Short Primer Before D+20 Starts Up

It has been a little over two-weeks since the final D+19 entry was posted. I think it will be helpful to provide a bit of a primer before we head into D+20. Just to give readers a refresher on where we’re at, major events and other important information. Beats having to dig back into the recent archives to familiarize yourself with the situation. And on that note I still plan to fix the theater and day links layout when I get a free weekend.

Political– As D+19 comes to an end, senior government leadership of the United States and Soviet Union are returning to their respective capitals. Tensions remain extremely high, but for the time being. For entirely different reasons, President Reagan and General Secretary Romanov are both under the impression that they have control of the situation and have the initiative going forward.

Eastern Europe– The majority of the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact allies are in disarray, with a few notable exceptions. In Poland, the entire country remains a simmering cauldron. Soviet troops control Gdansk, portions of Warsaw, and the areas around Soviet military installations. The highways and other transportation lines running east to west are also largely in Soviet hands. However, Polish Army troops, aided by US Army Special Forces have made control of Poland’s highways and railways very fluid. The internal struggle for power in the German Democratic Republic has come to an end with the Defense Minister and his supporters coming out on top. Yet not decisively. Fighting continues as Stasi and other State Security elements loyal to Erich Mielke hold out in the hopes that their Soviet allies will provide assistance soon. Czechoslovakia is sliding closer to rebellion with each passing hour. Although there have been no overt moves against the Communist government in Prague, the military is very close to permanently throwing its lot in with the people. Hungary is quiet for the moment, but the seeds of rebellion have been planted and are growing in select government sectors and in the military. Romania’s internal strife is now of no concern to the Soviet Union, even though it was responsible for the failed coup against Ceausescu. Now the Romanian leader’s many opponents are coming together to challenge the Romanian strongman for control of the country. Bulgaria is the only remaining Pact nation that is loyal to the Soviet Union.

Northern Flank– Operations in the north of Norway have been non-existent since the nuclear exchange, but there are growing indications this will not remain so for long. Soviet forces remaining in Norway are fortifying and preparing defenses as fast as possible while the single motor-rifle division in northern Finland is withdrawing across a landscape crawling with Finnish Jaegers and a growing number of Swedish commandos.

North Atlantic– Strike Fleet Atlantic is preparing to commence air operations against the Kola Peninsula on D+20 while simultaneously trying to keep its carrier groups hidden from the eyes of Soviet submarines and reconnaissance aircraft. The Backfires and Badgers on Kola are once again a threat, and their bases will be among the first targets hit by the carrier air wings. The sea lanes between North America and Europe remain secure except for the handful of Soviet submarines still lurking about.

Baltic Approaches– Denmark is quieting down but Western TVD anticipates a NATO offensive will be launched from Jutland southward with the intent of clearing southern Jutland and Schleswig-Holstein of Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces. Likely this action will be coordinated with the anticipated main NATO counteroffensive in northern Germany.

Southern Flank– Another area that is becoming quiet in the aftermath of the brief nuclear exchange. Efforts to seize the Bosphorus have failed. Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces are adopting a defensive posture with a handful of exceptions. NATO is not prepared to take the offensive for fear of escalating the war.

Central Front– The worm has turned entirely in Germany. The Soviet/Pact offensive has run out of steam entirely and now NATO is preparing to unleash a major counterattack and push the enemy back to the other side of the Inner-German Border…and maybe beyond.


13 Replies to “Short Primer Before D+20 Starts Up”

  1. Great recap! Can’t wait to see how best laid plans play out on D+20.

    Great photo; what are your thoughts on fatigue rate and non-battle casualty rate among support troops?

    Every one of those F-15s is ideally manned with at least two available pilots to facilitate planning and rest. But, the manning for crew chiefs and the other amu folks isn’t to that level. Same for Army truck drivers, Direct Support Mechanics, etc. I know larger units like EMS and AGS could run shifts, as could Army General Support Mechanics, but there’s going to be plenty of “urgent” work to go around three weeks into combat ops and four weeks into this optempo.

    Power naps only go so far. Sooner or later, tired people make fatal errors. Either for themselves or for the folks depending on their work.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Amir!

      Fatigue rates and non-battle casualty among rear folks has to be heavy by now. Ops tempos are high and the stress from what’s happened in Spain, Canada and Russia….nuclear weapon wise…is weighing heavily on them all.

      We generally went with two available crews per aircraft. The nice thing was that staff slots were filled with pilots so they helped with availability when needed. Crew chiefs and all….well no, its nowhere near that level. Which sucks. I can’t even imagine the maintenance nightmares on some airframes after almost three weeks of heavy air ops.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Remember, there are only operational successes and support failures!!

