30 June 2011

US Special Ops Forces Running Out of Steam?

During Congressional testimony, the incoming Commander of USSOCOM says they're being overused and don't have sufficient time to reset between deployments.

Vice Adm. William McRaven said demand for the elite forces around the world continues to grow, so there often isn't enough time to train between deployments. And he said the helicopters and other equipment they need are not available to units in the United States who are preparing to deploy.
Special operations forces "cannot indefinitely sustain current levels of overseas presence," said McRaven, who has been nominated to replace Adm. Eric Olson as commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. "The resulting pressure on the force and our families is too great, and the pressure is creating a dramatic effect on our readiness."
He said the short breaks between deployments limit training in key language skills and the regional and cultural expertise that enable the commandos to work well in other countries. And he noted that most of the helicopters needed for training are either at the warfront or in maintenance, making it difficult for aircrews to hone their skills.
The lack of helicopters, aircraft and ships at bases in the U.S., he said, limits training on refueling, live bomb drops or dock landings.
McRaven's comments came in answer to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing Tuesday and in a written questionnaire obtained by The Associated Press. And they mirror, in part, observations made by Olson earlier this year, when he warned that the elite forces were "beginning to show some fraying around the edges."

By: Brant

UK In Action: The Business End of a Royal Marine Commando

A Royal Marine from 42 Commando (Cdo) is pictured on patrol in Afghanistan. On the 15 May 2011 J Company went on a Helo Operation which proved to be successfull and locals were very friendly and accomodating in the area. J company flew in to the area at 0400in the morning under cover of darkness just before first light. Thereafter they proceeded to do a friendly, thorough, surprise search of all the compounds in the area.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Another Nork Hissy-Fit

Waaaaah! Waaaaaah! They put up a sign we don't like! Waaaaah!

North Korea's military vowed Wednesday to retaliate for anti-Pyongyang signs posted at front-line South Korean army units, as rare talks between the rivals on a stalled joint tourism project broke down.
North Korea also has been releasing water from a dam southward without prior notice since Monday night, Seoul officials said. A release on the same river caused a surge that killed six South Koreans in 2009.
The North's Korean People's Army issued its military warning via state media, promising "merciless military retaliatory measures" until South Korea apologizes and removes signs that it says "seriously hurt the dignity of the leadership" of North Korea.
The "hideous provocation" was "perpetrated only by hooligans who go wild like 'puppies knowing no fear of a tiger,'" an unidentified spokesman for the KPA's Supreme Command said.
Earlier Wednesday, an unidentified North Korean government spokesman warned of a "sacred war" against South Korea over the signs.

By: Brant

French Running Guns in Libya?

Oh, OK, I get it. It's not OK when Tim Spicer runs weapons to the legitimate government of Sierra Leone, but it's OK for France to airlift weapons to Libyan rebels, both in defiance of embargoes. Wait. Maybe I don't get it.

France has defended its move to airlift weapons to Libya's rebels, saying it did not break a U.N. arms embargo because they were needed to defend civilians under threat.
France on Wednesday became the first NATO country to openly acknowledge arming rebels seeking to topple Muammar Gaddafi, who has so far resisted a three-month-old bombing campaign that has strained alliance and rebel firepower.
The bombing is backed by a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing force to protect civilians, but Britain, France and the United States say they will not stop until Gaddafi falls.
Citing unnamed sources, Le Figaro newspaper said France had parachuted rocket launchers, assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles into the Western Mountains in early June.
A French military spokesman confirmed delivery of arms, prompting some U.N. diplomats to argue that such transfers without consent of the U.N. Security Council's Libya sanctions committee could violate the embargo.
"We decided to provide self-defensive weapons to the civilian populations because we consider that these populations were under threat," French Ambassador to the United Nations Gerard Araud told reporters.

By: Brant

29 June 2011

DoD Recruiting & Retention Numbers Thru May, FY'11

Remember folks, this is fiscal year 2011, which started in October.

Here are this year's up-to-date numbers from the DoD

The Department of Defense announced today recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through May.

Active Component

Recruiting - Year to Date. All four active services met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through May.

  • Army – 44,950 accessions, with a goal of 44,200; 102 percent
  • Navy – 20,942 accessions, with a goal of 20,942; 100 percent
  • Marine Corps – 14,995 accessions, with a goal of 14,956; 100 percent
  • Air Force – 18,444 accessions, with a goal of 18,444; 100 percent
Retention. The services are on track to meet their fiscal year-to-date 2011 retention goals. Reserve Component Recruiting. Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through May.
  • Army National Guard – 34,837 accessions, with a goal of 34,608; 101 percent
  • Army Reserve – 20,555 accessions, with a goal of 18,546; 111 percent
  • Navy Reserve – 5,423 accessions, with a goal of 5,423; 100 percent
  • Marine Corps Reserve – 6,675 accessions, with a goal of 6,057; 110 percent
  • Air National Guard – 4,529 accessions, with a goal of 4,523; 100 percent
  • Air Force Reserve – 6,079 accessions, with a goal of 6,194; 98 percent
Attrition. All reserve components are on target to achieve their fiscal year attrition goals.
By: Brant

Another Origins Follow-Up

No mention in this article of the confluence of Democratic Party apparatchiks and the Origins game crowd at the convention center on the same night, when Veep Biden was there to stir up the masses.

Apparently the Secret Service detail alternated their time between freaking out over the TerrorWerks guys with their combat gear and AirSoft guns, and posing for photos with the leather-bustier-steampunk crowd. Meanwhile, the suit-and-tie-sheep mumbled something about Origins being the "end of Western civilization as [they] know it". Key phrase - "as [they] know it" - maybe that's a good thing, eh?

By: Brant

GameTalk - Historical Research

When building games based on actual events, how deep into the research do you go? Lee Brimmicombe-Wood is hell-bent on historical detail. Others sort of wave at it in passing as they focus on the combat model or some other detail.

How detailed do you want your history in your wargames? How do you balance the straightjacket of detailed recreation of events with the freedom for the players to explore alternative outcomes?

