CENTAG Region D+15
The 4th Infantry Division and 1st Armored Division’s attacks went off as scheduled before dawn and within twenty minutes of one another. Each attack force consisted of a heavy maneuver brigade supported by division-level artillery, along with attack helicopters as well. Early on, both forces met stiff resistance, especially 2nd Brigade/4th Infantry Division.
Whereas the tank regiment that 1st Brigade/1st Armored Division crashed into was deployed in depth, the bulk of the motor rifle regiment anchoring the first line of Soviet defense in front of 2/4 ID was deployed up front. Battlefield reconnaissance from late on D+14 identified three probable points of vulnerability in the enemy’s main defensive area. 2nd Brigade’s cavalry scouts probed forward before dawn to determine which points were most susceptible to pressure. Two areas were identified, but as it turned out, neither was as vulnerable as hoped.
Fighting was fierce in the Alsfeld sector through the later part of the day. After overcoming its initial shock, the 39th Guards Motor Rifle Division settled in and defended every meter of ground fiercely. The motor-rifle troops were unwilling to cede control of the town and its valuable network of roads. In the early afternoon a second US brigade was committed to the action along with a good amount of corps-level assets in support. As sunset approached, US forces had secured control over two-thirds of Alsfeld and pushed Soviet forces south of the town back 7 kilometers beyond Bundestrasse-254.
1st Armored Division’s attack met stiff resistance as well from the 11th Guards Tank Division. The Soviet division’s forward regiments were deployed in depth. Their initial defenses were not penetrated until around 1200. Within two hours much of the division’s MRR had been enveloped south of Stockhausen. A counterattack made up of two tank battalions hit the Americans later in the day to break through to the surrounded motor-rifle troops. It failed to reach them, however, it was enough to slow the US advance and force 1st AD’s commanding general to commit a second brigade to the fight.
In VII Corps area the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment probed against the Czech motor rifle regiments to its front as the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade did the same against the Soviet tank regiment opposite the Big Red One’s present positions. Neither Pact formation put up much resistance and fell back quickly, unwilling to engage the American units. The bulk of one Czech battalion did not resist or pull back though. As the Abrams and Bradleys of 2/2nd ACR approached their positions, two GAZ jeeps sporting white flags emerged from the woods. Inside was the Czech battalion commander who identified himself to the first US officer encountered and explained his intention to formally surrender the men under his command. Later in the day the newly processed prisoners of war began to speak openly to their captors about rebellion brewing in the Czech Army and the defection of a senior Czechoslovakian general two days before.
The French 1st Army was now moving into West Germany in large numbers. II Corps was closest to the front and would be the first to make contact. With CENTAG in agreement, SACEUR’s plan was to use II Corps three divisions (two armored, 1 infantry) to reinforce the NATO divisions currently defending the approaches to Nuremburg and Munich. After the Pact advance in the south is blunted, the remainder of the French 1st Army will move into the VII Corps area, thus freeing up that US corps for less-defensive oriented operations in the future.