Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Next War, Operation Attila - Inside the War, NATO Gazette No. 2

NATO land phase still ongoing. with air strikes of unprecedented intensity against two 2nd Guards Tank Army divisions, 50 km South of Ruhr urban area. 

For the second time, a SHAPE report about the latest events has been made publicly available.


SHAPE HQ - Mons, Belgium, D+15 13:30 CET

Admiral Gunter Luther quickly scanned the latest BDA reports about the air strikes against 2nd GTA.
"Not good. Not good at all." he whispered. 

He took the reports and entered the office of SHAPE Commander, already knowing what was going to happen. "Sir, we have the first reports about Operation Angry Boar."

General Rogers was sitting at his desk, studying several maps with Brigadier Clay, his Chief of Staff; 
he looked at the Admiral: "OK, let's see what 2nd ATAF can really do. Gunter, give us the short version."

The German Admiral opened the report and started:"According to 2nd ATAF, today between 04:00 and 12:00 CET more than 400 fixed-wing and 275 rotary-wing aircrafts engaged 7th DDR Armored and 66th Soviet Motorized Divisions, 50 km SouthEast of Wuppertal."
"Before 05:00, enemy air defenses were effectively suppressed  by a combination of Wild Weasel and traditional SEAD missions, with little losses. At 05:00 the attack waves began to strike the target area. According to the pilots' reports and the subsequent Bomb Damage Assessment, the total losses inflicted are 214 tanks, 184 APCs, 120 trucks, 22 large caliber motorized artillery. The personnel losses are estimated at 1200 units or more."



The SHAPE Commander listened his Deputy Officer in silence, livid. Then, he exploded. 
 "FUCK!! WHAT THE FUCK!! They promised me to ANNIHILATE those divisions! 700 aircrafts and all we get is the equivalent of TWO REGIMENTS of dick suckers destroyed?!"

Rogers threw his coffee mug against the wall, then turned to the window while trying to regain his self-control. "What the FUCK went wrong? Are they using FUCKING FIRECRACKERS instead of iron bombs?"

Admiral Luther answered "According to 2nd ATAF report, low-altitude cloud cover in the target area heavily hampered operations. Most of the kills were scored by French Gazelles attacking in a good weather window. We should call our French friends and thank them for the good work."

"OK. What about our losses?"

"Good news here Sir. 6 fixed-wing planes shot down, 60 damaged, Almost no losses for rotary-wings."

Brigadier Clay sighed: "At least we'll be able to use them again in 24 hours. Until then, we'll have to rely on the boots on the ground."

Luther opened another report: "Sir, better news from V Corps. As planned, US 1st Brigade, 2nd Armored Division supported by V Corps Artillery attacked 4th DDR Motorized Division. Despite being severely outnumbered, they were able to push the Commies back enough to reopen the supply line of US 1st Mechanized Division."

"Veeery good!" Rogers replied, eating furiously a croissant.



Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Next War, Operation Attila - Inside the War, NATO Gazette No. 1

Turn 10 NATO Land Phase is underway, and NATO finally breaks the silence kept since the start of the war! 
The following transcripts were made public by SHAPE today.

NATO HQ Communique No. 23 - Operation Slick 100% Successful


We are proud to confirm that today at 03:00 CET, a successful attack from British Special Forces completely destroyed Soviet 13th Army HQ, located 40 km South of Fulda, along with its mobile "Gainful" SAM support unit.

No losses were reported by British HQ, apart from 2 lightly wounded SAS soldiers.


SHAPE HQ, Mons, Belgium - D+15, 06:00 CET 

SHAPE Commander Bernard Rogers received his liaison officer with the British  HQ, a few minutes after 6:00 AM.

After congratulating for the brilliant success of operation “Slick”, the attention of the Supreme Commander shifted to some “special” military books publicly available in Europe and USA.
In two of the books, after a WP attack almost reached the river Rhine, NATO planned and requested permission to use Tactical A-Bomb delivered by Pershing missiles and airplanes.

"What a FUGAZI choice!" Rogers yelled, throwing the book at the door.

The heavy tome almost hit Admiral Gunter Luther, his Deputy Commander at SHAPE, who was opening the door at the wrong time. Luther dodged the book, then looked at his superior: "You are in your best mood, I see.".

Rogers started walking nervously in the room. "Who can be so STUPID to think that we could get the permission from our President or Prime Minister to launch a nuclear attack in Germany? East or even worse WEST Germany?"
"We are a democracy and we are the Good Boys. We don’t use chemical or nuke. NO use of nuclear/Chem weapons. Period."

