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Old 10-20-2008, 06:44 PM
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Default Firebases in T2K

I was looking at a book on U.S. firebases in Vietnam at the bookstore and I got to thinking. It seems like with the fluid front lines and cantonment systems of the Twilight world, that firebases would make a bit of a comeback.

What do you think?
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:58 PM
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After TDM, you bet it would. King's Ransom has one (not developed, but mentioned) outside Lordegan as Firebase Montgomery (2x 105-mm and 2x 155-mm towed howitzers). I'd bet the firebase concept is very common in Europe, Iran, and Korea. Maybe here in CONUS if you're one of those who includes the Mexican Invasion in your setting as well.
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:37 AM
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In my current campaign Major Po's unit has a Vietnam War type SF firebase attached to the 78th Division's main cantonment in New Jersey. We have quite detailed plans of its layout.
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Old 10-21-2008, 10:19 AM
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My mental image of the front line along the Oder on the Polish-German border by 2000 is a series of Vietnam-style firebases, heavy on machineguns, autocannons and dug-in partly operable tanks and AFVs providing overwatch to agricultural areas. In 2000, arable land is too precious to tie up with trenches, barbed wire and minefields, the first two of which can be defeated by operating AFVs. (Of course there would be a protective shell of barbed wire, minefields and obstacles, but it wouldn't have a lot of depth due to the need to farm every available inch).
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:14 PM
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By "firebase," shouldn't you mean a post built around artillery? That can project some firepower to support patrols. And yes, I think cantonments ought to center around some of these.
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Old 10-21-2008, 02:43 PM
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But also, what can we call fire power?

I would say a mortar would be an awsome defensive position to project the power and defenses of the base/village.

Remember, a mortar fires from behind obstacles, it is not a line of sight weapon, and it can fire in 360 degrees pretty easily really.

Imagine digging up the town square and installing one, two or three 120mm mortars in the square, they can fire for several kilometers in any direction, so, with spotters and good observation points you would be able to rain down a world of hurt on any wouldbe attacker before he gets close. Of course the skill of your crew, the FDC and the ammo supply are signifigant factors of course.

But, also, it could be done with heavy machineguns as well, firing them in the indirect fire mode, again it could be done with spotters and used to walk rounds right in on a badguy in the defilade. Of course this would work well with a antiair system with multiple guns.
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Old 10-22-2008, 01:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jester
Remember, a mortar fires from behind obstacles, it is not a line of sight weapon, and it can fire in 360 degrees pretty easily really.
Mortars can used as line of sight weapons depending on the mortar. Several posters on the old forums mentioned that they had been trained to used 60mm mortars in direct fire applications, and the Vasilek Automortar is designed to be fired in a direct fire role as well.
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Old 10-22-2008, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targan
Mortars can used as line of sight weapons depending on the mortar. Several posters on the old forums mentioned that they had been trained to used 60mm mortars in direct fire applications, and the Vasilek Automortar is designed to be fired in a direct fire role as well.
Yes I was one of those posters who said it, it can be done, but normaly they are not, which makes them cool, poor mans artillery. You can be behind 1 think, your target behind another and you can still blast them. As for line of sight, let me rephrase it, most are not a DIRECT FIRE weapon, the vasilaek being the exception.
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Old 10-22-2008, 11:44 PM
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Sorry Jest, I know you know what you're talking about (especially with mortars as I was never actually trained to use them). I was really only being pedantic for newcomers to our group and for people who have no military experience.

I learn something new every week reading posts on this forum and the old one.
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Old 10-23-2008, 09:28 AM
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I like your idea about firebases but I think they have a weakness if I'm correct. If facing a fairly strong force they can be isolated and easily wiped out. That's what happened to the French at Dien Bien Fu. They were using firebases but as they had insufficient transport to evacuate or move around, they had to surrender.

