Austral vs Saudis 2010

The Kingdom of Austral is Ty’s imagi-nation. Details can be found at his website. After months of provocation and saber-rattling, Saudi Arabia and her allies invaded Austral on March 3, 2010. The first engagement — a meeting engagement — of the war was between a Saudi mixed armored brigade of 3 battalions and two Austral armored battalions.

Saudis (Fair)

  • 12th Armored Battalion (+)
    • 9 x M1A2 Export MBT
    • 3 x M2A2 IFV
    • 1 x M3A2 CFV
    • 3 x Infantry stand with Dragon ATGM
    • 1 x 4.2″ mortar stand
  • 16th Armored Battalion
    • 9 x AMX-30 MBT
    • 3 x AMX-10P IFV
    • 1 x M3A2 CFV
    • 3 x Infantry stand with Dragon ATGM
    • 1 x 4.2″ mortar stand
  • 18th Armored Battalion (-)
    • 6 x M60A3
  • 32ndField Artillery Battaliom
    • 3 x 155mm SP Howitzers

Austral Self Defense Forces (RASDF) (Good)

  • 1st Provisional Armored Task Force
    • 3 x T-90A
    • 3 x T-72M1M w/Shtora
    • 3 x BMP-T
    • 3 x Infantry with RPG-27/AT-13
    • 1 x BMP-3 recon
    • 1 x 120mm SP mortar
  • 2nd Provisional Mechanized Task Force
    • 3 x T-80U w/Shtora
    • 3 x BTR-T IFV
    • 3 x BMP-3 IFV
    • 6 x Infantry with RPG-27/AT-13
    • 1 x BMP-3 recon
    • 1 x 120mm SP mortar

Prelude to Battle

The forces clashed in the Al Kafr region. The terrain is desert with significant mesas and some hills. The road net is fair, with 3 oil terminals along the major highway. In FFT3 terms, the oil terminals blocked line of sight but offered no saving throw. Hills were mesas, so their edges were treated as ridgelines. This seriously impacted play, as stands not touching the ridgelines could not be spotted by enemy stands at equal or lower altitudes.

The playing area was ten feet (12 km) by 4 feet (4.8 km). Ty used his “fast and dirty” desert terrain.

View from the North:

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View from the South:

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Each side’s objectives were the same — meet and destroy the enemy force. The players were unaware of the game length but they knew it would be 6-10 turns (it was actually 8 turns). The sides had equal point values.

Plan of Advance for Each Side (Blue is Austral; Red is Saudis)

Plan-v02b

Turns 1-2

Each side plotted where their units would enter the board. Each battalion or task force had to enter on a road, with one battalion/task force per road allowed. Both sides rolled to see who would go first and the RASDF won. It moved first in each turn. The recon stands for both sides entered on turn 1. The RASDF won that fight handily, destroying both Saudi M3A2 Bradley stands and losing neither of their BMP-3 stands.

Turn 3

Turn-3

The RASDF 1st TF quickly seized hill 107 and peeled a detachment off to cover the ASDF left flank. The RASDF 2nd TF altered its plans and moved straight from the road to hill 109. The RASDF commander correctly intuited which road the Saudi 12th bn would enter and dropped a sustained artillery barrage on the road.

The Saudi 18th bn moved according to plan toward the southern refinery. An enemy BMP-3 destroyed the lead M60A3 with a missile attack. This blocked the road and delayed the 18th battalion’s move.

The Saudi 12th bn entered according to plan but had to pivot southeast to avoid the RASDF artillery barrage.

The Saudi 16th battalion entered according to plan, but immediately veered southeast toward hill 108.

Turn 4

Turn-4

The RASDF commander continued to hammer 12th bn with 155mm artillery fire. The multiple suppressions slowed 12th bn. In response, the Saudis used all of their artillery on A company of 1st TF suppressing most of its stands.

The Saudi 18th bn drove southwest at full speed toward the RASDF left flank.

The RASDF 1st TF consolidated its position on hill 107. Its left company of BMP-Ts took went into overwatch, planning to engage the 18th bn next turn. A company, composed of 3 T-72M1Ms engaged the lead elements of 12th bn and destroyed 1 M1A2. Return fire from 12th bn destroyed one of the T-72M1Ms.

The RASDF 2nd TF ordered its A (tank) company to pivot southwest and engage the M1A2s of 12th bn. All three T-80U’s of A company were destroyed, after only destroying 1 M1A2s. The rest of 2nd TF consolidated its position on hill 109.

The lead elements of 16th bn took hill 108 but stayed back from the ridgeline, out of sight.

