Friday, November 27, 2009

Basic Infantry Types for Future War Commander

Now for a quick break from the Colombian-Venezuelan brouhaha. Not to worry: Colombia’s OoB and TO&E is coming soon. This week, however, I’m in São Paulo and without access to my normal net provider. I’m thus only able to write stuff from memory and/or imagination. Luckily, I brought along my copy of FWC for between-gigs lulz, so here I am, typing out this article.

One of the things Future War Commander lacks is a generic listing of infantry-type units. Each list provided by the book is well enough, but units differ from list to list and, in some cases, it’s unclear what, exactly, is being modeled. Furthermore, the worst criticisms of the book to date have to do with the fact that the differences in technology level are not distinct enough in terms of unit capacities.

With these issues in mind, I offer up a brief description of infantry types by tech level. Basically, each tech level introduces a new style of infantry and several subsidiary types. These are as follows:

Primitive Tech
This is basically a tech level more-or-less around what we currently have on planet earth. Perhaps a wee bit more advanced. Infantry are armed with weapons which throw slugs driven by chemical reactions (i.e. gunpowder or similarly exploding materials). They are equipped with helmets and maybe torso armor which is designed to stop shrapnel and low-velocity projectiles. They are supported my heavy slug-throwers and conventional mortars. All of these weapons are effective against other infantry but have very limited use against even lightly armored targets. (However, all infantry are assumed to be equipped with rocket-propelled grenades and thus have an anti-armor value at short range )The principal anti-armor weapon is the dedicated anti-tank missile. These are smart missiles, but their warheads are light and have little to no anti-infantry capacity. Drones and robots fly over the battlefield and deliver attacks in a manner indistinguishable from airpower. Primitive tech units include:

Heavy Slugthrowers
Light Mortars
Heavy Mortars

Here is a typical Primitive Tech Infantry Battalion (495 points):
   1 HQ CV8                            60
   2 x Scouts                             60
   6 x Infantry                            90
   3 x Infantry w/Smart Missiles 120
   2 x Heavy Slug Throwers      100
   1 x Heavy Mortar                  65

Contemporary Tech (Basic Future War Commander)
This is the default tech level for FWC. Infantry are now armed with magnetic induction slugthrowers and magnetically propelled grenades which have a short-ranged but significant anti-armor capacity. Infantry are equipped with light but full body armor, which gives them a limited save value. They are supported by “smart” gauss guns or light energy weapons and fire-and-forget multiple rocket launchers (which generally replace mortars). These weapons are effective against infantry and armored targets. The principal anti-armor weapon continues to be the smart missile, but warheads are heavier and thee missiles have extended range. Robots begin to be used on the battlefield itself, the two most common uses for these being cheap remote-controlled static defensive emplacements and reconnaissance units. Some artillery units are also now effectively robotically controlled, but they function for all intents and purposes as regular artillery. Contemporary Tech units include:

Armored Infantry
Light Gauss Gun
Light Energy Cannon
Support Rockets
Recon drone
Sentry cannon

Here is a typical Conventional Tech Infantry Battalion (720 points):
    1 HQ CV8                                          60
    1 x Recon Drone                                 45
    9 x Armored Infantry                            225
    3 x Armored Infantry w/Smart Missiles 210
    2 x Light Gauss Gun                             90
    1 x Support Rockets                            90

High Tech
At this tech level, the distinction between infantry and light vehicles becomes academic, at best. Infantry is now equipped with fully armored and powered exoskeletons and the average soldier stands some 3-4 meters tall and can sustain a 20kph run, fully loaded, for hours on end. The basic hand weapon of the foot-soldier is an energy weapon of some sort, powerful enough to punch through even heavy armor at short range. Smart missiles now have greatly improved range. Heavy support weapons include portable missile systems with variable warheads (good against both infantry and armoured targets)and heavy energy cannon, as well as light support walkers. Infantry may also be equipped with special equipment, such as jump packs (which allow them to fly over brief distances), recon suites (which turn them into recon units) and fire control equipment (which permits them to direct the fire of other units’ smart missiles). At this tech level, robotic combatants finally come into widespread and a variety of drones are used on the battlefield. Any unit can be designated as robotic by applying the “robotic” characteristic to it (see below). The Artificial Intelligence suite upgrade allows any unit to be turned into a self-commanding unit. AIs are expensive, however, and these are generally reserved for massive units. High Tech units include:

Power Armor
Heavy Energy Cannon
Missile Launcher
Light Support Walker
Jump Pack upgrade
Recon suite upgrade
AI upgrade
Fire Control suite upgrade (directs smart missiles and can be used to spot for InfantryMissile Launchers)

Here is a typical High Tech Infantry Battalion (1495 points):
   1 HQ CV9 90
   1 x Power Armor w/recce suite and jump pack 105
   6 x Power Armor 360
   3 x Power Armor w/Smart Missiles 360
   3 x Light Support Walkers 240
   2 x Missile Launchers 240
   1 x Power Armor w/Fire Control Suite 100

Any unit may be declared to be robotic. Robotic units may only be controlled by robotic headquarters (which may not control non-robotic units) and use the Cyborg Tactical doctrine rules on page 54.Obviously, the rules regarding breakpoint only apply to robotic units. Regular units are affected by robotic losses as per normal. All robotic units under a headquarters’ control, excluding suppressed and transported units, must carry out the same order. (Sentry Cannons and Recon Drones, by the way, are not considered to be robotic).

Using infantry in your games
It would be an error to presume that just because a new technology level is reached, older technologies disappear. In my Arcadian campaign, for example, all three kinds of infantry are available to combatants.

