Monday, 13 May 2013

The Marines Have Landed

Time to send the Marines!

As usual the post will mix a little fluff and some (bad as usual) pictures. 

The III Marine Expeditionary Force

The other main component of US Force China is the III MEF. Once being a full Amphibious Corps, the Vth, the III MEF has shrunken and grown according to the whim of Washington. At the moment, It has been expanded to MEF sized again, but until March 2025 it was just a single Expeditionary Brigade, the 4th.  The expansion has been hurried and unit have been thrown up as fast as possible to create some sort of deterrent force in time. Still they are the most organized and cohesive force beside the PLA. The III MEF comprises the full 1st Marine Division, the 3rd Marine division (still a sort of rump, it was brought up to strength in 2015 for the China War then after the ceasefire again reorganized as a rump to save money), and the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. The Two divisions comprise the Vth Amphibious Corps and the 4th MEB is the theatre reserve.   The Marines have not changed much in the past 10 years. The failure of the F-35 Project has left with a legacy force of proven F-18 and AV8B. The airframes have been constantly updated and probably they are much better than the amorphous machine that was supposed to replace them (yes I do not like the Joint Silly Fighter,  ask the BAE program manager…). Vehicles had stayed the same. The china war stopped the corps cold with his idea of replacing the LAV and the war expenses killed the AAV replacement program. To a certain extent the 2015 War in China has sent shock waves and almost frozen several new equipment programs worldwide. Huge losses in equipment, the realization that depending on technology for game changing miracle was a fool’s errand, and the necessity to rapidly expand conventional forces to cope with a conflict of such proportion have forced a revision of several programs (plus I got to use my toys that is the main reason of the campaign…). To a certain extent the US had been force to quickly refurbish older generation tanks (M48A5 and M60A3) for the 2015 war and it still maintain large stocks of them to allow rapid mobilization of reserve forces at bargain prices.

The 4th MEB

Having been the only resident unit in Shanghai the 4th MEB (or, like some officers called it the 4th Marines) had been a critical element in US policy in China. In the last three years the brigade has provided mainly a standing force and security patrol (mounted, dismounted, and riverine) along the easternmost part of the Blue Line. It has never been employed along the ‘Corridor’ to Beijing. While officially in a reserve posture the Brigade had several clashes with bandits that have recently escalated with the rise of the CPPW (Chinese Party of Peasants and Workers). The Brigade is made up of the 4th marines (3 battalions) one artillery battalion from the 11th Marines (usually on rotation), and company sized attachment from the 1st Tank battalion, 1st combat engineer Battalion, and other support units. The command staff was drawn from the 1st Marine division. Usually an additionally afloat MEU was on call. With the deployment of the 3rd and 1st Marine divisions in spring and early summer 2025 the Brigade had been restructured and named III MEF Theatre Reserve. It has lost the 2/11th Marines and the company attachments, but gained several reserve elements, the 1/23rd, the 4th Tank Battalion, the 4th Light Recon Battalion, the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion,  the 2nd battalion 14th Marines (155mm Artillery) and elements of the 4th Amphibious Tractor Battalion. The reserve attachments are intended to be temporary  while the administration and the JCS debated the idea to call to active service the whole 4th Marine Division. The speed of the Russian assault and the semi-conventional Tet style offensive of the CPPW in the area around shanghai ensure that the brigade was committed as it was, instead of being the nucleus for a third Marine Division in China.
The commander of the Brigade, General McDaniels, had been the main point of contact with the other national contingents and the PLA, often straying away from official guidance from the State Department’s Mission to keep the multinational force together. His work with other officers still ensured that when the enemy offensive came there was some kind of cohesive response. The 4th MEB had also spawned the man who, almost singlehandedly destroyed the Administration plan to cut and run.  

The Miniatures


The Marines are Eureka, bought at salute in 2012 and finally completed last April. Now have been reinforced by 2 MG and one smaw team waiting in the painting line (actually waiting until miss Mya is back into London so I can get my forward deployed painting set again). I have decided to go for a Desert Marpat theme opposed to a woodland. Well it was a quite difficult decision. I like both schemes (and you can see the images of the Recon team in Woodland) and probably I am a bit better with the woodland than with the desert. Still the troops had been secured with the aim ot employ them into Fallujiah and Anbar province first. The first fire team had been painted almost immediately after Salute 2012. I am not 100% sure of the scheme, It works from a distance but well… I am more satisfied with the Multicam and ACU. The pictures I have seen in recent books are sometime puzzling, sometime the overall impressions look more creamy (as in my guys) sometimes more sandy. The rationale is that some of the Marine Units deployed are coming from different theatres so they are saddled with the equipment already distributed. The III MEF had been hurriedly built. On the other hand the Majority of 28mm Scenarios will use only one reinforced squad usually, so probably I will be able to have sufficient troops in woodland Marpat. I will definitely  do Woodland when I will get the Empress new arrivals… (well first KS has to… well… start). Supporting this force I have 2 deAgostini LAV25 die-cast (1/43 more or less) that I have repainted in three tones  NATO camo and 2 Hobby master 1/56 M1A1, one desert and one NATO Camo that are quite nice. It was a real shame that hobby master did not pursue its range of 1/56 vehicles.

Well I found an old image of the desert version of the M1A1...

The weathering was done by default I paid it very little (around 28$) and I was really impressed.

The M1A2!

Well I found some pictures of my Imprint M1A2... yes the eagle eyed will have spotted it before... it is also on Imprint website...

Anyway here it is in NATO 3 tones camo!

I Like it, I like the camo (again the flash killed a bit and made the green look quite strange... I promise I will take better pictures!)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The US Army is coming!

