0000-0600 In the V Corps area of the CENTAG front there was a considerable amount of linebacker movement, so to speak, underway in the early morning hours. By 0200 the 8th Infantry Division had cleared the battlefield fully. Two of the 4th Infantry Division’s brigades (4th ID) were deployed on Phase Line Yale (PL Yale) with the third brigade positioned west of the phase line. The hand off of the southern sector from the 3rd Armored Division (3rd AD) to the 1st Armored Division (1st AD) began at 0500 hours. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment shifted south slightly to cover the movements of the armored divisions for the duration of the operation.
0900-1300 The first heavy Soviet attack of the day was made by two regiments of the 20th Guards Motor Rifle Division against 4th ID. The realization that the US covering force had retreated, followed by the discovery that the US positions of the previous afternoon were now abandoned, led to a premature conclusion that the US infantry division in the northern V Corps area had pulled back under the cover of darkness. 20th Guards’ lead regiments move west and discovered the crossroads at Lauterbach undefended. Encouraged by the prospects of a possible breakthrough, and somewhat overconfident, the Soviets extended their push deeper, running into the 2nd Brigade/4th ID on the ridges west of Lauterbach. At Alsfeld just to the north, the Soviets smashed into the 3rd Brigade/4th ID. In both cases the attackers were pushed back with heavy casualties.
1000-1400 The 11th ACR holds firm against a series of heavy probes made by the Soviet 11th Guards Tank Division. The initial heavy resistance, and large amount of US air and artillery support committed to this sector of the front lead the 1st Guards Tank Army commanding general, and his staff to conclude the weak point in the US lines is located somewhere in the vicinity of Alsfeld.
1500-1900 The second Soviet attack against the 4th ID kicks off, with the main effort being made at Alsfeld. 3/4th ID absorbs the initial attack, but two penetrations of the brigade’s lines are made. Before these can be exploited, counterattacks close off the openings. By dusk the US line returns to where it was at the start of the battle.
1745– 1st AD assumes control of the southern half of PL Yale. 3rd AD joins the 8th ID in the corps rear area.
2030– Lieutenant General Anatoli Tchernitsov, 1st Guards Tank Army’s commander is confident the US corps in front of him can be ruptured if his army group’s OMG is released. He urgently requests permission to begin moving the 9th Tank Division as soon as possible.
2140– V Corps commander considers his options too. If the Soviets continue to push hard against the 4th ID the way they’ve been, General Woodmansee decides he will orient 1st Armored to the northeast and turn it loose.
2352– Over three hours after the request goes up the line, General Snetkov personally informs Tchernitsov that control of the OMG will be passed to him officially at 0100 hours CEST, 20 July, 1987.
18 Replies to “The Central Front D+10 (19 July, 1987) Part V”
Fantastic. I could construct an entire wargaming scenario around this commentary.
With Steve at ‘Sound Officers’ Call’ there will be a Fulda Gap campaign this year by the way.
Multiple rules sets, with tactical/strategic objectives.
…and thanks for the MERDC pic – I need the paint ref 🙂
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Thanks. On my pleasure on the pic, glad it could help you. Funny you should mention the Fulda Gap campaign Steve is running. I’m the V Corps commander 🙂
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Mike, meet Darren, the Soviet commander for the campaign🙂
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Well this is quite a coincidence. 🙂 Guess I better make sure my battle plan doesn’t resemble the one in this blog. Good to meet you, Darren. See you on the battlefield.
Oh this is awkward…I’m the Soviet commander LOL
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Well, I’d say Steve’s upcoming campaign just became a little more interesting. LOL
It’s not often the 8th Guards Tank Army gets to meet the V Corps Commander on a comments section on a blog 😂
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You just can’t make this stuff up. Three cheers for irony, and coincidence LOL
Now I want to be at that event…. wherever it is.
