Mercenaries, Kalinigrad, colonial clashes and WW3: 29 new Command scenarios released

March 27, 2017 · Posted in Command · Comment 

Miguel Molina has released the updated version of the Command community scenario pack. The new release includes an eye-watering twenty-nine new scenarios:

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Aden, North Yemen Civil War – The Egyptian Vietnam, 1965: The North Yemen Civil War was fought in North Yemen from 1962 to 1970 between royalist partisans and supporters of the Yemen Arab Republic. Egypt’s involvement in the conflict was so disastrous that it was described as "Egypt’s Vietnam". This scenario explores a more active UK involvement and the possibility that Egypt had mined the access ways to the Red Sea.

Brazil Abroad, 2015: The always-tumultuous regime of Guinea-Bissau has reached new degrees of turmoil, with a brief but bloody civil war. The previous regime had the ear of the Brazilian government, and it has launched an intervention to restore it. A large naval task force is currently preparing for an amphibious landing, while your command has received permission to stage from Cape Verde.

Container Wars, 2019: Tension and changing strategic partnerships have complicated the security situation in the South China Sea over the past few years. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is unstable in the view of the United States. His on-going drug war produced an increasingly authoritative government aligned with China. Nations have begun to arm merchant shipping to ensure safe passage of the South China Sea. A Philippines container ship has broken down and is dead in the water near Johnson South Reef 160 nm south of Rancudo Airfield. A call for help is broadcast over open channels. What comes next?

Disproportionate Response, 2017: Kaliningrad is a thorn in the side of NATO and any defense of the Baltic. Russia created an anti-access/area denial ‘bubble’ (A2/AD) with Kaliningrad at the center. Recently they installed S-400 SAMs to increase the range and effectiveness of the position. Commercial flights into and out of Warsaw have been tracked from Kaliningrad for the past three weeks setting up a nervous situation for everyone. Yesterday, amid a NATO cyberwarfare drill, a Russian junior officer sent a salvo into a LOT flight with 39 Americans on board. Tonight, you are to lead the attack to destroy the Kaliningrad position so Polish troops can attack the Russian oblast in the morning.

Fish in a Barrel, 2016: Terrorists supported by an unknown foreign power have taken over the city of Limon on the eastern coast of Costa Rica. All efforts to re-take the city by the Costa Rican Civil Guard has been futile, and as a result the Spanish government has ordered a Spanish Naval task force present in the area to give a hand to its former colony.

Gulf of Mannar Confrontation, 1962: The coup that took place in Sri Lanka in 1962 was successful. The result of this coup was to put a more pro-Western government.  However, supporters of the former Sri Lankan government have launched a rebellion, which has been receiving covert aid from both India and the Soviet Union. The United Kingdom has moved forces into the area to make a show of force in support of the new pro-Western government. They will also assist Sri Lanka in operations against rebel forces.  The weather at the moment makes all operations difficult.  In addition, it is not clear if the Soviet Union will try to intervene.

Human Limitation, 1978: The militaries of Libya and Rhodesia in the Cold War were a study in contrasts. One was one of the most capable forces on a tactical level that was burdened by a constant lack of equipment, while the other was a force of low quality that enjoyed huge amounts of equipment. Thus, a meeting of the two in battle provides an excellent case for the degree to which training and skill can make up for inferior equipment. Libya’s African meddling has moved all the way south to Zambia and Rhodesia, and they are set to launch a large attack across the Zambezi.

Northern Fury #11.6 – Out on a Limb, 1994: Strike Fleet Atlantic (STRIKFLTLANT) has successfully landed forces on Iceland, Air and Maritime superiority around Iceland is in hand. 2 MEF is now in the process of defeating Soviet forces on Iceland, 8th Marines have invested Keflavik/Reykjavik while 6th Marines is clearing the remainder of the island. Meanwhile in Norway the Soviets seem to have stopped their assault. With the main Soviet force on the North side of the Trondheimsfjorden, and the Norwegians defending south of that major water feature, the situation is secure enough that the British Commando Bde has been withdrawn in preparation for future operation. The Air Forces in Norway are sparing daily as more and more force is added on both sides. Access to the bases in North Norway however have given the Soviets a major advantage for positioning long range air elements and basing of submarines. As Commander of the USS Eisenhower CVBG, you have been directed to position yourself between Norway and Iceland to ensure there is no Soviet interference with the ongoing operations to seize the Island and establish a firm base for upcoming operations.

