Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cuba Libre - Liberation Batrep 30


It's 0900 on 5 Feb 1990, and the CLA's C Company, 1st Airborne Battalion, is on the move in Havana.  Following B Company, 3rd Infantry Battalion's setback yesterday in Artemisa at the hands of the regime's 2nd Armored Battalion, 1st Airborne Battalion was committed to secure Artemisa, which occurred yesterday afternoon.  The CLA paratroopers entered the city to find organized defense non-existent, the enemy forces severely demoralized and surrendering in large groups.  Interrogations of prisoners of war yielded only "it is finished, the regime has fallen."

CLA SIGINT intercepts showed a great deal of chatter, to include several new stations on channels previously unused, in a foreign dialect, and a large deal of communication between regime formation senior commanders.  The regime's Supreme Headquarters had communicated with a foreign element, then gone off the air, leaving the regime's military leaderless and without direction.

1st Airborne Battalion passed off the prisoners to other CLA units, then road marched to Havana, where Captain DeNostro's C Company led the way into the last pocket of enemy resistance in the north.  Early on the going was easy, but the paratroopers soon ran into stiff enemy resistance, with early reports suggesting the CLA riflemen had run into foreign troops, which HUMINT sources stated parachuted onto Cuba the night of 4/5 February 1990.

So far we've had:
18) C Company of the UWG fought a running battle in the Escambray Mountains to delay/halt the regime's 12th Mechanized Battalion moving west.

19) A Squadron SOF holds off the regime's 2nd Airborne Company, 1st Airborne Battalion at the Radio Station in downtown Havana, while B Squadron SOF and 8th Popular Force Battalion move to reinforce.
20) 2nd Airborne Battalion, attacks north of Sandino to eliminate the regime's 4th Infantry Battalion.
21) 7th Infantry Battalion, attacks north of Sandino to eliminate the regime's 5th Territorial Infantry Battalion.
22) Colonel Huistrella's Unconventional Warfare Group fight another desperate holding action in the Escambray Mountains, this time against the regime's 10th Territorial Infantry Battalion.

23) The 5th Tank Battalion squares off against the regime's 2nd Armored Battalion just west of Artemisa.
24) 9th Popular Force Battalion holds the line at Matanzas as the enemy's 7th Infantry Battalion attempts to break out to reinforce Havana.
25) 6th Infantry Battalion, with support from 5th Tank Battalion, engages the enemy 6th Armored Battalion's spoiling attack.
26) The 5th Tank Battalion and 4th Infantry Battalion take part in heavy street fighting in Artemisa against the regime's 2nd Armored Battalion.

27) The 5th Tank Battalion and 3rd Infantry Battalion are stymied by a spoiling attack east of Artemisa by the regime's 2nd Armored Battalion.
28) 10th Popular Force Battalion and the regime's 7th Infantry Battalion trade supporting fires in eastern Havana, then grapple in heavy street-fighting.
29) The 6th Infantry Battalion, supported by the 3rd Troop, 5th Tank Battalion, defeats the regime's 6th Armored Battalion in fierce fighting to secure the city of Cienfuegos.

30) 1st Airborne Battalion secures Artemisa, then pushes into Havana, where they run into unexpectedly heavy resistance.

The opposing forces, with CLA on the right and backers of the regime on the left.  The CLA is comprised of British from Pendraken's Falklands range, as well as an M-113 from their Vietnam range (with a Minifigs machine gunner), while the enemy is made up of Minifigs Warsaw Pact Special Operations troops.

Leading the CLA's assault is Commander, C Co, 1st AB Inf: Capt DeNostro

The CLA force has Captain DeNostro's Command Stand, seven rifle stands, a dismounted .50 cal HMG, an 81mm mortar, and an M-113 (from 5th Tank Battalion) with a .50 cal HMG.  As the forces are equal in quality, the CLA element has only one Command Stand (vice the usual two).

The regime force has a Command Stand, five rifle stands, and an 82mm mortar in support.

Overview of map, north is up, on the north side of Havana.  The CLA entered at left (west), while the enemy force is at right (east).

CLA forces in the northwest (and a single enemy rifle team at top right), with Capt DeNostro at bottom left, the HMG team at far left, the mortar team at top left, and rifle teams 1, 2, and 3.

CLA forces in the southwest, with Team 3 just visible at top left, then rifle teams 4, 5, 6, and 7, with the M-113.

The enemy is pretty badly outnumbered, so in the southeast they have only one rifle team.

While they make their main effort in the northeast, with their remaining four rifle stands, their commander, and their mortar team.