Its always harder to fight a battle when both sides know the other’s thought processes for fighting a battle. 🙂
As for the entry, I look forward to the next day’s write-ups.
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It’s going to be an interesting game, I can promise you. Keep an eye on Sound Officers Call for more info. https://soundofficerscall.blogspot.com/
Things are heating up on the Central Front and in other areas. D+11 entries will kick off next week following a few other entries. Reviews, etc.
It’s like meeting during a NATO military exercise, with the Reds watching as observors before the main event begins a few years later LOL
It’s better this way Mike 😉
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It certainly is. By mere happenstance, the V Corps and 8th Guards Army stumble across each other at a gasthaus, share a beer, and become friendly. A few weeks later, they meet again with blood in their eyes and guns drawn. Not a bad premise for a book. 🙂
There are two main problems, which I cans see across the whole story:
1. (the minor one) – in 1987 the most of Abrams tanks both in USAREUR and in CONUS were still M1 model with M68 105mm gun, which simply could not penetrate the frontal armor of Soviet T-64B/T-72A/T-80B tanks. See James Waterford texts in ARMOR and other online materials.
Thus the US armor units could not be able to inflict any significant lsses while on the counterattack; more severe losses could be inflicted when on defense, as the I-TOW could penetrate the armor of Soviet tanks (except of those with Kontakt reactive armor)
2. (the major one):
the whole “Soviet offensive” story is pretty much flawed as it in no place reflect the Soviet doctrine of concentrating the effort and seek for the breakthrough. The Soviet armies clash with NATO units head-on-head, with strength ratios of 1:1 or worse (like in the case above).
However, that would NOT happen in real life.
For details see, for example, „Logistics Implications of Maneuver Warfare volume 2” and „volume 3”, with special emphasis put in „volume 5”.
I’d see the Soviet thrust in 1987 as follow:
1. Most of the Polish, Czechoslovak and GDR divisions are equipped with old T-55 tanks; only (roughly) 2 tank divisions per each army is equipped with modern T-72 tanks.
Thus there’s need to move some of the Soviet first line ready divisions from the USSR, Poland and Hungary – in fact up to 11, which could be done under the „manouvers” disguise.
So the armies would be:
Polish 1st Army (Pomeranian MD):
8th, 12th MRD, GDR 8th MRD (with 1 MRR from reserve, as one original MRR is trained for amphibious assault), 20th Armored Div (with 2 regiments of T-72) PLUS 1 x Soviet indep tank regt of the 2nd GTA (up to 150 x T-64&T-80 tanks)
Polish 2nd Army (Silesian MD):
5th, 10th Armored Div, 16th Arm Div (from Pomeranian MD), 1st GDR MRD after West Berlin is captured
Polish 4th Army (Warsaw, Pomeranian, Silesian MD – requires few days of mobilisation):
1st, 2nd, 15th MRD, possibly East German 10th MRD (reserve with high readiness status)
Soviet 16th Army:
(formed upon HQ of the Northern Group of Forces, with reserve divisions from Baltic MD – up to 4- MRDs)
1st Western Front:
Soviet 2nd Gds Tk Army: 2 x MRDs, 2 x tank div (1 original MRD exchanged with 3rd Shock army for its tank div, 1 given to GDR 5th Army, 1 taken from 20th Gds army)
GDR 5th Army: 1 MRD from Sov 20th GTA, 1 Sov MRD from Poland (6th Gds in Borne), 9th GDR Panzer div (fully equipped with T-72)
