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Old 02-04-2011, 09:22 PM
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Default U.S. Marines on the Baltic: Task Force Inchon

What follows is the macro backstory for a classic T2K campaign that I'd like to run someday. I thought it might be of interest to some of you, especially my take on 3rd German Army's Summer 2000 offensive, its sudden cancellation, and the general withdrawal that followed.

I've done my best to conform to canon, matching up the dates of key events in my narrative with the dates given in the original T2K's Death of A Division. The major deviation from canon is the participation of Soviet 9th Guards Tank Army in the PACT counteroffensive against U.S. XI Corps. In canon [v1.0 Soviet Vehicle Guide], the 9th GTA is placed in western Belorussia in the summer of 2000. In my mind, however, it's appearance in NW Poland does much to explain the failure of German 3rd Amry's summer offensive and the subsequent operational and strategic situation in NW Poland as it stands in the [canon] winter of 2000.

The section on Operation Limerick sets up a classic, Escape from Kalisz style scenario, only this one substitutes the small Baltic city of Elblag for Kalisz, and a [reinforced battalion-sized] Marine Task Force for the 5th ID.

This is a first draft, and constructive feedback is welcome. I especially need input on the composition of Task Force Inchon (particularly the engineer and maintenance units). I'd prefer that you not use this thread to comment on the probabiltiy of 9th GTA's inclusion, as it's central to my vision of events.

I'll begin with a very short missive on the state of the T2K U.S. Marine Corps in the year 2000.


The U.S. Marine Corps in 2000

The U.S. Marine Corps of the year 2000 is a mere shadow of its near legendary pre-war self. Although most current Marine officers and NCOs are members of the veteran "Old Breed"- pre-war volunteers or stateside-trained, early war draftees- many of them began the war as REMFs, working crucial but largely non-combat jobs "in the rear with the gear", or serving in the now nearly non-existent Marine aviation units. Over one third of all other junior enlisted Marine infantry are beached seamen (or, less commonly, grounded airmen), hastily trained in Europe and injected into Marine combat units as late-war replacements. Despite its weakened state, the Marine Corps of 2000 somehow manages to maintain its espirit-de-corps and continues to be a formidable fighting force.

-Raellus
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:23 PM
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German 3rd Army's Summer 2000 Offensive- XI Corps

In mid June of 2000, U.S. XI Corps, subordinated to German 3rd Army, launched an ambitious offensive against Pact forces in northwestern Poland. The offensive had two primary objectives objectives, one of which being the isolation and destruction of Polish 1st Army. To achieve this end, U.S. 50th Armored and 8th Mechanized Infantry divisions would attack east towards Gdansk from their cantonments around Kozsalin, while the bulk of 2nd Marine Division would conduct an amphibious assault just east of Gdansk. From its beachheads east of Gdansk, 2nd MarDiv's main force would attack west and link up with 50th AD and 8th ID to complete the encirclement of Polish 1st Army.

With the U.S. 116th ACR screening their southern flank, 50th Armored and 2nd Marines, along with the Canadian 4th Mechanized Brigade, would then begin reducing the Polish 1st Army pocket, while 8th Mechanized would continue east on a deep penetration raid along the Baltic coast towards Kaliningrad, USSR. A [reinforced battalion] Marine task force (Task Force Inchon) would land further east near Elblag and secure the main highway bridge over the Elblag canal and the small city's major highway interchange in advance of the arrival of the Eight Ball Division.

Meanwhile, the U.S. 5th Mechanized Infantry division would launch its own deep raid from its jumping-off area near Chojnice, thrusting south towards Torun to wreak havoc in Soviet 1st Western Front's rear areas, while German III Corps attacked the PACT forces frontally from its cantonments around Stargard Sczcecinski.

German 3rd Army's summer offensive made stunning early progress, with the successful isolation of Polish 1st Army*, the nearly bloodless capture of Elblag, and deep, nearly unopposed drives into PACT territory by both 5th and 8th Mechanized Infantry divisions. This success was not to last. The rails started to come off in mid July with the unexpected appearance of the gasoline-fueled Soviet 4th Guards Army in the 5th ID's area of operations near Lodz. The 5th ID's dramatic final destruction by elements of the 4th GTA during the Battle of Kalisz on July 17th coincided with the encirclement of Task Force Inchon in Elblag, and strong attacks in the Gdansk region by the Soviet 9th Guards Tank Army. An attack by surviving elements of the Soviet Baltic Fleet (by summer 2000, a fleet in name only) managed to destory or damage several of the amphibious assault vessels supporting the 2nd MarDiv, including a crippling torpedo strike on the U.S. Tarawa. These sudden, strong attacks pushed the U.S. 2nd MarDiv and 5oth AD west and severed their direct links with U.S. 8th ID and the dwindling Marine Task Force doggedly holding Elblag.