Northern Fury #11.7 – Bump in the Night, 1994: Strike Fleet Atlantic (STRIKFLTLANT), after successfully landing the bulk of 2 MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force) on Iceland, is reeling from the loss of the Eisenhower. The Enterprise CVBG has been rushed out of dry-dock, it was being repaired after sustaining damage in earlier action, and the Nimitz, already heading into the Atlantic will be joined by the HMS Ark Royal. Meanwhile in Norway the Soviets seem to have put their assault on hold. With the main Soviet force on the North side of the Trondheimsfjorden, and the Norwegians defending south of that major water feature, the situation is secure enough that the British Commando Bde has been withdrawn in preparation for future operation. The Air Forces in Norway are sparing daily as more and more force is added on both sides. Supplying elements trapped North of the main line is becoming a problem, however, keeping them there is a thorn in the side of the Soviets.

Northern Fury #12.1 – Something’s Fishy, 1994: The fight in Norway has stabilized over the past few days with the main Soviet force on the North side of the Trondheimsfjorden, and the Norwegians defending south of that major water feature. The British Commando Bde has been withdrawn in preparation for future operation. The Air Forces in Norway are sparing daily as more and more force is added on both sides. An attempt to supply elements trapped North of Trondheimsfjorden flared into a major engagement last night, the NATO attempt was thwarted by intense Soviet patrolling with heavy losses on both sides. A major air engagement ensued during the daylight hours of 9 March and it is widley suspected in NATO that there may be a move – either an attack or a withdrawal from positions north of Trondheim tonight. The Soviets have no intention of withdrawing.

Northern Fury #12.2 – Lance To The Chest, 1994: Strike Fleet Atlantic (STRIKFLTLANT) is now in the second phase of its counter attack in the Atlantic. Fighting on Iceland continues but 2 MEF believes that they will have the island clear within the week. A massive NATO attack two days ago halted Soviet plans to seize Oslo but with Berlin and Copenhagen in Russian hands, the situation is not yet assured. While a surprise renewal of the Soviet offensive south of Trondheim has begun, Bergen is fast finding itself on the front lines. As the NATO commander, your job is to patrol the waters off of Bergen Norway and escort Merchant ships into and out of the port. As the Soviet player, your task is to interdict supply ships as they enter the waters off Bergen.

Northern Fury #13.1 – Shoulder To Shoulder, 1994: Strike Fleet Atlantic (STRIKFLTLANT) has now completed the first phase of the counter attack in the Atlantic. Fighting on Iceland continues but 2 MEF believes that they will have the island clear within the week. However, a new Soviet offensive in Norway has unhinged NATO plans for a pause between operations. In the past 72 hours’ Soviet forces in Division strength have breached the Trollheimen mountains, the last significant barrier on the approach to Oslo. With Berlin and Copenhagen in Russian hands, and the Norwegian army in tatters the North Atlantic Council (NAC) does not want a third capital city to fall. You, as Commander STRIKFLTLANT have been directed to use all of your available combat power to stop their offensive and to set up the conditions for upcoming amphibious operations in central Norway.

Northern Fury #13.2 – Charge of the Light Brigade, 1994: Strike Fleet Atlantic (STRIKFLTLANT) is now in the second phase of its counter attack in the Atlantic. Fighting on Iceland continues but 2 MEF believes that they will have the island clear within the week. A massive NATO attack two days ago halted Soviet plans to seize Oslobut with Berlin and Copenhagen in Russian hands, the situation is not yet assured. Commander STRIKFLTLANT has set in motion a series of attacks designed set up the conditions for upcoming amphibious operations in central Norway – Operation Thor’s Lightning. This is one of those actions.

Oil In Somalia (Italy vs India), 1990: Italian Somaliland was an Italian colony and in later years the Trust Territory of Somalia until 1960 when Somalia was granted independence. During this period Italians made up a significant proportion of the population. In an attempt to stabilize government the Barre regime has granted oil exploration rights to ENI oil and allowed basing of troops and aircraft in northern Somalia. However, the civil war has escalated and the nation is in a state of chaos, the civil government close to complete collapse. Meanwhile India is establishing a foothold attempting a land grab and expansion of an Indian-controlled Indian Ocean. The marines of the San Marco regiment have been loaded onto the LPDs San Giorgio and San Marco and are tasked to land at Eyl and re-establish control of the airfield and expel the Indian troops.

