Russian Tank Company Reconnaissance, The View from the Forward Patrol

This is a Steel Beasts ProPE AAR. The scenario portrays a small unit tactical action during a fictional invasion of Norway.

Regimental Headquarters have ordered our company to conduct a tactical intelligence collection mission. The company’s objective is some 35 km north of the southern edge of the map shown below. Note the company’s planned route and the ENY situation (dotted blue arrows). The ENY (a battalion strength mechanized force) is conducting a tactical march south (red arrows)

I am in command of the forward patrol (1 T-72 MBT and two BMP-2 APCs, one of the latter carrying engineers) and our mission is to conduct a terrain reconnaissance up to the future resupply point CRATE and then a tactical intelligence collection westward in order to determine the enemy’s ability to attack the company’s east flank.

With the T-72 tank on point, the three-vehicle patrol moves forward at medium speed. To our dismay, the terrain on the sides of the road is not suitable for tracked vehicles. Boulders as big as a car’s tire pose a risk to our tracks’ integrity and an impassable obstacle to maneuver through.

Just when we grudgingly came to the realization that we are to be confined to roads, we came up to a hasty minefield blocking our route. Halt! Minefields are not just a nuisance to our mobility and tempo but actually a risk because they are usually in the sights of ENY forces. With great caution the crew of the T-72 tank searches for the ENY. An M113 is comes into the sights. The ENY M113 is oriented perpendicular to the road, very likely its crew is involved in some manual labor (laying a new minefield?). Before the ENY can react, an armor-piercing round rips through the hull of their vehicle. Target! Dismounts are seen scrambling out of the ENY vehicle. Crap! We will have to cope with those sooner than later.

The BMP-2 carrying the engineers is called up. The rate of fire of the BMP-2 will be great for showering the dismounts with HE rounds, but not now with the engineers immediately to the front. [Player’s note: I have previously killed my own infantry with the pressure shock of a T-72’s main gun. I don’t think the pressure shock is as severe for the BMP-2’s cannon, but it is just bad manners to have these projectiles zooming by the poor engineers.]

The blue lines indicate the path cleared by the engineers.

The minefield clearing operation lasts for a good 15 minutes. Once the engineers are done, the crew of the BMP-2 crosses the minefield through the path opened by them and starts suppressing the suspected ENY dismounts’ location. The rounds of choice are HEAT.

The rest of the vehicles are called up. Tense moments, I have to say, as the breach opened by the engineers is tight.

The T-72 tank immediately takes point. It advances up to the last known ENY position, with some great suppressive fire from the BMP-2s.

That tracer is from a round fired by a BMP-2, which is not shown in this image.

The T-72 finally locates the ENY dismounts and dispatch them with its MG.

Apparently, the ENY roadblock has been neutralized. It is time to regroup and continue the movement north.

Just less than one Km up the road, the point T-72 comes into contact with an ENY APC. It was dug in near the cross-roads, very close to our future resupply point CRATE. No less than 5 SABOT rounds are thrown at this ENY vehicle, but it refuses to die. Although severely disabled, the ENY vehicle survived until we moved very close. So close that the associated ENY infantry started to pose a serious threat. Fortunately, the ENY position was completely eliminated.

Some 40 minutes have passed since the start of the mission. Our tempo is good and we report to our Company HQ that we are about to start moving west to determine the ENY’s capacity. Our hopes are that the ENY is not enforcing their screen mission too enthusiastically. Since the start of the campaign we have observed that for patrolling and guarding, the ENY is focusing on crossroads and small settlements. This strongly suggests that they are overstretched.

Sooner than later, our movement is halted to engage an ENY blocking position. It turned out to be relatively weak (one Leopard 1A2 and a CV90) and just the fires from the T-72 tank sufficed to dispatch both.

We were elated and maybe overconfident. We did overcome the hurdles of this mission and decided to go as close to the ENY as we could. After all “the enemy’s ability to attack the company’s east flank” can go as west as the ENY refueling point.

Carefully, we approach the ENY’s main route of advance. Some 500 meters short of it we halt and dismount. Our scouts move forward and find out that the suspected refueling point is a reality. The size of it suggests at least a brigade-sized ENY main force.

A detachment of tanks is also observed by our scouts. A total count of this force was not possible but the sound of engines was coming from no less than a company.

Unfortunately, a roving ENY HMMWV catches our scouts in fraganti. In horror, we hear the ENY engines revving up and the sound of tank’s main guns (?). Our scouts are in trouble and we try to help, but we have gone beyond our orders to fully engage at this time. A single SABOT round to an ENY tank finds its target. We bug out hastily. Our scouts found their demise in those woods.

Back at the resupply point CRATE, we find our trucks slowly pouring in. We line up for ammo and for new orders.

Then, reports of supply trucks under fire. We will have to secure the area. Our day just started.