Turn 5

Turn-5-v02

The RASDF commander hammered 12th bn with 155mm artillery fire and fire from the battalion mortars. 12th bn suffered numerous suppressions, which slowed it down significantly.

The RASDF 2nd TF made a dramatic encircling attack and annihilated 16th bn on hill 108. 3 BMP-3s flanked the 6 AMX-30 stands of 16th bn. Simultaneously, 3 BTR-Ts crested the hill in front of 16th bn and dismounted infantry. The 16th bn commander could pivot, but chose not to do so. The BMP-3s raked the hapless AMX-30s in the flank with cannon fire while the BTR-Ts engaged the AMX-10Ps with cannon fire. No Saudi infantry stands successfully bailed out. All of the AMX-30s and AMX-10Ps were destroyed.

This proved a costly (though very stylish) victory. 16th bn’s stands had Hold Fire markers, so their return fire destroyed 3 BMP-3s and 2 BTR-Ts of 2nd TF. At the end of the turn, the RASDF 2nd TF firmly held hill 108.

The commander of 1st TF determined that on the next turn, the 7 M1A2s of 12th bn could quickly close the gap and assault his right flank. If he shifted forces to strengthen the right flank, he might not have sufficient firepower to destroy 18th bn on his left flank. He could find himself the unhappy subject of a pincer movement. Also, enemy artillery worried him. He had no intention of standing in place.

So, he refused the right flank by pulling off the ridgeline. His last tank company of 3 T-90U’s moved up in support behind the ridgeline. He deployed his infantry within 1″ of the ridgeline so that an enemy assault would automatically engage in close combat with his infantry. On the left flank, the BMP-Ts and the recon BMP-3 engaged the 18th bn. They destroyed 2 more M60a3s and blocked the road in two places. 18th bn was now at 50% strength. One more loss would force a quality check on the whole unit.

On his turn, the Saudi commander considered his options. 16th bn was gone. 18th bn would likely be massacred by enemy missiles before it could effectively assault 1st TF’s left flank. He still had an effective battle force in 12th bn — 7 M1A2s, 3 M2A2 and 3 infantry. But he was certain that the 1st TF commander would be content to wipe out 18th bn and await an assault on 1st TF by 12th bn. He would be outnumbered 3 to 1 in infantry and worse, there would be significant enemy infantry forces on his flank. His M1A2s were immune from missile attacks on their front, but not their flanks. His Bradleys were highly vulnerable to enemy missile fire of course.

He sighed and said “he won’t come out and I won’t go in after him”. At that point he offered a draw, which the RASDF player accepted. This battle would ultimately be decided by follow-on forces from both sides.

Conclusion

This scenario was unusual in that the better quality army had poorer quality equipment. It also shows an inherent problem with meeting engagements — they can end in draws more than most other scenarios. A key takeaway is that previous generation MBTs have no business on an ultramodern battlefield. The Saudi M60A3s and AMX-30s were annihilated by antitank missiles and were largely ineffective (except to soak up enemy fire). Also, the game reinforced that modern Western MBTs are tough, even when crewed by poorer quality forces.

The Russian heavy IFVs didn’t get much of a workout in this game, though the BTR-Ts proved more survivable than BMP-3s. That said, they were highly vulnerable to tank guns and heavy ATGMs. They were immune to old LAWs (like the AT-4 LAW) and resistant to new LAWs (like the RPG-27). They were very resistant to older medium ATGMs (like the Dragon) and fairly vulnerable to newer medium ATGMs (like the AT-13).

Top-attack ATGMs are nasty; the RASDF players constantly worried about the TOW-2Bs carried by the Saudi M2A2s. Interestingly, both sides bitterly complained about how awesome their opponent’s gear was.

In general, the game showed that ultramodern gear is extremely lethal. This, combined with high tactical mobility resulted in a short, vicious fight.

Other Photos

The M60A3s of the 18th bn ride into history…

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BMP-Ts of the RASDF 1st TF prepare to engage the 18th bn…

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The tank companies of 12th battalion immediately before combat. A very unwelcome sight if you’re on the other side…

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A few seconds before the first clash…

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Overhead view of the aftermath of 2nd TF’s envelopment of 16th bn…

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Glamour Shots — These are all 1/285 scale models from GHQ. Most are an inch or less long.

RASDF

BMP-T 01L BMP-T 04 BTR-T 01 T72 M1 01 T90 (6) T90 (11)

Saudis

AMX30 CinC (1) AMX30 CinC (2) M1A1 (6) M2A2 (3)