Operation Tilest, 2017: Mauritius. The assassination of the Mauritian Prime Minister on 4 OCT has yet to have responsibility claimed but the DGSE asserts that the Deputy Prime Minister, who has proclaimed a state of emergency, is in part culpable. Furthermore the Peoples Republic of China has, at the Deputy Prime Minister’s request, dispatched a Stabilization Force to provide internal security during the emergency.  A naval task force centered on the PLAN Type 071 amphibious landing ship CHANGBAI SHAN arrived on scene and has taken station off the southern coast near Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.  Chinese marines have been reported at the airport as well as the port facilites and state house in Port Louis.  A follow-up relief naval force with further logistical support is less than a day from making Port Louis, though the makeup of this force is as yet unknown. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is certain that this action is a smoke screen for the formation of a PRC-friendly client state in Mauritius. France is therefore acting to secure the region from external aggression and provide interim stability.  Be aware that the PRC is aware of this position and may take preemptive action.

Strike Commander – Mauritania #1, 2011: A tribute series to Origin’s classic Strike Commander. The past twenty years has seen unprecedented world-wide upheaval with the uncivil fracturing of the Soviet Union, failed interventions in the Mid-East and continental environmental disasters.  Across the globe old political orders fall, energy resources dwindle and economies collapse.  Mercenaries become a commonplace tool as governments and powerful corporations vie among each other to protect or assert their interests. Struggling with an externally-funded rebellion, the leadership of the North African nation of Mauritania has turned to employing private military forces to stem their losses. The Turkey-based Wildcats, a mercenary fighter squadron composed of F-16 fighters, has been retained and is beginning operations from a remote Strike Base in the Western Sahara.

Strike Commander – Mauritania #2, 2011: Recent operations have struck a blow against the rebels and bolstered the loyalist cause.  Intelligence has located a rebel command post and forward airstrip.  The Wildcats get the call to take it out.

Strike Commander – Mauritania #3, 2011: Things in Mauritania have heated up.  A right-wing military element has staged a coup, toppling the rightful government, and aligned itself with the rebels.  With enemies on all sides and no one left to pay the bills, the Wildcats are forced to face cutting their losses and running.

Strike Commander – Turkey #101, 2011: The Wildcats managed to exit the turmoil of Mauritania just in time, and with a tidy sum as well, garnered from their government warehouse raid.  Their business manager Virgil had counted on a greater return, as usual, but grudgingly agreed in principle to the upgrade of several of the squadron’s Vipers if the money could be found quickly. Luckily the mercenary market in Istanbul was hot as ever, and a contract was secured from Global Oil to prevent a group of Transworld PetroChem board members from attending a stockholders meeting in central Turkey.  The pay was good for what appeared to be a simple job.

Strike Commander – Andes Mallorca #101, 2011: The Wildcats have taken a contract supporting Generalissimo Jorge Mendez in Andes Mallorca.  His country came to the aid of Ecuador after it was invaded by Peru.  Mendez is seen as a uniting force in war-torn South America.  And he pays in gold bullion.  With their strike base established near Cali, the Wildcats are tasked with assisting the Andes Mallorcan Air Force in striking a Peruvian armored attack at the front.

Strike Commander – Andes Mallorca #102, 2011: After several days of sustained operations in the Andes theater the Wildcats take advantage of a bad weather front to get some much needed rest and repair.  The enemy has other ideas, however.

Strike Commander – Andes Mallorca #103, 2011: A valued leader of the Wildcats is killed by the Peruvian Air Force while returning to the Strike Base with the balance of General Mendez’s payment.  The gold is gone and the general regrets he cannot renumerate the loss, but he does have an idea that will give the Wildcats vengeance for their comrade’s loss.  Reminiscent of the Israeli strike against Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, General Mendez suggests that a similar attack against the Peruvian nuclear facility at Chimbote would be a dagger in the heart of their ambitions for regional power.  It would also demonstrate that the Wildcats are not a group to be trifled with, either.

Strike Commander – Egypt #101, 2011: The Wildcats return to Turkey to find their home base sabotaged by an unknown party.  Several of their F-16s have been damaged and there are many expensive facility repairs required.  Needing money fast they manage to find a contract with the Egyptian Air Force flying an airshow from the the Cairo West Airbase using, to Virgil’s delight, EAF F-16s.  The money is slight but it will keep them going while repairs are underway.

