Legal disclaimer: After consulting with both MoD and NATO sources, all unclassified official reports conclude that nothing of what you are about to see... ever happened.
During the events of the evacuation of Kabul International Airport, chaos engulfed the whole country. Western nations were trying their best to evacuate their personnel, Afghan interpreters and other workers, as well as their families if possible. But not everyone could easily reach the airport compound. Embassies were contacting the local workers in order to ID them and their families and grant them pass through the checkpoints. But to achieve that, they had to reach Kabul first...
Three men were standing on the landing track while the monstrous plane behind them was getting ready to flight again. The lights of the airport made the night even more menacing, if that was possible.
- Tell him about the missing one- the Ambassador asked his assistant.
- All the workers in the area are identified -he responded- and we know they are outside the checkpoint. They all managed to reach Kabul. All but one. Habibullah Dustarrah, "Javi", the interpreter. Apparently his little brother was kind of an activist and the Taliban executed him just yesterday. They caught Javi last evening and will most likely execute him anytime soon.
-You see the situation? -the Ambassador asked to the soldier.
- Hm-m -he grunted-. What intel do we have on the place he's under custody?
- Last phone signal placed him right here -the assitant pointed some place on a map. An unpronounceable village kind of ten or twelve miles from where they were- apparently he had tucked a phone away and was able to give me a location. We lost contact six hours ago. We believe he will be executed in the morning.
The soldier looked around at the night and checked his watch. A few hours until dawn.
- If we're doing this, it has to be done now -he finally grunted.
- We know, Captain.
- I've been talking to the people in charge of the airport here. You get me clearance for the op from the Minister, I can get a helo, if you fill the paperwork.
- Consider it done, Captain -the ambassador was anxious to get things done.
- Right. I can't compromise more than a fire team. Well trained veteran spec ops team. Should be enough.
- I'll take what you give me -answered the Ambassador.
- Right, sir. You get the Minister on the phone and do your thing. You coming with me -the Captain told the Ambassador's assistant- with all the info available. We're briefing my team. We're against the clock.
Before dawn came, the helicopter left the spec ops fire team far enough from the village to remain undetected. The five men would have to move fast. They got to the coordinates with the first lights of the day. It was nothing else than a few huts. A couple of armed guards and a pick-up in front of a door gave the place away.
- OK, guys, you see? That's the place. Everyone knows what to do?
- Yes, Sarge.
- Let's go then. Move!
This puny story is my excuse to play a game of Skirmish Sangin. It had been truly a long time since I last played, and the current events of these days provided me the perfect frame for a tiny game.
The fire team will try to get to the hut, rescue the interpreter and leave the board on the same point where they entered from. The Taliban guards will start the game unaware of the menace.
|Spec Ops team on the right of the pic, will have to move quickly|
First of all, please excuse the three buildings on the left. I was planning to paint them properly, but I had this little window of opportunity for a game with no prior notice, so I rushed it all and just glued and primed them.
I won't be detailing the game, as I already did here (with a bunch of monochrome pics like these of today!), so I'll just tell the story as it unfolds.
Ready for action?
|Go, go, go!|
|The team moves stealthy|
|Guards fail to spot the quick movement|
|Things are going smoothly so long...|
The team splits. Master Sergeant Martin will lead the rescue team while Pvt Lopez and Pvt Silva get to that roof to give support fire.
Pvt Sanz gets ready to cook a smoke grenade...
|I had forgotten this. Skirmish Sangin is the Rogue Trader of modern warfare gaming|
|I mean it. There are charts for kind of everything|
|The grenade kicks the ground. Gaming wise the whole plaza is covered in smoke, limiting LoS for 6 rounds|
|Time to move!|
|Even at this range, Hakim misses his shot|
|Hakim is taken down while everybody runs|
|A second Taliban, Molla, is badly injured|
|Zabiulah shots Lopez, but misses|
|This is getting really nasty|
|If we had a drone, this would be what we could see|
Despite the risk, MSG Martin decides to storm the hut, or else they can get pinned down on that corner.
|The Taliban moral is falling down, so it was a calculated risk|
|Pvt Sanz stays on the door while MSG Martin and Pvt Aguirre confront the guard inside|
|Out! We have our man! Get outta here!|
|The shooting is intense, but no one gets injured during some rounds|
You can see I'm getting into no detail at all, but trust me, this game deals with a lot of details. A lot. The alternate activation system is probably one of the best things of the game, but you do have to micromanage everything quite well and get sure you have each character perfectly identified.
Things were going incredibly well for the operation, but that can change any moment...
|Reinforcements! They have a RPG!|
|At this point I took the fallen guys out of the table, just to get things easier|
|Ouch, this is going to hurt...|
|It misses and luckily hits the corner of the building. However, Silva and Aguirre get injured|
|Light wounds for both, these are the consequences|
|No one is left behind|
|They help their comrades while the interpreter is escorted out of the village|
|We're almost out. Keep formation!|
|Mission accomplished! Now get to the chopper! Wait, where did I hear that before?...|
Well, you can see things were too smooth at the beginning, with the initial assault being incredibly successful, and then how suddenly everything changed. I have to say I didn't plan a symmetrical scenario at all. The stats of the spec ops team were absolutely decisive during all the game, and less veteran troops would have most probably failed. I'm pretty sure I did some things wrong during the game, but in the end it was enormously fun and the narrative kept coherent, which was my aim over all other considerations.
On a more serious tone, this is but a game, but I do hope (more a wish than a hope) the evacuation of Kabul ends well. All the best for the people on the ground (or in the air).