Saturday, January 18, 2014

Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm - School Teacher Replay 1

The day is hot, humid and hazy as the tankers of 151st Panzer Battalion, 15th Panzer Brigade, 5th Panzer Division finish their briefing and crank their tanks to begin taking up positions. Somewhere to the east, Warsaw Pact forces in unknown strength are advancing toward them. The job of the 151st and their comrades in the rest of the brigade is to stop them at the village of Sandberg...

This is my second entry in my replay of the first scenario of the Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm West German campaign.  The first entry, which covered my planning for conducting recon and gathering intelligence on the enemy, is covered here.

The actual movement orders to get the recon sections into position to observe the NAIs and TAI, and to move the two maneuver companies (2/151 Pz and 2/152 PzG) into the attack by fire positions south and west of Sandberg. To provide flexibility I've cross-attached an infantry platoon to 2/151 Pz and a tank platoon to 2/152 PzG.

After almost an hour and a half, 2/151 Pz is in their attack by fire position, and the recon sections are nearing their observation posts. At 1324 a Pact recon force enters the eastern outskirts of Sandberg. At this point my order delay cycle is 26 minutes to around 35 for the OPFOR.

The intel picture starts to develop, and in a way I hadn't anticipated. Direct fire destroys the WP recon unit in Sandberg. My recon troops sight enemy infantry advancing up the road leading southeast from Sandberg. In my planning I had assumed the enemy was advancing from due east, and would come up the road from Windshausen. I still don't know that they aren't coming from there as well, but there's at least some enemy presence on this other road.

My TAI is still positioned right to determine if the enemy course of action is along the routes leading into the east of Sandberg versus the route from the north. I don't feel I know enough yet to draw any conclusion yet, but initial indications are that the attack will come from the east.

An order cycle later and the evidence continues to mount. A tank company is moving up the road toward Sandberg from the southwest, preceded by a scout helicopter unit. Unfortunately the tanks caught one of my recon sections in an exposed position and wiped them out - I'll need to figure out another plan for scouting farther east. Both of my remaining recon sections are in position to watch the routes associated with the OPFOR courses of action (COA) I've developed.

A second company of 151st Pz arrives.  I route them to covered positions north of Sandberg. From here I can use them to either ambush an attack from the north, or to assault under cover south in to Sandberg to take the objectives when the time is right. My artillery has arrived as well, and begin placing suppression fire on the enemy advancing toward Sandberg.

By 1429 several more recon vehicles and a battalion of tanks have arrived in the vicinity of Sandberg from the southeast. This begins to look like the lead elements of a WP Tank Regiment. Direct fire from 2/151 destroys all the recon vehicles, several tanks, and drives off the scout helicopters. Visibility is limited enough that the WP tanks, lacking thermal sights can't see my Leopard 2A4s to shoot back.

They can reach the panzergrenadiers of 2/152 however, who begin to lose vehicles and take casualties. Since both 1/151 Pz and 1/152 PzG have arrived, I decided that the battered 2/152 PzG has had enough and that I'll move them into a covered position and place them in reserve to recuperate and rearm. Instead, I will move 1/151 Pz into their positions, and have two companies of Leopards in position to fire into EA Sand.

To cover the withdraw of the infantry of 2/152 PzG, I want to keep the attached platoon of Leopards in place and firing on EA Sand until 1/151 Pz is in position. Once I've plotted the movement orders for the tank company, I check the waypoint for the platoon that will replace 3/2/151. I then adjust the delay for the movement of 3/2/151 to keep them in place until just before their replacements arrive.

The casualties are running in favor of 15th Panzer Brigade so far, though WP troops have seized both objectives. It appears very likely at this point that the enemy COA is the southern route - what I am not sure of at this point is exactly how strong an enemy I'm facing. So far I've seen what looks like a recon company and a tank battalion supported by a scout helicopter unit, more or less a WP Advance Guard formation. There has been no activity to the north. My task now is to gather enough intelligence to formulate an effective plan for taking the objectives in Sandberg while preserving as much of my force as possible. While doing so I want to degrade the capability of the enemy forces in EA Sand as much as possible.

Developing plan for 15 Pz Bde
Over the next hour and a half, then, my plan is to have two Panzer companies in Attack By Fire positions to attrite enemy forces in EA Sand. Another Panzer company and a Panzergrenadier company will move to assembly areas north and south of the town and prepare to either assault Sandberg and capture the objectives or move to flanking positions to attack the enemy main body once discovered. Under the cover of smoke, 2/152 will withdraw into a reserve position to rest and resupply. 5th Recon will continue to attempt to locate the enemy main body with covered movement north and south.