Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Next War 1985 - Operation Hand of God with Command

We're working on a revised The Next War scenario set in 1985, more or less 5 years later than the original ones.

Five years could seem a very short time, but there was a lot of changes during that period. Ronald Reagan became President of the United States, and Margaret Thatcher was Great Britain's Prime Minister.

I'm sure a lot of people have a lot of different ideas about these two political figures, but from a purely military point of view they made the difference. They marked the end of the so-called Detente diplomacy and started (Reagan in particular) a heavy program of rearmament to face USSR "Evil Empire".

In 1985, after four years of Reagan's presidency, US Army forces had upgraded their M-60 and M-113 to M-1A1 Abrams and M-2 Bradley, had a good number of the new Stinger SAM missiles, and had finally recovered from the "Vietnam Syndrome". US Air Force had been modernized, its tactics revised, and was ready to face the final phase of the Cold War. US Navy had acquired new vessels to reinforce AFCENT in case of war, and new POMCUS sites had been established in Netherlands.

Obviously there's a lot of things to change in game terms: order of battles, reinforcements, equipment upgrades and so on.

One of the main points to quantify is the 1985 technology gap between NATO and WP and its effect on the battlefield. To have an idea of this last point, I've used Matrix Games' Command to simulate a typical "The Next War" situations.

I presume at least some of you know "Command": an air / naval warfare simulator taking its roots from "Harpoon", but more advanced. For example, while Harpoon simulates the air launch capacity of a USA CV numerically, Command incorporates all the single elements: internal lifts and their max load, Air Boss skill, number and type of catapults, bridge occupation and so on. The air launch capacity of the CV is simply the result of using all these.

The scenario background is taken from our game's "Operation Hand of God" , an operation launched by NATO at D+9 to interdict / destroy WP supply lines.

I prepared two scenarios: the first set in 1980, the second in 1985. Both scenarios use the same background, same attack plan and more or less the same forces, only updated to their more recent version for 1985.

In both scenarios, WP advanced to the Bremen - Osnabruck - Paderborn line, and is using the Osnabruck - Hanover - Brunswick - Magdeburg autobahns as its main supply line; the NATO raid takes off from Netherlands, with the objective of bombarding the supply installations in Magdeburg area.

NATO raid has the following composition:
  • SEAD3 (6xF-4G Wild Weasel), to attack SAM mobile sites around Padeborn and open up the way for the rest of the strike. 
  • SEAD1 (12xF-4G Wild Weasel), to attack SAM sites around Magdeburg
  • Iron1 (6xF-111D), to attack WP supply facilities around Magdeburg
  • Chief1 (1xEC-130E), supporting the raid with radar coverage and Offensive ECM
  • Chief2 (1xEF-111A, 1985 only), supporting the raid with offensive ECM

    Warsaw Pact forces have the following composition:
    • Several Soviet Divisions, with SA-6, SA-4 and ZSU-57 batteries (equivalent to the Soviet B divisional flak)
    • Several mobile SAM battalions with SA-4 (equivalent to the WP C-3 mobile flak)
    • Several Soviet fixed SAM with SA-3 and SA-5 (equivalent to Soviet B-3 fixed flak)
    NATO plan for the raid

    1980 Scenario AAR

    Since the start, Chief1 radars detects previously unknown SAM mobile sites of the Soviet Army. They will be marked as "hostile" soon.

    At 05:22 ZT, all NATO strikes are en route. SEAD3 begins to target enemy radars with AGM-78D HARM missiles.

    At 05:29 ZT, SEAD3 has destroyed almost every enemy radar in Padeborn area and begins returning to base. SEAD1 and Iron1 missions can fly thru the area without problems.

    At 05:30 ZT, Soviet Army SAMs South of Padeborn acquire NATO planes and launch a missile salvo against them, downing an F-4G.

    At 05:38 ZT, SEAD1 enters its prosecution area and begins targeting enemy radars. WP SAMs answer with another missile salvo, downing a second F-4G and an approaching F-111D

    At 05:41 ZT, air battle over Magdeburg is quite hot.

    At 05:46 ZT, almost every WP radar system in Magdeburg area has been destroyed, at the price of another F-4G downed.

    At 05:52 ZT, NATO planes begin to return to base. WP hits an F-111 maneuvering to get back.

