Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Painting the British 4th Brigade (one of three)

We'll take the 4th Armored Brigade as our test unit here.

So far, everything's gone mostly to plan and I have perhaps 4 hours of my time invested in the project. The next steps take about 10 minutes per brigade each and, drying time aside, an entire brigade can easily be completed in an hour's painting.

First of all, we need to take a step back and discuss some technical aspects of painting 2-3mm scale miniatures.

When I first began collecting 1/700 figures, I painted them as I would any other kind of miniature. This is a mistake. While O8's figs are definitely detailed enough for one to paint them very realistically, if you do this without thinking, you'll create a very bland effect on the table top.

2-3mm gaming is about looking at the grand scale, not the details. Because of this, one needs to be aware of three different visual planes when one paints: the ground, the base and the figure. Figures need to contrast with the base if they're going to be seen at arm's lenght on the table. Ideally, the base should blend with the ground, but this is not always possible.

One can't do much with regards to the ground except be aware of the general theater and season. In our case, it's the Western Desert so we don't have too much leeway. Ground can be brown, tan, sand-colored or greyish and bases will generally have to follow. There will be minimal flocking and very little - if any - green.

Now, this is a problem because both sides obviously painted their vehicles to blend in to the desert. If you do the same, you're going to end up hiding your handiwork and you might as well be playing with counters. For this reason, one should generally paint the base to contrast with the figure. In Africa, though, our palette is strictly limited.

The solution to the problem here, again, is not to try to adhere too rigidly to history. One wants one's troops to look generally correct and to stand out from the back-clutter of base and ground. One should thus choose a plausibly historical paint scheme for the troops which allows them to stand out. In my case, I also want to be able to tell each of my brigades at a glance.

Now, the most common British color used in the desert was plain sand or light stone. However, just before the period in which we're playing (1941-1942), they used what was called the "caunter scheme", and used up to six colors (including light blue) applied in straight lines. Towards the end of the period in question, the British went with "Desert Pink", occaisionally broken with green blotches.

What I've decided to do is to paint the Fourth Brigade in a pinkish plain sand scheme. The Second Brigade will be done in Desert Pink and Green while the 201st Brigade's vehicles and guns will be cauntered. In general, all of these schemes will be light, so the base will be painted relatively dark in order to create a contrasting effect. Of course, all of this probably was never together on the same battlefield at the same time. It's not screamingly out of place, however. My personal line is drawn when it comes to paint shemes that were probably never applied to given unit types. For example, you'll never see my Grants in caunter.

Step One: blocking in the base colors
Step one for the Fourth Brigade consists of painiting vehicles and equipment in Vallejo Dark Flesh, a pinkish tan color. The human figures are then painted in white and all is left to dry.

PROTIP: Taking care to paint within the lines during this phase will pay off in lowered clean up time later. However, if you do paint something you shouldn't. don't waste time correcting it now: you'll have opportunities to make good your mistake later.

The Fourth Brigade with its base colors blocked in

Step Two: wash
Now washes are applied. First of all, a heavy, dark wash of Vallejo Sepia Ink is applied to the base of the units and allowed to thoroughly dry:

Then, a light wash of Vallejo Skin Wash Ink is applied to the vehicles and equipment:

PROTIP: When you apply this wash, make sure you use the tip of the brush to work it into treads and along undercarriages. These should be very dark.

Finally, a very light wash of Vallejo English Uniform is applied to the human figures:

PROTIP: when washing the base, make sure that the immediate area around the figures in very dark for maximum contrast. You may even want to run another coat of ink around the vehicles after the first on has dried.

Washes applied.

Step Three: dry brush
Dry brushing will bring out the detail on the figures. First, I drybrush with DAK Sand. Following this, I mix up Vallejo Deck Tan and Dark Skin, about 50/50, and dry brush with that. Then I take my time and go back and pick out details on the vehicles with my smallest brush (this is probably the most time-consuming part of the whole project). Finally, I dry brush everything once again with DAK Sand.