A Brief Description of US Army Forces China and US Army Force Korea.

By 2025 the bulk of forward deployed Army units were stationed in China, Korea with attendant reserves in Hawaii and Japan. At the height of the first phase of the US commitment to China in 2015 more than 10 division equivalent had been deployed there. In the ten subsequent years the force has shrunk down to one full division (4th Infantry) Defending Beijing, to Forward Divisions command (1st Armoured and 25th Infantry)  stationed in Shanghai without real troops assigned and to full divisions in South Korea, (2nd Infantry and 1st CAV) watching the new DMZ. Usually one or two brigades were deployed in rotation to Shanghai to provide some show of force. By December 2024 the USAFC was at its minimum levels, with the talks of withdrawing two of the BCT (Brigade Combat Team) from Beijing and the two Forward Division Command post from Shanghai. In a duel of wills and wits between State (advocating withdrawal of the entire USAFC) and Defense (asking for deploying at the least the components of the 1st Armoured and 25th Infantry) the SECDEF was able to have a brigade of the 25th and a National Guard Brigade sent to China in January. Increased instability and a scandal damaging the reputation of the entire State Department Mission in china (their director of operations had been caught using State and Defense channels to smuggle archaeological artefacts and people from China) strengthened the hand of Defense allowing the SecDef to win presidential authorization to deploy a an additional brigade from Hawaii to China. Further embarrassing revelations on the extent of the crappiness of the State Department China team, including discovering the Head of the Mission, Ambassador Laureen Carleton being in cahoots with a planned Russian-backed group of plotters in shanghai, further allowed the deployment of an additional brigade of the 25th to China. A series of sharp attacks along the corridor linking the Yangtze River Basin and Beijing involving regular Russian troops  in March and April 2025 further deteriorated the situation until the 1st Armoured division was finally put on alert for deployment overseas.  When the Russian launched their Operation Spring Dawn in early June 2025 The USAFC were in a better position than six months before but still woefully unprepared. 

Years of lack of a real strategic direction in ground warfare coupled with internal battles between the COINistas and Conventionalist factions inside the Army had crippled what in 1991 was the best army of the world.  In the name of rapid deployment the Army is relying on Stryker brigade of proven combat incapability. Despite their disastrous performance during the 2015 China War and its associated Second Korean War the Striker had been retained as the main combat vehicle of the Army. The failure of producing and M1A4 program after the China War had further reduced the importance of the ‘legacy’ component, despite troops having nicknames the Stryker  the ‘Crappier’  during the last war. The disastrous performance of the 2nd ID Stryker brigades in Korea and the virtual destruction of the 25th Infantry against soviet armoured forces had done nothing to redress the balance. Until 2023 the Army was under the direction of General John B. Kramer, a convinced Naglite and COINistas  who was virtually opposed to the maintenance of the China Mission. Kramer command style, purging officers that did not share its own idea had further decreased the confidence of the US Army. In 2023 the appointment of General Robert K. Leonard, a form tank officer had gone a long way to redress some of the morale and efficiency problems, but not the equipment imbalance. The Army is still short of heavy divisions.  General Leonard had also been a staunch supporter of the necessity of finding  a complete solution to China, kicking the Russians out before removing US and Allied Forces. This has put him at odds with the official administration policy to find a way out as soon as possible. He had also lobbied, with varying degree of success, in the congress to increase support for the army and the necessity to keep a strong US gournd foce in China as balance to other factions. Privatley he had admitted that, barring a change of policy, the multination force is exercising a negative impact on China, fostering international enclaves, restraining the rearmament of the PLA, and being military inefficient.
At lower level the troops in china are a mixed bag. The 4th ID is one of the top formation of the Army, and, being deploying in direct contact with Russian forces, being kept at high readiness. The unit deployed in southern China tend to be of uneven if indifferent quality. Troops are noted for poor relationship with other national contingent and, being rotated in and out as complete units to not have any idea of what the local conditions are. While the units have proved themselves able to carry out garrison duties and small security operations there is no evidence they are up to date in conventional operations. On the other hand, when General Church, the new commander of the re-activated 6th US Army China (6th USAC) in March 2025 training had stepped up, as unit readiness and overall effectiveness. Still the troops are worried about their own equipment and lightness.


The Infantry

Stop with the fluff… go with the pictures. Here are some of my 28mm US Army forces that have been earmarked for the project. I have decided to keep them in ACU rather than Multicam. Why? Oh well… I already painted them, the basic idea at the time (and if Empress put out also Koreans) was t use them for the 1-9 Manchus in Korea (you can see the Indianhead patches) and also for the Stryker units of the 2nd ID deployed in Iraq.  From pictures the 2nd ID seems to have kept the ACU. Furthermore they are also to be used in Iraq and Afghanistan historical scenarios. I will not repaint them. The miniatures are Empress (of course).   The colours of the infantry varies according to the pictures… but not in the reality…More on that later.


The infantry was supposed to be followed by my M1A2 and mt two  M2A2s but I cannot find the pictures so I have just the latest Hummer from Imprint I painted. It is armed with a Mk19 AGL to provide some fire support during convoy escorts.

Final Notes on taking pictures of miniatures.

Well for one I have some thoughts about photographing my babies. Using washes leaves a little invisible dust over the paint. You do not see it until you fire the flash. The flash has also spoiled the windows’ effect. Well it is embarrassing to get these stuff 3 weeks after you took the pictures and when you realize the subjects are around 1100km from you… I am lazy, if I had downloaded the pictures earlier I would have discovered how crappy they were and taken some new ones, plus I would have done a bit better job at Salute. Hall hail the crappy photographer. I am embarrassed but these are the pictures I have at the moment.

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.