Delta Force - Operation Red Thunder

A few months back, I had the rare pleasure of refereeing a game of "Delta Force - America Strikes Back!" This is based directly on the first scenario in the main rulebook called Operation Red Thunder. We tried to play it straight but you'll find some irony seeping in here and there with various nods to 80s action movies. We ended up using some of the Phoenix Command rules for the combat at the end.





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Date: May 8, 1986

The call came in at 1050 this morning. You were up and doing your morning training routine at Rammstein AFB. A nervous captain pulled up in a Hummer and told you to pile in. 10 minutes later, you were being whisked away by Huey towards Eschwege, a US Army base within a stone’s throw of the East German border.

During the 90-minute flight, the Delta Force captain briefed you over the headset as the green hills and forests of West Germany rolled away beneath you.

“This morning at 0925, MPs at a US Army base near Eschwege received several panicked phone calls from witnesses who claimed they saw a shooting occur at the base PX. From what we’ve been able to corroborate, at least three and possibly four men entered the store shortly after it opened at 0915. One of the men pulled out a handgun while another reached inside a large plastic garment bag he was carrying and pulled out several Soviet-made assault rifles, distributing them among his accomplices. The group opened fire, reportedly wounding and possibly killing several bystanders. Most of the military and civilian personnel in the PX at the time ran out safely.

At 0955, the local base commander at Eschwege received a phone call from the PX. A male voice on the other end of the line identified himself as belonging to The United Action Front of The Red Army Faction.”

The person on the phone stated that they had taken over the PX and were holding several hostages. The demands were that three members of the Baader-Meinhof currently held in Bonn are to be released as well as access to a network-wide TV hookup to make an anti-American political announcement.”

“The German police have offered leniency to the terrorists if they give up their hostages and come out safely but they have been firm with their demands and they have stated they will kill their hostages by 1800 if their demands are not met. They state that they have taken three hostages - two German check-out girls and one US soldier, which we can confirm as highly likely after getting more detailed information from witnesses.”

“Despite pleas for more time to negotiate from Bonn, Washington has given the go-ahead for a military option in resolving this crisis. Delta has authorized a four-man assault team to take on the job. Your task is to carefully study the map of the building and decide on a plan to rescue all the hostages and either capture or eliminate the terrorists inside the PX. If you have questions, now is a good time to ask them.”

At this point, the players asked for a map of the PX, which I gave them:

One of the players asks if there are eyes on the PX right now:

The captain nods his head. “Affirmative. Right now, the area around the PX has been cordoned off by MPs and local police. An experienced civilian negotiator from Frankfurt who happened to be running a training course this morning for the local police is on site and has been in contact by telephone with the tangos.

The front of the PX has two automatic doors and there are also several large glass windows.We have spotted movement inside. In the front of the store, we have sighted two people, probably males, who were wearing ski masks and holding AK-47 assault rifles.

There is a door at the back of the store that goes to a storage area. The building is about 10 meters high. There are no windows or doors on the sides of the building. If you choose to go through the roof with a breach, we can provide you with the materials you need.

Note that there is an office room suspended directly above the main floor. It is accessible by stairs from the main floor. It is walled by clear plexiglass.” (marked as area 9 on the map)

The Huey nears the base at Eschwege just after 1230 hrs.

As the helicopter slowly descends to the tarmac below, you look over the general layout of the base area. You can see three concentric rings of vehicles and men set up around and inside the base. It’s a safe bet that the German police have cordoned off access to the base by setting up roadblocks on highways and major roads outside of it. Inside the base, the MPs have set up two perimeters - one inside the base and a smaller one around the PX itself.

As you step out of the helicopter, you observe that the base is alive with activity. It is on high alert. All posts are double-manned with heavily armed sentries. Men in military trucks and jeeps wander the roads of the base conducting patrols and security checks.

A burly man in his 50s walks towards you. He sports a shoulder-length mane of grey hair. He is wearing a light Ocean Pacific jacket, a ruffled polo shirt and blue jeans. He introduces himself as Tom and the restrained power behind the handshake is evident.



He gestures towards an ageing van sitting across from the tarmac. The van’s baby blue exterior shows scuff marks and dents that mark years of hard driving. Everyone gets in and Tom gets behind the wheel without saying a word. You sit on the benches in the back of the carpeted van and a Willy Nelson tape blares as the engine roars to life.

