of the fight, then charge the next enemy team.  The enemy Commanding Officer realizes the gravity of the situation and decides he must make his stand...

Colonel Estevante personally dispatches the enemy CO in the melee, then leads Team 6 into the next fight...

The Colonel and Team 6 put another enemy team out of the fight, then close assault the cowering BTR crew...

The Colonel mounts the enemy vehicle and drops a frag through the commander's hatch, destroying it.  Following this, Team 6 faces back to the southwest.

The TOW team (bottom right) moves back out into the LZ to line up a shot on the enemy armored vehicles in the west (top left).

Captain Bronchovio hauls ass from the wall at bottom left to center right, then tries to pin Teams 1 and 2.  Team 1 stays pinned, and Team 2 rallies 'up' to pinned.

The enemy, though leaderless, still has heart for the fight, and moves aggressively.  A rifle team moves up on the CO and Team 2 (far left), the team at center left rallies, and the remaining BTR moves back up the road in order to deal with Colonel Estevante and Team 6 (top right).

The Panhard moves up to the LZ, looking to get into the CLA's rear, while the enemy team that was at the wall at top center moves into the building adjacent the CO and Teams 1 and 2.

Captain Bronchovio tries to rally Team 2, but fails and they fall back (far right, red bead).  He tries again to rally Team 1, but they stay pinned (bottom left).  Team 7 (center, next to fountain) tries to rally, but they're stuck dealing with their casualties.

Finding themselves in the open, staring down an enemy BTR (bottom left), the Colonel and Team 6 hop the wall into cover (far right).

The TOW lines up a shot on the Panhard and looses a missile...

The round misses, but it's enough to force the Panhard back (bottom left, from puff at center), and to force a rifle team to fall back as well (top center).

Captain Bronchovio once again tries to rally Team 1 (bottom left), but he fails and they run.  Good grief...

So he moves right and tries some more rallying: Team 7's rally fails, still dealing with casualties (white bead), but Team 2 (red bead) manages to get back into fighting trim.

Enough screwing around: Captain Bronchovio leads Team 2 into the building, where the enemy opens fire on them...

But Captain Bronchovio would not be denied, and he and Team 2 quickly put the enemy riflemen out of the fight (far right), then descend (center), placing themselves behind the enemy BTR (now boxed in by them and Colonel Estevante/Team 6, off camera to top right) and next to the cowering enemy rifle team (red bead).

And the enemy has had enough, they throw in the towel.

Whew, another ridiculous fight!  Again the back and forth was exhausting, though I'm a bit ambivalent about Colonel Estevante's success.  On the one hand, the situation has to be just right: a string of enemy troops/vehicles that are withing about 6 inches of each other and are all either 'men down' or 'hunkering.'  On the other hand, I like winning ;)  But on the third hand, it's kind of strange that this has happened in back to back fights, and I'm starting to worry that I'm playing the close combat modifiers wrong as it shouldn't be easy to march off four or five straight wins in close combat.  I'll take a look.

Regarding the employment of the enemy armored vehicles, these close quarters are simply not best suited to their strengths, but please recall the regime's plan was not to use them here.  The enemy was mounted up, rolling down the highway into the rear area of 1st Airborne Battalion, when 1st Air Assault Company helo'ed in to start the fight.  In any case, the enemy vehicles in the southwest pretty much totally whiffed on Teams 3 and 4 with their first round of fire, then finally put them out with their second; the point being, they should have been able to take care of those teams with one round of fire, then turn their attention to the CLA's center.  But the TOW did miss two different shots, though the enemy was unable to rally their vehicles (the first because it was so far away from the rest of the force when it fell back to the northeast, and the second because it ended up falling back well away from everyone in the southwest).

Castro forces: ~40 KIA/WIA, one knocked out BTR-60, ~15 POWs, one captured BTR-60 and one captured Panhard.

The following awards were issued:
Colonel Estevante, Commanding Officer of 4th Infantry Battalion, awarded the Medall de Honor, dubbed "El Leon de El Sandino"
Captain Bronchovio, Commander, 1st Air Assault Co, 4th Inf Bn, decorated for valor with the Estrella de Bronce
Sgt Guillardo, Team 6 of 1st Air Assault Co, 4th Inf Bn, awarded the Cruz Servicio Distinguido
Sgt Segovia, Team 2 of 1st Air Assault Co, 4th Inf Bn, decorated for valor with the Estrella de Bronce

Three more fights to get written up!