Folk/ARPS CO: Fer
|- Squad 1: Wolfenswan
|- Squad 2: Bodge
|- CiA Squad: Fat Tony
I sent a lot of comrades to their deaths in this mission. Here's how.
During the briefing we agreed that Folk would hold the west end of the airfield, CiA the east, with the hangars as the dividing line. Though my map markers called for a 50m half-perimeter south, on spawn my gut told me to make use of the large bunker west of the hangars. Given the speed with which the enemy was upon us, it was a lucky decision sending squad #2 (Bodge) to man the bunker whilst half of squad #1 (Wolfenswan) provided forward observation from the mound just south of the hangars (a placement that I hoped might also allow them to support CiA if required). A similarly fortuitous decision was not to waste time organising crews for the vehicles, so the remainder of Wolfenswan's men simply ferried the various BTRs and BMPs to a more sheltered spot in the low ground north of the airfield. In the background I was aware of Tigershark's Hind getting airbourne, and of the fireball created by Stoops' ill-fated Su-25 (he crashed on take-off). Then the enemy was upon us.
Infantry at first, then IFVs, came towards us from the south, heading straight for Wolfenswan's forward element. Hovering behind a hill to our north-west, Tigershark's Hind had a good view of our initial attackers. The gunner, Sulphur, asked for permission to engage and I took comfort from the sight of tracers zipping over our heads towards unseen targets. Then there were two streams of glowing tracers. Then the words "We're going down! We're going down!". I knew Sulphur had survived the impact, but I couldn't justify sending a medic to a single casualty so far from the platoon; thus began one particularly dark theme for the evening.
Although Wolfenswan's men fell back, initially to the hangars and then to the bunker, the enemy was repulsed - our rockets making short work of each IFV as it crested. Again, the enemy matched us with weapon systems: at least one rocket slammed into the bunker, and I feared the worst - but we were okay. Quickly, I sent Wolfenswan's men out again, this time to the higher ground to our south-west because I believed we were being engaged by enemies coming from the direction of Krasnostav. Some enterprising members of Wolfenswan's squad had brought up a BMP-3, but I wanted it kept behind his forward infantry until we had confirmed the enemy's positions, so it remained on the flat near the bunker as the dismounts scrambled to higher ground.
Whilst my squads fought off their attackers, CiA squad (Fat Tony) had managed to hold their own ground and deal effectively with an enemy helicopter that attempted an audacious landing on the airstrip itself! Now Fat Tony offered to come to our assistance, so I asked him to fall back behind my men, then push westward and eventually enter Krasnostav from the north. The expanded platoon of three squads had effectively pivoted on Bodge's position at the bunker, and soon lay ready to assault the nearby town.
Our advance was uncontested. Whilst Wolfenswan and Fat Tony's men cleared the town, Bodge's squad began recovering our vehicles. There then followed something of a festival of logistics, which I suspect consumed more time than I'd have liked. Whilst men and vehicles moved up to the main road, I myself drove a little UAZ out to Wolfenswan'a squad and asked him to assign two men to it. This speedy little vehicle was to be my ground recon unit, and once manned I despatched it south, to a point just north of Dubrovka. At the same time, I reached out to the overall CO, Sami, and asked if his air assets could overfly Dubrovka and South Berezino (the latter being the site of our next objective). Sami couldn't release his aeroplanes at that very moment, but promised to send them soon, so I thanked him and returned to the traffic-management mini-game developing on the main road just south of Krasnostav.
Ultimately, we would set off with Wolfenswan's two BTR-90s in the lead, followed by Bodge's larger collection of vehicles (a BMP-3, a BTR-90 and an HQ BTR in which I rode as gunner), and finally Fat Tony's singular BMP-3. In principle, I wanted speed up front, and the heavy-hitters further back - so that my lead elements could disengage quickly and I could choose when and were to commit the beefier BMP-3s. That was the theory, anyway. The intelligence I was getting suggested the enemy might be too mobile to make any planning on my part particularly important: Sami's pilots reported 7 LAVs in Dubrovka and a further 7 in South Berezino. However, Wolfenswan's recon team, now just north of Dubrovka, claimed the area was clear. Without wanting to meta-game too much, inwardly I considered that:
a) Comrade Spinoza made the mission
b) Comrade Spinoza is a sadistic mission maker
c) Placing 7 x LAV-25s in a town that did not contain an objective, but on the single road that led to the town that did, was sadistic
Immediately I ordered Wolfenswan to task his recon team with finding a route through the woods north-east of Dubrovka. My intention was to bypass Dubrovka completely and move directly to the objective town of South Berezino. The rest of my platoon was still preparing to move out in convoy when Wolfenswan reported that his recon team had been engaged. The driver was dead, the observer was bleeding out; they were far away, next to an infested town that didn't contain an objective. Again, I had to prioritise the majority ... I asked Wolfenswan to tell the injured man that we would not be coming for him; Wolfenswan asked if he could tell comrade EBass that we loved him and I agreed. But I also asked him to shut down communications with that unit ...
