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FACILITY

Page history last edited by Guy Farrish 1 year, 1 month ago

The Republic of Southern Gambala shares the real estate of the Island of Gambala with  Northern Gambala.

The island, about 150 miles off the African mainland, was colonised by European powers during the nineteenth century but threw off colonial shackles during the mid 20th century after WWII.

It bears an uncanny resemblance to the Isle of Man but it is about ten times bigger. Current maps, by an inexplicable error of the Cartography Department show grid squares as being 1km, when in fact they are 10km!

The South is currently very concerned with affairs in the North. This is not in itself an unusual state of affairs. The North is always doing something the South doesn't like, and vice versa.

Other forces are at work this time, however.

 

FACILITY X RAY

Reports from itinerant jungle people, who have no conception of national borders, highlighted forest clearance, building work and strange lights in the sky over the border on hitherto undeveloped land. These reports mobilised the magnificent powers of the Republic's Intelligence Service which confirmed something odd being built in the tropical forest but no-one was sure what. An appeal was made to allies for help.

Satellite imagery, courtesy of one of the Republic's Western Allies, confirmed an unexplained compound constructed in the forested hills. Intel suggests the positioning may simply be to put it is as far away as possible from rebels in the oil rich coastal lowlands on the northern tip of the island. On the other hand there are some facets of the case, not shared with the Republic, that have prompted the 'friends' to suggest Southern special forces might like to take a closer look. The friends have offered help if required, and would in any case like to send a specialist observer along. The Southern Government's inclination is to bomb the new facility into the stone age at once, but several things militate against that course of events.

1. It would be a clear breach of the international treaty of 1973 that holds together a fragile peace on the island.

2. It would drag in the Chinese, or the Russians, or North Koreans, or Cubans, or whoever is Northern Gambala's current playmate, into the fray and the 'friends' do not like that scenario.

3. And possibly the most convincing argument of all against bombing the facility: the Federal Air Force is not in a position to carry out the mission. All (6) of its Alpha Jet ground attack aircraft are currently awaiting vital replacement parts and no-on has checked the viability of any of the bombs since the mid 90s. No Republic of Southern Gambala pilots are currently cleared to fly military jets.

 Other Options.

The facility appears to be c 20 kilometres from the border, depending whose maps you believe.

A first hand appreciation of the purpose of facility is required.

No civilian intelligence assets are currently in place to provide this information.

If time were not of the essence a civilian intelligence operation would be the least compromising option.

A covert military operation to infiltrate and examine the base would provide the quickest answer.

Allied appreciation suggests time may be of the essence for whatever the North is planning. The military option is therefore to be pursued.

An approach on foot would in normal times be the least obvious means of insertion.

However, border patrols though normally rare and small, have recently increased in size and frequency in this region, no doubt due to the building of the facility. In addition the 20 km direct route is over steep terrain and almost impassable jungle.

The forest canopy makes HALO insertion problematic. In addition neither the specialist nor the Southern troops are trained in HALO. It would also require a foreign aircraft to fly the mission.

Helicopter insertion is therefore considered most likely to offer the best chance for rapid and covert ingress and egress.

A low level flight crossing the border south west of Slieua Maggie, heading north for 20 kilometres then turning east to land north of the hut circle, north west of X Ray should avoid such air surveillance radars as exist. This will allow an approach march of less than 10k, over less severe terrain through thinner forest. The helicopters can remain hidden at the lz ready to extract the team and offer fire support if necessary.

 

Gambala – border and location of facility in red

 

Close up of location – natural jungle cover not shown. Facility marked as cross in red circle.

 

 

Intel imagery.

 

Aim: To enter the labs, allow the specialist to secure evidence of the work being done, leave.

Without being detected.

 

Ground: See Maps.

Hilly. Facility is on col between headwaters of R. Cranmag, R Baldwin and R Glass, 100 metres below and west of peak of Beinnn y Phott. The ground is flat and runs west for several kilometres in a ridge. It falls away steeply to the south to the valley of the river Baldwin and less steeply to the north to the valley of the Cranmag.

Vegetation is tropical forest, dense in places. Visibility c25metres and less.

A military track runs east west along the north side of the col and then north of Beinn y Phott.

Forest cleared c100 metres around facility.

