Scouts Out!

Scouts Out!
C Troop musters for action

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The US Army on Liberty

Note:  This is the first in a series of article detailing the various fighting forces on Liberty. In this article I'm going to take an in-world prospective to give the "fluff" for my forces and to demonstrate the miniatures that I'm going to use for each army.  Many of the pictures below are of my own miniatures, however I'm borrowed some pictures from Khurasan and and Antenocitis Workshop for units that I on order but haven't received or haven't painted yet.  My US Army force is a mixture of miniatures from Rebel Minis, Iron Wind Metals, Khurasan, and Antenocitis Workship.

The US defense force on Liberty can be a motley bunch bunch at times.  However its solid core are the battalions of the US Army.  LIBCON, the joint US military command on Liberty, can call upon one Regular Army infantry battalion, 4 National Guard (ANG) infantry battalions,  2 support fires battalions (ANG),  cavalry squadrons, one Special Forces/Ranger SPECOPS company, one aerospace support battalion, and several logistical and support companies. This article will detail the Regular and ANG elements of the US Army on Liberty.

The Polar Bears of the Regular Army's (RA) 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment provides the solid, veteran core of the US Army on Liberty.  1/31 Infantry is the ready battalion from the 10th Infantry Division (Mountain) which was hurried to Liberty to help blunt the LRL's insurgency on Crossland.  Later, the battalion proved instrumental to the defense of Centerville by engaging LRL assault forces in some of the most deadly urban combat seen by the US Army since the Battle of Fallujah in 2004.  Despite heavy casualties, the Polar Bears were able find off numerous LRL attacks and, later during the campaign, provide forces for the allied counter offensive.  

Tactically, the Polar Bears are organized as a standard US Infantry battalion with four rifle companies, one heavy weapons company, an attached mecha platoon and ADA platoon.  Each rifle company is further split into three rifle platoon who in turn are divided into 1-3 nine man sections.  The section is a unique US formation that goes back to WWI and was brought back into use during the late 21st Century as an intermediate level unit between the platoon and the squad.  Modern rifle sections are split into two four man squads led by a Staff Sergeant with the small rifle squads being led by 'buck' sergeants or corporals.  This organization brings needed command and control down to very small units and allows the US Army to operate very small units over huge combat zones.

Typically, US Army rifle sections are assigned two HUMVEE IV Apache tactical troop transports to provide transport in most situations ranging from peacekeeping up to low level insurgencies.  However the Apache is well armed and protected which allows it to survive even in more intense combat zones.  However when conventional combat is anticipated the standard M577 APC is issued.

Also to strengthen the section, and to provide it with more 'eyes' on the ground, rifle sections can be issued up to 4 M1A1 Gun Drones (AGP) or a similar number of M1A1 Sentry Guns. The sentry guns and drones are typically deployed as needed, however as a basic rule they are evenly divided between the two rifle squads.

For small arms, the US Army currently enjoys the newest generation of M41 Pulse Rifles (ACR) and M56 Smart Gun (SAW).  In addition the section can count on M240 Flamer, RPGs, and infantry plasma guns in high intensity combat situations. Many of these weapons are kept on-board transport frigates even during peacekeeping missions are are available when needed.

For heavy combat situations the rifle battalions have to look to organize heavy weapons and to assets attached from light and heavy armored battalions.  As a general rule, each US rifle battalion has an organic Ares mecha platoon.  The M-1 MBS Ares battle mecha is an awesome piece of hardware that is used even in peacekeeping missions.  The machine is a fearsome sight to behold and just its mere presence is enough to cool simmering tempers and bring combative factions to the negotiation table.

The Ares carries a formidable arsenal of weapons to the battlefield.  Its main gun, the 90mm M552 Railgun packs a terrible punch that can cripple even the best protected MBTs with a single shot.  Its secondary weapons, the M550 20mm Heavy Gatling Gun can tear through infantry and light armor units with devastating effect.  Indeed, a single strike section (an infantry section with AFVs and an Ares) can easily take on and defeat a company of conventional infantry with even light armored support.  

To supplement the Ares the Army rifle battalion can sometimes call upon AFVs ranging from the light M-578 Jackson Fire Support Vehicle:

To the powerhouse M-40 Ridgeway MBT:

Both vehicles are armed with the formidable 90mm M552 Railgun, but offer better levels of mobility (the FSV) or armor (MBT) then the Ares.   This mixture of state-of-the-art equipment makes the US Regular Army rifle battalion a serious force to contend with on any battlefield.  Fortunately for the LRL the 1/31 Infantry only has a mere handful of these tanks and mecha.  However more have been dispatched to restock and reinforce the battalion.  

