The Central Front D+14 (23 July, 1987) Part I

In headquarters’ and combat formations on both sides of the frontline a uniform presentiment of resolve had formed early in the morning of D+14. The general feeling among NATO and Warsaw Pact commanders, officers, NCOs, and troops was that this day would be decisive. Perhaps enough to affect the outcome of the war.  Blanket thoughts like these were not unique to this specific war. They were common occurrences throughout the history of warfare tracing back to the Peloponnesian War and likely earlier.

For the majority of soldiers in Central Europe on that morning, the feeling was fed by intuition, and instinct. Their knowledge of the overall situation was, almost overwhelmingly, limited to the immediate physical boundaries of their parent units, or to their present missions. In the chain of command, the amount of information, and comprehension increased at each tier. Veteran officers, and NCOs were far more accurate with their assumptions and forecasts as to what the day ahead would have in store. These were men who had survived two weeks of war and the knowledge gained in that time taught them how to identify telltale signs of a major attack on the horizon.

At Soviet army level headquarters and above, intuitiveness and instinct were replaced by hard knowledge. The colonels, and generals situated at the forward, main, and rear command posts knew for certain a major attack would be launched on this day. Beyond that, it was apparent this attack was set to be a powerful effort consisting of one damaged but still effective first-echelon tank army, and a second-echelon tank army. In seventy-two hours the effort would be joined by a follow-on second-echelon tank army. The operational objective of the forthcoming attack was little different from that of the previous two major attacks: Reach the Weser, conduct a crossing in force, and blast an irreparable hole in NORTHAG’s lines.

Information pouring into NATO indicated a major attack was coming within the next eighteen to twenty-four hours. This didn’t come as a surprise to many NATO officers in Brussels, or at NORTHAG’s wartime headquarters. Determining where, and in what fashion the Soviet attack would come was another matter entirely, however.

Intelligence officers examined the data obtained from ELINT and reconnaissance flights, assets on the ground behind enemy lines, and images provided by American satellites in orbit high above the earth. The conclusions reached by these experts were empirical in their minds, based on evidence that was almost impossible to dispute.

Operations officers took these speculative forecasts with a grain of salt. Their interpretations of the information were born from their own first-hand experiences in the field, as well as extensive personal knowledge of how the Red Army operated in wartime. Looking at display maps showing the NORTHAG sector in great detail, the operations people reached conclusions which were distinctly different from their intelligence counterparts. 

As the analysis and prognostication continued, both NATO and Pact divisions and brigades in the field were transiting into the final periods of preparation. For the defenders this included establishing fields of fire, conducting last minute vehicle and weapons repair, and coordinating air and artillery support. As time moves by the attackers are becoming more active. Regiments have been on the road all night moving towards their departure lines. Enemy air attacks take place every so often, some more successful than others. Arriving in their final assembly areas, some units made the unpleasant discovery that their areas were in range of NATO artillery. This brought on a fresh round of complications and delays to be overcome. Fortunately, the Soviet divisions still had ample hours remaining to correct the deficiencies and complete their preparations for battle. Time was on their side.

The attack was scheduled to commence at 1300 hours.

6 Replies to “The Central Front D+14 (23 July, 1987) Part I”

  1. saying so much…. and yet, not enough. Nice. 🙂

    Based on D+13 entries (went and reread them), 1st GTA’s plans are going to go sideways because NATO has plans of their own.

    V Corp is waiting for an opening and a scrambling WP force in front of them to avoid being in Arty range is going to be a sign. Scouts doing their jobs and the left behind Recon Teams are going to get the word out that there is a resupply going on…

    Which means, the time to drop the hammer is now.

    Intel is going to say they are nearly ready to jump and give estimates of their force count- likely cautioning against just yet until more info is ironed out.

    Ops is going to go “Maybe… but they have to resupply first. And these are some tired units. And we got fresh ones…” which means they are for a counter offensive. Because the best time to hit an enemy is when you’ve rocked him on his heels….

    As events elsewhere catch up to Europe (remember, 06 here is 09 in the middle east and late afternoon in West Pac) it is going to really turn the screws on Central Europe actions… Especially as Poland starts to show its issues…. And the Intel guys are gonna shit themselves at 0900 when THAT news gets out….

    So I see V Corp Command having a look at the Intel picture at before Sunrise and throwing the dice. With Posture set from the night before, the planned attack can be launched within two to three hours from the Order being given.

    (if I remember how fast Stand To can be carried out across a front. I mean we trained for it at Hohenfels when in the box; I’m told NTC was no different- never made it there so I don’t know)

    And if that decision is made at 05, by 8am, Nato is gonna launch their counter attack…. right into the faces of an Exhausted and resupplying 1st GTA. Its already been written that Nato has the Arty Range…. and that they mostly own the air.

    So an assault before the Soviets are ready will be brutally effective and be a major setback. Conceivable to think that any designs on the Weser with the 1300 Soviet plan are utterly shot to shit by the time that actual time shows up.

    By Noon, the Poland troubles will also start to play a hand in Soviet planning as they find out… and by Nightfall, the writing will be on the wall for all to see, as long as they are understanding what they are reading.

    So when this possible outcome (I strongly think its going to be a bad one for the Soviets but can be wrong) is added into the mix with the rest of the D14 info, I think the 36-72 hour prediction holds for War Conclusion.

    And it really hinges on how hard Nato hammers the Soviets by Sundown.

    I really don’t think it will be pretty…. Nato has fresh units as Reforger units are ready and French Assets now moving in too (they are likely in position by D+15 as follow on forces, if not end of day D+14- depends on how fast they move politically…).

    No, Central Front ending as a stalemate is a huge loss for the Soviets. Anything less than an advance is a loss, really… but Stalemate is bad news and a brushback is catastrophic. Especially in light of events unfolding Six-to-Eight Hundred kilometers east

    *goes for the popcorn*

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Of course, the Gods Of War are fickle at times and the enemy always has a say in plans concerning their execution.

    The way this is shaking out though, I’m not sure the Soviets have much to rebut with or well.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pickett’s charge, the charge of the Light Brigade,Kaiserschlacht. Their best forces will be bled white, afterwards they will have to face a combined US French counterattack, with at least partially fresh forces, exactly what the French had trained for. Not to speak of a very unsafe supply line. Professional soldiers study logistics….
    Looking forward to your next chapters!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Always the case, isn’t it? We saw a lot of that on the Western Front in the opening days of World War I too. Battle of the Frontiers was an eye-opening period. Senseless slaughter of France’s best troops for nothing in return.

      Thanks, Joachim. Next post will be up Saturday afternoon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember reading a book by a French author quoting a french politician “Red trousers are France”. It is sad that ignorance and stupidity are counted inhuman lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seems to be the benchmark of the 20th and 21st Centuries, friend. Sad to say. Here’s another gem: “The bomber always gets through.”

      Like

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