    1980 Losses and Expenditures

    The raid was a success, destroying almost every supply objective in the assigned area, even though the cost for NATO was quite high (5 planes, 20% losses).
    Overall, my feeling is that the results are more or less in line with what happened in "The Next War"


    2x F-111D Aardvark
    3x F-4G Phantom II [Wild Weasel V]

    30x AGM-45B Shrike [ARM]
    34x AGM-78D Standard [ARM]
    81x Generic Chaff Salvo [5x Cartridges]
    84x Mk82 500lb Snakeeye



    1x SA-10b Grumble [5V55R]
    40x SA-5c Gammon [5V28M5]

    SIDE: Soviet SAM

    1x Building (Odd Pair HF [PRV-13])
    2x Building (Square Pair [5N62])
    1x Building (Tall King C [P-14])
    3x Vehicle (Flat Face B [P-19])

    41x SA-3c Goa [5V27D, V-601PD]
    36x SA-5c Gammon [5V28M5]

    SIDE: WP Supply

    2x Bridge (Two-lane 60 Tons)
    2x Diesel (750k Liter Tank)
    2x Diesel Bunker (750k Liter Tank)


    SIDE: Soviet Army

    3x 23mm ZU-23-2
    3x Radar (Thin Skin B HF [PRV-16])
    3x SA-4a Ganef [2P24] TEL
    2x SA-4b Ganef [2P24] TEL
    2x SA-6a Gainful [2P25] TEL
    2x SA-7b Grail [SPW-60PB] MANPADS
    9x Vehicle (Pat Hand [1S32])
    2x Vehicle (Straight Flush [1S91])

    38x 23mm ZU-23-2 Burst [20 rnds]
    61x SA-4a Ganef [3M8M1]
    111x SA-4b Ganef [3M8M2]
    38x SA-6a Gainful [9M336]
    3x SA-6b Gainful [9M336]

    1985 Scenario AAR

    The 1985 scenario unfolded more or less like 1980 one, but the EF-111 Raven supporting SEAD1 and Iron1 mission made a big difference in terms of NATO losses. Only a single F-4G was downed, and most of WP missiles were running blind after launch due to the powerful ECM emissions of Raven1.

    1985 Losses and Expenditures


    1x F-4G Phantom II [Wild Weasel V]

    20x AGM-45B Shrike [ARM]
    36x AGM-78D Standard [ARM]
    4x Generic Chaff Salvo [5x Cartridges]
    96x Mk82 500lb Snakeeye



    1x SA-10b Grumble [5V55R]
    60x SA-5c Gammon [5V28M5]

    SIDE: Soviet SAM

    1x Building (Odd Pair HF [PRV-13])
    2x Building (Square Pair [5N62])
    1x Building (Tall King C [P-14])
    1x SA-3c Goa Quad Rail
    2x SA-7a Grail [9K32 Strela-2] MANPADS
    4x Vehicle (Flat Face B [P-19])
    2x Vehicle (Low Blow [SNR-125])

    19x SA-3c Goa [5V27D, V-601PD]
    27x SA-5c Gammon [5V28M5]

    SIDE: WP Supply

    2x Bridge (Two-lane 60 Tons)
    1x Diesel (750k Liter Tank)
    2x Diesel Bunker (750k Liter Tank)


    SIDE: Soviet Army

    2x 23mm ZU-23-2
    3x Radar (Thin Skin B HF [PRV-16])
    2x SA-4a Ganef [2P24] TEL
    1x SA-4b Ganef [2P24] TEL
    3x SA-6a Gainful [2P25] TEL
    1x SA-7b Grail [SPW-60PB] MANPADS
    9x Vehicle (Pat Hand [1S32])
    2x Vehicle (Straight Flush [1S91])

    57x 23mm ZU-23-2 Burst [20 rnds]
    74x SA-4a Ganef [3M8M1]
    121x SA-4b Ganef [3M8M2]
    7x SA-6a Gainful [9M336]

    Thursday, 26 November 2015

    The Next War, Operation Attila - D+11, 1st Guards Tank Army -> GSFG report update

    ******************* RESTRICTED GSFG CMD STAFF ONLY ********************

    FROM; 1st Guards Tank Army Cmd

    TO: Group of Soviet Forces Germany Cmd

    SUBJECT: Recent engagement in Arnhem urban area

    ******************* RESTRICTED GSFG CMD STAFF ONLY ********************

    As requested, a detailed report of the recent events in Arnhem area follows:

