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

In the northern CENTAG area, the first part of the day saw the continuation of  changes in missions developing for NATO and Warsaw Pact ground forces. It was becoming clear that the Soviet drive on Frankfurt had come to a halt for the time being at least. The 1st Guards Tank Army;s (1st GTA)  forward divisions in West Germany continued their shift into a defensive posture. From Lauterbach south to Brachtal the first line of defenses was nearly fully established despite constant harassment by NATO airpower, and artillery. Their US adversaries, on the other hand, were thinking offensively after two solid weeks of fighting a defensive war.

At the 4th Infantry Division’s forward headquarters, the division commander and his operations staff were planning an attack in the sector of the 39th Guards MRD utilizing the 4th’s reserve brigade. Alsfeld, and the town’s vital road links were to be the primary objective. The 1st Armored Division too was planning its own brigade-sized attack on the Soviet 11th Tank Division. Through the morning, cavalry scout probes, and aerial reconnaissance flights canvassed the sector for weak points and vulnerabilities in the Soviet line. The area where the two forward enemy divisions tied in together would be the ideal point for an attack.

At CENTAG’s forward command post there was planning underway there too, though it was entirely theoretical at this time. No preparations were underway, and no units were being moved. The hypothetical plans, and daydreams here were on a scale greater than the division or corps level. CENTAG’s sharpest operational brains were once again pondering a major counteroffensive to clear central and southern Germany of all Warsaw Pact forces and open the door to a future extension of operations into Pact territory.  CENTAG had been looking for an opportunity to press east since the first day of war, and now it appeared the stars might finally be aligning. Yesterday’s news from Paris that French land forces would be committed to the war in Germany was authentic, and accurate. Advance parties of officers and NCOs from France’s First Army were now in the ground in southern and central Germany paving the way for the stream of French divisions that was expected to begin entering the Federal Republic later that evening. Once sufficient French forces had arrived, the US V and VII Corps could imaginably be converted from shields to sabers and make the counteroffensive option a thoroughly realistic one for CENTAG. Until then, CENTAG was encouraging V Corps and its commander to be as aggressive as possible. The local attacks being planned by 4th ID and 1st Armored were a good start.

On V Corps left, III West German Corps continued to deny Kassel to the Soviets and East Germans. The enemy push to capture the West German city was a secondary consideration in Western TVD’s war plan for the central front. It was expected to, at most, tie up at minimum a NATO corps for a considerable amount of time. In that regard, Pact operations in the Kassel area were successful, and as an added benefit managed to anchor the right flank of 8th Guards Army and then 1st Guards Tank Army in their advance west. The danger for the Soviets on D+14 was the diminishing amount of Pact combat power here. Time was starting to become a critical factor. The divisions were in need of resupply, and if possible, replacement. If the second-echelon tank army expected to reinforce 1st GTA and 8th GA did not appear in thirty-six hours as expected, the situation around Kassel would be irrecoverable. The right flank of Soviet forces in central Germany would remain paper-thin and vulnerable to even modest prodding by NATO.

Author’s Note: Happy Thanksgiving weekend, folks! Sorry for running a little behind. Central Front will be wrapped up tomorrow night or Monday. –Mike

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

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