Luther stepped slowly into the room, then looked at Rogers. "True Sir, but as you know our intelligence identified more than ten artillery regiments in a 50 km range from the Ruhr, and at least twenty Warsaw Pact first-line Divisions."
"They could attack anywhere on a 200 km front, from Netherlands to Bonn. We could not be able to stop them. A preemptive grant for use of tactical nuclear weapons could give us more options and act as a deterrent too."

Rogers stared at his Deputy Officer."No way. We will use what we have. No atomic mushrooms." 
"Operation Rockpile has almost completed the planning phase, and soon those fucking Commies will have some additional headaches."

"Very good" Admiral Luther said to close the argument.
"Sir, at 03:00 CET we received a report from Copehnaghen. Another assault from Soviet 106th Guards Airborne Division was stopped with heavy losses for them. Not only, the Soviets were supported by more or less 250 attack aircraft but that wasn't enough to force the Danish Brigade to retreat. They also confirmed 50 WP airplanes shot down!"

Rogers was not able to hide a smile "Haaa!!! Good !!! The guys with the axes! These newspapers can be real humorists sometime!"

Luther paused for a second before continuing. "Sir, the axes were really used in hand to hand combat. We also have some quite....compromising....photographs. They have been isolated, alone for 8 days.…Anyway, we were able to use a joint Danish-Dutch air group of 85 planes to support them, and they resulted quite decisive. We only had 13 planes damaged, but they should be up and running again soon."

Rogers acknowledged. "Ok, let be sure we'll keep that airport then."

"One last thing Sir, at 05:30 CET we received a report from 4th ATAF telling that Operation Zippo is concluded. The last AH-1 attack wave against the Soviet airborne troops inside the Ruhr was particularly effective, and the surviving Commies surrendered to German reserve troops this morning at 05:00 CET"

"Some good news at last." Rogers looked at the situation map for a couple of minutes before continuing.

"You know Luther, we are now entering the third week of war, and the situation is still confused."
"If it were a war game Moscow could probably claim a marginal victory now. But in the real world the Rhine River has not been crossed, Ruhr and Frankfurt are ours and 90 % of our Air Force is still operational."

"The Reds are going to try something special, maybe something like the chemical attacks on BAOR at the beginning of the war. We will see.""

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Next War, Operation Attila - D+14, WP Land Phase

With enemy resistance in Northern Germany virtually over and supply lines at least partially functional despite the continuous NATO air strikes, Warsaw Pact has reorganized its North and Central Fronts to prepare the final phase of the liberation of Europe.


Denmark and Hamburg Areas

The continental part of Denmark, completely abandoned by its so-called allies, was liberated by V German Army now operating as independent unit.


2nd Guards Tank Army, after the hard gained victory at Hamburg, moved to its new responsibility zone just South of the Ruhr.

Oldenburg Area

20th Guards Army defeated West German 7/3 Brigade and took control of Oldenburg. After the attack, several division were reassigned to 3rd Shock Army to the West.

North Front

In preparation for the upcoming final offensive, more than 10 artillery regiment have been transferred to North Front and positioned in proximity of the Ruhr. Several combat support assets such as Assault Engineers, Electronic Warfare Units and Mobile SAMs were also assigned to the armies in the area.

3rd Shock Army was heavily reinforced with several divisions and assigned the front facing NATO's  NEDEFOR (NEtherlands DEfense FOrces).

1st Guards Tank Army changed its army boundary, leaving space on its Southern flank for the insertion of 2nd Guards Tank Army arriving from Hamburg.

The newly arrived army immediately engaged US 1/8 Mech Brigade with two divisions already on site. After WP divisions cut off the Americans' retreat path, NATO reacted assigning a Wild Weasel strike mission in the area and rendering most of WP antiaircraft assets in the area useless. 

The ensuing battle was one of the hardest fought in the war, with the Americans calling in an impressive amount of AH-1, A-7 and A-10 Combat Air Support. In the end, the US brigade was forced to surrender after inflicting heavy casualties to East German 7th PanzerDivision.
For a detailed account of the battle, see D+14 17:00 Zulu Time Report.


Central Front

North of Frankfurt, two divisions of 8th Guards Army encircled and attacked US 1st Mechanized Division. The attack, hastily arranged to pin enemy reserves before the beginning of the final offensive, didn't have enough support to succeed and was ordered to a halt at D+14 dusk, after both WP division suffered very heavy losses.