    1. At D+10 23:00, NATO WG 2 MechDiv(-) began a disengagement attempt from 20G TankDiv
    2. At D+10 23:10, following directive GSFG/117, 20G TankDiv actively pursued the enemy retreating units, despite ammunition shortage.
    3. At D+11 02:11, 20G TankDiv ended pursuit, with NATO WG 2 MechDiv(-) retreating to Arnhem urban area under cover of NATO WG 12 MechDiv(-)
    4. At D+11 02:25, an estimated number of 100+ NATO AH-1 Cobra engaged 20G TankDiv with AT missiles.
    5. At D+11 03:20, with NATO AH still engaging, 20G TankDiv depleted its AA missiles stocks, after 17 confirmed enemy AH kills. 20G TankDiv was recently stripped of its accompanying SA-4 AA Btn due to recent directive GSFG/203 regarding redistribution of AA assets to the rear supply lines.
    6. At D+11 05:00, with NATO AH still engaging, 20G TankDiv reported a total loss of 94 T-72, 14 T-64, 80+ BMP-1, 800+ personnel and requested permission to retreat under 1GTA AA umbrella. The permission was granted by 1GTA CMD.
    7. At D+11 05:17, NATO WG 12 MechDiv(-) attacked the disengaging elements of 20G TankDiv(-), effectively destroying its efficiency as independent combat unit.
    1GTA CMD advises a revision of directive GSFG/117 and suggests a more cautious approach when pursuing retreating enemy elements in range of known enemy AH airfields.

    ******************* END ********************

    Sunday, 15 November 2015

    The Next War, Operation Attila - D+10, WP Land Phase

    Here we are again, with Warsaw Pact momentarily (I hope) slowed down by critical supply problems.
    Meanwhile, second echelon Divisions started entering the battlefield, and there's A LOT of them.

    The Hand of God Hits Again

    Warsaw Pact land operations were heavily disrupted by the continuation of NATO's "Operation Hand of God".

    Dozens of F-111 and Mirage air strikes, supported by Wild Weasel SEAD missions, almost completely devastated the supply lines and infrastructures in Central East Germany.

    Operation Hand of God, Phase 2

    F-4 Wild Weasel SEAD strike

    Air-Ground Strike

    Front Supply Head Displacement

    Warsaw Pacts air defenses were able to shot down or damage a good amount of the attackers, but not enough to avoid the collapse of the supply system. During the last 48 hours, only South Front (Munich - Nuremberg area) and 2nd Guards Tank Army (Hamburg area) received enough fuel and ammunition to continue the offensive at the desired pace.

    As a consequence of the current unsatisfactory situation, Vice Commander of Group of Soviet Forces in Germany Colonel General Alexei Lizichev has been recalled to Moscow to report. His role has been assigned to the Marshal of the Soviet Union Sergey Sokolov, who previously served as Commander in Chief of Soviet Forces in Afghanistan.

    Under Marshal Sokolov directives, WP air defenses deployment was completely revised in the last 24 hours, emphasizing the concept of key areas defense and dropping the "multiple supply lines" strategy that proved so ineffective.

    WP Land Phase, NORTHAG

    In Denmark, 106th Guards Airmobile Division attack against Copenhagen was held off by Danish defenders, primarily thanks to the support of a West German attack helicopters squadron that was subsequently forced to land at Vaerlose airfield, just North of the city.
    Denmark Situation

    In 2nd Guards Tank Army area, 6th Motorized Rifle Division continued the mopping up operations in Hamburg, destroying a West German Mechanized Reserve Regiment. Only small areas of resistance in the Northwest remains under NATO control.

    5th Armored Division advanced North, freeing Kiel and crossing the Canal.
    Hamburg Area

    In the Bremen / Oldenburg region, 20th Guards and 3rd Shock Army completed encircling the remnants of German I Corps. A couple of reconnaissance attacks against NATO defensive positions were repulsed due to a WG artillery regiment supporting the defenders and supply problems.
    Bremen Area

    In the 1st Guards Tank Army area, the encircled British 1/2 Armored Brigade was destroyed. Moreover, a concentric attack against Dutch 1st Division, conducted by 5 divisions and 3 artillery regiments, caused heavy losses among the defenders.
    1 Guards Tank Army at Netherlands Border

    WP Land Phase, CENTAG

    As usual, nothing new on the CENTAG Front.

    WP Land Phase, SOUTHAG

    In Munich, Hungarian Army destroyed French 2/11 Paratroops Brigade, with the support of the newly arrived 6th Soviet Army.

    West of Nuremberg, 1st Czech Army took advantage of the now depleted II German Corps defense line, attacking and destroying French 4/8 Mech Brigade and advancing 45 km toward Stuttgart.
    Munich and Nuremberg Area

    Overall Situation at D+10, 22:00 Zulu Time


    Sunday, 18 October 2015

    The Next War - New Vassal Module

    John Rainey published a new version of The Next War Vassal module, adding a lot of interesting features like unit assignments, corps boundaries, air units return to base and more......Thanks John!

    You can find the new 2.5 version of the module here; to activate the new features, remember to run the Tools / Refresh Counters option after loading a saved game.

    If someone wants to try out the possible development of our "Operation Attila" game, here's the vassal saved game at the end of Turn 7

    Wednesday, 7 October 2015

    The Next War, Operation Attila, D+10 Dawn

    Netherlands - West Germany Border, 0400 Zulu Time

    "Comrades, I know we are all tired and our heroic troops already went beyond our best expectations.
    We already showed the capability and skill of the Marxist-Leninist soldier, conscious of his historical mission and not a mere puppet in the hands of a capitalistic government that keeps the proletarian masses under the yoke of ignorance!"

    Standing rigidly at attention, Captain Milan Stepanovich Zhilin was trying his best to hide the true feelings about his regiment commander's speech. Colonel Osip Aleskeevich Yankov was notoriously a fanatic, always ready to denounce his officers for 'counterrevolutionary thoughts'. 

    '...the skill of the Marxist-Leninist soldier, conscious of his historical mission...', he thought bitterly. After ten days of war, he has only seen trembling Belorussian adolescents asking themselves why they are going to die so far from home, and poor Ukrainian farmers trying to find a way to survive a MLRS artillery bombardment.

    Colonel Yankov continued his motivating speech: "After the sound victories in the so-called Federal Republic of Germany, the time has come to inflict the final blow to the remains of the once proud armies of the European slaves of America! The collapse of NATO is getting near, and we will not stop now, no matter what sacrifices are needed, just a few steps before the final goal of freeing the oppressed German workers from their slavery!"

    '...the time has come to inflict the final blow...', pure bullshit. His infantry company had 40% losses, no food, and fired his last antitank missile four days ago. Without replacements and supply, the best they could hope was to survive until the arrival of the second echelon reinforcements.

    But of course, there was no way to make his commander at least consider the truth. A single word of disapproval and he would find himself under trial, with a one-way ticket to Siberia.

    Colonel Yankov was now approaching the final part of his speech, in an unstoppable crescendo; ".....and once again, Comrades, I call on your unwavering faith in the way traced by Lenin, to bring this epic struggle to the unavoidable conclusion predicted by Karl Marx! The fall of the capitalistic system!"

    "FORWARD, COMRADE COLONEL!", Captain Zhilin shouted in unison with the other officers.

    Friday, 2 October 2015

    The Next War - Operation Attila D+9, NATO Land Phase (2)

    Yes Comrades, we're still alive!
    The progress has become painfully slow due to annoying real life events, but we're not giving up.

    BTW, Just in case some of you have an insane curiosity about the real people behind the uniforms, here we are.


    The situation in the Hamburg - Bremen sector didn't change much, with the surrounded NATO units entrenching and getting ready for the upcoming assault.

    Hamburg - Bremen Situation, D+9 22:00 ZT

    Further West, the newly formed Netherlands Defense Force (NEDEFOR) retreated behind the Rhine after being defeated on the Netherlands border, leaving the surrounded Dutch 1st Division to its fate.

    Losses were replaced by US 3rd Armored Division from CENTAG, probably supported by an artillery brigade and mobile SAM.

    NEDEFOR redeployment, D+9 22:00 ZT

    In the Ruhr area, several West German brigades moved in reserve, leaving the burden of defense to French 4th Division only. Intelligence suggests they will be used to form a mobile reaction force in NEDEFOR rear area.

    Ruhr area, D+9 22:00 ZT


    US V Corps has been stripped of 3rd Armored Division and several support units, moved North to reinforce NORTHAG. The removed units have been partially replaced by units of French II Corps.

    CENTAG, D+9 22:00 ZT


    French II Corps has been removed from front area and is currently moving North. The whole burden of SOUTHAG defense has been left to a reduced US VII Corps and German II Corps.

    SOUTHAG, D+9 22:00 ZT

    Overall Situation at D+9, 22:00 Zulu Time

    During the end phase of the turn, I had to face the first serious consequences of NATO's "Operation Hand of God". Due to the displacement of WP Front Supply Heads, most of my frontline artillery and flak regiments have now very limited or zero ammunition supply.

    Luckily, in the next 24 hours two second line Armies will arrive from the Motherland, bringing their full complement of 8 artillery regiments and 8 mobile flaks. 

    Forward, Comrades!

    Tuesday, 9 June 2015

    The Next War - Operation Attila D+9, NATO Land Phase (1)

    Judging by the events at the beginning of NATO Land Phase, I presume SHAEF acquired a copy of our "Evaluation of possible NATO Defense Strategies" secret dossier and found it quite useful.

    Operation Hand of God

    Starting at D+9, 04:00 Zulu Time, NATO air-to-ground attacks against WP Front Supply Heads dramatically increased, for a total of 100 sorties in North Air Sector in the last 12 hours.

    Subsequent interceptions of NATO encrypted messages enabled Soviet intelligence to connect the increased sortie rate to a new operation code named "Hand of God".

