Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Next War, Operation Attila - D+16, WP Land Phase

The following report has been written using various verified sources, both official and confidential. It tries to shed some light on the confused events started May 19,  1980 (D+16), presenting them in chronological order and from a neutral point of view.

Many aspects remain unclear, particularly about the behaviour of  US V corps Army command. We can only hope that time will reveal more details and, maybe, better answers.

NATO prepares air umbrella

In preparation for the expected Warsaw Pact offensive, NATO assigned every available airplane to ground support in North Air sector. 
Without any fighter escort, the losses inflicted on NATO bombers by Soviet interceptors were quite heavy, but the vast majority of air groups penetrated successfully the battlefield.

To ensure Close Air Support will be available when and where needed, NATO established a heavy SEAD patrol over the whole Ruhr and Rhine front, using more than 100 F-4  in Wild Weasel configuration.

NATO Wild Weasel Missions over NORTHAG Area

Operation Red Sickle begins

At D+16, 0300 Zulu Time, 120 Soviet Mi-6 helicopters using Nap-Of-Earth flight debarked Soviet 76th Guards Division in several locations West of river Rhine. Due to fuel shortage, all transport helicopters were forced to abandon NOE and shot down during the return flight.

After landing, Soviet paratroopers proceeded to attack airfields, headquarters and bridges without regard to losses, wreaking havoc and forcing NATO to displace or use precious attack helicopters in defense.

Operation Red Sickle - Soviet 76th Guards airmobile operations

South Front attacks

At D+16 0500 ZT, two hours after the airmobile troops landed, Czech 1st Army and Soviet 6th Army launched a two-phases wave assault against French 1st Mechanized Division. 

In the first phase, Hungarian 27th Mech and Czech 4th Tank Division attacked at unfavorable odds, suffering heavy losses but encircling the French. 

In the second phase, Soviet 31th Tank and 39 Motorized Guards Divisions used electronic warfare and heavy artillery support to completely destroy the French division.

After the breakthrough was achieved, four more divisions moved forward, reaching River Rhine near Mannheim and encircling French 8th Mechanized Division.

Operation Red Sickle - Attack against French 1st Mech Division

2nd Guards Tank Attacks Ruhr

At D+16 0500 ZT Soviet 2nd Guards Tank Army, supported by at least two units of Electronic Warfare, launched several attacks against NATO prepared positions at Dortmund and Hagen.

The attacks were all repulsed by the entrenched West German Reserve Regiments, helped by dozens of rotary and fixed wing  aircrafts patrolling the Ruhr on CAS call.

The Crossing of the Rhine

At D+16, 0600 ZT, three Soviet divisions from 1st Guards Tank Army began a wave assault against British 6th Mechanized Division, one of the few NORTHAG units without electronic warfare and artillery cover.

The attack was supported by combat engineer, at least 3 electronic warfare units and more than 10 artillery regiments moved around Arnhem during the night.

At 1000 ZT, with close air support only partially effective due to Soviet EW and facing a coordinated assault on 3 sides, British resistance began to crumble. Facing the concrete possibility of a complete destruction of 6th Division, BAOR command decided to retreat the shattered survivors toward Kleve urban area.

At 1030 ZT, Soviet 7th Guards Tank Division crossed river Rhine and entered Nijmegen, cutting the supply line for 1/1 Belgians Brigade defending Arnhem.

At 1330 ZT, two fresh Soviet Divisions from 1st Guards Tank Army crossed the Rhine in the breakthrough area and quickly dispatched the Belgians, taking control of Arnhem bridges over the Rhine.

Operation Red Sickle - North Front attacks in Ruhr and Arnhem area

The Shadow of Apocalypse 

After receiving news about Soviet breakthroughs in BAOR and French II Corps Main Battle Areas, US V Corps Commanding General Willard Scott ordered 1st Battalion, 80th Field Artillery Regiment to attack Soviet 51st Tank Division, positioned 30 km Northeast of Frankfurt, with 2 Lance missiles armed with 100 kilotons nuclear warheads.

According to the radio transcripts released by SHAPE, the Artillery Regiment Commander asked for confirmation and a written order, but was forced to obedience by "explicit threats of martial court and execution" by US V Corps Commander.

At D+16, 1817 ZT two 100 kilotons nuclear warheads detonated at ground level in Soviet 51st Tank Division area, with devastating effects.

One hour later, US 1st Mechanized Division, in tactical nuclear deployment and fully equipped with NBC countermeasures, attacked 51st Tank Division positions. The Soviets, badly mauled and still under shock, retreated after a short resistance.