Regular, unarmored infantry is generally citizen militia or corporate security forces and these units, as a rule, drive to battle in APCs or IFVs. Armored infantry represents regular troops of the main noble houses or corporate commando forces. Meanwhile, the Terran World Authority infantry units, as well as the various elite corps of the noble houses are equipped with up-to-date galactic technology and are fully power-armored. Not all galactic powers use the best available tech either. The Siliaz Hegemony, for example, prefers cybernetic power armor.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Venezuela Maps

Over on the TO&E Yahoo group, people have been asking for maps. Here are some that I snicked from the Global Security website. There are plenty more over there, too.

There are maps of Colombia, too, in PDF.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Venezuelan Military: OOB and TO&E

OK, here is a somewhat better Venezuelan OoB, as of 2008, provided through some stellar research my Mark Bevis. Rather than repost what he’s already turned up (and posted on the Yahoo TO&E Group), I’m going to attempt to synthesize the data at hand into a more consumable form. (Most of this information seems to come from the 2005 Military Balance, and “Venezuelan Armed Forces 1990-2000” by Jose-Mari Serrano. I’ve also added in data drawn from the SIPRI’s arms trade database).

Venezuela’s land forces total some 65,000 troops, 31,000 of which are National Guard and another 27,000 of which are 30-month conscripts. This gives the nation’s ground forces a professional military cadre of only some 7,000 soldiers, the majority of which, we may presume, are officers and/or technicians. The Army also has some 8000 reserves.

In terms of major ground units, Venezuela has 5 divisional headquarters – 4 infantry and 1 armored. There are 12 brigade-sized combat formations:

1 Armored Brigade
1 Motorized Cavalry Brigade
1 Light Armored Brigade
6 Infantry Brigades
1 Jungle Infantry Brigade
1 Light Infantry Brigade
1 Airborne Brigade

These are further broken down into:

11 Infantry Battalions
7 Cazador Light Infantry Battalions
5 Jungle Infantry Battalions
2 Airborne Battalions
3 Armored Battalions (82 AMX-30, 40 AMX-13 90)
2 Light Armored Battalions (80 Scorpion 90)
1 Mechanized Infantry Battalion (25 AMX VCI, perhaps some EE-11s)
3 Motorized Cavalry Groups (100 V-100s, 30 V-150s)
2 Mechanized Cavalry Groups (100 Dragoon 300s)
6 Field Artillery Groups (80 105mm)
1 Heavy Artillery Group (12 155mm)
1 Self-Propelled Artillery Group (10 155mm)
1 Multiple Rocket Launcher System Group (20 Self-propelled LARs)
1 Anti-Tank Missile Battalion (24 MAPATS)
2 Air Defense Artillery Groups
4 Engineer Battalions
2 Special Forces Groups
1 Army Air Regiment
3 Air Defense Artillery Batteries (these may have been expanded into Groups by now)
2 Motorized Cavalry Squadrons
1 Heavy Artillery Battery (155mm)
5 120mm Mortar Batteries

The Army’s reserves, consist of:

6 Infantry Battalions
1 Ranger Battalion
1 Armored Battalion (which is probably equipped with WWII-vintage M18s)
1 Combat Support Battalion (this may be artillery)

Marine ground forces include some 7,800 soldiers. Only 4000 of the Venezuelan Navy’s 18,300 effectives are conscripts, so we may assume that the Marines have a slightly higher level of elán and professionalism than the Army.

The Marines have a Divisional Headquarters which has 2 Marine Brigades These, in turn, contain:

6 Marine Battalions
1 Artillery Battalion (18 105mm towed artillery)
1 Air Defense Artillery Battery (6 twin 40mm self-propelled)
1 Amphibious Vehicle Battalion (25 EE-11, 10 Fuchs, 11 LVTP-7)
1 Engineer Battalion

This is primarily a paramilitary security and internal defense force, though there are some indications that Chávez wants to turn it into a Cuban-style people’s militia, armed with light anti-tank weapons, mortars and machineguns. Its 31,000 soldiers are divided into 9 Regional Commands, 3 Border Detachments and a Rural Commando Detachment.

Note that I’ve removed most “non-teeth” units from this list. Each brigade, for example, generally has a headquarters company and a logistics battalion and several other small units – electronic warfare companies, signal companies – are sprinkled about the army. As these units are generally only abstractly represented on the miniatures battlefield, I have not included them here. Units are grouped by division and brigade, with the home station of these larger units listed in parenthesis. Where possible. I’ve indicated what weapons units are armed with.

Army HQ (Caracas)
  3rd Air Defence Group “GD Asencion Barreras” (Roland 2, 40mm AA guns)
81st Air Regiment “Gen. Leon Fabres Cordero” (Caracas)
  812 Air Transport Group (fixed wing aircraft)
  813 Assault & Support Group (7 A 109, 10 Mi35, 38 Mi17, 13 other transport helicopters)
  816 Air Reconnaissance Group (reserve)

1st Infantry Division (Maracaibo)
  102 Mechanized Cavalry Group “ GD Francisco Esteban Gomez” (50 Dragoon 300)
  103 MRLS Group “GB Jose Gregorio Monagas” (20 LAR-160 on AMX-13 hulls)
  105 Engineer Bn “Gen. Carlos Soubiette”
  104 Air Defence Group (Cadre – only 1 Battery – 40mm towed guns; Saab RBS-70 on 4x4s)
  Special Operations Unit “Montero”
11th Infantry Brigade (Maracaibo)
  1103 Air Defence Bty. (40mm towed guns)
  111 Infantry Bn. “ Cor. Atanasio Girardot”
  112 Infantry Bn. “ Cor. Francisco Aramendi”
  121 Infantry Bn. “Venezuela”
  114 Artillery Group (M101 105mm Howitzers)
13th Infantry Brigade (Barquisimeto)
  131 Infantry Bn. “Gen. Manuel Carlos Piar”
  132 Infantry Bn. “Gen. Jose Antonio Paez”
  134 Artillery Group (12 M56 105mm light howitzers)

