“But I didn’t want to raise the alarm”
“Why not?” I asked
“Well,” said the man, uncertainty creeping into his voice as his mind digested what he was about to say, “I didn’t want to wake everyone up.”
“Some might just say,” I pointed out in an even voice, “that, as the camp’s sentry, waking everyone up might just be construed as your job.”
The man looked suitably guilty, but I laughed. I wasn’t angry with him (I had discovered that this was his very first ever airsoft game) instead I was angry that he was left out here alone. This was milsim; the enemy may attack at any time and especially when the camp takes a sleep break. There should not be any sleep break, but rather a rotation between fire teams bossed by the Team Leaders (TLs).
But, no, they all went for an early night leaving this poor newbie to go “halt, who goes there” to a squad of Taliban hell-bent on revenge. We should have seen it coming. Having captured the High Value Individuals (HVIs) very early on the first day, the Red team were always going to want to even the score.
And they certainly did that… in the end 26 men were knife killed in their sleeping bags.
It had been an interesting game so far. The Blue (US) team, led by Tier 1 boss and Ex-commando Ed Denson, had struggled against a bolstered and very skilful red team from the very beginning. There is an old saying that “no plan survives contact with the enemy” and indeed the way that Tier 1 prevents their events from being “on rails” is that Ed will write the shell of the “serials” and allows the players to succeed in them or not.
Milsim run in this way is a real challenge, it’s up to the players.
It’s on you to fight through and your Team Leaders (TLs) to actually lead; adapt situations and think of the bigger picture. For example, Stanta is an incredibly authentic collection of Afghan compounds surrounding European houses forming the centre of the village. The Blues were tasked with breaking into the south end of the town by invading a few compounds, arresting (or killing) the bomb making Taliban fighters within (all without being blown up) and picking one or two of the buildings as Forward Operating Bases (FOBs). Attacking at dawn, after a long march in the dark, the plan was perfect on paper. Then a number of curve balls were thrown in. Firstly, the compound selected was the wrong one, it was next door. Secondly, the entry teams were a little nervous amount compound clearing. Thirdly, the Reds were ready to counter attack.
I caught a view of the Taliban Reds moving through the market to counter attack and informed the nearest TL. The compounds selected offer little in the way of aggressive cover (that enables a shooting position against the outside of the compound – it’s all windows facing the courtyard only). From my vantage I could see the Reds thinking, forming into a four-man team and going for the flank. That could mean only one thing…
I turned to my team and saw at least 10 of them milling around the compound courtyard. Against one corner I could see Ed trying to use his radio to command the other teams attacking other compounds. We had maybe ten seconds,
“Denson!” I screamed pointing at him and then the compound door, “Inside NOW!”
He nodded and moved.
“TL!” I screamed at the nearest, “We are going to be grenaded, EVERYONE INSIDE!”
We just made it in when the first of the grenades, flung by the Red team who had snuck up against the outside rear wall, landed in the courtyard. Had they not been sussed then the entire command team would have gone down. As it was it took another 30 minutes to force the Reds back for long enough to secure two compounds and it was light before we moved the gear in. The Reds had laid down the gauntlet and it was up to us to prove that we could operate as the US do.
In “Real Life” the US, faced with these problems, use two approaches:
1. They use “combined forces” to destroy the enemy counter attack. That is: airpower, tanks, bombs and even short range nukes (the response planned at Nah Trang in Vietnam) to destroy utterly everything outside of their compounds. However, we were a ground team more akin to Paratroopers; we had a mortar team, but they were not ready to fight yet. This was going to be a small arms action
2. They use speed, aggression, surprise and tactics. This requires a team that really knows each other and can adapt to the gremlins of real combat. So, for example, when taking out Bin Ladin one of the helicopters carrying the US forces (costing billions) crashed in the compound. Back in the White House, watching on Drone Cam’, the generals and White House officials went pale as you can see it in the famous photo taken at the time. However, back on the ground and while being shot at, the US Special forces adapted, improvised and overcame with gusto; fighting off the enemy. They did not stop for a second, they listened to their TL; who must have had to make a shit ton of decisions in under ten seconds; and then kicked ass. You have to be 100% behind you leader for this to work. Airsoft is full of people who all think they know better and all too often every order is questioned.
