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A prelude to Starburst 2018: Previous TCA Operations at Fort Hood

(Editor's Note: Previously posted April 2017, bringing this event summary to give a preview of STARBURST 2018, but this time with Elijah and Boaz MOUT Sites, 19-21OCT2018) The weather was perfect, good breeze in the open spaces, two MOUT Sites and a lot of terrain surrounding both made for large scale maneuver. This event brought two MILSIM event hosting companies together to raise money for the USMCR Ball Fund. When the idea was floated among the TCA and Texas LionClaws Staffs, we quickly went into all the action and use of both groups’ props, a blend of each others’ rules, and scenario ideas. Additionally, Coach wanted to bring in TCA’s TIER 1 operations to Hargrove MOUT Site. The Staffs went forward with the concept, and in the end, Pope and I were satisfied we were bringing in a storyline, and field objectives, that players would enjoy. This would be somewhat of departure for previous LionClaws events with Third Coast bringing in digital terrain OBJs and a TIER 1 mission. Players loyal to each brand, having not attending the other by the end of weekend appreciate the blend for the event. The scenario

The situation in the Western Huud Region of Biajan has seen brutal fighting in the recent months, with Russian/Biajan Combined Forces fighting to take control of the Huud region from Allied Ground Forces sponsored Biajan Rebels. The Rebels have been thoroughly beaten and now the Allied Command has been authorized to conduct limited operations to insure the region does not become occupied by the Russian/Biajan Combined Forces. The Russian Command will not risk a large scale conflict and has decided to conduct their own limited operations in the Huud region. This was the scene setter for Bulldog X. I was in command of the JTF SOCOM Forces, organized into TF HAWK (led by Richard Cuddihy, XO Joel Gabel) and TF KBAR (led by David Elliot), our vehicle section was led by Frank K, and the HQ element was led by US Army Major Stephen Ward, with Airsoft Junkiez acting as the QRF team. Richard Mi lead the Baijan/Russian Scorpion Division against us. The sides were well balanced with a slight edge in numbers for us (17 additional troops), made up for by 878 Airsoft Gatling gun equipped HUMVEE. Our truck section was the Shadow Wraith’s LMTV. I want to take the time to highlight the opening Phase (Round) of OP BULLDOG X. Phase 1 Third Coast brought in the Recon Phase (a pre start for Scout-Sniper teams from each side) deploying both sides Scout-Snipers prior to the main round kick off. I instructed our Recon Teams to focus on identifying the Baijan Forces mortar firing point (MFP) and unit maintenance collection point (UMCP, the down field vehicle respawn). Both sides would have to move the necessary equipment to these covert sites (ammo for the mortars and tools/fuel/parts for the UMCP) in order for them to be operational. Then they would have to defend them against demolition or risk losing their fire support and downfield vehicle respawn. Additional battlefield nodes like the Forward Casualty Collection Points (down field troop regen) and Tactical Command Posts (without this, no fire support would be available) would have to be set up as well. JTF SOCOM’s strategy was to have TF HAWK fix the Baijan Forces in Hargrove, enabling the JTF HQ, QRF, and parts of KBAR to push south to set up the mortars, with the JTF XO, truck section, and the majority of KBAR conducting a wide mounted “Hail Mary” flanking move, getting south to occupy our TAC, establish the CCP, and set the UMCP, as well as pushing on terrain OBJs.

We expected the Baijans to go straight south in order to set up their mortars, TAC, CCP, and UMCP. Our initial estimate on their movement would be that they would shoot south into the town, then push east into the wooded areas. Their guntruck and cargo truck moved south into the town, setting their TAC, CCP, and placed their UMCP on the eastern boundary with a serious number of dismounted support, causing us to wonder if they were going to push north on our mortar position once we started firing. My estimate on our drive south to link up with KBAR was about 45-60 minutes, when in fact it took 90 minutes, after a hard fight to push past a tough bridge defense put up by South Texas’ own ODA 204/GFT 8, 878’s guntruck, and those dismounts protecting the Baijan UMCP.

We used several mortar strikes to break up the defense (and they did as well to break up our attacks), but eventually we succeeded in destroying their UMCP, moved south to seize OBJ MONICA, reaching our CCP, and then shifting West towards OBJ NANCY and DORIS. Rich Cuddihy and elements from HAWK conducted probing attacks on OBJ JOSIE. OBJ DAISY at Hargrove changed hands a few times, but in the end, both sides focused on the drive South in BOAZ MOUT and the surrounding woods.