U.S. better air power made them much more efficient in Vietnam. General Wingate's experience with the Chindits is also very interesting. I think he is the guy who thought of them in the first place.
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mohoender
I like your idea about firebases but I think they have a weakness if I'm correct. If facing a fairly strong force they can be isolated and easily wiped out. That's what happened to the French at Dien Bien Fu. They were using firebases but as they had insufficient transport to evacuate or move around, they had to surrender.
DBP was one (really big) firebase, too far from any others for mutual support. It was also at a terrain disadvantage, which further isolated it.
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Old 10-23-2008, 08:57 PM
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Firebases:

I think it would get Fuedal real quick.

Place your village on highgrounds with sharpened stakes and berms as defenses, if it were me, I would flood the fields immediatly around the village and use them to grow rice or a combination of crayfish or carp as well.

One thing to consider, you could probably only control the area for wich your weapons have effective range.

Imagine the PCs strolling down the road and they see a circular pattern of cultivated land extended about 1200m from the village on the hill, but it stops suddenly.

As for Dien bien Phu;

Was it DeCastris or the general in charge of Indo China who made the same boast that Goering did with Stalingrad. They promised delivery of supplies they couldn't manage.

Plus, the fortifications were not completed EVER.

It was a series of Fire Bases ringing the valley, the main base and airstrip were on the valley floor and a poorly selected area really. It flooded to knee deep water in the monsoon season. And they placed outposts or firebases that ranged from Company to Battallion sized elements, the only problem was the rain, the problem getting building material in to fortifiy the place, basic supplises, the weather. And, they had mountains overlooking the base which allowed for plunging fire and fire that gunners could visualy observe their rounds. Further, it forced the pilots for landing and extraction as well as for parachute resupply to run a guantlet of anti air fire at eye level and sometimes even firing down on the planes as they circled to either land or drop their parachutes within the ever shrinkin perimeter.

Weather, flooding of the fortifications, this also grounded aircraft and lessened the effectiveness of fire from airsupport and artillery rounds.

Artillery: Viet Minhn could see the effectiveness of their fire and adjust if it wasn't. The French Union forces could not.

And of course a good number of colonial French Union Forces also defected and deserted as well.

And of course the lack of supply and propper shelter also had a great effect on the outcome.

I was planning on a campaign around Dien Bien Phu a couple years ago, I even got a few character ideas submitted. Its tempting to get it going again.
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Old 10-24-2008, 03:27 AM
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Dien Bien Phu;

Also, as Jester has said, De Castres didn't think the Viet Minh could bring up heavy artillery, and the entire site was based around this premise.

However, at an unknown human cost, Giap man packed soviet 122mm howitzers through the forest to bombard the base. The French 105mm howitzers, a good gun but designed to be the upper limit of air-mobility, couldn't answer to the range or weight of shell and the Viet Minh counter-battery fire destroyed the base.

De Castres and the French command made several major mistakes that PCs could use to reduce other firebases, I'll summarise everyone's points here for a list;
  • Inability of supply
  • Vantage points outside the reach of the base's weapons
  • Under estimation of the enemy
  • Base too large to defend
  • Base that once the perimeter is penetrated has no fall back line
  • Lack of aggressive patrolling
  • Lack of a rapid reaction force
  • Inability to move reserves across base to recapture strong points

Of course, making these things happen is better than just hoping they're there. Giap constrained movement with his guns. Supply can be cut of and attacks made on siege caches. The opponent can be invited to underestimate the threat and to expand to deny points that thins his troops.

Vietnam really suffered due to the armoured enclave mentality. It is estimated that 80% of the troops in theatre were need to man and secure the bases, leaving very little for combat tasks. This underlies the absolute necessity in securing the zone so troops can move about.

This is the real fight I see occurring in T2k. If an area has insufficient troops to man a continuous trench line, and many places will (I see trenches mainly happening on the Oder and Rhine lines in a v1 campaign) there will be isolated strong points surrounded by an artillery zone. In the no-man's land between artillery zones the troops fight each other, trying to secure choke points, attack movement and deny resources.

