The Polar Bears

The Polar Bears
4th Battalion, 31st Infantry

Sunday, October 30, 2011

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

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 recentally 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.

While some companies benefited from this oversight, many more were left out in the cold.  In addition, the French Union saw the need to impose a heavy tax burden on the new colony to pay for the Union's expensive social programs and to repay the start-up costs for establishing the colony.  For many new colonists, this tax rate exceeded 50% of all earnings!  Worse still, the Union imposed heavy tariffs on imports making the cost of off-world goods prohibitively expensive.  

Liberty's representatives to the Union's Senate tried everything in their power to oppose these taxes and tariffs but were shouted down.  The colonist's concerns quickly turned to anger and led to street protests, strikes, and refusals to purchase Union supported goods.  

                                       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 showing the "colors"
Nouveau Marcelles, September 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
                                          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 man teams with two "weapons" teams and a single rifle/security team.  The platoon command squad has two teams with the commander and his assistant, who carries additional communications equipment, in one team and the platoon sergeant and his runner in the other.  As a general rule though many teams equip themselves with whatever weapons are available and according to the task at hand.

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.

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 pratically 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!

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

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Strike Against Bongolesia: Part 2

     The battle is over. It was a mixed success for the Colonial Marines, but it was an overwhelming success for me in that it was my first game of Ambush Alley's "Tomorrow's War" sci-fi rules.

     Here's how it went down.

The set-up:



     The assault force moved in on P'hat Daddee's "palace" and immediatly came under heavy fire from a merc squad and the old MICV. The Marine tank zeroed in on the old Bradley and toasted it in two shots.

     However P'hatt Daddee's mercs were motivated to ever great heights of bravery! After two turns of heavy firing the brave mercs were wiped out, but they managed to score a mobility kill on the marine tank and a hard kill on an apc full of marines. Two CMs were killed and two others wounded! It was looking grim for the marines!

A lucky RPG hit scores a mobility kill on the tank

Another lucky hit took out my APC that was carrying a full section!

     However lady luck smiled on the marines. They received the iniative three turns running and were able to wipe out scrappy mercs with effective fires.

Sadly, Daddee's technicals were little more than target practice for the surviving M577. The remaining marines took up over watching positions near the palace and engaged the remaining mercs and P'hat Daddee's security detail in a blistering fire fight.  Another lucky RPG hit disabled Gunney Anderson's APC and forced him and 3d squad to take up positions in a building across the street from P'hat Daddee's HQ.

Gunny Anderson's squad

P'hat Daddee and his ladies foolishly opened fire (with SMGs) on Gunny Anderson's 3d Squad and were cut down in a devastating return fire.  At that point I just knew that I had HIM!

     But… it wasn't to be! A pair of brave mercs grabbed him and pulled him to safety!!! And that was when my marines got a good look at P'hatt Daddee… IT WASN'T HIM!!! Apparently what my marines found was a body double!!!

     Apparently the real P'hatt Daddee was long gone (a captured merc confirmed this) and he left this double to cover his withdrawl! Clever B$%^$%$Dd!!!

     As an aside note: Gunny Anderson's squad searched the building that they were in and made a startling discovery.  Apparently Ms. Britney Spears had been in their building sometime earlier and left a pair of her undies in the building.  Sgt Anderson immediately ordered his marines to MOPP 3 and called in a HAZMAT team to clear the building.  At this time none of the marines have suffered any ill effects from exposure.  However MAU biowarfare specialists have ordered 3d Squad and Gunny Anderson into quarantine for at least 72 hours and all of their gear has been "spaced" in order to prevent the spread of any biowarfare agents.  Finally, despite threats to the otherwise, the marine strike team made no contact with Bongolesian youths or "vital bodily fluids". 

     This incident is currently under investigation by the Judge Advocate General's office and the Weyland-Yutani Bio-Warfare Division to determine if Ms. Spears undies are indeed weapons-grade biological material.  Findings will be forwarded to the ICC and to the United Americas to determine if this is, indeed, a criminal use of biological weapons.  Otherwise these panties will be for sale on Ebay within a week!!!

     The butcher's bill was high… two marines were dead and one was critically wounded. Also one M577 was damaged along with a tank, while the other M577 was destroyed. Enemy losses were very heavy, but their RPGs took a heavy toll.
     It was a really fun game and it was a serious nail-biter at the end!  Great fun for a birthday game with my boys.  Now I must pull my marines back to orbit, lick my wounds, and rethink my strategy.  I may have bitten off more than I can chew!

Semper-fi, carry on.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My strike against Bongolesia

Hi All,

  So today is my birthday, and apparently it is also Bongolesia's Independence Day as well:

  Sorry, today can only be open for one and I claimed it first!  So I decided to launch an unprovoked strike against P'hat Daddee to show him the error of his ways.  Here are some early intel pictures that set the table for today's strike against Bongolesia.  Hopefully my photographic skills have improved some over the last few months!

P'hat Daddee's personal security detail at location Xanadu North, 22 October 2180.

 USCMC Strike Team Delta: 1st Platoon, Able Company, 1/9 Marines

Drone recce picture of "palace" facility code named Xanadu North. 22 October 2281.

Detailed close-up of P'hat Daddee and personal guard detachment approaching HQ building of Xanadu North.

Close-up confirming P'hat Daddee personal guard detachment.  Note the APC transports near CP.  Intel believed that P'hat was preparing to attend the Brittney Spears concert scheduled at 1800 hours GMT.  He was in the HQ building to change clothes and to attend to "personal business" prior to attending to the concert. 

Imagery from the strike coming soon.

Semper Fi, carry on.