Southern Front

The whole Southern Front is still plagued by heavy supply problems, caused by the destruction of every available Danube bridge. 
As a result, I Czech Army and Hungarian Army didn't have enough fuel for complete operational freedom and limited their advance to the areas abandoned by NATO in the previous 24 hours.

Strategic Situation at D+14, 20:00 Zulu Time


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Next War, Operation Attila - D+14 17:00 Zulu Time

Near Olpe, West Germany - 65 km East of the Rhine


"Welle all, Welle 1. Info from Kaiser 1,  enemy wild weasels targeting our Main area. Expect strong enemy air activity. Over."

Captain Wilhelm Krause hissed a couple of swears and removed his headphones.
"Regiment command forecasts hot sky, I'm going to take a closer look at the mess down there. Rutger, command to you." 

He opened the turret hatch of his T-72 and climbed out. The rest of his Tank Company was aligned just behind the top of Hill 233; seven T-55 out of the starting nine, and they were among the luckiest of the whole 7th Panzerdivision.



"What the fuck am I doing here" He thought. "We should have marched to Berlin and have Honecker and his lackeys hung in front of the VolksKammer."

When the mobilization started, there were rumors of a riot being organized in the Nationale VolksArmee. Krause was ready to join, he was just waiting for someone - anyone - to give an order.

But the order never came. Two days before the beginning of hostilities, several high rank officers of his Division disappeared and were replaced by German-speaking Soviet staff. The fear of STASI and of retaliation over families at home did the rest, and on May 3 Honecker was still alive and the whole Division was crossing the West German border.

He crawled to the top of the hill, covered by the tall grass; in the plain below, probably hidden in the woods, there were elements of US 1st Brigade, 8th Mechanized Division. 
The Americans had been under attack for the last 13 hours by three different Divisions with heavy artillery support, and were probably tired and running low on everything. Moreover, they were now encircled by 4th Motorisierte-Sch├╝tzen Division to the South and Krause's 7th PanzerDivision to the North. Despite that, they were still fighting.

Krause thought about his father and his World War Two stories; he fought the Americans in France and in the Hurtgen Forest, before being captured in the Ardennes. He talked a lot about the American airplanes bombing and strafing at every hour, every day, forcing Wermacht to move only by night, or with bad weather. "The Yankees had lots of equipment and lots of guts, but without their P-51 we would have kicked them back in the Channel!" his father always concluded.

"I wonder if the story will be the same here", Krause said to himself, looking at the sky. 

The sound of  jets was almost continuous, and in a couple of minutes he saw at least two A-10, a single AH-1 Cobra and several other enemy planes attacking a group of BMP-1 from Soviet 55th Guards Division, advancing along the East - West road leading to Olpe. He counted at least 12 BMP-1 destroyed.

"Twelve destroyed. In two minutes. Shit, we are going to die in this fucking valley."

Thoughts of desertion and surrender passed in Krause's mind, but he forced himself to get real. If he deserted, Martha would be arrested with some ridiculous charge of "ideological subversion against the state" and thrown into jail, and the childs would have to grow in some "re-educational"  structure.

500 meters to the South, the first smoke shells from 1st Guards Tank Army Artillery started to land. Krause crawled back to his tank, put back the headphones and switched to the company channel: "Welle 2, Welle 21. Moving in three minutes. Heavy enemy air cover, I want speed and zigzag movement, don't lose time looking for targets until we reach line Kobalt. Over."

In the following three minutes, Krause felt like he aged one year. His world shrunk to the smell of the oil, the sound of the engine and the image of Martha crying over his tomb.

The radio crackled, bringing him back to reality: "Welle all, Welle 1. Execute Kobalt. Over.". 

The T-72 started to move, slowly at first as its 41 tons struggled to reach the top of the hill, then taking speed as it rolled down the slope on the other side.

Krause scanned the outside using the vision periscopes. "We'll be inside the smoke area in one more minute....just one more minute, please, I pray You...". He involuntarily squeezed his eyes when a strong blast came from the front of the tank, but he recovered quickly. The simple fact they were still alive meant that an element of the reactive armor just exploded, destroying an incoming enemy round.

"Welle 21, Welle 23. We lost one. Over."
Krause aknowledged, then continued to scan thru the periscopes. "Only one lost, and we are inside the smoke area now. Maybe we could ma.........."

A rapid succession of explosions, followed by the screeching sound of metal cracking, and the tank stopped. Smoke started to invade the cramped space of the T-72 turret. Krause yelled "A-10 gun, he got our tracks....GET OUT! GET OUT NOW!"