If that were only true for the Army National Guard!  Modern weapons and equipment comes with a steep cost and it would be prohibitively expensive to equip the ANG with the most modern weapons, so sadly the ANG has to make due with previous generations of combat gear.  The ANG on Liberty is organized into four rifle battalions belonging to the 57th and 45th Infantry regiments which use a very similar table of organization as the 31st Infantry.  It's the gear, and training, that separate these two organizations.

For small arms the ANG continues to soldier one with the M16A5 rifle or the M4A4 carbine. These weapons are based on the same basic design that was introduced back in the 1960s and first saw action during the Vietnam War!  This over 200 year old design continues to soldier on even today because of the soundness of its construction, its simplicity of use, and its sheer adaptability.  To support these weapons the ANG can call upon two equally antiquated designs: the M249A6 SAW and the M203A6 UGL.  Each squad of four men carries one M249 and one M203.

While this has caused something of a scandal in recent years, especially in the Filipino and Liberty press, the Pentagon has pointed out, many times, that ALL USANG units are equipped with this 'generation' of weapons and that it has been quite effective against LRL main force units.  Only the most modern LRL formations can claim to have a material advantage over the Liberty ANG troops and that these units are few and far inbetween.  Generally most ANG units only see action against Liberty insurgents and LRL regulars who are even more poorly equipped them them!

For vehicular support the ANG can call upon somewhat more modern AFVs, mostly upgraded Bradley IFVs and Abrams MBTs:

While these are also antiquated designs, they are more recent rebuilds of these classic designs and are still quite effective on the battlefields of Liberty.  Unfortunately, the LRL also has a number of these vehicles too!  As part of the 2165 Military Assistance Package to the French Union, the Liberty ANG transferred some 24 Abrams and 72 Bradley ICVs to the loyal French Union militia.  When the war ended almost half of these vehicles were turned over to the newly formed LRL despite US protest!  In fact, the LRL's 2nd Brigade brought a full company of M1s and 2-3 platoons of Bradley IFVs to support their invasion of Crossland. The use of these vehicles cause no end of confusion during the early battles and contributed to the collapse of 1/45 Infantry during the Battle of Ender's Corner.  This defeat routed the ANG's defense of northern Crossland and opened the way for the 2nd Brigade to advance on Centreville.  

As of the siege of Centreville the Liberty ANG has only a few dozen of these AFVs in operation and husbands them carefully for future use.
The final major Army formation on Liberty is the 1/26 Cavalry.  The cavalry serves as the eyes, ears, and mechanized reserve of LIBCOM and Task Force Bataan and its constant use has worn the squadron down in both manpower and in material.  However even in its reduced state the squadron is a powerful force on the battlefield.  Generally, cavalry squadrons are organized into 4 company sized troops with a tank troop and a gunship troop in support.  However the 1/26 never really reached that ideal organization.  Only 3 cavalry troops were ever organized and the tank and gunship troops never had more than two or so platoons of vehicles.  

However their impact on the battlefield has been decisive!  The 1/26's recon efforts kept LIBCOM and Task Force Bataan well informed on LRL troop movements and C Troop was instrumental in delaying 23eme RI's drive to cut off Task Force Bataan from the south.  

The Scouts of the 26th are currently being withdrawn from Crossland to regroup and reform near Liberty City.  The squadron is so badly battered that it can barely muster two full cavalry troops and a mixed platoon of tanks and gunships.  However 2-3 platoons may find themselves attached to TF Bataan to continue their scouting missions.

A standard cavalry platoon is very similar to a rifle platoon, however it only has one section of infantry.  Its second section is a mecha section (two pilots, two Apache crew, two mechanics) that operates two M-3 Valkyrie scout mecha with a Apache HUMVEE to provide support.  Occasionally other mecha ranging from the hulking Ares down to more modest Seraph and Hollander mecha may provide extra muscle to the platoon.  During the Battle of Centreville C Troop was assigned one precious Ares mecha.  However the brute simply couldn't keep up with the cav and was destroyed during a bitter firefight.  The cavalry works best with lighter units that can keep pace with its Valkyrie and Apache vehicles.  Cavalry platoons also carry a standard mix of M1A1 drones to support their operations.

In our next article we will take an in-depth look at the US Army Special Forces company that is currently operating on Liberty.