    Despite a strong flak cover, the effects on Warsaw Pact's supply system were quite heavy. In some cases, the final 150 km of the supply lines have been completely devastated.
    The attacks on the Front Supply Heads were also supported by surgical strikes against key bridges.

    NATO air losses have been moderate. with less than 10 planes shot down and several dozens damaged.

    Operation Hand of God - Arrows are FSH displacements due to air attacks

    Friday, 15 May 2015

    The Next War - NATO defense strategy

    I played The Next War as NATO player for many times since 1980.

    "Operation Attila" campaign is my first attempt on the Warsaw Pact side, and I must say it opened my eyes on the numerous weak points of the Soviet war machine and on several errors I think I've always made as NATO.

    Some uneasy facts NATO must take into account

    1. Warsaw Pact WILL break through your line of accurately placed single brigades, no matter how good you think it is.
    2. Warsaw Pact WILL break through your line of powerful divisions, encircling them and leaving you without troops to fill the holes.
    3. Warsaw Pact WILL advance deeply into West Germany
    4. NATO air force WILL NOT make the difference in ground combat, except maybe in a couple of lucky situation where WP has few anti-air assets

    Ok, so what should NATO do?

    A campaign in "The Next War" has two completely different phases:
    • Phase 1 - the Soviet Juggernaut (Turn 1-3)
      WP is automatically supplied, NATO planes are useful only for slowing down movement and destroying airports
    • Phase 2 - the Socialist Inefficiency (Turn 4-End)
      WP supply needs Front Supply Heads, railroads and bridges. NATO planes interdict supply, bombard supply depots (FSH displacement) and destroy key bridges. WP troops must fight with limited ammo and fuel.
    So, NATO must survive Phase 1, minimizing ground and air losses. 

    The first step toward this goal is dropping  the "Forward Defense" plan.

    "Forward Defense" has been the official NATO strategy during most of the cold war, primarily because it wasn't a good idea telling the Germans "in case of war, most of your country will be probably invaded by Communist forces."

    Actually, if you read carefully the 4 points above, that's exactly what is going to happen. The only real difference you can make is in the number of NATO brigades lost when (not if) Soviet forces will reach the Weser river.

    What NATO should avoid is a front line battle, trying instead to focus on few key strategic points and keeping a "mobile battlefield", where there will be opportunities for local counterattacks aiming at the weak communication lines and not-so-willing satellite nations of Warsaw Pact.

    The second step is hitting where it really hurts. That is:
    1. Supply system - major rivers
    2. Supply system - Front Supply Heads
    3. Supply system - key bridges
    4. Repair capacity
    5. City fights

    1. Supply System - major rivers

    One very important condition for supply is it cannot cross unbridged major rivers.

    This means that in NORTHAG and SOUTHAG areas WP must secure one or more of the highlighted areas, depending on its planned axis of advance, otherwise its divisions will simply have to stop.

    Major River Crossing along WP axis of advance

    So, when NATO player must choose where to hold at all costs, he should choose one of those points.

    Of course, WP could choose CENTAG for its main trust, where there are almost no major rivers. I've never seen it happens, probably for the following reasons:

    1. The strongest NATO forces are there, with a lot of artillery, helicopters and support units
    2. Too few victory points to take

    2. Supply System - Front Supply Heads

    After the first 3 turns of "automatic supply" (more on this later) WP supply system relies on Front Supply Heads.

    WP must bring its Front Supply Heads forward, otherwise its supply chain will not work and the offensive will stop. And the movement capacity of a Front Supply Head is normally a whooping 4 movement points.

    Here's where NATO air superiority can really be decisive.

    Each successful air-to-ground attack on a Front Supply Heads will move it backward 5 hexes. Don't limit to a single attack, but force them to move back 10 or even 15 hexes with multiple attacks.

    If Front Supply Heads are not able to move close enough to the front line, WP supply system will simply stop working.

    3. Supply System - Key Bridges

    After the first 3 turns of "automatic supply", WP supply system needs railroads and autobahns from the Front Supply Heads to the East map edge.

    Major rivers can be crossed by supply only at bridges, therefore WP must protect a number of key bridges along Elbe river, otherwise its FSH will have no supply line.

    Key Bridges on Elbe River

    4. Repair Capacity

    In campaign game, Warsaw Pact has 10 Repair Points every turn to repair bridges (3 RP) and airports (5 RP).

    Considering that supply limitations practically force WP to repair destroyed bridges as soon as possible, NATO air force should take every possible opportunity to damage key bridges (see point 1 above) and airports. 

    WP will be forced to spend its precious RP to adjust bridges, thus leaving its already few decent airports damaged and weakening its air coverage. This will allow NATO to have more airplanes for bridges and airports attacks, and so on.

