The NATO intelligence estimates and timetables for the southern Leine crossings were imprecise. 8th Guards Tank Division was already across the river by midnight and its lead combat elements had arrived at their advance departure areas southeast of Einbeck. 3rd Shock Army’s commander monitored their progress carefully, as well as the additional artillery and air defense batteries now approaching the Greene crossing. 8th Guards TD (Tank Division) was the linchpin of the coming attack. The Category A division was tasked with breaking through the Belgian defenses and reaching the Weser River in the vicinity of Hoxtel within 24 hours with 6th Guards TD supporting. By that point in time, at least one follow-on division was expected to have crossed the Leine and be ready for immediate commitment.
By 0100 it was becoming clear NATO was growing wise to the Soviet ruse. Reconnaissance aircraft had been reported in the vicinity of Greene and Freden. Radio traffic between NORTHAG headquarters and Brussels had spiked shortly before midnight and increased between NORTHAG and its divisions in the field shortly thereafter. The content of the radio traffic was unable to be determined. NATO comm lines at the army group level and above remained secure. Yet the amount of traffic, and where it was being directed revealed a lot. 3rd SA’s commander did not expect the ruse to last indefinitely. His opponents were no fools, as he had learned time and time again in the last 72 hours or so. However, he was confident the masquerade had remained in place long enough. NATO might be able to move a handful of reserve units east of the Weser to support the Belgians, but it would not be enough.
Back in the German Democratic Republic, General Boris Snetkov shared his subordinate’s assessment. And conclusion The Group of Soviet Forces Germany commander had calculated that a NATO discovery of the true Soviet intentions earlier than 1800 on D+16 would’ve been near disaster for the planned attack. As it stood, NATO’s intelligence epiphany had come too late. NORTHAG would not be able to properly reinforce and support the Belgian division west of Einbeck in time. The only factor still concerning Snetkov was the application of NATO airpower at first light. His air commanders had assured him there would be ample amounts of fighter cover and close air support. The general did not doubt the good intentions of his comrades in the air service. They would move mountains in order to make certain every available aircraft was available and tasked to support the advance on the Weser. But Snetkov was a realist and had begrudgingly accepted that his forces would fight under a NATO-controlled sky later that day, just as they had for days previous.
But wars are never decided in the air and this fact held true for the present conflict. NATO was ahead in the air and causing headaches for Soviet commanders from Stendal to Bad Salzdetfurth. Despite the headaches, damage and delays inflicted by the NATO air forces, the armies of the Soviet Union and their Warsaw Pact allies continued to advance went towards the Rhine each day.
D+16 would be a continuation of that effort. The attack was set to go off at 0600.