By: Brant

Some More Origins Coverage

Here's some Origins coverage from other folks. First, a pretty nifty video of "one cool thing I saw at Origins"

The North Coast Gamers Origins 2011 Recap from their blog (now included in our Grog Game Links!)

And the Pulp Gamer podcast from Origins 2011.

By: Brant

Battalion TOC Charts - Recon SITREP

Leftover from the maneuver days of the '90s, here's a battalion-level recon situation chart for tracking operations from the command post.

As always, click to enlarge the image. More charts to follow as we get them converted and uploaded.

By: Brant

CINC-USFK Nominee Talks KJI

GEN Thurman gives his opinion on Kim Jong Il during his confirmation hearings.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Il will continue his “cycle of provocations” and will remain the most dangerous threat to North Asia, Army Gen. James Thurman said Tuesday in his confirmation hearing to be the next commanding general of U.S. troops in Korea.

The general also pledged to take up the recent request by key senators to reassess the 15-year-old Pacific realignment plan, which includes consolidating Korean bases.

“I fully expect to make that the number one priority,” said Thurman, who is commanding general of U.S. Forces Command in Fort McPherson, Ga.

Thurman, who is expected to be confirmed easily, faced few questions during a joint hearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee that gave far more attention to the other two witnesses: Lt. Gen. John Allen, the successor to Gen. David Petraeus, and Vice Adm. William McRaven, who led the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and will take over U.S. Special Operations Command.

But in written answers to the committee’s advance questions, Thurman identified four “major” challenges for Korea:

-- understand the intent behind Kim Jong Il’s “increasingly escalatory and dangerous” actions.
-- train and be ready to fight a war with North Korea.
-- sustain the alliance with Seoul.
-- transform the alliance to reflect regional changes and “fiscal constraints.”

I got to sit next to GEN Thurman back at NTC in 2000 when we were in an AAR together. I got a tickle in my throat that wouldn't stop and he handed me a big-ass glass of cold water to help me stop coughing, since I was against the wall and couldn't easily get out of the AAR. One of the best glasses of water I've ever had - NTC is pretty hot in July.

By: Brant

28 June 2011

Sound Off! Handheld or SmartPhone Gaming?

Which mobile gaming platform do you prefer?

The standalone handheld that's optimized for, and specializes, in gameplay?

The smartphone with installed games that play on a device you're probably already carrying?

Sound off below!

By: Brant

Last Week In Photos at the DoD

Last Week In Photos at the DoD.

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter transfers cargo from the Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Bridge during a replenishment at sea in the Arabian Sea, June 23, 2011. The Sea Hawk is part of the Wild Cards of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin B. Gray

By: Brant

Intel In Afghanistan Catching Up to Reality?

So the intel guys are now doing the job of the civil affairs guys?

Military intelligence officers were scrambling a year ago to collect and analyze the social, economic and tribal ins and outs of each valley and hamlet in Afghanistan.
This information wasn't the kind of secret or covert material many military intelligence specialists were used to. But it was seen as crucial to helping commanders tell the good guys from the bad, learn what Afghans really needed from their government and undermine the Taliban-led insurgency by winning hearts and minds.
Since last fall, top intelligence leaders in Afghanistan have shifted their energies back to targeting the enemy the more traditional way, by mapping their networks, and analyzing the behavior of what made the Taliban tick. It's not that they stopped collecting the other information, but the focus shifted to helping commanders on the ground learn what they needed to know to help them kill the enemy directly — and drive that enemy to the negotiating table.

And maybe we could've been paying attention to this for years...

Ironically, the change in Washington policy comes just as the top official in charge of military intelligence in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Steve Fogarty, shifted his focus back to how the U.S. gathers that social, economic and tribal data, and how to make sure the troops are getting access to it to help both understand local communities and foster local governance. He may now face a closing window of opportunity to beef up those programs, as his programs face the looming drawdown of manpower and resources ordered by an administration fed up with the war's $10 billion-a-month price tag.

Yay - let's cut the budget and starve our assets of the resources to do their jobs! Oh wait, even in the years of mass budgets, Map-HT was starved for money.

By: Brant

War in Central Asia?

Are the Azeris and Armenians about to come to blows?

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, speaking during the biggest military parade in Baku since the fall of the Soviet Union, promised to boost army spending and gain control of the territories disputed with Armenia.
"I am completely sure that our territorial integrity will be resumed in any possible way," Aliyev was shown on state television as saying at the parade to mark armed forces day. "Therefore, we should be even stronger."
Azerbaijan and Armenia, who fought a war over Nagorno-Karabakh that killed about 30,000 on both sides, concluded a ceasefire in 1994. Attempts by the United States, Russia and France to reconcile the two post-Soviet foes have fallen short.
Aliyev said that his country will boost military spending to $3.3 billion this year, up from $2.15 a year ago and just $160 million in 2003.
Troops marched across Liberty square in central Baku, along with convoys of infantry combat vehicles and Russia-made S-300 self-propelled anti-aircraft missile launchers. Warplanes, helicopters and drones cruised over the city, as TV aired footage of battleships on duty off the Azeri Caspian coast.

By: Brant

27 June 2011

UK In Action: Tornado to Libya

RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft takes off at Gioia Del Colle airbase. The aircraft are flying missions over Libya as part of the UN sanctioned NATO-led Operation Unified Protector. The Tornado's ability to make precise attacks on ground targets enables them to act against Libyan regime forces threatening civilians.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

26 June 2011

Origins Exhibit Hall

Engage! from Valley Games

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Staff Wargaming: Decisive Action (videos)

Here's a couple of videos from the Staff Wargame for Decisive Action

Part of the initial staff planning

Watching combat go down

By: Brant

Origins - More General Thoughts

Some non-staff-gaming-specific comments

- Origins + ComFest = big crowd. Origins + ComFest + Saturday night arena district traffic = big crowd with lots of traffic. Origins + ComFest + Saturday night arena district traffic + the Vice President in town to give a speech to a bunch of Democratic apparatchiks in the same f'n' convention center as Origins = absofreakinlootelystoopdid

- The biggest buzz in the show that I've been hearing is what a train wreck everyone expects Origins to be next year. Looney Labs has already bailed. The War College seems about to implode without several 'name' speakers and no publicity. At least three different vendors I talked to don't expect to be there. And all this during a year when the story should be a resurgent exhibit hall with a bunch of newer retailers and some great new games out there.

