This is actually the second game of the campaign that I have run, but we had a long break since the last game and the paper with the campaign results has disappeared, so we essentially started fresh again with this game.
As the “fighting season” of 2006 begins in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a storm looms on the horizon. Elements of the Taliban leadership, exiled to Pakistan, have developed an audacious plan.
Having studied the Coalition nations with a critical eye for the past several years, Mullah Dadullah Akhund has spotted a lever with which he might be able to bend - and maybe break - the fragile alliance. A new roto of Canadian soldiers is due to arrive in the spring, just as the political landscape in Canada shows an increased unwillingness to send their young men and women to die or be maimed in foreign wars. A bold, symbolic strike into the centre of the Coalition’s territory, even if it is immediately crushed and results in hundreds of dead jihadists, could be enough to break Canadian political support for the Coalition. .
With visions of a bloody Taliban flag raised above the provincial governor’s compound in Kandahar City, the “One-Legged Mullah” orders dozens of Taliban cells to begin infiltrating across the border into Afghanistan. The only thing preventing their push to Kandahar are the companies of Task Force Orion in the rural Panjwayi district.The campaign is based loosely on the events in Contact Charlie by Chris Wattie, the best book I have found for understanding Canadian operations in Afghanistan at this level.
One of the first targets of the Taliban flooding into the Panjwayi district is the local Afghan National Police. The ANP are a force of wildly mixed ability and questionable loyalty, but support and training of local forces is a key part of the ISAF's reconstruction effort. A dozen or more ANP have been killed in ambushes and attacks in the last week alone. A runner has just arrived by motorcycle from a police station on Highway One near your FOB, with news that the ANP there are under heavy Taliban attack. The Canadians of 3-1 Bravo are once again at the sharp end, tasked with relieving the station and rescuing their dubious allies.
In rules terms, the Canadians start at one end of the board and have to "secure the area" around the ANP station by neutralizing as many Taliban Hot Spots as they can. Each Hot Spot is worth 5 VP to either the Canadians or the Taliban, depending on whether it has been neutralized or if it's still active at the end of the game, and the other standard OEF victory point conditions also apply. There wasn't a turn limit, we just played until the time limit for the night.
Canadians started with two LAV-mounted infantry sections, plus a sniper team they bought with their Operational Momentum points. The Taliban starting forces and reinforcements were generated randomly via tables I created for the campaign.
Before I get into the blow-by-blow of the fight, I have to mention the photos that Martin, one of the participants, took of the battle. They show the action a lot better than my own, so check them out at his Flickr page.
|1 Section arrives along Highway 1 en route to the ANP station|
|Taliban cells materialize in the village.|
|The beleaguered ANP take cover in their station from Taliban fire.|
|Blackhawk's-eye view of the village, with the Canadian LAVs approaching down the highway towards the hidden Taliban.|
|The poor ANP morale begins to show as heavy Tailban fire from a nearby compound forces the policemen out of their positions.|
|Some of the ANP are able to rally and return to their firing positions, but not without taking some casualties.|
|More Taliban arrive in the village and begin to move out towards the Highway to intercept the cavalry.|
|Canadian LAVs push down the highway to engage the Taliban attackers. A cell of Taliban is caught out in the open of the small marketplace and pays a heavy price.|
|Canadian soldiers dismount from the LAV and press the attack. The rearmost LAV has suffered some damage from Taliban mortar shells, reducing its mobility.|
|The Taliban in the building near the ANP station have faded away to focus their efforts elsewhere, and the ANP have regrouped within the police station.|
|A Taliban cell comes out of the village to approach the Canadians from the cover of the marijuana fields.|
|More Canadians exit their LAVs to engage the Taliban in house-to-house fighting.|
|The Taliban muster in a courtyard prior to attacking the Canadians on the highway.|
|Nearby, a team of Canadians catches a group of Taliban in a courtyard and wipes them out.|
By the end of the game , the Canadians had wiped out dozens of Taliban fighters and had the remainder on the ropes. Unfortunately, they had somewhat lost sight of the mission objectives while fighting the Taliban soldiers. The Canadians and ANP had come out of the situation with just a few wounded, but the area remained a nest of Taliban activity. With all the Hot Spots still under Taliban control at the end of the game, the Taliban won a decisive victory despite their casualties.
In the campaign post-game sequence, one of the teams in 1 Section gained upgraded defence, and one of the teams in 2 Section suffered combat fatigue, resulting in degraded morale for the next game. The insurgency received no upgrade.