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The convoy moved south down the road to Dubrovka, overshooting its RV point at the gas station slightly, such that our forward elements began taking fire. Conscious that speed was of the essence one more, I ordered all units to depart the road and make their way through the woods to our east as best they could, and at full speed. I wanted to break contact with enemy forces in Dubrovka and reform my platoon north of South Berezino, which was our next objective. In the frantic phase that followed, the squad leaders did well to keep the platoon in reasonable shape, and very soon we were arranged in a line that ran west-east thus: Fat Tony, Bodge, Wolfenswan.
Again, we were engaged at range by enemy, this time from South Berezino, and once more I eschewed the long-range fight, exhorting my squad leaders to rush southwards as fast as possible. If our vehicles could shelter in the lea of buildings on the outskirts, our infantry could dismount and begin contesting the streets. It nearly worked, but not perfectly: Wolfenswan's squad ran into resistance and he himself was killed when his vehicle was hit by a rocket. I thought perhaps we'd lost most of his men, but Unaco stepped up and squad #1 would remain effective for now, albeit as infantry.
Bodge came to the aid of Unaco and other survivors, whilst Fat Tony pulled in closer so that our front was 100m or so. Next, with support from Bodge's vehicles, Unaco's infantry squad began pushing down the main road. To their west, Fat Tony's men and BMP-3 swept the side of the settlement. It was rapid until we reached the town centre, where resistance became heavier. We lost at least one of Bodge's BTR-90s to a rocket, but soon his squad was securing the east side whilst Fat Tony's men swept the west and continued on to secure the southern approach. In the centre, Unaco had found the objective - an enemy command post - but we didn't quite have the munitions to destroy it outright. I consulted Sami over TeamSpeak before agreeing to regard the objective as accomplished and move on.
Now we faced the task of reforming out convoy. The next objective was many kilometres away, to our west. In order to reach it we would have to traverse a lot of road, including some cross-country tracks if I elected to avoid the towns on the obvious road-route. Without map markers, we would have some fun and games at each junction, and foreseeing a slow journey I was anxious to get underway quickly. When commanding so many players, one is very conscious of not wasting their time, so I wanted very badly to minimise the time spent buttoned-up in IFVs. That sealed our fate.
Our reformed convoy began from the south of South Berezino, but now Fat Tony's BMP-3 was in the vanguard. There had been a delay setting off, as some of Fat Tony's men had seen an American flag nearby, suggesting some kind of firebase south-east of South Berezino. My mind was dead-set on disengaging and getting the convoy rolling, and my orders reflected that. We set off, travelling along the road that heads south from South Berezino and climbs into the hills before curving westward.
The rockets hit us just before we reached the summit. Fat Tony's BMP-3 cooked up with no survivors. I jumped down and race up the slope, intent on ordering all remaining vehicles to dash over the crest and thus beyond view of the whatever launcher in the valley behind us was targeting our convoy. As I reached the high ground I realised to my horror that a squad of enemy infantry was standing in the meadow ahead - unaware of us, but mere moments from action. It was a horrible choice, and I had foolishly made myself into the point-man.
My order - my last order - was for everyone remaining to crest and attempt to fight through the enemy infantry. Better an enemy you can throw grenades at than a launcher hundreds of metres away: that was my rationale. I was killed outright in the first exchange of small arms fire.
As ever, huge thanks to our comrades at LDDK for hosting us and providing the mission. Also, thanks to our friends at CiA who worked so closely with us for the whole mission - it feels so seamless when we have Folk, ARPS and CiA players in one platoon that next time I think we could even have mixed squads.
We should all thank Comrade Spinoza for arranging the session and writing the mission. I know Spinoza did not feel his mission worked entirely as intended, and there were certainly aspects I would tweak given the opportunity, but I think we should all appreciate the magnitude of the challenge of writing a combined arms mission that will occupy 64+ players for several hours. Even if things did not go perfectly, it was great to have the opportunity to take part in such a large mission.
Finally, thanks to all players for attending and being patient. I'm sorry I got so many of you killed :/
Joseph/Sulphur ... Ebass
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