My simple opposed die roll indicates the regime force is up first, which is bad for them, meaning they must act now, springing their ambush too soon.  It would have been far more advantageous to them if the CLA had been first, in which case I'd have treated the enemy as unspotted and moved the CLA troops forward under a 'scurry.'

C'est la guerre...

The enemy wisely starts by getting their mortar (top right) to work, placing fire on Team 4 (far left, explosion marker)...

And very quickly a CLA rifle team is out of the fight, while Team 3 (with yellow bead, and Capt DeNostro looking on) is pinned.

In the northwest, Team 1 withstands some inaccurate small arms fire.


In the southwest, the enemy takes another bad shot (lots of trees), which Team 7 shakes off.

The CLA responds: the .50 cal HMG (far left, at turn in stone wall) opens up, sending a barrage of thumb-sized slugs at enemy in the stone house at top right...

The ferocious fire knocks out the enemy rifle team and pins the mortar team, though this is largely superfluous as the mortar team has no need to move, and continue to fire as normal.

The M-113 (bottom left) rolls forward and lets rip with its .50 cal, but the thick stone walls absorb the rounds with no damage to the enemy.

The CLA is really looking to invest that building, looking to pin/suppress the enemy there and close assault with Team 1 (center).  Having watched the M-113 fire to no effect, Team 2 (top left) unleashes on the enemy (top right), but again there is no effect.

Team 1's Sergeant is determined to make something happen, so he moves his men forward.  The enemy snap fires, but misses!

Team 1 opens up at extremely close range, causing heavy casualties on the enemy riflemen (white bead).

The enemy commander is worried about the CLA HMG team (far left, at crook in stone wall), so he directs his mortar team (top right) to take them under fire.  But their aim is off, and the 82mm rounds fall short!

That is, they rolled 2K 3S, and didn't get a single 1 or 6!!!

The forward enemy team in the north (top center, white bead) is ripe to be close assaulted by the CLA, so an enemy rifle team sprints forward to come to their aid (center right, coming from far right).  But Team 2 (top left) spies them and opens fire...

The fire is ineffectual, but was enough to keep the enemy team from reaching and rallying their mates (their 'sprint roll' was a 1)!

An enemy rifle team moves up (bottom right) and lays down cover fire as their CO (top center) dashes ahead.

The CLA mortar (top left) fires on the enemy team that just provided cover fire for the CO (far right)...

Causing them to fall back and hunker (from explosion at far left).

The .50 cal team (far left) opens fire on the back-end enemy rifle team (top right), pinning them down.

With one enemy rifle team 'men down,' and the other 'pinned,' the time is now: Team 1 charges into close combat!

The easily dispatch the first enemy team, then find themselves face to face with the second, who cut loose a torrent of fire at very close range...

Knocking out Team 1!!!


At top left, Captain DeNostro rallies Team 3...

Then hops the wall and escorts the M-113 forward, where they cut loose on the enemy that just knocked out Team 1...

The enemy team suffers heavy casualties (white bead, left), as their CO (right) looks on.

The enemy CO bravely dashes forward and rallies his rifle team...

Then they fall back behind the building, out of line of sight.

Captain DeNostro and the M-113 inched forward, while Team 3 dashed ahead of them (bottom center), Team 2 moved up (top center), and the HMG team occupied the building at top left.

Looking east at the enemy table edge: the rifle team at top center successfully rallied.  The enemy CO made the decision to not try to rally the mortar (top left), because the mortar can still shoot, even if it can't move, and if it failed the rally attempt is might run off the table.

With Team 3 (bottom center) calling out corrections, the CLA mortar team (top left) fired on the enemy rifle team and CO (top right), but couldn't squeeze the rounds into the small space between the building and wall...

But the HMG team (top left) eyed the enemy team taking refuge behind the fountain, and sent a slew of .50 cal slugs their way...

Putting them out of the fight.

Team 3 moves up (bottom right, from next to the M-113), shaking off enemy reactive fire...

Then got their LMG going into the enemy's flank...

Knocking out the enemy rifle team and causing their CO to fall back.

Captain DeNostro and the M-113 inched forward, and the enemy loosed an RPG at them, but it missed!

The M-113 returned fire, but only managed to pin the enemy team...

Which allowed them to reload and fire another RPG...

Also, the enemy CO (bottom left) sprinted south across the road (this photo is looking south-southwest).

Which immobilized the M-113 and pinned Team 3 (bottom left, yellow bead).  The M-113's crew bailed out (far right).

Damn!  The fight was beginning to look like a pushover, and I was about to congratulate myself on my systematic dismantling of the enemy's defense...

