Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A Few Feet of Hell

The Setting

An Nasiriyah, Iraq. 23rd March 2003. Operation Iraqi Freedom.

1st Battalion (The Timberwolves), 2nd Marine Regiment have been tasked with leading Task Force Tarawa into Nasiriyah. The Battalion's objectives are to seize the the bridge over the Euphrates River at the southern of Highway 7, which passes directly through the city, and the bridge over the Saddam Canal at the northern end of the highway. The two kilometres or so of four lane highway between these two bridges had been dubbed 'Ambush Alley'.

Unfortunately, as is well known 'no plan survives contact with the enemy' and despite initial success it started to go wrong for the Marines. Alpha Company was holding the Euphrates River bridge. Bravo Company had turned east after entering the city to avoid travelling up 'Ambush Alley' and had become bogged down in unexpected soft ground. Plus resistance in the city was stronger than expected. Charlie Company had then leapfrogged Bravo Co. and reached the canal bridge by going directly along 'Ambush Alley'. Charlie Co. held their position but was under heavy enemy fire and unforeseen friendly fire; casualties were mounting.

 The Scenario

Having realised that their sister company have taken the canal bridge, but are under increasing pressure, elements of Bravo Co. start to head out to assist. One of Bravo's AAV7-A1 Amtracs as attempted to push through unsupported but has become a casualty it self. Unable to raise the crew a USMC squad attempts to reach the stricken Amtrac on foot. Insurgents move in to stop them.

The Game

Rules used were Force on Force, on a 2'x2' board. The USMC squad constituted of three fireteams of  4 plus a Squad Leader. The Marines were classed as High Confidence, with a Troop Quality of D8 and Morale of D10. All are wearing Level 1 MOPP (NBC suits) so suffer a -1 to reaction tests

The Iraqi Insurgents are Confident, with a Troop Quality of D6 and  a Morale of D12.

The USMC are to reach the Amtrac and recover any survivors/casualties.

The damaged AAV at the northern end of the board. Insurgents are moving in. USMC will enter on the road at the southern end.

Fedayeen occupy a palm grove. A good defensive position.

Insurgents were initially deployed by 'Hot Spots' which resulted in these four Leaders being in the SE corner of the board. Unfortunately for the Fedayeen, this meant some units were without leaders which can have a dramatic impact on their willingness to fight!

The Marines enter the 'killing zone'. Two teams head to the SW, and one hugged the building line along the road. An exchange fire, goes in favour of the Insurgents and one of the Marines is seriously wounded.

Two thirds of the squad quickly reach one the 'Hot Spots' and its neutralised.

Meanwhile Fedayeen, occupy high ground and palm groves to ambush the Marines. Others rush towards the sound of gunfire.

A fireteam occupies a roof top supported by the Squad Leader. From this position they were placed on 'overwatch' and began to inflict serious casualties on the insurgents.

Fedayeen try to enfilade the Marines. But are swiftly dealt with....

The third fireteam moves to outflank the Iraqi's. Making the best use of cover to reach the Amtrac.

The other two fireteams occupy the same building. This gives them a commanding position, and they are able to deliver a lot of damage to the enemy. The Marines receive another casualty; seriously wounded

'I see trouble ahead!' Fedayeen reinforcements arrive to thwart the advance of the Americans.

As quick as the Marines, neutralise enemy resistance, further defenders rush forward. 

Fireteam 3 hold their position. But suffer a KIA.   

There is no end to the Fedayeen! The USMC have to withdraw. With mounting casualties the Marines realise they need more fire support to drive off the insurgents.


An  Iraqi victory. The Marines had suffered three casualties, and cleared only one 'Hot Spot'. Lucky dice roles for insurgent reinforcements meant that large numbers of Fedayeen were appearing each turn e.g. 22 on the last turn! This resulted in the Marines having to adopt a defensive posture, and despite being able to inflict quite substantial casualties on the insurgents with only one fireteam attempting to reach the AAV, it was becoming a hopeless task. 

I played the insurgents and the 'Secret Wargamers Friend' (SWF), the Marines. The scenario was based 'loosely' on events which occurred in Nasiriyah. I used the scenario on P116 of the core 'Force on Force' rulebook as a template. Using the initial insurgent deployment and reinforcement table, from that scenario. The AAV had two crew inside who were both casualties. They were to be seriously wounded, but walking wounded. The idea being that should they have reached the Amtrac the Marines would have had to use tactical movement to withdraw, thus negating a quick rush off the board using rapid movement. If I was to play this scenario again then I would consider giving the Marines access to either off board artillery or air support or maybe both; as happened in the real battle.

The game was played in 20mm. The Marines and most of the terrain are mine. The adobe building, the containers, Hot Spot markers and the Iraqi's are SWF's.

This is an ongoing project which has kept me busy over the past few months when I've had time to paint and build terrain. Future posts will no doubt be about my sudden interest in 20mm gaming again.

More later.