Welcome to Dragon Rising, Bear Resurgent , a blog I am using to record my Post Cold War wargaming projects. These are focused on expeditionary operations by Chinese, Russian, American and NATO forces in the post Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the 21st Centuary Cold War Gamer.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Review - Books, Marine Tom Clancy 1997

I grew up reading Tom Clancy but this is quite different from his novels, although it does contain elements of fiction in the story component at the back of the book that pulls together the information presented in an operational narrative that demonstrates how the machine should work.

A USMC MAGTF Marine Air Ground Task Force is a truly Joint organisation that comprises, Air, Ground and Logistic elements that allow in this instance a Marine Expeditionary Unit to pack a significant punch. When you role in the ships you almost have the definition of expeditionary. Whilst this book doesn't give you the detailed Orbat it does explain how it fits together in a fairly comprehensive fashion. Each component of the MAGTF and or MEUSOC is explained in a degree of detail, the whole acts as a single mission orientated task organised group that includes, Air, Attack Aviation, Assault aviation, sea lift, mech inf, recce, armour, artillery and the logistic support to pull it all  together.

In the hands of an expert I suspect this sort of force could take on a division, if you are interested in the USMC or you want to understand Joint Warfighting this book offers significant insight into these concepts as well as what it means to be a US Marine.

Specific Chapters cover:
  • Small Arms
  • Tools of the Trade
  • The Gator Navy
  • A Guided Tour of 26th MEUSOC
  • The MEUSOC in the Real world
For post Cold War intervention operations it's a bit of a must read, whilst it is nearly 17 years old the principals hold good as the USMC tend to run ahead of the pack when it comes to thinking about expeditionary warfare. On top of that I found it quite an engaging read and dirt cheap second hand.

Marine: A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, Tom Clancy @ Amazon

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Global Flash Points - USPACOM

In order to come up with a decent set of games you really need to set them within a wider context across the Operational, Doctrinal and Geo Political perspectives. At the top level its this context which will give you clues as to what gets deployed where to fight whom. With historical games the History tends to provide the context around the scenario which allows games to be constructed that are more than just 1000 pts a side bashes, which personally I find dull, very few fights are fair in war.

To start drawing that context together primarily from the Geo Political perspective, this series of posts will look in turn at likely Flash points within the various Regional US Unified Combatent Commands areas of interest. As the blog focus is on both Dragon Rising and Bear Resurgent, I thought I'd start with the Chinese end of the spectrum.

China runs from central asia down to South East Asia and over to the Far East, it dominates a significant component of the Pacific coast line and has the potential to become engaged in hostilities around a number of Flash points in the region.

If we look at Chinas location within the context of the US regional Unified Combatant Commands (or potential Strategic Theatres of Operation) boundaries then we can see that the most likely to be affected is USPACOM.

The Mission of USPACOM is described as follows:

U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), together with other U.S. Government agencies, protects and defends the United States, its territories, Allies, and interests; alongside Allies and partners, promotes regional security and deters aggression; and, if deterrence fails, is prepared to respond to the full spectrum of military contingencies to restore Asia-Pacific stability and security

Untied States Pacific Command, USPACOM, covers the majority of likely flash points associated with Chinas immediate area of interest. Although there are clear areas for potential conflict outside of this I will leave those for another day. If we look superficially at the likely areas of conflict we can start to define the context of any games.

This will help determine:
  • Who are the players (Nations, NGOs )
  • What type of conflict (Maritime, Littoral, Land),
  • Over what sort of Ground (Jungle, Mountain, Urban, Coastal, Desert, Plain),
These in turn will give us a view of the likely forces to be deployed and the types of operation will be dependent on the duration of the conflict and where in the timeline of the conflict the game takes place. This can then be refined with a view of the real available forces, and gives us an understanding of what sort of terrain and units we are going to have to build.

A cursory analysis of whats what near china throws up the following likely flash points that could form the basis of a series of games, these are:
  • South China Sea.
  • East China Sea.
  • Korea.
  • India.
  • Taiwan
Taking each in turn we can look at the likely cause of the conflict and the likely characteristics of such a conflict. Bearing in mind that for our game we are looking for a reasonable land component with the options to deploy Armour some of the options may become a bit convoluted.

South China Sea

The South China Sea is a long standing dispute between China and Just about everybody else with a beach around it. Of late this has become more destabilising as scarce natural resources become more important. (oil and fish stocks) In addition for the US its a key strategic passage to Taiwan which sits at the other end of the sea access to which from the west is through a number of narrow straits.

