3-1: Belly of The Beast (Day 1)
Taking out the Little Sweetheart
Inserted into the Shahikot in heavy lift helicopters, you and your platoon must fight your way to the high ground and eliminate the enemy's firing positions. It's what you do, you're Rangers!
The mission begins with a CS of the events at Central Command that presents an abbreviated AAR, with cut-aways to the pogue back in DC who is calling the shots. It is not really clear who that rear echelon mother is, but it turns out that this guy is more deadly to our troops than the enemy! For whatever reason the pogue really wants to commit the US Special Forces that have been prepping in the area but have yet to be activated -- perhaps he has a point, but ordering an attack on what ends up being a Yankee convoy is not the best way to go about getting your way. I am just saying...
After the first CS you get a second one that depicts the Rangers being deployed into the field, complete with a fair bit of background net chatter that will fill in the plot a bit. As they depart from the transports and begin to establish perimeter security their departing transports get blown out of the sky, and they come under attack. Clearly the enemy was a lot closer than your briefing suggested!
You are working your way up a series of arroyos -- the word arroyo is Spanish for creek, but in this case it means a dry creek bed. Desert arroyos are lower-lying areas or channels in the land that become creeks or even raging rivers -- when there is water present -- but most of the time they are rocky cuts in the desert. Obviously this is a perfect area for the Tangos to set up in -- lots of good cover with all the exposed rocks and boulders, but soft sand to dive down into when you start shooting at them.
The Tangos do a lot of blind firing to keep you pinned down -- and they are surprisingly good at this sort of shooting. Obviously you want to target the exposed bits of their bodies when they are firing, but do not be tempted into standing up or stepping away from your cover -- yes that makes them easier to target, but it also makes YOU easier to target as well!
As you clear away the nearer enemies your squad will move forward to do a little RBF-- bear in mind that this leap-frogging does not mean that all of the enemy are dead, just the closest, so you are still under fire from the further away Tangos so don't start diddy-bopping around. Move from cover to cover, and maximize the protection that the cover provides you. There is no rush here, take your time, and try not to get too excited and let off long bursts into the rocks, since all you are doing is killing rocks and wasting ammunition!
Short controlled bursts are best, using the site for elevation when you are shooting uphill, and for droppage when shooting at considerable distances. With a little hands-on experience you will get the hang of this weapon -- it is a different feel and style with a scope than with iron sights, and it does take some adjustment in how you aim it but you should quickly get the hang of it!
Once you and your squad take out the last of the Tangos in the arroyo you are ordered to meet up with the rest of the squad in the village -- on the way there you will trigger a checkpoint save just before a blocked bridge -- move up the ramp on the left and past the destroyed tank to the the next ramp, whereupon you will enter the village for some more RBF and immediately be attacked.
Your back-up weapon is a very nice semi-auto shotgun, and this is a good place to pull that out and get familiar with it, since the distances to the enemy are just about optimal for it. The shotgun has pretty good penetration levels with the corner edges of the sod buildings, so do not be afraid to take out the Tangos by shooting through the corners.
Do not be surprised when you shoot a Tango with the shotgun and end up blowing off limbs -- that is about what you would expect with a 12 gauge combat load! You will be called on to take a door -- have the shotgun ready and, as soon as you kick open the door, cut loose with a single shot at about waist level to take out the two occupants of the building quickly.
Next you are tasked with moving through the upper village... As you clear the nearby buildings you will spot a trio of Tangos behind flimsy cover ahead and above you -- the shotgun will make short work of them! When you are using the shotgun try to remember to reload after each engagement rather than waiting to reload when the weapon is empty -- it takes a lot less time to pop in a few shells than to reload all seven, and standing there loading your shotgun while you are under fire is not fun. Once you get into the habit of topping-off the load it will be second nature for you, and you will rarely find yourself without a nice shell to share with the Tangos.
Next you will be ordered to help clear a hut -- inside of which is a grenade supply if you need to restock yours -- as well as a fair pile of shells that the locals can use to manufacture IED's. You will not be able to use your weapons for a bit after entering the hut -- exit the other door and move up to join your squad at the pile of rocks to complete the objective.
The Little Sweetie
NOTE: If you want to unlock the optional Achievement for this mission you must take out the DShK in less than 2 minutes. I do not think that you can restart from the last checkpoint if you mess up or get killed and still get this Achievement -- if you fail to unlock it I am pretty sure that you have to restart the mission from the beginning... I know that it sounds like taking out the emplacement in less than 2 minutes is almost impossible, but it is not.
The timer starts when you are crouched by the wall and the request is radioed in for CAS -- when your Sargent gives your position as 150 mikes south of the target, the fire control coordinator declares that you are too far inside the Danger-Close circle for prosecution of an unmarked target. That means you have to mark the target -- in this case with Red Phosphorous -- so again, the timer starts when the Sgt. tells you to lay down cover fire so that they can advance and mark the DShK.