    5. City Fights

    The only place where NATO has a good chance of holding off an attack is inside a city. Cities offer the following advantages:
    1. +3 to dice roll for defender
    2. No wave assault (adjacent divisions don't help attacker)
    3. No electronic warfare against the defender
    4. If attacker is not itself in a city hex, defender EW can be used

    A single NATO brigade, in Hedgehog mode and with EW or artillery unit in support, is a tough nut to crack for the Soviets. Two NATO brigades are a real problem. 

    On average, an attack against 2 brigades defending in city would have :
    • 2-1 combat ratio (4-1 if NATO EW didn't work and WP brings in at least 3 artillery regiments)
    • +5 modifiers for NATO (+3 for city, +2 for hedgehog)
    This translate for WP in 0% success chance in the worst case (NATO EW working), and 36% in the best case (Artillery support and NATO EW not working). Even if WP is lucky, all it gets is a single step loss on NATO units, and its overall problem doesn't change much at the next attack.

    Of course, it's more than possible that NATO defender will be encircled and bypassed, but:
    • NATO is considered in supply for the first 4 turns
    • At least 2 WP divisions are busy and not attacking forward
    So, never ever give away cities without fighting; fortify with a decent support and don't worry about being encircled. For a perfect defense, include a mobile antiair unit to discourage WP helicopters ground support.

    But despite all this....

    The Next War is slightly (or heavily, depends on who's talking) in favor of Warsaw Pact. 

    The game was designed at the peak of Cold War period, when NATO was probably in its worst shape. With the fall of Soviet Union, we have discovered that Warsaw Pact was probably much less powerful than we thought and its internal cohesion was far from perfect.

    We used these new facts to review or rewrite some rules, and I strongly suggest everyone to do the same if you want a more balanced and realistic game:

    No +2 modifier in division vs brigade atttacks

    Size difference is already abstracted by unit strength - no need to further penalize the brigade.

    No automatic WP supply in the first 3 turns

    In the original rules, the 3 turns of automatic supply represents stockpiled ammo and food. 

    Problem is exactly that, they are stockpiled - no WP division could advance 50 km per day carrying all that stuff, so the supply must be moved from the stockpile to the front units using the usual supply chain.

    NATO situation is different, as its stockpiles are in the territory where its units are fighting - not 200 km away in East Germany.

    Consequently, WP units must trace a standard supply line to a Headquarter, even during the first 3 turns of war.

    No NO-ZOC marker on units attacked by SSM-delivered chemicals

    This rule greatly exaggerate the effectiveness and reliability of Soviet Surface-to-Surface Missiles.
    They were probably capable of delivering enough gas to force defender to adopt anti-NBC measures, but not enough to paralyze a whole mech brigade.

    Reduced cadre rating for Warsaw Pact allies

    The cadre rating for all non-Soviet units is reduced by one (except pilots).
    Moreover, every time a non-Soviet unit attack results in something different from "D", the cadre is reverted to its original value (i.e., the unit loses its battle-tested "5" cadre).

    Electronic Warfare

    The original rules considered soviet EW equipment more reliable and simpler to use, making it more effective on the battlefield.

    We now know better about lack of spare parts and maintenance in eastern bloc countries, so we modified as follows:
    • NATO EW works on a roll of 1-4
    • WP EW works on a roll of 1-3

    Proposed NORTHAG Defense Setup

    Of course this setup presumes the scenario played gives NATO enough time to move in position (not applicable in a "Sudden War" scenario).

    Saturday, 9 May 2015

    The Next War - Operation Attila, D+9, Dawn

    Some experiences directly from the battlefield, with the overall situation at D+8, 22:00 Zulu Time below.
    The first part of the story of Master Sergeant Flyorov and Borte is here.

    Near Magdeburg, 05:00 Zulu Time

    Master Sergeant Flyorov was crouched in fetal position, behind a large group of rocks a hundreds meters away from the  Kassel - Magdeburg autobahn.

    He's been there for the last two hours. He was safe there. There was no way the enemy airplanes could see him and drop their bombs. All he had to do was to wait a little more, and when the airplanes are gone he would walk away. A nice stroll in the countryside, and in a couple of hours he will be home, at Kiev.

    Too bad Borte will not see his farm. Borte was a good fellow, but too slow for this kind of things.
    He told him, run Borte! Run!! 
    But the Mongolian boy stayed inside the truck, paralyzed. Then something hit the truck, cutting the driver's seat and Borte in two perfectly symmetrical pieces. 

    Even behind the rocks, Flyorov could feel the heath from the dozens of Ural trucks burning on the autobahn. Once in a while, an ammo truck exploded, filling the air with the whistle of bullets and fragments. But the rocks are safe, he thought. They cannot hit him behind the rocks. 

