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"DANGER ZONE AAR: GAME 2 - The Silkworm Envelope" Topic


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©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Bozkashi Jones11 Aug 2019 1:15 p.m. PST

July 22, 1987

This was our second game in our Operation Earnest Will campaign; last time Henry had caused significant damage to the USS Kidd and US public opinion was calling for revenge.

So when it came time for the first actual convoy mission I found that the Rules of Engagement were essentially 'weapons free' and I had pretty much everything the US Navy could give me in terms of support.

The scene was exactly the same as last time; I had to guide the SS Bridgeton and the SS Gas Prince through the Straits of Hormuz and into the Persian Gulf. My force had been depleted, however; the USS Kidd was slated to be part of the escort but she is currently in dry dock and won't be available until September at the earliest.

Fortunately I was able to call upon the USS Ticonderoga, though she was not to be allowed to enter the Gulf itself. In addition, I had rolling air cover provided by three pairs of F-14s Tomcats, a strike force of two A-7 Corsairs and AEW cover from an E-2 Hawkeye, all from the USS Constitution.

1200 Delta, and the convoy starts its approach. 'F' and 'A' are the US tankers, 'B' the USS Jarrett (FFG), 'D' the USS Fox (CG) and 'H' the USS Ticonderoga, on picket duty.

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As a pair of F-14s flew CAP I called in the Corsairs, ready to hit any Iranian surface units that got too close.

Ahead I was aware of three contacts, about 30 miles NNW, and air contacts coming in from the NE and NW.

By 1215 Jarrett's helo was in the air, ready to get a Mk I Eyeball on the surface contacts. About the same time the Tico is becoming concerned about the air contact to the NE and 'paints' it with her FC radar, issuing plain language warnings in both English and Farsi. The contact pulls back it's an Iranian P-3 Orion. Although I'm weapons free, I don't allow the Ticonderoga to fire the US firing first will always be presented as being the aggressor, despite what happened last time.

This dealt with for the moment, and with the surface contacts identified as fishing boats, another contact is approaching from the NW and the Tomcats' wings fold back as they race to intercept. It turns out to be 'commair' a commercial airliner.

By 1230 that P-3 is being a real pain in my backside; it circles, passing targeting information back to the as yet unknown Iranian forces.

By this point I'm beginning to think that we're just going to continue playing this game of cat-and-mouse it would be an odd wargame that has no shooting, but believe me it was tense!

But then, at around 1245 things start to happen. The Tomcats, back on CAP, speed off to the NW to intercept what turns out to be another commercial airliner (Henry had very nearly deliberately succeeded in luring me into his airspace a propaganda coup for the Iranians), so when the P-3 begins to approach the Ticonderoga I have no F-14s to 'bounce' it.

I again issue warnings but the P-3 keeps coming and in the end I give the order to open fire.

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A Standard missile whooshes off; less than a minute later a fireball is seen from the US ship, some 20 miles to the north. There's no rejoicing, though I know Henry will claim it was unarmed even though I know that Iranian Orions can carry Maverick missiles.

Fifteen minutes later the USS Fox detects a Silkworm being fired from Qeshm Island.

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She fires and takes it down. Another quarter of an hour goes by and another Silkworm is detected, this time heading for the Ticonderoga which is dealt with in a similarly perfunctory manner.

And with that the Action of 22 July is over. Henry was waiting for me to hit the Silkworm launchers with my Corsairs, which were certainly in a position to do so, but after downing the Orion I really didn't want to start hitting land targets in Iran itself.

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In the post game admin I find that the Rules of Engagement have been tightened slightly, but they still give me plenty of latitude. Downing an 'unarmed' maritime reconnaissance causing the deaths of 11 crewmen has jolted public opinion; there's still a general acceptance that military action is necessary, but reality has sunk in and I will have to be careful in future engagements.

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The next game takes us to 'Indian Country', the northern Gulf outside the range of carrier based aircraft. We'll see what happens…

Nick

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian11 Aug 2019 2:20 p.m. PST

thumbs up

Darkest Star Games Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 7:37 a.m. PST

I find it really interesting how campaigns can significantly alter the actions of players. I'm betting that if this was just a scenario things would have been a bit more furious and explosive from both sides?

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2019 5:17 p.m. PST

Thanks for sharing your report and pics.

Sounds interesting.

colkitto14 Aug 2019 11:57 a.m. PST

These are some of the most engaging AARs I've read – and would certainly persuade me to buy the rules, if there were any (hint, hint …)

Bozkashi Jones20 Aug 2019 8:02 a.m. PST

Thanks guys, sorry for the tardy response but been on holiday.

A campaign setting certainly does impact the decisions – Henry had a couple of Silkworms (land based) and the P-3, I had two cruisers, a frigate, six F-14s, two A-7s and an E-2 and yet I never got a chance to use most of this largess because I had to keep my response proportionate or risk losing support. Without the context I would have pummelled Henry easily but because of it, even a low-intensity game such as this is filed with tension. In total only 6 missiles fired: 2 Silkworms, 4 Standards.

Colkitto – cheers for the encouragement – if I do consider publishing I'll keep you in mind for play-testing!

Nick

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