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"DANGER ZONE AAR: GAME 1 – Highway to the Danger Zone" Topic


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Bozkashi Jones03 Aug 2019 11:14 a.m. PST

"Our tradition was whenever we would enter the Persian Gulf, whether it was the middle of the day or three in the morning, over the ship's loudspeaker system we would play ‘Danger Zone' from [the film] Top Gun. It was a way to let the crew know we're entering a bad place now guys. This is for real."
Lt.Cdr. Robert Johnston, USS O'Brien

It's been a long time coming, and sadly real-life events seem to be overtaking our 1987 Tanker War campaign, but Henry and I had our first action in the Gulf this afternoon.

The date was 6 July 1987 and, to prepare for the start of the US escort mission, I had a flotilla of one destroyer and two frigates to lead through the narrow Straits of Hormuz. As this was our first game US public opinion was generally accepting of the need to conduct operations; opposition was an accepted, if minority, view. The Rules of Engagement were pretty restrictive, boiling down to basically, "don't shoot unless they do, and let them go if they try and disengage".

To be honest, I wasn't actually expecting any shooting – Henry (playing Iran) has very limited assets and he's a clever sod, so I expected him to bide his time and try and provoke an overreaction on my part, something that would start turning public opinion against me and whittle down my ability to deploy any meaningful force.

My starting point was historic; the destroyer USS Kidd and two OH Perry class, the USS Klakring and the USS Flatley. I also had 1 point of support, so I chose a pair of F-14 Tomcats from the USS Constellation. The mission was simple: get through the straits and into the Gulf.

So, at 1200 Delta I find my flotilla off the coast of Oman, with sea and air contacts pinging up all over the place. I know I need to start identifying and sorting these threats so I call in the F-14s – to be honest I wish I'd ordered them for the start but any game where you feel that you've made all the right decisions means you're not really being tested!

It was all a bit tense; I was steaming at 24 knots so it was obvious to Henry which were my warships – I just wanted to get through the Straits as quickly as possible! An airliner did overfly my force at 1215 which made me sweat a bit until it was identified, though of more concern were a couple of contacts moving southwest over the Gulf…

To start sorting out where my threats were I launched a helo from the USS Klakring. In this photo A, B and C are Kidd, Flatley and Klakring respectively, the helo just having launched.

picture

The helo's first job was to identify a surface contact some thirty miles ahead which turned out to be a harmless bulk carrier:

picture

And then the **** got real!

I'd been tracking these air contacts as they flew southwest – they were heading away now when suddenly, at 1230, they turned. The USS Kidd, on picket duty, immediately picked this up and issued a challenge, painting them with FC radar. The Iranian F-4 Phantom pilots, professional and battle-hardened, held their nerve and made their run in.

I was repeatedly warning Henry that I would open fire as he came in: at 30 miles, at fifteen miles, at 5 miles…

picture

I knew that if I fired it would be presented by the Iranians as naked aggression and public opinion would turn against me and the Rules of Engagement might be even tighter for the next engagement – Henry was bluffing, surely – any moment now those F-4s would just buzz the Kidd and fly off laughing.

But no:

picture

Two Mavericks detached themselves from the Phantoms – they were virtually on top of me! I had no chance – they slammed into the USS Kidd causing her to stop dead in the water.

By now the F-14 were on the scene and they engaged. The Iranian pilots scrammed to the north but not quickly enough for one of the Phantoms as it was hit by an AAM.

picture

I was in a bit of a mess now; the Klakring had gone to assist the Kidd, which by 1245 was once again under her own power and the remaining F-4 had withdrawn, but I was still unsure about what else I was facing.

picture

Until I detected a Silkworm missile coming in from Qeshm Island. Fortunately, the Flatley was now on picket duty (sort of overwatch in my rules) and was able to deal with this threat.

And that was pretty much it; I was able to push through the straits without further molestation, while the USS Kidd withdrew; she wont be available for the next two games – a problem for me as she was slated for the first escort mission on the 22nd.

In the post-game admin we calculated the effect: US Public opinion would now have me nuke Iran if that was an option and Rules of Engagement has me weapons free for the next game. I also have a whopping 5 extra support points to add to the 3 I would have had anyway, so I reckon I've got the entire Air Wing from the Connie, or I may even call on the USS Ticonderoga…

But public opinion is a fickle thing; if I use disproportionate force or take further losses it could well turn against me – so watch this space…

Nick

Lascaris03 Aug 2019 11:54 a.m. PST

Very interesting AAR. I like how your rules are forcing you to be thoughtful about how and when you engage.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2019 11:58 a.m. PST

Nice battle report, Nick.

Thanks for sharing.

Been wanting to do something like this as well, though was primarily concentrating on the air portion of the engagements. Might need to add in some surface vessels for even more fun, just for grins.

What rules are you using?

I like the idea of adding in "real-world" political considerations rules of engagement, and backing/losses too.

Given your result, no doubt the Iranians will be further emboldened by their "victory" over the "Great Satan".

Bozkashi Jones05 Aug 2019 10:30 a.m. PST

Cheers guys.

It's going to be an interesting one – I'll have overwhelming firepower next time and virtually no restrictions on engaging, but if I go too hard that public opinion will start to turn. Similarly, if I take another hit that will be bad news too.

With all the support options I've got for the next game I reckon I might take a couple of Corsairs to hit the silkworm batteries if Henry deploys them again; normally hitting targets in Iran would have a detrimental impact on opinion, but the public wants to see the Navy hit back, so I might ride my luck.

With regard to rules, they're my own and still in development. For anyone who might be interested in how they work, I jotted some notes here: TMP link

The campaign itself is just seven linked scenarios based on real incidents. The real driver is US public opinion – if it ever reaches zero then the mission will be abandoned and I'll have lost. At the moment it's 17 out of 20 :)

Having the USS Kidd hit has really stirred things up and the hawks hold sway in Washington, but from now on any further Iranian successes will quickly erode that (the first casualties are met with calls for revenge, but any more and the public start to lose confidence). Next time there's no way I'll let the Iranians get so close, but if I fire first it's a propaganda coup for the them, so opinion will start to slide. The post game admin took about two minutes – that's my sort of campaign!

Nick

colkitto11 Aug 2019 1:50 p.m. PST

This is fascinating – and topical. (I was in an airliner flying over the Gulf myself not that long ago, and I confess to looking out of the window occasionally with great interest.) Looking forward to the next instalment!

Bozkashi Jones11 Aug 2019 2:28 p.m. PST

Cheers Colkitto – and you didn't have long to wait! Just posted game 2: TMP link

Nick

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