- Conquest of the Empire for $20?! It might just have to go home with me.

- A lot of wargame companies in the exhibit hall:
  • Lock'n'Load
  • MMP
  • Decision
  • ATO (also selling Legion Wargames)
  • Ferkin/Columbia
  • Clash of Arms
  • Collins Epic Wargames
  • Grognard Simulations
  • Worthington Games
and I probably missed someone, without intended to. Oh, and Mayfair, Valley Games, Atlas Games, and others were all selling war-themed games, even if they weren't all true grog-quality wargames (Engage!, Panzer General: Allied Assault, Tide of Iron, etc).

- A lot of unnecessary snarky smartassness about the wargame companies in the exhibit hall that aren't someone-or-other's favorites (paging Pason Jipes!)

- There's a LOT of boardgaming out there now. In '05, when I first went, there was a crapload-and-a-half of MtG, and the Pokemon Nationals were there. Since then, Pokemon has pulled pitch, and the CCG crowd has nose-dived. The minis hall has also steadily contracted. However, boardgaming - all manner, but especially family/Eurogaming - has has exploded, with BIG presences from Rio Grande, Mayfair, Loony Labs, and others.

- Zombie fascination has not worn off. Vampires seem to be declining, however. Pirates are virtually invisible. I wonder what the next "it" thing is going to be. People keep pushing steampunk, and while there's a certain 'cool' factor to it, without a major media license to help tie it all together, it's tough for folks to rally 'round it. Mummies? Maybe, but the movies are a bit dated at this point. Any ideas folks?

- Dad's lecture on arms control inspections seemed to go over really well, and he had a very good crowd in there for it. In fact, he had more people than any 2 of our staff wargaming sessions.

By: Brant

Origins Staff Wargaming: Persian Incursion (videos)

3 more flicks after the jump!

Origins Staff Wargaming - Lessons Learned

This is the longest I've had to sit still and write something around Origins going on right now, so this is going to wrap up lots of ideas, thoughts, and feedback into one extended list of bullets.

- This is hard. There's a reason you have to spend a lot of years learning a lot of different parts of the staff process before you're considered to be merely competent, never mind an expert.

- This is hard. James Sterrett is an underappreciated guy. Putting these exercises together takes a lot of time and effort in identifying the scenario, prepping the handouts and player materials, teaching the basics of staff operations, and coaching the staff through the process.

- Process matters much, much more than outcome. The entire point of this is to learn how the staff is expected to function, and how the roles work within the staff, and to gain an appreciation of how much work this is. That's far, far more important than sitting in front of a computer game just trying to pwn a noob. It's one thing to punch buttons to just take down an AI, but an entirely different thing to develop a plan with other people, arrange all the moving parts, conform to something resembling doctrine, and then execute it and adjust it on the fly.

- In the FlashPoint Germany game, the players were the reds, with the US cav running into them in a large meeting engagement. The players had a pretty good read on the US movements but didn't trust their recon, and then didn't reinforce their recon once they gained contact, which ceded the initiative to the cav. After that, the cav came rolling at them. I'm not sure the players had a true appreciation of just how much combat power a cav squadron rolls out with.

- In Battles from the Bulge, the players were a German unit heading west through the Americans, past some place called Bastogne. The thing they really learned in this one was to establish some graphic control measures, as checkpoints, phase lines, and support/firing positions. It saved the players from referring to "this intersection" or "that town" and instead got them all speaking the same language to locate things on the map.

- The Strat/COIN game, using the GEMSTONE system from the NDU, was - unfortunately - a terribly slow game because of the computer interface. To be fair, we are busy fixing that interface, but we never really gave the players a truly tough set of choices to make to have to sort through the different priorities and figure out what to do. This was a failing on the part of exercise control, in not fully preparing a good, solid set of tools in advance, with the worksheets, maps, briefings, game setup, etc. This one was run a little too off-the-cuff, and it suffered for it.

- I was not at the naval wargame, but from all I've heard, a key lesson there had to be that when you lose the key organizing member of the team, it's time to call off the game, or change to something completely different, rather than try to plow ahead with something not quite fully-baked.

- Decisive Action had a barely-engaged, and -interested commander, which trickled down to the rest of the staff. One of the keys to DA is teaching the players how hard it is to integrate all the different moving parts that are more abstracted, or less relevant, in the other games, such as logistics, fire planning, route/traffic management, etc. However, with only a few players, Snyder took on the fires role, and I had the logistics. I was never even asked to brief the log plan, or offered a briefing on the maneuver plan and asked if/how I could support it. Ditto with the fires. I guess they assumed if the exercise control staff had it, then they didn't even need to think about it. In truth, we did, but they shouldn't've been afforded that luxury.

- Persian Incursion had the possibility to really go off the rails, with the us abstracting out a LOT of details from the game, and trying instead to focus on the air campaign planning. We gave them a variety of initial constraints, and turned them loose. Then the game's designer walked in. Oy. In truth, Larry Bond was a delightful addition to the process, in that he was very helpful when we had some resolution/adjudication questions, and he seemed to really enjoy the changes to his game that we made for the purposes we needed in the campaign planning. We had 5 players, and split them as CO, S2, Current Ops, Future Ops, and Ground Boss/maint-readiness (note to USAF readers: no idea if this is realistic or not, but we went with it and it worked). We threw them some curveballs, but they really took well to their roles and reacted as a great team. By the end, this turned out to be one of our better exercises.

- Unfortunately, with the date change next year, we can't be there as a team running these again, which really sucks. Maybe GAMA will come to their senses and realize they're screwing up a lot of really good things. Or maybe not, and we'll try to find a new home for this.

