Wow, what a day. We arrived at Command Decisions around 7:20 am and were somewhat surprised to see as many campers as we saw. There were a few teams who had decided to brave the cold weather, something I just couldn't bring myself to do. Most of those who had camped out were gathered around fire pits, and one team in particular seemed to be enjoying roasting an X7 Phenom?
Coming in to the event, I wasn't sure what to expect exactly. I had never visited Command Decisions before, but had heard a whole lot about it. I had high expectations for this given what I have heard about events like Fulda Gap. The scenario had some interesting twists and the rules seemed like they would be a lot of fun to play. Having three elements: Marines, Taliban, and Pashtun Mafia, it seemed like the war could be quite chaotic. I had no idea just how much that would be true.
The best part about scenarios in my opinion, is just how many people you meet, and how great everyone's attitude is. Everyone is really friendly and you can hear laughter ringing out throughout the parking lot as all the teams are getting ready for the day.
We really enjoyed getting to know a few of the teams; one particular team that stood out as great guys were the guys from Boss Company. They were really fun to cut up with before the game, and at the end of the game they were extremely generous and a couple of their members donated a gun and a large monetary sum to the military family the event was raising money for. It was extremely touching. These guys are all stand up guys.
At 9:00 am we were summoned to the main area in front of the store to go over our safety briefing. They went over the main rules and how the armies would work and what not. This was when they also announced that proceeds would be going to a particular military family and gave some background on their situation without naming them. It was a great feeling to know that our money was going to help someone who has given so much to us.
About 10:00 am the safety briefing ended and everyone was chomping at the bit to get out there and spray some paint. We got started a little late, but nothing major. There was some sense of disorganization at the start with many people not knowing exactly where to go. Our orders were to find our commander and get our mask tape to identify which army we were on. This seems simple, but with no clear indication where our commanders would be, it proved somewhat difficult.
After a slight delay the game was on. The Pashtun and Taliban were allowed to enter the field first. I, playing as a Marine, was not quite sure what to expect when we walked in to battle. Always expecting an ambush, we took a scattered formation with eyes on our flanks. Once we arrived at our assigned sector we awaited orders. It seems like we waited for eternity before some came. We were sending two people from our squad at a time to meet with other squads for special missions. The rest of our squad, clueless of what was going on, tried to take up a defensive formation along the trail that we were guarding. Eventually a couple of us found a leader on a special mission and we decided to tag along. I thought this would lead to action. It did not. We ended up spending what seemed like an hour sitting around waiting on other players to fill out our mission group. We finally got the mission from a ref, it said we had to have 10 members in the squad. We had seven. We spent another 10-15 minutes waiting on three more guys, I think our commander asked about a hundred times over the radio for guys, they never came. Finally we saw another group running by and went over to try to recruit three more. In the minutes that followed, that group kicked out a few of the guys and replaced them with their own guys, I remained. Once we got going we were about 25 minutes behind the other armies in this special mission. We finally found out that it was a mission that required 10 people from each army to try to gain control of a strategic point and hold it for 15 minutes. We finally started moving, only to get stopped again when our new leaders gun broke. We spent another 10 minutes standing around for that. In the end we arrived at our target just in time for the mission to be over. Also, to add to my dismay, I discovered we, the Marines, had forged an alliance with the Taliban. How in the world does this happen?
To recap my morning, at this point it is about 12:00 pm and I have shot 10 paintballs. After this fiasco, we managed to get back together with our old squad. We spent about five minutes waiting for orders, which never came. Eventually about eight of us just left and marched in the direction of gunfire. I finally got to shoot someone! By the time we made contact, it was lunch time and I had discovered that the Taliban had a tank!
During lunch I was honestly a little disappointed. I hadn't even had to reload my hopper. Most of my morning was spent waiting on orders and standing around because nobody knew what to do. I was completely flabbergasted at how the Taliban had acquired a tank, and how the Marines had allied themselves with the Taliban. I really hoped that after lunch would be different.
Once we got back on the field, about six of us decided to just go out on our own and try to flank the enemy. This was pretty fun. We ended up flanking a squad of Taliban that controlled the area around Hamburger Hill and was able to push them back. This allowed the Marines and Pashtun (now working together) to advance and push the Taliban back across the map. It was at this time that we ran into another squad of Marines which was led by Krank (I think that is how he spells his callsign). He was by far the best leader on the Marine side that I had a chance to work with. He gave us some information on what missions were coming up and some guidance on how to best help running on our own. We stayed to help his group out securing the area and then departed. One thing about scenarios, you learn how great a feeling it is to see backup come running up behind you.
Our group ended up getting deep into Taliban lines and ambushed a few small groups moving through the woods. We were finally taken out by a pretty large squad that moved through our area. It was disappointing that we had been shot, but it was great that we finally had been involved in some great action. After visiting the DZ, we made our way to Alpha where all the fighting was taking place. By this time it was about 4:00pm and the day was almost over. The Marines were winning by a score of 950 to about 450 for both the Taliban and the Pashtun. We had a great fight defending Alpha, but eventually I was shot out and returned to the original starting point, outside Kabul. It was here that the game would be decided.
The only way the Taliban could win was if they both took Kabul, and kept Osama bin Laden alive. They both happened. The Taliban were victorious on the day. The biggest moment was an air strike sent in on Kabul that took out about 40 Marines defending the area during a massive assault by the Taliban. I still have no idea where the Taliban got the technology to pull that one off!
In the end it was a fun day, the first half of the day was a massive frustration, but it picked up. Command Decisions did an amazing job, Valken paint ended up being pretty good. I was a little worried when I saw dimples in my paint, but I did not break a single ball all day. The event ran pretty smooth, just a massive lack of communication and a very serious sense of disorganization from the start for the Marines.
We recently got in touch with Ben from Millennium Paintball Productions about their upcoming scenario IA Drang that will be held at Paintball Charleston March 27-28. Below is an excerpt from the email we got back from him describing the event:
"So you want to know about IA DRANG? It can be summed up by saying air calvary and air mobile. This was an early battle; the true beginning of the escalating American presence in Vietnam. It took place in November of '65 and it was the first time that the 7th calvary and the 5th Calvary were used to helicopter large numbers of troops into battle. IA DRANG was really a river that ran down the center of a valley in the central highlands, northeast of Saigon. Prior to this we had been fighting mostly irregular troops. The vietcong controlled the country side, and the ARVN troops, which were the South Vietnamese troops led by American advisors, controlled strategic points (fire bases) on the tops of mountains and in the valleys controlling the waterways. The ARVN experiment was by this time obviously a failure. So, General Westmoreland brought in 300,000 U.S. troops to try and stem the tide of the communist takeover of Southeast Asia. At IA DRANG the Americans faced not only the V.C., but for the first time were locked in battle with the N.V.A (North Vietnamese regulars). And so, the cards were dealt to the North Vietnamese General Nguyen Huu An and American General Thomas Brown to play out this titanic struggle.
In our game at Paintball Charleston, the Americans will have access to 5 helicopters (inserting up to 50 troops at a time), firebases, and LZs; while the N.V.A. will have V.C. troops which can receive points for being both passive and aggressive, and also secret insertions.
These are just a few hints of what we have planned. Mel Gibson's movie "We Were Soldiers" is based on this battle. On a personal level, I'm dedicating this years Vietnam games to my frat brother and roommate, Dennis Vazinowski, who gave his life in Vietnam." - Ben
Paintball Carolina is pleased to let everyone know that we will be covering the event with both photos and videos. We are looking forward to being a part of this and can't wait to get down to Charleston to check this out. We will most definitely be doing some promotions to give away some free gear so stay tuned!