Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Cuba Libre - Cronstria Fight #29


AKA The reduction of Dubrovna, Fight #4

It's 0630 on 2 July 1990 and Battlegroup Elias is again moving up to its jump-off positions.  Yesterday saw the Cubans attack a strong defensive position, Hill 489, and defeat it in detail, causing approximately 75 enemy casualties and capturing approximately 400.  The Cubans had gotten extraordinarily lucky in that a patrol spotted a covered and concealed approach into the enemy line, which allowed its units to infiltrate and flank the enemy bunkers, which drove the numerically superior enemy force to flee headlong from the fight.  Cuban forces were able to circle around and block the route of escape, which is what allowed them to bag so many Communist troops (also keeping in mind that the enemy troops in and around the town of Dubrovna are already encircled and cut off from other Communist forces, so they're morale wasn't all it could be).

As Battlegroup Elias rest, refit, and reorganized, Cuban air and artillery pounded Dubrovna all through the night.  Rather than an all-out assault on Dubrovna, Captain Elias has elected to try to infiltrate his infantry on foot, behind a creeping barrage, and once the artillery has moved on and the troops are on the edge of town, the Battlegroup's mortars will give the forward edge of town one more sharp, quick pounding before the grunts push forward.

Overview of map, the outskirts of Dubrovna, north is bottom right.  The Communists are defending the buildings at center/top right and the Cubans enter from bottom left (east).  1st Platoon is in the lead, and 1st Squad the tip of the spear.  1st Squad's mission is to secure the first four buildings at the town' initial crossroads, opening the door for 2nd and 3rd Squads to pass through them, then 2nd Platoon to pass through 1st Platoon, moving into the town, proper.

The opposing forces, with bad guys on the left and good guys on the right.  The Cubans will always have eight men (so that my son and I can always control four guys, each), while the bad guys will roll to see if they get 6, 7, or 8 guys.  Here the dice roll finally come up different and they only got seven men!

The Cuban squad, eight men in two fireteams, 15mm Modern Marines from Peter Pig, painted up in temperate MARCAM.  These are anonymous squads within Battlegroup Elias, not named characters, so I'm going to use a generic set of names through each of this series (of six) battle reports.  We are not following a single squad, or even a single platoon; I just don't feel like trying to come up 48 different names for this set of fights.  So, please bear with me ;)

Team 1:
Team Leader: Corporal Lira
SAW Gunner: LCpl Galban
Assistant Gunner: PFC Aguilar
Scout: Private Salazar

Team 2:
Team Leader: Corporal Lupe
SAW Gunner: LCpl Garcia
Assistant Gunner: PFC Abrera
Scout: Private Solis

The bad guys, 15mm Modern Russians from Eureka Miniatures, painted up in 'Sun Bunny' camo.  Each game we roll to see how many bad guys there will be on table, with the options being 6, 7, or 8 men.  With eight men they get two whole teams, each of a grenadier, a machine gunner with PKM, and two riflemen with AKs.  As this enemy unit only has seven men, they lose one grenadier (no big loss as, to date, the enemy has yet to use a grenade launcher.  Hell, the Cubans have only had opportunity to use one a couple times so far).

Overview of map, this time with troops.  Team 1 is at bottom left, Team 2 at bottom center left, and bad guys are spread throughout.  They have one rifleman in the brush on each flank, machine guns at the bottom floor of the top center building and the 2nd floor of the top right building, a rifleman on the 2nd floor of the top center building, and a rifleman each in the left and bottom building.

In real life we'd use what is called a "Grid Reference Graphic" (GRG), which is part of the overall op plan, used to designate each structure so it can be easily referenced by troops operating on the ground and for the coordination of supporting fires.  It's real simple: bottom building is B1, left B2, top B3, and right B4.  So the enemy has a rifleman and machine gun in B3, an MG in B4, and a single rifleman in B1 and B2, with flankers to the left (south) of B2 and the right (north) of B1.

Closeup of B2, you can see a rifleman on the 1st floor.  B3 is in the background (you can see the rifleman in the windows on the top deck, but I can't make out the machine gunner on the 1st floor), and a flanker is in the copse of woods at far left.

A look at B1 (bottom left), with a rifleman, a flanker in the woods at bottom center, and B4 (top right), with a machine gunner on the second floor.

And the Cubans, 1st Squad of 1st Platoon, with Team 1 at left and Team 2 at right.  The troops are ready to move on B1 (top right) and B2 (top center); the squad leader gets on the company net and provides the Execution Checklist pro-word to alert HQ they're all set.

Which causes a short, sharp barrage of 81mm mortars to fall on the objective buildings.

With the crashes still echoing across the valley and wisps of smoke still rising from the craters, the Cubans are up and into No Man's Land (bottom left and center), hoping the enemy's bells are rung and they can close the distance before the bad guys get their marbles back.