Attacks on cantons will be spoiling in nature. Crops can be attacked with chemical weapons which damage the ground and make the food inedible. Patrols will be ambushed and then the attackers withdraw before the base fire can be directed onto them. Harassing fire from mobile weapons such as mortars, SPGs and technicals can be directed onto bases and then moved before retaliation to keep base defenders on edge and tired. Some of these attacks may be sufficient to get some cantons to just move somewhere quieter.
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Old 10-24-2008, 03:31 AM
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Definitely agree. You have gone into depth with this .
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jester
Firebases:

I think it would get Fuedal real quick.

Place your village on highgrounds with sharpened stakes and berms as defenses, if it were me, I would flood the fields immediatly around the village and use them to grow rice or a combination of crayfish or carp as well.

One thing to consider, you could probably only control the area for wich your weapons have effective range.

Imagine the PCs strolling down the road and they see a circular pattern of cultivated land extended about 1200m from the village on the hill, but it stops suddenly.

As for Dien bien Phu;

Was it DeCastris or the general in charge of Indo China who made the same boast that Goering did with Stalingrad. They promised delivery of supplies they couldn't manage.

Plus, the fortifications were not completed EVER.

It was a series of Fire Bases ringing the valley, the main base and airstrip were on the valley floor and a poorly selected area really. It flooded to knee deep water in the monsoon season. And they placed outposts or firebases that ranged from Company to Battallion sized elements, the only problem was the rain, the problem getting building material in to fortifiy the place, basic supplises, the weather. And, they had mountains overlooking the base which allowed for plunging fire and fire that gunners could visualy observe their rounds. Further, it forced the pilots for landing and extraction as well as for parachute resupply to run a guantlet of anti air fire at eye level and sometimes even firing down on the planes as they circled to either land or drop their parachutes within the ever shrinkin perimeter.

Weather, flooding of the fortifications, this also grounded aircraft and lessened the effectiveness of fire from airsupport and artillery rounds.

Artillery: Viet Minhn could see the effectiveness of their fire and adjust if it wasn't. The French Union forces could not.

And of course a good number of colonial French Union Forces also defected and deserted as well.

And of course the lack of supply and propper shelter also had a great effect on the outcome.

I was planning on a campaign around Dien Bien Phu a couple years ago, I even got a few character ideas submitted. Its tempting to get it going again.

I think the breakdown of law and command and the increase in importance of holding areas for farmland and food/fuel/goods etc would mean a shift towards neo-feudalism ( catchy ,ey?) .

Of course having command would run in families/within groups of friends etc -now that trust is the only thing holding units together.

Our campaign rely on this thesis as far asdescribing the socioploitical enviroment in most places . (Not all though )
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Old 10-24-2008, 07:02 PM
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In Vietnam, there was quite a bit of variation in how firebases were manned and operated. Some were relatively small, designed for a single battery of 105 or 155mm guns. Some were larger, with multiple batteries and many firebases had infantry companies attached to perform base security. Firebases were sometimes used as patrol bases for more active area denial- not just for leg infantry patrols, but for mechanized patrols (sometimes with tanks in support) as well. In these cases, when not on patrol, armor was incorporated into the base defenses. I see T2K firebases as falling into this latter category of more dynamic, flexible, active area denial type facilities as opposed to just artillery parks.

Since, as Chalk pointed out, armies in T2K wouldn't have the manpower to defend a continuous front (at least not in depth), firebases would surround high value strategic areas near the FOB- productive agricultural and industrial areas, for example. Firebases would be cited at intervals around the cantonment, with OPs, thin screens, and patrols covering the gaps. The firebases would be manned by infantry and artillery units, well equiped with AT weapons. An operational reserve of heavy mobile units (i.e. the division's surviving tanks and IFVs) would be located centrally and available to act as a reaction force should any link in the chain be threatened.

I think that in many cases the zones between cantonments would largely be ceded to the enemy since those areas would be unable to support military operations. So, major operations would revolve around the attack or defense of the cantonment areas themselves, since those are the areas that can support life. I mean, how else could the U.S. 5th ID have covered all of that ground largely unnoposed in the lead up to the "Death of a Division" scenario unless is was travelling through large, thinly defended gaps between major cantonment areas?
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Old 10-24-2008, 08:08 PM
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To add to what Rae has said, I'd like to point out that this is the perfect job for PCs to undertake when they finally reach allied lines.