By: Brant

25 June 2011

Origins War College Staff Wargaming - Persian Incursion

Larry Bond coaching the OPFOR... mwuah-ah-ah-ah!

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins War College Staff Wargaming - Decisive Action

Detail view of Decisive Action

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall

Grognard Simulations

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall

T-shirt for LongBlade

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall


* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

USAction! Raven Launch

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Steven Rose launches an RQ-11 Raven unmanned aerial vehicle near a new highway bridge project along the Euphrates River north of Al Taqqadum, Iraq, on Oct. 9, 2009. Rose is assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division which is assisting Iraqi police in providing security for the work site. DoD photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod, U.S. Army. (Released)

Photo from US DoD

By: Brant

Origins War College - Decisive Action

The team sitting down to plan.

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Anniversary: North Korea Invades South Korea

Today marks the anniversary of the start of the Korean War, arguably still the most successful UN operation in their history (and what does it say that it came about 5 years into the UN's 60+ year history).

It's a war that's never officially stopped, even though it's been kinda-sorta over for 55 years now. Of course, with the heavily-armed DMZ, and the Norks being bat-shit crazy, it's a favorite among wargame designers to build some hypotheticals around.

Here's a quick-list of the gaming goodness that exists for the actual war as fought in the '50s.

Korea: The Forgotten War
The Korean War
The Forgotten War: Korea
Korea: The Mobile War 1950-51
Hell Over Korea, 1950
The Korean War
Inchon, Turning The Tide of Korea
Yalu (2nd edition) (reimplements Yalu)

You want something really entertaining? Here's a clip of a dramatic radio broadcast being interrupted with the news that the North has declared war, from the day it happened.

By: Brant

Origins Exhibit Hall

Collins Epic Wargames

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall

Mayfair Games (part of it, at least)

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

24 June 2011

Origins Exhibit Hall

Blood and Bridges on a Geek Chic table

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall

Crazy Egor's!

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall


* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins BattleTech Pods

The 'mech pods are back again!

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall

Worthington Games

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall

Bendy Dungeon Walls... Very cool hinged sets that are scaled for 1" grids. Go up and rearrange very quick. Might get a set later.

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall

Legion, Clash of Arms, Ferkin/Columbia, and ATO in one booth. For the mathematically-challenged (paging Mark Pitcavage), that's 4 (four) wargame companies. Yes, four.

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall

Heroes of The Gap with Lock'n'Load

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall

Wargods at The Guard Tower

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Origins Exhibit Hall

Castle Panic from Fireside Games

* Sent on-the-go from the Bayonet Jump TOC *

Random Friday Wargaming: Showdown: The Coming Indo-Pakistani War

Here comes the you-know-its-coming border war... In the vein of the old ModQuads, Decision has released Showdown: The Coming Indo-Pakistani War.

Discuss it on ConsimWorld here.

UPDATE: There's an extensive AAR, with a lot of photos, on Bruce Costello's blog on the ConsimWorld Forum

Get your own copy at Decision Games' website.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

Origins War College Presentation: LTC(R) Galope

Excerpts from LTC(R) Galope's talk on strategic games for training at the National Defense University.

More videos after the jump

Origins Staff Wargaming - Crash Course in Doctrine(?!)

Here are a few shorts of the types of discussion and coaching that's a part of the staff wargaming package.

Overview of the Military Decision-Making Process.

A look at enemy courses of action and comparisons for planning.

By: Brant

Origins Staff Wargaming: Battles From The Bulge (videos)

Today's morning mission was Battles From The Bulge.

Participants manipulating map graphics

Part of the after-action review

By: Brant

23 June 2011

Staff Wargaming at the Origins War College

The Germans about to take Bastogne. Americans falling back before reinforcements get there.

UK In Action: Royal Marines Small Arms

A Royal Marine from 40 Commando is pictured using an L129A1 rifle on operations in Afghanistan.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Troop Cuts to Bring Aid Cuts?

With the looming pullout in Afghanistan, will aid dollars follow the troops home?

President Barack Obama's Afghanistan troop withdrawal is likely to be accompanied by cuts in billions of dollars of civilian aid, bringing a precipitous shift of control many fear could tip the country into further corruption and chaos.
Parallel with Obama's draw-down of combat troops by 2014, the United States plans to pull back hundreds of civilian advisers involved in helping govern Afghanistan, whether helping organize the annual budget or FBI agents setting up crime units.
The aim is to wean Afghanistan off foreign aid to form a sustainable state, allowing the West to exit without being accused of abandonment -- an image that has haunted the international community since the Soviet exit in 1989 ended in civil war.
The strategy risks leaving fewer resources for one of the world's poorest countries. Giving what is left to President Hamid Karzai's government -- widely criticized for endemic corruption -- may just end in unchecked graft and political interference in civil projects.

By: Brant

Canadian CH-148 Cyclone At Paris Air Show

It has been a long time coming but the CH-148 Cyclone multi-mission helicopter will soon come into service with the Canadian Forces.

On static display at Le Bourget, one of Canada's incoming fleet of Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters is making the type's debut public appearance a long way from its future home.

To replace the Canadian armed forces' almost 50-year-old Sikorsky H-3 Sea Kings in providing an anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capability, and in delivering search and rescue and utility transport tasks, the new type is derived from the airframer's S-92.

Changes embodied for the maritime variant include the integration of marinised General Electric CT7-8 engines, a 360° maritime search radar, passive and active acoustics, a forward-looking infrared sensor and self-defence equipment. Shipborne operations will be supported by the use of a deck haul-down and handling system, and by an automatic blade and tail-fold function.

Ottawa will eventually receive 28 of the new aircraft via a delayed procurement. The first of these arrived at its Shearwater air base in Nova Scotia on 13 May, and should be accepted for use within the next several months in an initial operating capability standard. The first Canadian technicians are now receiving ground-based instruction at the site, while aircrews will enter flight training soon.
By: Shelldrake

Origins Staff Wargaming: Flashpoint Germany (still more video)

Staff Wargaming at Origins 2011. Another video of the Flashpoint Germany mission. The participants are briefing their visiting commander (played by Gordon of the OWC staff) and updating him on the current situation of the fight.

