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Old November 6th, 2005, 01:20 AM

Pepper Pepper is offline
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Default AAR - Cornered Rat (Scen 118) SPOILER ALERT

AAR: “Cornered Rat” (Scenario 118: Designed by Ulf Lundstrom)

Gameplay Score: 8/10
Replayability: 4/10
Interest Level: 9/10
Realism: 8/10
Difficulty: 6/10
Size: Approx. Battalion (USMC)
Length: 3-4 hours.

Overall: 8/10. A fun if somewhat lopsided scenario. The USMC is assaulting and therefore has a 2.5:1 point advantage. By circumventing a few defensive strongholds and going straight for objectives, the remaining insurgents can be mopped up as they blindly rush in counterattack. Despite this, there are a few tactical situations which require creative solutions, the map is excellent, and the scenario is a very credible “what if”. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Overview: Lt. Col Ruhl, USMC, 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment (1-5)

On 9-17-05, we received corroborated and confirmed “eyes on” intel that al-Zarqawi and a large group of his supporters were in Qusaybah in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, adjacent to the Syrian border. We understood al-Zarqawi would be meeting with certain of his deputy ministers in the mosque at the center of town. All that was needed were a few well placed laser guided bombs, but the CIA wanted al-Zarqawi alive. The USMC's 1-5 was called in as the region’s quick reaction force.

Alpha (Airmobile) and Bravo (Mech) companies of the 1-5 were dispatched (Alpha Cos. Chinooks were not available for use in the operation; they returned after insertion.) These units were reinforced by elements of the 1-5’s heavy weapons company (81mm mortars and two SMAW teams), two regimental engineer platoons (one with 3 CEVs) and a regimental forward observer team. We were also tasked a Force Recon direct-action platoon, 4 SH-60 Seahawks, and 3 OH-58 Warriors. Two Iraqi Civilian Defense indigenous force (“IF”) companies, along with their SF advisors, were in the region and were also brought under my command. Finally, 6 Harriers from Baghdad were dispatched and were circling overhead.

Qusaybah sits to the east of the al-Bassam river. The town is bisected into a north and south bank by a tributary. The two banks are connected by two bridges, one on east side of town, one on the west.

Alpha Co., an engineer platoon, 3 CEVs and the SMAW teams were inserted on the east side of the north bank – north east of the town. Bravo Co., and its AAVs came down the al-Bassam, coming aground on the north bank, to the north west of the town. One of the IF Companies approached the town from the southwest, the other from the southeast. We were poised for a classic pincer move, with one company on each of the four corners of the town (NW, NE, SW, SE).

The operation had three explicit directives: First, capture al-Zarqawi and any of his supporters in the town’s mosque. The mosque sat in the southbank, roughly equidistant between the two bridges. Our second objective was to secure and control a weapons cache located in the southwest quadrant of the town. Our third and final objective was to clear and control the town’s administrative center, located in the northwest corner of the southbank, just along the al-Bassam. The town had been a hotbed of insurgent activity for some time and we expected stiff resistance. The operation was code-named “Cornered Rat”.

My original plan was to have Alpha Co. secure the east bridge and set-up a perimeter along the eastern border of the mosque. Bravo Co. was tasked to secure the west bridge, and then move forward towards a parking lot just west of the mosque. Once Bravo Co. had secured the lot and established a western perimeter, the Force Recon platoon would fast-rope into the lot and assault the mosque. The IF forces on the SW side were ordered to move forward towards the weapons’ cache, but to sit tight once resistance was met. The IF forces on the SE side were ordered to enter the town, move west, and provide a flanking force for the other IF company in a combined assault on the weapons’ cache.

Opening Moves – Iraqi IF Troops on the Southern Front

The SW IF company attempted to enter the town along the main road. It was quickly pinned down by cross fire from two machinegun nests (one in a reinforced sandbagged position). Armed with nothing but AK-47s and hand grenades, the team had to seek cover, pop smoke and wait for the SE IF company to provide a flanking force from the east.

We quickly figured out that the SE IF company was going to have no better luck entering the town. They were in a tactically unsound position, without cover and taking fire from at least 4 insurgent squads armed with AK-47s, LMGs and RPGs. They too popped smoke, called in 60mm mortar support fire and requested assistance.