2nd Infantry Division (San Cristobal de Tachira)
  203 Artillery Bn (Cadre. – only 1 battery – 155mm)
  205 Engineer Bn.
21st Infantry Brigade (San Cristobal de Tachira)
  2103 Air Defence Bty. (6 40mm towed guns)
  211 Infantry Bn. “Cor. Antonio Ricaurte”
  212 Infantry Bn. “Carabobo”
  231 Infantry Bn. “ Gen. Santiago Mariño”
  214 Artillery Group (12 M56 105mm light howitzers)
22nd Infantry Brigade (Merida)
  2201 Motorized Cavalry Sqn. “Cor. Leonardo Infante” (10 V-100/150)
  2204 Mortar Bty (12 120 mm Mortars)
  221 Infantry Bn. “Gen Justo Briceño”
  222 Infantry Bn. “Cor. Luis Maria Rivas Davila”
  224 Artillery Group (12 M56 105mm light howitzers)

3rd Infantry Division (Caracas)
  304 Air Defence Artillery Group “Gen. Jose Felix Ribas” (RBS-70)
73rd Light Infantry (Cazadores) Brigade (Maturin)
  312 Light Infantry Bn. “Cor. Genaro Vazquez”
  731 Light Infantry Bn. “ Gen. Pedro Zaraza”
  735 Light Infantry Bn. “Cor. Francisco Carvajal”
  733 Light Infantry Bn. “Cor. Juan J Rondon”
  734 Light Infantry Bn. “Cor. Vicente Campos Elias”
  732 Light Infantry Bn. “Cor. Celedonio Sanchez”
  736 Light Infantry Bn. “ Cor. Jose Maria Camacaro”
31st Infantry Brigade (Caracas)
  311 Infantry Bn. “ Lib. Simon Bolivar”
  302 Mechanized Cavalry Group “ GB Juan Pablo Ayala” (50 Dragoon 300)
  314 Artillery Group “Ayacucho” (12 M-101 105mm Howitzers)
  305 Engineer Bn.

4th Armored Division (Maracay)
  402 AT Missile Bn. “GD Ezequiel Zamora” (24 MAPATS ATGM)
  403 Divisional Artillery Group “Gen. Bartolome Salom” (12 M114 155mm Howitzers)
42nd Parachute Infantry Brigade (Maracay)
  421 Parachute Infantry Bn. “Gen. Jose Leonardo Chirinos”
  422 Parachute Infantry Bn. “Gen Antonio Nicolas Briceño”
41st Armored Brigade (Valencia)
  4104 Engineer Co. (Bridging)
  4106 Honor Guard Co. “24 de junio” (12 120mm Mortars – probably used to fire 21-gun salutes)
  41 Mechanized Infantry Bn. “GD Jose Antonio Anzoategui” (AMX-13VTT APC) *
  412 Armored Bn. “ Gen Jose Francisco Bermudez” (41 AMX-30)
  413 Armored Bn. “GD Pedro Leon Torres” (41 AMX-30)
  414 Armored Bn. “Bravos de Apure” (40 AMX-13-90)
  415 Self Propelled Artillery Group (10 AMX F3 155mm SP Howitzers)
43rd Motorized Cavalry Brigade (San Fernando de Apure)
  4304 Mortar Bty. (12 120mm Mortars)
  431 Motorised Cavalry Group “Vencedor de Araure” (40 V-100/150)
  432 Motorised Cavalry Group “Cor. Francisco Farfan” (40 V-100/150)
  433 Motorised Cavalry Group “ Cor. Julian Mellado” (40 V-100/150)
44th Light Armored Brigade (San Juan de los Morros)
  441 Armored Battalion “GB Ambrosio Plaza” (40 Scorpion 90)
  442 Armored Battalion “GD Jose Laurencio Silva” (40 Scorpion 90)
  444 Field Artillery Group “Cor. Jose Cornelio Muñoz” (12 105mm Light Howitzers)

* Note: Most sources say that Venezuela has 25 AMX 13VTT APCs. However, the country received 66 from France back in 1972, along with 6 mortar carriers on the same hull. Perhaps only 25 are left in running condition, but Venezuela seems to have maintained its other French equipment intact during this period, so feel free to give the mech battalion a full complement of APCs.

5th Infantry Division (Ciudad Bolivar)
  507 Special Operations Unit
  505 Engineer Bn.
51st Infantry Brigade (Luepa)
  5102 Motorized Cavalry Sqn “ Cor. Hermenegildo Mujica Ramos” (10 EE-11s?) *
  5104 Mortar Bty. (12 120mm Mortars)
  511 Jungle Infantry Bn. “Mariscal Antonio Jose Sucre”
  512 Jungle Infantry Bn. “GD Tomas de Heres”
  513 Jungle Infantry Bn. “GD Mariano Montilla”
52nd Jungle Infantry Brigade (Caicara del Orinoco)
  5204 Mortar Bty. (12 120mm Mortars)
  521 Jungle Infantry Bn. “Gen. Rafael Urdaneta”
  522 Jungle Infantry Bn. “Gen. Francisco de Miranda”

*Note: Venezuela ordered 30 EE-11 Urutus from Brazil in 1984, though most sources say that they have 35. 25 of these are with the Marines. Given that the 5102 Squadron is attached to a Jungle Infantry Division and given that the EE-11 was precisely built for jungle recon, my guess is that if the other 5-10 Urutu’s exist outside of the Marines, they’re with the 5102.