Today's agenda includes Battles from the Bulge and a game on Strategic Counterinsurgency using a Colombia scenario and a game built for the National Defense University.

By: Brant

Origins Staff Wargaming: Flashpoint Germany (more video)

Staff Wargaming at Origins 2011. These guys are running a Flashpoint Germany scenario and here are watching some of the first few turns unfold as they adjust their plan.

By: Brant

Origins Staff Wargaming: Flashpoint Germany (videos)

Excerpts from the intro briefing and early in the staff training / decision cycles...

More vids later

By: Brant

Origins Staff Wargaming: Flashpoint Germany

The first of the staff wargames is well underway...

The game is Flashpoint Germany, and the participants are playing the Russians instead of the US forces (major change from previous years).

The XO working with Jim Snyder to input the orders

(more photos after the jump)

22 June 2011

Anniversaries: Big Events in WWII

Big doin's on this date in WWII

1940 - France's Formal Surrender
The Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed at 18:50 on 22 June 1940 near Compiègne, in the department of Oise, between Nazi Germany and France. Following the decisive German victory in the Battle of France (10 May–21 June 1940), it established a German occupation zone in Northern France that encompassed all English Channel and Atlantic Ocean ports and left the remainder "free" to be governed by the French. Adolf Hitler deliberately chose Compiègne Forest as the site to sign the armistice due to its symbolic role as the site of the 1918 Armistice with Germany that signaled the end of World War I with Germany's surrender.

1941 - Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa (German: Unternehmen Barbarossa, for Frederick I) was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a 2,900 km (1,800 mi) front. In addition to the large number of troops, it also involved 600,000 motor vehicles and 750,000 horses. Planning for Operation Barbarossa started on 18 December 1940; the secret preparations and the military operation itself lasted almost a year, from spring to winter 1941. The Red Army repelled the Wehrmacht's strongest blow, and Adolf Hitler did not achieve the expected victory, but the Soviet Union's situation remained dire. Tactically, the Germans had won some resounding victories and occupied some of the most important economic areas of the country, mainly in Ukraine. Despite these successes, the Germans were pushed back from Moscow and could never mount an offensive simultaneously along the entire strategic Soviet-German front again.

1944 - Operation Bagration
Operation Bagration (Russian: Oперация Багратион, Operatsiya Bagration) was the codename for the Soviet 1944 Belorussian Strategic Offensive Operation during World War II, which cleared German forces from the Belorussian SSR and eastern Poland between 22 June and 19 August 1944.

The operation was named after 18th–19th century Georgian Prince Pyotr Bagration, general of the Imperial Russian Army who received a mortal wound at the Battle of Borodino. The Soviet armies directly involved in Operation Bagration were the 1st Baltic Front under Army General Hovhannes Bagramyan, the 1st Belorussian Front commanded by Army General Konstantin Rokossovsky, who was promoted to Marshal on 29 June 1944, the 2nd Belorussian Front commanded by Colonel-General G. F. Zakharov, and the 3rd Belorussian Front commanded by Colonel-General Ivan Chernyakhovsky. This action resulted in the almost complete destruction of the German Army Group Centre and three of its component armies: Fourth Army, Third Panzer Army and Ninth Army. The operation "was the most calamitous defeat of all the German armed forces in World War II". By the end of the operation most of the western Soviet Union had been reconquered and the Red Army had achieved footholds in Romania and Poland.

excerpts from Wikipedia

By: Brant


Hey everybody! Outside of our regularly-scheduled weekly routine, posting is going to shift gears for a few days and focus on Origins. I'll be posting updates from the exhibit hall floor, photos and clips from the Origins War College staff exercises, and whatever else looks like fun while I'm here.
So, look for lots of convention coverage, and hope the rest of the staff fills in some of the gaps :)

By: Brant

GameTalk - Logistics

An army that's out of bullets tends to be out of luck, too. Hungry soldiers don't fight well, and tanks without gas are a scaled-down Maginot Line. But how much logistics planning do we want to layer into games that are inherently not about logistics planning?

So where do you balance the two? How much logistics play is too much? And how do you track it? What *really* matters to log play in a wargame? What parts of the Logistics SITREP chart (below) might you try to tie into wargame tracking? If you were given that chart and told to track your log planning/execution from a wargame, could you do it? Would you want to do it?

FWIW - my take on logistics was (re)published a few weeks ago in the first of the Battle Lab articles.

By: Brant

Troop Withdrawal Roulette

Hey, the White House doesn't want to plug in troop numbers in the latest Afghanistan speech.

President Obama’s Wednesday speech on his promised July drawdown of the 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan is drafted. But on circulating copies, there are still blank spaces where the final troop figures will go. Whether that’s because the White House is still in the midst of internal debate – or whether it’s a fear of leaks – remains the subject of speculation, but guessing precisely what those figures will be was insider Washington’s favorite parlor game Tuesday.

So what do you think? What will the high, medium, and low numbers look like? 10,000 by year's end? 20,000? 50,000? You comments / guesses / crapshoots-in-the-dark below!

By: Brant

JSF Briefing from Paris Air Show

Thanks to a link from DefenseTech... Here's the F35 briefing from the recent Paris Air Show.

01 Par is Brief 062011 Final

It's a lot of generic fluff:
Radar Cross Section Testing
Early Results Very Promising
with some nice generic photos...

There is, of course, no discussion of the cost over-runs, production delays, and other technical difficulties, as you would expect form a puff piece.

By: Brant

Battalion TOC Charts - Logistics SITREP

Leftover from the maneuver days of the '90s, here's a battalion-level logistical situation chart for tracking operations from the command post.

As always, click to enlarge the image. More charts to follow as we get them converted and uploaded.

By: Brant

Juggling Troops, Leadership

President Obama is doing the personnel shuffle.