I wanted to dispatch the Harriers, but no one had LOS on the enemy positions. I decided to move one of the OH-58s forward, then pop high to obtain LOS to guide in the Harriers. As soon as the OH-58 came up, however, an insurgent Strela team locked on and fired two vampires. The Warrior dodged the first. The second got a good lock and took out the left landing skid. The damage was minor but I had to send it back to the Green zone for repairs. I also had a new problem: neutralizing the Strela team. I couldn’t afford to lose another bird.

I immediately ordered a second OH-58 to go high and advance slowly, trusting that the inexperienced insurgents would fire as soon as they got a lock (at an ineffective range). To my surprise, they didn’t – but the OH-58 was able to get LOS on the tell-tale smoke left by the previous firing of the Strela’s. The MANPAD unit was sitting smack-dab in the middle of the lot just west of the Mosque – exactly where I wanted to put my Force Recon platoon. All available mortars were directed to hit the site.

Now I needed a new plan to support my IF teams. They could not maneuver close enough to get LOS on the insurgents, because as soon as they took fire they disengaged -- damn IF troops, low morale and lack of training. Mortars could help, but I wanted the mortars to suppress the Strela team, and besides, the IF positions were in solid cover. Despite the situation being danger-close, I called in the Harriers without LOS. The Iraqi IF forces, already starting to crack, were instructed to sit tight.

Opening Moves – USMC on the North Bank

Meanwhile, on the north bank, Alpha and Bravo Cos. were advancing well. We took occasional sniper fire and an occasional RPG, but both companies were able to move through the outskirts of town up towards the bridges relatively unscathed.

On the east side, 1st platoon and one SMAW team were to move along the northern edge of the city, then cut directly south once they were above the eastern bridge. I expected that they would hit stronger resistance so they were accompanied by the MGs, scouts and snipers. 2nd and 3rd platoon went directly south along the eastern edge of the town, and then moved west along the north edge of the river towards the bridge. I wanted to launch a two prong attack on the bridge – 1st platoon from the north, 2nd and 3rd from the east.

Everyone moved into position relatively well. A few short skirmishes, but the Marines quickly dispatched the insurgent bands. Once all the forces were in position, they began to move forward to take the bridge. That was when all hell broke loose.

1st platoon stumbled upon a fortified house which decimated two of the four squads. The remaining two squads attempted to maneuver west, out of the firing lane, when they were ambushed by an RPG team. 1st Platoon was now in shambles and I no longer had a northern approach on the bridge.

If the insurgents wanted the bridge so bad, I decided to let them have it – at least for now. I sent 2nd and 3rd platoons straight across the river on their rafts, east of the bridge. The CEVs and Humvees had no amphibious capabilities so I ordered them to move into position east of the bridge, as originally planned, and wait. My objective was to have 2nd and 3rd platoons clear the bridge from the south-bank, with support from the CEVs and SMAW teams from the east on the north-bank.

Bravo Co.’s approach from the northwest went more smoothly. They were able to move forward towards just north of the bridge, clear the mines and dragon teeth that had been established and prepare to cross. As they began to cross, however, they discovered that the insurgents had two strongholds on the southbank – an earthen bunker west of the bridge, and a sandbagged foxhole on the eastside of the bridge. The bridge couldn’t be crossed without taking these units out. Moreover, the only units capable of taking out the earthen bunker were the Harriers – and they wouldn’t be available for a minimum of four rounds. Bravo Co. took cover, used the AAVs AGLs to provide suppression and waited.

Middle Game – Iraqi IF Forces

Artillery may be the “king of battle” but there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a successful air attack. The Harriers decimated the MG nests on the west, and routed four insurgent squads to the east. The IF forces on both sides moved forward with relative ease.

In the SW, the IF forces enveloped and overran the weapons cache without waiting for the SE force to meet up. They established a defensive zone with crossing fire lanes to hold off the expected counter-attack from the insurgency.

Meanwhile, the SE IF team began a door to door sweep for insurgent stragglers. They fanned out and moved from the east towards the center of town. They engaged in small skirmishes, but nothing of note.

Middle Game – USMC

A company’s 2nd and 3rd Platoon, you may recall, had just crossed the river into the south bank, due east of the objective (and the bridge they were now focused on securing). They encountered little resistance in crossing the river. They regrouped and began to move west when they took heavy sniper fire from the town center, along with RPG crossfire. The support squad of 2nd Platoon was nearly decimated.