Senkaku Stir Fry, 2020: Japan’s energy situation deteriorated over past decade and is currently exploring reserves in the area of the disputed Senkaku Islands. China and Japan recently hammered out an agreement regarding area fishing rights, but the natural gas situation has not been settled. Over the past several weeks, China’s UAV patrols against the exploration rigs have made the region very nervous. The US Navy sent carrier Ronald Reagan to South Korea in a show of support for Japan. The status quo would serve Japan’s interest. After a decade of economic woes, China is in no position to exploit the reserves. But why should they sit by and let a major competitor steal what is rightfully theirs?

Spanish Guinea II (Nigerian Alliance vs Spain), 1996: Oil exploration and production has boomed in the Gulf of Guinea. The once Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea’s corrupt government has asked for Spanish assistance with protection of the countries offshore oil and gas platforms. The Nigerians have used to last 16 months to form a strong alliance with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Using their control over these countries oil imports from Nigeria to ‘assist and ensure’ cooperation. Left with little choice the South Americans have given strong military assistance to Nigeria and the Brazilian carrier has transported significant air power to Nigerian bases. Nigeria is now sabre rattling and has promised retaliation making threats to the platforms in the Alba gas field and to the Eg Bioko LNG terminal construction site, the pride of Spanish Guinea’s petroleum production in the region.

Strike Group Stennis vs Tanzania, 2020: This scenario assumes that Tanzania suffered a coup in early 2018 and is now controlled by a fiercely anti-Western dictatorship.  In the last few months, this new government has received an extensive military aid package from China and there are increasing concerns about threats to the stability of the region. Two weeks ago, an American F/A-18 engaged in exercises with Kenya was shot down by a Tanzanian surface-to-air missile. Tanzania has refused to apologize for the incident and claims the aircraft was an American spy plane illegally operating in their airspace. (NOTE: The challenge of this scenario is whether the player can successfully fulfill the mission objectives "on time and under budget"–the player only wins by completing the mission using only a certain amount of munitions and suffering only minimal losses.)

The Banja Luka Incident, 1994: On February 28th 1994, six Serbian J-21 Jastreb single-seat light attack jets were engaged, and four of them shot down, by USAF F-16 fighters southwest of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was the first active combat in NATO’s history. This is a recreation of the engagement.

The Fiery October – Reprisal, 1962: In the wake of the U-2 shootdown on Saturday, October 27, 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis took a dangerous turn. A plan was in place to launch reprisal strikes against any SAM site in Cuba that attacks a US reconnaissance aircraft. President Kennedy and his advisers debated whether or not to approve the strikes and in the end decided against it. As the US player you will be transmitted orders for reconnaissance and support missions, as well as the reprisal strikes, and attached missions.

The Isla La Orchila Affair, 2020: This scenario assumes that, in response to increasing reluctance on the part of the United States to enter into international conflicts, a number of regional powers have become more willing to act aggressively within their own spheres of influence. Venezuela, able to pay for munitions with oil, has increasingly seen itself as a master of the Caribbean, and has not surprisingly sometimes come into conflict with Colombia, Mexico, and the European Union, whose nations still control some territories in the region.

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As always, the community scenario pack is available for download from the Command downloads page: http://www.warfaresims.com/?page_id=1876 . The scenarios will also become available for download later on the Command workshop on Steam.

Command LIVE #5 released: The Korean Missile Crisis!

February 28, 2017 · Posted in Command · Comment 

Available now through Matrix Games and Steam.

Command LIVE #5: Korean Missile Crisis announced!

February 6, 2017 · Posted in Command · Comment 

Check out the official page! Release is scheduled for February 28.

Don’t forget the newspaper:

Matrix Games LLC is hiring!

January 31, 2017 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

http://www.matrixgames.com/news/2143/New.position.open.at.Matrix.Games.LLC

This is an excellent opportunity to join our professional simulation and wargaming team in the U.S.A.

Professional strategy gaming developer and publisher Matrix Games LLC is looking for a Strategy Gaming Specialist to help develop the next generation of professional Battlespace Simulations.

Role: Strategy Gaming Specialist

This position will support a new effort in strategy gaming for operational customers.

The position will require an understanding of strategy gaming structures, LUA scripting, and military operations.

The successful candidate will provide technical support to strategy and wargaming tasking, including database development, scenario development, and process definition support. Some ancillary software support will be required.

The majority of work will be to support government customers; the successful candidate must be able to obtain a US security clearance.