The unexpected appearance of two powerful, gasoline-fueled Soviet Guards Tank Armies and the sharp reversals that they delivered prompted the premature cessation of 3rd German Army's summer offensive and sparked a general withdrawal back to its starting positions. Early reports indicated that U.S. 5th ID had been completely destroyed and the incommunicado 8th ID initially thought to be so, while several smaller XI Corps units were cut off behind PACT lines and left to fight for their lives.

*An underwater commando attack by U.S. Navy SEALs and German KSK frogmen succeeded in neutralizing the remains of the Polish Navy at its moorings in Nowy Gdynia harbor.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:24 PM
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Operation Limerick

Task force Inchon was landed northwest of Elblag during the morning of June 22nd by two former East German navy Frosch I class landing ships and the Type 520 Barbe class ULC Flunder (Flounder), assisted by a pair of armed minesweepers (one German, one American) modified to carry troops. Naval gunfire support was provided the U.S.N. Knox class frigate, Truett, the West German Hamburg/Type 101 class guided-missile destroyer, Bayern, and another pair of German minesweepers optimized for use as light gunboats/sub-chasers. The landing beaches were scouted in advance by elements of 1st Platoon, A Company, 2nd Force Recon, which also conducted terrain and force-oriented [distant] reconnaissance patrols several kilometers inland of the landing areas. They identified several minefields on the beaches and marked them for removal by follow up UDTs, but encountered no significant enemy ground forces in the landing area or on the road to Elblag.

The landing itself was unopposed and the majority of the task force was safely ashore and heading towards its primary objectives by noon. A Company, 2nd LAR/LAI Battalion ("Wolfpack"), was tasked with the coup-de-main of seizing the highway bridge over the Elblag canal and the highway interchange on the city's southeastern outskirts. This they completed without a hitch. The tiny, poorly armed Elblag militia, led by a former ZOMO officer, decided not to resist. Anecdotal evidence and recently declassified documents strongly suggest that the militia commander may have been on the payroll of the DIA prior to Operation Limerick.

After a long road march, the rifle companies of 2nd Battalion ("Warlords"), 2nd Marine Regiment ("Tarawa") linked up with A Company, 2nd LAI and began fanning out to seize their objectives in and around Elblag. 1st Platoon, A Company, 2nd Force Recon, now operating in a direct action capacity, seized a couple of key government and military sites in the city.

As night fell on June 22nd, Task Force Inchon began to prepare its defenses and push out clearing patrols while it settled in to await the arrival of the U.S. 8th Mechanized Infantry Division ("8-Ball"). Strong enemy counterattacks from the vicinity of Malbork were expected within 24 hours of the landing, but aside from near-daily probes by light Polish cavalry units starting on June 23rd, significant enemy attacks failed to materialize. The lead elements of 8th ID arrived at the Elblag crossroads on July 2nd, a couple of days behind schedule. The main body of the division began arriving in dribs and drabs shortly thereafter. By July 4th, the bulk of the 8th ID had encamped on the outskirts of Elblag. For three more days, the 8th ID remained at Elblag, awaiting stragglers, performing much-needed vehicle maintenance, and brewing fuel for the next phase of its advance. On July 7th, the 8-Ball division decamped and struck out east, leaving behind several unrepaired vehicles and a few of its more seriously wounded.

Soviet Attack and Encirclement

On July 11th, Task Force Inchon patrols began to encounter Soviet light armored reconnaissance forces pushing towards Elblag from the southeast. Initial long-range encounters with these enemy units favored the LAV-25s of the Wolfpack. Soon, however Marine, pickets were confronted by Soviet armor and infantry in numbers that no one at Division or Corps headquarters had expected.