President Barack Obama's long-awaited decision on how many troops to bring home from Afghanistan this summer is overshadowing an impending change of arguably equal importance to the course of the war: the departure from Washington and Kabul of senior U.S. leaders with years of experience in managing the conflict.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has presided over the Afghanistan and Iraq wars for 4 1/2 years, is retiring next week. The top two American generals in Kabul — David Petraeus and David Rodriguez — are due to leave for new assignments as early as July. Also departing in July is retired Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul who in 2006-07 served as the top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
They will be replaced by men with military and national security resumes but less direct experience in Afghanistan.
This changing of the guard is not intended to steer the administration's Afghan war policy in a new direction. Yet a fresh set of eyes and ears could lead to new advice to the White House on how to wind down 10 years of conflict in the country that provided haven to al-Qaida prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

By: Brant

21 June 2011

Sound Off! d6 or d10

Which dice do you prefer?

The d6 - stolen from Yahtzee and Risk games everywhere and considered "dice" by most of the non-gaming world?

The d10 - a bit geeky but very versatile, with base-10 spreads and percentile capabilities?

Sound off in the comments!

By: Brant

Leave No Man Behind: WWII Edition

The US is bringing home an airman missing over Hungary since 1945.

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Staff Sgt. Marvin J. Steinford, of Keystone, Iowa, will be buried on June 21 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. On March 24, 1945, Steinford, along with nine other crew members, bailed out of their B-17G Flying Fortress bomber over Gic, Hungary. It had been hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire while on a bombing mission over Germany. Steinford and another crew member were struck by small arms fire while parachuting into a firefight between Soviet and German forces. The remains of the other crew member were found after the war where they had been buried by Hungarian villagers. The remaining eight members of the aircrew were captured by the Germans, held as POWs, and released at the end of the war.

According to accounts gathered by U.S. Army Graves Registration Service personnel in the late 1940s, Steinford’s body was seen beside a German tank near Gic, but no further details about his exact whereabouts were recorded. Growing tensions in Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe closed off further U.S. access to Hungary.

In January 2003, in an effort to develop archival leads in Hungary from the Vietnam War, Korean and Cold Wars and World War II, a U.S. commissioner with the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs met with Hungarian officials in Budapest. Additional follow-up in Hungary by a DPMO researcher began to uncover specific information related to Steinford’s loss. A second DPMO staff member, assisted by Hungarian academics and researchers, discovered archives and interviewed villagers who related first-hand information about the B-17G crash. Shortly thereafter the U.S. Embassy in Budapest notified DPMO that a local cemetery director had information directly related to Steinford.

He related that during a 2004 excavation and transfer of Soviet soldiers’ remains at a war memorial and grave site in the city of Zirc, Hungarian workers discovered remains with a set of identification tags that bore Steinford’s name. The dog tags were removed and all remains were transferred to another site on the outskirts of Zirc. What was believed to be Steinford’s remains were marked with the Hungarian word “Cedulas,” [translation: the one with the tags] and reburied. The dog tags were returned to U.S. officials in March 2005.

From 2005 through late 2007, DPMO facilitated negotiations between U.S., Hungarian and Russian officials. Finally, in December 2007, the U.S. chairman of the commission secured agreement with the Russian first deputy minister of defense to allow a July 2009 exhumation from the war memorial site by specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons in the identification of Steinford’s remains.

By: Brant

Last Week In Photos at the DoD

Last Week In Photos at the DoD.

The Dominican Special Operations Sniper Team prepares for the stalk event of Fuerzas Comando 2011 near San Salvador at Shangallo Range in Ilopango, El Salvador, June 16, 2011. Fuerzas Comando, established in 2004, is an annual U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, special operations skills competition and senior leader seminar in Central and Southern America and the Caribbean. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Casey Collier

By: Brant

Origins Prep

We're getting ready for the Origins War College Staff Wargames, and that means today is a whole lotta prep before we start setting up tomorrow.

Today is prepping the scenarios for games like Persian Incursion, and getting the player aids ready. While other folks are bringing extracts from the Battle Staff MDMP & Operations Order Planning Handbook, I'm working on blowing up some wall charts, like the Tactical SITREP posted here last week, and the synch matrix here.

By: Brant

20 June 2011

UK In Action: Typhoon Airpower

A Royal Air Force Typhoon takes off for Libya from Gioia del Colle, southern Italy. As RAF Typhoon aircraft play a greater part in deliberate targeting operations, where targets are pre-planned, more are carrying four of the 1000lb Enhanced Paveway II bombs. The aircraft's ability to use its Litening III targeting pod to direct the highly accurate bombs means that a single Typhoon can have a devastating effect on Qadhafi regime targets.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

19 June 2011

Looking Back At Biafra, Part I

Last month, when we featured a Biafra game on Friday's Random Friday Wargame, we promised to dig some Biafra articles out of the archives. Here's a nice article from Time Magazine about the mercenaries that served in the war.

From the outset, the war between Nigeria and secessionist Biafra loomed as an unequal contest. It was not surprising that, as in the earlier Congo conflicts, foreign mercenaries were drawn to Biafra to practice their trade: fighting. Nor was it surprising that the beleaguered Biafrans accepted their services—despite the fact that mercenaries can be narrow, violent men who often harbor a deep contempt for Africans. In the midst of the idealism with which Biafra pleaded its cause for independence, the mercenaries have operated—sometimes ugly, certainly anomalous, but perhaps necessary to Biafra's continued survival.

In 16 months of often brutal fighting, Nigerian federal troops have whittled Biafra down to one-tenth of its original area. They are now closing in on Umuahia, the secessionist state's last major town and the current seat of Lieut. Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu's movable government. Umuahia would have long since fallen had it not been for the exploits of the best unit in Ojukwu's small army, Biafra's Fourth Commando Brigade. Commanded by nine white mercenaries, the Fourth spent the first three months of the year operating behind Nigerian lines. Later, it held sectors on the Western front but, outgunned and outmanned by the federals, was forced to retreat. By early September, after a doomed attempt to defend Aba with supplies equal to only a daily average of five rounds of ammunition per man, the Fourth was down to barely 1,000 effectives. Of the 7,000-odd men with whom it had started the campaign, more than 300 had been killed and 2,200 had been wounded. The rest were missing in action.