11th Gds Army (moved from Baltic MD): 1st Gds MRD, 1st Tk Div; 6th Gds tk Div (from Belorussian MD); also possibly 40th Tank Div if filled up by fresh cadre from 24th Training Tank Div – second echelon, or to follow Baltic front and cross the Elbe in or behind Hamburg area
20th Gds Army (second echelon): 2 x tank division, Polish 11th Tank division (fully equipped with T-72)
OMG: 1 x tank div from 20th Gds Army
Besonderes Gruppierugn Berlin: 1st GDR MRD, 6th Soviet Gds MRBde, a composite division made from GDR Grenztruppen (specially trained for storming West Berlin)
PLUS: 2 x Soviet tank regiments from 2nd GTA (each with up to 150 x T-64&T-80 tanks)
2nd Western Front:
GDR 3rd Army:
Its 2 MRDs, 7th Panzer Div (partially equipped with T-72 tanks), Polish 4th MRD PLUS 3 x Soviet indep tank regts – of the 20th Gds Army, 8th Gds Army & 1st Gds Tank Army (each with up to 150 x T-64&T-80 tanks)
8th Gds Army :
2 x MRDs, 2 x tank divs (1 x MRD exchanged with 3rd Shock Army for its 1 x Tank Div)
3rd Shock Army:
2 x MRDs, 2 x tank divs (2 x tankd divs exchanged with 8th Gds and 2nd Gds Tank armies for MRDs) PLUS 1 x indep tank regt from 3rd Shock Army (with up to 150 x T-64&T-80 tanks)
1st Gds Tank Army (second echelon): 2 x tank divs, 1 x MRD, PLUS 1 x Tank Div from Poland (20th in Świętoszów); possibly one of the TDs can be used as „initial” OMG with 5th Gds Corps send in the main „Schwerpunkt”.
OMG: 5th Gds Corps (special formation formed in early 80s upon 120th Gds MRD, with up to 360 T-72 tanks and ~500 BMPs, ~40 MRLs and over 150 SP guns)
13th Gds Corps (Moscow MD): with 4th Gds Tank Div and 2nd Gds MRD
Central Front (Czechoslovakia):
22nd Army (formed upon Central Group of Forces)
3 x MRDs, 1 x TD
Czechoslovak 1st Army:
3 x MRDs, 1st Tank Div (fully equipped with T-72s), possibly another TD (partially equipped with T-72s)
8th Gds Tank Army (second echelon, moved from Carpathian MD):
1 x tank div from Central Group, 24th „Iron” MRD and 23rd Tank Div from Carpathian MD, plus possibly 30th Gds Tank Div also from Carpathain MD if filled with fresh cadre from 117th Tank Training Div, PLUS 1 x tank div from Hungary (Southern Group of forces)
Czechoslovak 4th Army:
3 x MRDs (require partial mobilisation) plus 1-2 x TD from Eastern MD (Slovakia) (also require partial mobilisation)
Czechoslovak 3 x reserve MRDs and 2 x reserve TDs may be mobilised in short time but may require longer time to be fully combat-worthy (GDR reserve divisions were based upon training forations and could be ready in pretty short time).
1 x ready MRD from Carpathian MD would be sent to Hungary to replace its tank div and such formed 46th Army would be ready to form., with Hungarian 5th Army and possibly 38th Army from Carpathain MD, another front (Southwestern).
Reserves: 28th Army, 5th Gds and 7th Tank armies (Belorussian MD), 13th Army (Carpathian MD).
2. To achieve breakthrough, a high density of forces is required in chosen sectors, with the rest being guarded by weaker forces; usually in the NATO corps sector there would up to 3 divisions attacking the front of 1-2 brigades, with the rest guarded by single division.
The idea ist, that once a breakthrough occures and tank division pour into NATO rear, then it’s irrelevant if the other NATO front’s divisional sectors hold: they must retreat of either be encircled and destroyed, and on the move they are easier target for Soviet force and fire.
NORTHERN MAIN THRUST:
1. 5th GDR army attacks 1st Neth corps across the Elbe, 2nd GTA attacks boundary between 1st Neth and 1st West German corps. If any hole is punched, then the OMG Tank Div pours in, followed by the entire 20th Gds Army.