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s of Science Degree, or experience in LUA scripting and strategy simulations and  gaming
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint
  • Experience with complex strategy gaming environments
  • Understanding of LUA scripting
  • Attention to Detail
  • Excellent written communication skills
  • Self-motivated with ability to work with minimal supervision
  • Due to the nature of this position, US citizenship is required

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Engineering, Software Engineering, or Electrical Engineering
  • Experience in complex strategy gaming design, application, or use
  • Demonstrated experience working with customers at various levels
  • Effective interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrated effective verbal communication with clients at all levels
  • Demonstrated successful collaboration within a multi-disciplinary team
  • Strong organizational and time management skills to effectively manage various project activities ensuring accurate task completion

The candidates should apply in writing to jobs@matrixgames.com.

Naval mines in Command

December 16, 2016 · Posted in Mines, Uncategorized · Comment 

 

Image result for naval mineThere has been a question about Command’s mine warfare model on the forum so we would like to cover our mine model in more detail than the current manual covers.

To start it’s a good idea to have a little background on what naval mines are how they are detected and neutralized. If you’re not familiar there are some really great resources online that do a good job explaining the basics. Please do give these a good read if you’re unfamiliar with the concepts.

Now how does CMANO model mines, mine deployment, mine strikes, mine detection, and mine neutralization?

Mines in the database

CMANO eschews the traditional “minefield area with % chance to stumble on one” wargaming model and instead treats mines as discrete individual objects (yes, that means you can have thousands of them in a scenario. The sim engine can take it.). Let’s take a look at the general mine categories currently modelled in Command:

  • Bottom Mine. As the name implies, laid on the sea bottom. These are quite hard to pick on sonar and (if they are properly camouflaged) even with visual cameras. They can be used only in relatively shallow waters (if they are laid deep, when they detonate their explosive shock will dissipate until it reaches the surface).
  • Moored Mine. These are deliberately filled with some light material to provide them with positive buoyancy and then anchored to the bottom, suspended in mid-water. Because of this they can be laid in deeper waters than bottom mines. They are, however, easier to detect and neutralize.
  • Floating/drifting Mine. These float on the surface. They can be spotted and neutralized more easily than other types.
  • Moving/Mobile Mine. These are often converted torpedoes, fired from standoff range by ships or submarines, traversing a distance before settling on the bottom.
  • Rising Mine. These nasty weapons are either bottom-lying or moored, and instead of an explosive warhead their payload is a homing torpedo or rocket. When they detect a suitable target, the payload is launched and homes on the target independently.
  • Dummy mine. A fake mine, meant to delay counter-mine operations.

The mine attributes listed in the database include fuse types (magnetic, passive acoustic, pressure, seismic), arming delays, different warhead explosives and properties etc. Some of these attributes are not currently used (for example target discrimination is currently listed but not actually used in code) but have been included nevertheless for future revisions to the model. We’ve also provided generic examples of each major type in the database and in case where we’ve found detailed information on real life mines we’ve added them.

 

Deployment: Pre-fab and in-game

Mines can be deployed in any water area that meets the depth requirements for the mine. You can find these depth requirements in the database viewer or, if using the scenario editor to add a minefield, in the drop down select menu next to the mines name.

Mines are deployable in CMANO in two ways.

The first way is via the mining mission in the mission editor in either game or editor mode during gameplay by an air, sea or subsurface unit. You can create a mission by first defining an area by dropping some reference points, then selecting them and finally creating a Mining mission. This will open the mission editor allowing you to modify the mission parameters and if the mine type supports it an option to add arming delays for fields you want to activate later. Once a unit is assigned it will launch and drop mines about 400 meters apart in random lines dispersed in your defined area.

Here is an example of laying mines via a mission:

 

Things to note:

  • Multiple assets of different type can be used for the mining mission. In this example we are using the Iran Ajr in combination with a squadron of B-52Hs based at Bandar Abbas. (Yes, “Red” would not normally have access to B-52s but the Buff is as good a mining demonstrator as any. Cope!). To ensure the bombers have enough mines to sow, we are adding 10.000 Quickstrike mines to the base’s stocks. Submarines can also be used in the same manner.
  • One of the most useful custom options for the mining  mission is arming delay. This can range from 1 second up to years. This can help significantly in preventing the assigned forces from literally mining themselves into a corner. This can happen both in real life and in Command, but the delay option makes it far less likely. It also adds an extra element of uncertainty for third-party observers (“can I pass through that area before the mines are armed?”). In this example the delay is 1 hour, and every sown mine has a visible timer indicating the countdown to being armed.
  • The laying pattern is highly irregular and very rarely are 3 mines laid in a straight line. This is deliberate, as it prevents the enemy from discovering a few mines and then using their regular pattern to determine the locations of the rest. It does of course mean an uneven distribution of the mines and the possible presence of gaps in the coverage, but with enough density this is acceptable.