Reserve Command (Caracas)
  1st Reserve Infantry Bn “Batalla de la Victoria” (Caracas)
  2nd Reserve Infantry Bn. “Combate de Maracaibo” (Maracaibo)
  3rd Reserve Infantry Bn. “Combate de los Horcones” (Barquisimeto)
  4th Reserve Infantry Bn. “Batalla de Boca Chica” (Maracay)
  5th Reserve Armored Bn. “Batalla de Vigirima” (Valencia)
  6th Reserve Combat Support Bn. “Batalla Queseras del Medio” (Caracas)
  7th Reserve Infantry Bn. “Maturin” (Maturin)
  8th Reserve Infantry Bn. “Tachira” (San Cristobal)

Note that the 816 Air Reconnaissance Group, apparently a special forces unit based in Caracas, is also part of the Reserves.

Marine Division (Meseta de Mamo)
  Special Operations Group “Generalísimo Francisco de Miranda”
  Engineer Battalion “TN Gerónimo Rengifo”
  Marine Artillery Battalion (18 105mm towed artillery)
  Marine Air Defense Artillery Battery (Saab RBS-70 on 4x4s)
1st Marine Brigade (Meseta de Mamo)
  Marine Infantry Battalion “G Rafael Urdaneta”
  Marine Infantry Battalion “Generalísimo Francisco de Miranda”
  Marine Infantry Battalion “CA Renato Beluche”
  Amphibious Vehicle Battalion “CC Miguel Ponce Lugo” (25 EE-11, 10 Fuchs, 11 LVTP-7)
2nd Marine Brigade (Meseta de Mamo)
  Marine Infantry Battalion “G Simón Bolívar”
  Marine Infantry Battalion “G José Fco. Bermúdez”
  Marine Infantry Battalion “Mcal Antonio José de Sucre”

"To what lengths will Chávez go to get his name in the news?"

Here’s my best shot at sussing out the Venezuelan’s battalion and company-level OoBs. This is mostly based on old data from the ‘90s, guesswork, extrapolations off of other South American militaries and clues gleaned from the SIRPI database.

Infantry Battalion – 1990s
HQ & Service Co.
Support Co.
  AT Platoon:
    6 106mm RR
  Reconnaissance Platoon
  Mortar Platoon:
    6 81mm Mortars
3 Infantry Companies
3 Infantry Platoons (est.)
1 Weapons Platoon (est)

Notes: Mark scared this one up. I’m not sure from which source. It shows that Venezuela, like most South American militaries, seems to have used the U.S. army of the 1950s and ‘60s as a template. It’s anyone’s guess what the Reconnaissance Platoon is armed with. It’s probably a safe bet that at least all of the 11 regular infantry battalions are provided with truck transport or could commandeer it in relatively short order. My guess is that the Cazador, Marine, Airborne and Jungle Battalions follow this same general pattern, though with less motorization, foot-mobile recon units and perhaps no AT platoons (at least in the Jungle Battalions). Company-level TO&E is just a guess. I would presume that the weapons platoon has the usual machineguns and light mortars and it’s a pretty good bet that the infantry in general will be armed with RPGs.

Mark Bevis comments: Infantry Company TOE, I suggest...

CHQ: 2(8 man) squads
3 platoons at 4(9 man) squads
       3 GPMG, 1 or 3x 84mm Carl Gustav, 4-12x 84mm AT-4 (M136) disposable LAW
1 platoon
       2-3x 60mm Brandt mortars, 2x MMG (FN-MAG on tripod)
 Purely guesstimate!  The Infantry Battalion Recce Platoon is more than likely just 3 sections of 2x Jeeps armed with GPMG at best - could be 2 sections, or even 3 sections of 3 Jeeps. For gaming purposes allow 1x AT-4 LAW per Jeep.

Thad notes: Venezuela also has some 30 old M-8 scout cars as well, according to some sources. If these are still operational, they cound very well be in the Infantry Battalion Reconaissance Platoons as 2-3 per platoon, plus jeeps. This is another plausible fielding option.

Armored or Light Armored Battalion - 2005
HQ & Service Co.
  1-2 Command tanks
3 Tank Companies
  1 Command Tank
  3 Platoons of four tanks each

Notes: This is just a guess. The Venezuelan armored units all have 40-41 tanks, so I presume that they either have this structure or four companies of ten tanks each. I’m leaning towards the above structure due to circumstantial evidence. In the first place, both the French and the Americans, whose equipment the Venezuelans use or whose TO&E templates they’ve copied, use larger platoons. Furthermore, even if the Venezuelans use a ten company tank structure, maintenance issues, especially with older weapons, would reduce the number of vehicles they could effectively field. I thus feel better with 9 maneuver unit battalion than with a 12 maneuver unit battalion.

Mark Bevis says: At 41 tanks to a battalion it would be Bttn HQ of 2 tanks and 3 Companies each of 13 tanks. Now the French use 4 platoons of 3 tanks as much as 4 tank-platoons, and my gut instinct is to go with that, but 3 platoons of 4 tanks is equally plausible for the reason you state. The two tank Battalions also have 2x AMX-30 ARV each. (Thad sez: I kept non-tooth units out of the listings for the most part).