He opened the turret hatch and tried to get out, but his leg was blocked by something. He looked down. The gun autoloader was destroyed, and a piece of metal had pierced his left leg. Blood was everywhere.

Krause fell back on the small commander's seat inside the turret. He was tired. Worn out. He thought again to Martha, crying over his tomb.


Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Next War, Operation Attila - D+14, Air Phase

Air war at D+14 followed the same pattern of the previous 6 days, with both sides committed to execute or prevent Operation Hand of God - NATO attempt to utterly destroy Warsaw Pact's supply infrastructure.



Air Combat Phase

In Baltic Sector, the whole WP bomber fleet escorted by a few MIG-21 met an equally small NATO air force. The subsequent battle was quick and one-sided, with NATO easily winning air superiority and thus blocking WP airdrops supply to the Soviet forces engaged in Operation Boreal Light.

In North Sector, WP fighters met no resistance at air superiority level and were able to intercept the bulk of NATO air force, entirely allocated to ground support / strike missions.

The final balance of losses was quite heavy for NATO, even though not as good as Group Of Soviet Forces in Germany Command hoped:
Airplane Type
Destroyed
Damaged
Dest/Dam Steps
Mystere
15
12
1/1
F104
21

2/0
Lightining

14
0/1
F5

44
0/3
Jaguar
39
12
2/1
Harrier
14
17
1/1
G91

11
0/1
F4
28

2/0
F4R

11
0/1
AlphaJet
14

1/0
A7

16
0/1
Total Losses
131
137
9/10

Despite the losses, NATO ground support available in North Sector remained impressive:
NATO Ground Support, North Sector

Operation Hand of God Losing Momentum?

Operation "Hand of God" continued, but apparently the strengthening of flak defense around WP Front Supply Heads forced SHAEF to change its target selection strategy.

Until now there were no strikes targeting the Front Supply Heads directly, but NATO used up approximately half of its available bombers, so the next 36 hours could bring some surprise.

The primary targets during the last 12 hours were:
  1. Supply Interdiction Strikes
    5 out of 6 FSH were interdicted, leaving only the Southern FSH with full supply flow
  2. Ground Interdiction Strikes against autobahns and railways used by North and Central Front
    In particular, Liepzig - Fulda autobahn and secondary roads were hit by at least 11 different strikes.
Operation Hand of God Strike Missions, D+14 1200 Zulu Time

Wild Weasel Strike


Supply Interdiction Strike


Ground Interdiction Strike

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Next War, Operation Attila - D+13, NATO Land Phase

NATO continued to regroup its divisions along the whole front.
This strategy allowed the creation of a very strong Main Battle Area, but forced SHAEF to forfeit deep defense and retreat in CENTAG and SOUTHAG sectors.

NORTHAG and NEDEFOR

US III Corps was reinforced by elements of the newly arrived UK 3rd Mobile Division. 
NEDEFOR situation, D+13 2300 ZT


Moreover, the WG III Corps - US V Corps boundary was shifted to counter several 1st Guards Tank Army divisions marching South of the Ruhr during the night.
NORTHAG situation, D+13 2300 ZT

CENTAG

The whole Army Group retreated just East of Frankfurt, regrouping the majority of its divisions.
CENTAG situation, D+13 2300 ZT

SOUTHAG

French II Corps regrouped all its divisions and took charge of the Main Battle Area, while the surviving elements of WG II Corps formed a reserve force around Karlsruhe.
SOUTHAG situation, D+13 2300 ZT

Strategic Situation at D+13, 2300 ZT




Saturday, 12 March 2016

The Next War, Operation Attila - "Akser Wotan", the Danish unit that never existed

By John Burns, The New York Times

The following interview was taken Friday May 16, 1980 in a military hospital in Belgium.

Lieutenant Jonas Roggon, 28 years old, is a German Attack Helicopter pilot. He has minor wounds in the left part of the body, and lost his left eye. Despite that, he's recovering and willing to talk.

At dawn of May, 13 Roggon's squadron was ordered to fly to Copenhagen and support Danish defenders against a Soviet Paratroop Division airdropped South of the city 48 hours before.
Distance made a round-trip impossible, so the squadron had to land at Vaerlose airport and wait two days for fuel supply before getting back to its original airfield.

During this forced stop, with his helicopter grounded for refueling and maintenance, Jonas Roggon had the dubious luck to witness the May 15 assault to the airfield by Soviet paratroopers. The ensuing fight has already been defined by someone as "ferocious beyond human comprehension".