If you ever want to add a mine rack to a surface or submarine unit you can do so. We have added a number of mine rack type weapons records which you can add to any mount. Many combatants actually have mine racks in real life (Chinese FF, Soviet Destroyers) but aren’t filled or used unless specifically tasked.

The second way to deploy mines is there is a function in the game editor. To do so simply drop some reference points to define an area and select them. Next, go the editor dropdown menu, select minefields and then create minefields in designated area. A dialog will then appear allowing you to pick the mine you’d like and number. The editor will then do its best to randomly disperse mines in the area you’ve chosen with the correct depth requirements.

 

Going BOOM

Mine strikes are resolved in the game as follows. Once a ship or submarine reaches a certain distance from the mine a calculation is made to see if the mine is armed and triggered. If so then the mine explodes or the payload is released. If it is an explosion than our CEP modeled is leveraged and damage is applied accordingly. If it’s a payload the torpedo hit is calculated like any other torpedo and if it’s a rocket munition it will be resolved using CEP on its own. Keep in mind that any unit in range of the explosion could take damage. This includes mine hunting UUVs and RMVs that could be destroyed as well as minesweepers themselves. This could also occur during mine neutralization involving explosives or a failed attempt.

Here is an example:

 

A small USN amphibious group (an Essex LHD and a Mars replenishment ship, escorted by a Ticonderoga cruiser and a Burke destroyer) is about to enter the Hormuz straits in order to transit to the Persian Gulf. Unknown to them, we are laying a pre-made minefield using the scenario editor. We are laying approximately 500 mines, half of them moored and the other half floating ones. Despite stumbling on some of the mines and setting them off, the group crosses the minefield seemingly intact – however, close examination of the ships’ damage reports reveals that most of them have suffered substantial hull damage and many of their critical systems have been damaged or destroyed; the group is thus now a significantly easier target for follow-up attacks or may even have to abandon its mission altogether.

Several things to note:

  • Each mine category (and indeed in most cases each individual mine type) has its own operating depth restrictions. This, combined with the fact that most seabeds are non-uniform in their depth, means that laying a single-type minefield is frequently impractical. A multiple-type minefield is both easier to lay and tougher for an adversary to sweep.
  • Most modern mines follow a two-step arming & detonation logic: First the detection of an incoming valid target “wakes up” the mine, and only when the distance to the target opens (ie. the target is passing its nearest point relative to the mine, almost certainly beam-on) the warhead detonates. This protects the mine against simple “prodding” sweeps, retains the element of surprise and ensures the maximum damage to the target. Command models this faithfully.
  • If the mine happens to be right under the target, its destructive potential is magnified because of the “gas bubble” effect; under ideal circumstances the mine can even literally break the ship’s back  (similar to an under-keel torpedo detonation).

Mines are very cost-efficient and, if properly used, a tremendously effective naval weapon. It is illustrative that they have damaged and sunk more ships than any other weapon since WW2. So how does one counter them?

 

Detection

 

Mine detection varies based on the type of mine and technology used to detect them. Floating mines can be detected visually with the constraints of time of day and weather. All mines can be detected using mine hunting sonar. We do mark them as such within the database so you can use the database viewer to see what kind of sonar or gear a unit has. In general, bottom and moving mines are the most difficult to detect followed by floating and then moored and rising.

 

Sweeping

Sweeping is the most common countermeasure. Basically the sweeper is trying to prematurely trigger the mine so that it detonates (or releases its payload) while friendly forces are at a safe distance. Mine-sweeping gear is included under the sensor grouping in the CMANO database. All sonar detection is impacted by range of the unit and speed of the host unit and all mechanical gear is constrained by speed of the host vessel and usable depth of the equipment. Keep in mind all sweeping equipment has width, depth and speed constraints (ex. Mechanical sweep can sweep down to -70m to -10m at 8 knts.). If you zoom in on any unit with sweeping gear the sweeping arc is visible behind the unit.