Mechanized Battalion - 2005
HQ & Service Co.
Support Co.
  AT Platoon:
    6 106mm RR or MAPATS ATGM
  Reconnaissance Platoon
    4 APCs
  Mortar Platoon:
    6 81mm self-propelled mortars
3 Mechanized Companies
  1 Command APC
  3 Platoons of four APCs each

Notes: This is also a guess, though SIPRI registers that the Venezuelans did buy enough AMX13 APCs to outfit the whole battalion and a battery of self-propelled mortars.

Mark Bevis suggests: I would also have the Mechanised Companies as...
CHQ: 1x VCI, 1 squad
3 platoons with 4(9 man) squads each
       4x AMX-VCI, 3 GPMG, 3x 84mm Carl Gustav, 1x 60mm mortar, 8x AT-4 LAW

Artillery Group - 2005
HQ & Service Bty.
2 Artillery Batteries
    3 sections, 2 guns each.

Notes: Venezuelans batteries seem to have six guns and a distinction is made between artillery groups and battalions. It’s my guess that groups have two batteries while battalions have 3 or 4.

Mechanized Cavalry Group - 2005
HQ & Service Sqd.
3 Mechanized Cavalry Squadrons
  1 Command Dragoon
  3 Troops, each with 1 Dragoon APC, 2 Dragoon 90s and 1 Dragoon 81mm mortar carrier

Notes: There are two of these and there may be an additional independent squadron as well, all equipped with Dragoon 300s.Venezuela apparently has 11 Dragoon C3 vehicles, 25 Dragoon APCs, 42 Dragoon 90mm, and 21 Dragoon mortar carriers. Extrapolating off of the Brazilian Cavalry Squadron, we can presume that each troop has 1 APC, 2 Dragoon 90s and a mortar carrier. This would work out, roughly, to the TO&E above,

Motorized Cavalry Group - 2005
HQ & Service Sqd.
3 Motorized Cavalry Squadrons
  1 Command V-150
  3 Troops, each with 3 V-100s and 1 V-150 mortar carrier

Notes: Venezuela has 3 motorized cavalry groups and 2 independent squadrons. One or more of the independents may be armed with amphibious Brazilian EE-11s. The rest have a total of 100 V-100 and 30 V-150 armored cars divided between them. It may be that the V-150s are in fact mortar carriers, which would jibe with the general armored cavalry pattern in many South American countries. Thus the TO&E above.

As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, Hugo feels threatened and has recently gone on a weapons shopping spree. So far, this has netted him some nice SU30 Flankers and a bunch of Russian helicopters, as well as a load of new small arms and munitions. Hugo’s attempt to purchase 24 new Tucano ground attack aircraft from Brazil was blocked by the U.S., however, and there still seems to be some doubt as to whether the 90 T-72s and the BM-30 MRLs he ordered from Russia have been delivered or if he will ever receive the 135 BMP-3s he wants.

If you want to play with an up-graded Venezuelan military, though, here’s my best guess as to how this new equipment will be integrated into the Army.

The 90 T-72s will replace the elderly AMX-30s in the 412th and 413th Armored Battalions. The 414th will probably continue to use its newer AMX-13 90s, however. At least some of the surplus AMX-30s will go to Ecuador, but it’s possible that Venezuela could keep some or all of them for its reserve armored battalion.

The new MRLS will probably replace the LARS, though they may be made into an entirely new artillery group. In any case, they will probably be attached to the 4th Armored Division in any future conflict.

The 411th Mechanized Battalion will obviously receive some of the BMP3s, but there will be enough left over to arm one and possibly two other battalions. Rather than re-equip two existing battalions, it’s my guess Hugo will go for raising two new battalions, seeing as how he’s claimed several times that he wants to expand the size of the army. If this occurs, the 43rd and 44th brigades will probably be re-designated as part of a new 6th division – possibly a Light Armored or Cavalry Division. Alternatively, the 4th Armored Division could be continue as a four brigade unit, perhaps with 3 brigades each having a mechanized and armored battalion as well as a motorized cavalry group. Meanwhile, the fourth brigade would hold the 2 Airborne and Light Armor battalions. This option would allow the Venezuelan Army to use the 4th Armored Division as a sort of shock corps. In any case, we can presume that the 4th will be the spearhead of any invasion of Colombia.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Venezuelan Military: How Do We Paint Our Toys?

Here are some images of Venezuelan military vehicles to use as a guide for painting. The Venezuelan Army seems to use a dark olive green and tan camouflage scheme for its military vehicles and a three tone green/olive drab scheme for its helicopters and airplanes. However, as you'll see below, there's some evidence that the three-tone camouflage scheme is being generalized throughout the military.

Here's an AMX30V on its transporter, which seems to be a simple commercial 18-wheeler tractor-trailer which has been adapted for the job. Note the national colors on the lower bow. The second picture shows an AMX30V in the field. Note that they don't seem to be equipped with any night-vision aids except for a searchlight.

Below, you'll find a photo of a Venezuelan Army M-18 Hellcat, dating from 1987 and it's anyone's guess whether or not these vehicles are still in service today. It certainly looks good for a 40+ year-old AFV, though, and one would presume that the mechanical elements of these beasties are simple enough that they could be kept in service as long as one wanted them. Fast, light, hard-hitting and easy to maintain, it would seem to me that the M-18 Jackson would still be an effective combat vehicle for South American today.

