Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tutorial 4.0 British Module “Cain and Abel,” Movement to contact with march objectives.

This module was brought to my attention in the forums and I decided to take a stab at it, even though I don’t necessarily like playing countries other than the US.  Most western countries have spent centuries studying warfare from a very formal, educated, philosophical standpoint all their own (most eastern countries, though they have millennia of military philosophy, are relatively new to developing a doctrine of their own).  And it takes years of being immersed in that doctrinal system to really understand what lies behind the decision to carry a certain assault rifle, tracked vehicles vs. wheeled, how they balance the armored tripod of speed, protection and firepower, etc.  While I have no qualms about jumping into a game and playing any nationality, when it comes to a tutorial document such as this I think it’s important I have a firm footing when I start talking about real life doctrine and tactics.  However, the British are probably the closest to US doctrinal thought (which is a rough amalgamation of British and German with a heavy dose of redneck aggression and industrial might thrown in) so I will digress, put on my pips and move out.

The other reason this module appeals to me is it brings to the forefront a very real tactical problem that is missing from the contemporary operating environment but is rampant in CMSF.  That is, of course, the wide spread use of ATGMs by the Syrian conventional AND unconventional forces.  The only army I know of that had to seriously face such a threat was the Israeli Defense Force in Lebanon in the last two decades, particularly in 2006.  And it turned into a political nightmare for them since their answer to the flurry of ATGM that came their way was to light up the countryside with as much firepower as they could bring to bear.  And toward the end they were lighting up the countryside before they started taking ATGM fire, often with detrimental political fallout and very little effect on the enemy.  

It is similar in some respects to the challenge coalition forces have faced in Iraq and Afghanistan re: the IED threat.  A hidden enemy that can attack from hiding with no real clue where he may be until the attack is already initiated.  The ATGM challenge, however, throws in another wrench in that the enemy can be up to 2000 meters away when he initiates the attack.  The Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) developed for the IED threat has changed over time.  Initially everyone just drove as fast as they could down the road, thinking they could throw off the initiator and cause him to set off the bomb either before or after they actually passed over it.  But the enemy adapted and started placing the bombs at choke points or other places where the vehicles were forced to slow or they got really good at marking their triggers in the target area for coalition vehicles traveling at different speeds.

So the TTPs have evolved into what they are today, which is basically drive slow enough to spot anything suspicious in the road and stop to investigate before continuing.  This, coupled with much better intel gathering on IED cells and dedicated route clearance units, has greatly reduced the threat to coalition vehicles.  But it takes a lot of time.  So a drive that might take 30 minutes in the states can turn into hours on the road in Afghanistan.  And that’s if everything else is in your favor and you don’t actually run into any suspected IEDs.
So perhaps together we can start to develop our own set of TTPs for dealing with the ATGM threat in CMSF.  I will start the discussion with this tutorial.

1.  What do I have to do?
Specified Tasks:                1. Movement to contact (route clearance)
                                                2. Seize West Yard (I will call this Objective Jones)
                                                3. Seize Objective Abel
                                                4. Seize Hill Houses (I will call this Objective Smith)
                                                5. Seize Objective Cain
                                                6. Preserve structures on OBJ Cain and Abel

Implied Tasks:                   1. Secure crossing over canal
                                                2. Suppress/destroy likely ATGM locations
                                                3. Protect vehicles from ATGM threat
                                                4. Establish overwatch positions to counter ATGM threat and provide SBF
Purpose: facilitate passage of follow on forces

2.  What do I know about the terrain?

Key terrain

Avenues of approach

                For this analysis the first thing I did was categorize the terrain as “Free Go” (easily traversed by vehicles) and “No Go” (slow or impassable by vehicles, shown in red).  This not only shows terrain unfavorable to mounted movement but also illustrates terrain favorable to dismounts.

Three AOAs are identified.  1 is to the east and hugs the treeline.  2 is to the west and stays in the more open ground of the orchards.  3 breaks from 2 and follows 1 about mid way.  The real challenge is going to be getting across the wadi into OBJ Abel.


