Wednesday 12 June 2024

In a Dark Wood - NATO Order of Battle

We have almost completed the Order of Battle for the upcoming In a Dark Wood.

NATO OOB for this sector had several unique features and assignments, requiring additional research and, guess what, more discussions than usual.

In this post, I will describe some of the NATO formations committed to the defense of US VII Corps sector and adjoining areas. 

You will also find a snapshot of some documents we used to define the details, they should help to give an idea of how deep the rabbit's hole goes.

And remember the drill! Volunteer now for OPERATION APEX PREDATOR by writing to, or have Gunnery Sergeant Hartman unhappy and stomping your guts out. 

WG 12. Panzer Division Structure and Fire Support - Please note the US units in it.

A General Defense Plan for US VII Corps Sector

A plan for WG 36.Pz Brigade

A local counterattack plan for WG 36.Pz Brigade

In the end, the most probable NATO General Defense Plan for the area covered by the map had the following formations assigned, from North to South:

  • 2x brigades from WG 12.Pz Division (US VII Corps, more on this later)
  • 1x brigade from US 1st Infantry Division (WG 12.Pz Division, more on this later)
  • US 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (US VII Corps)
  • US 1st Armored Division (US VII Corps)
  • 2x brigades from WG 4.PG Division (WG II Corps)

NATO also had consistent reserves, already in West Germany or arriving as reinforcement:
  • CA 4th Mechanised Brigade Group
  • US 3rd Infantry Division 
  • FR II Corps, with two armored "divisions" (actually, large brigades)
  • FR Force d'Action Rapide, with one airmobile "division", one airborne division, one light armored "division"
  • 2x brigades from US 1st Infantry Division (REFORGER)

In 1985 US 3ID was the first and probably only division having completed the conversion to the  heavier and mostly aborted "Division 86" structure. Therefore, it fielded three brigades fully equipped with M1 Abrams and M2 Bradley, plus a fourth Combat Aviation Brigade with a cavalry battalion and attack helicopters, activated in March, 1985.

All considering, a dangerous beast.

An anomaly in NATO deployment, WG 12.Pz was in theory subordinated to WG III Corps, but actually deployed far from it. As a consequence, its 34.Panzer Brigade was assigned as WG III Corps operational reserve, while its remaining two brigades (35.PG and 36.Pz) were under US VII Corps command. 

To compensate for the loss of 34.Pz Brigade, the US 1ID (Fwd) Brigade was attached to WG 12.Pz until the arrival of the rest of the division via REFORGER.

Well trained and heavily equipped, the Canadian brigade could hold its ground in a more than satisfactory manner, and could be assigned to US VII Corps or WG II Corps. We opted for the former.
EDIT: the two mech Bn here have the wrong icon, it should be M113.

Stationed in West Germany, the French II Corps consisted of two Divisions Blindée (armoured divisions, actually the size of a large brigade) of good quality, equipped with AMX-30 tanks and AMX-10 AFVs. Corps-level fire support included attack helicopters and Pluton nuclear missiles.

French Force d'Action Rapide (FAR)

The French FAR (Rapid Deployment Force) consisted of several divisions, covering all possible types of force projection. Some of them would have probably been used in West Germany in case of a full-scale conflict against the Warsaw Pact.
The 4e Division Aeromobile was conceptually similar to the experimental US 9th Infantry Division: lightly equipped infantry, with a strong support of attack helicopters. The French Army pushed this concept to its limit, as the division had only one infantry battalion supported by three AH squadrons.
EDIT: The Attack Helicopter squadrons were actually able to support the whole FAR, and should have FAR as Parent HQ, 

The 11e Division Parachutiste was a classical airborne division. No matter how badass, its battalions were composed of four infantry companies and one heavy weapons company, making them only slightly better than a WG Jagerbattalion.
EDIT: The 11e Division Parachutiste TO&E is still under review.
The 6e Division Légère Blindée was a light armoured division, in this case too more the size a large brigade.
EDIT: The 68e Regiment Artillerie had older 155mm Bf-50 tubes, the icon and range will change.


  1. Great work. Love seeing these old ORBATs. Being Canadian I can focus in on 4 CMBG. I'm not sure if this matters, but the APCs within that Brigade Group were M113s, not the AVGPs as represented on the counters.
    And, for those who really care, the 2 infantry battalions in 1985 were 1 R22eR and 2 PPCLI.

    I've already volunteered for Operation APEX PREDATOR, and I look forward to engaging the commies as they cross the border. Or sending the capitalists fleeing. Either way!