The battle to take the southern FOBs had been tough and it meant the Blue forces played the next stage of the game in a new and strange way. The next stage was, supposedly, that they were going to win “hearts and minds” by patrolling the village, making friends with the Afghan locals (professionally played by the UK Army’s official role-players) and setting up a meeting with the elders.
Of course, the Reds would be mixed in with the locals and the Blues would have to deal with the stress of this while keeping within the very firm rules of engagement. However, and perhaps because of the battle earlier, the TLs took a very aggressive stance with the villagers. They constantly threatened, fired into the air, bullied, searched and requested permission to shoot every single person they met who was not wearing multicam.
I simply shrugged and reminded myself that it must be like this sometimes in the real theatres in the Middle East. Still, it wasn’t easy on the Reds or the Role Players and I could see in their eyes that they were going to punish every single Blue once the gloves were off.
This was going to be a real heavy hitting bust up. We made plans for the Elders meeting and proceeded to search the villagers entering the meeting.
Held in the large market hanger, decked out in rugs and cushions, this was probably the most authentic role play event I have ever heard of. Conducted via interpreter, who was translating from real Pashtu, Ed and the TLs made the Elder offers of support from the US forces and listened to his concerns.
His main one being that we were hassling his villagers with too heavy a hand. Ed nodded and agreed.
I later spoke to one of the Afghan role players out of game and he said that this had been spot on realism and that the Blues had made a better job of it than many of the real soldiers and officers they train. High praise indeed.
Then as we left the meeting the Red detonated an enormous roadside bomb, killing me and about 10 others.
They then bolstered this by attacking the rescue attempt using machine guns before disappearing into the crowd. The Blues retreated and our dead littered the street for the 10-minute bleed out from an IED. No one was rescued.
That was two nil to the Reds and we needed to even this score quickly.
Ed moved onto operations to capture the HVIs and the Reds made a misstep by letting them get spotted. A raid was organised and I watched as the assault team rushed the compound door.
Then I saw that a HVI was sneaking across the back with a view of escaping out the back.
“TL!” I shouted to the men around me, “Follow me!”
We entered the rear door and up the stairs. The HVI was surprised as we burst in on them.
“Against the wall”
He obliged. I turned to the Blue players behind me.
“Check him against the photo,” I said. I knew it was the HVI already, but this is the player’s game. The Blue opened his rig and produced the photos he had been issued with. He peered at the man and then at the image.
“It’s not him,” he declared.
I rolled my eyes under my mask and suggested that perhaps we should wait until someone could “relieve” us of the prisoners. Sure enough we eventually worked out whom we had and took them back to the FOB.
The rest of that day played out along similar lines; the Blues were forced back to their FOB and struggled to effectively punish the Reds who setup stinging operations punishing our reticence. Eventually they attacked in full force. A ladder was laid up against the outside wall and, while we were distracted, a unit entered the compound and took up firing positions behind hard cover. A very vicious CQB battle ensued that was only won by Blue after taking loses and by the timely intervention of the now arrived Staff Sergeant, Mark, who organised the defence. I personally shot 5 Reds in about 3 to 4 seconds and all at point blank. Heavy stuff.
The Reds had put their hand in the lion’s mouth and Ed ordered an operation to kill/capture a Red bomb maker at the northern edge of town. Splitting up into sections, charged with holding and attacking respectively, we engaged the compound, but found that we too could not break into somewhere well defended.
Eventually our holding team was taken out and we withdrew leaving behind the prisoners one of which had not been properly searched and had the bomb materials stuffed down his trouser leg!