    Another risk of fatigue:
    I understand probably the best combat vehicle night vision on the battlefield in the late 80s was the US M60A3 TTS or Bradley ISU Thermal. Most limited visibility engagements will be fought with first gen. thermals, image intensifiers and ILLUM, or even IR searchlights. All of which will complicate the identification and engagement of fleeting targets common in an offensive or meeting engagement. Couple this with the natural urge to kill the potential threat vehicle before it does the same to you and conditions are set for fratricide. Especially given the impact of fatigue from four weeks of GDP prep and combat ops with limited recovery. Add to this the increased risk off target location error or transposition when employing supporting fires using the then predominant voice systems (TACFIRE fielding to only US Army AC heavy units was completed in 1987).

    Even a non-fatal incident of friendly fire can disrupt an operation or cause the adaptation of risk mitigation measures that are of themselves suboptimal (day ops vs. night ops; fire support employment restrictions; increased reporting and radio traffic).

    And as you mentioned above, a lot more “aw shucks” type events to snarl the logistics system. And all this on a “clean battlefield” without Bugs, Gas, or (tactical) Nukes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doesn’t take many bugs to foul up the logistics chain. Always amazed me how just one small deviation in a schedule, for example, could cause ripples of unintended negative consequences up and down the line.


  3. One piece of good news for NATO is combat vehicle repair and return. Britain, Germany, and the US all maintained depot level repair facilities in Germany manned with a mix of uniformed and host nation civilian personnel. The American facilities in Mainz were able to do hull/turret rebuild work in addition to remanufacturing running gear. By D+20, they should be well into a rhythm of repair and rebuild of salvable vehicles. That’s in addition to the home station equipment convoys starting to flow over from REFORGER units (rear detachment or USAR GSU was supposed to seaload after REFORGER) and the relative trickle of new build material. Ammo, not material, is the long pole for NATO.

    The Soviets lacked a similar structure, but they did have huge equipment reserves (the Russian Army had T-10s in storage until the 90s) to draw on.

    However, the longer the war runs, the more material logistics begin to favor the west.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve tried to find some guys to interview who were stationed at those repair facilities. Figured it could help to get some info from them. No luck though, unfortunately.


  4. When I was younger we had a lot of guys who were in the mix in the 80s. Speaking with them, it seems like the US Army “forward” infrastructure in Germany could do everything short of manufacture new material and ammo (although I guess nato stanag took care of part of that).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if they could’ve manufactured the tank rounds that the M-1 used back then. Hmmmmm….interesting research item for one day


  5. USAFE had an intermediate/depot level maintenance facility at RAF Kemble during the late 80s. There was an article in the base magazine about them repairing an A-10 there rather than in the states following a landing mishap. If you got on the Sherpa ring route they made a stop there. Besides A-10s I think they worked on the other UK based aircraft, since the F-5s went there as well.

    I’m not sure if there was something similar for continent based units. Add in the production facilities like BAE Warton or Fokker Schipol and you’ve got a way to add a trickle of new builds and a rework/repair capability over and above WRSK or BDAR at organizational level. Plus license production of sidewinder, 20mm, and Stanag ordnance to supplement resupply.

    Sorry about the logistics barrage; it’s fascinating to see the conflict get toward the point where logistics capacity will tell. Also interesting to see NATO begin to transition towards an offensive posture just at the point owarstocks should be running out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No need to apologize for the logistics barrage. Since I became a civilian my appreciation for logistics has increased immeasurably.
      Yeah, the timing couldn’t be much worse for offensive operations. Thank God the Sea Lanes are still in NATO hands. Lots of ammo will be coming across on ships


  6. No need. US Army TAACOM tested tested the ammo, both 105mm and 120mm.

    The L7/M68 is fully compatible across all variants, the limfac being vertical storage for WP based smoke rounds. Only the US acknowledged fielding DU penetrators. Everyone else made or bought tungsten alloy penetrators. On the IPM1, at least, the gunnery manual had the proper correction factors to put into the ballistic computer. I’m betting DU may be more politically acceptable to non-US users once the war starts!

    The Rh120/M256 is a little more complicated. The German DM series and French O series rounds could function across the series. They used tungsten penetrators. The American ammo was identical with the exception of the M829 series which used a DU penetrator. The 829 series required a strengthened breech and recoil system due to different propellents needs to optimize the DU penetrator. Again, the M1A1 could input ballistic data for the full range of ammo. To the best of my knowledge, only the US was fielding DU penetrators. Testing indicated use of 829 in the Rh120 unacceptably increased risk of recuperator and breach failure and shortened gun tube life through erosion and fatigue.

    The British L11 series rifled 120mm used separate loading ammunition unique to the weapon.

    So DU has to shipped from the states. Everything else can be made by the Germans, Belgians, French, Spanish, or others.

    Liked by 1 person

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