On July 13th, Task Force Inchon's forward outposts had been pushed back to the highway interchange on the southeastern outskirts the city by heavy, persistent, combined-arms attacks. The highway interchange was defended by the dug-in A Company, 2nd LAR/LAI Battalion, Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, and an anti-tank section of the Battalion's weapons company. The ensuing battle for the crossroads was a brutal affair, lasting the rest of the afternoon, during which both sides suffered heavy casualties. The sheer weight of the Soviet attacks, especially the marked superiority of their artillery and armored firepower, soon decided the contest, but the attackers paid dearly for their prize. After nightfall, the battered remnants of the Marine defenders, having lost nearly all of their LAVs at the crossroads, withdrew to their fall-back positions in the southern outskirts of the city proper, while strong Soviet mechanized units rushed east and northeast to cut the Marine in Elblag off from escape and/or outside assistance. Field interrogations of enemy soldiers captured during the battle for the crossroads revealed that Task Force Inchon was facing the Soviet 3rd Motor Rifle Division (MRD). SIGINT indicated that elements of the Soviet 1st Guards Motor Rifle Division (GMRD) and 138rd MRD were also involved in the developing counteroffensive, pressing on through the newly-captured crossroads and heading west to meet the rearguard of the U.S. 2nd Marine Division around Gdansk. None of these Red Army units were supposed to be anywhere near Elblag (at last accounting, Soviet 9th GTA was reported to be in western Belorussia). Ground truth belied bad intelligence. Task Force Inchon had just met the Soviet 9th Guards Tank Army. The short and bloody siege of Elblag had begun.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:29 PM
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Task Force Inchon

2nd Battalion ("Warlords"), 2nd Marine Regiment ("Tarawa")- E, F, G, & Weapons Companies

DRP Platoon, Delta Company, 2nd Recon Battalion, Division Recon OR 1st

Platoon, A Company, 2nd Force Recon

A Company, 2nd LAR/LAI Battalion ("Wolfpack")

Platoon of combat engineers

Vehicle maintenance platoon
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Old 02-05-2011, 12:51 AM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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Interesting ground work, that could be used to play characters of the 2nd Marine Division or part of explaining where the 8th Mechanized and how it passed through the region.
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:40 AM
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Very good and expands nicely on canon.
Two small points to consider though. Elblag was levelled in the war, probably by nukes due to it's speciality in heavy machinery and position as a transportation hub. This isn't to say it wouldn't still have been important to the 8th ID as a crossing point, but nobody would want to hang around in the ruins very long (the Marines could set up somewhere in the outskirts rather than heart of the city).

Given the damage to the city, it might be argued that a bridging unit is attached to the marines? This would allow the 8th to still cross (as they had to in this area given there's a swamp to the south and Pact units to the other side of that), while also minimising the need for significant defensive forces to be stationed in the city (bridges downed). Something like truck carried Bailey bridges would suffice I'd think, removing the need to add more armoured vehicles to the mix (M-60 AVLB for example). The bridge components could even have been fabricated by XI Corp engineers in the months leading up to the operation for just that purpose (if there weren't any already on hand).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bailey_bridge
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:28 AM
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Elblag was levelled in the war, probably by nukes due to it's speciality in heavy machinery and position as a transportation hub.
Hm. It does show the city as being rubbled on the Poland map in the BYB. Damn. I should have checked that FIRST.

Is it on the nuclear hit list?

If not, I think the scenario is still viable. The city will be badly damaged by earlier conventional fighting, but certain areas will still be standing and some rebuilding will have taken place in the last couple of years. It seems like a good spot to live in that it has easy access to the sea (fish) and is surrounded by agricultural land.

I was thinking about adding a bridging unit. If the city's been smashed up, it likely that the bridge over the Elblag canal is either down or damaged so much so that heavy MBTs like the M1 wouldn't be able to cross. That would also give Corps more motivation to seize the remains of the city and repair/replace the bridge in order to speed the passage of 8th ID.

I will add B Company Bridge, 6th Engineer Support Battalion to the OOB.
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Old 02-05-2011, 02:28 PM
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I like it.
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:15 PM
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The V1 map (in the original box) shows the city as nothing but rubble and the name in (brackets). I take this to mean it's a pile of rubble and a city in name only.
Quote:
Many settlements on the map are marked as being in ruins. These settlements were destroyed in the nuclear exchange or were devastated by the conventional fighting back and forth across Poland. These ruins are seldom, if ever, totally uninhabited. Small groups of a dozen or so people may still be combing the ruins, living off (increasingly scarce) stocks of canned food discovered in the ruins. Bands of marauders may be camped in the ruins. In major cities, small communities may scrape a meager subsistence by cultivating the former municipal parks. Almost any sort of encounter is possible in the ruins of a city.
My thoughts are the city was indeed nuked (it's position and industry alone are reason enough), but is lightly inhabited. The situation is likely to be similar to that in Warsaw, although on a smaller scale (maybe a few hundred scavengers total scattered through the ruins, all roads and railways destroyed / covered by rubble, etc).

