BATTLEGROUND

Airsoft in the YubaCity / Marysville area.

 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.

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If the game hadnt ended when it did, i would have loved to get the hvt, and i know we had the resources to accomplish that mission.

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:

  • In design, I had several options. I needed to distinguish teams in the dark to minimize the friendly fire which would be caused by large HK patrols who would by design pass on one another’s patrols. If all lights were on, the recon could not effectively be recon. This left me with the choice to experiment with having the HKs use lights to distinguish them from the recon forces.
  • Most of the engagements were by HKs moving right over the top of recon troops who had hoped to remain still and unseen. When they would panic from fear of being found, they would open fire at close range and make a run for it. The recon teams rightly feared the HKs.
  • My opinion on the lights used, are that most HK operators used tiny lights which gave away their position but never really lit the area up in front of them enough to be of use. They went with cheaper solutions instead of opting to acquire the right tool for the job. (If you must have light, then make it daytime!)  The recon use of lights to get past the HKs was well conceived, and the type of ingenuity this event encouraged.
  • One clever option which I was sent was that the HKs could wear glow-sticks like those OPCOM had on, designating teams by color. I suspect this will result in close engagement firefights where operators would rather fire than get close enough to see what color glowstick their opponent is wearing. But I would like to see it tested.

 

Attendance and Registration:

  • The registration system worked well. I had expected to have the rosters for recon filled in the first month, but as it was, changes were happening up to just days before the event. I definitely like having registration better than the ‘yes-no-maybe’ system we have on the site.
  • I am still wondering why the turnout was so low. I constantly hear operators wanting bigger, better, and more realistic OPs, but I couldn’t even get 40 to commit to this one. The best result I have found is to run Mission Days. Plain and simple.

 

Radio and Communication:

  • This OP required more communication and attention to the location of your friendly forces than anything I have run or attended prior. The HK force as a whole took charge of its communications in an absolutely professional manor. It was incredible how organized they made and kept open communication from the time they took the field through to the end.
  • The recon teams who needed the same level of coordination fell short. Radio problems struck almost immediately and later resulted in lost team members and lost time. Not every recon team had poor communication, but they did suffer more during the night portion of the OP when even basic teamwork and planning fell to the difficulties of operating after dark.
  • The greatest benefits can be seen by how much the operators used their radios not only to complete objectives and navigate, but also to coordinate and reinforce their scouting squads when a firefight erupted.

 

Experience Diversified:

  • Another of the pros that I see having come from this event is that the operators took advantage of the opportunities that this OP offered. I introduced so many new ideas in this OP that nearly every operator had some experience which they had never had before. (Night OP, sandbox style environment, pyrotechnics, greater team challenge, multiple tasks, ect.) In short, it wasn’t just the same old game.

 

Friendly Fire:

  • Friendly fire never is, but at night OPs the potential is much greater. I pulled to get the best operators to attend, and to a great degree we had nearly all very seasoned veterans. Even still, friendly fire does happen, and not always by newer operators. It’s on the con list, but there is not much I can do about it but offer to run more training days. We’ll see who shows up!

 

Recon using Flashlights:

  • I touched on this above but to make it clear, the recon operators were allowed to use deceptive means to accomplish their missions. I heard of an account where one operator was hidden while an HK patrol approached. He waited until the patrol was near, clicked on his light and moved with the group as if part of the patrol. When they moved off, he clicked off his light and took cover until they moved out of site. Makes more sense than starting a shootout with a superior force. At least until your deception is blown.

 

Rock and Roll Blues:

  • I guess I can’t print it or say it enough when it comes to the rules of an event. Once again it was in the two information pages I had up for months before the OP, but I should know better, no one reads that stuff. So, I said it again at the safety briefing. And I am pretty sure I answered a few guys who asked me if this was a Semi-Auto event. Yes. Yes it was. No one had any special permission to use full auto. I was witness to two occasions where it was used by recon operators at nearly point blank range on HK patrols. The HK patrols took the fire, called their hits, and fell dead per all the rules. Once I even overheard them reminding their ambushers that it was semi-auto only. As OPCOM this falls on me, and I will continue to do all I can. There is really no excuse that can be given.

 

Tripwires well used:

  • I think the use of the tripwire grenades were utilized perfectly in this OP. One was located beneath the Red 1 tower and left its recon operator in a really bad situation having to run from all the HK patrols it brought rushing to the area. The second tripwire grenade placed near the gate into the lower pasture, made a victim of an inattentive HK operator who didn’t know, forgot, or wasn’t warned. It didn’t make any difference, it did its job!
  • These two items added another wonderful effect to the feel of the OP, and it was the exact type of setting for them. Another thing I appreciated was that I had nothing to do with it! Both were the efforts of Jenson and Bill of the HK force. Thanks guys.

