Greene, FRG 1240 Zulu (1440 Local Time)
His presence on the western bank of the Leine was giving his security detail, as well as 2nd Brigade’s commander fits. 1st Cavalry Division’s commander Major General John Yeosock understood this but did not allow it to deter him from coming forward to personally observe operations.
The river crossing was ongoing at three locations now. The bridges at Alfeld were operational and those at Brüggen were expected to be active by dusk. A British armored regiment was starting to make its way up the western bank of the Leine right now. Its orders were to relieve Yeosock’s 1st Brigade, then assume responsibility for the northern Leine crossing points, as well as containment of the Soviet units pocketed between the river and the approaches to Hameln. As soon as the Brits were in place, 1st Brigade would reform on the opposite bank of the river and start advancing east. 2nd Brigade/1st Cav would continue holding the southern crossing points until 3rd Brigade/1st Cav was entirely over the Leine. At that point 2nd Brigade would be relieved by units of the follow-on 2nd Armored Division and begin crossing the river itself.
Right now, Yeosock stood beside a pair of Humvees with 3rd Brigade’s commander. Together, the officers watched the nearly constant stream of M-1s and Bradleys crossing the Leine on ribbon bridges. Yeosock marveled at the bravery and skill of the combat engineers in establishing this crossing point and keeping vehicles flowing across at a brisk pace. These men were worth their weight in gold. He watched in silent admiration for another four minutes before motioning 3rd Brigade’s commander to follow him over to the Humvee.
Yeosock unrolled a map on the hood. “Okay, Joe,” he spoke loud to be heard over the noise of combat vehicles nearby. “A good portion of your brigade is on the eastern side of the river. Your new mission is to push east along Route 64.” He stabbed the roadway on the map with an index finger. “2nd Brigade’s perimeter reaches out to Bad Gandersheim. I want you to blow through the town and cut Autobahn 7. Ivan’s been using that highway to shuttle material and troops north and south all day. Recon reports from two hours ago show a reinforced tank battalion situated just above where Route 64 runs into the highway. That’s your main opposition for the moment. Clear so far?”
“Yes, General,” 3rd Brigade’s commander affirmed.
“Good. Grab the highway, push the Russians off and then clamp down on it until the rest of your brigade, as well as 1st Brigade arrive. I’m still working on where we go from there,” Yeosock admitted sheepishly. “Let you know when I find out. But for now, I want two-thirds of this brigade pushing east of the Leine by midnight. We have a big edge over Ivan right now in night vision equipment and comms. Plus, we own the skies in case you haven’t noticed. It’s time to take advantage of all this and knock him on his ass before he knows what’s going on. Still with me?”
With a twinkle in his eye and a wolfish grin now spreading across his face, 3rd Brigade’s commander nodded his head. “Entirely, sir. My troops and I will be in possession of that autobahn by 2100.”
Yeosock glanced at his watch quickly and then stared hard at the colonel. “I’m gonna hold you to that, Joseph. Get moving.”
Moscow, USSR 1300 Zulu (1600 Local Time)
The Defense Council meeting came to an end shortly before 4 PM. Plans had been presented, and a voracious debate followed. A vote was taken at twenty minutes before the top of the hour and the result was unanimous. The Politburo would reconvene at 5:00 PM, but this was more a matter of formality than substance. A consensus had been reached. The time for discussion had passed and the afternoon transitioned to the preparation phase. In the Kremlin, General Secretary Romanov slipped into his private office to draft a letter. Marshal Akhromeyev and his rather ghoulish nuclear war planners left for the Defense Ministry building where the final plan was drawn up and orders issued.
With every passing minute on the clock, the Soviet government moved closer to the nuclear threshold while the Strategic Rocket Forces commenced the preparation and steps required should the final order to initiate the first nuclear attack in almost forty-two years be given.