The situation in and around Brauschweig continued to ebb and flow from the late afternoon into the evening hours of D+2. The 1st Panzer Brigade fell back into the city itself with the 55th and 56th Guards Tank Regiments struggling to maintain contact. As the 1st Pz Brigade’s fighting withdrawal reached the more built up urban areas its resistance stiffened and slowed the Soviets. It was around that time that the West Germans launched a counterattack from the north with the 1st PzD’s reserve battalions. The attack drove a wedge into the weak right flank of the advancing Soviet regiments, cutting off the lead battalions of the 55th Guards west of Schapen. As dusk fell on the battlefield, 56th Guards was moving to contain the counterattack.
Meanwhile, back at the forward division headquarters, 7th Guards Tank Division’s commander was pondering whether to release his last regiment to the effort against Brauschweig, or wait until the situation became more favorable. Before he reached a decision, West German Phantoms struck the forward headquarters . The division commander was severely wounded, while his deputy, and half of the division’s staff officers were killed. At a critical moment, the head of the division had been unceremoniously separated from the body.
General Mityukhin, once he was informed of what had happened, ordered the 7th Guards to halt in place for the moment. He sent his chief of staff forward to take command of the division and restore order. As this was going on, he huddled with his battle staff and worked to make revisions to the operations presently underway.
The request by the commander of 8th Guards Army (8GA) early on D+2 for authorization to use chemical weapons blindsided General Snetkov, the commander of Group Soviet Forces Germany. He was cognizant of the situation 8GA was facing, however, he could not fathom why the army commander was suddenly demanding permission to unleash chemical agents. The US and West German units opposing 8GA were putting up stiff resistance, yet this was not unexpected. Pre-war planning had presumed…correctly, as the case appeared……that the US V, and VII Corps, and West German III Corps would prove to be difficult to dislodge. Still, Snetkov did not quite understand the reasoning behind the appeal. There were no signs of a NATO counteroffensive in the works, or indications that NATO was preparing to use its own chemical weapons.
Snetkov immediately denied the request. After 8GA confirmed receipt of the answer, he informed Western TVD of the request and his response. He also attached his recommendation that chemical agents remain unused for the time being. CINC-West would make the final decision on the issue, but it was well within Snetkov’s rights to deny the initial request until the theater commander had assessed the situation and rendered his decision.
The urge to go forward and personally take stock of 8GA’s situation was growing. Snetkov understood that, as a senior commander, his place was in the rear directing the battle. However, the soldier in him wanted to be forward assessing with his own eyes what was going on in 8GA’s sector. Getting him there before daylight would be dangerous enough. Contrary to what his comrades in the air force proclaimed, NATO appeared to control the skies completely from dusk to dawn. His chief of staff was too busy and valuable at the moment to burden with a trip to the battle area. Instead, Snetkov summoned the deputy commander GFSG and ordered him to go forward at dawn via helicopter, assess the situation in 8 GA’s sector firsthand and report back personally by 1200. With that handled, Snetkov retired to his quarters at 0300 for a couple of hours of desperately needed sleep.
*Author’s Note: Final part of Central Front: D+2 will be up on Monday*
6 Replies to “The Central Front D+2 (11 July, 1987) Part III”
It’s nice to know I can influence Luftwaffe strategy! LOL
Also, while I realize you’re doing a bigger picture view, as early as 87 would the Apache have been extant in numbers large enough to merit mentioning?
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You might’ve saved a West German Panzer Division 🙂 They owe you a beer.
Yep, the Apaches would’ve made a difference. I figured they would, and the gaming has backed it up. Their contribution will be looked at in detail once the big picture has been completed. At that point I’ll go back and start doing more detailed write ups on battles and such. Maybe even sooner, actually
A good Heffeweisen, or any lunch Pilsner will do nicely, danke. 😀
Excited about seeing how the Apaches will do!
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Also don’t forget A10s working in concert with AH64s through JAWS should (on paper, at least) lead to a little more warhead on forehead for Ivan.
And again you, recognizing the technological superiority of NATO aviation, forget about the monstrous superiority of Soviet air defense systems.
In Vietnam and the Arab-Israeli wars, it was a significant problem.
It’s a good thing You didn’t let the Soviets use chemical weapons. Its effectiveness against trained soldiers is near-zero, and reputation losses are incalculable.
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The West took the lessons learned in Vietnam and the 73 Arab-Israeli war to heart. The Soviet air defense system in the 80s was treacherous and would’ve caused some heavy casualties if not handled properly. But it could be defeated. The USAF in the late 80s was up to the challenge, as we saw in Desert Storm.
I thought hard about chemical weapons but they’re being held back for political reasons….for the moment. 🙂