Sunday, April 19, 2015

Joint Security Station (JSS) Alamo, Iraq, 2007

Iraq, 2007
As US and Iraqi Security Forces begin the 'Surge' and push off of large bases into numerous mutually supporting and smaller Combat Outposts (COPs) and Joint Security Stations (JSSs), insurgents aren't willingly ceding control. US troops often referred to their outposts as 'the Alamo' because of their isolation from other units, and at least one outpost was officially named JSS Alamo.

In this scenario, US Army soldiers and Iraqi Police (IPs) at a new JSS established in an old schoolhouse have been reduced to a skeleton crew as the bulk of the platoon reinforces another post under attack. The other attack, however, was just a diversion. Insurgents moved unnoticed to buildings around JSS Alamo, and launched a surprise attack commencing with a suicide vest detonating at the compound's front gate. Three troopers are down - two US and one Iraqi - at the site of the suicide attack, and less than a squad of US troops, backed only by demoralized Iraqi recruits, can rush into the exposed courtyard to save them.  Surrounded and outnumbered, and with casualties mounting, can the defenders hold out long enough for reinforcements to arrive?
Layout of JSS Alamo.  The three casualties out in the courtyard must be rescued and given aid by troops in either the Command Post (CP) or the Bunkhouse, the barracks for troops in the JSS.
US forces (Troop Quality d8/ Morale d10) had a reduced fire team in the CP and another in the Bunkhouse.  A three-man Machine Gun (MG) crew stood watch on the roof of the CP with an M240 medium MG.  A combat medic was on-hand with the fire team in the CP.  Four Iraqi Police (IPs) were in each location, but owing to their poor training (Troop Quality d6/ Morale d8) and lack of leaders, the US player could either use a leader co-located with them (the squad leader or one of the two team leaders) to make a TQ roll and activate them (at the expense of taking part in combat himself), or depend on them making a TQ roll themselves to activate.  I incorporated both this and the casualty rescue dilemma to give the US player choices to make that would impact the game.
Layout of the board from behind JSS Alamo.  Enemy assault cells labeled, surrounding the US soldiers and IPs.  Probably the best-looking game I've ever put on.
The Iraqi insurgents had JSS Alamo surrounded, with three cells (TQ d6/Morale d10) in nearby buildings.  A few higher-quality insurgents (TQ d8/Morale d10) formed the insurgent headquarters cell that was commanding the assault from the mosque located across an intersection from JSS Alamo.
Insurgent Commander's viewpoint from the mosque rooftop.  He's got numbers on his side, but his troops aren't as well-trained as the Americans.
View from Cell 3's position.

View from Cell 2's viewpoint.
View from the far end of the board.  US reinforcements visible - Bradleys bottom left, Uparmored HMMWVs center right - coming to save the day.  Insurgent blocking cells and a burning truck blocking the Bradley section's advance hope to canalize the US forces, block them, and isolate the insurgent objective.
The Americans had reinforcements coming - half of an infantry platoon (a section) consisting of two Bradley Fighting Vehicles (BFVs) carrying an infantry squad and two M1114 Uparmored HMMWVs armed with .50 caliber MGs.  The two elements were entering from different roads, hoping to get to JSS Alamo in time to relieve the beleaguered outpost. 

The insurgents had other plans, having blocked one of the two main roads to JSS Alamo with a burning truck.  Three blocking cells (all TQ d6/Morale d10) also hoped to isolate JSS Alamo from reinforcements long enough to seize the compound and kill all inside.  The insurgents had some potentially inaccurate mortar fire support that the insurgent commander, located in the HQ Cell, could call on.  In the event of artillery fratricide, however, an insurgent force-wide morale check would result.