The remaining troops continued their westward push, encountering heavy resistance and much door to door fighting. The Marines performed well, but losses were sustained. The Marines finally reached the bridge, only to find a sandbagged foxhole guarding the southern side. First squad of third platoon attempted an assault, but failed, and then took heavy losses as a result. The remaining troops hunkered in, established firing lanes down the roads and waited for artillery and/or air support.

Meanwhile, on the north bank, what was left of A Co’s 1st platoon, along with the CEVs and SMAW teams, decided that they would attempt to assault the fortified house near the east bridge, without the support of a southern flanking attack. The remnants of 1st Platoon popped smoke and moved forward parallel to the house’s firing lane. A CEV moved to get a shot on the fortification from the east when it became immobilized on a mine. Despite not being able to move, and despite not being able to get a shot off on the house, the CEV’s positioning created a perfect firing point from which to hold off the roving insurgent bands. It also became apparent that the remaining troops approaching from the east could cross over the bridge without entering the fortified house’s firing lanes.

The SMAW teams (on Humvees) and remaining CEVs passed behind the fortified house's firing arc, straight onto the bridge. Unfortunately, three of the humvees were lost – two became stuck on the water’s edge attempting the passing maneuver, and another was taken out on the southern side by an RPG. The two still mobile CEVs cleared the southern edge of the bridge, secured a perimeter and waited.

On the western front, B Company was kept apprised of our progress and decided that it too would attempt a similar round-about maneuver. Why take the bridge, which is heavily defended, when the forces can go around?

2nd Platoon and the engineers mounted up in the AAVs and crossed the river on the far west, out of the range of the fortifications. Once on the south bank, they had an easy march up to the political center, which they took without resistance. An engineer team quickly dispatched the earthen bunker from behind while the 2nd Platoon established a perimeter at the objective.

The remaining troops crossed east of the bridge in rafts. They took some fire, but the majority of the forces cleared safely. They advanced towards the mosque until taking heavy machine gun fire from the mosque, at which time they secured a small landing area for the Force Recon Team.

End Game – Iraqi IF Forces

The insurgents attempted to retake the weapons cache, but it was ineffective. The IF forces had numerous crossing fire lanes for every approach. In addition, the USMC AAVs, having dropped B Co. 2nd platoon off at the administrative center objective, came to assist in holding the weapons cache. Their AGLs and 50 cals quickly dispatched the insurgents weak response. The weapons cache remained secure for the remainder of the operation.

The SE IF company continued its sweep from east to west. Elements eventually met up with the SW IF company at the weapons cache. Other elements continued the sweep further north, towards the mosque. By the time they reached the mosque, the operation was already complete.

End Game – USMC

Having secured two of the three objectives, all that remained was the mosque and al-Zarqawi. A company was on the eastern edge of the mosque, ready to move into firing lanes. The CEV’s were north/north east of the mosque. Most of B company was north/north west. The 2 OH-58s and 4 SH-60s carrying the Force Recon platoon remained north of the town, waiting for the call.

We knew the insurgents had an AA gun in the mosque, and despite repeated mortar fire we hadn’t succeeded in doing much more than suppressing it. The Strela team had been cleared, but there could be more in the mosque. I decided to utilize a somewhat risky approach, and ordered the Force Recon platoon to rope in west of the mosque. They took heavy fire upon entry, losing most of the platoon and having 2 of the SH-60s damaged. Foolish maneuver.

The final assault was then executed by all forces simultaneously. While the insurgents did an admirable job trying to hold the mosque, in the end our forces were simply too great. Both remaining OH-58 warriors took damage from small arms fire and had to exit, but otherwise few additional troop losses. We cleared the mosque, captured al-Zirqawi and ended the operation.

I achieved a marginal victory.
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Old January 19th, 2006, 10:56 AM

OGBerger OGBerger is offline
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Default Re: AAR - Cornered Rat

Better late than never!

Fine review of the battle, one could clearly follow the development of the battle. Certainly encourages oneself to try out that scenario, as a AAR should do.
Only drawback after having read one is one might know already too much.

Heck the impossibility of giving a good review and not to give away the secenarios surprises.

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