Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Teaser Story

Well, while I am waiting for the figures...

here is a little teaser story!

The column, six tanks, three AAV7A1 and four JGSDF Komatsu LAV had had left the sprawling city without too much problems. It appeared that despite a couple of spectacular and failed terror attacks the CPPW offensive had avoided the city.  Still column of black smoke were evident from some smaller town and villages. If the big prize eluded them the fighters of the CPPW, which did not look much like peasants and workers, had launched a series of attacks in the area immediately north of the big city. Their targets were administrative offices, schools, hospitals and military outposts.  Evidently their aim was to draw out relied columns and cause additional losses. Relief columns like the grandly named Task Force Jones.  They had fallen in an ambush. The lead Abrams had been rocked by a dozen of RPG shot. It appeared to be still combat-capable. Jones had gone through the basic ambush drill. The Abrams had assumed a fish bone formation covering the road and firing with their main guns. The infantry had dismounted from the AAV7A1s and was adding its fire to that of the vehicles. The Japanese vehicles at the end of the column assumed the same formation and added their .50 heavy machine gun to the chorus. Jones was directing the tanks while Tanabe had dismounted trying to coordinate the infantry; between her men and the Marines she had a couple of reinforced platoons.  The column had stalled; pushing forward inside the village was pointless until the approaches were cleared. Despite the huge amount of firepower provided by the tanks it was an infantry fight. The area was crisscrossed by small irrigation ditches and dotted of houses, that appeared made in concrete to save on costs.  The CPPW soldiers had entrenched themselves in that maze.  The fields were rice paddies and Jones loathed sending his heavy behemoths in them.  Jones had ordered the column to deploy and fight its way forward, one barrier at time. It would not have made Rommel, Guderian, Patton or Abrams proud but it was the best way to go forward.  They were slowly proceeding with the infantry clearing a stretch under the firepower of the Abrams and the Amtracks, Tanabe radioing an all clear, and Jones pushing forward his tanks and then repeating the process. While they were pushing forward it was a time consuming process and it was expending ammunition at a prodigious rate; it was also costing casualties. They had cleared four or five blocking positions that way but the enemy resistance has stiffened. The unmistakable streak of anti-tank guided missiles had filled the air. One of the Abrams had thrown a track and Jones’ one had been hit on the front armour without any serious consequence except a healthy scare of the crew. The entire force has peppered the house from where the missiles were coming with gun fire with unobserved results and then pulled back some hundred meters.

‘We are slowing down.’ Jones said while taking Tanabe canteen, his ones having being already emptied.

‘Better slow than dead Major. I assume that we have it the MLR.’ She commented taking back the canteen and sipping from it. ‘I have two killed and six wounded; we are low on LAWs too.’
‘Still half ammo load more or less. We can do another push.’

‘I admire your dedication, but the safe course of action would be to ask for more infantry.’ She quietly commented. ‘Still we have to weigh the need to move forward once more time if you really want it.’

‘I have called for an emergency resupply and I have asked for fast movers. I have some Hornets and Harriers inbound. After the fast movers pound these guys I will advance again providing a base of fire, I want the infantry to move with us and spot for ATGMs. Once we are in position we will shower the tree line and the houses with 120mm round. Then you will try to flank the village. Leave one squad of Marines to protect me and take the rest of the infantry with you. I reckon our fire will suppress anything and give you freedom of manoeuvre; I will also provide a smoke screen. If you are right and this is the MLR they will not pull back if we do not force them to do. The key is to have my tanks in position to provide you a base of fire. What you think colonel?’

‘You are in charge, I will not push my rank, your orders are to push and we still have our force intact more or less. While I will wait additional forces… well your plan makes sense. But I will call the infantry assault off if it is too risky.’

‘I am fine with that. If we do not make it through, we pull back anyway.’

She nodded in return. ‘Well Ja maata santo rikusa Jones-san.’ She then returned to the infantry to brief her subordinate officers.

As promised three flights of jets shown up. One of Hornets and two of Harriers.  The village literally disappeared in a burst of flame.  She realized the Marines had thrown the manual out of the window that morning. It was not a precision strike; no JDAM involved, just iron bombs, plenty of them. It was also reassuring. She knew a lot of pundits would have criticized this as ineffective and obsolete, but often new technology was just a mirage. Finally the Americans were in the business for real.
Few instants after the last of the Harrier had dropped his load of Mk82 Snakeyes on the target the tanks moved forward again. She knew the procedure. Infantry had to stay at least sixty meters from them when they were firing. They were not. She crouched in her ditch and covered her ears, the noise of the main guns was deafening. After the tanks passed her skirmish line, or at least what passed for a skirmish line, she signalled to the infantry to advance.  The green camouflaged troops surged forward on both sides of the behemoths. For some strange reason she reminded a picture she had seen on a book, but that time the bad guys were her ancestors.  She glanced at the lead Abrams. She could see the commander hatch in the open protect position manning the M2 machine gun. She wanted to yell him to button down but it would not have made no effect and probably she would not even been heard.  