The local commander sees that they are a homogeneous unit and gives them an official classification, such as '22nd Redoubt Company' or whatever. A strong terrain feature is allocated to them and they are ordered to go there, recon it and identify threats, strategic and tactical features, resources and anything else. Then they are given intel where likely sources of defensive equipment may be located. New PCs can come in as drafts of personnel from the parent unit, and some forms of divisional or battalion support might be available.

Better yet, the division will have secured a rear area territory of importance; possibly a civilian urban or manufacturing centre. This makes an ideal town environment for the PCs to kick back, wheel and deal and get into fist fights with other units, all under the watching eye of MPs with the threat of a night in the guard house waiting. A definite worthy addition to a campaign as a change of pace. Disease can make the place off limits if the GM feels it detracts from the feel of the game.

The GM should map out a grand strategy for the unit, incorporate it into the regional strategy that does need to be as detailed as well as an OPFOR strategy. These two strategies can ebb and flow, providing a living back ground of reverses and victories that the PCs can partake in beyond their own local concerns.

ChalkLine likes firebases
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Old 10-24-2008, 09:25 PM
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Excellent ideas, Chalk.

The scenario you presented offers players a degree of autonomy while still incorporating them into the bigger picture.

I just watched a segment on 60 Minutes (an American TV "news magazine") about a company of soldiers from the 101st Airborne operating out of a remote FOB in Afghanistan. It was a really cool segment with some pretty suspenseful firefight footage (soldiers were advancing towards the enemy through a cornfield where the stalks were six feet tall. They'd walk out of one field into a wide open patch and another field would be standing like a solid wall fifty meters ahead). Anyway, this sort of thing would be what PCs would be asked to do as the patrol/recon element for a company or battalion sized firebase.

They could also perform civil affairs ops among the locals on the outskirts of the FB, execute ambushes on enemy patrols, go on anti-marauder sweeps, defend the FB from enemy assaults, act as FOs for the FB artillery, recon disputed/enemy territory, etc. The are lots of possibilities.

It seems like many Poland-based campaigns end (or head back to the states) as soon as the PCs return to friendly territory. Attaching the party to a NATO cantonment's FF or FOB would allow the PCs to stay and provide the GM with plenty of fodder for a continued Poland (or E. Germany) based campaign.
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Old 10-25-2008, 04:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus
I mean, how else could the U.S. 5th ID have covered all of that ground largely unnoposed in the lead up to the "Death of a Division" scenario unless is was travelling through large, thinly defended gaps between major cantonment areas?
Actually I think that would be because of the concentrated strength the 5th ID represented. By 2000 during the Twilight War there would be major differences between units which have adopted a cantonment posture (with manpower and hardware spread relatively thin in an attempt to hold territory and maintain security within the cantonment AO) and units which have been earmarked for major offensive operations like the NATO drive into Poland in the summer of 2000. The 5th ID may have moved through the territories of a number of fairly sizeable WarPac units as it pushed deep into Poland but as those WarPac units would have been in "cantonment mode" and the 5th ID was arrayed specifically for offensive operations with the fuel, ammo, manpower and concentrated fighting hardware to make it happen it would have been suicidal for the WarPac units to have attempted to engage the 5th ID in battle. I expect the WarPac units in the 5th ID's line of march kept a low profile and let them pass relatively unhindered, all the while using recon elements to determine the strength and likely objectives of the NATO forces and keep tabs on them as they went. The WarPac units in cantonment would then have sent word back to Reserve Front HQ at Lublin about the NATO forces moving east, and commenced a realignment of their force dispositions to a maneuver and battle posture. That way when the up to strength Soviet tank and motorist rifle divisions assembled at Lublin launched their counter offensive the 5th ID would find it very much harder to withdraw west back along their line of advance, and would be trapped and crushed hammer-and-anvil style.
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Old 10-25-2008, 01:10 PM
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Per Chalkie's idea of a rear area. I wrote a campaign though never played where the PCs after making it to freindly lines were allowed to a recreation and relaxation area. An entire town had been converted to that purpose. Where they could eat, sleep in a real bed in one of the converted houses and hotels, eat at any number of restrains, sports fields, pools, theaters librarys and even a USO and post office to write letters and have them sent to the central collection point where one day they may be shipped home and delivered.

