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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

The four Abrams fire as if they are one. All three North Korean tanks explode in a shower of sparks and disintegrating metal. More enemy tanks push forward.

“Keep up the fire!” Stone shouts over the radio.

Another enemy tank moves across the bridge to shove a burning vehicle aside.

“Gunner, sabot, tank!” Stone shouts over the intercom.

“Identified!” Koslowsky yells back.

“Up!” the loader announces.

“Fire and adjust!” Stone commands.

Koslowsky fires, and the result is another burning T-62.

“Target!” Stone yells to Koslowsky.

The platoon radio frequency quickly fills with battle chatter as the American tanks plaster the enemy with well-aimed fire.

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The North Koreans keep coming across the bridge with tanks in column and supporting infantry running alongside. The American tanks meet the advance with concentrated fire. The enemy can only attack one Abrams at a time; however, Stone’s three Abrams all hit the enemy tanks as they exit the bridge. After a wave of destruction, the North Korean attack stalls.

The ROK artillery slams into the woods southeast of the bridge, catching the North Korean infantrymen in the open and pushing them back to the north. Caught in a storm of fire, the North Korean attack melts like snow before the hot guns of the American tanks and under the rain of ROK artillery fire. Enemy infantrymen surge forward but are hit by concentrated machine-gun fire. Fifty-caliber and 7.62 mm machine-gun fire slices into forlorn groups of infantry stuck in the killing zone between the tanks and the bridge. Overwhelming fire from the Abrams turns back each assault, and the bodies of dead North Koreans quickly stack up on the bridge.

Stone looks though his thermal sight and sees a picture of carnage and death. The enemy is in dire straits. The Abrams are delivering a phalanx of fire that has stunned, disrupted and smashed the enemy. Brilliant explosions light up the sky near the bridge as North Korean tanks and armored personnel carriers explode.

After several more minutes of concentrated cannon and machine-gun fire, the enemy has had enough. Unable to gain a foothold across the bridge, the North Korean infantrymen are butchered as they withdraw across the open ground on the east side of the bridge. By 2:30 a.m., the battle is over.

24_ICS_14_d_DOD_0057.jpg
Image Credit: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
A loader moves into position to get a new round ready to fire during a training exercise. Responsible for making sure the main gun is properly loaded with the correct ammunition, the loader has one of the most important jobs on the tank crew.

The battlefield is filled with burning vehicles and an occasional staccato burst of machine-gun fire from the American tanks. As darkness begins to fade into morning, Stone hears the radio sputter to life with the voice of his company commander, Captain Braddock.

“Charlie Two-One, this is Charlie Six-Six. Sitrep, over,” Braddock says.

“We’ve secured the bridge,” Stone replies triumphantly. “The enemy attack has been halted. My tanks need fuel and ammo, but we’ve stopped the North Koreans from moving west.”

“Well done, Charlie Two-One,” Braddock replies. “What are your casualties?”

“No KIAs,” Stone responds. “God bless Detroit and the M-1A1 tank.”

“Amen to that,” Braddock radios. “I’m in the western end of the valley now and moving to your position. Charlie Six-Six, out.”

Stone breathes a sigh of relief. His platoon has held the valley and blocked the enemy advance. He can only hope that elsewhere across the DMZ the North Korean attacks are meeting the same fate.

Stone has fought and won. His wise decision to occupy a position that protected his flanks and focused his overwhelming firepower on the bridge has won the day and saved the lives of his men. As the great Sun Tzu is credited with saying, “If I am able to determine the enemy’s dispositions while at the same time conceal my own, then I can concentrate while he must divide. And if I concentrate while he divides, I can use my entire strength to attack a fraction of his. There, I will be numerically superior. Then, if I am able to use many to strike few at the selected point, those I deal with will be in dire straits.”

This is precisely what Lieutenant Stone did in this engagement.


This is the final installment of Interactive Combat Story, a series of articles that has been part of Armchair General magazine since our first issue in March 2004. ACG would like to thank author John Antal, our original Editorial Director, for giving us four years of exciting, realistic stories that have informed, entertained and challenged our readers.

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