    Now there was someone  in front of him. How has he found him? The man was yelling something, and looked angry. 

    Flyorov looked back at him and smiled. Maybe the man was telling him that it was safe now, and he could stand up and walk to Kiev. 

    But no, the man kept yelling at him. He was telling something about "cowardice in front of the enemy" and "traitor of the Motherland". Flyorov smiled again, and tried to say something about the airplanes. Maybe the man didn't know, he had to warn him.

    Flyorov looked at the man extracting the Makarov pistol from his belt and aiming it at him; he was still yelling.
    He crouched back in fetal position, thinking about the lemon cakes his mother would cook for him once he arrived at Kiev.

    Overall Situation at D+8, 22:00 Zulu Time


    Wednesday, 6 May 2015

    The Next War - Operation Attila, D+8 WP Land Phase

    In terms of territorial gains, the offensive slowed down due to supply problems, NATO paradrops in the rear areas and front overextension.
    Despite that, progress are still good in the North sector and Soviet second echelon divisions are now entering East Germany, so I'm confident the scheduled timetable of Operation Attila will have no significant delays.

    Operation Boreal Light - Invasion of Sjaelland

    At 02:00 Zulu Time an airmobile force composed by 106th Guards Division and two Naval Infantry regiments embarked on MI-6 transport helicopters at Kaliningrad air base. Three hours later, the whole force debarked 30 kilometers South of Copenhagen.

    Contrary to the expectations, the invasion force met a stiff resistance by Danish troops heavily supported by West German attack helicopters taking off from Bremen.
    Moreover, the Danish made good use of their low quality but numerous anti aircraft assets to reduce WP ground support effectiveness.

    After 15 hours of heavy fighting, the Soviet Marines were momentarily forced to a halt at the outskirts of the Danish capital.

    Denmark, situation at 20:00 Zulu Time

    North Front

    Hamburg Isolated

    The bulk of 2nd Guards Tank Army completed the encirclement of Hamburg and attacked NATO prepared positions in the Western part of the city; once again,Soviet troops were surprised by Danish determination and the attack failed to reach its daily objectives.

    At the same time, 5th Tank Division attacked toward the Danish border.

    Hamburg, situation at 20:00 Zulu Time

    Festung Bremen

    20th Guards Army completed the encirclement of Bremen, destroying a West Germany mech Brigade in the process. Inside the city the whole 11th German Division awaits, reinforced by the retreating 18/6 brigade.

    Further West, 3rd Shock Army destroyed the remnants of Dutch 4th Division and moved past Oldenburg, cutting the Amsterdam - Bremen autobahn.
    Bremen, 22:00 Zulu Time

    Battle at the Dutch border

    In the biggest battle of the war, nine divisions of 1st Guards Tank Army smashed into the new defense line of NEDEFOR (NEtherlands DEfense FORce), with both sides throwing in everything at hand.

    When the dust settled, Warsaw Pact pincer has surrounded Dutch 1st Division and the remains of British 2nd Armored Division. achieving a penetration of 40 kilometers and entering Netherlands.

    The Dutch government showed once more its wisdom, refusing to sacrifice the whole nation to the supremacy ambitions of United States. At 17:00 Zulu Time, the Dutch ambassador in Moscow delivered a formal request of separate peace to the representatives of the Union of  the Soviet Socialist Republics. The request was accepted, marking the beginning of a new era of prosperity for the People of Netherlands.

    Unfortunately, in the previous days most of the Dutch army had been infiltrated by subversive warmongers paid by United States and Britain. As a result, almost every Netherlands unit refused to comply to the peace agreement and joined the so-called "Free Dutch Army".

    Ruhr area, 22:00 Zulu Time

    Central Front

    As usual, Central Front was quiet.The American Army, always ready to ask its allies to endure the horrors of war, sits idle in front of Frankfurt.
    CENTAG, 22:00 Zulu Time

    South Front

    Due to the French airdrop in Munich and the USA incursion in Nuremberg, South Front was forced to halt its push West in order to rectify the situation.

    1st Czech Army brought 1/1A USA Brigade to its knees and reestablished the control over Nuremberg, while Hungarian Army surrounded the two French paratroop Brigades in Munich and destroyed West German 11/4 Brigade.

    South Front, 22:00 Zulu Time

    Strategic Overview at D8, 23:00 Zulu Time

    Saturday, 18 April 2015

    The Next War - Operation Attila, D+8 Air Phase

    Our campaign goes on, even though very slowly as NATO player is currently busy in Peking....maybe he is trying to convince China to make a surprise attack in the far east ?

    Air War

    Air war was quite surprisingly uneventful.

    NATO threw its whole air power in North Sector, while Warsaw Pact chose Baltic and Central Sector. No dogfights at all.