Looking out the window, you can see Tom getting waved through several checkpoints after he points to an ID sticker on his van’s windshield. Although you’ve never been to Eschwege before, it’s more or less a typical army base in terms of layout and aesthetics.

You note from the signs that Eshwege is the sometimes home and training center for the 1st battalion of the 1-68 Armored Regiment of US V Corps. The regiment’s main mission is to help defend the area around the Fulda Gap in the case of Soviet invasion, which would be spearheaded here by the 39th Guards Motorized Rifle Division headquartered just over the East German border in Ohrdruf. Consequently, it is likely that the troops stationed here have been trained and equipped to a higher degree than most other units. This is confirmed by your sighting of one of the brand new M1A1 Abrams tanks near the gates of the base as you pass by.


A few minutes later, you arrive at a ring of MPs and military police vehicles. Beyond them is the concrete pavement of a mostly empty parking lot of a single-story PX building with large glass windows in front. Tom stops the van and turns around in his seat. He motions towards the bench at the back of the van. Folding up the top of it, you find several automatic weapons strapped to the underside of the bench seat and pairs of binoculars and other optics in the hollow of the bench below. Tom idles the van and lights a cigarette while he listens to Willy Nelson singing about Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain.

The players decide to get a better idea of who is inside the building and what is happening. In a risky move, they approach the building from the east and west and drill holes in the walls to plant borescope cameras and get a video feed going. I roll to see if they are spotted by the terrorists inside but they fail their alertness rolls.

The players find that the hostages are located near the base of the stairs on the east side of the building.  One terrorist is sitting at the desk in the second floor office, talking on the phone with the negotiator. Two terrorists are in the back warehouse area covering the rear door while another two are in the front of the store, chatting with each other and roaming around the store front nervously.

The players chit-chatted about various ways to enter the building and subdue the terrorists without alerting them. One of them wants to try and use Fentanyl to put everyone inside the PX to sleep but there is no available supply of the gas anywhere.  The team decides to go in loud, putting a breaching charge on the warehouse door at the back and a large explosive charge on the roof just above where the terrorist in the second floor office is sitting. The team will rope down from the roof at the same time as the charges blow and then enter through the front of the store windows (rigged with a strip of C4 to blow the glass), tossing flashbangs. 

Our four brave operatives - Ox, Jet, Pete, and Ruggero Benavidez - are ready in an hour. The breaching charges are planted and everything appears to be according to plan. At the last minute, the team decides to simplify things by stacking up at the southwest corner of the building rather than rope down.  

The team sneaks up to the building and gets into place. Stacking up against the wall along the southwest side of the building, your heart begins to race and adrenaline coarses through your body as the radio chatter over your head set picks up in intensity and then dies off as the go time nears. Last minute checks of equipment are made and Benavidez pulls a flash-bang grenade and yanks the pin. Everyone announces “green” into their microphones and Tom gives the go signal in return.

You can hear the crunch as the rear breach blows at the back of the building. You can hear a single angry shout before there is the sound of a much larger explosion from above. Finally, you hear the tinkle of glass shattering in the front of the building from left to right.

Tom tries to give an indication of roughly where the nearest terrorists are to the team’s stack (4 Combat Action or CA). Benavidez throws a grenade into the building through the window, trying to place the grenade three yards in.



Jet and Pete move forward and get through the window after spending 7 CA each. Pete is very fast so despite actually being behind Jet in the stack, he arrives in the store front room at the same time as him. (I’m guessing Ox is behind them - he is third in line and slower than both Pete and Jet) Both Pete and Jet spot two figures in front of them behind a magazine rack. One figure is on the left, the other is on the right. Both figures are three yards away.

Target Identification during impulse 1 of Phase 2: Jet (roll of 10 vs. SAL of 16 on 4D6) identifies the target on the left as a man. The target is holding a weapon and is facing towards the window.
Pete gets an 18 on target ID (vs SAL of 17). He has not successfully confirmed his target and spends another CA aiming.

Meanwhile, Ox moves east along the southern wall of the store. Bennie spends 1 CA disposing of a grenade pin and 2 CA getting into firing position. 1 more CA is spent orienting his body towards a covering position for the team.

2 CA to get into firing stance for Pete and Jet. 1 CA spent aiming. Jet fires five rounds at his target. 3 rounds hit. 2 shots hit the base of the neck and the other goes into the target’s mouth.

Before Jet has a chance to even fire, Pete has his weapon up and is aiming at his target, still trying to identify it. We roll 3d6 this time and the result is 9, well under his SAL.

Pete identifies his target as a male wearing civilian clothes and carrying a grenade in his hand. He is standing up, fully exposed in the shopping aisle, facing away from Pete and not reacting (he is stunned from the flashbang). An assault rifle is slung over his shoulder. 

Meanwhile Benavidez spends all 6 of his CA going east and entering the building. By the time the two seconds are up, he has entered the store and finished his slide against the countertop. Ox moves east in through the front doors of the building right near the registers. 

Pete fires his MP5 at the hostile in front of him:

ALM Mods:
AimTime2=-10
Range3=28
SAL=17
Target Standing Exposed=+7
Firer Standing = 0
Lighting Conditions = -2
Total ALM: 40 Roll 79
ROF 7, Min Arc=.4 

2 rounds hit the target. 1 hit in the pelvis. 1 hit in intestines. DC3 PEN 2.5

Both shots pass through the body.
73 Physical Damage on shot 1
35 Physical Damage on shot 2

These shots do some pretty big damage but they are not immediately fatal. Wow, on the knockout incapacitation table, the guy is very lucky and is just disoriented by getting hit with both bullets. He actually doesn’t even get knocked down (PEN p. 52 table). And nope! He doesn’t even drop the grenade after checking the shock effects and rolling again. Incredibly, he won’t be fighting for the next several minutes and he basically just lies down at this point, but he’s still around!

Pete fires off another burst and hits again, this time in the right lung, the pelvis and right leg. The guy collapses and drops the grenade to the floor. Pete notices that the grenade has no pin.

Pete decides to lunge for the grenade, scoop it up and throw it towards the far wall. The only problem is that Jet is now heading straight towards this area as he hugs the west wall and moves south towards the warehouse door. I made a Perception check for Jet to see if he could figure out what is going on, but the roll fails.

Pete hits the deck (1 CA) and takes two impulses to shout out a warning to Jet, who has by now advanced to the end of the aisle. By the time he registers what is happening and decides to actually do something, he can basically spend 1 CA turning towards the wall to shield the front of his body from the blast.

The blast concussion at this range is 38 but modified by some limited cover of the shelves to a 31. Jet takes 31 Physical Damage to his body.

There is also a 75% chance he will get hit by fragmentation at this range. We roll an 85 and Jet narrowly escapes getting sliced and diced by flying shrapnel.

No chance of frags to hit Pete but maybe a slight concussion. At 5 yards, the BC is 8 modified by prone stance to .75 blast modifier. So Pete takes 6 concussive damage from the blast.

So what happens to Jet? His KV is 70. We roll a 91 on the knockout table, which is great. Although Jet’s ears are ringing and he will need to spend some time in a hospital afterwards, he is not immediately effected. Adrenaline compensates for damage right now. Future damage in this fight will begin to compound, however.

Pete is totally fine. The concussion is less than 10 % of his knockout value so he does not even need to make a roll.

Meanwhile, Benavidez approaches the office door in the southeast corner of the building. He finds it nearly burst off its hinges with bullet holes and blood caked on the wall beside it. A corpse lays across the three-step staircase leading up to the small office. It looks like a civilian who has been shot several times with an assault rifle. Likely a victim from this morning’s carnage. We roll for Perception. There appears to be no one inside the office.

As he turns to the north to continue his sweep, Benavidez hears a warning shout of “grenade!” over his radio earpiece. He instinctively hunches towards the ground. A split second later, he hears the unmistakeable slap of a fragmentation grenade go off near the far wall of the PX to his rear left. The phase has ended.

While Benavidez and Ox find the hostages and search for any more tangos in the store front, Jet and Pete move towards the warehouse.

Pete makes it through the doorway before Jet. He is in the back of the PX in the storage area. He immediately notices the breach in the rear wall nearest the door where the golden dusk beams through. It looks like there may be a body laying on the floor in front of where the breach was made. (One terrorist standing near the rear door when the breach went off has been killed).


Pete and Jet make it through the door to the warehouse and scramble behind cover. They both hear the sound of automatic weapon fire very close by. While Pete scans for the source of the incoming fire, Jet inexplicably moves from cover to head east.

Automatic fire hits Jet twice.

SAL5+Range20+stance3+target stance 8-AimTime2(-12).
ROF5/MinArc=0.4

He is hit in the right shin bone.
He is hit with a glancing shot to his torso.

Let’s calculate damage. This thing does DC7 at Pen11.
Shin bone:
The bullet passes into the flesh. There is a chance the bullet could deflect off the tibia but no there is plenty of penetration left and the bullet smashes through it, causing the tibia to break and fragment. The bullet continues going out through the other side of the flesh and continues right into the wall to the right of Jet.

Jet takes 175 damage points.This is also a disabling injury with potential for permanent disability. Jet may no longer use his right leg for movement for the rest of the scenario. In addition, we must roll for incapacitation.

Jet has a KV of 70. He has a 75 percent chance of incapacitation. We roll an 86 and he is still conscious though he is laying on the ground in great pain at the moment. He is not completely out of the fight…yet!

There is still the glancing shot to the torso.

Jet’s torso is covered with armor of PF4. We roll for glancing effect and the effective armor PF roll is 2, meaning that the effective armor protection in the hit location is 5. This reduces the penetration power of the weapon from 11 to 6. The bullet enters into and through the flesh of the torso. It hits no bones or organs before passing through. Total damage is 11.

Because Jet has been hit again, we need to roll again for KV. Up to this point, he has taken 175+31+11=217 total damage points. That is 3 times his KV. He has a 98% chance of being incapacitated. We roll an 88. He is incapacitated.We roll a 26 on the KV table and he is knocked out for…11 minutes. His injuries are pretty survivable though. Without aid, he will die in approximately 11 hours, however. With hospital treatment, he will almost certainly survive but he has a 9 per cent chance of losing total functionality in his right leg below the knee.

Pete spots the muzzle flash of the shooter.

Ruggero has arrived at the office in the second floor and finds that someone seriously miscalculated the amount of explosives needed to breach the ceiling. A huge chunk of the roof has collapsed downwards directly on to the terrorist at the desk below. The explosive force actually killed the terrorist and his body is underneath a big pile of rubble.

Pete is firing a burst at his target. 

SAL17+Range20+stance3+target stance 3+ Aim Time 3(-8) - ROF 7/MinArc=0.4. Pen2.5, DC3

The target is hit twice. One hit pelvis. One hit knee.

Pelvis: Enters flesh, through intestines, through pelvis and out the back. 73 PD damage.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Pelvis has left the building!”

Knee: in through flesh, smashed hell out of knee joint, passes through that and the bullet gets lodged in the body. Only 33 PD but this is a disabling injury. Good recovery possibility for knee (91% full recovery if attended to at a hospital within one hour).

Pete doesn’t know it but the target is hit twice and incapacitated.

Pete is now aware that Jet has been shot and rushes over to attend to him.  He finds him hurt but rapidly losing consciousness.

He also notices that the shelving unit to the northeast is aflame and black smoke is curling up towards the ceiling. The flames are licking up towards the top shelf and the fire is spreading quickly. Ruggs notices the smoke but not the fire. There are likely many flammable liquids in this warehouse area.

Ox rouses the hostages. One hostage still has his wits still about him and assists Ox by helping one of the German cashiers to slowly stand up. He points to her leg, which is covered in blood. The girl’s crying and winces indicate that she is in great pain. “She’s been shot!” the soldier tells Ox. The other German cashier, only a teenager, seems quite emotionally numbed and mutely obeys Ox’s instructions.

After quickly securing the building, the fire fighters are called in to douse the inside with liquid foam. The team stays behind to ensure security to the site while the firefighters work. The flames are quickly doused and the removal of bodies begins. The MPs also enter the building to scour the area for more information.

But by that time, the team has left the PX and is being driven over to a temporary command post near the site for debriefing. Willy Nelson’s “Blue Skies” plays through the ratty baby blue van. Jet has been airlifted to a nearby hospital by helicopter. He is in critical but stable condition. After surgery on his leg, the doctors announce that he will make a complete recovery but it will take some time.
The team is commended for a job well done. 

The remaining terrorist in the building was also taken to hospital and survived. He is now being held in a prison cell near Munich. So far, interrogation has confirmed that he is a member of the Baader-Meinhoff Gang, which has recently become resurgent in West Germany since the bombing of Libya in April of this year. With support and funding from Tripoli, they are making a new push to free their jailed comrades and to destabilize the economies of western Europe through “political action”. Undoubtedly, Delta Force will be called back into action again some time to deal with this threat.

After some well-deserved R&R, the team is back to its normal training regimen back at Rammstein AFB. As the incident fades from the headlines, the team prepares to take on new challenges as they arise.

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