The Central Front D+15 (24 July, 1987) Part IV-Bravo

NORTHAG 1200-1700 (Southern Sector of the Weser Defenses)

NATO combat strength in the southern sector of the Weser defense was currently anchored around the Belgian 16th Armored Division. This division’s title is somewhat misleading. It was actually organized more along the lines of a traditional 3-brigade mechanized infantry division once the absorption of reserve units and wartime deployments were factored in. On D+15 two of the division’s brigades were deployed forward.

 4th Brigade had reluctantly ceded Wezen to the enemy in the later hours of the morning but continued to skirmish with the Soviet 202nd Guards Motor Rifle Regiment into the afternoon. 17th Brigade, another mechanized infantry formation, had its line centered at Dassel a small town situated at the edge of the Solling hills 12 kilometers west of Einbeck. This was the point where the terrain became more favorable to the defenders and offered few viable avenues to the Weser for the Soviets. The division’s third brigade remained in place on the right bank of the Weser at Hoxter, serving as 16th Armored Division reserve.

The early afternoon moved along with continued skirmishes between Belgian and Soviet forces from Eimen south to Einbeck. The Soviet unit opposing the Belgians was the 6th Guards Tank Division. Much of this division was already across the Leine and proceeding southwest and west from the bridgeheads at Freden and Greene towards Einbeck. The bulk of the division was anticipated to begin deploying in force from Wenzen to Einbeck later in the day and start the next phase of operations around sunset. By all appearances the 6th Guards primary mission was to conduct a supporting attack and keep the Belgians busy and unable to affect the growing battle to the north.

As fighting in the Hameln area intensified through the afternoon the Soviet tank division displayed its cards even more. Engagements with the forward Belgian units became longer, with the Soviet units displaying more reluctance to disengage. Their intent was clearly to keep the Belgians preoccupied as the battle to the north played out.

Around 1500 concern over the southern Leine bridgeheads was growing. With the bulk of 2 ATAF’s airpower committed in the north the number of sorties directed at the enemy’s southern crossing points was limited. Many pilots returning from these missions reported heavier SAM and anti-aircraft defenses around the bridges.  Even more curious were reports indicating an increase in ground traffic on the roads approaching Freden and Greene. This information was recorded and sent up the line.

NORTHAG’s intelligence officers were not overly alarmed by the sightings. They assumed the pilots had seen straggler 6th Guards sub-units running dangerously behind schedule and rushing to their crossing points. It was mentioned briefly to General Farndale and elicited minimal interest. He accepted the conclusion of his intelligence officers and did not give the topic a second thought. The Belgian division’s commander, on the other hand, was more troubled by the reports. His forces would be responsible for stopping those units now queued up to cross the Leine. 16th Armored Division matched up very well with its Soviet opponent, a Category B tank division. But if the enemy was introducing additional forces into his sector, this was inevitably going to alter the calculus of his defensive plans. He needed more accurate intelligence about just what was happening on the other side of the Leine and put a request for it to NORTHAG through I Belgian Corps headquarters.

14 Replies to “The Central Front D+15 (24 July, 1987) Part IV-Bravo”

  1. Warm-up is over. The concert’s about to begin.

    (N.b., for those who may have forgotten…today (2/28) is the 30th anniversary of the Battle of 73 Easting and the Battle of Norfolk in the first Gulf War.)

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    1. Finally, the symphony will start. 🙂

      Wow, has it been thirty years? I remember being a 13 year old glued to the TV screen back then from the second I got home until I went to sleep. 73 Easting is well regarded as the hallmark battle it was but Objective Norfolk seems to have slipped between the cracks of the public’s conscious unfortunately. Either way, appreciate the heads up, Bill. Thanks!

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      1. 13! You whippersnapper, half my friends were afraid they were gonna get drafted into Operation Desert ‘Nam (seriously the hand-wringing from my fellow fat tabletop gamer friends in ’91 was hilarious to watch…yeah we’re going to reactivate selective service for a pissant “war” that was over the minute Saddam refused to leave Kuwait…! *and* the SS/DB is going to want your fat asses* up on the MLR!)

        But, all kidding aside, yeah. I remember sitting in the “conversation pit” at Valencia College West Campus “watching the war” that day. It was an unusually cool, wet, overcast day, and we watched as the US troops rolled through. Probably not there at the Easting, or at objective Norfolk, but still…God, thirty years ago. It blows my mind that I was born closer to the end of WW2 than we are from the end of ODS today (1970 vs. 2021…)

        *=I am/was a chubby boy too so I get to make that comment 😉

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        1. That 100 hour ground war vindicated the Reagan era military build up and showed the world just how good the US military was. A decade spent training to fight the Russians in Europe paid off…ironically enough….in the deserts of Iraq and Kuwait.

