The Central Front D+22 (31 July 1987) Part I (Alpha)

Western TVD commander-in-chief General Boris Snetkov began D+22 at his command’s alternate wartime headquarters in western Poland, an area still under the control of Soviet forces. His first thought of the new day was the realization that the situation was not going to improve. If anything, it appeared destined to deteriorate further. What was uncertain was the extent and timeline of the continued decline. Snetkov needed twenty-four hours. If the remaining combat divisions of 5th Guards Tank Army, and one presently arriving division from 7th GTA, could hold NATO forces west of Wolfsburg for that long, the bulk of 7th Guards Tank Army would be positioned to act as a concrete wall to keep NATO off East Germany territory long enough for the next echelon of reinforcement divisions to arrive from the interior Soviet Union. Federal Republic territory currently under Soviet control was diminishing by the hour. Once the last Soviet unit was ejected from West Germany, the uncertainty and real danger would bubble to the surface.

What might happen after the Northern German Plain was cleared of Soviet tanks and troops worried Snetkov deeply. Neither of the two most-likely possibilities were palatable. NATO had proclaimed that its forces would stop at the Inner-German Border and not proceed east of that point. If the alliance held true to its pledge, the war would enter a new phase, ending with either a negotiated settlement or the start of an eventual second Soviet offensive into West Germany. But if NATO smelled blood and decided to continue and broaden its attack into East Germany and beyond, all bets were off. The Kremlin’s warning to NATO on this was explicit. If Western forces crossed the so-called Iron Curtain, it would result in an immediate and decisive Soviet nuclear counterstrike.

Snetkov required at least eighteen hours to get enough combat power in to prevent a NATO lightning thrust into East Germany following the imminent collapse of 5th GTA. Twenty-four hours would be better, the theater commander allowed, but considering matters more carefully, he felt eighteen hours was more realistic. Then there was the possible second prong of the NATO counteroffensive developing from the CENTAG area. There were indications of American armored units moving northeast near Kassel. The reports of this were yet to be confirmed, but Colonel-General Korbutov considered them credible. Still, Snetkov required proof, though he shared Korbutov’s view. Two of the remaining MiG-25 reconnaissance fighters would be tasked to fly missions in the Kassel area at 0300 and confirm the presence of US tank columns on the roads. Setting up these missions had been difficult enough. Apparently, late on the previous evening, his most recent air commander had retired to his quarters and committed suicide. The taking of his own life was tragic enough, but the fact the Air Force general had failed to order preparations for recce flights early on D+22 evaporated the few droplets of sympathy Snetkov had for the man’s passing. For all of the help the Red Air Force had provided to its counterparts on the ground since early July, the passing of its senior general officer in the Western TVD was regarded coldly and as little more than an ill-timed nuisance.  

 The significance of the air war was one topic Soviet military planners had been dead wrong about, Snetkov thought bitterly. Years of confident assurances, fixed exercises and wargames convinced an entire generation of rising Soviet officers that NATO control of the sky over a future battlefield would have zero effect on the outcome of a conflict. Modern war, Snetkov had been told over and over, is decided on the ground. This promise, as was the case with many others from Snetkov’s past, turned out to be nothing more than rubbish when put to the test in the real world. 

10 Replies to “The Central Front D+22 (31 July 1987) Part I (Alpha)”

  1. So we can modify the old joke about two Soviet generals meeting in Paris where one says to the other “So who won the air war?”…

    “I don’t know, and I don’t care. Shut up and keep sweeping before the guards come back.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. >>”But if NATO smelled blood and decided to continue and broaden its attack into East Germany and beyond, all bets were off. The Kremlin’s warning to NATO on this was explicit. If Western forces crossed the so-called Iron Curtain, it would result in an immediate and decisive Soviet nuclear counterstrike.”

    Given that we have meta-knowledge of NATO’s (kinda nutty honestly) intention to invade the Kola Peninsula – the Russian homeland itself – I think we know what’ll happen at the inter-German border… hoo-boy, more nukes are gonna fly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. He who controls the high ground (or air) controls the field of battle. I can’t see how the Soviets could have allowed that to go unheeded.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Speaking of that, I saw some footage of Ukrainian ground forces apparently using APKWS rockets as AA against a couple of Russian helos; nightmare fuel! They fired them like cannons, just put dozens of rockets in the air. Result: two dead Russian birds.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m very much enjoying reading the entire history. Congratulations on putting together a very plausible and technically sound alternative history.

    Tactical nukes may indeed fly but as long as they have their ICBMs the Soviets won’t face the loss of the USSR proper, Yeltsin is still at large, half the Politburo is challenging (or at least disputing) Romanov, and most of the Pact is ready to bolt if not already doing so. Reagan will retaliate or press the conventional advantage in Central Europe. I can’t see the Soviet leadership blowing up the world under those circumstances even if the Marines land on the Kola Peninsula nor everyone committing suicide with Romanov. In any case, looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 🙂 I always enjoy hearing from readers who are enjoying the history. Makes the effort worthwhile 🙂

      Great observations. Not going to say how right or wrong you are, but much will be revealed between now and early June (real world)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: