There is still a little more that might be said of Europa wargame use and value in reference to the special WW ME/“Iraq Campaign” Scenario demonstration done earlier in 2015 at the EA.

On the outbreak of the world war Iraq, under the rule of the pro-British Regent Amir Abdul Illah, broke off diplomatic relations with Germany. But in June 1940 Iraq did not take this step against Italy, when it declared war on the Western Allies. This may have been due to the influence of then Iraqi Prime Minister Rashid Ali el Gailani, the future pro-Axis Iraqi coup leader. Per Playfair, after June 1940, “the Italian Legation in Baghdad became the center of Arab Nationalist and anti-British agitation. Axis prestige was greatly increased by the German victories in the West and by the arrival of the Italian Armistice commission in Syria, while that of Great Britain sank very low.” P. 177. The modest success the Italians had dealing with the Islamic elements in their Libyan and East African colonies, in particular with native ground unit recruitment in these two colonies, is perhaps overlooked in WWII analysis. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was another anti-Allied Arab leader in Iraq at the time that was successfully used by the Axis in 1941, who was exiled from Palestine and intrigued with the Germans, probably because of their mutual anti-British and anti-Jewish inclinations. On Mar. 31, 1941, on the eve of the Iraqi coup, the pro-Allied Iraqi Regent fled Baghdad, and from the British airfield at Habbaniya flew to Basra, where he settled on the British warship Cockchafer, in the harbor. Thus the Axis intervention into Iraq ought to be understood in its particular anti-British, anti-colonial, Versailles revisionist, and perhaps also anti-Jewish context, all done in a paradigm where since the spring of 1941 German military force seemed able to blow away the British Army. Another source says it was the news of the Rommel’s mobile heavy AA units tearing up the British armor at Mersa Brega that tipped the Iraqi coup clique into action.

A close look at the Allied Iraqi Coup Reaction Forces Conditional Reinforcements found in the WitD Allied OB shows the initial elements of the Ind 10th Inf XX arriving at Basra at anytime between the Jan II 41 and Jul I 41 turns, depending on the timing of the Iraqi coup by the dice roll results done per Rule 38J4-[Iraqi] Coup. The Ind 10th Inf XX had long been a reserve division based in India, and that is why it is so readily available for duty in the Near East in the entire first third of 1941. Playfair says that its first brigade had been originally intended to be shipped to Malaya on Apr. 10, but that the division was suddenly diverted by orders from London (not Wavell) when the news arrived of the pro-Axis coup. Thus it was the desire at London for firm military action aimed at the forced ouster of the anti-British Iraqi coup government (evidently by means of a march on Baghdad) that led to the Ind 10th Inf XXs landing at Basra, which was soon followed up by the landing of the second brigade, also from India. The Iraqi coup government protested the initial Ind inf units landing at Basra to the newly arrived British ambassador at Baghdad, but finally realizing no sincere British offers to negotiate, and upon learning about the landing of the second Ind inf X at Basra at the very end of April, elected for the armed demonstration against the RAF airfield at Habbaniya, precipitating outright the Iraq campaign.

Although per Rule 38J4 the Iraqi coup could occur as early as the Jan I 41 turn, the important 2-1-10* Mot Inf X Habbforce conversion occurs at the earliest on the Apr II 41 turn, in the case of the coup’s occurrence on the Mar II 41 turn, or earlier. In the first three months of 1941 there is a good chance of mud weather in the Iraq region slowing up the ground movement northwards towards Habbaniya and Baghdad of the Indian ground units disembarking at Basra. Also, Allied combat opportunities anywhere in Iraq would be unlikely during the long rainy season. Any Allied air units at the Habbaniya 3-cap permanent airfield would surely have to be supplied by air, probably by the Bombay T type air unit available in Egypt. But during the mud weather turns it would be unable to air transport 1 RE sized ground units from southern Iraq to the Habbaniya airfield hex. Although the problems of campaigning in the mud weather are not critical for the Allies, it does imply a longer campaign for them than one beginning in the spring, after the Apr I 41 turn; and the Hab mot inf X will not be available until the Apr II turn at the earliest.  In any event, the good news for the Allies is that in Scenarios in which the Balkans are not in play, such as the Middle East Campaign Scenario, the Axis cannot intervene into coup Iraq (per Optional Rule 38J6) until the Apr II 41 turn, at the earliest.

