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Posted on Jul 17, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

Interactive Combat Story: Korea: The Next War

By John Antal

You chose Course of Action One: Defend in the East.

Second Lieutenant Stone wipes the rain from the metal feed tray of his tank’s .50-caliber machine gun. Although he has never been tested in combat, he realizes that he is about to find out if he has what it takes.

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PETHO CARTOGRAPHY
Fighting in the east entrance to the valley exposes Lt. Stone’s tanks to the full power – and overwhelming numbers — of the North Korean assault.

He has decided that using the bridge as a choke point to block the North Koreans is the best deployment for his outnumbered force. If his men can hold the valley long enough for the rest of C Company to arrive, they might have a chance.

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The Soldiers nervously wait without saying a word. The only sound is the steady hum of the external generators that power the M-1A1s’ fire control systems. Every tank’s main engine has been shut off – saving precious fuel is more important than conserving ammunition.

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GREGORY PROCH
Stone shouts commands to his gunner as his platoon’s position is assaulted by overwhelming numbers of North Korean tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Three of the American tanks are positioned in a line running across Route 51. Tank Blue Two is farthest north; Blue One, Stone’s vehicle, is south of there; and Blue Three is just below the road. Buckner’s Blue Four is a few hundred yards to the east of Blue Three, in a copse at the foot of Hill 555.

Within minutes, Stone hears the rumble of armored vehicles. Peering through his tank’s thermal sight, he sees a T-62 lumbering toward the bridge. “Action front!” he orders.

“Identified,” Koslowsky replies.

“Up!” Corporal Park shouts, confirming that the main gun is ready.

“Fire and adjust!” Stone commands.

“On the way!” Koslowsky yells, moving the gun onto the target and pulling the trigger.

As the 120 mm cannon fires, the M-1A1 rocks backward from the recoil. Koslowsky’s aim is true – the shell explodes dead center of mass on the advancing T-62. Fewer than 2,000 meters away, the enemy tank erupts in flames as its cannon shoots blindly into the air.

Another T-62 moves forward, pushing the burning hulk off the side of the road and crossing the bridge. More tanks and APCs follow.
“Blue, this is Blue One … fire!” Stone shouts over the radio.

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PETTY OFFICER 2D CLASS STACY YOUNG
An M-1A1 Abrams main battle tank maneuvers along the road at the Twin Bridges Training Grounds during an exercise held by Combined Forces Command, Republic of Korea. Such exercises allow commanders to train and evaluate forces responding to a North Korean threat like the one confronting Lt. Stone.

All four M-1A1s blast away, knocking out several more enemy tanks in the blink of an eye and blanketing the battlefield in black smoke. Behind the flaming vehicles, a company of VTT-323 APCs races forward and disgorges hordes of infantrymen. Peering through his thermal sight, Stone sees additional enemy tanks, APCs and enemy Soldiers – more targets than he had bargained for! One of the armored personnel carriers moves rapidly ahead of the others.

“PC,” Koslowsky yells as he moves the gun onto the enemy vehicle. “On the way!”

The depleted uranium 120 mm round strikes the VTT-323, penetrating its armor as if it were made of paper. The APC burns furiously, but the other enemy vehicles just move around it, continuing forward despite the devastating American fire.

“Target! Load HEAT,” Stone orders. “Left PC, fire!”

“On the way!” Koslowsky answers.

[continued on next page]

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