Facility: c300m x 150m, surrounded by 4 metre high wire fence topped with razor wire. Entrance to North. Guard Room to west of entrance. Accommodation block along western wire. Two lab blocks to east. Generator (?) building and oil storage(?) on South side opposite entrance.

Razor wire and bunkered defences to North guarding road approach. Bunkers on SE and SW corners.

Drone photo from north of compound

Enemy Forces:

Platoon of Ground troops in accommodation – c 30 men. C10 on duty any one time. Small arms. No mounted heavy weapons noted in bunkers.

Scientists and technicians, c 25.

Two lorries normally in compound. As many as 5 noted on base guard changeover. Change every two weeks. Mondays.

Communications. Satellite dish in compound, estimated to be aiming at Chinese Comms satellite. Military VHF/UHF radios.

Sunset is at 1830hrs

Sunrise is at 0530hrs

 

Own Forces

Southern Gambalan Special Forces

Capt Joseph Adami

Sgt Adi Umenyiora

Pvt Kabeya Zebo

Pvt Eldom Ogawa

 

Advisers

Sgt Al 'Smith'

Cpl Vinnie 'Price'

Specialist

Dr Sam 'Davies'

 

2 UH1 Hueys

Pilots

Flt Lt Anco Yamba

Fl Officer Steve Alembe

 

 

GAME 

The 'game' was played on a 2'x2' board using home made terrain and a floor plan of the

Facility on two levels.

 

I bought Nordic Weasel's 'War Story' and it reminded me very much of a free Kriegsspiel, so in the event that is what I used in a sort of solo muggergame – a Paddy Griffith idea where the events are discussed amongst the protagonists and decided (sometimes with the help of percentage dice) in a narrative fashion. This sounded great in my head beforehand, but in the event led to some difficulties.

 

 

Op Aldehyde

The two teams loaded onto the UH1s at 2130hrs local and crossed the border at approximately 2200hrs. I tested to see if there any problems and sue enough I got a 1 in 10 'yes' (I used a D10 to decide most things – sometimes from a back of an envelope list of possibilities, mostly on a percentage chance 'calculated' on the fly.

On checking what it had happened I got a radar threat warning. Evasive manoeuvres were taken but on a second check there was no follow up. Seems hard to believe it was a traffic radar gun out there but there was no shooting.

The landing was smooth and as far as the team could tell at this stage, undetected. I gave a 1 in 10 chance of this but there was nothing. They were down and moving off at 2220hrs

The approach march I rated as simple for these guys but checked once to see if they might bump into anything – they didn't.

On arrival at the north west corner of the clearing

things should have got more hairy, but the various guards obviously found 0200hrs a little too taxing to be awake and the teams moved anti-clockwise around the perimeter in the tree line. Someone heard or thought they saw something and halfway around a light stabbed into the darkness, but the teams froze and nothing else happened. By 0215hrs the guard changed and a smaller watch came on. At0225 hrs the teams at the south east corner and ready to attempt an entrance.

At 0230hrs they scaled the fence, laid a kevlar mat over the razor wire and entered the compound.

Was the fence electrified? –No

Was the fence wired with sensors? –No

Did anyone spot them? –No.

By this time I was beginning to think I was cheating somewhere, but the dice just kept coming up right. I decided to throw a few more problems in – the guards started patrolling the wire more vigorously, but just like the best Hollywood version, always just missed the action.

 

 

So the teams arrived at the labs. Lab 1 was the target and the door lay in the road between the two labs. Having bowed to the local knowledge and jungle craft of the local Capt Adami so far, Sgt 'Smith' now thought it time to show the skills of western special forces. He approached the door.

His covert movement skills remained excellent and the sleeping guard in the sandbagged bunker at the end of the road continued to look steadily forwards at the gate. The door had an electronic lock with key pad however. Normally Smith's response could have been to blow the lock. That seemed unlikely to keep the mission covert however, so he pulled out the bit of tech wizardry he had been given for this eventuality and applied it to the lock.

Failure!

Adami offered his thoughts and skills.

Failure!

Things were getting a bit tense now and even the desperately unobservant guard was getting restless. Then Dr Davies came up and she calmly followed the instructions they had been given in the embassy, and the door clicked open.