The Domino Effect

Starting from the US nuclear attack, events unfolded rather quickly:

D+16, 2000 ZT: A crescent number of reports about "a nuclear attack against 8th Guards Tank Army" flooded the Warsaw Pact Headquarters. Politburo members were transferred to an underground security structure near Moscow.

D+16, 2030 ZT: Military Police and American Special Forces assaulted US V Corps Headquarters, arresting Commanding General Willard Scott and his Staff members.

D+16, 2044 ZT: US President Jimmy Carter used the Red Line, installed after the Cuban Missiles Crisis, to inform General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev that "the tactical nuclear attack was carried out without authorization, approval or consent by US Government or NATO Supreme Commander and is to be considered an irresolute act of insubordination perpetrated by US V Corps Commander"

D+16, 2200 ZT: Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev made a speech on Soviet State Television, stating that "Despite several public and diplomatic declaration that NATO would never be the first to use nuclear bombs, these horrible weapons were today used against Soviet troops fighting the War of Liberation in Germany. Such an inhumane act, no matter if unintentional or unwilling, cannot remain without a proper and commisurate retaliation. Therefore, an equivalent and appropriate response has been ordered against US troops now taking advantage of this perfidious act."
"From now on, any use of nuclear weapons, in any context, would trigger an unrestrained strategic Soviet reaction against the perpetrators and their allies."

D+16, 2321 ZT: 8 Nuclear rockets Luna 9M21B, each with a 25 kilotons nuclear warhead, exploded in the Main Battle Area of US 1st Mechanized Division. Despite NBC protection and nuclear tactical deployment, US losses are about 25% in personnel and equipment.

D+17, 0200 ZT: Soviet Combat Engineer repaired the Arnhem bridges in record time, and the first columns of Soviet supply trucks crossed the Rhine.
Operation Red Sickle - Soviet troops crossing the Rhine at Arnhem

D+17, 0400 ZT: 20 Polish divisions plus support units crossed the East Germany - Poland border and moved at full speed toward West Germany.

D+17, 0800 ZT:  Polish Defense Minister Wojciech Jaruzelski announced on state TV that "The Polish People, finally free from the counterrevolutionary influences of devious and plagiarized Government members, are now ready to move forward and actively participate to the glorious events unfolding in Europe."

An informal Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev, at the phone just after receiving the news about Soviet troops crossing the Rhine
D+17, 1010 ZT: Soviet Ambassador in Paris was called for "urgent consultations" with French President. According to French Government internal sources, Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko was also involved in the consultations.

D+17, 1200 ZT: French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing made a TV speech, stating that "Considering the rapidly deteriorating military situation in Central Europe, and the recent facts highlighting the concrete possibility for France to be unwillingly involved in a nuclear confrontation with Soviet Union, the French and Soviet Government today agreed on an unilateral ceasefire, effective immediately, between Warsaw Pact and French armed forces."

"French troops will move back to France metropolitan territory, and will keep a neutral stance toward any armed conflict between NATO and Warsaw Pact members. That said, any violation of French territory by Warsaw Pact armed forces will cause an immediate and unrestrained nuclear strategic response by France against Soviet Union."

Following the French announcement, Belgian and Danish governments quickly ratified similar agreements with Soviet Union.

D+17, 1900 ZT: With AFCENT front crumbling and defections increasing, remaining NATO troops started retreating toward North Sea ports or, in some cases, Atlantic ports in France without any French opposition.

D+17, 2000 ZT: US President Jimmy Carter and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher read a joint declaration on national televisions, stating that "United States and Great Britain will stand firmly together as they already did in the past, and will continue the struggle to restore democracy, freedom and peace in the whole Europe. No energy will be spared, no sacrifice will be avoided, until the plague of Soviet Communism is only a sad, bloody page in history books."

Strategic Situation at D+16, 1500 Zulu Time


One month has passed since the end of Operation Attila and the subsequent dissolution of NATO, but the world is still at war. 

Despite spectacular parades celebrating "Victory over American Imperialism", Soviet Union is still heavily engaged in military activities, facing a growing coalition led by United States and Great Britain. US strategic bombers routinely attack Soviet installations in Europe, and a strong resistance movement is reported in West Germany.
Victory Parade at Berlin, June 3, 1980
France, now at the border of the Soviet Empire, is paying its newly neutral stance with military expenses, now up to 20% of GNP.

The land fight moved to Middle and Far East, where supply problems and US control of the seas are giving Soviet Union a hard time. China has recently mobilized its army, and its intentions are still an enigma.

