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Posted on Nov 19, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

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

By John Antal

You chose Course of Action Two: Withdraw Into a Tank Trap.

Stone realizes that he has to move back to protect his tanks. From his present position, the enemy will be able to hit his Abrams from the woods located east of the stream and north and south of the bridge. He quickly recognizes that the current situation is similar to the one he faced in the enemy’s first attack. At that time, he used the constricted approach of the bridge to canalize the enemy attack into his waiting guns, while his own tanks were far enough back to avoid the enemy’s “kill zone.” It was a lesson well worth learning.

By moving back only 500-600 meters, the mass of hills 555 and 575 will protect Stone’s tanks from flanking fire, yet the Abrams can still freely fire on the bridge. The enemy’s only option is to come straight at the Americans from across the bridge – directly into the Abrams’ tank trap.

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Image Credit: PETHO CARTOGRAPHY
Course of action two leads to Stone’s platoon pushing back the North Koreans.

To ensure that the enemy will attack across the bridge rather than try to maneuver infantrymen south of the river, Stone plans to fire the ROK artillery on Target AF101. A rain of deadly exploding steel on the target south of the bridge will dissuade the enemy from attempting to take that route long enough for Captain Braddock and the rest of the company to arrive.

Stone orders the platoon to displace. In 10 minutes, his four tanks are positioned like a cork in a bottle – three tanks sit in the valley facing east, and one M-1A1 Abrams lurks in a “keyhole” position facing to the southeast, the most likely direction of enemy infantry advance.

“Koslowsky, keep a keen eye on that bridge,” Stone orders.

“No problem sir,” Koslowsky replies. “I have a clear view all the way to the east side through my thermal sight.”

“Red-Leg, this is Charlie Two-One,” Stone radios the artillery observer with Captain Braddock and the rest of Charlie Company.

“Charlie Two-one, this is Red-Leg, over,” the observer responds.

“Red-Leg, requesting Target One-Zero-One, south of the bridge. On my command. Over.”

“Understood, Charlie Two-One,” the observer replies. “At your command, Target One-Zero-One. Out.”

Stone keys the transmitter and radios the platoon, “Everybody holds fire until the first few vehicles cross the bridge. I want burning vehicles on the west side first. This will slow the rest and block their movement. Once we’ve done that, I want you to shoot everything in sight.”

“Wilco,” Buckner radios. “My guess is that they’ll be coming soon.”

Stone takes a deep breath – and waits.

Koslowsky moves the turret to scan the area near the bridge. “Here they come!” the gunner says excitedly. “Identified. Tanks and dismounted Infantry on the bridge!”

“Observing enemy,” Buckner’s voice sounds over the radio.

“Wait until the first three tanks cross the bridge,” Stone orders.

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Image Credit: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Three M-1A1 Abrams tanks move into a firing line during Exercise Reforger 85. Stone positioned three of his tanks in a similar formation designed to maximize the tanks’ overwhelming firepower.

The lead enemy tanks pull off to the left as the first platoon across the bridge attempts to move into a line formation.

Stone pushes the radio transmitter switch on his tanker helmet. “Red-Leg, this is Charlie Two-One. Fire for effect, Target Alpha Foxtrot One-Zero- One!”

“Wilco, Charlie Two-One,” the artilleryman answers. “Firing for effect, Target Alpha Foxtrot One-Zero-One. Out.”

“Three enemy tanks, getting close,” Buckner radios.

“Fire!” Stone commands.

[continued on next page]

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