French Light Cavalry in World War III

French Light Cavalry in World War III
By The Little General

One of the most exciting new options to arrive in the NATO book is that of the Escadron D’Eclairage or in English, Divisional Illumination Squadron. This nimble unit is equipped solely with the Panhard VBL light armoured car. Exported worldwide, the VBL commenced service in 1985 with the French Army as a pre-production run of 15 vehicles, with full operational service from 1990. Many a fine commander has struggled to maximise the troops under their command. With French Compagnie d’Infanterie, you have a pocket knife with a range of solutions that is practically a self-contained army.

The Vehicle Blindee Leger (literally Light Armoured Vehicle) is a highly capable vehicle that has significant mobility, firepower and protection for such a small reconnaissance vehicle originally weighing in at 3.5 tonnes. The VBL has been a true French export success with operators as widespread worldwide as Greece, Kuwait, Indonesia, Portugal, Mexico (the first users in 1984) and many other countries using this amazing vehicle. The VBL has seen extensive combat in both Europe, Afghanistan and African conflicts since 1990.

French Light Cavalry in World War III

With the Escadron D’Eclairage based around the standard vehicle with a 7.62mm AN-F1 machine gun and racks for twelve APILAS antitank rockets, a player can either run with the standard light reconnaissance vehicle or opt to do as the French Army prefers – replacing the APILAS racks with the versatile Eryx short-range antitank missile system.

This gives an excellent day and night antitank option either way with the APILAS giving a limited AT21 fire-on-the-move ability while the Eryx provides a hard-hitting AT24 tandem warhead although both are limited to 40cm/16” ranges. Naturally, the Eryx requires the operator to be stationary and is an additional 1-point upgrade.

French Light Cavalry in World War III

Backing up this formidable VBL Patrouille D’Eclairage of two vehicles is the VBL Groupe De Antichar Milan, providing a unit of three VBLs armed with the excellent EuroMissile Milan or Milan 2. For my money, the Milan 2 is a fantastic option for an extra point, although you can only have one of these heavy-hitting long-range units in your formation. Definitely a must-have.

The important thing to note with this formation is that it is as the name says in part - “light” Front armour 1 is designed to stop shell fragments and rifle calibre ammunition not tank main gun rounds.

A player running this force needs to remember it’s not intended to stop a T80 swarm coming down the autobahn. Such tactics will end in many letters of condolences to family back in France and earn a commander a court-martial

French Light Cavalry in World War III

Rather, the key is to use the amazing mobility of this force. Remember it has Spearhead and Scout which combined with 3+ skill gives their commander the flexibility to not only get into harm's way but to do so relatively unscathed. Shoot only when it’s a last resort – you can’t afford to trade bullets with heavier-armed enemies. Your firepower is considerable but it’s there to get you OUT of trouble not to encourage a commander to seek a fight they will inevitably lose.

Remember the greatest strength of your force is your eyes and ears. Use the thermal imaging standard and seek to fight in night missions when your opponent is relatively blinded. Use the scout’s ability to call in support from the excellent French artillery such as the AUF1 and the MRLS, not to mention the power of 120mm mortars on demand from friendly infantry formations.

Commander, go with the spirit of the Hussars of old and do us Frenchmen proud! Vive La France!

~ The Little General

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