Let’s look at an example of sweep operations:

 

“Red” has created a mine barrier on the entrance to the straits of Hormuz, and side “Blue” has to neutralize it by clearing at least part of it to create a safe transit lane. Blue has access to two Avenger-class and one Osprey-class mine-warfare ships (MCM), plus a dozen MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters at nearby airfield “Base 1”, fitted with the Mk105 mine-countermeasures equipment.

First, we take a peek “behind the scenes” by briefly enabling “God’s Eye” view, to see what Blue is up against. The minefield looks pretty thick (around 3000-4000 mines). Normally Blue does not have access to this information.

Switching back to normal view, we define an area for the safe transit corridor we want to open. Using the created reference points, we create a new mine-clearing mission and assign all available assets to it, enabling the 1/3rd rule (more on this later). Then we sit back and watch them get to work: The ships activate their HF sonars and plot a course towards the area, and some of the helicopters begin their air ops procedures for taking off. This is going to take a while, so time acceleration is widely used.

Some observations:

  • Zooming on the MCM ships and helicopters shows their mine-sweep coverage (the blue triangles). Once one or more mines are detected, the vessels maneuver in such a way as to place the target mine inside this coverage area in order to trigger it. (The odds of this happening depend on the tech levels of the sweep gear and the mine being prodded; an old mine is much easier to sweep with modern equipment and vice-versa). If no mines are detected the units will still patrol inside the designated area, aiming to set-off undetected mines (hopefully without being damaged by them).
  • Helicopters are much more efficient than ships at sweeps against detected mines thanks to their speed (and reduced vulnerability) but are less effective at detecting the mines in the first place. Ships on the other hand have the sensors suitable for detecting mines en-masse but are less effective at clearing them, and more vulnerable. As is obvious in this example, ships and helicopters are most effective in this mission when cooperating to maximize their strengths.
  • All ships (including MCMs) try as much as possible to avoid passing too close to detected mines (the pathfinding code takes known mines into account when plotting a course). The “minimum safe distance” is estimated based on the ship’s own signature characteristics (magnetic, noise etc.) and whatever information is available about the mine contact. Smaller ships have a smaller keep-out distance and MCM ships have a big advantage thanks to their special signature-suppression techniques (non-metallic hulls & structure, enhanced degaussing, low-noise motors, reduced pressure etc.). This enables them to maneuver much closer to mines than other ship types in order to sweep or hunt them.
  • Despite these measures however, all 3 ships progressively suffer blast damage. (MCM vessels are designed with the assumption that they will suffer multiple proximity blasts during their lifetime, much more intense than for frontline warships). Even the best MCM ships are vulnerable to this; during the mine-clearing operations off Inchon in 1950, multiple MCM ships and destroyers were lost. Normally the ships withdraw after a certain damage threshold and return to a tender or naval base for repairs, rotating with others.
  • Midway through the operation one of the helicopters is destroyed by fragments from a surface mine detonation. This is not a bug; helicopters occasionally do get damaged or lost while detonating nearby mines (the USN lost two helicopters this way while clearing the Haiphong harbor in 1973). One of the upcoming new features of Command is gradual aircraft damage; this will enable sending the half-damaged helo home for repairs instead of permanently losing it.
  • At 8:53 we enter the mission editor and deactivate the mission’s “1/3rd rule”. This option dictates that hosted aircraft & ships will depart for their missions in 1/3 increments rather than all together, in order to rotate and thus provide continuous coverage of the patrol/mission area. Disabling this option allows us to perform a “surge”: All available assets tasked to the mission are immediately launched, providing temporarily a significant increase of on-station assets at the cost of reduced coverage in the long term. This is one of the typical trade-off decisions that the player must make.
  • Different sweeping gear types have different probabilities of setting off a given mine, based on the fuse type involved and the technological level. Old equipment can only get you so far!

Towards the end of the video, we pause the scenario and activate “God’s Eye” once more, to witness if the sweep team has made a difference. As can be seen, a very obvious dent has been made on the mine barrier; there is still much work, but the safe-transit corridor is beginning to take form. There is also something else noteworthy: Some mines close to the sweep team have not been detected at all. Such is the uncertain nature of mine operations.

This example was presented under favorable conditions for the sweep team: No unsweepable mines were included, and these do exist. Other mine types can be swept but are really hard to detect in the first place. Sweeping in general is efficient but bound to miss some here and there; a hard proposition for the forces that have to pass through the supposedly sanitized area. Thus sweeping is typically complemented by active mine-hunting operations.