2. Polish 1st Army PLUS 1 (or even 2) Soviet tank regiments attacks Jutland Corps. 3 x MRDs supported by ~300 T-64s and T-80s should be enough to break through WG 6th Panzergrenadier Div (initially, as the Danes must mobilize and move from across the whole Jutland) even if it’s supported by 1 x Heimatschutz panzer bde (second one must mobilize); with 20th Polish Armored Div in reserve, the gap would soon be large enough to pour in… the 11th Gds Army. Its 3 division may roll over the remnants of 6th PzGrenDiv and move north of Hamburg to cross the Elbe in the city and around it, thus moviing to the rear of Netherland 1st Corps. 2nd Polish Army follows the 1st and Rolls across Jutland, then turns (partially) right to suport the invasion of Fyn and Sjaelland.
3. 3rd Shock army pins down the UK 1st Corps, with main effort on the southern wing, where the UK 4th Armd Div is located, initially with only 2 x brigades in place (only 3 x Chieftain bns and 3 x mech inf with FV-432, plus 2 x Abbot 105mm SPHs), the third one (19th, with 1 x Chieftain bn and 3 x Saxon APC-mounted inf) being rushed from the UK. If lucky, this attack prevents BAOR from helpng the Belgian corps.
CENTRAL MAIN THRUST:
4. 8th Gds Army attacks 1st Belgian Corps, which has only 2 brigades in Germany, with 2 more in Belgium and 2 more to be mobilized. In the most lucku scenarion, the whole fury of 2 x MRDs and 1 x Tk Div falls upon only 2 x Belgian Bdes, maybe supported by 1 WG Heimatschutz mech bde. With 1 x Tk Div in second echelon, the Belgian front would collapse within 1 day, or sooner; then the „initial” OMG (1 x tk Div from 1st Gds Tank Army) pours in, swinging… south, to pin down any reserves that may come from CENTAG’s III WG Corps (yes, one must realize that the main thrust is on the seam between NORTHAG and CENTAG, thus creating a whole lot of command problems for NATO).
Then the rest of the 8th Gds turns right, to the northwest and north, behind BAOR.
1st GTA follows, and strikes also to the northwest, against US III Corps assembly area.
5th Gds Corps may be thrown into a gap just after the „initial” OMG; or with 1st GTA, with its main task of disrupting LOCs from North German ports to US 7th Army.
5. GDR 3rd Army:
DEFENSE, with just pinning attacks against III WG and V US corps areas.
6. 22nd Army:
Powerful enough to pin down US VII Corps, it attacks there to prevent it being used elsewhere.
7. Czechoslovak 1st Army:
attack WG II Corps, immediately followed by Soviet 8th GTA, in order to achieve breakthrough in the direction of Nuremberg.
8. Czechoslovak 4th Army and Southwestern Front:
ready to attack across Austria if the need arises, to creat an open flank on the south of WG III Corps.
9. 13th Gds Corps is ready to be rushed where the need arises.
Thus you could have up to 6 Soviet divisions in the NORTHAG rear with 5-7 days at most, with only 1 US division fighting it (plus, maybe, UK 2nd Infantry Div and Neth 5th Division if did not make to the front earlier), as the rest of the Corps must marry the POMCUS sites – depending on their status, and if still intact.
4 WarPact armies would close the cauldron around the NORTHAG, with up to 3-4 more advancing to mop it up…
Then even the success in defending Bavaria would mean nothing, as the US forces would have their LOCs cut and only the French Army (which was pretty weak anyway) guarding the Rhine…
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In theory, you’re right with Point 2. It should’ve gone much smoother for the Soviet offensive. But when i gamed it out, in depth, the problems compounded from before the first Pact units crossed the border. Problem 1: Most Soviet army groups lost their commanders and staffs in the early air attacks. This caused the higher echelon commanders to delay the start of hostilities and momentum was never really regained…at least not yet.
Problem 2: Airpower is decidedly in NATO’s favor concerning the quality of its pilots, airframes, weapons, and its doctrine. From the start its having a major effect on Soviet and Pact forces at the front, as well as the follow-on forces.
