Freden, FRG 0420 Zulu, 27 July, 1987 (0620 local time)
As dawn broke, the decision was made for Major General John Yeosock and his division. Lieutenant General Crosbie Saint exercised his prerogative as NORTHAG’s commanding general and ordered the 1st Cavalry Division to secure Alfeld and Brüggen as soon as possible. Saint clearly wanted to pocket the bulk of the enemy’s 3rd Shock Army between the Leine and Weser rivers. That could not be accomplished until the northern-most bridgeheads on the Leine were in NATO hands. Once this was accomplished, the process of squeezing the Soviet divisions could start. Saint intended to use his British and West German formations for that as III Corps crossed the Leine and started moving east in force.
By 0615, lead elements of 1st Brigade/1st Cavalry Division were approaching Alfeld and meeting minimal Soviet resistance. A little to the north, Cobra/Kiowa teams scouting the routes leading to Brüggen reported just two companies of motorized infantry in proximity to that village and its bridges. Intelligence reports from earlier in the morning indicated each of the northern crossing points was defended by a Soviet motor-rifle battalion. In place of these units, however, US scouts and helicopter pilots found platoon and company-sized formations.
COMAAFCE was true to his word. As skies over the Leine brightened, flights of A-10 Warthogs appeared over the area. It wasn’t long before forward air controllers (FAC) on the ground were establishing comms with the flight leaders and calling them down. Along with the A-10s came OV-10 Broncos and airborne FACs. The first Broncos to arrive began scouting the terrain, roads and towns east of the river, searching for signs of enemy columns moving to counterattack, as well as fuel depots and unit headquarters.
Moscow, USSR 0500 Zulu, 27 July, 1987 (0800 local time)
Agendas for regular Politburo sessions were generally put together weeks in advance. In times of war or another sort of national emergency or turmoil, the agendas are more fluid. This morning’s meeting fell into the later category. There was to be just one topic of discussion and this came as no surprise to the Politburo members. Preparation time had been non-existent, meaning there would not be a group of summoned field experts seated against the wall in uncomfortable chairs, waiting to provide this imposing body with answers or explanations. Filling the role of field expert this morning was General Snetkov.
The members filed in and once everyone was settled, the General Secretary opened the meeting. Right from the beginning of his introductory remarks, it was apparent to the men who’d been at the earlier Defense Council meetings that Romanov had reached a decision. What remained to be determined were the particulars, as well as making certain the Politburo as an entity would support the next phase.
Romanov spoke of temporary setbacks in Germany in the last thirty-six hours, expounded by ‘growing difficulties’ along the supply lines through Poland, the GDR and other Warsaw Pact countries. Most of the men here were already aware of the ‘difficulties’ in the satellite states. But on the matter of battlefield setbacks, half of the Politburo was bewildered to learn that the Red Army had been temporarily checked.
When Romanov concluded the opening remarks, he ordered General Snetkov to stand up and explain the present position in Germany, as well as his plan to rectify the situation and resume the drive to the Weser and beyond.
Severomorsk, USSR 0513 Zulu, 27 July, 1987 (0813 local time)
At Red Banner Northern Fleet’s headquarters building, fleet commander Admiral Ivan Kapitanets was in his office when the KGB officers arrived. He’d been expecting their arrival for days now and was not surprised to see them standing at the door now. Put in simple terms, the Northern Fleet failed in its primary wartime mission and there needed to be a reckoning. He would absorb the blame and be remembered as the fleet admiral responsible for the greatest defeat in Soviet naval history. If there was to be a history of this conflict recorded. Right now, he had grave doubts about this, however, Kapitanets was certain he’d not live long enough to read it in any event.
He was not the only one taken into custody on this morning. As the Politburo meeting continued in Moscow, ten other senior officers were relieved of their commands and arrested. The list of men included the commanders of the Southwestern and Southern TVDs, as well as the admirals commanding the Red Banner Baltic Fleet and its Black Sea counterpart.
9 Replies to “D+18 0401-0800 Zulu, 27 July, 1987 Part II”
Hoping these “arrests” are soon followed by a phone call to POTUS saying something like “we are trying to save face here please stop all advances and we will go back to pre war boundaries and then we will collapse from the inside, thank you. Our bad.”
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“Dear President Reagan. If you had lost in 1980 and not rebuilt the US military, my generals would be in Paris now instead of rotting in cells.”
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We know the Soviets took some heavy losses and the delays in reinforcements were harsh.
That Scouts are finding substantially less than expected, is a warning bell the size of the Liberty Bell… because it means Intel either was way wrong over their combat strength or they pulled back for some reason.
Or someone didn’t get the memo/orders to reinforce Alfeld.
We as readers know the level of chaos and disorganization going on right now in the Soviet’s command structure and plans. NATO doesn’t… and finding only small formations in these key locations… is the classic Good and Bad news.
As the Cav commander, I’d be casting a steely eyeball at the known Soviet MSR routes from the east and the line of Retreat routes from the west…. because I could become the monkey in the middle of two forces trying to relink.
Defensive works in BOTH directions would be the order given, with a 60 east/40 west split of firepower… and a plan to shift as needed.
Cav has the Momentum, Morale and fresh troops/units. The Soviets have desperation (which can be a strength), Numbers but low supplies. They may outnumber the Cav but A) Not for too long as NATO beefs them up and B) will they have the ammo to even try to force the crossing.
I have doubts on the latter… and with the extra Air Assets, this will not end well for the Soviets. Cav may take a pounding but the Soviets… will get it far worse.
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Its definitely not a good situation for the Soviets to face. As soon as the bulk of III Corps is on the other side of the river, they’re going to take off like a bat out of hell. The Sovs have to know this. Question is: Do they have enough combat power to stop what’s coming? And can they get it to the right places in time?
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there lies the 2 part crux of the matter. Do they have the combat power to stop III Corps/escape the sack? And will timing cooperate?
My gut and the data I *DO* have from reading the previous passages says “No.” And that’s for a number of reasons.
1- Soviet Doctrine *requires* a central guiding hand. We kinda know this…. and right now, the biggest guiding hand is in Moscow. I’m sure Snetkov handed down a good set of initial plans and a few “what if” alternate plans. But they tend to need that guiding hand for adjustments- if any- to be made. And they are very married to established timetables. Right now, any plan requiring timing is shot to shit. Especially with the Chief Time Keeper being East.
2- Current Combat Strength and Where it is… 3rd Shock was **used**, plain and simple… and if I am reading it right, that Army Group is at best a 30 to 40% strength force with dwindling supplies. Its surrounded and has now had it’s retreat cut off. Its BEST option is to try and force open the retreat corridor and hope whatever reinforcement that’s inbound can be in a position to manage to assist. Given how mauled the Soviet timetables are, that force will show as soon as 3rd has battered itself ineffective against the blocking force…. which is ALSO reinforcing.
And it will be because of those items… that an attempt to retake the crossings and relived 3rd Shock will fail. NATO will have destroyed 3rd Shock and simply turn its guns east to hammer the force there. Won’t be pretty by any means… but NATO and the Cav will *know* its coming…. and well, knowing where THEY is always key to thumping a foe.
The lost coordination, the havoc that has been caused on Soviet C and C (both by NATO and Soviet internal stupids) will pretty much assist NATO with preventing the escape AND killing the Soviet Effort to boot them off Alfeld.
Mike, even if its war-gamed out… Dude, I know I’m good but to get ANY success, the timing of 3rd’s effort and 7th’s attempt to reinforce…. has got to be SPOT ON and launching at the SAME time. And unless its divine intervention at this point (or a ton of blind squirrels finding a nut all at once), I do not see it. Soviet Morale is Shit…. and Desperation, while an unknown boost at times, is not going to help.
A chance? Sure… a snowball’s chance in an active Steel Foundry blast furnace….
Sorry for the mini rant- I’m going to go back in the corner now. 🙂
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Rants are always welcome and appreciated. My God, are you new here or something? 🙂
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nah… just a touch off as of late. Bad anniversary among other things.
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Only you know, Mike, but not if it’s Cat. B forces they’re relying on. At least in the power department. They’re facing fresh stocks of M1s and so on now with T62s. The 3rd battle for the Atlantic has been an abject failure for the Soviets. They can’t stop ReForGer convoys, and they’re wearing out their own gear just trying to hold the line.
In the next 36 hours, depending on no phone call to Pres. Reagan forthcoming from the USSR, NATO will have to start weighing allowing the Warsaw Pact (there is no WP any longer: the E. Germans are standing down piecemeal, and you couldn’t pay me to be a Soviet soldier in Poland right now) to quit with honor.
Even with your timeline, the USSR is dead in 12-18 months anyway. Eastern Europe is about to throw off the yoke of Soviet oppression; once the USSR loses it’s crumple zone, they’re done for. They have to know this. Unless they’re going to be complete bitches or be reassured that no, 1st Cav won’t be hoisting the stars & stripes over the Kremlin, this is really the end for them.
Can’t wait to see how you write this one out, Mike.
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Thanks, Bill. You’re right, the cards are increasingly stacked against the Russians practically in every way possible. Not a good position for Moscow to be in. Quite honestly, might not be good for NATO either