A Venezuelan Cadillac Gage. I've also found photos of these done up in a dark blue color and it would seem to me that at least some of them are used by internal security forces and/or military police (in South America, they are often one and the same thing

This is a photo of a Scorpion 90 on excercizes. Note that they obviously train to support infantry and this, in turn, indicates that these tanks are part of Venezuela's light armored brigade.  Obviously, this is the Scorpion which has been upgunned with the 90mm Cockerill. Below is a better picture of the Scorpion 90. Note that this vehicle seems to be using the same tri-color camouflage scheme used by the Venezuelan airforce.

A Brazilian-made EE11 Urutu of the Venezuelan Army, doing what it does best (i.e. mucking about in marshy terrain). The Urutu is a cheap and effective APC, on par with the Soviet BTR70. It is easy to maintain and operate and is amphibious, having been uniquely designed for combat in tropical third world environments. Sadly, its armored protection is on par with a cheap pair of kiddie jammies.

A Venezuelan Bell 206s. Note the tri-color camo scheme.

One of 10 Mi35 Caribe attack helicopters which Venezuela has recently purchased from Russia. Apparently, the guns on this one aren't standard Russian fair, so these may have been upgraded.

A Venezuelan F-16 rolls down the runway. One presumes that the beautiful tailflash would be painted over in the event of a war, but hey, you can paint your miniatures any way you like. Including the tail flash will certainly make them distinctive. Only about 8 to a dozen of these planes are still operational.

And finally, here we have a pair of the new Russian SU30 Flankers which Hugo Chávez has bought to equip the two squadrons of Venezuela's Air Group 13 (Escuadrón 131 and Escuadrón 132). These seem to have maintained the original Russian paint scheme. The Venezuelan Air Force is considering purchasing a further 24 SU30s, which would bring their total up to 48. Below is a nice shot of the Venezuelan SU30 showing the tail flash.

Here's a clear image of the usual tri-color paint scheme of the Venezuelan armed forces. Again, note that the SU30s appear done up in regular Russian paintwork. This may have changed by now.

"Feed me, Hugo!": the elite 42nd Parachute Brigade, of which Hugo Chávez is a veteran. By the way, the Venezuelan Army's "official" nickname is The Forger of Liberties. Obviously, they mean "forge" as in "create". Still, good for some low yucks, wat, wat?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Venezuela and Colombia Go to War, Part 2

        Separated at birth?

Venezuela's Army
Venezuela has an army of some 35,000 troops, divided into 4 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions. This is further broken down into:

1 Armored Brigade
1 Cavalry Brigade
1 Light Armored Brigade
7 Infantry Brigades
1 Airborne Brigade
2 Ranger Brigades
1 Air Mobile Brigade
1 Counterinsurgency Brigade
1 Presidential Guard regiment
1 Anti-aircraft artillery group
2 engineer regiments
1 aviation regiment

"Divisions" seem to include from 4-6 battalions of troops, with most of the armor being concentrated in the First Cavalry Division. These troops are backed up by some 25,000 members of the national guard armed with light infantry weapons and a few light wheeled APCs.

Currently, Venezuela owns 81 AMX-30s MBTs, 65 WWII-vintage M-18 tank destroyers, 36 AMX-13 light tanks, 70 Scorpion light tanks, 25 AMX CVI APCs, 100 V-100 APCs, 90 V-150 APCs and 35 Brazilian-made EE11 APCS. It's artillery is made up of 76 105mm pieces, 9 155mm pieces and 10 155mm self-propelled pieces. Battalion-level support includes 81mm mortars and 106mm recoilless rifles, while brigade-regiment support includes 120mm mortars.

Venezuela has recently gone on a shopping spree in Russia, however, purchasing or attempting to purchase 92 T-72 MBTs, 135 BMP-3 IFVs, 30 Mi17/Mi26 helicopters, 10 Mi35 attack helicopters and 20 BM30 "Smerch" Multiple Rocket Launchers. This material has been partially delivered, but U.S.-organized arms embargoes seem to have blocked at least some of it. With the arrival of the T-72s, Hugo plans to donate the old AMX-30s to his allies in Ecuador. One would assume that he'll not launch a war until he gets his new toys, but with Hugo, you never know...

Venezuela's airforce is much larger and more capable than Colombia's - at least on paper. Arms embargoes and poor maintenance seems to have grounded about half of it, however, and a recent sale of Brazilian Tucanos didn`t go through due to Chávez's incessant saber-rattling. Air superiority aircraft include 16 F-5 Tigers, 16 Mirage Vs, 16 F-16 Falcons and 24 SU-30s. (That's right: if you play the Venezuelans, you get to field F-16s AND SU-30s. Now how cool is that?) Ground attack planes include some 20 Tucanos. Again, it would be a miracle, given Venezuela's lack of spare parts, if even half of this force could get off the ground. Still, even half the Venezuelan airforce is more than a match for all of Colombia's. Apparently, Hugo is also upgrading the country's air defences (before negligible), building a Soviet-style, multi-layered anti-air system.

The Venezuelan Navy is also slated for a major upgrade. Chávez seeks to purchase 9 Russian subs, 4 Italian frigates and 8 Spanish corvettes or patrol boats by 2015. The country already has a significant amphibious capacity and a brigade-sized marine contingent fitted out with 25 EE-11s, 10 German Fuchs, 11 LVTP-7s and 18 towed 105mm artillery pieces.

