Baltic Approaches D+9 (18 July, 1987) Part II

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The Northern Group of Forces (NGF) and Polish divisions pushing north through Schleswig-Holstein towards Jutland weren’t exempt from the indecision and ambivalence dominating the Baltic theater. The future remained unclear concerning the timetable for ground operations against Denmark. NGF’s commander, Colonel-General Ivan Korbutov wasn’t sure there would even be a next phase. Everything was contingent upon whether or not Sweden jumped into the war. If that did occur, Korbutov understood clearly what the ramifications would be for his command, as well as the overall Warsaw Pact plan for Denmark. He could read a map well enough. The problem was he wasn’t so confident his superiors could.

His forces were tantalizingly close to the Danish border, just as they had been for going on two days now. Resupply efforts, the indecision of his commanders in Legnica, and a dozen other variables had combined to keep his divisions in Schleswig-Holstein. The greatest factor was, as written about in detail previously, whether or not the planned airborne landings across Jutland, and amphibious landings in Zealand happened. Korbutov understood the why the landings were important. But time was running out, and if he didn’t resume a northern advance soon, it would never happen.

Reinforcements were coming though, and this spurred hope. The first elements of the second echelon Polish divisions were expected to start arriving in the evening. Their arrival in Schleswig-Holstein had been delayed by nearly 56 hours owing to NATO air attacks on bridges, and highways, as well as higher-priority traffic being given precedence on roads across East Germany.

Korbutov had a plan to put them to work right away. As the reinforcing divisions came closer, he intended to move the 6th Guards Motor Rifle Division, and the Polish mechanized division unaffected by the earlier unrest north. The approaching Polish divisions…1 armored, and 1 mechanized infantry….as well as the reorganized 20th Tank Division would follow and exploit the breakthrough of NATO lines. Korbutov advised his commanders of his intentions in the early afternoon and they did not discourage him. They did, however, make sure he knew there was no guarantee his push north could be properly supported.

 

LANDJUT was prepared to contend with and defeat any Warsaw Pact advance into Jutland. Like its adversary, the command had spent the past forty-eight hours reinforcing, and resupplying its forces in preparation for the battle likely to come. The fighting in Schleswig-Holstein had been costly in terms of men, and equipment. However, the initial Pact advance to Jutland had been checked, and heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy in the process. LANDJUT and its parent command Allied Forces Baltic Approaches (BALTAP) intended to make the enemy pay a steeper price if it pressed north into Jutland.

The geographic deployments for the defense of southern Jutland mirrored the ones used in Schleswig-Holstein. The West German 6th Panzergrenadier Division (6th PgD) anchored defenses in the eastern half of the South Jutland area. The Jutland Division covered the western half. Each division had two brigades forward and one in reserve. The reserve brigades were being kept just south of the E-20 motorway, poised to swiftly challenge any penetration of the lines farther south.

The West German’s defensive responsibilities included keeping the E-3 motorway, which was the main north-south land artery on the peninsula, out of Warsaw Pact hands. If the enemy managed to secure even a section of the road it could rapidly move tanks, and motor rifle units north, potentially bypassing and cutting off NATO formations from their parent units. The 6th PgD was prepared to fight a fluid battle along the length of the roadway from the border north to Kolding and beyond if necessary.

North of the main defensive belt, Danish Home Guard units were situated at or near every potential drop zone, airbase, and critical road junction to defend them against airborne, or airmobile attacks. Beyond that, LANDJUT had other reserves and reinforcements it could call on. The British 1st Infantry Brigade had been reformed with battalions from the UK and was nearly ready to be committed again. The first combat elements of the US 9th Infantry Division were finally arriving on Danish soil. The division was nowhere near ready to be committed, however, if the situation deteriorated, two of its light infantry battalions could move south. In three days time, the division commander expected to have a full brigade on the ground and combat ready.

This was the ground situation in Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland at dusk on D+9.

9 Replies to “Baltic Approaches D+9 (18 July, 1987) Part II”

  1. Definitely not a “buy time with real estate” situation, for sure.

    I’m going to look at a map and see how much “bow in the middle, cut off the corners” room the BALTAP thinks they might have (if any) to try and catch the armored division, or at least front elements of it, in a “kettle”…likely they can’t, but, again, I wanna see maps…

    ‘cos even if the Danes come close to the encirclement, if they can get tac air on the units within it’ll be a massacre before they can withdraw (see the Falaise Pocket).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really need to get going on the maps to give readers a better reference. Take a look at the map. Jutland is flat, has good roads and there’s little margin for error for either side if things start to go bad.

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      1. On paper, the 9th should be able to manage against a Motorized rifle element, as long as no heavy armor present.

        If given space to operate, the light fast nature of their doctrine + equipment should allow them to punch above their weight. It might not be pretty… but they can do it. Against 2nd Line forces, they’d have more success I think. the M2’s would be painful for BTRs to deal with and the Mk19 + TOW armed stuff very dangerous to light armor/medium tanks respectively.

        9th ID was the modern day answer to cav skirmishers, just with far better firepower. Never games it out or put alot of analysis into it… but it would seem a viable force.

        Especially with what we know now about weapon capability versus Warsaw Pact gear.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Crap, I thought I responded to your comment. I think the 9th would’ve been perfect for operations in Jutland given the terrain and the type of enemy opposing it. I think it would be a hell of a lot of fun to game the 9th vs Soviet forces. Maybe with TOAW or Steel Panthers.

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            1. I talked some about it in some Gaming World War III posts but before the end of the year I’m going to discuss the gaming process more. It was an educational, and fun experience to say the least.

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