Steve played the US, and I played the insurgents.  He had initiative throughout.  Here's how it went:

Turn 1:
Steve chose not to use his US leaders to activate the Iraqis, instead letting them roll to activate themselves.  The IPs in the CP failed to activate, but those on the roof of the Bunkhouse succeeded and exchanged fire with Insurgent Cell 1.  The IPs inflicted one casualty on the insurgents and took two themselves; insurgent morale held but the IPs did not - they were pinned.  Insurgent Cell 2 won an opposed initiative roll and inflicted two casualties on the US fire team on the roof of the Bunkhouse, while US return fire inflicted one insurgent casualty.  Morale held on both sides.
Results of the vicious firefight between US and Iraqi troops on the roof of the Bunkhouse and Cells 1 and 2.
The US MG Team ripped off a long burst, causing three casualties in Cell 3.
The US M240 crew unleashes a long burst of hate on Cell 3.
On the other end of the board, the reinforcements began their ride through the gauntlet to relieve JSS Alamo.  The Uparmored M1114 HMMWVs ran into a torrent of small arms fire, but suffered no serious damage or casualties, and managed to inflict  a casualty on Blocking Cell 1 and cause two insurgents to 'shrink' away (heavy weapons - those with an unmodified 4 dice of firepower - will cause insurgents to quit the fight on a morale roll of '1').  The BFV section took a detour to get around the burning truck in its path.
Contact! One o'clock!
Umm... better find another way around.  Driver! Right turn!
Much better!  Pick up the pace!
 As the non-intiative (insurgent) phase of Turn 1 kicked off, the insurgent commander successfully called for mortar fire.  The fire would land in the next turn and was supposed to land on the JSS Alamo CP.  Based on the poor showing of Blocking Cell 1 against the Uparmored HMMWVs, the insurgent commander decided that the only path to victory was to get into the JSS walls as soon as possible.  He had both his HQ and Blocking Cell 3 execute rapid moves in hopes of entering the courtyard next turn.  Blocking Cell 2 also passed a TQ check to get into cover at its destination building.
Aggressive rapid move by insurgents to get into the gate of JSS Alamo. After all, 'who dares wins.'  Nice motto, but would it work?
Turn 1 ended with ineffective fire by Blocking Cell 3 against the M1114 HMMWVs.

Turn 2:
First aid for the US forces produced two KIA at the Bunkhouse - one US, one Iraqi.  The insurgents only received two reinforcement fighters, and the two sides continued to exchange fire around JSS Alamo.  As the US fire team in the CP won an opposed initiative roll and ran across the courtyard to cover behind the outer wall before insurgents with line of sight could fire, the insurgents drew a Fog of War Card.  Here's the relevant text:
Radio communications is on the fritz and your force has just received garbled orders that contradict the mission brief...
If the scenario doesn’t allow initiative to change hands, your units must remain in place until the end of the next turn while orders are sorted out. Your units may move into cover if they are not already there but no other movement is allowed. Your units may fire as normal.
This card is played immediately.
With that, the insurgent rush into the compound would wait, with the insurgent HQ exposed and in the street, for the duration of the time it would take the US reinforcements to arrive.  This wasn't good news for the insurgents.
Meanwhile, US reinforcements continued to advance and inflicted another 4 casualties on the insurgent blocking positions with heavy machine gun fire.
The insurgent portion of Turn 2 started off strong.  The US MG Team failed its overwatch roll, fell off of overwatch, and combined fire from two insurgent cells made casualties out of all three team members.  If only the insurgents could get inside the compound...
...then the insurgent artillery landed...
...on Insurgent Cell 3, killing one insurgent and causing a force-wide morale check.  While all elements passed their checks, shrinkage rolls took both the insurgent force commander (Shame?  Embarassment?  Fragging?  We'll never know.) and the RPG gunner in the exposed HQ Cell off the board.  This left the highest quality insurgents exposed with little hope of taking down one of the Uparmored HMMWVs that were bearing down on them next round.  Three other insurgents also decided it would be a good time to find something else to do and took off running.

