Red Dawn: Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces
With guest writer: Asmizal
Welcome to another article about Red Dawn! In this article we will review the latest Ally to the USSR in World War III: Team Yankee, the Cubans. Grab your Havana cigar and enjoy the article!
In Red Dawn, the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces were integrated into Soviet Union military plans to invade the United States via the southern coast of the United States. The Cubans supported the Soviets by deploying 2 out of their 3 armies in an amphibious landing and fought with the Soviets into Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces during the Cold War
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union granted both military and financial aid to Cuba. From 1966 until the late 1980s, Soviet Government military assistance enabled Cuba to upgrade its military capabilities to number one in Latin America and project power abroad. The first Cuban military mission in Africa was established in Ghana in 1961. Cuba's military forces appeared in Algeria, in 1963, when a military medical brigade came to support the government. Since the 1960s, Cuba sent military forces to African and Arab countries – Syria in 1973, Ethiopia in 1978, Angola from 1975 to 1989, and Nicaragua and El Salvador during the 1980s. The tonnage of Soviet military deliveries to Cuba throughout most of the 1980s exceeded deliveries in any year since the military build-up during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces in Red Dawn
So back in the Team Yankee world, El Comandante Fidel Castro’s army has been blooded by the various military campaigns in Africa, Middle East and even Latin America. They gained, some say, a notorious reputation as being fierce and feared by their enemies in those wars. Which will explain in Red Dawn, Cuban Forces are shown as trained (Skill 4+) and good Morale (3+), Courage (4+) and Remount/Rally (4+). We can argue on why their Assault is still on par with Soviet Conscripts (5+) and Counterattack (4+) rather than the VDV Air Assault Company Assault (4+) and Counterattack (3+) given their REAL experience in their military campaigns. I will console myself that perhaps after mixing the veterans and fresh regulars, the Cubans have a watered-down statistic when they invaded Texas with their Soviet comrades.
The Cuban forces in Red Dawn generally are drawing dated Soviet equipment thus the main armored tanks are chiefly the T-62 and T-55 which were last published in the Oil War Nations of Iraq, Syria and Iran. Their mechanized formations used BTR-60s or the BMP-1s, and sorry the Soviets didn’t deem to share their BMP-2s with the Cubans at this juncture.
As for their other equipment, their artillery will be considered on par with Soviet and Warsaw Pact formations with the inclusion of standard 2S1, 2S3 and BM-21 vehicles. Unlike the Iraqi and Syria formations, Cuban formations are integrated with battalion artillery support whereas their Middle Eastern comrades are divisionally controlled assets. A good thing for Cuban artillery will be their trained Skill 4+ which allows them to shell their enemies more accurately than Soviet artillery. It is a must to have an OP to allow you to have that +1 modifier to range in.
A nice surprise will be their “modern” Surface to Air Missile platforms that has SA-8 Gecko as a choice which I believe in Red Dawn format would have been deemed as an extravagant export weaponry. Their SPAA platforms consisted of the standard, effective ZSU 23-4 Shilka, the dated but good anti-light vehiche ZSU 57-2 and the M53/59 Praga which Battlefront threw in Red Dawn to showcase manually aimed SPAA vehicles in the Cuban army.
In Red Dawn, fixed wing aircraft (SU-25 and SU-22) close air support is flown by the Soviets whereas rotary wing air support are being flown by the Cubans in MI-24 Hinds. It is unfortunate the Cubans did not get another box of helicopter support compared to the Oil War nations.
For the sake of being brief in this article I will be highlighting Cuban-centric equipment and statistics to our readers here.
Armored Vehicles in the Cuban Force
As mentioned earlier, the Cuban force used dated Soviet armored vehicles and unlike their rich Middle Eastern comrades who received the modern T-72M, the Cubans still use the good old T-55 and T-62 tanks in their invasion of USA.
The best tank available to the Cubans will be the T-62, with its 115mm gun, it is still a threat to all IFVs and Tier 2 tanks. It will struggle greatly against current Tier 1 tanks as their AT 19 against most Tier 1 tanks FA of 20++. Well do remember the T-62 was created to match up against US M60 and earlier NATO tanks such as Leopard 1, so it is a stretch if you wish to use them against a M1A1 or T-80. A positive point will be its main gun having the Brutal attribute which will force infantry units to reroll their saves; just don’t let them fire off their nasty ATGMs or close in AT weapons on you. Slow firing and not having any form of stabilizers will make the T-62 an unlikely candidate in a tank shootout beyond 16 inches or in a mobile battle. Learn and use the Skill 4+ to your advantage to blitz and mitigate the slow firing rule. Nevertheless, the points are efficient from a list building concept though you need numbers to survive as you close into your enemy.
A relic of World War Two, the Cubans were still using the SU-100 and T34/85 in their army. In Red Dawn, it was claimed the T-34/85 were held back in good old Cuba for home defense but they still ship out the SU-100 (?) Well a great buy at a cheap 9 points for 10 x SU-100, but most current IFV is going to wreak havoc with their rapid fire velocity guns (think Marder 2s shooting off…), so definitely you need a lot of cover. I envision such units to be used where ambush rules can help them to spring a surprise and not negated by their slow firing rule; using your Skill 4+ to blitz will be another good option. A great way to look for any Flames of War sale to buy these tanks if you want to field them as Cuban SU-100.
Widely regarded as the first post-World War Two Soviet Main Battle Tank (to be fair SECOND after the T-54), the T-55 is showing its age by the 1980s. Typically used by Soviet 3rd tier formations (cannon fodder, reserves) and a favorite export version to many Soviet affiliated countries, the T-55 is another tank that will be a good anti-IFV platform but will definitely struggle against Tier 1 tanks. It’s 100mm gun is dated by now, though it will give a good fight against the older US/NATO tanks (Leopard 1, M60). Slow firing means that you cannot fight a mobile shoot off with your opponent, learn to move into cover and USE that Skill 4+ to blitz out to shoot off your targets.
If you are really going to play T-55s as Cubans, my recommendation is to go for MASS, lots of them. 63 of them with only cost 80 points and still have change in your atypical 100 points game. Please don’t look for me if you break the bank trying to field 63 T-55s on the table.
BMP-1 Battllon De Infanteria (Cuban Mechanised Infantry)
The Cuban BMP1 Infantry battalion is a nice touch in portraying the mechanized element of the Cuban forces. Armed with the old but reliable BMP-1, this formation allows the same tactical options as other BMP formations in Soviet and Warsaw Pact books.
Cuban forces has good statistics as mentioned in this article, as they are shown as trained (Skill 4+) and has good Courage/Morale/Rally statistics. What could have been better will be their Assault and Counterattack rolls. In terms of base count, the Cuban BMP-1 infantry is modeled like the Soviet BMP formations. Equipment wise, the lack of the AKM grenade launcher forces them with a FP 6 for their AKMs. Having RPG-18 helps the infantry to ward off light vehicle assault and having the RPG-7 is an added security. In my opinion, Cuban infantry are better equipped compared to the Iraqi/Syrian list in Oil Wars, with better AT capabilities comparably. Additionally, the Cuban BMP infantry can be upgraded to the AGS-17 grenade launcher unlike their Middle Eastern comrades. Point wise they are more expensive but having better Skill will allow them to move under fire quicker into assault than even typical Soviet conscripts (judicious use of Blitz and Follow Me). Unfortunately, the under average statistics of assault and counterassault means you will need numbers to see through an assault or else the need to whittle down the assault target before actually assaulting them.
BTR-60 BATALLÓN DE INFANTERÍA
The Cuban BTR-60 mechanized formation gives a different flavor to the Cuban infantry. The BTR-60 served well as an anti-infantry, troop transport vehicle. Best tactical usage on the table is to use the BTR-60s to screen from enemy field of fire onto your other more valuable vehicles.
Equipped with options to upgrade to AT-3 Sagger teams to give them good anti-armor capability, the BTR-60 Cuban infantry is defensive in nature unlike their BMP-1 brothers. It seems the Soviets decided not to equip their Cuban comrades with more modern ATGM weapons, which means they will have a hard time to fend off heavy tank assaults (AT-3 Sagger MIN range of 16” will be another detracting factor). In other scenarios they are good in fighting dug-in and using their AT-3 Sagger to snipe away at targets of opportunity. Furthermore, being equipped with RPG-18 and RPG-7 will greatly help Cuban infantry to project armor deterrence upon digging in, even with their 3+ to hit. Unlike their Soviet BTR-60 counterpart, Cuban BTR-60 company fielded only 1 x PKM team vs. 2 x PKM teams in Soviet BTR-60 company; this will result lesser defensive fire versus an infantry assault, I would not sweat it if you were fielding a medium to large sized infantry company. If you need some form of air / helicopter protection, you can upgrade to SA-7 Grail AA missile team.
In Summary, and Hasta La Vista!
The Cuban force in Red Dawn allows a player to field an army that is fairly economical in points, better than your Average Ivan statistics and a good core or Allied component to a more pricey formation. Cuban formations can be a good combo with an elite formation such as the VDV Afgantsy Air Assault Battalion where the mix of mass and good skill may give tactical flexibility to the player fielding them.
The lack of integral of AT 21 weapons against heavy armor can be a challenge and you will need to evaluate if you need such assets. This will be based on the current play meta in your gaming community. I do recommend this force should not be fielded in a piecemeal manner as it will degrade their defensive or offensive capabilities.
I can see pseudo “Banana Republic” armies springing up in gaming scene soon and the Cuban forces should not be taken lightly when fielded against their opponents.
Now off to smoke off my Havana cigars and I will see you in Austin, Texas, Comrade!