Cold War Commander List for the Venezuelan Army
Troops            Arm            Move     Attack     Hits     Save      Cost      Notes
CO CV8           Command   60          3/30          6          6             60          - 
HQ CV7          Command    60         2/30          6          6             30          -
FAO CV6        Command    30         -                4          6             15          -
FAC CV6        Command    30         -                4          6             15          -
Scouts            Recce            10        2/30*        6           -             35          -
4x4s                 Recce            30        2/50*        3          -              30          -
Scorpion         Recce           30        4/60           3          6             90         #1
Conscripts      Infantry       10        2/30*        6           -             25         #2
Regulars         Infantry       10         3/30*        6          -             35
RPG Upgrade Infantry       -           6/40(H)     -          -              40
106mm RCL    Support       -           5/60(H)     4          -              60
HMG               Support       10         4/60*        5          -             50
81mm Mortar Support       10         3/120*      5          -             40
120mm Mortar Support      -          4/200*       4          -             70
Combat Eng.  Engineer      10        4/30*        6           -             60
AMX13          Armour        30        3/50          3           6             50
AMX30          Armour        25        5/100        5           5             115
Scorpion        Armour        30       4/60            3           6             70           #1
T-72                Armour        30        6/60           5           4             130        R, S2, IR
M-18 SPAT   SPAT           40        4/70           4           6             105        O
Air Def. MG  Artillery        -          4/30*         4           -             30
Air Def. 20mm Artillery     -           1/40           5           -             15
Air Def. 40mm Artillery     -           1/50           4           -             10
Art. 105mm      Artillery     -           3                3           -             45
Art. 155mm      Artillery     -           4                2           -             60
SPA 155mm     Artillery     30        4                3           6             80           #3
BM-30              Artillery     20        6                3           -             80           #3
Naval               Artillery      -          4                6           6             70
Tucano            Aircraft      -          5                 3           5            125
Mi35                 Aircraft     -          6/50            4           5            170         #3, #4
Truck               Transport  20        -                 3           -             10
AMX CVI        Transport  30      1/50*          3           6            30
EE-11 APC      Transport   30     2/50*          3            6            40
V100/150          Transport   30     1/50*         3            6            30
BMP3               IFV              30     4/80           3            6             85         S2, IR, A
LVTP-7            Transport   20      2/80           4            6            50
Transport Heli Transport   -       2/50*         4            6            60

#1 Terrain restrictions as infantry.
#2 Conscripts: may not use initiative to assault enemy. This should be the majority of Venezuelan infantry and all of the National Guard.
#3 Maximum of two.
#4 for an additional 40 points, unit may conduct 6/150 attacks against armour, guns, soft vehicles, helicopters and constructions using ATGW.

Special rules:
• Rigid tactical doctrine.
• Poor maintenance and low supplies: -1 to random points modifier.
• No counter-battery capacity.
• May schedule one ambush at the start of the game.
• Assets include Artillery HE (max 3 per unit, 10 points each), aircraft ground attack (max 2 per unit, 10 points each), Aircraft Air Assault (max 1 per unit, 50 points each).
• Air superiority +1 modifier as long as the U.S. is not an active enemy.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Venezuela and Colombia go to War, Part 1

Venezuela prepares for war: South America yawns and says "Wtf? Again?!"

Chávez warns the imperialist ianquis that Venezuela's modernized armed forces stand ready to fight for continental liberation, causing epic lulz across the Western Hemisphere.

Yesterday, Sunday November 8th, 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez avised his armed forces to prepare for war against that notorious South American imperialist superpower, Colombia. Chávez is apparently buttsore over the fact that Colombian President Álvaro Uribe called the Venezuelan President "the most successful human imitation of a pineapple since Manny Noreiga".

Hugo's proclamations provoked an enormous sense of blasé across the South American continent. Typical commentary by the man-in-the-street ran from "ROFL!" to "Wtf? Again?!" to "Will someone please shut Pineapple Boy up?" You can read more about the Chávez gang's plans for continental Armegeddon here. Meanwhile, the top news story in Brazil this Monday morning involves a young lady who was expulsed from her university for wearing a miniskirt. I shit you not.

If Venezuela and Colombia do go at it, the rest of us down here in Pindorama are going to be treated to the spectacle of two one-legged men engaged in an ass-kicking contest. However, you might want to game this pathetic conflict, and with that in mind, Lead Doesn't Bleed offers up the following for your delight and eduficamation...

The Colombian Military
Colombia has an armed-forces amounting to something less than 300,000 men. Its army consists of the following units:

7 divisions, divided into:
2 Mechanized brigades
16 Infantry brigades
9 Mobile brigades
2 Jungle brigades
1 Airmobile brigade
1 Special Forces brigade (geared to anti-guerrilla operations)

These are further broken down into:
72 Counterinsurgency battalions
12 Special forces battalions (one of which is an elite "Lancero" (or Ranger) battalion)
37 Infantry battalions (including 3 cadet battalions)
7 Mountain Infantry battalions
4 Para Infantry battalions
1 Airmobile battalion
7 Armored cavalry battalion
3 Mechanized battalions
1 "Tank" battalion (sans tanks)
8 Artillery battalions
2 Marine battalions
1 Helicopter battalion
12 Engineer battalions
11 Infrastructure Protection battalions
1 Para Engineer battalion

Here's a link to a relatively complete OoB for the Colombian National Army.

Colombia's land forces are so anemic that their main AFVs are light Brazilian armored cars built in the 1980s: EE-9 Cascavels and EE-11 Urutus. The army has 120 of the first vehicle, which is a 6x6 armored car armed with either a 37mm cannon (scrounged from old M5 Stuarts) or a 90mm cannon, and 100 of the second, a 6x6 machinegun-armed APC. Colombia also has some 130 M-113s and no tanks to speak of. None at all.

Colombia's current main battle tank: the mighty Engesa EE-9 Cascavel.

