Tuesday, 8 September 2020

The Dogs Of War - "The River Weser Deep and Wide" AAR

As you probably know, The Dogs Of War will be the second module of the C3 Series, covering the British Army Of the Rhine sector during the 1985 NATO - Warsaw Pact conflict. 

The Dogs Of War heavily focuses on the problems of Command, Control and Communication and uses an updated version of the Less Than 60 Miles rules. The main changes are:

  • West German Auftragstaktik (Mission-Type Orders), giving Bundeswehr a flexibility hardly obtained by other armies.
  • British Engineers, allowing BAOR to use Defensive Works to their maximum effect.
  • Soviet Sappers, first-line assault units used to crack the toughest nuts.
  • A different method to mark the Posture of each unit, removing the need to use separate Posture markers.

The following AAR covers the first 24 hours of "The River Weser Deep and Wide" Campaign. At 0600ZT July 24, 1985 the Soviet 3rd Shock and 20th Guards Tank Armies cross the Inner German Border. NATO did not react quickly enough to the increasing signals of an imminent attack and is caught partially unprepared.

Remember to reserve a copy by writing to info@TRLGames.com ;)

D+0, H06

The First Echelon of two Soviet Armies, composed by four divisions, attacks along a wide front. NATO covering forces and refugees slow down the Pact's advance.

76th Guards Airborne division is inserted North of Hameln, blocking some key bridges needed by BAOR to cross the Weser. 

NATO starting situation is far from optimal. The main problem is the absence of Belgian I Corps, for the most part still moving from Belgium and Rhine area. Most of BAOR forces are also far from their assigned positions, and the insertion of Soviet 76th Guards Airborne Division doesn't make things better.

West German 1 Panzer in the North and 2 PanzerGrenadier in the South are forced to adjust their Area of Responsibility, in order to cover the front left open respectively by British I Corps and Belgian I Corps.


D+0, H09

Warsaw Pact launches several air strikes against the Belgian units advancing in Road Posture, causing delays and moderate losses.

In the South, Soviet 3rd Shock Army pushes hard against NATO covering forces, with its two Second Echelon divisions approaching. In the North, 20th Guards Army advances toward Braunschweig and reaches the Eastern bank of Elbe-Seitenkanal.

Ever since the first hours of war NATO artillery is particularly effective bombarding WP formations in March Assault Posture in open terrain, slowing down their assault and inflicting some losses too.


BAOR Commander decides that Soviet 76th Guards must be eliminated, no matter the situation on the FEBA. British 4th Armoured division is assigned to the task and proceeds to attack the Southernmost Soviet positions, inflicting heavy losses to 234th Guards regiment.

Despite having its Southern flank exposed, West German 1 Panzer division decides to apply the "Forward Defense" doctrine to the letter and to defend Braunschweig vigorously. To this end, 24/2/1 Panzer battalion starts deploying in Active Defense Posture in order to counterattack should an opportunity arise.


D+0 H12

WP ground crews are overloaded and unable to keep the pace in refitting / reloading the fighter-bombers, forcing the Soviet Front Commander to stop the air strikes against the advancing Belgian columns.

Despite the extensive usage of engineers and ribbon bridges, Soviet 25th Tank division struggles to cross the Elbe-Seitenkanal in front of WG 33/11PG brigade's resistance. Pact's divisions make good gains in the other sectors of the front, putting several NATO battalions in a dangerous position.

32nd Guards Tank division also arrives in the area, forming the Second Echelon for 20th Guards Army.

SIGINT allows Warsaw Pact to pinpoint the location of West German 2 Panzer brigade's HQ. A strike using 27th SCUD-2 regiment is launched, inflicting heavy losses on the HQ. Heavy artillery bombardments also hit several battalions of WG 1 Panzer Division.  

While the rest of NATO forces rushes to the front, British 20/4A brigade renews its attacks against the Soviet paratroopers, finally forcing the few survivors of 234th Guards regiment to surrender. 


D+0 H15

Soviet 90th Guards Tank arrives East of Celle, putting additional pressure on West German's 33/11PG brigade. 

25th Tank division begins fording the Elbe-Seitenkanal using Prepared Crossing, but its regiments are forced to stop on the opposite bank to reorganize. 

35th Motorized Rifle division assault the defensive positions of WG 2/1Pz in Eastern Braunschweig, and is repulsed with moderate losses.

Soviet 10th Guards Tank and 7th Guards Tank divisions continue their advance North, with the latter slowed down by several NATO air strikes along Autobahn 243 (hexes 3520, 3521).

With British forces still organizing, a heavy Soviet artillery bombardment kills the survivors of 2nd Royal Green Jackets regiment, already worn out by 10 hours of continuous disengagements under enemy pressure.