You may not need to add B Coy to the OOB. The combat engineers plus mechanics could potentially supply enough manpower, with a few more warm bodies drawn from the combat units. The combat engineers should have the technical knowledge, and would probably have trained specifically for the task beforehand. Regardless, there'd be little need for a specialist engineer unit to hang about once the bridge(s) is complete.

With the destruction of the city, and blockage of roads, it might be worth adding a bulldozer to the OOB, operated by the Combat Engineers. A civilian model, scrounged up before the operation would do, and not add another armoured vehicle to the mix. It would also be useful in constructing defensive positions, while the fuel held out and after the necessary roads were cleared.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:04 PM
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I like it.
Thanks, Admiral. I'm glad that you like it.

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My thoughts are the city was indeed nuked (it's position and industry alone are reason enough), but is lightly inhabited. The situation is likely to be similar to that in Warsaw, although on a smaller scale (maybe a few hundred scavengers total scattered through the ruins, all roads and railways destroyed / covered by rubble, etc).
You very well may be right. I'm going to choose to follow another tack, though. The city is small enough that conventional fighting may have had much the same effect. I figure NATO and PACT armies must have passed through Elblag at least a couple of times, pretty well wrecking it in the process.

As for engineers vs. a dedicated bridging unit, you're probably right there as well. There probably aren't many dedicating bridging units in 2000. Most such units were probably folded into regular combat engineer units, which must have suffered greater proportional attrition. With the manpower shortages of 2000, it makes more sense to keep generalist units that can do more with less instead of specialized units that have very limited operational capabilities.
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Old 02-06-2011, 03:16 PM
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Nukes seem more likely as we know NATO implemented a "Scorched Earth" policy in their 1997 retreat unsing tactical nukes and demolition nukes (Częstochowa).
Much quicker, effective and economical than conventional means of destruction, they seem pefect for the task of denying the bridges and industry to the advancing Pact forces. The timing is certainly right for it too.
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Old 02-06-2011, 10:51 PM
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You very well may be right. I'm going to choose to follow another tack, though. The city is small enough that conventional fighting may have had much the same effect. I figure NATO and PACT armies must have passed through Elblag at least a couple of times, pretty well wrecking it in the process.
Not sure that it's true that the city has bee fought over in the Twilight War. The NATO offensives went south through Warsaw, and I seem to remember reading somewhere about Western forces "attempting to cross the Wisla at (some point well north-west of Warsaw)" but being stopped by PACT. I previously worked up some maps for the various offensives, and what I concluded was that NE Poland was one of the only areas not driven over by conventional forces.

Also - while Elblag may have been a nuclear target, so was Krakow; but there are still quite a lot of people there. While these numbers have nothing to do with canon, in the population figures I worked out for Poland, I have Elblag city with around 8,000 inhabitants and Elblag County with around 28,000 (pre-war pop's around 127,000 and 56,000 respectively).
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Old 02-06-2011, 10:57 PM
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It seems inconceivable that Elblag would not have been fought over, or that Nato were not even in the area.
It's an important hub in and of itself, and denying the Baltic coast to the Pact would have to be high on the list of Nato priorities.

Krakow on the other hand is much less of a transportation hub and therefore sparing it from nuclear destruction is quite possible. Note however that newer parts of the city (those outside the walls) have suffered significant destruction - obviously not nuke in nature, so it's a near certainty conventional fighting occurred.
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:07 AM
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Very good work Raellus.
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Old 02-07-2011, 04:40 AM
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Raellus, an interesting and well thought out backstory...nice piece of work and would certainly make for a great campaign setting...
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Old 02-07-2011, 04:58 AM
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Something else I just remembered. When I was researching the German III Army offensive, I worked out that the Marines would have to land in a number of locations. I think it averaged out that they wouldn't be able to mass more than about 200 men per location to get the needed coverage.

200 men in T2K, backed with a handful of AFVs and engineers is a serious force, especially given time to dig in amongst the ruins.
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Old 02-07-2011, 12:04 PM
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@Dog 6 and Rainbow 6: Thanks guys.

@Atiff: Thanks for sharing your work. A population of 8000 would still work for my vision of Elblag.