Problem 3: The attacks against POMCUS sites and other NATO targets in the rear mostly failed. There was no disruption in comms, the movement of troops to the frontlines, or the marrying up of troops from the US with prepo equipment in Europe.
Its getting late here but I’ll finish up the problem list with a reply tomorrow. Thanks for posting this, Darth. Its certainly gotten my mind moving a little better. That certainly helps with the chemo recovery. 🙂
Good to read you’re recovering!
Definitely, I have to read more about the Central Front’s earlier actions ;); however, from these NATO texts I’ve mentioned earlier one can read that the NATO air forcres would have serious problems with dealing “so easily” with Pact’s offensive, even with superior aircraft etc.
Especially when we take into account, that:
1) noone has ever proven that Pact’s pilots were inferior to NATO’s (even in “Air University Revew” this assumption was criticises as based upon wishful thinking, not facts); and judging from exercises with former WarPact countries – including Poland – that took place since early 90s, that assumption is completely false;
2) superior aircraft – possibly, but not all and not everywhere; especially in Southern and Northern flanks
3) assumption, that
>Most Soviet army groups lost their commanders and staffs in the early air attacksThe attacks against POMCUS sites and other NATO targets in the rear mostly failed. There was no disruption in comms, the movement of troops to the frontlines, or the marrying up of troops from the US with prepo equipment in Europe.<
is also highly improbable. Especially the WarPact's Electronic Warfare capabilities were highly regarded by NATO as potentially source of great disruptions in comms etc. – and that was something the NATO lagged behind (and still lags today), as it concentrated on ECM for air forces, "forgetting" the ground forces' systems.
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Thanks! 🙂 You’ve brought up some more good points. I’m actually now thinking about a blog entry to discuss some of this. Maybe on Thursday after D+11 starts. I’ll let you know beforehand
Well yes nato poilts were a lot a better then Soviet ones, its gust comen sense, they received twice the training time (even more with warsaw pact forces) pluse the Soviets were stuck with the pretty clunky ground intercept system. And its wired you even argue with that considering ussr generals agree with this and that they would lose the air war.
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Also, when talking about NATO/US tank forces, I have found interesting data about US tank fleet in various sources (including text by Duane Parsons, IIRC former soldier of the US V Corps, in TankNet or somewhere on a website dedicated to miniature tabletop games), but also in other materials (like TankNet’s NATO order of battle 1989 and following discussion), including:
1) “Department of Defense Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1988” (pages 91-93):
– Delivery of M1 Abrams ended in June 1986 with 32 armor battalions converted (including 3 x ARNG battalions)
– Total of 535 M1A1 tanks were delivered as of December 31, 1986; fielding began in Fort Bliss, Texas, August 1986
– The first unit to be completely re-armed was 3rd ACR and fielding in USAREUR began January, 1987
– A total of 19 battalions (including 2 x ARNG battalions) were re-armed with M2 Bradley IFV as of December 31, 1986
2) “An Analysis of the Conventional Military Balance on the European Central Front: Some Implications for NATO Strategy and Tactics, Volume 3”
– By early 1988 the US Army had deployed roughly 4700 M1 and M1A1 Abrams tank, with only about 700 being M1A1 tanks
3) There’s also a very interesting article in “Military Review”, October 1993 “In-Theater Armored Force Modernization” by Lieutenant Colonel Steve E. Dietrich, US Army (the text can be obtained via Google books; in on-line issue of the magazine the text is (intentionally?) missing) about the upgrade program for early M1s deployed in Saudi Arabia to make them equal to M1A1/HA latest variant.