Record Supplies. Last week the Fourth Commandos were once more rebuilding under the command of a German-born ex-Foreign Legion sergeant who became a sector commander for the S.A.O. (Secret Army Organization) in Algeria and then a colonel for Ojukwu in Biafra. He is Rolf Steiner, and he considers the war to be far from lost, contemptuously dismissing the territorial gains of the heavily armed Nigerians. "If any corporal serving under me in the Legion had taken more than a week to conquer West Africa with their kind of equipment," he snorts, "I'd have him shot for dereliction of duty." Ojukwu, for whom Steiner has immense admiration, has authorized the Fourth to be expanded to two brigades, or 20 strike forces of 360 men each. The new men are being armed with weapons apparently bought with private European credits and flowing into Biafra from neighboring Gabon and the Portuguese island of São Tomé. Up to as much as 40 tons are said to be arriving every night—more than ever before in the war.

Colonel Steiner, 38, has been soldiering for most of his life. In the final days of World War II, he fought as a Hitler Youth in Germany's last-ditch defense against the advancing U.S. Army. After the German surrender, he enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. He spent seven years in Indo-China, an enfant terrible who was at least twice busted from sergeant to private. At Dienbienphu, he was wounded and lost the use of a lung. After five years of service in Algeria, a spell with the S.A.O. and a suspended sentence, he was living in Paris last year when he heard of Biafra. He set out to serve Ojukwu's cause, first as a "technical adviser," then as company commander, finally as boss of the Fourth Commando Brigade.

Red and Green. He has taken the Legion with him to Africa. Legion marches blare from a transistorized pickup that he carries almost everywhere, and the Fourth Commando standard bears the red and green of the Legion. At inspections, Steiner often gets his troops' attention by firing off a few rounds from his Browning, then lectures them, his walking stick under one arm. "You are not Legionnaires," he will rant after a particularly bad showing. "You are not men." He has demoted at least one captain to private, but has also been known to pick a good man from the ranks and make him an officer. When he recently elevated a private to 2nd lieutenant, one of his officers complained: "My dear chap, we can't have someone in the mess eating with his fingers." Steiner, who speaks French and German, replied that he did not care if the man ate with his feet, as long as he was a good soldier.

Steiner likes beer, Benson & Hedges cigarettes, violence and very little else. Compulsively clean, he throws even slightly dusty plates at his mess waiters, then kicks them to drive the point home. But he also plucked a 21-year-old Ibo boy from the side of his dead parents, adopted him and named him Felix Chukwuemeka (after Ojukwu) Steiner.

The troops do not seem to mind the harshness of the command; they follow Steiner because they believe he is a winner and because he has juju (good luck). Thus Steiner has had no trouble refilling the depleted ranks of the Fourth at this late stage in the conflict. Guerrilla warfare may be the way out, he thinks. "If the towns are taken, we will go into the bush," he says. "We could do the job. But we must have weapons. We don't need armor. We need trucks. We don't need much air. But spotter planes would be useful."

Bulletproof. Steiner's mercenary officers are a mixed lot, united only by loyalty to their commander, distinguished only by their combat experience and their foibles. Major Taffy, 34, Welsh and a veteran of the Fifth Commando mercenaries of the Congo, thinks he is bulletproof. By now, so do the federals, who have reported him dead at least five times since last December. Taffy came perilously close to being killed a few weeks ago, when a round smashed into his binoculars. Short-tempered, he curses his black troops constantly, threatening to kill them if they don't obey orders. "You rotten bastards!" he roars, when things go wrong. "You bloody, treacherous morons!"

Captain Paddy, an Irishman who has spent 22 of his 54 years in Africa, is the unit's master mechanic. Just before Port Harcourt fell to the federals early last summer, he scrounged up a convoy of trucks and liberated—under fire —the entire workshop of the Shell-B.P. refinery there. When Aba had to be evacuated last month for lack of ammo, Paddy was one of the last men out, a machine gun in one hand, a demijohn of wine in the other. Captain Armand, a former French paratrooper and veteran of Algeria, sports a Yul Brynner pate and fights on despite bazooka fragments in one hand. Another veteran has just left Steiner. Captain Alec, a onetime British paratrooper, used to walk around with a Madsen submachine gun, an FN rifle, and a shotgun, "just in case I have to shoot my way out of this bloody place." He believed in the "little people," who, he would say in all seriousness, "will jam your machine guns and cause your rockets to misfire." He was wounded four times in six days before he left Biafra.

Outcasts. The mercenaries' salaries run from $1,700 a month upward. But payday is at best a sporadic affair in besieged Biafra. In any case, money is probably not the major reason for their presence. It is not the land, either, for they seem to have no eyes for the green rolling infinity of the African bush, the visionary sunsets, the humming, warm, smoky nights. They are lobos, outcasts from society who fight every day in order to taste the excitement that comes in living close to violent death. If they survive Biafra, they will doubtless drift on in search of another war. Until then, their allegiance, temporary though it may be, is to Biafra and to Ojukwu.

I've actually read Steiner's book - got it from a friend back in the mid-80s - and it's a fun read. It's incredibly one-sided, as you expect a biography to be, but he's been in a lot of action over the years, and his accounts of Indochina, Algeria, and Biafra are all very compelling.

By: Brant

18 June 2011

Next Afghanistan Units Announced

Yep, we're sending an armor brigade to Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense announced today three units to deploy as part of upcoming rotations of forces operating in Afghanistan. The announcement involves two brigade combat teams totaling 6,400 personnel and one combat aviation brigade totaling 2,750 personnel. The scheduled rotation for these forces will begin late summer 2011 and continue through early 2012.