Next up: detailing. Here's a small (and unfortunately not very good) shot as a sneak peek...

Basing the British

One needs to walk a thin line (literally!) when it comes to bases for 1/600 scale figures. Too thin and you can't pick up the base: too thick and the base ends up distracting your eye from the figures. I find that a thickness of 1/32nd of an inch (roughly .75mm) is just perfect, though thicknesses of up to 1mm are fine. Beyond 1mm, however, and you run the risk of having your figures look like they're standing on platforms.

Because of the smallness of the scale, I try to make stand types immediately apprehendable to the eye. I use 25x25mm for armored targets, 25x15mm for unarmored targets and round 25mm for headquarters. FAO and FAA stands are mounted on equilateral triangles, 25mm to a side. Recon units are based on 25x25mm stands with an angled front edge. Finally, COs are based on 30mm round stands. The first three stand types I buy from Litko in 1/32nd inch thick transparent acrylic with rounded corners. The next three types of bases I cut myself from plasticard or artists' matte board (I use a fingernail clippers to trim the corners to Litko's standard.

Figure Preparation
There are two basing methods: one for freestanding vehicles and the other for units which come with a pr-molded base (generally infantry and guns). Both start, however, with basic cleanup and separation of the figures.

O8 uses some ultra hard and fairly brittle alloy in its figs. If I didn't know better, I'd even say it was aluminium. It has ZERO give, so you can't correct (the thankfully almost uneard of) casting errors by bending the metal back into place. If you try, the metal will snap. The strength of this allow is enormous, however, and it takes alot to get it to break, which brings up another problem: the tiny bits of flash on the figs can easily pierce your skin like little needles if you grasp the wrong.

I use a fingernail clippers or a small wire cutters to clean the flash off of my figs. First I clean the helmets of any spurs (they generally have some because that's where O8 likes to put some of its flow vents), then I snap off the big bits of flash. Finally, I break off any stands mounted in strips. To do this, I wrap the strip in cloth and simply snap it along the molded separation lines. The cloth is necessary to avoid mauling your fingers - as I said, this metal is strong stuff!

Fingernail clipper for cleaning up a 25lb gun. Note the molded separation line between the lorried and unlorried gun. Enough pressure will snap that cleanly in two, but make sure you protect your fingers while applying pressure!

Bases for free-standing vehicles are simple to prepare. I paint them with a thin coat of Vallejo "Sandy Paste" and Bob's yer uncle. After it dries, you glue down the vehicle. If you want to get fancy, you can drag a toothpick tip through the goop before it dries to create tread tracks. Be careful, though! Remember that you're working in a very small scale: tread tracks that are acceptably deep for 6mm will look like veritable canyons here! The key is using a very thin covering of sandy paste: almost a wash.

Even so, I only bother to scribe in track marks for bases which will have heavy tanks. Light tanks like Stuarts will simply ahve theirs applied with paint.

Units molded to a base need to be glued to the stand first, then have sandy paste applied around them with a brush or a toothpick. The degree to which you want to even out the base is a matter of personal taste. I just try to mute the molded base out rather than make it dissappear entirely. The second option is entirely too much work for me!

Bases being pasted. In the lower left hand corner, a 25lb field gun. To the right of that, you can see a HQ stand. The 40mm bofors has a molded base and so is pasted at this point. Further vehicles will be glued to the top once the paste dries. Moving upwards one can see some of my homemade recon bases and, at the very top, a set of FAA/FAO bases. The recon bases are being pasted now because the armored cars which will go on top of them are free-standing.

When you base, try to base to a standard which allows you to easily identify the units in question at a glance. For example, all my infantry has 5 figures standing and five lying down while engineers are all standing. Further differentiation can be done during the painting process later on, but a little thought now can save a lot of grief later. I should have staggered my mortar support units and kept the machinegun units based in line, but I didn't think of this until everything was already glued down. Oh well... This is mostly a problem with infantry, I find, as tanks are pretty easy to tell apart at this scale. The only difficulties for vehicles might be, say, distinguishing Panther As from Panther Fs. Again, here a distinctive basing method is called for.