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Next War, Operation Attila - D+15, NATO Land Phase

Summer ceasefire is over, and we're back in the wreck covered, blood soaked West German Plains.

The thin but steady flow of reinforcements allowed NATO to further consolidate the Rhine - Ruhr - Frankfurt defense line. Will it be enough to stop the upcoming Warsaw Pact offensive codenamed "Operation Red Sickle" ?


Netherlands Defense Force line was moved 40 km West, placing Amsterdam on the front line.

The two newly arrived UK divisions together with the survivors of Belgian I Corps were used to reform the British Army Of the Rhine: the name is to be taken literally, as the main defense line is now the 500 meters wide river.

NEDEFOR and BAOR deployment, D+15 2100 ZT

French I Corps and West German III Corps remained in charge of Ruhr defense.
Artillery Brigades and Electronic Warfare units from every NATO member were repositioned to support and cover the whole NORTHAG Forward Battle Area.

NORTHAG deployment, D+15 2100 ZT

2nd ATAF launched "Operation Angry Boar" - an all-out air offensive against 2nd Guards Tank Army, with 700 fixed and rotary wing aircrafts making more than 1500 sorties against DDR 7th  Panzer and 66th divisions. Luckily, bad weather hampered enemy operations and the two divisions incurred only in moderate losses.

Operation Angry Boar, D+15


Since the start of the hostilities, the government of the so-called Federal Republic of Germany put in place a forced reserve recruitment system, calling to arms even unfortunate refugees who already lost everything in the war. This ruthless mechanism provided a constant flow of young and inexperienced recruits, now used to rebuild several destroyed German divisions and reform West German I Corps. 

The Corps, probably formed by 2-3 German divisions and US 3rd Armored Division, was assigned to the defense of the 100km front South of the Ruhr.
KGB HumInt sources suggest that it could actually be assigned to the execution of a counterattack against 2nd Guards Tank Army.

CENTAG deployment, D+15 2100 ZT

North of Frankfurt, US 1/2AD Brigade attacked DDR 4th Panzergrenadier Division, reopening the supply line for the encircled US 1st Mechanized Division.

US 1/2AD counterattack, D+15 1400 ZT


In the South, French II Corps retreated further West to consolidate its line. Two West German reservist regiments were used to block possible encirclement maneuvers by Hungarian Army.

SOUTHAG deployment, D+15 2100 ZT

Strategic Situation at D+15, 21:00 Zulu Time

The sun went down, the pieces are all set. Operation Red Sickle is planned to start at D+16, 0300 Zulu Time.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Central Front, BAOR - The Thin Red Line

While I wait for our "The Next War" campaign to restart after the summer break, I'm giving a try to the new wonderful BAOR Vassal module recently released.

I'll play the "Race for the Weser" scenario, covering the first 48 hours of war, using a couple custom rules: 

  • WP can use 76th airborne division exactly as in "Thin Red Line" Scenario
  • NATO Covering Forces can voluntarily stack with units of any other nation
  • Warsaw Pact will have Air Superiority for the first 3 turns (no die roll)

Turn 1 - D+0 AM

At dawn of May, 14 1985, heavy air strikes hit BAOR units West of Weser, while Soviet 76th Airborne Division is airdropped in two separate groups on both sides of the river.

Warsaw Pact  T1 Phase 1

At 0400 ZT, four Soviet Divisions crossed the German Border and advanced into West Germany, barely slowed down by NATO covering forces. In a matter of hours, Warsaw Pact tanks reached the outskirt of Braunschweig, defended by WG 1st Panzer Division.

Situation at D+0, 0800 ZT

NATO T1 Phase 1

WG 1st Panzer and 11 PanzerGrenadier Divisions quickly reacted, setting up a decent defense line along the expected advance axis of the enemy.

WG 2nd Panzer took charge of protecting the Southern flank against the upcoming Pact's second wave divisions.

BAOR reaction was slowed down by air strikes, spetsnaz attacks and simple disorganization. Only UK 4th Armored Division, badly mauled by Soviet bombardments, and WG 7th Panzer Division moved to contain the Soviet paratroopers holding the key bridges on the Weser.

Situation at D+0, 0900 ZT

Warsaw Pact T1 Phase 2

12th Guards Tank Division advanced at full speed, brushing aside several Belgian covering forces.

207th and 47th Guards Tanks made all-out attacks on WG 1st PzD in Braunschweig, reaching the city centre and cutting the German defenses in two.

10th Guards Tank moved to contact WG 11th PgD and prepared its forces for an attack in the following hours.

