Sixth Fleet - Libyan - American War

Scenario 7 from Victory Games' Sixth Fleet is about a hypothetical war that brews up between Libya and the United States. After Gaddafi orders one of his subs to sink an American LSD filled with Marines headed to Beirut, Reagan orders airstrikes on Libya as punishment. This task falls to the US Sixth Fleet, specifically the USS Nimitz with its full complement of aircraft and carrier task force ships. Two American subs, the USS Drum and the Omaha (Sturgeon-class and Los Angeles-class respectively), are along for the ride.

April 1986: The Gipper is PO'd.

The US player gains 1 VP after hitting the bases in all three Libyan cities (Tripoli, Benghazi, and Darnah). Once they are all hit once, he must hit them all again to get 2 VP apiece for each city and he gets 3 VP for each city after hitting each them all three times.  To win, the US player needs 9 VP.

If everything goes just right, he should be able to pull off a win in 5 or 6 turns. An American victory seems to be a matter of just parking the Nimitz a bit north off the coast and launching aircraft all day. But, as always, things are a little more complicated than that.  The US player gets no VPs for destroying Libyan units but the Libyans can reduce the US VP tally by sinking American ships.

The USS Nimitz. Incredible.

The Libyans have a small but slightly potent force waiting for the Americans. Three ageing Libyan subs are lurking in the waters of the Central Mediterranean. They also have 5 PCS with decent SSM attack ratings. Tripoli is home to a MiG-23 squadron and two Su-20 squadrons. Benghazi has a MiG squadron and an Su-20. Individually, these units are not much of a match for the Americans, but used together they can certainly hamper the US player's efforts by exploiting a few weak links.

Start of the scenario

I used to play this scenario and get consistent US wins. It was pretty boring until my gameplay with the Libyans improved a bit. Even then, it is still quite a tough order for the Libyans to garner a victory here and they need luck on their side to pull it off.  I'm sure most experienced Sixth Fleet players would know these tactics but these tips might be helpful for anyone who hasn't played the game in a while or someone lucky enough to have just discovered this gem of a game after all this time.

Here is what I usually do as the Libyans:

1. Put the MiG-23s on CAP above Tripoli and Benghazi. I usually put one of the Su-20s in Tripoli up along with the MiG-23 just to add a little "oomf" to the CAP.  The remaining Su-20s should sit where they are to provide a reason for the Nimitz to keep its CAP flying. The last thing you want is to have those F-14s join in on the fun because the Libyans will lose quickly. I never try any attacks with the Su-20s because they will certainly get shot down if they approach the Nimitz. They are more of a "fleet in being" than a real strike force.

2.  The Libyan subs should aggressively hunt the US carrier task force right away. You are going to lose them sooner or later (probably sooner) to American ASW efforts. You might as well try to rush them in and get a lucky hit on a frigate or destroyer. Even if you only manage to sink the Ramsy (reduces US VP by one point), that really puts the pressure on the American player to carefully allocate his strike resources.

3. The PCS ships should swarm the US player on the second day. The PCS ships are pretty safe in their base hexes for the first day unless the US goes to the trouble of allocating strategic air missions to detect them (and wasting precious air resources by actually going in and bombing them - the Libyan player could only hope the US might do something so silly). By the second day of game time, the US carrier should be within easy striking distance of the PCS ships. Send them out individually and try to swarm the carrier task force with SSMs (go for the escorts - not the carrier). With any luck, the US player's ASW rolls and sub rolls will not all hit and he'll be forced to send out some aircraft to take them out.

4. Bide your time. If you have managed to keep the US player off-balance by continually harassing him and forcing him to assign air assets to either shoot down or your CAP fighters or sink your PCS ships, he might end up in a situation where he pulls a Tomcat off CAP and uses it for air strikes. If that happens, by all means send in your Su-20s and see what happens. Before all of that happens though, try to keep as much of your navy and air force intact. It is worth far more as a potential threat than wasted on big gambles at terrible odds.

As the American player in this scenario, I always try to do the following:

1. Use the P3s to detect the Libyan subs right away. Keep the S3 Viking as an offensive ASW tool. Those Libyan subs are pretty fragile and you will probably score a hit at some point with it. Aggressively take out the Libyan subs as fast as you can with your submarines. Although they don't look like much, just one lucky torpedo shot at your carrier task force can make the 9 VP objective so much harder to reach.

2. Launch a cruise missile on turn 1 vs Tripoli and hope for the best. If it causes 5 damage to the base hex (page 23), one of the Libyan air units will be damaged. Reducing Libyan offensive air capability helps to potentially free up your Tomcats from CAP to go out and help on the air strike missions.

3. Never divert your air to any purpose other than bombing Libyan base hexes. Use your SSMs and subs to take out the Libyan PCS boats. This scenario is a real exercise in "economy of force" so you may need to divide up your air packages smartly. Instead of sending out big raids on a single mission each turn, try experimenting by putting 2 F-18s(1 strike, 1 escort) with an EA-6 Prowler to shoot down the Libyan CAP over Benghazi, which would pave the way for an unescorted A-6 strike on Darnah in the same turn.

Late game - turn 6 in first game. US player is unable to get enough hits on the Libyan cities for a victory.

I just went through a couple of plays of this and managed in both games to sink the USS Ramsy. My PCS boats had varied success, sinking another DD in one of the plays and getting nothing at all in the other. In both cases, the US player split up his air offensive packages to deal with the threats. This led to US losses in both games (6 VP in the first game and 8 VP in the other).


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