If you are not familiar with the DShK -- and really unless you are a fan of antique and archaic field weapons there is no reason why you should be -- you are in for a treat of sorts. The 1938 DShK is a Soviet-made large caliber anti-aircraft weapon, it is crew-served, and it fires a 12.7mmx108mm cartridge from a belt-feed.
When it is used as an anti-aircraft weapon it is mounted on gimbals or a tripod, but in the Middle East captured DShK were often converted for use against infantry as a heavy machine gun. In that case it is usually mounted on a pair of metal wheels, and has a heavy piece of plate steel welded on the front as armor to protect the operators.
It gets its names from the initials of the original designer and the bloke who refined its loading system, but the Russian soldiers who crewed it usually called it the Dushka -- which while it is obviously a play on the proper name, literally translates as "Little Sweetie," or "Little Sweetheart."
The Achievement we are about to unlock is called "Manic Suppression" -- and you will unlock it if you suppress the DShK in under 2-minutes. I do not believe that the timer includes the battle from first shot to when the killing blow is delivered after you pop smoke on it, rather I think that the timer only covers the period of time used in suppressing the operators between the start of the fight and when you gather with the rest of your unit prior to calling in the strike. Either way though, your best approach is to try to get from the first shot to the huddling phase as quick as you can!
You should not have too much trouble unlocking this Achievement -- I did it in the first try, but simply working my way towards the cover that is just past the last building on the right, killing the crew of the DShK then killing anyone who ran up to crew it, while killing or supressing the Tangos on the roof to your right.
Once the Sgt. gets within throwing range, he will pop red smoke on the DShK, and then your rally point will appear on the situational display if you hit up on the D-Pad. Just retreat to the cover there, and the airstrike will commence, after which the Achievement will unlock.
If you fail to complete this in under 2-minutes, I do not think you can simply reload the last checkpoint to try again -- I read on one of the boards that you cannot, rather you have to replay the entire mission, and that being the case, it would be an idea to try to get this in your first run-through, right?
After you call in the airstrike on the DShK you will be ordered to work your way through the rest of the village to the path on the other side -- before you set out to do that, make sure that you pause to reload your M60, as you likely used up a fair bit of the box you have loaded now. Once you have reloaded that, follow your squad, and you will drop down to the lower level and approach the path, where you will be attacked by Tangos above you in the rocks.
Go ahead and take them out quickly and cleanly with your M60, then work your way along the arroyo here. As you approach a destroyed tank you will be engaged by a pair of Tangos who like to throw grenades. Unfortunately your squad tends to get in the way at this point, making it a bit more of a challenge to take these two out, since you do not want to shoot your buddies. There is nothing worse than hearing one of your squaddies screaming -- in a near panic -- for you to "Check your fire!"
As you pass the tank a new group of Tangos will appear in the rocks above you to the left and right -- take them out and then follow your squaddies, using the cover that is present in the form of yet another destroyed Russian tank. Yes, this was an area that the Russians had some bad luck in back in the day, but then, this is what history often refers to as Russia's Vietnam...
After the tank you engage another pair of Tangos then get a checkpoint save, and then move a good ways forward where you jump over a fallen-tree to complete the current objective and obtain a checkpoint save.
Your next objective is to secure the LZ -- on your way down the path be sure that you reload your M60, then follow your squad on-the-run to the hut at the end of the trail, where one of your squaddies will start to open the door, setting off a booby-trap that shakes you up pretty good as you were in the line of effect for the explosion. One of your squaddies drags you to cover, and eventually you recover, and get back on your feet to join the fight.
There are a lot of enemy attacking in waves, and they are good shots. Cover your squad as they retreat to the left where there is a nearby hut. Do not diddy-bop where you are, as the enemy is setting up a mortar that you cannot see, and if you stay where you are for too long, you will be a primary DT for their attack and be killed when they open up with the mortar. Once your squaddies are in the hut, make a run to join them there!
Inside the hut you are shooting through the open windows -- try to concentrate on the RPG Tangos, because if one of them gets off a well-aimed shot that will cost you most of the wall of the hut you are in! The RPG shots can easily peel away your cover and eventually the Tangos will jump in the nearby Technical and ram the building with it even if the RPG Tangos do not blow holes in it -- so when they get into the truck try to take it out quickly.
If the truck hits the building you will be ejected out of the back -- and chances are by now the enemy has encircled your position, so you will be defending on all sides! Your best tactic in this situation is to find a wall or rock to press your back against and just John Wayne it. You need to hold out until you get air support -- but by now you are all running low on ammo, so be careful with your shooting and make every shot count!
Just when it looks grim and your squad is nearly completely out of ammo the cavalry arrives -- literally! A pair of Apache Gunships comes cruising in and light up the LZ just in the nick of time!
At this point you should get the Objective Completed notice, and the gunships will finish off the Tangos in the hills, while the music plays in the background and you hear the net chatter -- the CS begins and you unlock the Achievement "Full Battle Rattle" for completing Belly of the Beast!