(They were only allowed three goes and then it was on to the more complicated and much riskier plan B)

I had sort of half been expecting something to trigger some fighting by this stage but I had, just in case drawn up an interior plan of the labs, and so in we went.


It was 0250hrs by now and they needed to get a move on.

From what they had been told there was not full 24 hour working in the lab buildings but it could not be guaranteed that some scientists were not working and it was presumed there may be some sort of security patrol.

My son came in at this point and asked what I was doing – I explained (he had already seen me build the compound and knew the basic idea) and joined in the decision and story making process from here.

Immediately things started popping up. As the teams reached the end of the corridor, a lift opened on the right and someone got out. The teams backed up, so far unseen. The newcomer headed straight for the junction where the teams lurked. They climbed into reception through the window into the corridor and hid. Sure enough the scientist/ technician walked straight past, opened the exit door and left. Good dice throwing everyone.


 

The labs were on the ground floor but Dr Davies had no desire to run the risk of whatever the biohazard the signs on the entrance to the building warned of. She wanted to get into the computer system with the best access. They headed upstairs.

Wow. The lights are brighter up here!

 

It is 0300hrs as they enter the first office they come to. It's a secretary's office, the walls covered in filing cabinets. Cpl 'Price', Cpt Adami and Pvt Zebo search the papers while Sgt 'Smith' and Dr 'Davies' check the next room which looks like the boss's office.

'Davies' is hacking into the computer on the desk.

0310hrs and 'Davies' is into the file system and 'Price' is photographing files like David Bailey on speed.

0320hrs and 'Davies' has downloaded what she needs. At this point the dice get less helpful and she has difficulty shutting the system down without leaving obvious traces of tampering. The guards outside get active and start patrolling the wire.

The team don't know that of course, but they do know that Pvt Ogawa, on watch, spots a door open in the far corridor and another civilian starts down the corridor towards him.

 

 

Sgt Umenyiora and Pvt Zebo move as quietly as they can to the corner farthest from the scientist and hope they will turn down the stairs. Which will it be son? He throws an even and down the stairs they go.

 

'Davies' sorts her problem and by 0335hrs both offices are as if no-one had entered them.

Davies is satisfied they have what they need and is very keen to get out. They exit the secretary's office and head upstairs again to the roof.

Despite my best efforts to spark some confrontation into the game my son dices through the difficulties and makes the right choices at every turn. He opens the roof hatch, without damage or alarms, and shuts it behind him. (I thought all that Modern Warfare would make him all gung ho but he has learnt the value of not just blowing everything up from somewhere).


And there they all are on the roof. With a guard in the corner, beneath them. Is he going to be lazy and stay there? No he moves on back to the guard hut for coffee.

We discuss how to get from the roof to the jungle. My suggestion of abseil down the wall and then a reverse of the wire crossing is vetoed and the SF wire it across. This necessitates some high rolling and leaving a tell tale attachment to the roof if anyone checks it later. The wire is of course removed, on the second attempt, and the teams are in the cover on the edge of the clearing by 0357hrs


We do all the checks to see if anyone saw/heard/sound the alarm. These guards have better sleep patterns than I do, nothing.

We check the march back and there are no hiccups but they don't make it back to the helos by dawn at 0530hrs. They arrive at 0620hrs. Do they lie up here for 12 hours or do they risk a daylight flight?

They fly.

No obvious radar hits, no shooting and no obvious signs of being seen.

Now to analyse what is in those files and what happens next.

 

As a game this was tense at times but NO SHOOTING!

I was expecting something to go wrong and there to be some contact, but these guys were too good.

I found the process a bit low key at first and missed a more formal structure, especially I think as this was solo. I got into it however and the arrival of my son made it a much more enjoyable event as we talked about what would or could happen. I wondered with hindsight if I was being too kind to the teams but I set them some pretty hard boundaries to cross and although SF they weren't superheroes on the stats I rolled for them at the beginning. Indeed it was only the technical acumen roll of Dr 'Davies' that saved the day with the door entry. No doubt Adami and 'Smith' would have come into their own if the shooting had started, but as it as the covert nature was a ninety something percent success. Shame about that wire attachment on the roof. I wonder how often they go up there?

 

 

 

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