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Posted on Sep 10, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

Interactive Combat Story: Korea: The Next War, Part II

By John Antal

You Chose Course of Action Two: Counterattack.

Stone quickly realizes that he must take the initiative away from the enemy. If he stays in his present position, the North Koreans will launch a coordinated attack and eventually overwhelm his four tanks. On the other hand, if he launches a preemptive counterattack immediately, he can use the night – and surprise – to his advantage.

In his prior training at the Armor Center at Fort Knox , Kentucky , Stone learned that the most important weapon of the M-1 Abrams Tank is the tracks – its unsurpassed mobility. Firepower, shock and mobility provide a lethal, battle-winning combination for the Abrams.

If Stone stays in position, his tanks will be no better than expensive pillboxes. If he attacks, he has a good chance of tilting the odds in his favor.


Stone keys the radio transmitter. “Platoon, follow me. We will attack immediately and destroy anything that moves in the valley. We will employ alternating fire as we attack. Any questions?”

“Let’s do it,” Platoon Sergeant Buckner’s steely voice rings over the radio.

“Follow me,” Stone radios and then orders his driver to move out.

Stone’s crew springs into action and the 68-ton Abrams surges forward. In seconds, the Americans are moving across the muddy ground at 20 miles an hour, dodging the burning hulls of dead North Korean vehicles and heading east like a wave of death.

Course of Action Two Results. Stone’s counterattack catches the North Koreans in march order. The Americans’ devastating fire disrupts the enemy attack and sends the opponents reeling back eastward. Image Credit: PETHO CARTOGRAPHY

Operational North Korean vehicles soon come into view and Stone’s crew begins immediate action to destroy them.

“Gunner, sabot tank!” Stone announces.

“Identified!” Koslowsky replies.

The stabilized cannon of Stone’s tank stays on target as the M-1 races through the night air and bumps across the devastated valley floor.

“Fire!” Stone shouts.

The enemy tank explodes in a ball of fire. More tanks and APCs come into view and Koslowsky destroys them in turn. The actions of the crew become automatic. As rounds are loaded into the massive breech of the 120 mm cannon, Koslowsky aims with a vengeance, killing every enemy vehicle he shoots at.

Meanwhile, enemy APCs move west into the valley. They drop their ramps and disgorge North Korean infantrymen into the inferno of close battle.

“Enemy infantry!” Koslowsky shouts, alerting the crew as he moves the turret to the right.

Through his thermal sight, Stone sees the North Korean infantrymen running south to climb the high ground on his right flank.

“I see ‘em!” Stone screams. “Gunner. Canister. Troops! Fire and adjust!”

Stone jumps up in his hatch and charges his .50-caliber machine gun. He fires wildly at the enemy infantry, spraying the ridge with tracer bullets. The machine gun blazes away, devastating the North Korean infantrymen.

“On the way!” Koslowsky announces.

Stone closes his eyes for a moment to protect his night vision from the sudden bright light of the cannon blast. The big 120 mm gun blasts a deadly storm of canister – 1,150 tungsten balls – into a pack of bewildered North Korean infantrymen. The rain of canister shot is devastating as the North Korean infantry can find nowhere to take cover.

“There’s still infantry in the valley!” Koslowsky shouts.

“Gunner, keep firing. Driver, keep moving,” Stone orders over the intercom. “Run ‘em over!”

Koslowsky fires round after round of canister until all 10 carried on the tank have been expended. Behind Stone’s vehicle, the rest of the platoon’s tanks are blasting away and placing their fire in alternate patterns: the tank behind Stone plasters the left side of the valley; the tank behind that one fires to the right; and the last tank shoots to the left.

The fire and shock of the American tank attack is utterly overwhelming. The North Koreans fall back in panic, trying to avoid the aim of the advancing Americans. The North Koreans unlucky enough to survive the deadly canister balls are mowed down by the fire from unmerciful machine guns.

Just west of Check Point 2, at a narrow cut that constricts the passage of the tanks to a single lane, the North Koreans make a last-ditch effort to stop the Americans. North Korean anti-tank gunners, running up the steep embankments on both sides of the cut, fire rocket propelled grenades (RPG) at the lead tanks. Other North Korean infantrymen line the gauntlet, firing small arms and throwing explosive satchel charges.

Stone’s tanks spray the crests of the embankments with deadly machine-gun fire and canister shot. The vehicles then charge forward, ramming through the enemy defense before the stunned North Koreans can make good their attack. Without stopping, the second, third and fourth tank in the column mow down the North Korean defenders with machine-gun fire. Stone’s tank then passes through Check Point 2. It is clear that nothing can stop the Americans now, and the North Koreans break and run.

An Abrams tank from the 7th Cavalry Regiment drives to the live-fire training range at the Korea Training Center, Republic of Korea. Range data from the laser rangefinder is transferred directly to an onboard digital fire control computer, which automatically calculates the fire control solution for the gunner and results in greatly improved accuracy. Image Credit: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Moving the turret from the gunner’s position, Koslowsky switches his fire from canister to 7.62 mm machine gun. A stunned North Korean suddenly stands 15 feet in front of the tank with an RPG on his shoulder, ready to fire. Stone’s driver sees the enemy soldier through his thermal night driving sight and guns the powerful tank engine. Before the enemy soldier can fire, the tank smashes into him and pulverizes his lifeless body into the muddy ground.

Brilliant explosions light up the valley as the four American tanks slaughter the hapless North Koreans on the approach Check Point 1. Stone can now see the bridge in his thermal sights. In a few more minutes of intense fire, the battle is over and the North Koreans are either dead or running east on the other side of the bridge.

Stone has fought and won. His bold decision to attack immediately won the day and drove the North Koreans back across the stream. As George Francis Henderson wrote in “Stonewall Jackson,” “The first principle of war is to concentrate superior force at the decisive point, that is, upon the field of battle. But it is exceedingly seldom that by standing still, and leaving the initiative to the enemy, that this principle can be observed. For a numerically inferior force, if it once permits its enemy to concentrate, can hardly hope for success. True generalship is, therefore, ‘to make up in activity for lack of strength’; to strike the enemy in detail and overthrow his columns in succession.” This is exactly what Stone did.

Be sure to check out the next exciting installment of “ Korea : The Next War” at in December, when YOU decide how Lieutenant Stone will fight his next battle!

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