Per Optional Rule 38J6 the Optional Axis Near East Forces Conditional Reinforcements are essentially used only in an Axis intervention into an Iraq campaign precipitated by a pro-Axis Iraqi coup, but definitely with some provisions made for allowing their transit and/or extremely brief stay over in the French Levant, (only) for going to or from Iraq. This means absolutely no active/deliberate participation by the Iraq intervention Axis Conditional Reinforcements in the Levant Campaign after an Allied invasion in the Levant. Provision could be made for the case of a border cross-over of a desperate Ger 2-6 Inf III SV 288 on the run after participating in a shattered and defeated Iraqi intervention saga. Moreover, I’m currently thinking all German intervention in Iraq Conditional Reinforcements should also be allowed to enter Iran, but only in the context of their initial arrival in the Axis Near East Command through the stipulations found in Optional Rule 38J6.

Right now my current notion is that if either the Ju 52 T type or the He 111H4 B type LW air unit Conditional Reinforcements are either eliminated or aborted in an Axis intervention in Iraq campaign, then they should be required to be rebuilt for use in the Russian campaign, using Ger ARPs from the Med/NA Command, as soon as possible after an Axis Iraq intervention withdrawal. I currently do not include either the Axis Conditional Reinforcement Mxd A type or its conversion Me 110C HF type LW air unit in this category of required LW air unit rebuilds. Furthermore, I’m currently thinking that if the Ger 2-6 Inf III SV 288 is eliminated while isolated in the Near East (eg., in Iraq or Iran) then it cannot be rebuilt (off-map) and subsequently brought in as a Med/NA Command reinforcement on the Oct I 41 turn, per the WitD Axis OB. I realize that this is a real party killer for the Axis player in the Western Desert games, as the 2-10 Mot Inf III SV 288 is an important Afrika Korps unit in late ’41 and all of 1942, but this is what I’m thinking, right now. However, some provisions could be made for the rescue/recovery of its residual .5 special Ger inf RP (see Optional Rule 40B4) back to (essentially) the Mainland Europe off-map holding box. I realize that this “rescue of the expendables” may sound a little like silly Hollywood drama to some, but I think this concept of desperation and force risk is part of the hazards of the Axis intervention in Iraq concept in the summer of 1941.

The arrival in Iraq of the Ind 5th Inf XX, in Europa beginning on the Aug I 41 turn, historically comes not from a sea landing at the port of Basra, but rather overland east from Trans-Jordan along the same long desert road route going through Rutbah, Ramadi, and Habbaniya that the Br Motorized Inf X Habbforce used historically in May 1941. The Ind 5th Inf XX had voyaged from East Africa into the Mediterranean and evidently initially went through Palestine on its long overland march to Iraq. Like the proud Ind 4th Inf XX of Operation Compass and Kern fame, it is a fully supported inf XX in Europa. According to David Hughes’ Europa Magazine #69 article “The Indian Army in Europa,” this is because these two Ind inf XXs had been upgraded upon their arrival to the Middle East region. This “upgrading” evidently consisted of receiving modern weapons, including in particular anti-tank guns. On the other hand, other Ind inf XXs like the 10th, 6th, and 8th, all ultimately Near East garrison units, suffered from an “abysmal lack and modern weapons and equipment,” in particular the anti-tank gun; hence “this accounts for the lower rating given to units that appear in Iraq in 1941 and 1942.” Two more of the “abysmally” equipped Ind inf XXs are the 9th and 11th Inf XXs, stationed in Malaya in December 1941; with perhaps predictable results against the seasoned Japanese invaders the next month. The Inf 5th Inf XX is eventually withdrawn from the Near East in April 1943 to fight in Burma, I believe.

