Skirmish at Banja Grace, Balkans 1990s

by Paul Martin, March 2008

ARS (Serbs)

  • CO (CV8)
  • 3 x Regular Serb Infantry
  • 2 x Serb Special Forces (1 with RPG Upgrade)
  • 1 x Serb Police Detachment
  • 1 x M84/85 MBT
  • HQ (CV7)
  • 2 x Regular Serb Infantry (1 with RPG Upgrade)
  • 1 x Serb Medium Mortar
  • 1 x Serb HMG
  • 1 x Serb ATGW Sagger
  • 1 x SA-9
  • HQ (CV7)
  • 1 x Serb Special Forces
  • 1 x Serb Police Detachment
  • 2 x M84/85 MBT

1210 points, Breakpoint 9. The Serb objective is to take and hold the UN Compound on the outskirts of the village which is lightly defended, however an IFOR battle-group is believed to be within an hours striking distance.

IFOR (British Contingent)

  • CO (CV9)
  • 2 x Regular Infantry
  • 1 x Saxon APC
  • 1 x FV432 with Mortar
  • 1 x Jaguar GR1
  • HQ (CV8)
  • 1 x Regular Infantry
  • 1 x Warrior IFV
  • 1 x Challenger 1
  • 1 x Recce Scimitar

IFOR (Dutch Contingent)

  • HQ (CV8)
  • 4 x Regular Infantry
  • 2 x M113 APC
  • 1 x Leopard 2A5

UN Contingent (Guarding Compound)

  • 3 x UN Infantry (move 10, 1/20*, 3 Hits)
  • 1 x Jeep
  • 1 x Truck

1185 points, Breakpoint 6. The UN Compound is lightly protected by a small contingent of aid workers. Serbian Regulars are believed to be operating in the area and a joint British and Dutch force is on its way to the area to intercept the force.

Special Rules in operation

The UN Contingent may not engage any hostile force unless life is directly threatened. To represent this – UN Aid workers may only fire if fired upon or if hostile troops attempt to enter the compound. When opening fire they may only fire within initiative range or as opportunity fire.

The British/Dutch contingents enter play randomly on a roll of 6 on 1d6 after the compound is attacked. The Dutch Contingent enters first followed by either or both of the British Contingents. These forces may engage hostile forces at will.

The Game

Things got off to a slow start with the Serbs cautiously advancing through the village taking up blocking positions along the main road IFOR troops were expected to use.

The Serbian CO, frustrated at the reticence of his commands to move took control and managed to move his command just short of the compound. The UN Troops challenged the advance to be answered by a violent hail of fire as the Serbs brought their MBT’s to bear. A short sharp struggle soon saw the defenders overwhelmed and taken into captivity whilst the remaining Serb forces consolidated their positions awaiting an IFOR response.

Within minutes the rumble of AFV’s could be heard from the hills overlooking the village. The first small contingent of Dutch troops, unsure of what forces faced them deployed in the woods.

Another cagey turn or two passed – the Dutch unwilling to engage the Serbs with such a small force before their British allies arrived. The Serb commander took full advantage of this tardiness to get his armour into concealed positions.

Again the British contingents failed to arrive so the Dutch commander ordered his solitary Leopard to engage the Serb Armour. Within seconds the Serbs responded; all three M84/85’s engaging the Leopard. The dice rattled and showed a disappointing number of hits which were easily saved by the Leopard in its partial concealment at the edge of the woods.

Another turn passed with the Leopard managing to suppress one of the Serb MBT’s. Frustratingly and despite a numerical advantage, command roll after command roll failed for the Serbs. In a bid to draw out the Dutch the Serb committed his solitary Sagger trying to obtain a clear bead on the Leopard. Moving out of cover on the first command roll and then failing the following roll… suddenly the Sagger found itself in the open.

To make matters worse the rumble of the advance elements of the British contingent became audible. Late arriving they soon made up for lost time with the lead recce unit racing down the road toward the village. The Sagger was in clear LOS. Needing 5 or more to call in air support the recce unit passed its roll. A Jaguar screamed in, overshot its target (the ATGW) and found its burst template smack on top of the SA9. Today was not to be the Serb commanders day. The SAM crew taken totally by surprise failed to score a single hit on the Jaguar – the rest as they say is history. Even the Sagger crew failed to hit the advancing Scimitar.

In desperation the Serb commander tried to take out the Scimitar who was picking out targets at leisure for his RAF buddies. Two RPG rounds were despatched at the Scimitar, both missing. Meanwhile the two British commands were advancing along either flank of the village with the Challenger and Warrior racing around a corner to catch an M84/85 in the rear.

The Dutch HQ detached two infantry squads in an M113 to join the British CO on the other flank. Further turns saw the Serb commander continue to play an observing role as the IFOR troops rolled up his forces from both flanks ably supported by some devastatingly accurate air strikes.

Two out of the three Serbian MBT’s were by this stage knocked-out and although the core of the infantry force at the compound remained relatively intact, there was little the Serb Commander could do but wait for nightfall. He hoped that the IFOR commanders reticence to engage with his infantry would mean that the remaining forces could slip away under cover of darkness. His other bargaining chip was the hostages he held. The IFOR contingent dare not launch an air attack on the compound for fear of causing casualties to their own.

After-Action Thoughts

Although pretty one-sided this game was still a lot of fun. The Serbs quickly gained control of the compound and looked to have a pretty solid game plan – a classic waiting game. So did the IFOR Commander win? Well the situation for the Serbs was pretty helpless by the end of the game, but the IFOR Commander couldn’t risk an infantry assault with UN Troops as human shields.

Clearly an IFOR win as they didn’t lose a single unit. Having said that after 15 game turns they still didn’t hold the compound. You decide!

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