WWIII: Team Yankee Soviet – “nobody, but us!” Afghansty

“West Coast. East Coast. Down here is Mexico. First wave of the attack came in disguised as commercial charter flights same way they did in Afghanistan in ’80. Only they were crack Airborne outfits. 

Colonel Andy Tanner – “Red Dawn”
WOLVERINES!  I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the Puma’s undercarriage sponsons till now.

The Afghansty, helicopter-borne veteran infantry from the Afghan war, have been a popular choice for the Soviet player since they appeared in version 1 as a pamphlet force.  Combining relatively hard hitting infantry with a  surplus of Mil-24 hinds, the force gave rise to the “leaf blower list” that would see an opponent, likely packing just one air defence unit, suddenly facing off vs 12 Hinds and 6 SU-25. 

With a  new Soviet book here, there had been hope to see the Afghansty expanded to a full VDV force with MIL-8 assault transports and BMD1 and 2 airlanding IFV, amongst other toys.  Sadly, this has once again been kicked down the road, but the Afghansty do have some gains from v2.

Stick Around

Firstly, Afghansty gain a freebie benefit of v2 in general, hardier helicopters.  The change in unit moral effectively means that helicopters are never not in good spirits.  This keeps not only the Hinds from running but, being integral to the formation, keeps the formation in the fight.

Secondly, infantry teams (other than heavy weapon teams) and AA MG have to re-roll successful firepower checks against helicopter and Strike Aircraft teams.  The Hind has always been a hardy beast, but now it can brave enemy ground fire to put fore or troops exactly where it is needed.

The latest in military firepower

“Oh, don’t thank me. Thank an unprecedented 8-year military build-up.” 

Bart Simpson

Looking at the new book, the Afghansty formation, nothing has changed about its contents.  It still consists of a HQ, two to three infantry company and two to three Mil-24 company.

The devil, as ever, is in the detail.  The Afghansty Company now has access to the RPG-7VR.  The RPG-7VR has the “Tandem Warhead” rule and an increased AT-19 allowing it to ignore ERA and still have good odds vs Cobham armoured tanks.  It also increases its firepower to 2+.  This larger warhead does have a small penalty as range is decreased to 8” from the original 12”.  Given we are normally constrained to an 8” defensive fire bubble that’s not a huge issue for the defence and one that can be mitigated on the offense.

stop sniggering at the back…

The RPG-7VR goes a long way to resolving two issues the Afghansty had, dealing with any enemy armour that the helicopters can’t react to and dealing with dug in infantry.  Afghansty players would often sweep the table of armour only for the infantry to then lack the punch to dig out dug in NATO forces, whilst also being wary of a reserve armour unit sweeping straight into an assault from reserves.  Firepower 2+ RPG will certainly make their hits count versus dug in infantry and make the (armoured) cavalry somewhat warier of racing to the rescue.  Just remember that if you do upgrade then all RPG equipped platoons need to upgrade and that upgrade cost starts to add up.  That said, I’d argue its an essential upgrade for the airborne troops.

The Hind itself also enjoys an update as it can now be purchased with the AT-9 Spiral-2.  This increases the AT by one, range by 4″ and gains the Tandem Warhead attribute though, at AT24, its questionable how much it gains from that!  The extra range is useful for keeping out of the way of .5 cal defensive fire but the increased helicopter resistance to such fire also helps with that and the extra AT is nice for a front shot vs NATO heavy armour but generally the Hind can get a flank shot easily enough.  I’d argue its points that could be spent elsewhere so stick with the base model.  It’s worth noting that, unlike the RPG, the Spiral-2 does not need to be taken if one unit has it.  You could run one flight of Hinds with the missile if you wanted at least some of the extra punch without burning the points.

Get by with a little help from [your Red Army] friends

The Afghansty have some wins and losses when it comes to support from the rest of the Red Army.  Predating v2’s introduction of “black box” formation support, the Afghansty pamphlet, the Red Thunder, included a tank box, infantry box and AAA box on the force diagram to reflect the vanguard forces fighting to the front line.  As any black box choice can be purchased to support, the Afghansty can enjoy more and varied support, not being limited to just one tank company or just one infantry company, so long as its different.  They also gain form the new inclusions of T-80 Shock Platoons and T-62M and T-55M Companies. 

The T-80 Shock Platoon can provide a hard hitting, survivable, element of mobile firepower, able to put accurate brutal fire on dug in infantry then follow up with an assault all but immune to return fire.  It’s a pricey option but I’d seriously consider making room for it in a force, dropping the third flight of hinds and a couple Frogfoots to pay for it.

When the model looks this good you kinda want to use it as often as you can!