 

Hunting

Compared to sweeps, hunting mines is extremely tedious and inefficient (it is sometimes described as the difference between using a lawnmower and cutting individual grass leaves one at a time); however, it is sometimes the only way to deal with sophisticated mines that ignore sweeping countermeasures.

CMANO includes a range of equipment types to neutralize mines in the game which gives players a range of options with different degrees of success. The equipment is deployed on traditional minelayers, aircraft, UUV, USV and RMVs and includes: divers with explosive charges; explosive charges hosted on units (killer type ROV/USV), moored mine and mechanical cable cutters (moored mine only) etc. Divers with explosive have the best probability of success, followed by explosive charges and all other equipment after.

Let’s look at an example mine-hunting operation:

 

In this video we present a typical mine-hunting scenario taking place inside the Persian Gulf. The Scout and Gladiator, two Avenger-class MCM vessels team up with The Sullivans, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the Canadian frigate Halifax. The Avengers are the main mine-hunting force while the warships are screening them against any attacks. To hunt the mines, the Avengers are carrying SLQ-48 and Remus-600 tethered remote-operated vehicles (ROVs); these undertake the brunt of the mine neutralization process so that the ships stay (mostly) out of harm’s way. The Sullivans is also aiding the mine search by carrying and deploying a WLD-1 autonomous ROV.

At some point during the mine hunt, the force has to deal with some surprises. Things don’t always go as planned!

 

Delegating: The mine-clearing mission

CMANO provides a mine clearing mission within the mission editor. You create it by dropping some reference points, selecting them, selecting new mission from the Reference Point and Missions drop down and then add the units you’d like in the mission editor. The third rule is available for aircraft and ROVs. ROVs never appear in the mission editor but are added to the mission when their host unit is.

 

Hunting strategies

To effectively hunt mines in the game it is important to evaluate the constraints of the threat and the capabilities of your equipment.

The ocean is a big place and your ability to successful search any great swath of it for mines is pretty low even with the best gear. It is best to constrain your searches to areas that have the depth characteristics to contain mines and that the forces you are trying to protect might actually transit. Anything larger is a waste of time and resources. You may even consider rerouting transiting forces instead of trying to sweep lanes. It’s a strange game but the only winning move may be to not play.

Evaluating the mine hunting equipment you have is critical. Please do take a look at your order of battle and use the database viewer to see what units you have, the equipment they carry and evaluate their capabilities when developing a strategy.

Here are things we think you should consider and take note when make your decisions.

  • Traditional minesweeping ships are vulnerable even when successful at doing their job because depending on the size of a mine’s warhead it is likely the minesweeper will take points damage with any detonation from sweeping. We have coded in some things to reflect some of the design features to minimize this but it will happen and your ships have a limit as to how many close order detonations they can take.
  • Aircraft are preferable over ships because the likelihood of them being destroyed or damaged during sweeping is lower. Likewise UUV’s are somewhat more expendable and their losses hurt a little less than a mothership.
  • Many modern minesweepers act more as motherships for UUV or USV’s that sweep so it may be best to keep them out of the mine zones themselves thus only assign the UUV’s or aircraft to the mission.
  • Consider hunter-killer pairings. Aircraft and UUV/USV may have payload constraints so please review loads to make sure you actually have units that can detect and units that can kill mines. If it’s the case that a loadout can do one or the other please do assign both types.
  • Keep in mind the difference between a ROV and UUV. ROV equipment is tethered to the mothership. When a mothership is assigned to a mission all hosted ROV units will be assigned as well and launch once in the patrol zone or if a killer type once the mothership detects a mine. Keep in mind the tethers have a limited range which will constrain how far the ROV can travel from the mother ship and also means the mothership may have no choice but to move into the mined zone. On the other hand UUV and USV units are independent units that can be assigned directly to a mission within the mission editor. This is modeled this way to reflect their independent nature and lets the mothership standoff.
  • Do not create massive search areas when creating mine clearing missions. The patrol paths are random and the larger the area the more dispersed they are. Try to create search boxes smaller than 40 nautical miles (even smaller if just sweeping a lane) for best results and then create new ones or move the existing reference points to move ahead and shift the search area. If you don’t like a current plot you can just hit F3 for a new one.
  • If mines are smaller larger ships could be used to sweep with their own structures. You run an absolute risk of losing those ships but it’s a valid strategy that was utilized during the Iran/Iraq war.

Conclusion

We hope we’ve covered most of the basic questions about how the game models mine warfare and provided enough information for you to devise your own strategies. Please do feel free to contact us with any further questions!

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