The Central Front D+12 (21 July, 1987) Part I

Capt-H-A--Skaarup-briefing-SACEUR-General-John-R--Galvin-and-LGen-George-R--Joulwan---amp--BGen-J-J-M-R--Gaudreau--Brigade-HQ--G2-Section--Fallex-91

As the thirteenth day of World War III came to life, SACEUR sat in his office pouring over maps of the Federal Republic and reflected on the progress of the war in Germany. Thick red blotches denoted West German territory now held by the enemy, and red arrows of varying sizes showed the direction, and strength of numerous Soviet and Warsaw Pact advances. The Soviets controlled a respectable slice of West Germany from the Danish border in the north to the small town of Pförring in the south. The deepest penetration was about 103 kilometers to date. This was the advance moving towards the Weser in the NORTHAG area. Penetrations in the central and southern regions were considerably less. Many of the centuries-old grand cities in West Germany were feeling the direct effects of the war. Hamburg, although declared a free city early in the fighting, had been entered and occupied by Soviet troops. Hanover was threatened. Regensburg, and its imposing Classical buildings suffered heavy damage through days of fighting and was now under the control of Czech forces.

As grim as the tally of occupied territory and cities might seem, it was not an accurate interpretation of the present situation on the ground for NATO. The alliance’s land and air forces were holding up well given the circumstances. In some areas they were exceeding expectations. By this point of the war, according to many of the pre-war studies done over the last ten years, either the Soviets would be across the Rhine, or Germany would be a radioactive parking lot. Had this war kicked off a decade earlier, SACEUR was certain that one of those two scenarios would’ve become reality.

1977 was a point in time when the US Army was just beginning to dust itself off from the Vietnam experience and take a long, hard look at what needed to be accomplished to assure victory in Europe if the Soviets ever jumped across the fence. Innovative doctrines were created, and put into practice, desperately needed advanced weapons systems were ordered, and then in 1981 the Reagan buildup helped the US military find itself again and concentrate on fighting, and defeating the Soviet Union in a future war. After Reagan’s inauguration, America’s NATO allies began their own rearming programs that, to varying extents, improved readiness, and capabilities.

When war started on 9 July, 1987 none of these rearming programs had been fully completed. NATO was forced to go to war with the forces it had on hand, not the ones it would’ve liked to have. Yet the amount of reforms, and rearming was enough to keep SACEUR’s army groups, and tactical air forces performing at a high level. The war was far from over, SACEUR believed, but he was in as good a position now as he could hope for.

All attention remained fixed on the NORTHAG region. North of Hanover, the Dutch and West Germans were holding. The Soviet attempt to break through, envelop Hanover from the north and reach the Weser from there had obviously failed. It did not appear as if SACEUR’s Soviet counterpart was going to waste any of his reinforcing divisions north of Hanover. At least for the moment.

Southwest of the city, along the banks of the Weser was where the fate of Germany, and likely the entire NATO alliance would be decided. If the Soviets managed to breakthrough NATO forces there and cross the river, their follow-on divisions would be positioned to race for the Ruhr Valley, and the Rhine with little in their path to stop them. Eventually, any thrust could be defeated, but not before the damage was done. The West German government might very well decide enough is enough if Soviet tanks began laying waste to its industrial heartland, and then arrived at the banks of the Rhine. Even Helmut Kohl, as ardent an anti-communist as there was, probably would not be able to withstand the tide of calls for a ceasefire. His government would collapse, and the Federal Republic’s new leaders would most likely sue for peace.

It fell to SACEUR to prevent this nightmare scenario from happening. The American general had a plan for this, but it all depended upon his Northern Army Group’s ability to keep the Soviets away from the Weser for at least forty-eight hours. Given the NORTHAG commander’s reluctance to defend forward of the river, SACEUR was concerned he may not get the time he needed. Sir Martin (General Martin Farndale, BAOR, and NORTHAG commanding general) was a highly capable commander who’d proven his mettle many times in the past twelve days. Unfortunately, the dynamic of the war was changing, and Farndale was proving reluctant to change with it. He was too good of a commander to relieve less than 24 hours away from what could be the pivotal battle of the war. But Farndale was going to need some help whether he realized it or not.

SACEUR and the commander of III Corps were prepared to provide this help when the time came. Whether Farndale wanted it or not.