I generally put down two vehicles per stand as I feel that this gives an acceptable feeling of mass without makiung things look too crowded. Even so, you can see in the pictures below that my Grants are pushing it. I should've moved these farther out to the base edges. Oh, well...

Applying the first coat of paint
After all the bases are done and the figures glued to them, I then apply a base coat of paint to everything. In this case, I'll be using an old pot of Howard Hues DAK sand that I had laying around (it's probably 20 years old now). The goal here is to get a thin coat over the whole works. One shouldn't get stressed out if the figures don't get covered completely, as they are will have another base coat applied to them later.

Now's a good time to sit back and re-evaluate the project. One will always find some things missing, new figures which need to be bought or swapped in, etc.

In my case, I decided that 4 FAO's were just too many, and I reduced their number to two. To adequately model British fire support doctrine with two FAOs, I'll have a house rule that only FAOs can call all artillery, but that HQs can call in any artillery assigned to their formation (in this case, to their brigade).

I also note that I forgot to buy quad haulers for the 25lbrs. I'll use other trucks for now and swap the quads in at a later date.

Finally, just as I began to type this up, O8 announced the release of a British 8th Army command pack. I will thus not build the CO stand for now and I'll leave space on the armor HQ stands for the anti-aircraft tank which comes in the new pack.

I've also decided against basing the trucks for now, except for weapons haulers. There is one truck with a lorried gun based for every two unlorried weapons in the division.

Other than that, Thunderbirds seem to be go. Here's a photo of the division laid out in all its basic golden glory...

The whole division in company scale (i.e. one base = one company or half artillery battalion.)

The 201st Motorized Brigade. HQ up front, followed by carrier companies, infantry, machineguns, 2 lber ATG portees and mortars. Mortars should have been based distinctively from MGs, so I'm going to have to visually define them better come painting and flocking time.

The 2nd Armored Brigade. Crusaders up front, Grants in the rear. To the left is its organic motor infantry battalion: carriers, infantry, machingun and portee. HQ is at back right.

My personal favorites: the 4th Armored Brigade. I mean, Stuarts AND Grants: what's not to like?

Protips to remember in this stage
1) Base look-alike units differently so that they can be told apart at a glance.
2) Base units with special characteristics (i.e. recon, command) on specially-shaped bases.
3) Leave a 5mm-wide strip clear of figures at the back of the base. A label decribing the unit can be affixed here later, if you like.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Late 1941 / Early 1942 British Armored Division

Vroom, vrooooooom. Dakadakadaka...

During our pre-Christmas sojourn in the United States, I bought my X-mas gift to me: a set of 1/600 WWII desert warfare minis from Oddzial Osmy’s U.S. supplier, Pico Armor. (And let me just take a moment to give a big shout out to John from PA for getting my stuff to me overnight and in a blizzard to boot.)

I had already decided that the period I want to focus on would be late 1941 to early 1942, the “classic” desert war period, encompassing the Crusader and Gazala battles. I’d thus eschewed buying early war British armor, at least for now.

Over the last few days, I’ve been scaring up OoB information for the British 8th Army, trying to figure out what kind of force I’m going to put together for the Blitzkrieg Commander II, which I eagerly await. (My copy’s probably made it over the Atlantic now and is pining away in Brazilian customs.)

This is my favorite part of any miniatures project: laying out the figures and building forces.

I play BKC in company scale (i.e. each unit is a company or, in the case of artillery, a half-battalion) and my OoB philosophy can best be described as “semi-historical”. I’m not a button-and-bayonet counter. I generally presume that my scenarios are occurring in a parallel universe just next door. This means I use historical OoBs to model my units, but I give myself some creative leeway, constructing “typical” units rather than perfect replicas of historical formations.

So the following is my first stab at a British Armoured division for this period. Note that I have extra units which I can swap in if I do want to make a historical formation, but I don’t have enough to do this on the divisional level. This means that I’ll only be able to play small historical battles, but c’est le guerre de plomb. (I should note here that I’ll also building a reinforced British Infantry division, complete with two RTR Matilda regiments, but that’s a future project).

