The temporary moratorium placed on offensive operations by Western TVD failed to disrupt Soviet forces in central Germany to the degree as it had the army groups farther north. D+5 was a day of transition for the 8th Guards Army and 1st Guards Tank Army. The indecision surrounding the final destination of 1st GTA had placed a 24-36 hour delay on the army group’s arrival at the front. NATO airpower had done its best to stretch that delay out farther, but by noon on D+5 the first units were starting to reach 8th GA’s sector of the line. It was estimated that an additional twelve to eighteen hours would be needed before 1st GTA would be ready to commence its own offensive operations in force.
Lt General Anatoli Tchernitsov, 1st GTA’s commander, remained uncertain about where the direction of his main axis of advance would materialize. A push to the northwest through the northern sector of the US V Corps and into the West German III Corps area was quite attractive. Success here would inevitably aid the efforts of 3rd Shock Army’s drive on Hannover by threatening NORTHAG’s right flank. An added bonus was the fact that the main fighting would be done mainly against the West Germans and not the Americans. Tchernitsov was under no illusions about the abilities and competence of the West German soldier. However, given the defensive terrain in the US V and VII Corps sectors, and the reports from 8th GA officers who’d fought against the US forces, he believed the best chances for a favorable outcome were to come against the West German divisions.
While most of 8th GA’s regiments were handing off responsibility to the newly arrived units and pulling back to the rear areas, some of the 8th’s regiments continued to probe and push to the west and northwest in an attempt to find weak points in NATO lines for Tchernitsov’s divisions to exploit. Particular attention was given to V Corps sector from Hunfeld to Bad Hersfeld, and from Cornberg north to Wald Kappel in III WG Corps sector. The results were mixed and by late afternoon when Western TVD lifted the restrictions on offensive operations, Tchernitsov was no closer to a decision concerning the direction his army group’s advance would take.
CENTAG was going through a period of transition on D+5 too. It had become apparent that the 1st GTA was to be committed to the fighting in central Germany rather than up north. Instead of laying the foundation for a tentative attack into East Germany, as some senior commanders had been pushing for, CENTAG was now gearing up to withstand a push from another Soviet first echelon army group. Senior commanders and staff officers anticipated the enemy advance would likely come in the northern sectors of CENTAG’s area of responsibility. The US V Corps and III WG Corps had absorbed the brunt of the fighting in the first five days of the war. The deepest enemy penetrations had come against them too. The Soviets were likely to reinforce their earlier successes there, probably operating under the presumption that the NATO forces in these areas would be considerably weaker as a result of the heavy fighting earlier in the week.
CENTAG’s commanding general had some concerns about the reserves that would be on-hand for these two corps’. V Corps reserve for the moment consisted of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Once the covering force battles had been decisively concluded on D+0 and D+1 the regiment was pulled back to the corps rear area to act as a reserve and fire brigade of sorts for V Corps’ two combat divisions. As the CONUS-based units assigned to V Corps under REFORGER arrived in the Federal Republic and formed up they were to assume the role of the corps reserve, freeing up the cavalry regiment for duties elsewhere. The problem was that the flow of ground units into Germany had slowed down over the last twelve hours and wouldn’t pick up again for another twelve. The 4th Infantry Division was not entirely formed up yet. Barring an emergency situation such as a major Soviet breakthrough, CENTAG’s commanding general didn’t intend to see it committed piecemeal. Given the current situation on the ground in V Cops sector a breakthrough didn’t seem likely. Therefore, the risk was one worth taking.
Author’s Note: I fully intended to complete D+5 on the Central Front this evening. Unfortunately, the situation in the Ukraine at the moment is creating longer hours for me at my fulltime job. I will finish up D+5 later this week however, regardless of the international situation. 😊
3 Replies to “The Central Front D+5 (14 July, 1987) Part IV”
Irony of irony, reading about a fictitious major conflict in Europe, while awaiting the author to return because he has to monitor a potential (we hope it stays that way) outbreak of the real thing…
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Yep, it’s a busy time here right now. Ukraine, G20 Summit, North Korea, etc. Ukraine is the real concern although the public here in the States hasn’t really picked up on that yet. That entire situation is just waiting for a spark to ignite the region.
Fun time to work at a think-tank. 🙂
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Cool. I’ll drop you an email tomorrow afternoon or early evening