I just know that someone is going to wonder why I kept the M-113 moving forward; aside from the fact the RPG has the range to reach most of the board, the impetus was on the CLA to push forward and take the table; you're either moving forward to win or your moving backward to regroup ;)

Then the enemy mortar team (top right) rained rounds down on Team 2 (top left), pinning them.

The .50 cal team (top left) fires on the enemy rifle team that just knocked out the M-113 (far right), but again the stone walls serve them well as the rounds have no effect.

Captain DeNostro (top left) can feel the momentum of the attack grinding to a halt, and decides to push the limit.  He moves up and rallies Team 3 (with the offending enemy rifle team at bottom right, and the enemy CO at top right).

Captain DeNostro lets out a yell and leads Team 3 forward in a charge against the enemy rifle team...

But the enemy CO lets out a yell and rushes forward, and so his rifle team charges down from their hearty, stone building, and the two sides clash in the open...

We regret to inform you that Captain DeNostro was killed in action...

As far as close combat modifiers, the CLA was +1 for initiative and the enemy was -1 for being pinned, with the two COs cancelling each other out.  So it was a gamble, which traditionally pays off for me.  But not this time...

The enemy CO and rifle team fell back into the heavy cover of the stone building.

Down to only a single rifle team and the mortar (the CLA has four rifle teams, a mortar, and an HMG), the enemy CO resolved to fight to the last man, aware of the importance of his delaying mission (which, to understand, you'll have to wait to read the next batrep).

The CLA troops were clearly shaken at the loss of their leader, their supporting armored vehicle, and so many men, but the senior enlisted man rose up and took charge, continuing the attack.

But then the enemy mortar team went to work again (top right), targeting Team 7 (bottom left)...

Savagely knocking them out in a rain of 82mm mortar rounds.

And that was enough to convince the Sergeant to signal the CLA troops to fall back.

Holy crap!  A great fight, but I sure would have liked to have won that.  I certainly feel like I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  Even after the track got hit, I still felt very confident, and I was sure Captain DeNostro's charge would work, though I didn't really expect the enemy CO to pitch in (the odds were against it, but the die roll came up right for them; twice).  But it all works into my overall plan ;)

CLA: ~20 KIA/WIA, ~5 POW, and 1 M-113 knocked out
Regime: ~20 KIA/WIA

Captain DeNostro and Sergeant Ortiz (Team 3) were both awarded the Estrella de Bronce and Corazon Purpura, posthumously.

Sergeant Pena (Team 1) was awarded the Estrella de Bronce and Corazon Purpua, and was wounded bad enough to be evacuated.

The senior Sergeant provided his SITREP up through the CLA G-3 (Operations) chain, and when it confirmed foreign forces were involved, the CLA G-2 (Intelligence) section got to work.  It all finally came together: as the regime's forces were collapsing, Venezuela parachuted a battalion-sized element onto the island.  Their intentions were as yet unclear though, as they'd not been concentrated, but dropped in various parts of the island.

This intervention in Cuba's affairs by a foreign power was an extremely bitter pill for the men of the CLA to swallow; confident and on the verge of victory to liberate their country, many immediately began to discuss retribution against the offending nation.  The C Company paratroopers were particularly interested in identifying the commander of the Venezuelan force that turned them back in northern Havana; it took the G-2 a few hours to figure out, but an Intelligence Lieutenant informed the commanding paratrooper Sergeant: "His name is Captain Hugo Chavez."

Two more fights to go in the War of Liberation!



  1. The close combat that didn't pay off (Captain DeNostro). Bummer. Ah well. It had to happen sometime that it was not going to work at a critical moment. And you lost too! Double bummer. A great writeup. Smaller forces that the last few games and I could really feel the tension throughout the game.

    1. Hey, you're almost there man, two batreps to go!

      Poor old DeNostro had the misfortune of running into those highly-trained Venezuelan paratroopers, who put him out and bloodied the nose of his company.

      The games were great fun, and I couldn't be happier with the way the campaign went. I actually can't wait to keep moving it forward, just gotta figure out where Free Cuba's first war will be. It may be The Gulf War, but Jan-Feb 1991 seems so far away; surely I can squeeze a small war in there somewhere ;)


    2. Yep, only two more, should be able to knock them off tonight. Instead of playing a game (which could possibly have been my first game with one of Ivan's rules - 5Core Skirmish).

      Apologies for taking so long to get around to reading the last half of Cuba Libre but gaming life has finally caught up as real life slowed down a little. At least at the moment!

    3. You should have played 5 Men in Normandy instead!!! ;) No apologies necessary man, hope things slow down for awhile for you.