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After Action Report, River Battle 2009
River Battle in an historical sense has always been a good time, with some verbal altercations taking place for what ever reason, but this year, the 5 year old mentality seemed to be the order of the day. It is a crying shame when grown men have to scream at cuss at and throw equipment at other re-enactors for not taking hits. I personally broke up 2 fights and one other OC stopped a differant fight, now no punches were thrown because I placed myself between the 5 yearolds and physically stopped them, WHY?
Members of the First Special Service Force have always been taught to walk past a re-enactor who after a certain amount of time refused to take there hits and just leave them behind, AND MOST OF ALL DO NOT CUSS OUT ANYONE FOR ANY REASON! I most certainly hope that your mothers taught you that. At times the OC's became the target of the verbal abuse. I feel that the biggest problem was the OC's and there involvement in the battle was not clearly defined to the players and that there were no penalties involved for not following the rules. There were certain element's on both sides who should have been ejected from the battle field for misconduct, If I had been treated that way in a public place, one or the other of us would have been in a world of hurt.
For the past two years I have been trying to have the River Battle use OC's, (umpires), to help alleviate this type of problem, this year the Rangers decided to tryout the idea and I applaud them for there effort, the problem was that not enough time had been allowed to work out the proper procedures, command and control, communications, penalties and basic rules, we had 2 days to put it together. The other major problem, even though we have fought over the same ground, no one took the time to recon the battle field before the event to see if it was suitable to use.
I have been in this hobby for about 7 years, I average 25-35 events a year, I have only ever been at one event, 4 years running now that uses OC's, and it works!!! They have been the best events which I have attended. River Battle can and should be in that same category, it just needs some better family planning and coordination, again I wish to thank the 2nd Rangers for making the effort to improve the River Battle and I truly hope that the tradition will continue into the future.
1. The playing field must be reconed in advance during the time of year in which you are going to play. It can be done days weeks or months in advance but the landscape changes with the seasons so it must be timely.
2. If the number of participants is less than 60 players, you can run 1 lane, if you have 80 - 100 or more run 2 lanes or more, as we all know River Battle is a tight playing ground and it always runs into a bottle neck along the river road, by making it small unit action and running more than one lane each located in differant parts of the park you can have better command and control. 100 or more participated this weekend, you can not control that many in a tight area.
3. Communications: Each OC must have a radio, each overall commander on each side in each lane must have communications and if vehicles are part of the operations but not the battle, the driver must have communications. Unit commanders do not get radios, only overall lane commanders,(which could be the largest unit in that lane on each side), they pass down the orders to the unit commanders, the overall commanders and the OC's run the show, no player no unit commander should take it upon themaselves to redirect units with out clearing it first and orders must be folowed.
4. The rules of engagement must be set and explained in advance. Example, snipers have to be detailed to all players before the battle and an OC has to be attached to the sniper, half way through a battle is not the time to stop play because your mad that 30 G.I.'s didn't take there hit from a snipper. Grenade launchers must be attached to a weapon and an OC has to be present, to declare that you have a grenade launcher when you don't and you claim a hit on an MG is just wrong. In other words, all special tactics, weapons etc must be declared before the battle and all players, OC's, overall commanders and unit commanders have to be aware of it.
All players must be made aware that when an OC tells you to take a hit you will take the hit and you WILL FALL BACK cussing out the OC or refusing to take the hit or refusing to move from you position SHOULD be reason enough to administer a penalty of time or expulsion from that seniro. ALL PLAYERS HAVE TO REMOVE THERE HELMITS AND FALL BACK!!!! Staying in place is just WRONG, grow up and fall back!!! Again refusal should have some time penalty or expulsion from the scenario. Too harsh you say, GROW-UP WE ARE ADULTS WHO HAVE BEEN TOUGHT BY SOCIETY TO FOLLOW THE RULES!!!!
5. I agree that the OC's should be silent during the performance of the battle, we should not be talking tactics or giving away positions, however, when everyone finds that perfect tree or hole in the ground the the battle becomes a staring contest, it is time to get things moving, OC's know more about what is going on around you, OC's may have to involve themselves by divulging information to make things happen. This is to be discouraged but it may be necessary, you came to this event to have fun not take root behind some tree.
OC's should act as guides for the overall lane commanders as well as the unit commanders up-to-the point of reaching the predesignated point of battle, unit commanders who want to go there own way because they figure they can flank the enemy is WRONG. How can you flank the enemy when you do not know where they are. Follow the OC's directions to the battle ground, then the overall commanders and unit commanders take over. Once the battle commences then the commanders run the show as far as tactics, but the OC's keep the pace going.
Example: The OC on the German side, (attacking) leads the German element to the line of departure, then the commanders take over. The OC on the Allied side, (who is defending), leads the allies to the area to be defended, commanders set out there OP/LP's then there MLR and there final fall back position. The OP/LP in time will either be overwhelmed or wiped out, they fall back to the MLR, those in the MLR take there hits and fall back to the final position, when you take a hit in the final position you are done. The Germans keep up the pressure until either they capture the position, or it becomes a no win for the final position and the battle is called. The Germans have to take there hits but they get 2 lives as do the Allies, they are on the attack, they must fall back to a pre disgnated spot close to the battle but not to be seen, after there final hit they are done. Battle wins and losses will be determined by the OC's. This is just one idea, I will post this with the idea of opening up dialogue with the hope of creating some basic rules for Umpiring Tactical Battles.
Again, thank you 2nd Ranger Battalion of St. Louis, for another River Battle!