There was even a store where they could buy, sell and barter. And of course a black market.

There were however some rules. NO WEAPONS only officers and Senior Staff NCO's where allowed them. There were local police and MPs from every major force in the region.

I loved the idea since it would allow the PCs to do as Chalk said get into trouble but more in a good natured way.

That reminds me, why does the campaign have to be centered soley around combat? I know when we played T2K and D&D we always had some good natured fights in the taverns and bars and among other units and groups that was secondary to the main mission. We also did this several times while waiting for the fleet to take us home at Bremerhaven.

And then I have mentioned my idea of a Tavern or Roadhouse or Inn on this group, the old group and the yahoo one. A Inn of sorts in the wilderness that is left alone and considered a nuetral area by both sides, although it gets tense at times. But hey it must be nice to go to a bar, see a Russian and not have to worry about having him run you over with his tank. Besides its a high priority intelligence position used by both sides who don't want to loose it. <And a good deal of blackmarketeering as well>
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Old 10-25-2008, 01:44 PM
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Targan, I think we're on the same page. You pretty much make my point for me. As I mentioned and you echoes, if a large unit is not attacking the focal point of the cantonment, instead skirting its edges, it would probably be allowed to pass with little opposition other than harassment, ambushes of follow up units, and that sort of thing.

But, a corps or army level mobile reserve would be alerted to respond. Eventually, the attacking unit, having penetrated deep into enemy territory, would be stuck between a rock and a hard place. That's what seems to have happened in the "Death of a Division" scenario.

Jester, I agree that half the fun of an RPG is the RPing part. A rear area tavern or supply dump, or whatever would be a good place for non-combat interaction. Unfortunately, in my PbP group, and in others in which I've played, it seems that many players get bored and stop posting when the shooting stops. It's a real shame, IMO.
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Old 10-25-2008, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jester
Per Chalkie's idea of a rear area. I wrote a campaign though never played where the PCs after making it to freindly lines were allowed to a recreation and relaxation area.
I wrote a short story set in Bremerhaven in November of 2000 and based on events involving Major Po's unit. That period in my campaign was certainly a change of pace, the PCs' usual rates of killing and miscellaneous atrocities declined sharply. The weeks the PCs were in Krakow was a similarly subdued interlude, until the hunger for slaughter and mahem overcame Po's warband and they departed Krakow in a hail of heavy ordnance.

Quote:
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That reminds me, why does the campaign have to be centered soley around combat? I know when we played T2K and D&D we always had some good natured fights in the taverns and bars and among other units and groups that was secondary to the main mission. We also did this several times while waiting for the fleet to take us home at Bremerhaven.
Coincidentally the main focus of my short story was the All US Services martial arts tournament initiated by Po in Bremerhaven ostensibly as an entertaining distraction for the tens of thousands of US troops waiting to be evacuated by TF 34. Unsurprisingly the tournament ended with a full scale riot and was the catalyst for a number of deaths including one of Po's men and hundreds of serious injuries including to Po who was knocked unconscious by his female USAF security dog handler opponent during his tournament bout and left with fairly serious facial injuries. He recruited the dog handler a few days later and she has been a prominent NPC member of his unit ever since.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jester
And then I have mentioned my idea of a Tavern or Roadhouse or Inn on this group, the old group and the yahoo one. An inn of sorts in the wilderness that is left alone and considered a neutral area by both sides, although it gets tense at times. But hey it must be nice to go to a bar, see a Russian and not have to worry about having him run you over with his tank. Besides its a high priority intelligence position used by both sides who don't want to loose it. <And a good deal of blackmarketeering as well>
The Na Zdrowie in Krakow as described in the module The Free City of Krakow is just such a place. Of course if I was running such an establishment I'd come up with a funkier name, The Nuclear Fish Inn or something like that.
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