Now, on to the action!
After establishing a safe staging area for further operations deeper into the city, the troopers of 3rd Platoon were allowed to get some rest. Though all objectives had been achieved and the initial resistance was broken, the losses of the first day already amounted to 3 men - almost 10% of the deployed force. Fortunately, the injuries of one of the casualties where actually less severe than it first seemed, and after a good nights rest and some professional medical treatment, he was able to return to duty rather quickly. The other two wounded men, however, where sent out of theatre for further treatment and recuperation and would not see any combat anytime soon.
Meanwhile, the Operation to secure Qalah-eh-Bagh continued. After the first major fight, the platoon commander Sergeant Deloran gave the battered Squads some rest, while the remaining elements would continue operation. The plan for day two was to advance further, sweeping the enemy from the farming areas around the city. Supporting the attacks would be elements of the US Marine Corps, tasked to act as a blocking force while Army units would conduct the sweeps.
Unfortunately, in the process, elements of the blocking force in one of the sectors that where already flagged as secured where suddenly surrounded by Insurgent fighters, finding themselves outnumbered and outgunned. Under heavy fire and attacked from well prepared fighting positions, the Marines dispatched a squad to outflank the enemy and enfilade their positions. Unfortunately, as the Marine Squad embarked on their mission, they bumped right into a hornets nest. Separated from the rest of their platoon, with the closest friendly elements pinned down, the only forces to come to their rescue where the Army grunts of 3rd Platoon - who where just preparing for their sweep. Supported by an F-18 fighter-bomber on priority air support, the soldiers hurried to the rescue...
|Marines surrounded by Taliban fighters|
Hurrying through the fields to come to the rescue of the troubled Marines, who where already taking casualties, the soldiers where briefed on the fly. Their task was to get in, grab the Marines, engage and destroy the enemy if possible. A secondary objective was to check out a compound in the area, where suspicious activities had been spotted by surveillance drone preceding the operation.
|Army units advancing through the treeline to rescue the marines.|
A small note on the scenario: The Marines are unable to move from their position, but they may fight the enemy as usual - the twist is that while they can buy some time doing this, all casualties inflicted by the Marine group are automatically returned to the game as reinforcements on the next turn. Only casualties inflicted by the Army units are removed. This puts some time pressure on the Army, but doesn´t leave the Marines completely defenseless.
|Fireteam 3-2 advancing and engaging the enemy head on.|
|Closing in, but still too far away!|
After setting up their M240, the MG-Team assumed an overwatch posture and covered the further advance of Fireteam 3-2. The other fireteam split off to attempt a pincer movement, coming in from behind the Marines position, while the main action focussed on the centre of the battlefield.
The small command element cleared the compound, finding a set of documents that would prove valuable in the subsequent crackdown on the drug trade...
|Firefight in the centre|
With the Taliban taking heavy losses from Overwatch fire and the aimed shots of the fireteam, the Americans where able to advance with impunity. Again, the overwhelming firepower was a good reminder for the Taliban to stay in place, preventing any advance towards the Marine team. Meanwhile, the second half of the Army rescue force was advancing through the fields, away from the main action.
|Hasty maneuvering through the fields - rough terrain is slowing the advance.|
For the Marines however, things where starting to look bleak, as more enemy advanced towards their position. Concentrated fire from close distance and several directions decimated the team, until no more shots from 5,56mm NATO-caliber could be heard...
|Marine defense collapsing|
|Finally through the fields!|
With the Marine position on the verge of being overrun by the Taliban, the US squad leader requested Air Support to discourage the enemy from assaulting the Marine positions. Their request was quickly granted due to the severity of the situation - and the F-18 flying overhead was given a target.
|F-18 strafing the Taliban positions|
|The Taliban are hunkering down!|
Trying to pick off the disturbed Taliban, the Americans found out that the Taliban morale might be shaken, but far from broken:
|Fireteam 3-2 taking casualties!|
Despite the powerful demonstration of force by the airstrike, the Taliban where finally able to overrun the Marine position, storming in from an angle that was not targeted by the Airstrike.
|Taliban overrun the Marine position from the adjacent compounds!|
Now under severe pressure, the US resorted to more desperate and aggressive measures. After calling in another Airstrike failed, the commander on the ground decided to risk an all-out assault to reconquer the Marine position before a bad fate could befall them.
|Both casualties where saved by their Body Armour!|
|Fireteam 3-1 preparing to storm the building - a long way lies ahead.|
Intoxicated by their victory of storming the infidel position and taking several hostages, the Taliban kept their nerves despite being faced with a close fight with well trained American soldiers and repelled their attack by punishing defensive fire. Two of the American soldiers went down, forcing the rest of the team to abandon their assault and take a defensive posture.
Fireteam 3-2 advances through the fields in an attempt to support a potential subsequent attack from the north, after reorganising.
|Taliban crushing the US close assault!|
|One KIA, one serious wound!|
No further assault will be conducted by this team. Fireteam 3-2 takes overwatch duty from their central position on the battlefield - meanwhile the MG-team relocates from their overwatch-position, as the round white compound restricted their field of view. Instantly coming under fire from the Taliban forces, an RPG exploding close by hits the assistant gunner...
|Another man down!|
With Fireteam 3-1 occupied with tending to their wounded comrade, the only available forces left are the second Machinegun-Team, that hadn´t fired a single shot up to now. Finally, after maneuvering through the fields and spending the majority of the battle carrying around their heavy equipment, the M240 finally spits some lead - with good effect on target.
|Second MG-team taking out the Taliban inside the Marine position|
After dispatching the Taliban inside that building, the US are finally back in full offensive swing. With almost all resistance now obliterated, they finally push through to the Marines.
Unfortunately, they find one of the Americans dead, mutilated by the Taliban - and two seriously injured. But alive, at least. A bitter victory.
Finally, the Insurgents resistance is broken and the Americans secure the village, pushing through to the next area.
To their horror, they discover that not all civilians had fled the battlefield before the start of the fighting...
The Taliban where not the only ones killed by the Airstrike - three civilians where caught be the cannonfire.
Still, all objectives have been achieved - and though it feels like a bitter and worthless victory, it still is a victory. The village is cleared, the Taliban have been utterly destroyed, suffering a substentially larger casualties than the US. Two American soldiers have been saved from the claws of the enemy, where they´d have faced certain death. And important intelligence had been found on the drug trafficing into Pakistan...
More will probably come along soon ;-)