So far, so good.  Team 2 gets up to the Dragon's Teeth, where their SAW gunner, LCpl Garcia (bottom center), takes knee and rips off a long burst at some movement on the ground floor of B3 (top center).  The fire is incredibly effective, suppressing the machine gunner and pinning the rifleman on the 2nd floor!

On the left, Team 1's SAW gunner, LCpl Galban, skirts the Dragon's Teeth by sprinting up the road, taking cover at the corner of B2 (center top left, just left of the telephone pole).

Still at the Dragon's Teeth next to his SAW gunner, Team 2's leader, Cpl Lupe (bottom center), spots an enemy soldier on the ground floor of B2 (top center left, with LCpl Galban just below and to the left of him) and fires, knocking the Communist down!

But the enemy's far right flanker (far right) has gotten himself back together, snapped out of his stupor by the sound of small arms fire nearby.  He raises his AK and fires on Team 2 (bottom left).

Rounds skip off the ground and smack off the Dragon's Teeth!  Cpl Lupe (bottom center) turns and returns fire, but he can't identify his target and the rounds zip harmlessly into the undergrowth.

Cpl Lupe then dashes into B1 (top center).

But as he peers around a smashed wall (left), he comes face to face with a bad guy in the opposite doorway (right), who's AK immediately flashes and roars.  Cpl Lupe is knocked down!

On the Cuban right, Team 2's scout, Pvt Solis (bottom left), spots movement on the top floor of B4 (top right).  He sights in with his M-16 and fires, knocking down an enemy machine gunner.  Well alriiiiiiight; right off the bat, both enemy gunners are in a bad way, one knocked down and one suppressed.

Solis then dashes up to Cpl Lupe and checks him; he's alright, ready to rock'n roll.

Then PFC Abrera, Team 2's assistant gunner), crosses the Dragon's Teeth and moves up to the edge of B1 (center bottom), where he fires blindly at the enemy's right-hand flanker.

The Cuban fire misses, and the bad guy (top right) returns fire, but he misses too!

On the far left, Team 1's scout, Pvt Salazar (bottom left), spots the enemy's left-hand flanker (top left) in some bushes near B2.  He sights in and fires, knocking the Communist down!

Salazar then dashes up to the southern corner of B2 (bottom right).

Then Team 1's leader, Cpl Lira (bottom left) gets a bead on the bad guy in B1, the one that knocked down Cpl  Lupe (top center right).  Cpl Lira fires, pinning the enemy troop.

Cpl Lira then moves up next to his SAW gunner (center) at B2, with Pvt Salazar at the other corner (left).

Team 1's A-gunner, PFC Aguilar (bottom left), takes a shot at the same bad guy, keeping him pinned.

Before moving up to the rest of his team at B2 (bottom center left).

The enemy's right-hand flanker (top right) reloads and sights in on PFC Abrera (center bottom) and fires, which also puts LCpl Garcia (bottom left) in the line of fire.

LCpl Garcia (bottom left) is okay, but PFC Abrera goes down...

LCpl Garcia (bottom center) is distracted by the enemy fire and PFC Abrera going down, which causes him to stop firing on B3 (top center left) for a moment, which is long enough for the pinned rifleman on the 2nd floor to open fire, knocking LCpl Garcia down.  The enemy machine gunner on the ground floor of B3 successfully rallies himself back into the fight.

Regarding B1 (which, in reality, would have been given two separate numbers as it's two separate buildings), a tactical dilemma: Cubans are in the eastern half (bottom left), a bad guy in the western half (center left).  What is he to do?  I give him options: most likely, he tosses a frag on Cpl Lupe and Pvt Solis in the other half of B1.  Less likely, he returns fire with his rifle on the gaggle of Cubans that have been firing on him from behind B2.  Least likely, he falls back, planning to toss a smoke grenade next turn and sprint across the street, trying to get to the knocked down machine gunner in B4 (top right) and get him back in the fight.  The boy rolls a D12, and it's again least likely: the bad guy decides to fall back, so there he is, in cover but preparing to cross the street next turn (dead center).

Cpl Lupe, in B1 with Pvt Solis (bottom center), spots more movement on the ground floor of B3 (top left, and you can see an enemy rifleman that is knocked down, with white bead at far left).  Cpl Lupe raises his M-203 and pops a 40mm grenade at the ground floor.

The grenade hits right at the window, knocking the machine gun down and suppressing the rifleman on the second floor!

Still at B1, Pvt Solis (left, next to Cpl Lupe) drops smoke (center), looking to screen LCpl Garcia (bottom center) from enemy fire from the flank (top center left), then himself move to Garcia to check on his knocked down buddy.

LCpl Galban, Team 1's SAW gunner (bottom left) has his eye on B1 (right) and B4 (off camera to top center).  He catches a glimpse of movement there; he can't actually see the enemy soldier, but he knows he's there, so he cuts loose with his SAW, suppressing the bad guy!