Assuming that Elblag was in fact nuked, I think it's safe to say that it was a relatively small airburst type of device. Perhaps it detonated a little off target, sparing the city some destruction. Perhaps it was aimed at the port/industrial facilities at the city's north end, resulting in less damage to the road nets to the south (or vice-versa)

@Leg: Although Krakow proper did not get hit, the industrial suburb right next door-Nowy Huta, IIRC (they're basically conjoined)- did.

Canon clearly states that the Marines were making multiple landings along the Baltic coast. My Operation Limerick is but one of them (the easternmost, in fact). I envision the main effort being closer to the ruins of Gdansk, at the SE neck of Polish 1st Army's coastal pocket.
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Old 02-07-2011, 03:35 PM
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That all works for me and I'd assumed Limerick was just part of the bigger picture. Looking at canon materials, you'd almost HAVE to have a force of some kind in the Elblag area to allow the 8th through. They may not stay there long once the 8th pass through, but they had to at least have a temporary presence.
I'd forgotten about Nowy Huta, however I believe there's damage all over Krakow while the inner city is still in reasonable condition. That to me indicates conventional warfare.
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Old 02-07-2011, 05:33 PM
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keep up the good work Rae
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Old 02-07-2011, 06:24 PM
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That was part of the problem that the 2nd US Marine Division and then later the IX Corps ran into. In the rundown conditions that all Divisions found themselves in, and they were still expected to make multiple landings and hold until the 8th Mechanized Division passed through.

The thing that has always left me confuse was where the hell the 3rd German Army objective was. I mean the 5th Mechanized Division was heading into Central Poland, while the rest of the 3rd German Army seemed to hang close to the Baltic Coast.

Yeah the 2nd Marine Division would of been looking to consolidating big time as the last units of the 8th Mechanized Division passed through their AOs. In the end due to circumstance that members of the 2nd Marine Division would continued with the 8th Mechanized and last stragglers of the that Division would be follow the 2nd Marine as they collapse back to the IX Corps main area.
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Old 02-07-2011, 06:34 PM
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It's my belief the Germans were held up by the Pact counteroffensive. More pressure than expected was exerted upon the defending units to the south, requiring a temporary retasking of the Germans to hold the line.
Also there's my proposal that the Marines suffered from a catastrophic loss of fuel reserves, necessitating resupply by land from the German stocks. This would hamstring the Germans and keep them basically in place (which probably wouldn't matter too much if the decision to abandon the offensive had already been made and both the 5th and 8th written off as lost - even before the 5th's destruction).

As it became clear that the Baltic coastline could not be held, I'm sure a few stragglers from the 8th would have been absorbed into the Marines. Likewise, it's possible some of the more advanced Marine units may have followed on after the 8th - the 8th being a closer unit with less hostile forces in the way.

Task Force Inchon, or whatever remnants remain after Rae's scenario would be ideal candidates for joining the 8th.
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Old 02-07-2011, 08:59 PM
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I just thought of a title for my campaign, or at least for the macro-backstory that precedes it. Get ready, here it is...

A Beach Too Far
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Old 02-07-2011, 09:09 PM
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I can picture the sunglasses and beach umbrellas already.
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:29 PM
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Wonder if they brought their mountain bikes with them...lol
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:38 PM
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Wonder if they brought their mountain bikes with them...lol
I don't think so, they'd get stuck in the sand. Beach towels, sunscreen and plenty of beer on the other hand...
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:56 PM
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I don't think so, they'd get stuck in the sand. Beach towels, sunscreen and plenty of beer on the other hand...
You know it partly joking, remember in WWII when a UK unit had brought bikes overs on D-Day. The only difference when they get off the beach it may help keep some units mobile while allowing them to use the precious cargo space of vehicle they have for transporting gear...
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:08 PM
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I can remember one exercise involving assault boats where a number of people showed up with fishing gear....
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:11 PM
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I can remember one exercise involving assault boats where a number of people showed up with fishing gear....
Just toss a hand grenade over the side....lol Not advisable to cook it off either...
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:42 PM
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I might equip one of the Marine infantry companies with bikes. Bikes would help them get from the beaches to the canal bridge and highway interchanges more quickly. I'm sure that the LAI Company would appreciate that. AFAIK, this would be a historic first for the USMC.
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Old 02-09-2011, 04:18 PM
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Would bikes be seen as useful by higher command though given the soft ground in the area? I'm not against the idea as such, but it might be something one or more of the units landing to the west, on firmer ground, might be better having?
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