ASEAN - Association of South East Asian Nations the US and China are all actively involved and Australia takes more than a passing interest. There have been a number of low level incidents involving Military units in the area although more shouting than shooting. Most of the nations involved in the dispute are buying insurance, investing in both Maritime and amphibious capability.

The Nature of the conflict is Maritime and Littoral in Nature but could escalate to a wider ground based conflict if tighter control over access into the South China Sea were required.

Likely protagonists include US, China, Australia, ASEAN member states which includes: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Brunai, Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Conflict could arise between various parties either China and any one of the others or between ASEAN member states. The US would be unlikely to stand and watch, Australia would probably be a reluctant participant.

A wide range of Land Combat environments exist from River Deltas, to Jungles and more open Coastal plains, Rice culture dominates so the paddy field presents an enduring challenge to vehicles in truth very Vietnam, but with some more modern buildings and communications facilities. Other options for land combat include the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore, and the securing of key islands naval and offshore facilities

East China Sea

Much like the South China Sea the East China Sea disputes centre around who owns what or as wikipedia put it the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). At this end of the China sea there are probably less potential participants, with less variety of equipment.

The primary protagonists are Japan, China, Korea (both) with the US and Taiwan probably piling in for good measure. most likely a maritime conflict, with littoral plays around a number of small unpopulated islands between Japan and Taiwan or around the Korean peninsular.

There is scope for developing this scenario onto mainland China, Korea, Japan or Taiwan all of which are interesting Terrain wise China presents a number of challenges even in the South Eastern Plains


Need I say more, long history of trouble with some, interesting parties involved, scope for a re run of Korean War 1, in similar style. Probably the most attractive environment for Land operations with a littoral component.

Likely protagonists China, Korea's, US, NATO?, The Terrain of the Korean peninsular is mountainous with deeply incised valleys with a wide Western coastal plain and generally more densely settled in the South.


There have been a few small scale disputes over the Sino - Indian border but nothing at any real scale. Their is scope for conflict in this area although the border lies mostly through the Himalayas so hilly at best.

Likely participants include India, China, Pakistan, possibly the US depending on who started it and where its going. A more manoeuvre based conflict could probably be developed around China joining with Pakistan and developing an attack through Pakistan into India, this fits with the strong diplomatic relationship between Pakistan and China and might most likly arise from a flare up of the Indo-Pakistan territorial disputes. This lacks any maritime concept, it has scope for sizeable armoured action and an interesting array of equipment.


The obvious flash point is a conflict in waiting, dependent on the ebb and flow of cross strait relations. With China investing heavily in Naval, Air and Amphibious capability they are rapidly making a military solution to this problem more credible although dealing with the US 7th Fleet will always be a significant challenge

Likely participants include, Taiwan, China and the US although the route to achieving the goal might drag in more protagonists, Japan and Australia, having potential. Pre invasion moves to limit Maritime access routes to Taiwan might involve actions further out and increase the scope of participants into theSouth Chima sea. From a strategic perspective the opening moves in the game would look to dissipate the combat power of the US 7th Fleet and might see a variety of actions kicking off across a number of the flash points described

Terrain wise another Littoral, Maritime conflict that sees at least 1 densely populated Island getting invaded and probably more, so an Urban component as well as the more traditional, mountain, jungle, paddy field story of the rest of the region. The island is split between high mountains 2/3 and coastal plain 1/3 with the interesting addition of fighting over an active tectonic fault - save v earthquake could be a new game feature.

So its "War in the Pacific" or "Vietnam" as far as the terrain goes, the terrain components are fairly simmilar across the region with the possible exception of mainland Japan and Taiwan.

There are an interesting range of potential participants opperating quite a wide variety of military equipment and numerous options for who fights who based around some credible real world context. this variety is greatest around the South China Sea scenario concept which makes this potentially the most attractive from a gaming perspective. The myriad Islands and long coastlines provide great options for Littoral manoeuvre.

From the point of view of scenarios in the area of responsibility of USPACOM the next steps will be to look at available forces from the perspective of the various protagonists.

The analysis in this blog post is a superficial review of real world problems intended to provide context for game activities that let players understand military problems.  It is not intended to be political in nature nor supportive of any particular political perspective.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Equipment - PLA Vehicles, Tanks

I have never really focused on Equipment to much previously, principally because there is so much information elsewhere and the names of the vehicles are so well known that it is relatively easy for anyone with an interest to readily uncover the information.  The modern Chinese army is however less well known such that a basic discussion of the vehicles and equipment may well be useful if only to collect together the names.