Situation at D+0, 1100 ZT

NATO T1 Phase 2

With Soviet pressure mounting, both WG 1st PzD and 11th PgD used the remaining covering forces to retreat West as many battalions as possible. 

Despite that, 3 battalions were unable to disengage due to fatigue or enemy forces, making the overall situation of WG 1st Panzer Division far from good.

Situation at D+0, 1200 ZT

Turn 2 - D+0 PM

Warsaw Pact T2 Phase 1

Pressure continued in the Braunschweig area, with 207th and 47th GT Divisions destroying most of the German defenders and surrounding the survivors.

12 GT advanced along left flank, while the new 20th Tank Division moved behind 10th GT to be used as second assault wave.

Situation at D+0, 1600 ZT

NATO T2 Phase 1

NATO reinforcements began arriving, and they are probably just in time.
WG 1st PzD and 11th PgD both retreated 10 km West, trying to keep the front intact for the next 12 hours.

Situation at D+0, 1700 ZT

Warsaw Pact T2 Phase 2 

Warsaw Pact continued the pressure on WG 1st Panzer Division, now almost at its breaking point.

On the North side of Mittelland Kanal, 10th Guards Tank and 20th Tank rushed forward to attack WG 11th PanzerGrenadier Division.

Situation at D+0, 1800 ZT

NATO T2 Phase 2

Both WG 1st Panzer Division and 11th PanzerGrenadier Division tried to orderly disengage from the advancing Soviet regiments, but the price to pay was the cohesion of several battalions, now almost shattered by the attrition and fatigue gained in 36 hours of uninterrupted fights.

Meanwhile, UK 3rd Armored Division march toward the front was slowed down by the use of secondary roads to cross the Weser, due to Soviet 76th Guards control of the most direct routes to the Forward Edge of Battle Area.

Situation at D+0, 1900 ZT

Turn 3 - D+1 AM

Warsaw Pact T3 Phase 1

The continuous Soviet pressure on Bundeswehr finally payed off, as the link between WG 1st PzD and WG 11th PgD broke open. 20th Tank and 10th Guards Tank quickly exploited the breakthrough and crossed the Leine river on an intact bridge.

Situation at D+1, 0800 ZT

NATO T3 Phase 1

The tired remnants of WG 1st Panzer Division retreated into the rear areas to rest and recover, while 2nd Panzer took their place.

In the Hanover area, BAOR Armored Divisions reached the front at mid morning and filled the gaps in the line, hopefully blocking 20th Tank advance.

Situation at D+1, 0900 ZT

Warsaw Pact T3 Phase 2

35th Division opened its way thru Belgian covering forces and tried to flank WG 2nd Division, but it was stopped by stubborn German resistance.

In the center, Soviet divisions destroyed two more battalions from WG 1st Panzer and made contact with the main defense line of 2nd Panzer. Unable to mount an immediate attack, Warsaw Pact forces moved in position for a prepared attack in the next hours.

20th Tank engaged elements from UK 3rd Armored Division, but was unable to dislodge them from their positions.

Situation at D+1, 1100 ZT

NATO T3 Phase 2

Belgian 16th PanzerGrenadier took charge of NATO right flank, while WG 2nd Panzer completed the replacement of 1st Panzer in the center.

UK 3rd and 2nd Armored Divisions formed a solid defense line around Hanover. WG 11th PanzerGrenadier organized a blocking defense North of the city, to avoid possible Pact's breakthrough toward the Weser.

Situation at D+1, 1200 ZT

Turn 4 - D+1 PM

  1. The unsatisfactory advance rate of 3rd Shock Army
  2. The increasingly remote possibility of crossing the Weser before D+2, 0000 ZT as planned
  3. The present high attrition / fatigue of 3rd Shock and 20th Guards Armies
Soviet High Command decided to suspend Operation Red Comet and to divert the assigned reinforcements South, to the Kassel - Wurzburg front.


As victory condition are based on the number of supplied Soviet regiments across river Weser, there's no chance WP will be able to achieve it during the last remaining turn. NATO won at least a marginal victory.

I've always loved this game system. It's subtle and incredibly effective in representing the speed and lethality of modern mechanized warfare.

That said, I think I've made several tactical errors on both sides.

As WP, I lost precious hours cleaning up Braunschweig, instead of simply ignore it and push forward. Moreover, I should have used better 76th Airborne Division, capture an airport immediately and airlift more forces.

As NATO, I bogged down UK 4th Armored Division in a futile attempt to destroy the Soviet airdrop areas, and I didn't disengage quickly enough in the initial 12 hours, practically losing WG 1st Panzer Division.