    1. You are absolutely correct about the M113...We had them in the TO&E but I forgot to update the counters. Thanks for pointing out!
      Yes, the two INF BN were 1er Bataillon 22e Regiment and 2nd Bn Princess Patricia Can. Light Infantry...I hope the acronyms are sufficiently clear ;)

  2. Tried emailing and it bounced.

  3. Hello, On the French side, the 15th infantry division (also a large brigade) is missing.
    Attached is the link to the reference site of the French army of that time:

    1. The 15th Infantry Division, based in Limoges, is too far to arrive at the front within the time frame covered by the C3 modules.

    2. THE 6th DLB that you represent is based in Nimes, and the 11th DP in Toulouse....

    3. 11th DP is airdropped, 6th DLB is from FAR and has different reaction times. 15th inf division was not intended for rapid deployment with French II corps, or it would be based in West Germany with the rest of the corps and not at a 1200 km distance.

  4. Counter looks Great! My question is, are we going to engage with the CGF since it is already deployed north or only the 1st CZLA ?.

    1. Warsaw Pact main forces will be the SU 28th Combined Arms Army, CZ 1st Army, one Soviet division from CGF, and CZ 4th Army (2nd echelon),

    2. Since we are going to encounter troops from the 28 CAA they are a chance to encounter troops from the 5th and 7th TA's later on in the serie?

    3. Comrade Oscarev, I see you are well informed on the Belarusian Military District!
      In our strategic scenario, 28CAA (CAT II and CAT III divisions) has started its mobilisation earlier in order to have enough 1st echelon troops assigned to the Hof - Nuremberg attack axis, as several formations in the Central Group of Forces has been reassigned to the main effort to the North.
      On the contrary, 5TA and 7TA has followed the "standard" mobilisation schedule, to avoid raising excessively the alarm level in the NATO countries. Bottom line, they are not expected before at least D+8 or D+10.

    4. Great Intel from Hqt,here at VII corps we have a oplan to counterattack up wuzburg towards Fulda and bag the soviets 8CAA

    5. 28CAA's 6GTD was actually based in Wittenberg until 1980 so it make sense to deploy them in that part of the front; it was however the only CAT II division of Belorussian MD. Furthermore, 28CAA units were based on belorussian/polish border (Brest & Grodno). My only reserve is about 76TD which was not even CAT III.

    6. Which Soviet CGF division? 18GMRD or 15GTD ?

    7. Note that if the strategic scenario reassign CGF divisions to the northern effort, that would make as much sense to transfer CAT I/II divisions from Carpathian MD to the southern germany front, like 23TD, 128GMRD or 24MRD

    8. You will have to wait until the publication of the Warsaw Pact OOB :)

    9. We have to keep an eye for the 4 divisions of the SGF in Hungary that are more closer to the front than Belorussian or Carpathian MDs divisions.

    10. You mean 13GTP, 19GTD, 93GMRD, & 254 MRD? They are indeed closer, but that would remove the possibility of an intervention in Austria, ignoring its "neutrality". The fate of that country in the event of a NATO/WP conflict in Europe has always been open to speculations.

    11. I do not think that SGF will invade Austria, WP have "lots on it plate" so they may just want to keep bussy the WG II Corps defending Munich or have the " Ardennes of the 90's" scenario by C Kamps ( S&T 131) anyway let keep an eye on the SGF Movement.

    12. I need to have the WG 10Pz Division (CENTAG Reserves) ready along with the US 3th Infantry to counterattack the WP's drive toward Frankfurt up north. That's why at Hqt are concerned about the whereabout of the SGF.

    13. The Hungarian forces are assigned to the attack in the WG II Corps sector, together with the few remaining Soviet formations. No violation of Austrian neutrality is planned.
      WG 10Pz Division is probably in reserve further south, being part of WG II Corps.

  5. I was in the US 1st ID (FWD) with 2-37 AR in 1985. Great to see us represented!

  6. I was in 1/75 Field Artillery Battalion (18 8-inch M110A2 howitzers), stationed in Bamberg from 1981-84. Our Brigade also had 6/10 Field Artillery (12 8-inch M110A2) and 3/35 FA (Wurzburg, 18 155mm M109). We were part of 72nd FA Brigade, VII Corps. Will they be part of the order of battle?