Semper Fi,  carry on. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Armies of Liberty Part 1: L'armée de la République de la Liberté

Note:  This is a repost from years ago on my old blog.  I'm pulling it over here to make sure that I keep this history of my game.  SC 2/23/2014

Some months ago I laid out my basic concept for my gaming world: Liberty colony.  I also laid out the basic factions that I would start my gaming with.  My first, and main faction, are the Colonial Marines.  I have roughly a full company of them now with an attached tank section.  But that's the thing about building miniature armies... who are they going to fight and why?

So here's the answer to that question!  It's time to meet "L'armee de la Republique de le Liberte" or the LRL:

LRL Rifle Platoon with attachments

The LRL is the standing army of the recently formed Republic of Liberty.  The republic was once a fairly important colony in the French Union.  The colony is only about 100 years old and was established to provide the citizens of the French Union,consisting mostly of metropolitan France and parts of Africa, with new lands to settle.  Its principal economic reason for existing was to explore, and exploit, the exotic flora and fauna of Liberty.  

As noted earlier, life on Liberty is pretty young when compared to life on Earth.  In fact, life has only evolved up to a point that is similar with the Carboniferous era of Earth's history.  There are only a scant handful of flowering plants and lots of moss, lichen, primitive trees, and other archaic plants.  Animal life is also very simple with insects and some reptiles being the dominant life forms.  This makes Liberty very interesting to scientists, xeno-biologists, and biochemical companies. 

"The Wild Lands Beyond" by Andre Du Ponte

This wealth of new life made Liberty colony very valuable to the French Union and the Union was very picky about allowing companies to explore and exploit Liberty's untapped resources.

                                       Police watching rioters in Nouveau Marcelles, March 2161 

This all came to a head on 2 September, 2161 when Foreign Legion units were dispatched to restore order to the colonial seat of government: Nouveau Marcelles.  The Legion used forced to clear the streets and to shut-down the colonial assembly.  Legislators and agitators were arrested and martial law was imposed.  Dozens were killed or injured during the crack down.  However the Legion's effort were for naught.  The simmering anger of the colonists soon exploded into violence. 

Riots in Nouveau Marcelles, April 2161

Protests and riots in the streets were soon replaced with IEDs, snipers, and ambushes.  The National Front for the Liberation of Liberty was formed from many factions that opposed the Union's harsh taxes and tariffs and soon these agitators were joined by hundreds of ordinary citizens who were horrified at the violence used by the Legion to restore order.  What were once mere civil disturbances became full fledged battles. 

FFL Troops in Nouveau Marcelles, 2161

For several long years the Liberty Rebellion raged in the Colony. During the war the French Union called upon the United Americas to assist with putting down the rebellion.  The UA did shut down LFLL sanctuaries in Liberty Territory, but UA never deployed troops to defeat the rebellion in Liberty Territory's sister colony.  
 Liberty SWAT "searching" for contraband 
Losses, both in terms of blood and treasure, slowly turned the French Union's citizens against the war and, with corporate pressure, they soon forced the Union to come to terms and to grant the colony independence.    

The war ended with the Peace Agreement of 2167.

The old colony became the Republic of Liberty.  By 2170 the old LFLL was reorganized into the Army of the Republic of Liberty (LRL) and was retrained to fight both symmetrical and asymmetrical wars. The scars of war were slowly healed, however the new republic soon turned a hungry eye toward its neighbor to the south...

                                           Liberty Commonwealth State Troopers blocking
                                          pro-Republic rioters from the state capital building, Liberty
                                          City, July 2179.

By 2175 the LRL was organized into a unified armed force with three principal branches:  
A.  The National Aerospace Force (Le Groupe National Aerospace)
B.  The Regular Army (L'armee de la Republique de la Liberte)
C.  The National Guard (Le Garde nationale)

The Army and National Guard have roughly 450,000 troops under arms with approximately 50,000 in the Regular Army and 400,000 in the National Guard.  

The Army is split into 10 active service field brigades each consisting of 3-6 regiments.  The Army also has numerous support regiments and companies ranging from independent artillery and air-defense/aerospace defense regiments to logistical, engineer, and transportation companies.

The basic maneuver unit in the Army is the company which generally has a command section, three rifle platoons, a heavy weapons platoon, and other attached elements necessary to complete assigned missions.  Four of these companies together with a HQ/Headquarters company and a heavy weapons company form a regiment.