West German 2/1Pz brigade takes the opportunity for a local counterattack: 24th Panzer regiment quickly changes from Active Defense to Assault and attacks the rear elements of 219th Mot. Rifle regiment, still recovering from the failed assault on Braunschweig. The surprise is complete and the  Soviet regiment ceases to exist as an organized military formation (hex 4715).

British 4th Armoured division continues its attacks against the Soviet paratroops. After heavy fighting, 104th Guards regiment and its accompanying artillery are destroyed.

D+0 H18

NATO deep air strikes in East Germany temporarily interrupts the supply flow to Warsaw Pact's Northern Front. This is particularly bad news as several Soviet artillery regiments are short of ammunition.

With both banks of Elbe-Seitenkanal secured, a Ribbon Bridge is finally built over the water obstacle, allowing the bulk of 25th Tank division to cross it safely.

Pact's air reconnaissance successfully pinpoints the location of WG 2-161 Attack Helicopters squadron FARP (Forward Arming and Refueling Point). A combined SSM + Air strike follows, inflicting heavy damage to the squadron (hex 4003).

Despite the NATO counterattack, part of 35th Motorized Rifle division continues its assault on Braunschweig. The southern suburbs are conquered, but the attack on the city center is repelled by 21 Panzer battalion.

In the South, 10 Guards Tank and 7th Guards Tank division continue their advance. As the flanks of 7th Guards Tank are now dangerously exposed. Soviet 3rd Shock Army Commander decides to commit 47th Guards Tank division to protect them. 

The arrival of Soviet 90th Guards Tank division in the Celle area forces 3/1Pz brigade to take position South of the town, in order to allow 33/11PG brigade to concentrate on the endangered sector.

After its successful counterattack, 24th Panzer battalion is heavily attacked by Mi-24 helicopters. With no cover from ground units, Soviet helicopters take serious damage, but they are nonetheless able to inflict moderate losses to the West German unit and force it to retreat back into Braunschweig. 

British 4th Armoured division repeatedly assault the last survivors of 76th Guards Airborne division. The Soviet paratroopers finally surrender: Only 450 of them are taken as prisoners, the rest being killed in action. 

British I Corps is finally able to establish a solid defense line around Hildesheim.

In the South, the still unengaged West German 2 Panzergrenadier division prepares for a night counterattack against the now exposed Soviet 7th Guards Tank.


D+0 H21

The nightfall slows down the Warsaw Pact advance, as despite the bombastic plans about a 24-hours continuous offensive it has quickly became obvious that in poor visibility conditions NATO has a decisive edge on Pact's forces.

Soviet 35th Motorized Rifle division changes the Posture of a couple regiments in order to renew the assault on Braunschweig at dawn.

Soviet 7th Guards Tank starts crossing the river Leine unopposed, with apparently nothing ahead to block its advance. 

NATO continues to organize and stabilize the front. British 7/1A brigade starts entrenching around Hildesheim, while West German 6/2PG brigade receive additional Electronic Warfare assets to support the upcoming counterattack.

The first elements of Belgian I Corps are finally approaching their combat positions.

D+1 H00

Warsaw Pact's SIGINT detects the location of British 7/1A brigade HQ. A combined SSM + Air strike follows minutes later, almost destroying the Britons' command post (hex 3610).

NATO Prepared Demolition of bridge in hex 4608 fails, giving Soviet 25th Tank division a golden opportunity to cross the Aller river quickly. Luckily for NATO, the Soviet artillery fails to give adequate support and the crossing attempt is blocked.

Pressed by the High Command, Soviet 35th MRD assaults once again the center of Braunschweig, supported by Sappers and heavy artillery barrage. West German 2/1Pz brigade repels the attacks, with moderate losses for Warsaw Pact. Despite the success, the defenders are worn out and in a dangerous position, so the city center is left to the Soviet.

10th Guards Tank division with Sappers support attacks Hildesheim, defended by British 7/1A brigade. NATO Electronic Warfare completely disorganizes the assault, stopping it cold since the start.

In the South, 7th Guards Tank makes contact with the Belgian covering forces, forcing them to retreat.

West German 2/1Pz brigade slowly retreats from Braunschweig, preparing a new defense line behind the Stichkanal Salzgitter. During the retreat, two separate attempts to destroy the central bridges fail, leaving an easy crossing route to the enemy. 

Britons continue to strengthen the defenses around Hildesheim, with 4th Armoured division now covering their Southern flank.

Belgian 4/16Pz brigade leaves Road Posture and prepare defending its assigned positions.

In the South, West German 2PG division springs the trap. The bridge in hex 3218 is destroyed by an artillery bombardment, effectively isolating part of Soviet 7th Guards Tank on the West bank of  river Leine, while 6/2PG and 4/2PG brigades advance North on both sides of the river. The attack takes the Soviets by complete surprise, forcing several combat and support battalions to a disordered retreat.