Initial analysis shows that the enemy definitely enjoys some terrain advantages.  For example, seizing OBJ Jones (the West Yard) and then moving laterally across the battlefield to OBJ Abel would expose my units to fire from a number of different positions.  But I also see where I can eliminate each piece of key terrain in sequence without having to worry about fires from all the other pieces of key terrain simultaneously. 

3.  What do I know about the enemy?


Syrian Reserve Infantry Battalion
Three rifle companies pure.  Probably should expect an AT platoon or two with ATGMs and recoilless rifles.


4.  What forces do I have at my disposal?

Recce Platoon – Three Scimitars, Recce Section (2 teams)
2x Sniper Teams
3x Rifle Platoons
1x ENG Platoon
Tank Platoon
Javelin Section
Support: 81mm Mtrs, 1 AH-1 CCA, 155mm Batt 

5.  At what point do I begin to win the battle (decisive point)?

                I believe the riskiest part of the operation will be establishing a crossing of the wadi but the point where the battle will turn in my favor is the seizure of OBJ Smith.  It is decisive because once I have seized Smith I will be able to stage an attack on OBJ Cain without a threat to my rear.

6.  How can I most take advantage of the enemy’s weakness?

                I believe I can take advantage the enemy’s dispersal and use the terrain to my favor.  By conducting my attacks from positions that are screened by the terrain from the enemy’s other positions I think I can concentrate combat power against him piecemeal, giving me a local superior advantage.

7.  Can I deceive the enemy to my intentions in any way?

                Due to the screwed up arrival time table and my need to use every asset available to me in each stage of the plan I cannot afford any sort of deception for this mission.

8.  Where do I want to focus my combat power?

                I will focus my available combat power to each stage of the attack, expecting to be able to bring all my assets to bear against OBJ Smith and then OBJ Cain.

9.  What tasks do I need to accomplish?  10.  Which forces can be assigned to accomplish these tasks?

                I will be very tempted to do a lot of waiting in the mission as I try to build combat power.  And I will do that.  As a result I will probably be clearing OBJ Cain as I run out of time.  Hopefully the enemy will surrender or withdraw before I get down to the last minutes.  You will notice I have eliminated OBJ Jones (the West Yard) from my task list.  Intel reports no enemy south of the canal and I see no need to go anywhere near Jones to achieve my mission.

Once again, my task list is completed sequentially:
1.       Establish OP1 to observe OBJ Abel – Recce Section
2.       Scout for hidden enemy positions between OBJ Abel and Smith – AH-1 while I wait for rifle/engineer platoons and tanks.
3.       Establish SBF with tanks near opening in cut to suppress OBJ Abel
4.       If feasible, move up Scimitars to provide additional support to attack on Abel
5.       Seize OBJ Abel – 7 Platoon and Engineers
It is apparent that establishing a foothold in Abel will be a real challenge.  Basically I will have to establish a couple different SBF positions on the southern edge of the wadi (meanwhile trying to minimize their exposure to AT weapons), suppress the buildings on the north side, and then bum rush a platoon across the bridge and into the trees on the south side.  From there I hope to be able to seize the southern buildings through traditional means (suppress, obscure, assault).
6.        Advance along Axis Carp to seize OBJ Adam and Obj Eve – 7 and 8 Platoon

 7.        Establish SBF from OBJ Adams with CSW, Scimitars if feasible – 7 and 8 Platoon, Javelin Sec
8.       Create smoke screen isolating OBJ Cain from OBJ Smith – 155mm Batt
9.       Suppress enemy forces on OBJ Smith with indirect - Mtrs
10.   Advance along Axis Bass and seize OBJ Smith – Tank Platoon and 9 Platoon

11.    Establish SBF at OBJ Eve – 7 and 8 Platoon
12.   Establish SBF at OBJ Smith – Tank Platoon
13.   Advance along Axis Shark and seize OBJ Cain – 9 Platoon and ENG Platoon

Videos of the battle can be viewed here: