D+18 0000-0400 Zulu 27 July, 1987 Part II

Central Front

Freden, FRG, 0000 Zulu, 27 July, 1987 (0200 local time)

1st Brigade/1st Cavalry Division’s crossing of the Leine was underway in earnest by 0200 hours. At Freden and Greene, 2nd Brigade’s battalions had the bridgeheads secure and pushed out 8 kilometers east of the river to give 1st Brigade a buffer against potential enemy attacks during the crossing operation. At 1st Cav’s forward headquarters, division commander Major General John Yeosock was satisfied with the progress of 1st Brigade. His dilemma at the present time was in making a decision about Alfeld and the other northern crossing points on the Leine. Part of him wanted to send 1st Brigade north to seize them and effectively isolate the 3rd Shock Army west of the Leine. Another part was determined to get 1st Brigade across the river and expand the defensive perimeter in preparation for the rest of the division and then III Corps to cross. Grabbing Alfeld and Brüggen would also expand the bridgehead for those regiments and divisions coming after 1st Cavalry. Yet at the same time, such a move ran the risk of overextending 1st Cav’s combat strength and leaving it susceptible to a Soviet counterattack coming out of the east.

The operations staff was divided on the validity of the idea, as was their commanding general. For now, 1st Brigade was continue its crossing. When it was on the other side of the Leine in full, Yeosock would make a final decision on the matter.

Ramstein Airbase, FRG, 0235 Zulu, 27 July, 1987 (0435 local time)

Commander, Allied Air Forces Central Europe General Bill Kirk, USAF looked at the 4th Allied Tactical Air Force commander sitting across the desk from him and appearing quite crestfallen. The man knew what was coming.

“I hate to do it,” Kirk explained in a sympathetic voice. “But I have to take a sizeable number of your ground attack aircraft and put them to work up north. Your counterpart at Rheindahlen is seriously hurting.”

“I know, sir.” 4 ATAF’s commander acknowledged sincerely. “But dammit, this is going to play havoc with my priorities and air tasking. There are going to be a lot of disappointed FACs expecting to get A-10s when they call down close air tomorrow.”

“Fair enough,” Kirk conceded and then leaned forward. “But you need to appreciate the situation up north right now. 2 ATAF has taken a beating for days now trying to interdict traffic on the Leine bridges.  Now those very same bridges are in our hands and there’s a US armored division crossing them at this moment. With quite a few more behind it,” he added and then stabbed a finger at the 4th’s commander. “Do you want to call Brussels and tell General Galvin that 16,000 US troops are going to be hung out on a limb without sufficient close air support in a few hours?”

“Of course not!” 4th ATAF’s commander nearly exploded. He took a moment to gather himself and then asked, in a calmer, more businesslike tone, “What do you need?”

“Continuous A-10 coverage over the Leine bridges from 0600 until midnight. One squadron overhead at any given time, minimum. Come tomorrow night, I might need more depending on what happens in the next twelve hours.”

“Is there anything else?”

“Not for now. Just A-10s. But I won’t make any promises about the future.”

“Well, general,” he rose from his chair and stretched. “In that case I’d better make you aware that it seems as if CENTAG is thinking about a counteroffensive as well. I don’t know when or with how many divisions, but CINC-CENT contacted me earlier and wanted to know how many A-10 squadrons I might have available in 36 hours.”

Kirk’s face fell upon hearing that. “Oh, shit.”

“Not sure how serious they’re planning over there, but I thought you should know. If he does jump off, I’m going to be hard pressed to support him without those A-10s.”

“Don’t worry, Andy. I’ll handle it,” Kirk assured his subordinate. “Now kindly see yourself out so I can call Brussels and talk to them about this.”

Author’s Note: There really isn’t much going on in the North Atlantic or Northern Flank during this four hour block of time so I’ll just end 0000-0400 here. On Monday, 0401-0800 will start up. –Mike

10 Replies to “D+18 0000-0400 Zulu 27 July, 1987 Part II”

  1. Is the air picture and interdiction picture secure enough that A-7s, F-16s or F-4s can be retasked? Not a preferred course of action, but they can haul Mavericks (if enough remain in stockpile at this point), CBUs, and other CAS/BAI ordnance. Or, are there BUFFs at Fairford? It’s not traditional CAS, but running cells of bombers over them enemy probably does a power of good for BAI. Just ask the Iraqi army or the NVA.

    That would be a risk analysis at the AFCENT/AIRCENT level and may produce requests for forces back to SHAPE. What would be the knock on effects of temporarily dragging aircraft in from AIRNORTH and AIRSOUTH on their air pictures and on the SHAPE level assets like tankers?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Air assets from AIRNORTH and -SOUTH could be available, but it will take some time to get them in. Same goes for the A-7s and other ground attack planes presently in Germany. They’ll be retasked for close air but won’t be able to entirely replace the A-10s heading to the North German Plain.
      But up north is where the war looks like it will be decided.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hay Mike, very minor quibble. 2 ATAF peacetime HQ was indeed Rheindahlen but its wartime HQ was under a huge rock near Maastricht.

    The building ‘The Big House’ at Rheindahlen housed BAOR, 2 ATAF and British Forces Germany HQ in peacetime but then became a 3rd line hospital in wartime. All the married quarters were fitted as convalescent houses – lived there for a couple years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yeah, judgement call on my part. I went with Rheindahlen because I figured that more folks could identify and link it with 2nd ATAF. But you’re right, the wartime HQ is in Holland under windmills and wooden shoe factories

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I bet the USAF is wishing it’d bought the N/AW-10 in this timeline, now, eh Mike?

    I was hoping the 4th.bde. would be able to cover their own, but at this point they’re probably down to a dozen, maybe fewer, Apaches, and an even smaller amount of Cobras, which is nowhere near enough to cover.

    Bleh, this is a bad situation. Not end of the world bad, just suboptimal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Man, everybody loves the A-10 LOL

      The attack choppers are working hard but its nowhere enough to cover that entire area.

      Definitely. Not a disastrous situation by any means, but the wrong choice will bring on bad consequences

      Liked by 1 person

  4. still wanna know where French Air is. They could assist in freeing up Southern Germany air assets for northern operations.

    Considering their declaration of intent was close to 72 hours ago, I’m pretty sure their air could be a factor. As well as their ground forces.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. At the risk of sounding crass, FW CAS is good, but it’s a silver bullet and a magnet for surface to air fires of all types. The A-10 offset this to a degree with armor, low altitude/low speed terrain masking and maneuverability, ability to get under the weather and specialized tactics. The gun’s nice, but stand-off munitions and cbu’s always seemed more emphasized in loading comps and squadron scoreboards (at least in 10th TFW). This seems borne out by accounts from ODS (minus helo engagements!).

    Reading up on the JAAT trials in the early 80s it seems like the A-10 really shone when it was paired with RW attack and scouts. Under the doctrine that came out of JAAT overall target effects were increased, and FW survivability increased by a significant (don’t recall number but I think 40%) amount. Killing or suppressing air defense systems by RW, arty, or ground fire seemed to allow the A-10s to focus on killing enemy ground forces. The subsequent attacks by RW can take advantage of the disruption caused by the FW CAS.

    For volume of fire over time, an AH1 Battalion at a nominal 60% strength (12 airframes/18 crews) supported by a FARP can keep up a 2 aircraft element continuously during an extended crew day with 4 in a surge or 6 in waves. Each cobra has up to 8 tow-2 (70%pk; 5.6 kills). In a 10 minute engagement, an element can account for at least a tank company. That’s at least a threat battalion every 30 minutes. Things only get bigger if you put more shooters in target at a time. Losses will bite, but an AH1 maneuvering down low (popping out rather than popping up) supported by scouts and artillery SEAD fires is a difficult target- think “skinny black-green on black -green”.

    If it’s an Apache battalion at 60% you get 10 airframes with 15 crews. There’ll be a gap in continuous coverage, but you can bring a heavy/light (3/2) rotation over in surge or two heavy light waves. Here’s where it gets fun- each apache brings 8 to 16 hellfire (80%pk; 6.4-12.8 kills). And they can ripple fire or remote lase. Things start to move faster, and the Apache farps and transits faster than the cobra, so more turns are possible. Plus, the Apache sees better, shoots further, and is harder to kill than the cobra.

    No substitute for the shock effect of CAS and BAI, but able to land a hard lunch if massed and used at the right time.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve worked a JAAT as a controller (1 of 3) in a track on the ground, it was training before we had all the laser-tag stuff but there were plenty of umpires around. There were controllers and umpires in OH-58s as well

    If you can avoid it you don’t trickle feed your AH, use scat-mines, ground fire (Tanks & TOW) and concentrated arty to stop/slow the bad guy in the KZ.

    You don’t hit him with 2x AH, you hit him with 8-10, give them about 15-20 min while the A-10s are switching out. Break the AH off and bring in your 4 ship of A-10 for about 10-15 min.

    Hopefully you then have some Hornets or Eagles to throw in.

    Rinse & repeat. The AH will take ~60 min to cycle so there will be dead time but you fill that with what you can. If you have a full Sqn of A-10 you can keep 4 on station pretty steady.

    We estimated you could destroy about a Bn in a 90 min cycle -30-40 vehicles.
    A JAAT is hard to set up but when they work it is a beauty to watch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hell of a job, wasn’t it? 🙂 And I agree. A JAAT isn’t simple to set up but when it works….it WORKS! Granted, I also have some not-so-nice things to say about you guys, but that’s all from some less-than-pleasant personal experiences. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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