I must say it's disappointing writing this while the rest of you are probably still out on the field. Leaving early never provokes happiness.
As part of Just Joe's Hunter/Killer team Charlie, my assessment is that we performed our role quite effectively,taking out at least three Recon team members each patrol (I ended up leaving with two kills).
One Recon team decided it would be an intelligent idea to make a run for the interior of Silo when our team engaged them at around 1945 hrs during our second (red) patrol . Let's just hope they learned that getting pinned in a building is not an effective way to complete objectives. After two patrols,we took over guard duty at Nanny at 2000 hrs. This was a peaceful hour. We received no engagements,and I propped my gun up a few feet away,and lay down... almost fell asleep twice,just waiting in solitude. The silence was abruptly broken when a fellow HK teammate managed to entangle themselves in Bluewolf's trip wire... which happened to be attached to a Thunder B grenade. No one has confessed. After a brief firefight at the beginning of our third patrol, I had to leave the field.
Overall,even with my brief stay,I thought this was an exceptionally well orchestrated Op,and I am already looking forward to a similar style of play again. Night games are often very confusing,with more team mates dead than enemies. However ,this problem was brilliantly solved with lights Vs. no lights. One idea off the top of my head...I think adding a vehicle transport of some type would be a fascinating element for next time. Also,it seemed that radio communication was not at it's finest,possibly more due to interference than anything else. Hopefully that can be improved upon in the future,as communication is vital,especially at night.Thank you to my teammates from HK Charlie for watching my back,and a special thank you to Just Joe for leading,and especially to Kommisar and all the others who made the 2012 Recon Challenge a fantastic experience. Hope the rest of the night was successful,one and all.
AAR 2012 RECON CHALLENGE: by KOMISSAR
A few years back the DC team was invited to an event called the ‘Reconners Challenge’ which was to be held in northern California and hosted by Roger Muller and the Marine Corps Historical Association (MCHA) of Washington. After much excited discussion, our troops decided to attend as HKs and over the next few months we assembled a dozen operators for the event. Unfortunately, the large number of quality operators needed to field such an event couldn’t be found, and the event had to be canceled due to lack of interest. I still wonder what exciting moments and great stories might have come from having attended this event had the effort been put forth to produce it.
Last year I decided that although I never knew how Muller intended to run his event, I wanted to attempt something with the same concept. The plan was to have a Mil-Sim OP with quality operators, and a sandbox environment.
I began designing an experiment. I personally have run dozens of events and attended OPs run by expert OPCOM, but I can’t remember the operators ever having a choice as to which missions to attempt or having been allowed to choose where they entered the field. Having had success with the design of ‘Mission Days’ and the random draw of operator tasks I carried the same idea into more detail. This time, the recon operators would have a long list of tasks to complete and would be allowed to choose the order the tasks were completed.
The final task list had over twenty things for each recon team to complete in just six hours. Most of the tasks were not complex, but when attempted at night even movement becomes difficult. Of the original task list issued at our OP, I would guess that not half of them were completed by the OPs end. This is a direct reflection of the difficulties found by the recon teams who bore the weight of time, and constant attack by not just HKs, but each other.
An additional idea that was added during the making of this task list was that each of the recon operators should have an MOS, (military occupational specialty), or a specific job. Team Leader, RTO, Land Navigator, Combat Engineer, Medic, and a Heavy Weapon Specialist were just some of the early ideas, which were used. I finally decided that we would have only four jobs on each team.
To accommodate a feel of freedom of movement for the operators I extended the field to around 16 acres. Its fine for the operators to not fully know their environment; however OPCOM should have it in detail. If I had the option of running it on 30 acres it would have been better for the design, but rather than move the event to a new location on its first run I felt allowing the operators familiar ground would assist them with the night maneuvers. Having hard structures to use as landmarks somewhat aided the operators during the night portion of the event.
The Dog-Tags were initially intended to be a competition for the HK teams, but this would have been a dividing factor for a force that needed to be united. Although expensive, the Dog-Tags were kept to give the HK teams something of a trophy to claim, mostly for bragging rights.
The OP was designed for 16 recon operators in teams of four, and for 24 or more HK operators. The HKs were intended to be in groups of 6 or more which should have kept the recon troops choosing to hide rather than stand and fight. The low turnout resulted in two teams of 6 and one of 7 which diminished considerably by OPs end. This was very disappointing, although it has no reflection on the HK operators who attended. It only shows that I did a poor job of marketing the position of HK or possibly the OP in its entirety.
With the OP now over I am still sorting out what went well and what didn’t. I appreciate the feedback from all those who have posted and continue to post. In both the compliment and critique I learn from you who participated. Your views are personal and different, allowing insight into how the OP looks and feels from a side only you have. I appreciate and value your reports, and look forward to improving our operations to come.