As LCpl Galban (bottom center, with LCpl Aguilar at bottom left) pounds out covering fire, Cpl Lira sprints ahead top center, taking up position behind a stone structure opposite a knocked down bad guy, who's feet he can see sticking out.

LCpl Aguilar follows Cpl Lira into B2, then climbs to the 2nd floor (top center, with Pvt Salazar at far left).

Unfortunately, PFC Aguilar's aggressive move (top left) exposes him to the enemy's right-hand flanker (bottom right, with the guy that LCpl Galban just suppressed at center), who opens fire.

The enemy fire misses!  PFC Aguilar (bottom left) takes cover and returns fire, dropping the bad guy (top right)!!!

With the enemy's left-hand flanker not a factor as he's knocked down and cut off so that no friendly can come check on him (the only way to get him back in the fight), Pvt Salazar ignores him and sprints up the left (south) side of B2 (center left, from bottom center).  LCpl Galban is at bottom right, PFC Aguilar at the explosion at center, and a suppressed bad guy at top right.  Salazar was looking to get to the end of the building and peek around, but he doesn't quite make it.  Need to lay off the curly fries with cheese ;)

The overall bad guy situation is not goood: they have a man KIA off camera to right, 4 men knocked down (bottom left, 1st floor of B3 at top center, 1st floor of B2 bottom center, with Cpl Lira practically on top of him; and in 2nd floor of B4 at top right), and two men suppressed (2nd floor of B3 at top center, just above B1 at far right).  Not one man is even able to fire or move at this point; the two suppressed bad guys try to self rally.

The rifleman on the 2nd floor of B3 (top center) is good to go, but the rifleman at B1 (far right)...

Is forced to fall back.  He runs away from the Cubans and flops down in a copse of trees (top right, from bottom left).  Guess he won't be checking on the knocked down machine gunner in B4 (top left) anytime soon...

Cpl Lupe (bottom right, in B1) has never taken his eyes off B3 (top left).  He immediately spots movement on the 2nd floor, the just-rallied rifleman.  Cpl Lupe raises his weapon and fires another 40mm grenade.

Right through the window!!!  The enemy rifleman is put out of the fight, the machine gunner below him remains knocked down.

*The boy actually rolled another kill, but I figured it wasn't fair to kill the machine gunner on the first floor as there was no way the grenade would be able to penetrate the thick stone floor.

Back on the right, Pvt Solis falls back out of B1 (top left) to finally check on the SAW gunner, LCpl Garcia (bottom center).  He's patched up and ready to fight.

On the left, over in B2, Cpl Lira snakes around the corner, ready for anything (bottom center, with PFC Aguilar above on the 2nd floor)...

But the Communist is already dead; Cpl Lira moves up and takes a firing position, scanning for targets and finding none.

PFC Aguilar moves up on the 2nd floor (top center, with Cpl Lira just below him), and LCpl Galban moves into the building as well (center bottom).

From the other side of B2 (left), Pvt Salazar sets out sprinting across the road, hoping to get into B3 (top right).  But he stumbles and doesn't quite make it...

These damn dice!!!

The only bad guy not currently knocked down (bottom right) self rallies, and he's good to go.  Both machine gunners are knocked down (in B3 at top center and B4 at right) and in danger of being overrun before he can move there and help them get back in the fight.  But with all the Cuban eyes about, he's not likely to make it there in any case.

Back on the left, Pvt Salazar makes it into B3, where he finishes off the enemy machine gunner there.

Then moves into a firing position.

Cpl Lira, on the ground floor of B2 (bottom center left), knows there's a bad guy out there on the right flank (top right).  He can't see him, but PFC Aguilar (bottom left) does; Aguilar shoulders his weapon and fires, suppressing the bad guy.

Team 2 fans out (bottom half of pic) and begins sweeping forward on the cowering bad guy (top center), as Pvt Salazar moves into B4 (top left), while the remainder of Team 1 (off camera to left) lays down covering fire.  The bad guy at top right decides discretion is the better part of valor and leaves town.

Mission accomplished, the squad consolidates, Team 1 in B3 and Team 2 in B4.  They take up defensive positions, redistribute ammo and water, and Cpl Lupe moves back to tag PFC Abrera's body (1 KIA, enemy 6 KIA).  Cpl Lira calls in the pro-word for objective taken, and 2nd and 3rd Squads immediately go streaming past them to the west, securing the next to buildings without firing a shot.  2nd Platoon now passes through 1st Platoon, and they come smack up against Old Town, the original section of the town of Dubrovno, a sniper's paradise of narrow, cobblestone streets surrounded by two story buildings with nooks and crannies everywhere.  Well, someone's gotta clear that rat's nest, looks like 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon is up next.

Which, of course, is the next fight, and it's an absolute mess!


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