There is perhaps one further major Axis military option in both the Med/NA and NE Commands, in their contexts in at least the Middle East Campaign Scenarios, that can now be broached in possible future wargame design modifications of the existing WW rules, and this is the manipulation and application of the reduced Axis Southeast (SE) Command forces available in the context of Rule 38F2c-German Withdrawal from the Balkans. In conventional WW games, German withdrawal from the Balkans “automatically” occurs during the first Axis initial phase that both the Greek and Yugoslav governments have been evacuated or captured. In WW Scenarios where the Balkans are not in play; implicitly this would be on the May I 41 Axis turn (see Advanced Rule 12C1d). A quick reference example of this reduced SE Command [German Balkan Intervention, after withdrawal] force pool can be scrutinized by referring to the WW Assault on Crete Scenario Axis Order of Battle found in the WW OB booklet, on p. 21, although some small changes could be made. I suspect that this OB is in effect where the WW Optional Axis Near East Forces found on p. 27 comes from.

Delving deeper into the WW rules, we see that after the “automatic” German withdrawal from the Balkans per Rule 38F2 is done, the necessary second and final step in the total disengagement of the SE Command, historically certainly deliberately done because of Barbarossa requirements, is the “voluntary” cessation of German operations in the Balkans, per Rule 3E5. The Assault on Crete Axis OB is a neat preliminary reference German OB base for an array of possible alternative MTO scenarios devised for this admittedly quite limited and ominous time period. To be sure, and to console those perhaps alarmed EA readers who see what’s coming, in regular WW Scenario play this substantial Axis OB addition (eg., an enhanced Axis force projection based on the WW Assault of Crete Axis OB) is explicitly restricted per Rule 3E4 in its operational limits done in the vicinity of the Med/NA and NE Commands found on maps 18A & 20A, which on the WD and NE map groups are specifically the Dodecanese and the South Aegean Islands, and the Aegean Sea zone. However, assuming both German Balkan intervention and the conquest of Crete as the prerequisites, then with only some minor WW rules tweaking, this substantial enhanced Axis force projection, certainly admittedly deriving from the SE Command, perhaps for a short time could be directed to 1) the Western Desert on Jun I 41, as an “Available in Europe” reinforcement, along with the rest of the Balkan campaign LW returns arriving that turn, or 2) directed to an air assault on Cyprus on map 20A on the Jun I or Jun II turn from Axis bases on Crete and Rodi, and then 3) subsequently directed to some second large operation projected into the Vichy Levant and/or Palestine on 20A, and/or 4) in conjunction with the Afrika Korps in the Western Desert, directed into Egypt, on map 19A. Whew!

In concurrent WW Rules, the only patent restraints, other than the big one at Rule 3E4, are the -5 VP “each Axis initial phase on or after the Jul II 41 that the Axis has not ceased operations in the Balkans” (see the Balkan Victory Chart, p. 26 of the WW Scenarios & Appendices booklet) and the apparently arbitrary “ending” of the WW Balkan Campaign Scenario “upon the completion of the Aug II 41 game turn” (see Rule41C1-Balkan Campaign, in the WW Scenarios & Appendices booklet). Although the WW rules appear vague, presumably by the Aug II 41 Axis turn the Axis player does need to voluntarily cease operations on maps 18A, 19A, and 20A (or beyond to 21A, 22A, and 32) using forces derived from SE Command’s Assault on Crete Axis OB, by implementing the stipulations found in Rule 3E5b-Voluntary Cessation of Operations in the Balkans/[eastern Mediterranean?]. The Aug II 41 Axis game turn might also be a good date for the required withdrawal of at least the Ju 52 T type and the He 111H4 B type LW air units in the Axis intervention in Iraq Conditional Reinforcements, due to Barbarossa considerations.

But of course these extended operations in the Axis Med/NA and NE Commands beyond the Jun II 41 Barbarossa start date, going on up to the Aug II 41 Axis turn, using the reduced SE Command Axis OB derived from the Assault on Crete, surely have their impact on the Russian campaign.  I still haven’t decided, myself; but the potential outline is already visible in the existing WW material, I think.