Platoons are very small compared to other national armed forces.  A typical platoon has a four man command squad and four rifle squads.  Each squad has 6 men armed with whatever mixture of weapons is available. Usually a squad has a squad automatic weapon, a RPG, and four basic riflemen, one of whom in the squad leader.  The troops in the squad are split into two three man teams/cells.  One team/cell usually carries the RPG while the other carries the LMG.  Squads which are missing either weapon form one or two rifle pure teams.  The platoon command squad forms only one team with the commander and his assistant, who carries additional communications equipment, along with the platoon sergeant and his runner in.  As a general rule though many teams equip themselves with whatever weapons are available and according to the task at hand.
A motley selection of LRL armor:  US surplus M1 and M2s, French AMX-70 MBT and AMX-60 Hover APCs. 

The Army has only been able to acquire only a handful of AFVs.  The few tanks are organized into independent tank companies that are attached to the brigade.  The few military grade APCs in Liberty's motor pool are organized in a similar manner with each platoon having enough vehicles to carry a full platoon of infantry.  These companies are kept at the brigade level until assigned to a rifle unit to provide it with a lift capability.  However in real practice these mechanized units are habitually assigned to particular units, but on paper they are still independent units.  It should be noted that formal AFVs are very rare in the LRL and that most vehicles are converted civilian machines referred to as "technicals". Few of these "technicals" have more than a single heavy machine gun and some "hillbilly" armor.  In fact, these improvised AFVs are the only vehicular many infantry regiments have. 

This scattering of the few armor resources has armor officers in the Army bitterly complaining of the "penny-packing" of scarce armored forces. They are badly outnumbered by the infantry branch which sees itself as THE army and with all other branches existing ONLY to support THEM.  On the battlefield this does lead to some friction between branches and many times there is a serious lack of coordination between the various arms.

Artillery and indirect fire support is pretty scarce in the Army.  The most basic "artillery" piece is the RAM mortar which are kept at the regimental level in the heavy weapons company.  Each brigade generally has a regiment of mortars and even artillery, but these are small units with only 6-12 tubes/launchers each.  The emphasis here is to place quick fires to support the infantry and then to run "like hell" to avoid counter-battery fires.  Many artillery regiments simply use smart missiles (HIMATs are very popular) and very basic launchers to support the maneuver companies.

The National Guard is armed in a very similar manner but lack many of the heavy weapons that the Army has.  In fact, many National Guard regiments don't even have a heavy weapons company at all!  The few support weapons are usually assigned to the brigade's artillery regiment.  At best most infantry regiments have a platoon or so of mortars or HIMAT missiles leaving the rifle squads dependent on their RPGs for heavy fire support.  Crew-served heavy weapons are almost nonexistent in the National Guard as practically all of them are assigned to the Regular Army.  

Finally, the Guard and the Army have a number of independent recon companies attached to each brigade.  These companies (referred to as squadrons) are equipped with a mixture of modified civilian vehicles and light scout cars.  Their job includes normal recon duties and to provide screening and ambush forces to protect the brigade's movements and main lines of resistance.

The LRL's logistical arm is, perhaps,the force's greatest weakness.  The LRL has very little experience in moving large combat units on an operational level.  In fact, many of the logistical elements in a brigade are pooled together just to support a regiment or two in the field while the rest of the brigade waits in assembly areas for their turn to move.  Just putting 3-4 brigades into the field is an immense strain on the LRL's scant resources.  This weakness means that most of the Republic's combat forces are little more than local security and defense forces.  The National Guard has almost no ability to move at all.  If called up these brigades would probably have to confiscate hundreds of civilian vehicles just to gain some operational mobility and even with that in place most of the infantry would have to still move on foot!

The LRL is in the process of securing hundreds of additional logistical and support vehicles and forming more support/transport companies.  However events on the ground may not give the LRL the time it needs to get its logistical act together!

Tomorrow's War Liberty Republic's Regular Army
Confidence Level: High
Supply Quality Level: Low
Tech Level: 1, with some 2 (missiles, RPGs)
Grid: Yes, Tech 1
Body Armor: Tech 2, Light Body Armor
Troop Quality/Morale: Some D8/D10 Most D8/D8

Liberty Republic's National Guard
Confidence Level: Confident
Supply Quality: Low
Tech Level Overall: 1
Grid: No
Body Armor: Tech 1, Light Body Armor
Troop Quality/Morale:  Some D8/D8  Most D6/D8

Liberty Republic Regular Army (LRL)
Activation 4+ (some 3+)
Expertise 5+ (some 4+)
Armor 6+ (some 5+)

Liberty National Guard
Activation 5+ (some 4+)
Expertise 5+ 
Armor: usually none, but some 6+

Most Liberty troops are armed with standard assault rifles and use normal LMGs/SAWs.  Support weapons are usually limited to RPGs and mortars. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Using Loud Ninja Games' Chuhuac: Troop Stats and Organization

Back in 2012 I jumped in one my first Kickstarter: Eli Arndt's 15mm Space Raptors- the Chuhuac. Well, just a few days ago I finally got my new toys.  Awesome stuff and well worth the wait.  Note that all pictures here are from LNG's website.