    Despite the no-show, this development will have several effects on the next 48 hours of combat:
    1. USA Reforger troops scheduled for turn 7 must be moved by ship, delaying them to turn 10
    2. WP supply network is going to function at its full capacity in Central Sector
    3. WP plans regarding Denmark are no longer a secret
    4. WP should reinforce AA defenses near key bridges and road junctions in North Sector to contain the incoming waves of NATO ground attack missions.

    NATO Supply Interdiction

    NATO fighter-bombers made quick work of Pact's supply network in the North Sector, interdicting 3 Front Supply Heads.

    Pact's lines of supply in Central and South sectors were unharmed; of course, whenever possible their supplies will be diverted to the spearhead armies in Northern Germany.

    Secret Agreement on Chemical Weapons

    Despite the ongoing conflict, diplomatic channels between NATO and Warsaw Pact were left open, primarily to help defusing a more than possible escalation to an all-out nuclear war.

    Soviet Ambassador at London delivered a note to British Prime Minister stating that "Warsaw Pact ground forces will from now on avoid any combat use of persistent and non-persistent chemical weapons. In case of utilization of said weapons by NATO, the aforementioned restrictions  will be immediately removed ."

    Some NATO officers noted the use of the words "ground forces" and "combat use" in the Soviet dispatch. Anyway, after a quick consultation SHAEF sent a non encrypted message to all Headquarters stating that "the previous release order regarding utilization of chemical weapons against Warsaw Pact troops is revoked."

    Thursday, 15 January 2015

    ************ FLASH ************ Soviet troops landed near Copenhagen

    According to Danish General Command, this morning at 05:00 CET NATO radar network identified 60+ MI-6 helicopters approaching Zealand island from SouthEast.

    The intruders disappeared from radars 50 miles from the Danish coast. Subsequent communications from territorial militia and resident civilians reported the presence of Soviet airmobile forces 20 miles from Copenhagen.

    ************ END ************

    Sunday, 11 January 2015

    The Next War - Operation Attila, D+7 NATO Land

    After a long pause, we finally resumed play yesterday and NATO finished Turn 6 land phase. 
    Added the overall strategic situation at the bottom of this briefing.

    Hamburg and Bremen

    In Hamburg, Danish troops and German reservists entrenched in the city to slow down the advance of 9th Armored Guards Division.

    In Bremen, German 11th Mech Division regrouped in the urban area, with German 6th Mech Division holding the line from the city to the North Sea. On their rear, mixed elements of NORTHAG entrenched in the ports area.

    Birth of NEDEFOR

    To address the dire situation caused by NORTHAG collapse, NATO stripped the defenses of CENTAG and Ruhr areas to create NEDEFOR (Netherlands Defense Force). Apparently, the units assigned to the new formation are:
    • UK 4th Armored Division (operating at div. level)
    • Netherlands 1st Mechanized Division (operating at div. level)
    • Netherlands 5th Mechanized Division (operating at div. level)
    • French 1st Mechanized Division
    • French I Corps Artillery
    • German 12th Armored Division 
    • German III Corps Artillery
    • Mixed brigades from different formations, totaling one division strength

    The final front line at 21:00 D+7 remained fragmented, but it is undoubtedly a solid obstacle along 1st Guards Tank Army axis of advance.

    Moreover, the Dutch forces are kept near other NATO units, to ensure their loyalty in the event of an unilateral surrender declaration by the Dutch government.

    Ruhr Defense

    Defense of the Ruhr area has been mostly assigned to forces previously operating with CENTAG. 
    German 5th Mech Division, French 4th Mech Division and two USA artillery brigades have been positively identified.

    Starting at 05:00 D+7, more than 60 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters pounded the positions of 103rd Guards Airborne Division; after 20 hours of mauling, all that remained of the paratrooper division was a single, exhausted brigade.
    The Central Committee of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics awarded the Order of Lenin to all the glorious soldiers of the division, who gave their life for spreading the ideals of Marxism-Leninism to the oppressed people living under the capitalistic tyranny of the United States of America.


    USA V Corps extended its assigned area to just South of Ruhr area, using 3rd Armored Division to hold the additional 100 kilometers of front.


    In the South, NATO launched a major heliborne operation with French 11th Airborne Division, who landed two brigades at Munich outskirts and proceeded to reoccupy the city.
    Moreover, a brigade of USA 1st Armored Division made a night march to Nuremberg and entrenched in the city center.

    Strategic Situation at 21:00, D+7 Zulu Time

    NATO front line in the North sector still has wide gaps, but Netherlands primary targets are now covered.
    SOUTHAG has disrupted WP rear areas, probably forcing a temporary stalemate in South Germany.