In addition where Western and Chinese naming conventions existed side by side and there was a lack of clarity when trying initially to understand the lineage of a new vehicle a fairly significant amount of confusion exists.  I have tried to confine the remarks to significant war-games features of the vehicles, Gun Calibre, Fire Control, Target Acquisition systems and Armour.  Where possible I have given indicative numbers of vehicles at points in time.

Of the Sources consulted Sinodefence.com was about the best.  This first post will look at Tanks and subsequent ones at other vehicle types of vehicles.

Type 59

Type 59; Chinese built T-54 with 100mm Gun, no longer in service.

Type 69: a Chinese design based on the Type 59, probably entered Chinese service in 1969 first identified at a parade in 1982, initially equipped with a 100mm smooth bore this was later upgraded to 105mm Rifled gun.
Type 79: based on the Type 69 hull but with a new 105mm Gun (Type 83) which was a copy of the L7 105mm rifled Gun.  The vehicle included improved fire control and night vision equipment. The Type 79-II included a LRF. Other weapons carried were a Co Axial 7.62mm MG, and commanders 12.7mm MG. Around 300 are left in service as at 2013.

Type 79

Type 80/88A/88B; a development of the Type 69/79 hull,  armed with a 105mm Rifled gun, and including improved running gear and suspension. The vehicle incorporated modern systems including, stabilisation, optics, computerised fire control and LRF.  The vehicle can be fielded with composite add on armour packs. Around 1000 were still in use in  2008.

Type 80

Type 85/88C/96; Initially armed with a 105mm Gun and based on the Type 80 hull.  The vehicle  had western fire control systems and night vision equipment.  It was upgraded to a 125mm gun capable of firing T-72 ammunition from an autoloader.  The vehicle includes Steel Laminate armours and a turret of welded construction. Around 1,500 vehicles were in service by 2008.
Type 96G  The Type 96G first appeared in 2006 and is a Type 96 with add on armour packs on the turret front and ERA blocks on Hull Front and Turret Basket

Type 96

Type 96G

Type 90; Based on T-72 hull, limited numbers are in Chinese Service, 125mm Gun, Steel composite and reactive armour, thought to be capable of firing Chinese version of AT-11 Sniper
Type 98/99; Development of Type 90 with up-armoured Turret of welded construction mounting the 125mm gun and an autoloader, thought to include DAS and digital fire control and communications equipment, entered service in 1999, capable of firing tube launched missile system. Around 130 were in service by 2008.

Type 98

Type 99

So after you have sorted through it all about 4 Different Tanks to worry about all of which look quite different, which was not something I had managed to sort out before undertaking this exercise. Whats very interesting here is that the Chinese have thousands of tanks in the Cold War the Soviets had 10's of thousands of tanks.

Updated 28/07/13 to include Type 96G


Janes World Armoured Fighting Vehicles
The Encyclopaedia of Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Modelling - Painting US ARMY ACUs in UCP

The US Army's Army Combat Uniform has been In service since 2005, it has largely been fielded in the Universal Camouflage pattern which is scheduled for retirement at the end of 2013. This pattern has been the distinctive if unpopular hall mark of the US army in 21st Century combat to date. The early years of the twenty first Century have been characterised by rapid change in equipment, weapon acutriments and helmets for the infantry soldiers of a large number of nations. This has been particularly acute amongst those NATO nations who have had troops deployed continuously on Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since the start of the millennium.

Representing camouflage patterns on 20mm figures is always an interesting activity as an accurate representation of the pattern on something so small is not necessarily what works. The pattern being represented here blends Tan, Grey and Green in a digital pattern but has been represented on the figure with just two tones of green and this works well in conveying the impression of the pattern when viewed from a distance. The Pattern is applied over both the figures uniform and webbing equipment. I first came across this technique as a tutorial published by Cyril on the Guild forum a few years ago,
it has a number of fairly simple steps

All the Figures shown in this post are from Liberation Miniatures
  • Black undercoat
  • Paint whole figure Vallejo Grey Green 886
  • Paint flesh tones Vallejo Sunny Skin Tone 845, Wash with dilute solution Vallejo Mahogony Sand 846, Highlight Vallejo Light Flesh 928, 
  • Dot on Pattern in Vallejo Buff 976,
  • Boots, Vallejo Desert Sand 977
  • Paint Weapons Vallejo Black Grey 862
  • Wash all over with GW Badab Black, less Flesh
  • Highlight with Vallejo Grey Green 886, this creates a light and darker green contrast, which covers the Grey and Green elements of the Cam, so unlike Cyril I have not dot patterned a darker green.
  • Highlight with Vallejo Black Grey 862 - Weapons
  • Highlight with Desert Sand 977 - boots

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

ORBAT - 2010 US Stryker Brigade Part 1

One of the more interesting force development activities undertaken in the United States in the last 10 years was the advent of the Stryker Brigade. Born of a need to add weight to early entry forces in a world ware a variety of expeditionary scenarios could be envisaged the critical targets were rapid deployability and rapidly into action, the staff target was a brigade anywhere in the world within 96 hours a Division within 120 hours.