20 Replies to “The Central Front D+12 (21 July, 1987) Part I”

  1. VII Corps in CENTAG was lining up from D+7 through D+9 to deliver an absolute haymaker in a counterattack/counteroffensive. Could SACEUR finally be releasing the hounds?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s quite possible. All depends on the situation in CENTAG. 1st Guards Tank Army is still pushing towards Frankfurt. VII Corps may be needed there first.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Farndale’s attitude smacks of Montgomery’s in Europe some 43 years prior. Just as cautious at the wrong time as Monty was. Better hope he’s not like Monty in that he’s too adventurous at the wrong time!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That and his “Well, basically…” attitude where he talked down to and about his Allies. He and his historical defenders *still* think he “saved” the US Army during the Battle of the Bulge.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That air of superiority and Brit officers looking down their noses at their US counterparts happened a lot during WW II. I think alot of it was pride. We were the younger brother but all of the sudden became the patriarch of the family in a sense

          Liked by 1 person

          1. And to be 100% honest a lot of that was earned: when the AEF got to Europe a generation prior, a lot of our officers set about to make the same mistakes that the French and British had already learned not to make, and got their asses handed to them as a result, leaving the aforementioned French and British shaking their heads at our ignorance.

            But, as with (for example) Market Garden, Monty let his pride get away from him, and it cost. A lot. Some people say, well, if Ike had only given it full support…so what, the Germans could cut through the lines to the south? I mean, there’s a reason Eisenhower was skeptical of a massive Airborne operation that relied on relief coming from 3 columns of armor that would be travelling on elevated roads across an enormous flat-land. 😛

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I always thought Market Garden was a piss poor plan but looking at it now, we have the benefit of hindsight. I do think Monty was an overrated commander. Capable, but nowhere near the battlefield genius he, or most other Brits, rank him as

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              1. Montgomery’s strength was that he was not the “decent chap” many previous British generals were. He was able to push through a battle of attrition (which most modern battles are), and was able to shrug off the casualties and keep his eye on the final prize – the total destruction of the enemy. It worked for him in North Africa and Normandy. This was also his weakness as his egotism made him unable to play the political game in a period when Britain’s contribution to the NW Europe theatre was becoming smaller all the time. I think he grasped at the Market Garden plan because he was desperate to retain hold of the main battle in NW Europe at a time when logistics and political reality was inexorably moving it out of his hands. The USA was now contributing the lions share of troops and the traditional route into Germany was via the Saar, which was not defended by several river barriers.

                Liked by 2 people

              2. I think you nailed it, Mike. Like most successful battlefield commanders, Monty was a bastard, like you said. Ruthless, cunning, and a thousand other terms you’d never want to see in your obituary. 🙂 Unfortunately, the later phase of the war in Europe was very political in a sense. But coalition fighting always is.
                History remembers him well though, and always will.

                Liked by 1 person

  3. The Brits are good. That Farndale seems to have caught a “Monty” ailment… isn’t surprising but to have it hit at THIS point… is annoying as hell. I should hope he kicks it and lets his Boys have a go at the Soviets on the Eastern side of the river…. with the backup of US forces in place, they will give the Reds “such a kickin’…” (as a Scottish marine friend like to say).

    The brit gear is good. And as determined much later in real life, better than Soviet stuff.

    CENTAG can hold and I think with he reforger stuff now married up and in place, a counter attack is VERY possible. I’m still waiting for some 3rd AD news here… (Spearhead!!) as we had some damn good crews.in my unit and in the Elvis Bn cross post.

    Given that the disaster that is brewing up in the North for the Soviets will be sapping attention of STAVKA and the Soviet Commands, I should think some serious openings for a counter attack will appear.

    And that will really mean the war.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 3rd Armored is resting and refitting right now, along with 8th ID. V Corps is now being anchored by the 4th ID (REFORGER division) and the 1st AD borrowed from VII Corps.
      It won’t be long before the 3rd Herd is back on the line and in the thick of it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yeah, but what do they have in terms of raw numbers of that gear vs. the West Germans and US forces? The Abrams is built on the best tech of both UK and German engineering, and available in more numbers than the Chally. Just sayin’.

      I agree 100% that the landings up North are going to be an utter failure for the Soviets, and the “shock” of it will leave NATO poised to crush the Pact.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Brits took longer than they hoped to introduce large numbers of Challengers into service. Thankfully, in the real world, there were enough on hand when Desert Storm kicked off.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I wonder what the French Army is up to at this moment… Could possibly SACEUR call upon the French Corps to move up and reinforce NORTHAG?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The French Rapid Action Force is part of NORTHAG reserve. Aside from that there are no other French ground forces involved in the fighting. Only air and naval units. Unless the Pact gets close to the Rhine…and France….that will not change

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  5. The Brits need to be careful with their forces becuase there aren’t any in the pipeline. The US can still mobilise at least one more Corps. Same for the European allies, the cupboard is bare, only the French can provide a strategic reserve and US Corps in the South need to disengage to go hit the WP on the flank up North. By now my guess is that the Soviet Union is mobilising in earnest, which would put 5-6 armies in the field within 20 days on top of those that would have moved into Germany by now (the Bielorussian and Carpathian military districts)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the Brits were limited with their first-line equipment. There was only so much. Same for the Germans too, really.
      Right now we’re seeing the forces from the Belorussian MD arrive. Carpathian MD units aren’t far behind. If it weren’t for NATO air attacks they would’ve arrived days earlier.

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