OP: Red Dawn – Field Report and Experience

So this month I had the pleasure of attending  OP: Red Dawn. A multi-day Milsim run by the Aces and Eights out at the Tranquille Sanatorium in Kamloops BC.

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Photo courtesy of my teammate Loops (Jon) who played the part of a press photographer throughout the weekend. He makes us look badass.

Read on below for details on the event and my experiences.

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This was the first time any major airsoft event had been held at this location and it was a blast. The AO itself was massive, a whopping 180 acres with dozens of buildings and tunnel systems linking buildings together.  While not all buildings on the field were accessible it was a refreshing experience to play at such a cool area. Check out the video below for some drone footage taken during the weekend.

The sim itself kicked off on Friday night at 6pm and ran until noon on Sunday, a 42 hour sim. The entire theme of the milsim was around the film Red Dawn (the original one, not the terrible new one). Russians forces were invading a small town in North America and up against the Wolverines, a combination of local milita and insurgents. For the sim our squad was part of the Russian forces, our objective for the weekend was to invade and occupy the town’s major buildings and eliminate any Wolverine forces.

Our squad of eight, consisting of members from Team Rice and DS Tactical were on deck for the first 18 hours of the sim. Our squad was broken into two fireteams, one led by Optix of Team Rice and the second being run by Juicy from DS. Squads were given a rough schedule of what they would be doing in six hour blocks throughout the sim from Russian command. For the first six hours our squad was on “Watch” holding and monitoring the town’s south western flank. While uneventful it was an important task to ensure Wolverine forces could not flank Russian forces. This location, “Alpha” became our temporary home for the weekend. As we were on the field for the majority of the event, this location is where we stowed packs and extra gear.

For the next six hours our squad was then on “Mission”, meaning we were tasked with missions from command. This six hour block ran from midnight Saturday to 6am in the morning. At this point in the night, both teams had reduced forces. Being that the event was all weekend, both teams allowed some squads to rest throughout the first night to ensure teams would be fresh for missions Saturday.

Though the number of players on field were reduced, it didn’t mean things stayed quiet. Throughout the night our squad was tasked with engaging and eliminating opposing forces attempting to breakthrough our lines during the night. Our squad ran up against multiple squads running NVGs. We got smoked in our first encounter however throughout the rest of the night we were able to fend them off and keep the Russian lines stable. This was one of the first times our squad had to go up against opponents using NVG equipment  so it was an interesting learning experience.

NVG units do provide a lot of utility and benefit, the power to see in absolute darkness can be a huge advantage. However there is a limit to their effectiveness. After our first encounter, each time our squad encountered an opposing squad using NVGs we were able to eliminate them or fend them off. This was due in part to our numbers and aggressiveness. NVGs provide advantage up to the point of contact. After initial contact we were able to narrow down where attackers roughly were and engage. If the NVG teams did not take us out in the initial contact, we were able to coordinate and respond. With that said, if I ever get the opportunity to acquire and field NVGs I would. Their use in patrols and observation would be incredibly useful. And it would be hella cool.

Our next six hours we were back on “Watch”. Having held the line all night the Russian force maintained is foothold in the town. However our squad was wiped. While the sim started at 6pm Friday, all of us had woken up and driven to Kamloops that same day. So at this point many of us had been up for close to 22-24 hours straight. Our squad went down to 25% watch at this point to allow the rest to get some shut eye. As you can see below the guys passed out pretty much anywhere they could.

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The Wolverines were probably in the same state as us as most of the fighting died down for a few hours. Those who fought through the night got much needed rest and those who rest through the night began cycling back onto the field to continue playing.

By early/morning noon the fighting had picked up. Wolverines once against pushed our lines back and we fought back to hold what we had. In the video below is some footage from midday Saturday as well as Saturday evening.

Shortly after noon our squad was sent back for “rest” cycle, six hours back at camp to completely gear down and rest. During this much needed rest our squad had the chance to sleep, eat and do whatever else to relax.

I’m going to continue the rest of the field report of our second day in another post, what I  want to get onto now is some of the major lessons I learned throughout the sim. These can be applied to any sim experience, but some are specifically targeted towards longer term events (multi-day).

  • You need to be prepared for everything, but stay as light as possible
    • In preparation for the sim in addition to my standard loadout I packed cold and wet weather gear in my 3-day pack
    • The weather ended up staying hot throughout the entire weekend,  so neither were needed.
    • This added additional weight to my kit (3 day pack) however in the case of this gear, I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
    • Because we had the opportunity to drop the majority of our gear (packs) at a friendly OP we were able to keep light throughout most of the sim
  • A spare set of clothes/BDUs makes a world of a difference
    • After 18 hours of continuous play we got the first opportunity to rest and relax
    • The first thing I did was completely change and clean myself up
    • This immediately made a huge impact in my state of mind and performance
  • Running my belt setup was great for long-term play to reduce fatigue
    • While I wasn’t wearing a smersh, I ran a belt setup for the duration of the sim
    • This helped immensely as the majority of weight was placed on my hips as opposed to my shoulders
  • Stay hydrated and fed
    • Because of the length of the sim and the conditions it was important to hydrate frequently and as much as possible
    • Sometimes in the heat of things you can forget or not even realize your own state, so you have to constantly remind yourself and others to hydrate and eat  when you have the opportunity to
  • Test out all of your gear and setups in advance
    • One failure I experienced  during the weekend was between my primary/weapon light and sling
    • I ran my LCT AK-74u, with an aftermarket rail system up front, I intended to mount my light on this rail, however the Russian 3-point sling I used clipped in exactly where my light was mounted, forcing me to change the position of the light to my offhand, rendering it almost unusable when I needed it
  • Thank you Goldbond
    • It was hot as hell all weekend, at the height of the day it was easily in the mid thirties.
    • Goldbond was a great comfort item, helped keep my feet dry and blister free
  • Keep a positive attitude
    • At milsims and airsoft events in general things will go right and wrong
    • Regardless of what happens, keep a positive frame of mind
    • The game is what you make it

Overall it was a great event. The hosts, the Aces and Eights  plan to host further events at this location and I’m very much looking forward to attending again. Considering the scale of the event and new location, the game ran smoothly without any major issues, hats off to all the admins for the weekend.

Secondly, the event was one of the best I’ve attended thus far due to the competition. The Wolverines gave us tough fights in every engagement and it made the event for me.

Thanks all for reading, I’ll give a more detailed report and my kitlist in Part 2.

  • Tak
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