    1. Yes alongside the 1-80 with Lance and the first two batteries of the 4-27 forming with MLRS.

    2. You have no idea of the discussions 72nd FA brigade triggered...See the WG 12.Panzer fire support document above :)

  7. My understanding is that the Air Cavalry Attack Brigade or "4th Brigade" of the Division 86 structure had no real capability to control or support non-aviation assets. The divisional cavalry squadron (battalion) with its two ground cavalry troops (companies) was assigned to the ACAB but adding more ground elements would be difficult. In part, this is because the division had three brigade support battalions, which would be assigned to the division's three maneuver brigades. In addition, the ACAB's leaders and staff would be predominantly aviators focused on aviation.

    Speaking of which: where are the two air cavalry troops of the divisional cavalry squadron? Are they folded into the "3-7C" unit or the "3AH" and "13AH" unites?

  8. Abe, you are not wrong and that is one of the issues under development at the moment. The Air Cav of the Div Cav Sqn are included within the Sqn itself as we consider them to be integral and their use outside of the Sqn's own operations are assessed as extremely unlikely.

    1. It's an interesting point. There was a pretty lively literature about how this unit should be organized both during the Division 86 design process and afterward. I think it's safe to say the Division 86 divisional cavalry squadron was considered a failure. It turns out:
      --You do need tanks in ground reconnaissance units (unless you are going to be completely stealthy and abandon the counter-recon mission).
      --Integrating aviation and AFVs at battalion level is very hard!
      --The best employment division commanders could find for the ground cavalry was to have the squadron fight as a unit (possibly reinforced by a tank company or two) or parcel the troops out to the brigades (which necessitated adding a third troop).

      Definitely by the time of Desert Storm, divisional cavalry was being used not according to the book. But maybe the first 72 hours of WWIII in 1985 would see the divisional cavalry trying to employ official doctrine.

      A pretty informative 1987 monograph on problems with the squadron here:

      So I think it makes sense to saddle the 3d ID with a somewhat underperforming unit.

    2. Abe, thank you. As I said massively under discussion at the moment and it's still early days. Your ref was an interesting read and has contributed to the debate even if self-evidently written by an aviator with a mission:-).

      I would take up one other comment of interest as it also reflects on the ethos of this series of games:

      "Definitely by the time of Desert Storm, divisional cavalry was being used not according to the book. But maybe the first 72 hours of WWIII in 1985 would see the divisional cavalry trying to employ official doctrine."

      As a personal comment (not TRL official in any capacity) I would merely add that the debate on doctrine was underway and received considerable impetus in Oct 86 4 years before Iraq but 15 months AFTER our conflict so a lot of ground work and change impetus had taken place prior to Iraq. You could argue that in Jun 85 the old and bold and some of the elite in the cav might not like the changes and the youngsters and the bulk of the rest were being taught and trained in the new procedures.

      As such I return to what one can do in wartime. I am a great believer in the words of conceivably the greatest British soldier ever, whom many have never heard of - Field Marshal Bill Slim commander of 14 Army in Burma in WW2. He told a Sandhurst Commissioning Course in 1960 that he thoroughly believed that armies in wartime would do what they had trained and prepared for but no more. I agree with him; doctrine defines how armies train and prepare. Conscripts can't change easily because they have limited, specific and directed training. Long term regulars or professionals don't change easily because they think they know it all anyway. It is only when they lose a battle that some change is started to be effected and that change requires time to retrain and indoctrinate. So 3 days is optimistic in my view. More likely is confusion as the better try to learn and the many keep on doing what they were taught....As i said personal view.

    3. @Abe The monograph you linked is not an indictment of the Division Cavalry Squadron. That was a typical political complaint by Aviation officers about working for Armor officers that persisted even until the fielding of OH-58D Warriors. It was particularly emasculating because their roles were administrative focused with very little control tactically. Those Aviation officers were much better served flying other platforms in dedicated Aviation attack and transport battalions. Why? Because of the scout-weapon team concept and the extremely close relationship those teams had with their ground troop elements. The ground troop commander--the captain--was in a significantly superior position in terms of responsibility and tactical control. Meanwhile, all these officers were being rated by an Armor squadron commander. This was not a career enhancing assignment for an Aviation company-grade officer.

      In terms of this game series, you are forced to evaluate the Div Cav Squadron like it's just any other maneuver task force. In the real world, commanders did not have such a perfect view of the tactical situation. If you dont need reconnaissance and screening in the game--so you dont lead with your face-- it's difficult to see the critical mission the squadron executed for its division commander.

    4. Actually, you definitely need reconnaissance and screening in the C3 series :)


Comment? Comment!