 

Nanny Duty and the Colonel:

  • Well, this aspect of the OP never did show up. By that I mean that it never had its designed effect. To give you the planning behind this, there was a whole POW style camp build with six foot fence, and small one room structure built to accommodate the OPCOM who portrayed the HVT to be contacted. Once again, as OPCOM it shows how you can put a great deal of resources into even part of an OP and have it go nearly unnoticed.
  • On the good side, Jen (the Colonel), and the HK teams who spent their scheduled rotation at the camp enjoyed some relaxation during the nights festivities. The HKs used their down time to rest, eat, and even entertain. Recon operator Spidedd made it worthwhile as he alone made an attempt to rescue the HVT in one valiant charge. Much like a moth to a bug zapper.

 

Specialized Roles and Equipment:

  • Another investment for this OP was that put toward all the issued gear given to the recon operators to be working representations of their real life counterparts. Smoke bombs, maps, a do-it-yourself radio antenna kit, sparkler bombs, hand saws, tape and parts to build another bomb type device. The other half of many of these props were only to be seen if the teams actually made it to the items destination for attachment or assembly. Oh, and lots of glow-sticks.
  • This would seem a pro, as the recon operators gave close attention to the ever growing pile of equipment that they would take into the field. I am still not sure that the effort warrants the reward, but they had a good time and that’s what we’re here for.
  • I think having specialized roles greatly influences the realism of an event. None of us want to be the ‘faceless minion’ from so many popular video games. Although in real life it is the countless rank and file that have been required in wars of the past, the small unit individual special operations operator is what is desired in the Airsoft Mi-Sim field of today. I had realized this and in fact the reason for the OP completely. What I did not foresee was the effect conveyed to the HK teams who were there to defend a set location, or be on the hunt for all enemies in their territory. I advertized it exactly as it was given, but the role was somehow diminished in my presentation. The HK teams did what we do at every standard Airsoft event, and I even considered this when asking for the regular $10 field donation rather than the $20 requested from the recon operators. If any operator went away having felt as though he was sold a bag of worthless goods, you can be assured this was never my intent. Again I mention that this was run as an experiment and I presented it in the most open and honest way I could.

 

Drop Zones:

  • Here is an example of something that I believe worked well and could easily be incorporated into most events. The opportunity for the teams to choose their point of insertion I think lent itself well to the role of a Special Forces drop. Obviously you can’t have the indigenous forces or those who are defending a set location choose a random start point, however I hope to see this utilized in future OPs as a point of realism.

 

Killing Field in the Red Area:

  • Again it was not by design that the recon teams had such easy going in the upper part of the AO. This OP was designed to have a minimum of 24 HK operators, and could have been really good if I could have had 30 attend. I can’t make it much cheaper to attend, and I invested all that I could in time and money to give the best event possible. Now I know why Roger Muller never ran his challenge event. It is nearly impossible, correction, . . . I haven’t figured out how to motivate 40 quality operators to attend more than the Missions Day events. With this in mind, the design was to have at least four full teams of HKs on the field. We had three teams. Five would have been better! With five teams it would have allowed for two more full teams of HKs to patrol the upper end of the AO and this would have given the OP the feel I had intended. We had awesome HK operators who were spread thin trying to defend too much ground.

 

Time to End:

  • I would agree with the opinions I have heard in the effect that the OP lasted long enough to have a good time, but it was concluded before it could dwindle to a non-event. People were tired, hungry, and had been pushed to their limits for the most part. They went home scratched and dented, but having challenged themselves in an event like no other. I learned a great deal from running this OP. More of what works and what doesn’t. What people are looking for in an event, and what they are unwilling to invest in. I had a great time designing it, and really enjoyed watching it unfold. Thank you to all those who were a part!
I am shamed once again by my use of not semi auto, and i call it such because i utilized a few bursts in a few situations. I never held the trigger and autoed sn hk (that was another shamed individual). I honestly didnt know that it was semi auto and maybe because i was too busy screwing around during the briefing. My apologies to everyone who followed the rules, and the victims of my controlled, not semi auto bursts (again i dont wish to be confused with the other more shamed . I am gonna make sure that in the future, i dont repeat this error. I hope that my shame is short lived and i can move on and play some airsoft.

 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.  

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