I've decided to put together a little after action report from the latest Stirling event which me and my brother attended at the weekend. I've seen a few threads where people were asking questions about the 'Combat Mission' 24 hour events that they run and so hopefully this should answer those questions. Some parts may be left deliberately vague so as to keep some cats in the bag about the location.
So, the briefing was that there were to be 3 teams; Azearian State (Kind of IS in Africa style), TF 45 (Joint Uk and US special forces), and ATAC PMC (a private company providing support to Kenyan Rangers). AS had been involved with smuggling weapons and ivory around the area of operations, and in doing so initiated a contact with a patrol of Kenyan rangers and ATAC. Most of the rangers were killed but ATAC had fallen back to a disused Kenyan outpost. TF 45 had been called in to rescue them and provide support with anti-poaching operations. We signed up for the ATAC team.
Arriving on Friday evening was a bit of a shock, we'd heard the site was pretty big and quite uneven, but that's quite an understatement. It encompasses pretty much 6 different forests, with areas of farmland and bushland in between. There is loads of natural cover, making it a paradise for recce teams or even those inclined to spring close quarter ambushes. A track network crosses the site with a number of junctions which allowed Stirling to deploy their complement of vehicles (Land rovers, quad bike, polaris buggy etc...) but even these struggled with some of the inclines. There is a safe area in which to leave your car, but the track can be quite muddy so don't expect the car to be clean after you've driven up and down there!
Kit was unpacked from the car in the light rain, and loaded onto a 4x4 for transport up to the location which would be our Patrol Base (PB) for the duration of the event. We were met by some of the TF 45 players and Stirling team, who directed us to set up our basha and basically be ready for about 10am the following morning for the game brief. With the 24 hour events they seem to start at 11am on the Saturday and run through until 11am (or thereabouts) on the Sunday morning. Stops for food and water etc will depend on your objectives and how the event is unfolding.
Saturday morning camp around after a relatively mild night, a few more TF 45 players turned up in the night and were preparing their kit. After a cup of tea and some breakfast I had a wander around the immediate area and got to see just how extreme the terrain was. It was at this point we also learnt that only 3 players had signed up for the ATAC side, so 5 others were transferred from various elements of TF 45 to add to our strength. Ben gave us a briefing at about 1030 and we were told to be ready for 1100, when the TF 45 team would leave the PB and the AS team would start to try and find, and ultimate eliminate the 8 of us. We split into two fire-teams, and 5 of us acted as a roving standing patrol around the immediate area whilst the remainder provided security at the PB.
After about an hour we spotted a 6-man AS patrol about 200m from the PB. They spotted one of our patrol but two of us remained well concealed, so as soon as the enemy were in range we got some fire down and called the contact report in to TF 45 and requested immediate assistance. Whilst waiting we pulled back to the PB. On arrival they swept the area and the remaining enemy snuck away into the trees. ATAC were then given the tasking of sending out a patrol to search one of the forests for a rhinoceros, and to report back any signs of enemy activity.
Daysacks were loaded as it was anticipated to take 4 hours, and we set off to search for the rhino. Approximately 2 minutes into our patrol we stumbled into a group of enemy about 200 metres from the PB and immediately 2 of us were hit. With support from the 4x4 mounted GPMG we regrouped and pressed on. The patrol took us downhill into a forest following trails, communications with the TF commander were poor as this area of the site is a radio blackspot so we had to bounce messages through other callsigns. After locating the rhino (Very impressive!!) we headed back to the PB. The return journey was all uphill and quite hard work with the amount of kit we had elected to carry (and my LMG). However, our point man is a Stirling regular and advised us of the best route to follow.
We spent the next hour or two getting some food and water down our necks and providing security at the PB whilst the rest of TF was out on taskings. But not for long, as we were suddenly required to act as a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) for a recce callsign who had been involved in a number of firefights with a small enemy patrol. We grabbed our gear (Fighting order; no daysacks and I swapped the LMG for my M4!) and mounted the land rovers for the journey to the rendezvous point. After a little walk we met the recce patrol who were guarding a lion, and then pushed on to find and destroy the enemy. It did not take long to find them and the 8 of us soon overwhelmed them in a pincer movement that left them fairly surprised!
After this we requested the vehicles to pick us back up, and when they did we went straight out on another tasking to check on two other rhinos. Both were located and safe. On return to base we had about an hour of daylight left and were warned to prepare for a night time patrol.
After a couple of hours on PB security and prepping kit/having food we formed up ready for our brief. intelligence had come in that one of the rhinos from earlier in the day was missing and we were to check it under the cover of darkness. Only one member of the patrol had NVGs so he would be point man and the rest of us would follow (very) close behind.
The terrain is challenging by day, and quite honestly a completely different beast by night. The moonlight gave us some ambient illumination by shadows and wildlife filled everywhere with possible enemy troops. We walked (slipped and slid in places) to the area containing the rhino, where we carried out a number of sweeps to locate it. We could not and at times had to find cover as enemy vehicles moved past us loaded up with troops on their way to attack other patrols.
Our initial objective complete, we set off to support Stirlings Sabre team as they had come in to contact with an unknown number of enemy. We gave our best effort but the enemy ambushed us and took out nearly the entire patrol as we had grouped closely together due to the low visibility. We returned to base for a few hours sleep before the Sundays taskings.
Waking at 0600 the shelters were packed away and our kit was ready for another days missions. ATAC were to work alongside TF units in denying the enemy freedom of movement across the area as they were now in possession of all the rhinos and lions. We did this by way of both vehicle-borne and foot mobile patrols. The firefights were intense as control of the woodyard area changed between the TF, As and back to TF. There was heavy use of pyro, and using every piece of cover to attempt to advance.
The final push came as we stopped and attacked enemy vehicles attempting to make their way to the exfil point, again a lot of pyro, TAG grenade rounds and teamwork absolutely smashed the enemy.
EndEx was called at about 1100 and we all came together for a debriefing. Both teams had definitely kept each other on their toes all weekend, providing intense firefights, denying movement and providing actionable intelligence. Everybody I spoke to agreed that they had enjoyed the game and we look forward to a return of the game series to Kenya with more ATAC vs. AS action!
In all, it was an absolutely cracking weekend. Most people seemed to get into the spirit of it and give 110% where taskings were concerned. Yes it was hard work getting up (and down) the hills at times, but if you don't want that then you're probably better off sticking to urban milsims or Sunday skirmishing! We will definitely be returning to this absolutely one off site in the future with more Stirling events, but below I have included a list of things that we will be bringing to make it more comfortable!
- Programmable radios; Comms played a massive part in this event, luckily everyone else on the ATAC team had radios.
- Jetboil; It's a great piece of kit and I regret selling mine as we had to use mess tins to heat water all weekend which was slow and inevitably ended up with bits of tree in them
- Packing lighter; We both took a lot of kit which we didn't use, the LMG was a great force multiplier but honestly I'm not currently fit enough to carry it around The Trees all day; something which I know I'll be working on
- Hot food; Food and water aren't provided at these events, we took sandwiches and other dry food to eat so we wouldn't have to worry about cooking too much. In hindsight, I'd rather sacrifice some weight of ammo and take boil in the bag rations so that I can have something hot to eat!
That's it really, I hope this has been useful to at least one person, please feel free to comment with any questions or drop me a PM!