For army air support, colombia can field some 60 UH-1 and 30 Mi-7 transport and utility choppers. It also has 60 U.S.-supplied Blackhawks, however, giving it one of the most powerful attack helicopter forces in South America. (I know: that's not saying much.)

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that with 178 "teeth" battalions in its OoB and an army of 235,000 soldiers, most Colombian units are going to be drastically understrength, perhaps only existing as a cadre or on paper. As a guess - and given Colombia's recent military escapades, which are mostly anti-guerrilla in nature - most of the available active military forces are concentrated in the parachute, air-mobile, special forces and counterinsurgency battalions. Their armored cavalry units are probably relatively operational, given the fact that Urutus and Cascaveis are very easy AFVs to maintain and operate. I have my doubts about the M113s, however, which are probably very old.

In short, what Colombia's going to have on hand in case of war is a bunch of light infantry units backed up by a couple of battalions of very light, mobile armor. The Army's 60 Blackhawk helicopters and its highly trained Lanceros will definitely be the main elite units involved in any future conflict with Venezuela.

Colombia's air force has 25 Brazilian-made Super Tucano prop-driven light attack planes, 11 OV-10 Broncos, 9 A-37 Dragonflys and (ooh, cool) 6 C-47 Spooky gunships. For air superiority, they have some 16 Kfirs and 12 Mirage Vs, though I'd be very surprised if more than half of these fighters were operational.

On the naval front, the Colombian National Armada contains 4 frigates, 4 coastal submarines, 31 gunboats and some 15 river gunboats. Of interest here is ARC Juan Ricardo Oyola Vera, a home-built, helicopter equipped and ultra-modern stealth patrol boat. Colombia apparently has five of these.

Like most South American militaries, the Colombian Armed Forces is made up of a mass of fairly inept, undertrained foot-sloggers, backed up by a handful of extremely professional veterans armed with modern weponry. Available munitions and supplies are likely quite low. In the (extremely unlikely) event of a long war, this force will be augmented by masses of hastily raised conscripts.

Cold War Commander List for the Colombian Army
Troops                 Arm                Move    Attack    Hits    Save   Cost    Notes
CO CV9               Command        60         3/30        6          6          90         -
HQ CV8               Command        60         2/30        6          6          45         -
HQ CV7               Command        60         2/30        6          6          30         -
FAO CV6            Command        30          -              4         6          15         -
FAC CV6             Command        30         -              4         6          15         -
Scouts                 Recce               10         2/30*      6          -          35         -
4x4s                      Recce               30         2/50*      3         -           30         -
EE-9                     Recce                30        4/60         3         6          85
Conscripts          Infantry            10         2/30*      6         -           25        #1
Regulars             Infantry             10          3/30*      6        -            35        #2
Lanceros            Infantry             10          4/30*      6         -           40         #3
LAW Upgrade  Infantry            -             4/20(H)   -         -           20    
HMG                   Support           10           4/60*     5         -           50
Spike ATGW     Support           10          8/100      5         -           190       #4    
81mm Mortar    Support            10          3/120*    5         -           40
120mm Mortar   Support            -            4/200*    4        -           70
Combat Eng.     Engineer          10          4/30*       6        -           60 
EE-9                    Armour            30          4/60         3        6          65
4x4 TOW           Anti-tank         20          6/150       3        -          205       #4
106mm RCL       Anti-tank        -            5/60(H)     4       -           60
Air Def. MG      Artillery           -            4/30*        4       -           30
Air Def. 20mm   Artillery          -             2/40         5        -           25  
Air Def. 40mm   Artillery          -             1/50         4        -           10 
Art. 105mm        Artillery           -             3              3        -           45
Art. 155mm        Artillery           -             4              2        -           60 
Naval                  Artillery          -             4              6         6          70 
AC47 Spooky    Aircraft           -             4/50         4        5           85      #5
Blackhawk          Aircraft          -             6/50         4        4           250     #5
Tucano or A37   Aircraft         -               5             3        5           125
Truck                  Transport      20            -              3        -            10
M113 APC         Transport      25          2/50*        4        6           40
EE-11 APC         Transport      30         2/50*         3        6           40
M-3 Halftrack    Transport      20         2/50*         3        6           25
Transport Heli   Transport      -           2/50*         4        6           60

#1 Conscripts: may not use intiative to assault enemy. This should be the majority of Colombian infantry, especially the lightly-armed anti-insurgency and infrastructure defence forces.
#2 Units of the Rapid Deployment force, Airborne, Marines, most Special Forces and other regular units, especially those with recent combat experience.
#3 Elite: no command penalty for assaulting and +1 in close assault.
#4 Probably not many of these. 1 per 1000 points, perhaps.
#5 Maximum of one. Treat as attack helicopter.

Special rules:
  • Special forces units can use flexible tactical doctrine.
  • Poor maintenance and low supplies: -1 to random points modifier.
  • No counter-battery capacity.
  • May schedule two ambushes at the start of the game.
  • Assets include Artillery HE (max 3 per unit, 10 points each), aircraft ground attack (max 2 per unit, 10 points each), Aircraft Air Assault (max 1 per unit, 50 points each).

Of course, the good ol` Yew Ess uv Ay has been looking for an excuse to bitch-slap Hugo Chávez for some time now. Given this, it's quite possible that a future war between Venezuela and Colombia would see ianqui military intervention on behalf of Colombia. I doubt very much that said intervention would involve large ground forces, but it would probably include air and naval support. If you want to play with this option, give Colombia automatic air superiority and allow them to buy air and naval support off the U.S. list.

Next up, Pineapple Boy's neo-Bolivaran forces...