For all his childish behaviour he is not a skirter. He is almost enjoying it; or maybe is just trying to impress me.

The infantry moved forward. They were not line troops, they were cooks, clerks and the like cobbled together to form platoons. As much Jones had assured her every Marine was rifleman she had her doubts. Still they had held together for several hours, even if she suspected the Abrams were the glue.

With the effect of the bombing disappearing the troops in the village regain their defensive positions. Incoming fire, albeit reduced, was again been received. The infantry hit the dirt, actually the mud. The five tanks methodically blasted every building with their 120mm guns and their machine guns.  For once the plan was being followed. The defenders appeared as thoroughly suppressed by fire.  The tanks stopped and continued to blast with machine guns and their 120mm main guns. Then their laid a smokescreen in front of the enemy position.  It was time to do the flanking part. She motioned to the two platoon commanders to start. The infantrymen jumped forward again and started to move to their right. She had left one marine rifle squad with the tanks and the rest of the make shift force was manoeuvring. They got into position. She sited the attached M240 team to provide for an additional base of fire on the edge of a rice paddy dam. The American gunners started to lay down their fire. An enemy duskha answered the M240’s fire. She did not know if the enemy had sited heavy weapons to cover all approaches to the village or they were just redeploying in a n hurry. Still the fast movers and the tank fire had to have causes some effect. She has the bulk of two platoons she was not helpless.

You are trying to persuade yourself you are not doing a stupid thing just because he asked you or because you want to prove a girl can be a samurai too. Well Chiharu, let’s earn your combat pay.

‘Fix bayonets.’ She said in Japanese and English. As obsolete the thing could have been there was no point to not do it. She then used her personal radio. ‘We are going.’
The infantry surged forward covering the last exposed stretch. The attached SMAW team fired several rockets toward occupied houses while the machine gun team provided suppressive fire. The tanks started again to pound the village with their main guns. She never realized how much the charge lasted. But it succeeded. They reached the edge of the village.
The attackers jumped into cover and started to return fire. The enemy was trying to redeploy, but now they were into a crossfire between her men and the tanks. She could see the camouflaged figures running from their fighting positions frantically trying to redeploy. She could also hear the clattering of the threads. The thanks were advancing again. They were locked in a firefight, but in a fire fight they were quickly winning.  She sent a runner back to the starting line to bring forward the M240. Several of the houses had received direct tank or bomb hits. While they were made of concrete the MPAT rounds had literally demolished them.  They methodically advanced sweeping the area. The infantry squads on line and her small command group in the back.
The enemy had not expected the infantry to deploy and cross the rice paddies. The defensive plan rested on the assumption the enemy would have stuck to the roads. They were expecting fast road bound columns. The positions were designed to provide interlocking fields of fire only toward the roads. They had not catered for infantry, so many tanks, and airpower.  Still they had gained time. 

The tanks moved forward when it was not anymore safe to use their main guns. The three tuna boat and the Komatsu LAV followed. They flushed the remaining  enemy quite quickly. It was anticlimactic. They did not expect the flanking charge and the combined firepower of jets and tanks had created havoc on their defences. The enemy had collapsed more or less when Chiharu had started her charge and starte to move back, trying to set up several delaying positions. The combined firepower of the vehicles and the infantry, plus the fact that the infantry was coming from an unexpected direction had robbed the enemy of their ability to form a cohesive defence. They were also few. They had few heavy weapons; they found only two heavy machine guns and the remnant of two missile launchers.  The layout of the position did nto indicated the presence of more support weapons While the bodies were uniformed and well equipped their fire power was light.

 She dried the sweat from her forehead. The village, or at least it charred remnants, had been secured collateral casualties seemed to have been nonexistent. The dwellers had probably fled the village when the enemy combatant, she did not knew how to defined their enemy, had shown up.  Still the village ad been obliterated.

‘Well Colonel, we can chalk one for the might of the combined allied forces. The road is opened.’ Major Jones said in a jubilant tone. 

‘But we cannot proceed with the mission until we evacuate the wounded; get a resupply retrieve your damaged tank. We did not have sufficient forces to seal the village. We have just pushed back them to their next fortified village. No, the road is not open. If they had heavy missiles we would not have this conversation. You took to many risks.’

‘Chiharu-san, you are really great at ruining celebrations. We did that with six tanks and a cobbled together mix of marine service and JGSDF security troops. Can we being happy for once?’ The Marine major replied he then offered a cup of water to the Japanese officer. ‘Well it is not Ocha, but it is what we have. If we were British tankers we would have had tea… the Challenger has a boiling vessel.  It is true, saw it when I did an exchange with them.’

She took the water. ‘This will suffice major, thanks for your kindness. But Sake would be much more appropriate now.’

‘Tanks for your help, you doubled my infantry and gave leadership for the dismounted assault. The battalion is sending reinforcements anyway; we will held the line here and renew the attack when properly reinforced. If you want you can go back to the City.’

‘Well my bosses do not seem to miss me. I can tag along another while. But you, please, stop to drool at me.’ She produced one of her rare smiles.

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