Any comments are welcome. I’ll be following this project with photos as I go along. Hopefully, it’ll inspire some of you out there to take a stab at 1/600. Note that the following forces cost me about USD 35.00, all told: the equivalent of maybe 12 Pendraken 10mm vehicles, so I’m getting around 50 maneuver units for the cost of a dozen in a larger scale. This may not appeal to you WWII fanatics out there, but for those of you who play, say, FWC or CWC – or even those of you who specialize in another front of WWII – 1/600 allows you to take a stab at quickly and cheaply fielding entire armies outside your preferred period or theater.

And I think that you’ll agree, when you see the paint job that I’m going to do on these, that they are quite acceptable for table play – definitely not “counters with bumps” or “bits of rice”, as 2-3mm detractors would have it…

Comments, suggestions and criticism, as always, are welcome.

7th Armored Division, divisional units
 1 CO
 1 FAA
 1 FAO
 1 Grant (HQ escort)
 6 Daimler Recon
 4 25 lb artillery
 3 Engineers
 2 Bofors 40mm AAA
 3 6lb ATG
 12 Trucks

201st Brigade
 1 HQ
 1 FAO
 6 Infantry
 3 Machinegun
 3 Carrier companies
 3 2lb Portees
 2 3” Mortars
 2 25 lb artillery
 13 Trucks

2nd Armored Brigade
 1 Grant HQ
 1 FAO
 2 Infantry
 1 MG
 1 Carrier
 1 2lb Portee
 2 25 lb artillery
 6 Crusaders
 3 Grants
 6 Trucks

4th Armored Brigade
 1 Stuart HQ
 1 FAO
 2 Infantry
 1 MG
 1 Carrier
 1 2lb Portee
 2 25 lb artillery
 6 Stuarts
 3 Grants
 6 Trucks

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Colombia and Venezuela: The Strategic and Operational Situation

Before I start. I should mention that I've never been to either of the countries discussed below. What follows is an analysis based completely on what I can glean from on-line and print sources.

There are only two logical scenarios in which a serious war would develop between Venezuela and Colombia (as opposed to localized border skirmishings in order to create noise on the nightly news). The first would be a U.S.-led invasion in order to overthrow the Chávez government. This is unlikely in the forseeable future due to U.S. imperial overstretch.

The second would be a Venezuelan invasion of Colombia, which would probably only take place in after some major, world-shaking event which would guarantee that the U.S. would not be able to effectively intervene for at least a couple of months.

This is what we will presume happens for our scenario purposes...

On September 11th 2012, three nuclear devices are detonated on U.S. soil, one each in New York City, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. The U.S. is thrown into chaos precisely at a time when Colombia and Venezuela have upped their saber-rattling to new heights. With the Venezuelan military already completely mobilized, Hugo Chávez sees a window of opportunity and gives the green light for long-prepared invasion plans.

Even an ego as big as Hugo's, however, realizes that Venezuela will not be able to completely conquer and occupy Colombia, at least not over the short term. The upcoming offensive is thus designed to seize the northern border region between the two countries - precisely that area where a large part of Colombia's energy extraction infrastructure is located. Chávez believes that a successful Venezuelan blitzkrieg will be seen as a fait accompli by most of the west and is prepared to "magnanimously" withdraw the Venezuelan Army (after it's caused as much damage as possible) if he encounters serious diplomatic danger. Hugo hopes that such a victory will present the FARC and its allies with a golden opportunity to fatally destabilize the nation's government, bringing another Bolivarist state into being in South America.

The border between Colombia and Venezuela is a difficult one for offensive military operations. From the Caribbean coast on down to the Rio Arauca (about halfway along the border), Colombia’s three northern frontier provinces of La Guajira, Cesar and Norte de Santander are shielded by the northern extension of the Andes. From the Arauca on south, the frontier is covered by an almost completely trackless stretch of the Amazon rainforest.