NOTES ON THE EVENT and THANKS:
The registration system was helpful in tracking expected attendance, however again we had changes in commitment up to the day before the event. Thanks to the operators who took time to register. My personal thanks to Bluewolf, and StierCo whose diligence made it especially easy to keep track of team changes.
The use of smoke and some pyrotechnics was enjoyed by operators who previously had not been allowed to handle their ‘demolitions’ personally. I understand this can be a risk to liability, but again we were making the most at attempting to deal with only experienced operators. I was very impressed at the level of responsibility shown by those who shared the increased burden.
I was happy with the way the intended ‘classroom style’ briefings went. I could see firsthand as the operators entered to hear my typical “bla-bla bla”, they have heard over and over again. Their attitude and attention changed at the level of detail, and proved that it involved their own objective tasks. I found it made a positive difference, and set the feel I wanted for the OP.
I want to mention and give my thanks to the three OPCOM who ran integral parts of the event. Jen was the HVT located on each map at the POW camp. She had a specific set of tasks to carry out had any recon operator reached her. I had thought she would be busy. I was wrong. She did keep great spirits, and was vigilant for the duration of the event in the chance that a recon team made an attempt.
I had put a good deal of investment into the POW/HVT part of the OP, and expected at least one if not all recon teams to make the attempt if not succeed at making contact. I suspect that the HK teams were just too intimidating to consider taking the risk. The HKs were indeed formidable and held this position well. My favorite note to this effect was that they had taped flashlights into several of the bushes at a believable height so that any small breeze made it look as though an army of defenders was present. It was very believable and I admit to being fooled when I made my rounds down to check on the camp. Well done gentlemen. The best battle is one you never have to fight.
Both Edric and Katianna were OPCOM for the four recon teams, at two teams each. Despite radio equipment problems, they report that it was very slow and each of them had plenty of down time to just sit and enjoy looking at the stars. Again, I had expected a constant and stressful barrage of solid reports to be raining in throughout the night. Again, I was wrong. They did a great job, and the equipment failure was handled promptly. They were incredibly precise about the exchange of information, and recorded log entries.
I had initial concerns about having so much information which I needed to have presented to the many OPCOM and operators involved. I felt that there was so much detail to be kept track of and conveyed, that by the time the OP began I was certain I had forgotten large parts of critical detail that would allow the teams to complete their tasks. I guess we’ll never know.
I was very impressed at the level of control and discipline demonstrated by the majority of operators who attended. It was a night OP. It was presented to build intensity, realism, and excitement. There was an incredible amount of information given which was important to the success of each team, and the success of the operation itself. There were technically five separate and hostile teams involved plus OPCOM players. There was smoke and other diversions to cause unease and confusion on a field wrought with new features and structures. And operators were required to do something most aren’t very comfortable doing . . . communicate. I know I pushed the limits of the operators, OPCOM, and myself, but this is the way we find out what is possible when most people think it isn’t.
OPERATIONAL PROS and CONS:
Lastly, I would like to address some valid concerns.
Lights vs. no Lights:
Attendance and Registration:
Radio and Communication:
Recon using Flashlights:
Rock and Roll Blues:
Tripwires well used:
Nanny Duty and the Colonel:
Specialized Roles and Equipment:
Killing Field in the Red Area:
Time to End:
Komissar adressed the issue of fewer operators in attendance than was hoped for,in comparison with regular missions days. I think there are certainly many reasons for this,but following are a few from my perspective.
- Intimidation. Many of the Operators that attend missions day are newer to the sport than most. After attending the first time,they get a feel that there is a wide range of experience out on the field,and they are encouraged to keep returning to build up their skills. On the other hand,the Recon Challenge seemed to cater to a more hardcore individual. A novice reads that they'll be assembling pyrotechnics in the dark,and they're just too scared that if they go ,they'll screw up and make a fool out of themselves in front of the veterans. Many won't take that risk of damaging their pride.
- Timeframe. Missions days are morning to afternoon. It's convenient to be able to get up at eight,go play airsoft till three,and still have time to do chores around the house,homework,or other activities while still getting a decent night's rest. Recon challenge was not so convenient. It required Operators to stay out past normal bedtimes. Many people didn't get in bed till after 2 am,I imagine. Especially for younger Operators who cannot drive past a certain time,or need a ride,this is a major drawback.
- First Annual. Finally,it's possible that some Operators,especially those who live far away and have to make a major commitment to attend, may have decided to simply sit back and observe the event to see how it goes the first time before actaully coming out for the next one. It's kind of like an electronic device ,or software .. if you're wise,you don't bother buying the very first version that comes out,because you know it's the test version and it's going to have problems. You wait until the quirks are worked out and an updated one becomes available. Such may be the mentality of some in regards to the Recon Challenge. I disagree however,because although I'm sure they'll be improvements next time,the first Recon Challenge was a smooth success.
Anyways,there's my insight into some possible reasons for low attendance.