Specific units:

3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas

37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio Army National Guard

1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas

Those guys from Ohio? They're on a rotation that's given them about a 2.5-1 dwell time ratio since 2003. Yep, a part-time unit has been spinning their deployment wheels a whole lot faster than many active duty units (and the deployments listed at the link do not include the TF that was gone in 2007, or the units 'deployed' on Operation Noble Eagle missions in CONUS).

By: Brant

USAction! Spotter

U.S. Army Spc. Kathryn Fish coaches a fellow soldier during a leader development program at Camp Taji, Iraq, on Nov. 17, 2010. The academy was formed by senior enlisted leaders of the Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division in order to mentor young and future leaders and prepare them for professional development courses. DoD photo by Spc. Roland Hale, U.S. Army. (Released)

Photo from US DoD

By: Brant

US Army Announces Site of National Museum

The US Army has finally gotten around to announcing the site for the centralized US Army National Museum.

The Army announced today that the North Post of Fort Belvoir, Va., will be the site of the National Museum of the U.S. Army (NMUSA), scheduled to open in June 2015. Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh approved the decision this week, which also marked the Army's 236th birthday.

"In presenting the Army's storied 236-year history, this long-overdue facility will offer the American people a unique opportunity to connect with our soldiers and better understand and appreciate their many and glorious stories," McHugh said.

"Now that a site for the Army's museum has been determined, the development of the museum's master plan can be finalized," said Judson Bennett, executive director of the NMUSA project office at Fort Belvoir. Building of the museum will be funded privately through the Army Historical Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the Army's heritage.

Initial construction will include a multi-story, main museum building with exhibit halls, theater, Veterans' Hall, food service and retail areas, administrative areas, an experiential learning center and a lobby with visitor reception area.

The Army is currently the only service without a centralized museum. The Navy Museum is located at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C.; the Marine Corps Museum is located at the Marine Base Quantico in Prince William County, Va.; and the Air Force Museum is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

I've been to the USMC and USAF museums, and both are fantastic (the Marines have an edge - the longer history trumps the giant plane yard for me). I hope the US Army museum measures up.

By: Brant

Battle Lab: Fog of War(Gaming)

Originally published at The Wargamer

The Fog of War(gaming)

What is the Fog of War?

If ask 10 different people, you’ll get 10 different answers. In fact, I did just that, and here are some excerpts:

“Fog of War is the state of affairs on the battlefield (or pertaining to it) that is beyond a commander's knowledge. For example, a commander may have a unit which has achieved a specific objective, but the commander is unaware of it due to the fact not having been relayed back to him. A second example may be that a specific objective may house an enemy commander's HQ but that knowledge is withheld for whatever reason; in terms of conditions on the battlefield may appear to be an irrelevant objective or one that seems a dangerous, undefined, or irrelevant mission.”

“the enemy's course of action is unknown and/or unconfirmed.”

“Fog of War refers to the confusion and lack of certainty a commander faces while making decisions on how to conduct a battle or war. Since modern war occurs over an area too large for a single commander to view, they rely on information from various sources to develop a mental model of what is occurring. They make their judgment and issue orders based on what they believe is occurring. Lack of information, wrong information, late information, all contribute to create an imperfect perception of what is occurring. This disconnect between what the commander thinks is occurring and what actually is occurring is referred to as the Fog of War.”

“The Fog of War is the lack of certainty in regard to the intent and composition of the enemy.”

“It is summed up as uncertainty based on lack of knowledge.”

“The Fog of War is that period of uncertainty from when the Enemy's intentions are surmised and the enemy's actions are known.”

“All the things everyone doesn't know for sure during an armed conflict.”

So, generally, the “fog of war” is the lack of perfect situational awareness that comes about naturally as a result of actions on the battlefield. Of course it can be present in varying degrees – it is never either “on” or “off”. Curiously enough, the US Army and Marine Corps have no official definitions in their field manuals defining operational terms and graphics.
When examining the issues around “fog of war” however, how can we apply the problems, and their potential solutions, to boardgaming. This is one area in which our computer-gaming brethren have our butts kicked. Computer models can integrate a variety of fog of war effects, in large part because the computer can hide or reveal as much or as little as the programmers desire. It’s much harder to hid information when it’s all printed on a counter in front of you.

more after the jump! (click the article header for the full article)

GrogNews Origins Coverage

Where do we focus? What do you want to see? What should we cover? Give us your details and special requests in the comments.

By: Brant

17 June 2011

Parade in Afghanistan

We don't normally talk much in the way of sports around here, but this was just too darn clever, and we had to share.

h/t bourbon @ SWJ

By: Brant

US Army Armor School Cases Colors at Ft Knox

BRAC strikes again, as the US Army Armor School says goodbye to Ft Knox.

After 71 years at Fort Knox, the U.S. Army Armor School cased its flags Friday at Brooks Parade Field, marking the transition of the last remaining Armor School elements to Fort Benning, Ga.

Fort Knox’s longtime identity as the home of Armor and Cavalry changed with the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure announcement that directed Fort Knox to lose its armor and cavalry training mission by September 2011.

Col. Marshal Dougherty (left), 16th Cavalry Brigade commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Mitchell (middle) cased the colors at the casing ceremony Friday, June 10, 2011. (Photo courtesy of Fort Knox)

My grandmother's younger brother was a member of the 7th class of the Armor Officer Course back in WWII. I graduated the same course about 53 years later.

By: Brant

Random Friday Wargaming: First Battles series from GDW

Back in my high-school years, GDW released a handful of games on the same system, called First Battles. The main two games were Test of Arms and
Battlefield: Europe, two paired games that tie together quite nicely, even if the rules had some flaws that Steven Bucey has spent years tweaking to bring into line with reality.

More game-design kits than pure games, both of these cover a lot of different scenarios, from the very plausible (Yugoslavian civil war) to the wacky (Belgian civil war) in Battlefield: Europe, and games all over the world (Libya-Chad, India-Pakistan, etc) in Test of Arms.

All of the First Battles series games are consolidated on one thread over at CSW, so you also get Sands of War and Team Yankee in there, too.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant