Ranger: Commo Site Recon

In 1984, Omega Games published "Ranger", which is less a board game than sort of a solo role-playing game that features realistic elements of US Army Ranger patrols and operations.  The game takes place in a fictional country in Central America and players make a host of decisions such as how to equip and prepare men for a mission, the route to an objective and how to extract after completing a mission.  Since the game was written by an ex-Ranger, it feels accurate and there is great attention to detail throughout the product.  The game includes a ton of mission cards and there are maps and even a grease pencil!

Here's a mission I recently played.

Puerto Oro has recently been suffering from leftist incursions from its southern neighbor. Congress has approved a limited deployment of a single Ranger battalion to advise Puerto Oro's government forces in the area and to lead strike missions against leftist elements.

US President Ronald Reagan has dispatched US Army Rangers to Puerto Oro.

This is our area of operations (AO) in Puerto Oro. It consists of AO Yankee (North and South) and further to the west (not shown) are AO Victor (North and South). The yellow line delineates the limits of available offshore naval gunfire support from the US Navy.

AO Victor and Yankee.

The mission today is to lead a squad to recon a suspected enemy communications site. We'll be parachuting quite far north of the objective and traveling south on foot through jungle. After the mission is complete, we will not be returning to base but instead establishing a patrol base in the area to interdict and observe the enemy presence. 

Today's Mission:  Recon an enemy communications site.

We'll be parachuting in from a CH-47 helicopter.  After we land in a clearing, we'll head south, and sneak up to the edge of the forest around a small village where the comm site is reportedly located. After that, we head west along a river and establish a patrol base just north of it.  We have to get all of this done within 12 hours which doesn't give a lot of wiggle room for errors.  

The planned route:  the objective is to the south, after which we head west to establish a patrol base.

The terrain we're hiking through is all heavy jungle so it will be slow-going.  The planned route is carefully laid out to avoid trails or roads.   The route also follows a zig-zag pattern to throw off any trailing enemies or ambushes. There are rally points (RP) established along the way in case someone gets lost or we have to back track for whatever reason.

Planned Actions at the Objective: This is a mockup of how the mission will proceed at the objective. We will establish an Objective Rally Point (ORP) about 200 meters north of the objective. The Rear Security Team (RST) will consist of a machine gun team and an assistant gunner. A Right Flank Security team (RFS) will sit near the jungles edge. A Recon element (R) will conduct the recon by observation and using surveillance equipment such as cameras and hand-held video recorders. A Left Flank Security team (LFS) will cover the Recon element's left flank.

The recon should take no more than 45 minutes and then we will extract to the west and establish a patrol base.

A rough sketch of  each team's actions at the objective.  

There is a full platoon in the available roster from which to choose.  We can only take a squad out there today so 2nd squad gets pulled for action along with a 2-man machine gun team.

MG team:
M60: Johnson. 1 claymore, AT4 rocket launcher, 1 extra box of ammo, radio.
M4: Harris. 1 claymore mine, 2 grenades, 1 box ammo.
A Team Leader:
M4: Welch: 1 box ammo. 1 set Night Vision Goggles, 1 set binoculars
M203. Lopez. 1 set binos, 1 digital camera
Automatic Rifleman:
M249. Stephenson. 1 box ammo. 1 Night Vision Goggles.
M4. Wilson. 1 box ammo. 1 thermal sight. grenades.
Squad Leader:
M4. Meoni. 1 claymore. 1 AT4. 1 box ammo.
B team leader:
M4. Rocke. 1 claymore mine. grenades. 1 box ammo.
M203. Pina, 1 box ammo. 1 AT4, grenades.
Automatic Rifleman:
M249. Balafas. 1 claymore mine. 1 box ammo.
M4. Modica. 1 AT4. grenades. 1 box extra ammo.

With everything ready, the squad gears up and boards the Chinook helicopter.  

The drop goes ahead with no problems. The men parachute into the night and head south. By 2100, they are about to cross a trail. We have rehearsed trail crossings so this shouldn't be a problem. However, as the squad is about to move out, there are reports of an enemy vehicle (a technical) coming down the road at high speed.

The squad hides in the jungle and finds concealment. However, the technical pulls up just short of the squad and eight men jump out of the truck and start firing!

Our B Team Leader, Rocke, is fatally hit! Pina fires his AT4 at the enemy truck and vaporizes it. Meoni throws two hand grenades and kills the rest of the communist guerrillas. Loud explosions and gunfire echo through the night. The Rangers split up the equipment from Rocke and call for a medevac. A jungle lifter helicopter arrives in 15 minutes and extracts Rocke's body. The sound will definitely attract more enemies if the Rangers don't start moving fast to the objective.  The time it has taken for extraction and cleanup means that we're behind schedule.  The planned route is abandoned in favor of an alternate route that is more dangerous, but gets the squad to the objective a bit faster.

The squad runs into trouble just south of the drop zone.

After slogging through dense jungle, the Rangers scout out the Objective Rally Point by 0130. Meoni, the Squad Leader, takes a security element (the MG team) and the Surveillance team near the objective and leaves them there. Meoni arrives back at the ORP and sends out the flank security teams. The rest of the recon element moves towards the objective after the security teams set up.

The squad starts to set up near the objective at the edge of the village.

Rocke's death means juggling around responsibilities between the left and right flank security teams but the men make do and set up a perimeter with no real problems.

The Recon element of four men arrive near the jungle clearing and start recording. They see a busy communications base with many guerrillas moving around in the night while radio operators seem busy at their post. Luckily, none of the men are spotted and after 60 minutes of taking photos and drawing sketches of the site (thanks to the miracle of night vision scopes and infrared), the recon is finished.  

By 0530, the Rangers have moved out and are now in AO Victor (South) near the edge of a swamp. The men establish a patrol base and await further orders. Mission accomplished.

The sun comes up and the men wearily establish a patrol base to the west, awaiting further orders.
Result:  Mission Accomplished:  100 points
-10 points:  Ranger KIA
-10 points:  Switch to dangerous (but faster) alternate route
 80 points - Major Tactical Success


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