The JTF HQ/QRF received reports from Major Ward that a large Baijan dismounted force was pushing through BOAZ with 878’s guntruck in support, threatening our TAC in the southern part of BOAZ. The loss of the TAC would deprive us of calling in tactical air support, artillery, and mortars, plus give the Baijan Forces a morale boost if they had captured the position.

Major Ward and I, coordinated a plan, that if worked out, would relieve pressure on the southern end of BOAZ, and allow us to push into the Mosque/Market square from the east and OBJ NANCY. With our forward CCP established, we directed our leaders to inform our troops to use the forward CCP which was far closer than the Hargrove CCP. We left a squad in security of MONICA, and plus elements of HAWK towards NANCY towards the market square with the JTF HQ/QRF following. Other elements of HAWK and ODA 206/GFT 13 from Victoria, TX, continued to hold the bridge and put some pressure on JOSIE. The Baijans had the advantage of good interior lines of communication, unknown to us, setting up their TAC in the Embassy, and having their CCP by the western edge of the bridge.

The fight now focused on DORIS, NANCY, MONICA, and JOSIE. Our eastern movement from MONICA to NANCY and ultimately to DORIS was successful, allowing Major Ward and elements of KBAR to link up with the JTF HQ/QRF and elements of HAWK with less than 25 minutes left in the Phase. The Baijan mounted elements scattered us and dropped troops off close to DORIS, which led to the market square changing hands constantly until the end of the Phase. Baijan Forces executed a masterful raid destroying our UMCP (returning the favor for us knocking out their UMCP).

The end of the phase left us in good position for Phase 2, but we would fight that phase without a vehicle, but their anti-armor team more than made up for it holding the forward position (Gas Station) in front of the Command Post.

Lessons Learned just from Phase 1 of BULLDOG X Major take aways from Phase 1 Sustains (Tasks we did well) 1) Complex maneuver is possible in MILSIM, our elements were spread out over several kilometers, but every leader down to Squad Leader knew the bigger picture going in. This paid off at the hectic start of the Phase. Our radios worked fine (set in Hi Power mode and being on high ground to transmit/receive) 2) Setting the MILSIM battlefield (establishing the Mortar Firing Point, Command Post, CCP, and UMCP) worked, but there was a draw back (will cover that below). 3) Players displayed great tactical patience and flexibility switching from urban to woods, and adjusted their tactics accordingly, for the most part. 4) Moving the CCP, this kept shooters fresh and avoided the long walk to the start point. 5) Players recognized the importance of terrain objectives and did not wait to counterattack to retake one, or seize one.

Improves (Task we will need to work on) 1) Terrain orientation, many players knew the location well, but could not associate the OBJs and CCP/MFP/TAC/UMCP to the map, senior leaders would notice a unit moving unsure, ask what their intended destination was, and offer course corrections. 2) Setting the MILSIM battlefield posed a concern for securing critical nodes like the Command Post, UMCP, and Mortars. We had to assume risk and leave a very small security element to overwatch our mortars (and in Phase 2, we lost our mortars, and Baijans lost their Command Post, both sides lost their UMCPs). We adjusted and left a blocking position close to our Command Post for the rest of the weekend. But this will be a concern (just like in the real world). 3) Players need to know when to spread out and when to stack, often in the woodline, shooters would cluster up, being an easy target to mortars, in the city, too many would crowd a building, giving the other side a premium target for a guided bomb. 4) Using the Recon/Counter Recon Phase more effectively, our Scout/Sniper teams were given a focus for their infil and where to go, but after the phase was over, we lost them in the fight, when they regen, new orders should have been given. 5) Shooters need to realize they must flip the digital terrain point for their side, a few times on both sides, this wasn’t done, denying some hard defended points until a shooter went to check.

The Lessons Learned will definitely be carried forward to SERIOUS VIKING, BROKEN DAGGER, DRAGON ROGUE, and TRENCHKNIFE. It was awesome to play in one of our events and see it through the players’ eyes. Thanks to Pope, Kraut, and Coach and the rest of the awesome Staff for making this a great event for the players and Marines.

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