To sum it up, the US tank fleet in 1989 looked as follows:
1) 11th ACR: M1 Abrams (with 105mm rifled gun), M3 ACav, 21 AH-1S Cobra helicopters
2) 3rd Armored Division: IP M1 Abrams (with 105mm rifled gun and M1A1 armor package), transition from M113 to M2A1 Bradley (finished in 1988), transition from 21 AH-1S Cobra helicopters to 18 AH-64 Apache (finished in 1988)
3) 8th Infantry Division (mech): still fully equipped with M60A3 Patton; first M1A1 Abrams battalion (4-69 Armor of the Division’s 1st Bde) re-equipped in July, 1988; transition from M113 to M2 Bradley (finished only in 1990)
12th Aviation Brigade: Fielded two battalions of the AH-64A Apache attack helicopter (only 1 in fact, at least in 1989)
1) 1st Armored Division – had 300 M1A1 and 60 M1A1HA in 1990 when sent to Saudi Arabia; in 1989 had 1 x 21 AH-1 Cobra bn and 1 x AH-64 Apache bn; in 1987 probably had M1 or IP M1
2) 3rd Infantry Division – probably M1/IP M1 or even M60A3 (M1A1 only in 1989), 2 bns per 21 x AH-1 Cobra
3) 2nd ACR: in 1990 had 129 x M1A1HA
Forward Deployed units:
1) 3rd Brigade, 2nd Armored Division (Forward) – Garlstedt, FRG: had M1A1 in 1989 (and 120 x M1A1HA in late 1990), don’t know when was re-armed; however, fielding in USAREUR began only in January, 1987
2) 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (Forward) – Goppingen, FRG: had M1A1 in 1989, don’t know when was re-armed
1) 4th Infantry Division (Mech): still fully equipped with M60A3 Patton; re-armed with M1 (or M1A1) only in 1988-89
2) 5th Infantry Division (Mech): still fully equipped with M60A3 Patton; its armor bns were re-equipped with Abrams as follows:
*3-67th Armor Battalion (former 1-40th Armor): had M1 at the end of 1988
*4-35th Armor Battalion (former 3-77th Armor): replaced its M60A3 with M1 during 1988
*3-70th Armor Battalion: to M1 possibly in 1989
*2-152nd Armor Battalion (Alabama ARNG, “roundout” for 2nd Bde): replaced its M60A3 with M1 during 1990
*1-156th Armor Battalion (of the 256th Mech Infantry “roundout” Brigade, Louisiana ARNG): replaced its M60A3 with M1 during 1990
3) 3rd ACR: in 1987 had full set of 129 M1A1 with 120mm smooth-bore gun
4) 2nd Armored Division: 2 CONUS based brigades as in 1990 still had the oldest variant of M1 with 105mm rifled gun (in 1990-91 these M1s were upgraded in Saudi Arabia to M1A1 standard)
5) 1st Cavalry Division: 2 regular brigades as in 1990 still had the oldest variant of M1 with 105mm rifled gun (in 1990-91 these M1s were upgraded in Saudi Arabia to M1A1 standard)
same refers to its “roundout” brigade (155th Armor Brigade – Mississippi ARNG, with 2 armor battalions) except that its tanks were not upgraded as the Bde never moved to war.
6) 1st Infantry Div (Mech): in 1990 still had 240 x M1 with 105mm rifled gun (part of which was upgraded in 1990/91 in Saudi Arabia)
XVIII Airborne Corps:
7) 24th Infantry Div (Mech) still had 175 IP M1 (in 3 regular armor bns) in 1990 – all were upgraded in Saudi Arabia in 1990/91; also its 2 “roundout” ARNG bns (1-108th Armor Battalion, Georgia ARNG from 48th Mech Infantry Brigade and 1-263rd Armor Battalion, South Carolina ARNG – “roundout” for 1st Bde) still had IP M1 in 1990
8) 197th Inf Bde (Sep.) had M60A3 in 1990 when deployed to Saudi Arabia; there it was re-armed with IP M1 which were later upgraded to M1A1 standard
9) 194th Armored Bde (Sep.): with M1 or IP M1 as of 1989
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