 Chuhuac Infantry

Chuhauc Battle Suits with Herdmaster

Now I'm mostly a FUBAR player these days, so after looking through my recently gotten loot and visiting LNG's blog ( link ) I've decided on some rough stats for my Chuhuac company. I'm going to start with the infantry and then work my way to the other units, then I'll go to the vehicles.

Chuluac Infantry
Activation: 4+
Expertise: 4+
Suppress: 3
Armor: 4+
Special Abilities:
Fast- Move 6", Duck and Weave 8", Assault 8"
Shocktroops- +1 to activate with actions that allow movement.
Raptors!- +2 in close combat.
Equipment- Plasma Rifle 24" (long range) FP 3

I think that captures the essence of the Chuhuac. They are fast, hard hitting, aggressive, and fairly well protected troops. The basic raptor is a pretty tough critter to begin with, but after joining the "military" they are physically augmented to a level that makes them super human. Toss in armor and you have a pretty tough soldier to kill and a holy terror in close combat.

I'm taking the Plasma Rifle right out of the sci-fi supplement, but I'm wondering if that might be a bit over powered! I may scale them back a bit to being "laser" armed. They're really scary at any range and with an activation of 4+ they are going to get to the action, especially with the "shocktrooper" rule to keep them going!

Eli gave me a powerful hoard of the things, but I doubt that I'll ever use more than a dozen or so in my games… they're just too powerful to see in platoon + games.

Now to start thinking about the heavy weapons, battlesuits, jet bikes, and the grav APC!

Now the question comes:  How to organize them?  Here's the organization for a Chuhuac infantry company from LNG's Kickstarter.

Below is the proposed TO&E (Organization) I used to build this.
The 67 figures will be made up of the following-

1 Company Commander

1 Company Command Element (4)
1 Command Security Team (6 troopers)
2 Platoons of 28 figures each.
Each Platoon breaks down like this –

1 Platoon Command Elements (4)

4 x 6-man Squads

Code wise I believe this is:

1 CRA-004 Herdmaster (1 fig) – $1.25 USD
2 CRA-003 Command Section (4 fig but only 3 are Raptors) – $5.00 USD
5 CRA-001 Troopers (6 fig) – $6.00 USD
5 CRA-002 Leaders/Weapons (6 fig) – $6.00 USD

Not a bad deal for a roughly $50 USD pledge. Now I'm going to look at my pledge In FUBAR terms (I'm going to skip the close combats and special forces). So I'm looking at fielding:

4 mecha (power suits fielded as individual units)
3 jet bikes (maybe the whole lot is a unit)
1 company command team
3 apcs (each an individual unit- but only enough to lift a 'short' platoon of 16 troops)
12 fire teams of three troopers
2 fire teams (really short command squads) of four troops

That's 23 units in FUBAR terms! True, I could cut the infantry unit count in half by fielding full squad units, but that would be killer in FP terms if I go plasma. And yeah, it's way too much to put on the board at once in FUBAR. While I think FUBAR could probably handle it I'm not so sure that I could! But I can see myself fielding a reinforced platoon with an extra rifle squad, APCs, mecha, and the jet bikes. This force could look like this:

1 platoon command team (4 troops).
4 (or 5) rifle squads split into 3 trooper fire teams (that's 8-10 units)
1-3 APCs (if I go three then I might reduce the number of squads to make a mechanized platoon).
1 Jet Bike squad of 3 (although I think that's actually just a fire team)
1-4 Battlesuits (with each being a unit of its own).
Maybe even 1 special forces squad too!

Not a bad mix at all! I can see this force giving my Neo-Soviets and US Marines a serious run for the money. Now if only they had some sort of MBT/mecha for some extra oomph! But then again, I could stat out the battlesuits so that they can be serious tank killers in their own right. That would make sense from a Chuhuac point-of-view I think. They might balk at some sort of armored clanker of a tank that's probably too slow and too much of a target. They might prefer a smaller, swifter battlesuit carrying a tank killer plasma gun or missiles/ATGMs. I'll have to look over those battlesuit bits again and hit the LNG site ( )for more info on these guys.

Anyway, I'll post my FUBAR stats for the vehicles and other units.

Semper Fi, carry on.