D+1 H03

To slow down the NATO counterattack in the South, a whole Soviet 9K76 Temp-S SSM regiment is assigned to a strike against West German's 6/2PG brigade HQ presumed location. Unfortunately for Warsaw Pact, the intelligence was far from accurate and the strike has no effect.

7th Guards Tank advance has stopped. Soviet engineers frantically start building a Panel Bridge to replace the destroyed one and restore the contact between 7th Guards Tank and the rest of 3rd Shock Army. Emergency Rafts are also deployed. 

A combined assault from 7th Guards Tank and 47th Guards Tank forces NATO to abandon the terrain gained a few hours before, but the losses for Warsaw Pact are heavy and several artillery battalions are near the breaking point.

Things are going better in the Celle area, with 90th Guards Tank hardly pressing on WG 33/11PG brigade.

NATO bombards 3/670G artillery battalion, already fatigued and in disarray, destroying it completely (hex 3118).

West German 6/2PG brigade renews the counterattack with a fresh Panzer battalion switching from Active Defense to Assault Posture. The attack routs 55th Guards Tank regiment, inflicting heavy losses and putting once again the whole Soviet division in a dangerous position. To make things worse, British 33/4 Armoured brigade is also approaching from the North.

Debriefing

At D+1, H03 the situation for Warsaw Pact looks quite bad. The only really promising advance axis turned into a chaotic mess due to the NATO counterattack, and losses are rapidly mounting. It's true that only a fraction of the available forces have been committed and a powerful reserve of four divisions is ready to enter the fray, but they're not in the best position due to a ill-conceived initial plan.

Admittedly, Warsaw Pact's 3rd Shock Army fell into the trap quite foolhardy, but on the other hand what should a Soviet Army Commander, trained and indoctrinated to the all-out advance dogma, do? Stopping and being prudent sounds out of question in most of cases.

Another decisive mistake was probably the insertion of 76th Guards Airborne right in the middle of BAOR. A drop further South along the Weser, at the crossing points needed by Belgian I Corps, would have forced NATO to take dangerous countermeasures as the Belgian arrival would have been delayed by at least 12 hours.

Finally, the battle for Braunschweig kept half of 20th Guards Tank Army busy for one full day. A better choice would have been to bypass it South, thus giving real support to the 3rd Shock Army Northern flank, and leave the mop-up to a Second Echelon division.

Oh well, I've failed the Rodina. The only remaining option is my Makarov pistol.


Tuesday, 1 September 2020

The Dogs of War - The River Weser Deep and Wide


Playtest for "The River Weser Deep and Wide" campaign is going well, with the changes and addition to the rules working as planned. I'm not entering in details right now, but you'll find everything in the complete AAR we're going to publish soon :)

In the meantime, here's a video coverage of the first day of combat, from the initial attack at H0600 to the sunset of the first day, around H2100. 

As a bonus, If you think you've discovered what the NATO overall plan is for D+1, send an email to info@TRLGames.com! The first to guess it correctly gets a 50% discount on his The Dogs of War copy :)








Saturday, 15 August 2020

Simulating an approaching conflict?

This post is not directly on wargames, but I'd like it share it anyway as it's related for sure. 

Ulf Krahn, Man-in-Stockholm, Co-Designer for 1985: Deadly Northern Lights and The Dogs of War, founder of Terranis Systems Ltd., Ring-Bearer and Barrel-Rider, is now in the (hopefully) final phases for delivering a tactical module software connecting with the Leopard 1 and 2 MBT simulators used by the Hellenic Army. 

Way to go, Ulf!!!

http://www.terranis.se/en/news-5609627

Ulf in a Leopard 1A5
Leopard 1A5 - Lot of space compared to a T-72, but Ulf takes most of it.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

The Dogs of War - NATO barracks deployment

The Dogs of War development continues.....here's some key points:

  • OOB for both NATO and Warsaw Pact is complete, with some points still to verify
  • Discussion on equipment / units values is finally over, probably by exhaustion
  • A VASSAL module for playtest is more or less 50% ready
Setting up units on VASSAL also allowed me to better evaluate the strong and weak points of NATO deployment in BAOR sector. The result wasn't a complete surprise, but I must say it looks worse than I imagined.