The T-62M Company is as the opposite end of the scale being neither especially mobile or survivable, but it  brings 10 tanks to the fight for the price of 3 T-80, and they all still have ‘brutal’ too!  These second rate tanks provide the afghansty leafblower, a force that burns points quickly, a useful fire support tank, even in smaller quantities.  Its laser rangefinders allow it to sit back away from Carl Gustavs and pound dug in infantry with FP2 brutal rounds; just prioritise those Milans first! 

The T-55 is even cheaper but, lacking “Brutal”, is a second choice to the T-62.  It figures in my plans mainly because I have the latter already!

The downside of this change in support is that the Afghansty lose their access to Shilka AA platoons, as it is neither on the force chart, nor a black box option, leaving them reliant on Manportable Air Defence (MANPADS), divisional SAM support and the Hind’s 12.7mm gatling gun for anti-air support.  Of course, if we really must have Shilka we could use a T-62 or -55 formation as a cheap delivery system!

The changes to the Force flow chart also sees the Afghansty gain access to the BMP-3 (via the recce slot), Hurricane MLRS and the TOR-1 “flamethrower”.  The BMP-3 provide fire support and a spearhead (and a proxy for the similarly armed modern BMD-4!) which can help the Afghasnty get into position then provide “brutal” firepower, anti-helicopter defence and anti-tank missile fire; all handy for the Afghansty.  The Hurricane and TOR are both useful options but maybe limited by the Afghansty play style as the “danger close” range precludes the infantry getting up close and personal and they may suffer from being the only thing the defender’s AT assets have to hunt and shoot at!

Lending a hand

Of course, the “black box” taketh away but it also giveth.  The Afghansty infantry company and Hind company are both “black box” units so can provide support to other formations.  The Afgansty Hind is limited in that, if taken, it prevents the Red Army Hind flight from being taken, and vice versa, but the infantry has no such limitation and can even exploit the additional carry capacity of the Red Army’s larger, six Hind, company.  The Afghansty are a relatively cheap infantry unit, being the same cost as a BTR company but trading extra assault, skill and courage for APC.  It can certainly be argued that is a good trade off!

When we play our next big game of TY, I like the idea of a mid-sized infantry company, upgraded with RPG-7VR, being carried around by a six-strong Hind company to seize objectives of opportunity that the fog of war cards produce.  Of course, one AK and the PKM will have to sit out the helicopter ride to fit!

Flying High in (un)Friendly Skies

Excepting the infantry (until recently at least) I’ve had all the bits to do Afghansty for awhile, albeit in various stages of build and paint!  The new book has certainly got me thinking about putting it on the 2021 paint list.  My initial combined arms 100pt thoughts are:

Afghansty HQ -1pt
Afghansty Infantry Company – mid sized, with RPG-7VR, and MANPAD team – 13pts
Afghansty Infantry Company – mid sized, with RPG-7VR, and MANPAD team – 13pts
Afghansty Hind Company with four Hinds (AT-6) – 12pts
Afghansty Hind Company with four Hinds (AT-6) – 12pts

Force Support

Four Frogfoots – 14pts
Four SA-9 Gaskin – 2pts
Three recce BMP2 (standing in for BMD2) – 4pts
T-80 Shock Platoon with three T-80 – 29pts

This is my intial army of choice, if only because the T-80 are painted and ready to use!

Its basically just a small BMP2 anyway…

Alternatively we can swap out all but the Frogfoot in the Force Support for a second formation:

T-62 Battalion HQ – 4pts
T-62 Company with five tanks, missiles – 12pts
T-62 Company with four tanks, missiles – 9pts
BMP2 Platoon with three BMP2 (standing in for BMD2) – 4pts
Four SA-9 Gaskin – 2pts
Four Shilka AAA – 4pts

This trades the T-80 for 10 T-62 and 4 Shilka and has the secondary benefit of putting the Gaskin and BMP2 in a formation, increasing force resilience. 

Or, a more pure bred Afghansty force:

Afghansty HQ -1pt
Afghansty Infantry Company – mid sized, with RPG-7VR, and MANPAD team – 13pts
Afghansty Infantry Company – mid sized, with RPG-7VR, and MANPAD team – 13pts
Afghansty Infantry Company – small sized, with RPG-7VR, and MANPAD team – 8pts
Afghansty Hind Company with four Hinds (AT-6) – 12pts
Afghansty Hind Company with four Hinds (AT-6) – 12pts
Afghansty Hind Company with four Hinds (AT-6) – 12pts

Force Support

Six Frogfoots – 21pts
Four SA-9 Gaskin – 2pts
Four recce BMP2 (standing in for BMD2) – 6pts

Going forward

So, the Afgansty are on my to-do list!  Expect to see Soviet Infantry, Frogfoots and Hinds on my painting desk in the new year, if not a little earlier!