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.


  1. Although nuclear war is horrible,nothing is more horrible than the Red Menace!! Fight on against the Commie scum!!

    1. Damn....These American Imperialists never admit defeat!

  2. Cograts to the soviet player!

  3. Willard Scott? That's what you get for allowing a weather man to command a corps...

    Great AAR!


    2. Oh my! This is the right Willard Scott I was referring to:

    3. Hahahah! That explains it--Scott was gone by the time I got to Germany in 1982. The V Corps Commander then was LTG Paul Williams.

  4. In all seriousness, I can not remember when I have enjoyed reading an account of a fictional game more than this one. Yes, the other ones I have read were great, but only this one had that combination of photos, fictional personalities, real historical figures, and "live" reports from the front that make it unique. Please, please, please, try to do more of these in the same format. And let the community know!

    1. Really, really thank you.
      On my part, I had a lot of fun writing this AAR and creating the characters for my little stories. One of my best achievements was my wife Barbara almost crying after reading the story of Master Sergeant Flyorov and his mother's lemon cakes ;)

      Anyway, I'll try to keep the same level of quality for our next Monster Game, probably War Between The States or Vietnam, 1965 - 1975.

    2. Vietnam is a good choice--is that the Victory Games one? It is one hell of a frustrating game of whack-a-mole for the ARVN/Free World Forces, I can tell you.

    3. Yes, the Victory Games one...And yes, it's terrible for US / ARVN side :)

    4. Ahhhhh.....more smack down of the commie forces as the might of the free world will

    5. Easier said than done. Some of the abstractions make it really hard on the good guys, especially when it comes to hunting the VC.

  5. I think more tac nukes should have been used! Grats to V Corp Commander for doing the right thing! Better Dead than Red!! I would have ordered a much, much larger nuke strike to make them commies glow in the dark. Great read!

    1. Historically (and based on what I know from my time working over there), there would have been quite a bit of tactical nuke use on both sides. Wouldn't make for much of a game, though.

    2. Yes, according to most of the sources I've read almost everyone in the seventies thought tactical nukes would have been the only way to stop Warsaw Pact.
      Actually I think that after the fall of Soviet Union we discovered a lot more about the weakness of Warsaw Pact, and that's probably why they never attempted an attack.

    3. Please remember that we, european pinko crypto commies will have to live in that radiated mess... If it would be Washington, or LA, you might be mor carefull with them nukes..... ;)

    4. As a member of the european pinko crypto commies Group, I fully subscribe you point of view!

    5. Based on some of what we now know, the Pact may will have started with lots of tactical strikes....which would very quickly have created a big mess. Ironically, the conventional warfare would have been bad enough without adding nukes or chem/bio to the mix.

  6. I think this community can all agree that Fabrizio Vianello is one of the "good" Reds. Certainly he must still be shot (a Red is a Red after all)but it should be a quick death, one bullet to the back of the head. Quick, clean and painless rather than a rope and gallows. Please let me know if this community approves of this method for Comrade Fabrizio.

    1. I would like to see an enthusiastic approval rating for this proposal.
      Thanks to WP supply organization I've already spent the last 15 days eating rotten potatoes and carrots, so please concede me at least a decent execution.

    2. I enthusiastically support this proposal. I think that we can find some type of "evidence" that he was profiting from areas that were overseen by his troops and enriching himself at the expense of the Proletariat. :)

    3. "Comrade Judge, I've been FRAMED!"

  7. I am only now reading this post and while I was hoping for a NATO victory, I think this is a reasonable strategic outcome given the breaks on the battlefield.
    I have never played this game (I would love to own a copy of it) but I have a question - do you think that the game makes a WP victory inevitable, or is it possible for NATO to win, AND, if it is possible, would a NATO land victory without nuclear weapons be a realistic outcome?
    As tensions climb today between Russia and the West, I am hoping that we do not see a modern rematch of your game, or a nuclear conclusion!
    Thank you for sharing your reports with us, they have been a highlight of my wargames blog reading.

    1. IMHO, Playing the game with all the original rules and victory conditions makes a WP victory almost inevitable, with or without nuclear weapons.
      This is probably TNW's biggest flaw; if you want a balanced game, you have to change several key rules.

      Thanks for your appreciation!

    2. I would love to see you put out an outcome assessment from the gamer's perspective on this session. I think you would do a great job on pointing out the good and the bad that both sides did during this game. Sort of a "lessons learned" writeup. I know you committed alot of time to this AAR so it's only a request. :) Great Job Fabrizio!!!

    3. I've been thinking about something similar for some time...I'll probably update the "NATO defense strategy" page and make a new one for Warsaw Pact offensive strategy

  8. This is an excellent post; I cam here through Mike Peterson's blog and am doing some research for a Team Yankee wargame. This was a really enjoyable post and very much how I like to write my own fluff; setting it all in a world of its own. A very interesting read, I will have to go back and read the others now!

    1. Thanks Scipio!
      You'll find several similar posts in the "Operation Attila" AAR; one of my favorites (and more intriguing to write) is "Akser Wotan - The Danish unit that never existed".


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