In short, the area covered by The Dogs of War will include four different NATO Corps, as represented in the excellent Area Of Responsibility map prepared by Tony (and including his exact assignment in 1989!):
  • West German I Corps (NORTHAG)
  • British Army Of the Rhine (NORTHAG)
  • Belgian I Corps (NORTHAG)
  • West German III Corps (CENTAG)
This is all safe and sound, except that Belgian I Corps is not there. Most of Belgian units were relocated in Belgium or along the Rhine river during the early '80s, leaving in place only a single brigade and a battalion of covering forces. This leaves a gap 40 km wide between BAOR and WG III Corps, with practically no units stationed there during peacetime. 
The distance that must be covered by the Belgian forces could be handled if NATO had sufficient advanced warning, but it would be a critical problem in a surprise attack scenario. In that case, NATO should quickly adopt emergency countermeasures, like moving the WG III Corps boundary further North and use part of 2nd PanzerGrenadier Division as a covering force in order to gain time.

Well, I presume we'll discover soon how dire the situation is :)

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

The Dogs of War - Some BAOR counters

Order of Battle for The Dogs of War is almost completed....we're still working on some battalions' values and on the exact composition of Bundeswehr's divisional artillery, but most of work is done.

As an eye candy, here's BAOR 1st Armoured Division, in all its royal majesty!


Legend
RHA: Royal Horse Artillery
FD: Field Artillery
RH: Royal Hussars
RTR: Royal Tank Regiment
QN: Queen's Regiment
GH: Green Howards
RIR: Royal Irish Rangers
QOH: Queen's Own Hussars
WG: Welsh Guards

Saturday, 4 July 2020

The Dogs Of War - Strategic Overview

Development of The Dogs of War continues.....today, three hours on Skype with Anthony Morphet and Ulf Krahn.

As usual in the first phases, most of the discussion covered the details about NATO response time to a possible Warsaw Pact attack. My personal opinion on NATO's capabilities to react quickly are quite pessimistic, particularly for some countries, while Anthony and Ulf have a more "neutral" point of view.

The global scenario postulates that NATO political branch (i.e., the single governments of NATO countries) recognizes that war is unavoidable 48 hours before Warsaw Pact forces cross the Inner German Border, thus giving the following general schedule:
  • At H-48, NATO issues a SIMPLE ALERT order. Troops assemble and equip at barracks and then moves into hides (waiting / regrouping areas near the barracks).
  • At H-24, NATO issues a GENERAL ALERT order. Troops move to predefined battle positions, most countries start mobilizing, reinforcements begin moving out. 
On the Warsaw Pact side, the following reorganization will take place before starting the hostilities:
  1. Group of Soviet Forces in Germany becomes Western Theater HQ, in command for all operations from Baltic coast to Northern Italy.
  2. Three Front HQ are created, using the command staff from the already existing Northern Group of Forces, Central Group of Forces and Southern Group of Forces.
  3. Northern Front directs operations from Baltic Coast to Kassel
  4. Central Front directs operations from Kassel to Wurzburg
  5. Southern Front directs operations from Wurzburg to Austria / Italy
The scenario considers the Hannover - Kassel sector as the Warsaw Pact's main thrust, so the area covered by The Dogs of War will be critical for deciding the war. Without too many details, here's a summary of Warsaw Pact plan for Northern and Central Fronts.

Warsaw Pact Plan - Click for details

Other important changes from Less Than 60 Miles should be:
  • NATO Command Chain will be fully represented. This means that each NATO Corps will be a separate entity with its own HQ, Command Points and EW Points. This allows Warsaw Pact to exploit the old, effective strategy of attacking along the boundaries of the enemy formations.
  • An optional rule will allow to use artillery in a more abstract way, assigning artillery battalions to a specific HQ and keeping them off-map.

Monday, 22 June 2020

The Dogs of War - On Map and More

As you maybe know, The Dogs of War will be the second module of our C3 series, covering the British Army Of the Rhine sector during the dramatic events of 1985's World War Three. 

Focused on Command, Control and Communication problems and on John Boyd's OODA Cycle, the C3 Series takes a different approach on several wargame mechanisms and forces players to face three equally dangerous foes: the enemy, their own plan and time. 

As John Boyd wrote:
"The goal is to collapse adversary’s system into confusion and disorder causing him to over and under react to activity that appears simultaneously menacing as well as ambiguous, chaotic, or misleading."



Ok, enough introduction. The map is proceeding very well, as you may see in the images below. We're still missing several labels, bridges and airfields.

From a strict mobility point of view, BAOR Sector has a much better terrain than Fulda for conducting a  mechanized offensive: lots of plain, a great road network and only a few gentle hills.

From a combat point of view, it's probably worse than US V Corps Sector for the attacker: The Weser river is an obstacle that cannot be avoided, and the Britons can use several cities and dozens of small towns as strongpoints to slow down Warsaw Pact's advance.

Map Overview

Detail of Paderborn Area

Detail of Goslar Area

Meanwhile, Anthony Morphet is preparing a first version of NATO Order of Battle using his on-field knowledge. British, Belgian and West German forces will be included, and I'm sure we'll have infinite discussions ranging from timings of artillery operations to the names of the Battalions :)