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



The situation updates soared up the Soviet’s theater command and control network. At Group Soviet Forces Germany’s (GFSG) wartime command bunker in East Germany, General Snetkov reviewed the update and grew concerned. The Hameln attack’s timeline is precise. Delays and deviations now will only cause bigger problems. The general wants to push 3rd Shock Army to speed up the crossing operations and preparations for the Hameln advance, but holds off. He doesn’t know all of the details and has faith in the army group’s commander to smooth out any difficulties that arise.

Snetkov does note the section of the update that briefly described the spoiling attacks against the right flank of 56th Guards. He requests additional information on what’s going on to the north and south of the division.



NATO ground attack aircraft join the fray, targeting the Leine crossing points, and suspected locations of forward headquarters, and communications sites.



Contact with the British has become sporadic. As 58th Guards lead elements are nearly prepared to move forward, 3rd Shock Army’s commander revises the dispositions. 56th Guards MRD will realign and provide overwatch on its sister division’s right flank and continue to cover the crossing points until 47th Guards Tank Division is entirely over the river.



Pieces of NATO radio transmissions are intercepted that suggest an enemy force gathering to the south. Recognizing this area will be the left flank for the push to the Weser, 3rd Shock’s intelligence officer orders recon flights to be launched in that direction.



South of Escherhausen, two Mi-24 Hinds discover a column of American trucks, HMMVWs, and some APCs on Highway 64. A short distance away, a company of M-1 tanks is seen in an area of farmland. Detailed reports are radioed in before American AH-64 Apaches arrive in the area, shooting down both Soviet gunships within minutes. But the Hinds lived long enough to get the message out and acknowledged: American armor is approaching from the south!



3rd Shock’s commander took the report from the helicopters more seriously. The Hind crews had seen American tanks and vehicles with their own eyes. That made it far more credible then just snippets of enemy radio traffic. Thankfully, the pilots managed to get a report out before they became posthumous heroes of the Soviet Union. He examined the map and at once was struck by  the obvious: Too much was beginning to happen simultaneously.

The lead motor-rifle regiment of the 58th Guards was approaching Deilmissen. Close behind, the second regiment was tightly packed on narrow two-lane roadways.  The division’s third regiment was just now moving out of its hastily established assembly areas practically on the west bank of the Leine.

3rd Shock’s commander ordered 58th Guards to move this regiment southwest and aim it at Grünenplan. The Americans were certainly headed for the bridges, he decided. The town was an ideal place to meet and bottle them up until the 47th Guards Tank Division was over the river and could close and finish them off. He had the authority to use the OMG as he saw fit. Presently, keeping the bridgehead in friendly hands took priority over everything else.



In the forest west of Salzhemmendorf, the commander of the 2nd Brigade/2nd Armored Division waited patiently in the rear compartment of the M-557 for the next stage of the drama to unfold. Thirty minutes or so earlier he was given the news that Soviet helicopters had sighted US vehicles and tanks around Escherhausen. It was still unclear if they had radioed the discovery back to their headquarters before being dispatched by two Apaches. If Ivan did not start moving forces south soon to meet the apparent threat, the answer was clear. In that case, Plan Alpha was off the table, and the brigade would have to start working to implement Plan Bravo.

The Soviets didn’t realize it, but some of their communications networks were tapped. In this case, US and British signals intelligence specialists could hear the ‘secure’ radio transmissions going from the 3rd Shock Army’s forward command post to its divisions on the other side of the Leine. Inbound communications remained secure for the moment, so the brigade commander, and his staff were waiting for a sign that their ruse had worked.

The Hinds had come across the vehicles near Escherhausen mainly because the Americans wanted them to be found. Radio transmissions through the morning and afternoon acted as the worm on the hook. Finally, the Soviets came searching and found US Army vehicles on the road north, and US Army tanks preparing to do the same. What Ivan didn’t know was that the vehicles were unmanned radio-controlled drones. The tanks were inflatable decoys that looked like and imitated the M-1 almost perfectly. The appearance of a company-sized grouping of these ‘tanks’ couldn’t be ignored.

Sixty seconds later the brigade S-2 entered the TOC and approached the brigade commander with a grin spreading across his round face.

“They took the bait, Colonel,” the brigade intelligence officer declared. “We just received word that 3rd Shock is sending a at least a regiment south and has ordered the rest of the 58th Guards to slow its pace. It looks like we have the situation we’ve been hoping for.”

The brigade commander nodded and turned to his S-3. “Mike, start mounting everybody up. We move in twenty.” Then, addressing everyone now present in the TOC. “Alright, people. There’s blood in the water. Let’s go kill somebody!”


 Author’s Note: Central Front D+13 concludes Monday. CENTAG is on a coffee break, not much happening down there. Moot point though, all the action is taking place between the Leine and Weser! 😊 Have a great rest of the weekend, everyone.





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

  1. Great stuff Mike

    One of the “fun” things about wwiii is the scale of everything compared to the side of todays European militaries. A British brigade deploying would be a major undertaking in 2020 – and The Pact are throwing regiments around like loose change:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point, Christian. Although the Pact had a lot more regiments to throw around. 🙂

      Moving heavy units today is handled differently. You’re right it’s like a big production for many nations to move even a single brigade. That’s a big concern.


  2. as I recall, the Soviets always had a higher amount of transportation assets for equipment and it showed when they went into A-stan and again in other “incursions” in places over the years since. It is something they absolutely do pretty damn well.

    NATO/western militarys never had enough. I remember with the deployment to the Gulf during Desert Shield…. then AGAIN for Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom… there was not enough to move the heavy elements to the theaters in a timely fashion.

    Granted, it was better for the latter two ops… but still really not enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are never enough transport assets for equipment. Never have been, never will be. It’s the same story every army (and air force, believe me) has had to contend with since World War I.
      Just be glad that in the Gulf all of your equipment arrived in one piece. The benefits of an unopposed transit to theater. 🙂


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