The frontier is crossed by few paved roads, the main ones cutting through the mountainous Norte de Santander province at Cucutá. Though much ink has recently been spilled over Venezuela’s purchase of modern T-72 tanks and BMP-3 AFVs, it’s quite obvious that these weapons systems are less than ideal for use in the mountains and jungle which cover most of the Colombian-Venezuelan border.

Given the above, practically the only viable route for a conventional armored thrust out of Venezuela is along the extreme north of the frontier, out of the Maracaibo Basin and across the base of Colombia’s northernmost peninsula, with the attacker’s right sleeve practically brushing the Caribbean. Even this route is problematic, however, for once across the peninsula, the attacker faces the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta – a mountainous region which blocks off any further advance to the direct west.

At this point, a putative Venezuelan armored offensive has only one viable route: over the foothills surrounding the El Cerrejón open-face coal mine and southwest into the Upar Valley. The immediate objective of a strike in this direction would be to take Valledupar, the capital of Cesar Province, thus opening a route into Colombia’s low-lying Caribbean coastal region. An equally important objective would be securing the peninsular region and the Sierra Nevada against Colombian counterattacks in order to maintain a land supply line back to Venezuela. A successful operation of this sort would probably be followed up by a strike southeast into Norte de Santander province, in conjunction with infantry attacks out of the Maracaibo Basin, in order to open up the Cucutá highways as supply routes.

Phases one, two and three of a possible Venezuelan offensive operation through the Upar Valley.

Colombia apparently is aware of the threat of a strike of this sort as it is opening a new military base in an undisclosed part of Guajira Province. One would assume that this base will be located near the provincial capital of Riohacha. Still, it would seem that Colombia’s chances of stopping an armored thrust into Guajira short of El Cerrejón would be slight, given that Venezuela would have the initiative. But El Cerrejón poses a very interesting bottleneck which is potentially fatal to any Venezuelan offensive…

The northern access to the Upar Valley. Venezuelan forces would be entering this map down Route 88 from the NE, moving towards Hato Nuevo in the SW. The El Cerrejón coal mine is situated at Point A.

El Cerrejón is a open-pit coal mining complex: one of the largest in the world. Its operations close off the only relatively flat entrance into the Upar Valley. To the immediate east of the mine, Route 88 (which would have to be Venezuela’s primary supply route by default), winds through a narrow defile before opening out into the mining town of Hato Nuevo. In my opinion, this would be the region in which Colombia’s First Division would attempt to block the mechanized forces of the Venezuelan Fourth Armored Division.

Two views of El Cerrejón. Those things that look like 1/600 Tonka Toys are actually 154 ton-capacity Wabco haulers. I think we can agree that even Ogres would have difficulties tackling those slopes...

Operationally, Colombian armored cavalry and infantry would be looking to delay attackers in the El Cerrejón region while Colombia’s rapid deployment force (made up of several battalions of elite paratroopers supported by 120 Blackhawk helicopters) would prepare to counterattack along the thrust’s western flank. Meanwhile, Venezuela would be seeking to push through El Cerrejón at all possible speed. The terrain is not conducive to airborne operations, but Colombian airmobile forces would probably be deployed here on the first day in an attempt to seize and hold the mines and the Route 88 bottleneck for the follow-on armored forces. Obviously, 42nd Para Battalion would be the force most likely chosen for this attack, given that it’s an elite force integrated into the Venezuelan 4th Division – the operational unit which contains most of Hugo Chavez’ new armored toys.

Given this, our first scenario will represent an attack into the El Cerrejón mining complex by Venezuelan paratroopers, backed up by light armored units from the 44th Light Armored Brigade.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And a one-two-three, right face! Swish!

With apologies to any IRL Venezuelan paratroopers who might be reading this and who find their masculinity threatened...  ...or to IRL gay men who find the comparison disturbing.

(Tip 'o the hat to Nik Harwood!)

The mighty 42nd Brigade marches on!

New content will be up soon!

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.