In order to achieve this they built the Brigades around a new family of wheeled vehicles based on the General Dynamics LAV-3 which in US Service became known as the Stryker. The Brigades were designed to fill the gap between early entry forces and the more heavy weight follow on forces of traditional Armoured, Cavalry and Mechanised units. In order to meet the requirement the units were effectively preconfigured and ready to fight, built around a core Infantry combat component. This has produced an interesting unit structure not dissimilar in concept to German WW2 Divisional Recce units in as much that the dismounted unit, direct and indirect fire assets are all grouped together within the sub unit. This creates some interesting challenges in representing such an organisation in a Rapid Fire type ORBAT.

The Stryker Brigades composition includes:

  • 3 Infantry Battalions
  • 1 Cavalry Squadron
  • 1 Artillery Battalion
  • 1 Anti Armour Company
  • A variety of support, communication and intelligence sub units
The Brigade can be reinforced with main force assets such as Armoured and Aviation Battalions and would reasonably expect support from Naval or Air Force Air assets depending on the situation.

In order to understand the organisation you need to understand a little about the Stryker vehicle family. There are 11 vehicles in the family covering a variety of roles.
All the vehicles are based on the same hull, The ICV can carry 10 including commander and driver, The vehicle has a top speed of 62mph and is not amphibious. The armour protects against 14.5mm AP rounds with the appliqué armour packs applied, additional ceramic armour packs will provide protection from RPG rounds and Slat armour was developed to cover the period until the upgrade was delivered in 2006. The slat armour proved extremely effective in Iraq. Overhead protection is resistant to 152mm airburst. all vehicles less the MGS can be transported in a C130.

The key War games characteristics of the different variants are as follows:

M1126 ICV. The vehicle is fully digitised and the ICV can be fitted with either a .50 mg or a 40mm AGL in the Remote Weapon Station which is being stabilized as an upgrade. The vehicle carries 10 men including commander and driver, The RWS Includes TI and LRF, along with 4x4 barrel MBSGD. A tripod is provided with each vehicle in order to allow the armament to be dismounted.

M1127 RV.  The vehicle carries a 5 man scout team as well as the vehicle crew. It is armed with a pintle mounted .50 and has a Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System pod, this includes FLIR, day TV and LRF, the system is interfaced to the FCBC2 Digitised C2 system.

M1128 MGS.  The vehicle is armed with a 105mm M68A1E4 gun as used in the M1, M60A3 and M48.  This is mounted in a low profile turret with an 18 round bustle autoloader., the main armament has a M240C co axial MG and the commander has a pintle mount .50. The gun is fully stabilised, and has an integrated fire control system. The vehicle has a crew of three.

M1129 MC.  The vehicle is equipped with 120mm Mortar that can be fired from the platform and an 81mm mortar for dismounted operations.  It has an RWS with a .50.

M1131 FSV.  The vehicle is equipped with a Fire Support Sensor System that provides TI and Daylight TV, laser rangefinder and laser locator and designator the target acquisition system is integrated into the digital C2 System.

M1132 ESV.  The vehicle carries an engineer squad of 9 and cxan be equiped with a mine roller or mine plough.  It is armed with an RWS.

M1134 ATGMV.  The vehicle is armed with a GDLS remote TOW turret capable of firing 2 TOW 2B.  It can be fired from under armour but not loaded.  It has a pintle mount M240B.

on top of that it's one of the coolest looking wagons on the planet.

The majority of references can be found @  



The Brigade: A History, Its Organisation and Employment in the US Army
FM-3-21.31 The Stryker Brigade Combat Team
FM 3-20.96 (Cavalry Squadron – RSTA, dated December 2002)
FM 3-21.9 (SBCT Infantry Rifle Platoon & Squad, dated December 2002)
FM 3-21.11 (SBCT Infantry Rifle Company, dated January 2003)FM 3-21.21 (SBCT Infantry Battalion, dated April 2003)
FM 3-21.31 (Stryker Brigade Combat Team, dated March 2003)
FM 3-21.92 (Tactical Employment of Anti-Armor Platoons & Companies, dated December 2002)
FM 3-34.221 (Engineer Operations – SBCT, dated January 2005)
Stryker Combat Vehicles (New Vanguard) @ Amazon