Monday, May 11, 2015

KSK Recon Team Rescue, Afghanistan, 2005

Saturday night I ran a game of Force on Force at CSGA - what will probably be my last in Colorado.  Here's the scenario:
Paktika Province, 2005. A four-man German KSK reconnaissance team has been compromised in the hills of Southeast Afghanistan. Harried over difficult terrain and carrying one team member with a serious wound, the team has called for assistance and extraction. Air assets have yet to arrive due to weather conditions, but an 8-man US Special Forces ODA and an ANA platoon have almost arrived at the KSK team’s location at the end of a draw in the mountainous terrain. The ODA and ANA must save the KSK team before the Taliban can overrun the German position. US/ANA/KSK have initiative for the first round, subsequent rounds roll for initiative.
Here's the initial layout of the table, with a cul-de-sac of a valley terminating at a copse of trees where the KSK recon team (from Enfilade Figures, and just added to my collection) have taken cover:
The US Special Forces ODA and ANA advance into the end of the valley.  Local Taliban have assembled in the buildings near the mouth of the valley, while hardcore Taliban and some foreign fighters close in on the KSK position at the far end of the table.  The troops to the right of the vehicles are actually mounted at this point - we were just lining them up next to the vehicles to keep track of who was mounted in which truck.
The KSK recce team's position.  This counted as an 'excellent position' and gave an extra die of cover.  One figure is down in the background with a serious wound.
Hardcore Taliban (d6 Troop Quality, d10 Morale; regulars) assembled on a hill overlooking the KSK position, getting ready for a final assault on the infidels.
I commanded the four KSK operators (d10/d12) and the 30 ANA troops (d6/d8) mounted in four pickup trucks, two equipped with DShK machineguns.  Earle ran the eight-man Special Forces ODA (d10/d12), mounted in two uparmored HMMWVs.  Nick (of Little Nicky's Gameroom) commanded the 46 Taliban that covered the surrounding hills and manned buildings in the valley, which included a mix of hardcore Taliban (d6/d10), foreign fighters (d8/d12) and local Taliban that ran to the sound of the guns (d6/d8).  I should note here that the Enduring Freedom supplement for Force on Force provides a great rundown on the various forces in Afghanistan and theater-specific rules.
The ODA and their Afghan allies drive up the dry creekbed that serves as a makeshift road, under the watchful eye of several groups of Taliban waiting to open fire.

Turn 1:
The KSK went on overwatch while the relief convoy headed into the valley.  The Taliban commander wisely waited until the US/Afghan portion of the turn was over so as not to invite mass reactions from units with line of sight - reactions in the non-initiative phase of the turn are limited to units responding directly to fire against them.  Insurgent fire destroyed the lead ANA pickup and immobilized the rear vehicle.  A lucky US Fog of War card brought a General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) team on to the battlefield at the rear of the convoy.

The KSK recon team fell off of overwatch but nonetheless inflicted a number of casualties on two squads of hardcore Taliban and took none in return.  When a squad of foreign fighters opened up, however, all three of the KSK operators went down as casualties.  The foreign fighters took casualties of their own, however, and retreated back to cover.
Taliban casualties (minis laid on their sides) stack up as the KSK recon team proves its mettle against vastly superior numbers.
Turn 2:
The lead SF vehicle began to inflict casualties on the local Taliban manning nearby buildings, and the GPMG team and ANA that dismounted from the immobilized rear pickup wiped out the Taliban in the nearest building.  A pair of RPGs launched at the lead SF HMMWV, one of them hitting the mark and immobilizing it.  The Taliban foreign fighters peeled off to the sides of the valley, hoping to close with the infidels and their lackeys in a double-pincer move.
The US GPMG team and an ANA squad combine their fires to wipe out a squad of Taliban.
Turn 3:
The US forces retain the initiative.  Three of the four SF operators in the lead uparmored HMMWV dismount from their immobilized vehicle and, with their small arms and the .50 caliber in the turret, wipe the remaining hardcore Taliban squad from the hill overlooking the KSK position.
A whole squad of hardcore Taliban fall to very effective SF fire.

An ANA squad advanced between two buildings to counter one of the foreign fighter squads - the ANA won initiative and fired but failed to inflict a single casualty.  The foreign fighters returned fire and wiped out the ANA squad to a man.
My ANA don't fare well when they mix it up with some d8 Troop Quality foreign fighters.  As in, they all get shot.
Meanwhile, a combination of SF and ANA fires and a Fog of War-induced explosion take out all of the local Taliban in the two buildings furthest in to the valley.
Local Taliban fighters on these two buildings get wiped out.  Just above and to the right of the far building, the other squad of foreign fighter Taliban continue maneuvering to the fight.
Lead SF operators and an ANA squad in the thick of the fight.
 The other foreign fighter Taliban squad continued its march around the far side of the valley, hoping to intercept the trail SF vehicle and ANA as they advance to the KSK position.
Foreign fighter Taliban hug the side of this compound, waiting to fire on the SF HMMWV in frame as it advances to the KSK position in the foreground.

Turn 4:
By now a gang of local Taliban reinforcements had arrived, but none with leaders.  A mob of them - fifteen or so - sat at a Hotspot in a field, but failed to get into the fight.  While the US and ANA maintained the initiative, the Taliban foreign fighters waiting for the remaining mobile SF HMMWV to advance scored a hit and destroyed the vehicle.  All inside passed their casualty checks however, and an ANA element conducted a rapid move to exchange fire with the ambushing foreign fighters.  A Fog of War card gave the Taliban an off-board sniper team with insane firepower, which they promptly put to good effect by wiping out the US GPMG team.

Turn 5:
At this point, the US and ANA players conferred and agreed that the original game plan was dead - there were no functioning vehicles, and they wouldn't be able to extract the KSK casualties at all.  The priority became garrisoning the buildings in the valley and securing the KSK operators and holding out until help came, at the cost of scenario victory points.

Accordingly, the trail SF team moved to the KSK position and exchanged fire with the second to last group of foreign fighters, making casualties of all of those Taliban.
The trail SF team is visible in the copse of trees where the KSK team had sought cover.  The foreign fighters they smoked are obscured by the ... ahem... smoke of the burning building.  SF and ANA forces have moved in to the building at the left of the frame and are about to open fire on the foreign fighters just outside, a killing blow to the Taliban.

The lead SF team and the remaining ANA squad then advanced into a building and opened fire at the foreign fighters immediately on the far side, wiping out those Taliban.  This served as the coup de grace - the Taliban had no remaining leaders and no hope of overwhelming the US and ANA forces.  We called an end to the game.
The state of the battlefield at the end of the fight - vehicles burning, casualties everywhere.  Both sides content to hold their positions.
We didn't bother to tally up victory points - I had botched the US victory points and hadn't put in any for inflicting Taliban casualties - so as written, this was a clear victory for the Taliban on scenario points.

Closing Observations:
- The scenario victory points need to be amended to give some (not a lot) points to the US/ANA for inflicting casualties on the Taliban.
- The US/ANA commanders should have given up on a full evacuation of the KSK team from the battlefield sooner.  The casualties piled up quickly on both sides, and there was no way to get everyone out.  Better to seek a more modest goal when the initial plan fizzles.  As Mike Tyson said, "everyone's got a plan until they get punched in the face."
- The disparity between Troop Quality levels proved decisive throughout.  Whether it was SF operators wrecking Taliban, or foreign fighters wrecking the ANA, I've never seen a battle where so many elements were wiped out wholesale.  An interesting opportunity  for commanders able to pair up their strengths with their enemy's weaknesses.

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