Next, we probed into the Western side of the town, but ran into a massive IED that, luckily, went off just too far in front to do much damage.
The Blue team members still alive after the ambush got their medics back up in a spirited 10 minutes under fire and the survivors took to compounds. I was isolated with another player and we worked as a two-man team, fighting off assaults on our position and sniping the Reds moving around this end of the village. Eventually, I could see that the Reds were going to attack us in force as we were being too effective and sure enough, they did. However, they chose the moment my teammate had climbed up the ladder to the roof lookout and after fighting and eventually killing me they left without noticing his gun against the wall. He then came down and revived me (I was a medic).
“What now?” he asked.
“Now I attack that assault team from behind”.
“Why? They just killed you once…”
I grinned, “They think I am dead and that you don’t exist. I will now go screw them up!”
I left my friend and suck through the building after the Red team. They had just left the building when one decided to open the door again to get something. He went down first, followed by a rush against the rest of the forces. I managed to get 6/7 before I was killed again. My heart beating Dub Step in my chest, I bled out.
As darkness fell, Ed planned a night mission and at 1 am we trooped out silently into the fields surrounding the village. We then looped around and attacked the Reds from the far end. The CQB assault went better than in the last game and soon we had the house cleared and then withdrew.
The next day the Villagers knocked on the Blue compound and asked for a meeting.
Ed agreed, but hidden amongst them was a suicide-vest wearing traitor and his sudden cry of “God is Great!” was the last thing I heard before he detonated the vest and blew half the compound to bits in a shower of (fake) blood.
Patching us up, Ed ordered a relaxing of the rules of engagement and a clearing of the entire village.
The Blues then broke out their mortar team, and we started more offensive operations. The Reds fought very hard in defense and after 3 hours we had cleared the Eastern half of the village.
Large numbers of IED were now making operations very hard and our units were getting broken up into smaller and smaller teams by attrition.
After a couple of hours of battle against the entrenched Reds, Ed called End X.
This game had been a trial for the Blues. They had worked hard, but were a step behind the Reds who have played together for longer and it showed. Playing the US forces, with their command structure, rules of engagement and methods of war, is exceedingly tough and I look forwards to the game at Cope Hill in October as a chance to even the score!
Until then, please enjoy the Promo for the next official “Tier 1 DVD”:
So we have had a very exciting few weeks sorting out our protocols for sharing data between the members of airsoftfilm.com.
In just a few weeks of starting this project we have already collected 60Gb of video data from 5 different cameras! We will need to upgrade our storage to be able to handle the amount of video data we will eventually end up with, which I expect to be something like 15Tb by the end.
The first cuts of the footage we have already accumulated are being approved by the MOD for release as we speak and I have already uploaded a 3 minute preview to both Vimeo and YouTube (currently set to private). Once the MOD approves the footage we will set it all to public and you can enjoy our latest work. I think it is one of our very best, featuring awesome slow motion, Woodkid’s “Iron” soundtrack (recently featured in the Assassins Creed adverts) and some very hot FPS footage of Basho nailing tons of opfor! (of course 😉 )
Until then, I can only link the original music video:
So, let’s talk about why we are here. Let’s talk about, “Why we love airsoft?”
We invited you to fill out our online form detailing what airsoft means to you. We were overwhelmed with entries (numbering in the couple of dozen!) and there follows a slathering of our favourites.
One of the most common “objections” to airsoft, and Milsim in particular, is the erroneous idea that it is somehow insulting to the armed forces. Nothing could be further from the truth as Billy writes:
“Over the years I have kept up with airsoft even though I joined the army and got to do it for real. I am pleased that you are doing a pro-airsoft video and I would happily give a “not an insult to soldiers” perspective.”
Thanks Billy, we will definitely contact you regarding that and perhaps you would be willing to appear on the upcoming podcast as a guest?