          Oh you’re totally right, Bill. We’re old men lol In a few more years we’ll be part of the old guard. Talk about a kick in the head. lol

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          1. Oh yeah. People don’t realize it but the US spent from 1942 until 1992 on a wartime footing. Pre BRAC, you look at a map of military bases just in the CONUS and it’ll make your head swim. Towns that, aside from a base, are little more than a wide spot in the road, with brigades and companies and specialist battalion HQs in them, tons upon tons of pre-positioned supplies, etc. etc. We really were “at war” most of that 50 year period. The fact that after ODS, (Odious? HA) we still undertook the campaign in the Balkans, the 2nd Gulf War, the invasion of Afghanistan…all that is the result of the kinetic energy imparted to the Department of Defense by that 50 years of preparation. We are, at least today (don’t know what the man sitting in the oval office may do tomorrow) still the *only hyperpower* in the world. It Is Us. Nobody can play on the same field as we can.

            If you haven’t looked into his works, I *highly* recommend watching some TED Talks by Thomas P.E. Barnett, who not only has Been there and Done that, he’s crazy smart, and has a lot to say about the preeminence of the US, how we got it, how we can lose it if we’re not careful, and what to do with it in the future.

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          2. *Ahem* you two crack me up… 🙂

            I had a front row seat for Obj Dorset… among other things. And got to witness some serious firepower being tossed. Not every war one gets to see Apaches and a Cobra tear up stuff not far from oneself, a bunch of F16’s dropping (and missing) bombs on an enemy column and a pair of A-10s wreck everything they shot at. Was a wicked display of American airpower, lemme tell you.

            Also got to watch M1’s on the move shooting and hitting too.. though doing so THRU our formation was a bit disconcerting… Thankfully, they missed us but not by much. 😛

            The brave(?) Iraqi that shot at me got a lot closer to not missing.

            I suppose part of what bugs me is some of what I remember happening didn’t make the history books. At least not that I can find. Ah well.

            I believe I told you some of those stories, Mike.

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            1. I wanna say the Vipers were 50/50 on accuracy. They damn sure didn’t stick around to find out…. not that I blame them. SAM fire *was* present…. and missed alot.

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              1. Well, SAMs or not, they never have much time to loiter since they haven’t got the gas. As for their accuracy….. not bad for single-engine multirole types. 🙂

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              2. I remember I used to have this text file of F16 bumper stickers, and it was all pretty hilarious. Stuff like “F16: I came, I saw, I bingo’d.” or “F16: covering the target area like a string bikini” and “F16: Fully loaded wall to wall. That’s right, two Mk. 84s”…”F16: Lose a few…lose a few.” “F16: Wait ’til I come back with my other bomb” and so forth.

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            2. Too much from the ground war didn’t make the history books. Outside of places like West Point those battles and the lessons learned aren’t discussed much. Which is too bad really.

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            3. Wow that’s pretty intense, John. I went to high school with a guy who was in supply and logistics and was in the shit there. I bumped into him in the mall one day in the mid 1990s and we didn’t really have much time to talk but he said things got pretty exciting when his refueling unit was called forward to an M1 unit to gas them up…and it was right up on the line, tanks firing and everything, and there they were gassing ’em up.

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              1. Fairly accurate experience, Bill. I know more than a few who did that job on the line.
                I also know the first Female Medics to get their combat awards- and yes, there was a bit of political bullshit that went on there. Oh man…. some stories that maybe can’t be told in a public setting.

                Some funny, some not so funny.

                For the incident with the tankers… We had paused on the advance when we ran into a IRG unit. I don’t remember which one and the histories I find are inconsistent… to include WHO engaged them. Madness.

                During our pause to engage, the trail Tank company (Delta, I think) come racing forward and as SOON as they cleared the berms to get LoS on the IRG armor, they cut loose…

                Shooing THRU our formation. Fun fucking times, lemme tell you. A SABOT makes a wicked crack when it flies by your track at less than fifteen yards or so away. More than once, I might add.

                Good thing our Bn was both Brigade and Division top dogs in Gunnery. If they weren’t, I might have wound up with bigger issues than Gulf War Syndrome.

                (puts the salt cannister away)

                yeah, some interesting stories. Best told with a beer in hand… at least. 🙂

                Liked by 2 people

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