Turn 3:
First aid checks went poorly all around.  The US fire team that rushed out to the JSS front gate found both of the two casualties it could assess (one was on the far side of the open gate - a fatal funnel - and presently out of their reach) dead from the initial bomb attack.  All but one of the insurgent casualties were gone.

The US fire team in the courtyard rushed across the front gate portal to reach the third and last casualty, winning an opposed initiative roll to do so.  The US troopers on the Bunkhouse, meanwhile, fired across the compound to Cell 3 and wiped it out.  The IPs in the CP finally activated and fired at Cell 2 but failed to inflict any casualties.

Cell 2 hadn't responded to the IP fire because it was holding its resources for the lead Uparmored HMMWV, which had just moved into line of sight.  It now unleashed its full fury, and ... popped a rear tire.  Seriously, it fired off an RPG round and a host of small arms fire and only managed to reduce the M1114's movement by half.  Return fire from the HMMWV's HMG caused three casualties.

As the lead HMMWV coasted off to the right side of the road, the trail HMMWV pulled around it and charged toward the insurgent HQ Cell, which was still pinned in place by the effects of the Fog of War card.  Miraculously, the insurgents won initiative and unleashed a torrent of effective small arms fire, knocking out the vehicle's HMG and making casualties of both the gunner and driver.
Insurgent fire finally takes a toll on the Uparmored HMMWVs, taking this one out of the fight.
As the insurgents started their turn, the squad-sized group of fighters that had spawned at Hot Spot 1 activated and drew a Fog of War card, bringing random mortar fire down on their own position.  They made an astounding number of save rolls to stay in the fight and engage the IPs in the JSS CP, only to have no casualties on either side.
The forecast calls for scattered showers of 82mm mortar.  Bring your umbrella and your helmet...
Turn 4:
The trail HMMWV coasted 14" and rolled to a halt down the road past the insurgents that had shot it up.
The remaining members of the Insurgent HQ Cell have taken out one Uparmored HMMWV.  If they can do it again, maybe the insurgents can rally to victory...
Then the mobility-challenged HMMWV unleashed with its .50 caliber HMG and pasted the Insurgent HQ Cell.
...or not.  The remaining members of the insurgent HQ lie in pieces at the street corner.
Then the Bradley Fighting Vehicles rushed forward to occupy the intersection where the Insurgent HQ had just been slaughtered and engaged Cell 2.  A Fog of War card brought random mortar fire on Blocking Cell 2, the only one with a chance to rush into JSS Alamo and take on the infantry inside, causing a casualty and giving that unit a Shaken status.  Then the lead BFV's fire at Cell 2 took out all but one member of the cell and caused the survivor to flee the field of combat.
Insurgent Cell 2 lies in pieces on the rooftop after the US Bradley crushed it, the only surviving member heading for the exits.
At this point, the insurgent forces had been thoroughly crushed, and we called it a game.
State of the board at the end of the game.  Plumes of flame mark the insurgent positions struck by mortar fire, self-inflicted or otherwise.
As you might imagine, the US forces won on victory points and held the field at the end of the day.  While my forces were destroyed in detail, I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to command some troops and mix it up.  I plan to play this scenario again after it is rebalanced.

AAR Comments:
1.  The scenario was far out of balance.  I knew this, having estimated the point value of each side with the draft unit point calculator available on the Ambush Alley forums, but figured that the Fog of War monkey wrenches would offset raw combat power in favor of the insurgents, which is how it usually seems to shake out.  The Bradley section proved wholly unnecessary - it should be replaced with another two Uparmored HMMWVs, if at all.
2.  The reinforcements probably shouldn't arrive until Turn 2.  Their immediate arrival and prompt reduction of the insurgent outer perimeter demonstrated again how uneven the scenario was drafted.
3.  I have a house rule that grenade launchers, RPGs, and LAWs/AT-4s have a minimum range of 12".  As this board was laid out, that was probably a bit too long.  Reduction to 10" or even 8" seems to make sense.

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