It is often the form of airsoft known as Milsim, military simulation, which is only one end of a spectrum of different game styles. As Mike writes:
“More recently I have started to experience a different style of Airsoft called Military Simulation (Mil-Sim) which uses Airsoft technology to stage realistic planned 48hour operations with detailed orders and set objectives. This has really got me hooked as although it is tough going the rewards after completing a truly challenging event is one of the best buzz’s going.”
The team atmosphere is strong in Milsim:
“It is a team sport on the most part that bonds individuals together in a surprisingly quick way. In Mil-Sim events when you have to rely on the guys in your squad 100% to help you achieve the set objectives and goals. Strangers bounding over a hot mug of coffee brewed up at 3am after a long yomp with bergens packed to bursting has a funny effect. Sharing hardship whilst trying to achieve a common goal makes you start working as a cohesive unit quickly as no one wants to be the weak link in the chain that gives the opposition the advantage.”
But airsoft is much more than just serving soldiers and Milsim players, for some it is simply about getting out of the house. Tyler writes that:
“It allows me to hang out with my friends on the weekends and do something fun besides Video Games.”
This is my main gain from it too. Through airsoft I have met and been challenged by all sorts of people that I would never have normally got to meet. Airsoft draws people from all sorts of walks of life. My team, the DAs, contains bank workers from the city, policemen, history teachers, bricklayers, couriers and the unemployed. From that group there are massive divergences’ of wealth, education and world outlook (not to mention about 6 different religions), but we are all brothers and I would do anything for them. Airsoft is that great leveller that enables all men, and women (we have had many female members), to be equals on the field and side by side.
Thanks to airsoft I have met my best friend, enjoyed baptisms, new babies, weddings, birthdays and parties. I have eaten in the Tower of London Officers Mess, sat with 18 men in a spa’s steam room and camped in uncountable forests, bombed out houses and water logged ditches surrounded by mushrooms. Truly airsoft is doing something different on the weekends!
“Being a gun enthusiast and a Christian, this sport is my way enjoying a gun without really hurting people…”
I absolutely agree here, airsoft is safe and despite appearances it is non-violent. In my entire time as both a player and marshal of both CQB and Milsim events for almost 10 years (well over 200 events) I have only ever seen one person lay their hands on another in anger. Thankfully, that person chose me to assault and – thanks to my head camera – justice got served. Compare that to any other sport and airsoft is clearly a gentlemen’s game. From a religious stand point airsoft is a safe way to let off some steam and connect with those around you. Repressed anger is never a good thing and being able to achieve catharsis is one of the greatest elements to be found in our sport.
As Kiran writes:
“I personally love airsoft as it is a brilliant stress relief and has taught me MANY life lessons without the real life consequences. Because it is all a game I can laugh our failures off whilst still learning from it”
But is it all a male sport? Sure, it’s dominated by men, but women do play too. One female player, Michelle, took the time to tell us why:
“There is something that happens right before that first game of the day starts where I am so nervous and excited my hands shake as all that jumble of what if scenarios bounce around my head, should I flank? Should I support our team in the middle? Should I ambush? Then right when it starts all that jumble and nervousness disappears and my mind just seems to focus on everything moving toward one path.”
That’s the big one. Airsoft is great fun. It encourages an excitement that has to be felt to be understood. No other sport I have played brings on so much excitement in so many people.
“I have seen families play together with laughs and smiles, long lasting friendships that start just by playing together, or even the stories during lunch breaks, also things like two opposing teams laughing it up with each other post game. You just don’t see that in other sports, lose or win, everyone seems to enjoy the experience, and I think that most of all, is why I love airsoft.”
To all those we featured in this post, please have our heartfelt thanks and we will be in contact for an appearance in the podcast and perhaps the film itself!
If you love airsoft, then please take a moment to fill out our form above and tell your friends about this site and what we are trying to do here. We really need your help to move that number up to the magic amount.
We need you and your friends and their friends to come work with us, to tell the story of airsoft the way we can tell it, that shows it is a unifying force for good in the country and once and for all explain, “why we love airsoft”!
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