Force on Force: Iraq

I've played a number of games set in Iraq.  Chronologically, I divide these into three periods:  The Road to Baghdad (2003 invasion, supported by the excellent Force on Force supplement of the same name); The Occupation (2004 - US departure in 2011); and The Rise of ISIS (2013 - Present).

The Road to Baghdad

The Hornet's Nest
A great scenario from the Road to Baghdad supplement, "The Hornet's Nest."  The scenario description:
Objective Pistol, Outside As Samawah, March 22
On March 22, 2003, a Hunter Killer Team (HKT) from C/3-7 CAV "Crazy Horse" approached a canal bridge at Objective Pistol.  Based on reports from an SOF unit in the area, the team expected to be greeted by Iraqi regulars eager to surrender.  Instead, they became embroiled in a fierce firefight with irregular Saddam Fedayeen troops.  This would be the Cav's first encounter with fanatical irregular troops in civilian garb, but it would be far from their last.
The US player starts with an M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) that has just followed an Iraqi insurgent truck into a courtyard, only to discover that the courtyard is was the center of an insurgent headquarters.  An M1A1 Abrams tank backs up the BFV, though it starts the scenario outside of the courtyard.

Fog of War Cards made this a lively contest, with an insurgent RPG gunner employing "The Golden BB" in dramatic fashion.  Read the whole thing.

Medal of Honor
Here's another scenario from the Road to Baghdad book.  The background:


Near the Baghdad International Airport, April 4 2003
Lead elements of the US 3rd Infantry Division have taken Baghdad International Airport, and have established blocking positions on the main highway linking it with the Iraqi capital.  2nd Platoon, B Company, 11th Engineers have been tasked with creating a holding area for the large number of detainees expected in the next few days.  A suitable location has been found, and preparations are under way when a large enemy force is spotted attempting to outflank the American position.  Calling for reinforcements, the Engineers prepare to make a stand.
In real life, SFC Paul R. Smith gave his life in heroic fashion, manning a machine gun atop an M113 armored personnel carrier until felled by enemy fire.  To replicate the dire situation that SFC Smith and his men faced, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) loses a die of firepower for every 1 rolled when it fired, and it has to retreat when out of ammo or damaged.  Three large insurgent cells attacked the US forces from prepared positions, and the game went until the Americans were defeated, insurgents pushed South across the board, or the insurgents suffered 100 casualties.  Insurgents receive reinforcements on a roll of 4 or less  on 1d6.  The Americans had only the BFV, 2 x M113, two understrength fire teams, and the company first sergeant and a medic to hold back the horde.  The initial setup:
Made for a good game, though it deviated significantly from the historical outcome.  Read the whole thing.

The Occupation

Contracting Trouble
This is the classic Force on Force starter scenario, Contracting Trouble.  This scenario is a very evenly balanced  and has been played and written up by a number of folks:  DonoghDonogh reduxvon LuckyDan, and Dave.

An SUV carrying two civilian contractors was hit by gunfire as it moved through a neighborhood in one of the city’s red zones. UAV footage indicates that the contractors are injured but alive. The contractors have held the small group of Insurgent gunmen who attacked their vehicle at bay for nearly a quarter of an hour, but more armed men have been spotted converging on the disabled SUV. 

A squad of US Army soldiers (Marines in the scenario, but I'm partial to the Army) is in the vicinity; two four-man fire teams and a squad leader. They must locate the contractors and escort them to safety, exiting the area to either the south or west.

This is always a close game, and my experience is that this could have gone either way.  Read the whole thing.

Big Contracting Trouble
This is an expanded version of Contracting Trouble, above, where the US has two full squads augmented by two uparmored HMMWVs.  
This turned out to be a pretty good game.  Read the whole thing.


Big Contracting Trouble II
We played this expanded version of Contracting Trouble again, with a very different outcome - the insurgents treated US forces much rougher this time.
Read the whole thing.



Joint Security Station (JSS) Alamo, Iraq, 2007
As US and Iraqi Security Forces begin the 'Surge' and push off of large bases onto 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?


This is one of the best boards I've ever put together, and, even though I lost, was a great game.  Read the whole thing.

The Rise of ISIS


Shoot and Scoot: US & Iraqi Armies vs. ISIS
The Iraqi government has continued to perform poorly in the field, and Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) forces have advanced to the outskirts of Baghdad.  ISIS forces are within medium mortar range of Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), and are employing indirect fire against the airfield and hampering US Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO).  US forces are now fully embroiled in the conflict, with US Special Forces advising Iraqi Army units in the field, and most of a Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT) deployed in support of BIAP and embassy security and NEO efforts.

A particularly wily Chechen mortar cell has been harassing BIAP with indirect fire, then displacing in a station wagon to a new firing point.  The cell is currently located in a neighborhood protected by an ISIS GPS jamming device, further complicating US targeting.

An Iraqi Army unit advised by a US Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) has advanced far into the ISIS-controlled neighborhood that currently hosts the Chechen mortar cell, skilled Chechen snipers and anti-armor teams, booby trapped buildings, and ISIS armor captured from Iraqi units that have either fled their posts or been defeated in battle.  US forces have committed a Bradley Rifle Platoon to reinforce the beleaguered Iraqi soldiers and their SOF advisors. Both sides have sniper teams hidden on the board (without hidden unit markers), but do not know of each other’s whereabouts.  US air support is on the way, but so are ISIS reinforcements.

This game stretched the limits of how big a fight Force on Force can support, but proved a great time regardless.  Read the whole thing.


US SOF & Kurds vs ISIS, Memorial Day 2016


To commemorate Memorial Day 2016, the boys and I set up a game of Force on Force set in modern Syria.  As recently reported in the news, US Special Operations Forces have been spotted near the ISIS capitol in Raqqa, Syria, aiding Kurdish fighters.  We joined them in spirit with a game of Force on Force.

The US SOF and Kurd operations against the ISIS capitol have been hampered by a GPS jamming device that degrades accuracy of GPS-guided bomb.  A platoon (-) of elite Kurds and accompanying US SOF troops are consequently conducting a lighting raid into a town near the suburbs of Raqqa to facilitate future JDAM strikes.

Operators departing the objective.
Read the whole thing here.

US SOF vs ISIS, Outskirts of Mosul

A US SOF element advances into Mosul on a reconnaissance mission, looking to gather intelligence on the location of, and if possible neutralize, an ISIS leader named Mohamed Faisal.  They soon find themselves in the midst of many ISIS cells and are forced into a pitched battle.

Read the whole thing here.

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