It's 22 June 1990, and things are not well in Cuba. Following the successful, lightning quick war which liberated Cuba and deposed the Castro regime elections were held, services restored, and the country was humming along nicely. But in the ensuing months problems began to arise. Mischief has been on the rise: there have not been many casualties, but there has been a steady stream of pinpricks, becoming an almost daily occurrence. Pipe bombs in markets, sabotage of power transformers and rail lines, indiscriminate firing into futbol crowds, assassination of low-level government officials.
Cuban intelligence and security services immediately went to work, and their efforts bore fruit. The attacks were not domestic, per se. Everyone was aware there remained on Earth certain hardliners, holdovers of the Castro regime bent on retribution. But they were without a state; intelligence information pointed to Venezuela, who, if you recall, intervened in the War of Liberation, and when it became apparent the war was lost, actually attempted to evacuate Fidel Castro. So bad blood certainly existed between the governments of Free Cuba Venezuelan. While it did not appear the Venezuelans were taking any direct action against Cuba, they were offering asylum to Castro supporters, helping them to organize, helping to train them, funding them, and assisting them logistically to infiltrate back into Cuba to carry out these attacks. There were also rumors to the effect an as yet-unidentified Middle Eastern state was assisting this process, though it was not clear how exactly.
Upon receipt of this information, President Waraldonez called a National Security Meeting to discuss potential courses of action. It goes without saying that General Estevante recommended war with Venezuela; El Preidente told him to put a cork in it, then turned to his diplomats, who immediately went to work, using political back channels, with the Venezuelan government.
President Waraldonez was extraordinarily concerned by these developments, and war with Venezuela was the last thing the still new Free Cuba could afford, on any front. Economically the country was struggling to cast aside the decayed implements of Communism. Diplomatically the country was still finding its way, seeking friends it could truly to depend on, always aware of its precarious situation as a new nation with a new government with a new mode of governance. And militarily, where its standing National Guard was made up of conscripts raised under the Castro regime, poorly trained, poorly equipped, and its Expeditionary Force, the cream of its military crop, already becoming strained with the pace of its deployments, and in no way of sufficient size to mount operations against Venezuela on the continent in any case.
It was a sad day when his diplomats returned to Havana to inform El Presidente that Venezuela's bottom line was 'reparations,' payment for upsetting the balance of power and peace amongst the peoples of the Caribbean. President Waraldonez carefully weighed his options, seeking counsel wherever he might find it, to include hushed conversations with various heads of state of the Free World. Despite howls of protest from from General Estevante, El Presidente ultimately decided that, if it could possibly portend peace for his people, he must accede to the demands of the Venezuelans.
The details were worked out in terms of how much, when, where, and how the payment would take place. The transaction would take place on 22 June 1990 at 1200 local time at a cafe in a small village near the coastal town of Agadir, Morocco. The Cuban delegation was to bring a diplomat, a small security detail, and an astounding amount of money in very large bills in several different currencies.
Thus the delegation was to consist of The Ambassador and a platoon of sixteen operators from Major Villanueva's A Squadron of Operational Detachment Phoenix (the Cuban Expeditionary Force's Tier 1 Special Operations Force). Itineraries, schedules, loadouts, gear checks, bump plans, execution checklists, comm plans, everything had been worked out with contingency plans for the contingency plans; all was ready. And as high noon approached on 22 June 1990 in Morocco, so did the three-vehicle convoy, pulling up and parking before the cafe. The operators prepared to exit the vehicle and escort the Ambassador into the cafe to complete what was now being referred to as "Operation Pay-Off."
Operation Pay-Off is a series of three fights based on Ambush Alley Games' scenario book, "Lawyers, Guns, and Money." Of course, in this fight the Ambassador and his escort is about to be ambushed, their vehicles disabled. The mission of A Squadron is then to move the Ambassador to the hotel at bottom right, set up a secure perimeter, and attempt to establish comms with the outside world (a Quick Reaction Force).
The squadron is led by Major Villanueva, part of Operational Detachment Phoenix, which is Cuba's version of Delta Force/SAS. These figures are all 15mm troops from Eureka's Modern Australians range, which I have painted up in a hodgepodge of different colored uniforms to look more SOF-y.
These are all 15mm Insurgents and Fedayeen from Rebel Minis.
It's a trap!!! But the bad guys were off; either their trigger was a bit anxious, or the timing of the Cafe explosion was a little off. In either case, the premature explosion shocks the Cubans, but no one is injured.
Major Villanueva: "Well, Mr Ambassador, looks like the meeting has been cancelled, or at least postponed. Get down."
Major Villanueva: "Alright, we need to lay down some fire and get off the 'x'. Rally point is the hotel. Let's go."
*But that's not all good news; whenever five bad guys go down/leave the map, they reconstitute as a new team and come back on the table.
The remains of the other southern terrorist team is atop the building at far left.
Two teams (far left and top right) are pretty much wiped out, and a third is not in great shape (bottom left).
Major Villanueva: "Let's go boys, we need a bit better marksmanship here."
Major Villanueva: "We got anyone on the sniper rifle?" "Aye." "Go ahead and take care of the guy on the roof (far right, with red bead)."
We are in a bad way. We've got three new enemy rifle teams that just came on the board, all in places likely to do damage to our guys, and we've got two casualties already, men that have to be carried by shooters, taking them out of the fight. And due to being so badly outnumbered, our movement is oh-so-slow, with men having to react every time new bad guys pop into view to try to defray the cost of their fire. We can't afford to not engage with reaction fire as the numerically superior bad guys will rip us a new one if left alone, but the guys that react can't move. So we're trying to each use one team to react and keep the other moving forward, then leapfrog the other one up. But there's so many bad guys, we're just not getting very far, and now that the bad guys have popped up in new places we are really in big trouble.
Right now we are playing this Five Men in Normandy-style, and the game is moving super slow with so many guys on the board. I've really grown to love Five Men at Kursk style for modern skirmish, but it would be even slower with so many guys on the table. However, Ivan just put out some platoon-level mods, so we may go to that for Part II.
Oh, let me explain that. We played all this two weeks ago; when I set it up I thought we'd have it done, but it took so long we had to quit. I'm hoping we're about halfway through, but that may be a bit optimistic with so many good guys and reconstituting bad guys. I didn't get anything wargaming done this past weekend due to time constraints: the kids are back in school, with plenty of homework, and it is once again baseball season, so practice and games are kicking my butt (we won our first game 17-3!). I really, really, really want to play some games, but now more than ever they need to be small, quick games. This is killing me!!!
Stay tuned. This weekend we should be able to finish this game, and I'll get it posted as soon as I can.