How was the defense troops readiness level when you arrived? Did the Danish expect an airdrop or were taken by surprise?
They were expecting it, actually sooner. The airfield and Western part of Copenhagen were defended by their best troops.

And were their best troops up to the task?
Well.....I have spent my whole military life in the Bundeswehr, and I must say our training is more accurate and a lot better. The average Danish soldier was more....amateur when war started, but he is a quick learner. The equipment is quite good, too.

Was the civilian personnel already evacuated when you arrived?
Yes, they left as soon as the news of the airdrop arrived; well, "evacuated" is not the correct term; they simply fled as fast as they could. I think that was probably the main reason for what happened later.

Could you elaborate?
Well, Copenhagen airport always had a lot of.....strange traffic, I mean, Danish are quite open-minded people, and there's a lot of drug around during the weekend....I know it because I used to spend some time there during summer.....don't get me wrong, never used it, but I know there was a lot.
Simply put, airport police entered a get-out-of-here-fastest-we-can mode; they didn't care or have no time to empty the Customs depot. The way they told me, they blew up the door with C-4 plastic, right after their arrival at the airport.

"They"?
Olaf Kristensen and his unit. When I arrived, they have already been high on every imaginable drug for four days. At that point, they liked to be called "Akser Wotan", something like "Odin's Axes".

Olaf Kristensen, Commander of the "Odin's Axes" unit, arriving at Copenhagen airport at May, 11
How many were part of this "Odin's Axes" group?
I'd say maybe one hundred, the majority of Kristensen's Company. They acted as a sort of irregulars, with their own orders and tactics. I think the Battalion commander gave up, or decided that after all they were more effective that way.


"That way"?
Someone in the Company brought a lot of medieval battle axes, using a pick-up. I mean, not the replicas you find in some store; real Viking-style battle axes. I presume it was a joke at the beginning, but after a couple of days on amphetamines they began to use them seriously.

Do you mean they used axes in combat?
Yes. When I arrived at the airport at May 13, one of them showed me their "Trophy Room". They had at least twenty heads of Soviet paratroopers, with basque and everything. They kept them on a couple of tables, in the airport's Chapel.

Did their Commanders know about this "Trophy Room"? 
As far as I know, yes.

And they didn't try to stop this practice?
I presume they had more urgent matters at hand, and after all Kristensen's Company already made its name by repulsing a couple of Soviet attacks.
Members of the "Akser Wotan" unit, posing for a photo the day before the Soviet assault

Tell me about the May, 15 attack.
I was grounded at the airport as my chopper was being refueled and repaired. Soviets started the assault before dawn, maybe they thought their night equipment would give them an advantage.
Actually, Kristensen was expecting them; they stored something like 400 smoke grenades on the roof of the check-in area, with a dozen of men ready to throw them inside.

When the assault started, they let the Soviets advance to the check-in, then started filling the whole area with smoke. it was quite a surprise for the Commies, you know, it's usually the attacker who needs a smoke screen. In five minutes, the visibility inside was near to zero. At that point they charged in, wearing protective glasses and gas masks.

They charged in using the axes? 
Yes.

Sounds like a very risky tactics, point-blank combat in a smoke filled area.
They didn't give an ass to risks or losses at that point. They were full of amphetamines and just wanted a "great Ragnarok", to use their words.

Ragnarok?
Yes, I had to ask too......the final battle of the Gods before the end of world, you know.

How did the charge go?
From a military point of view, the Soviets routed after half an hour and the airport remained under Danish control. From another point of view, it was......well, I've been at war for the last 15 days, I've seen what it means......
(he pauses)
The worst came when the smoke dissipated. The whole check-in area looked like the set of one of those horror movies. I threw up almost immediately, and had to get out as fast as I could.
But Kristensen and his men were in an exalted state. They kept acting like ancient Vikings, and I saw several of them getting out holding a couple of heads and yelling their battle cries.

What happened after the battle?
I don't know. I was wounded a few hours later by a mortar shot, and evacuated the day after.
(he pauses again, then lay down on the bed)
Now I'm quite tired, please let me sleep.

We asked SHAEF for more details about May, 15 assault at  Vaerlose Airport. They answered that "there are no reports about any unusual tactics or behavior during the engagement". 

A couple of days after this interview, we tried to recontact Lieutenant Jonas Roggon. 
The military hospital Officers told us he has been transferred and refused to give more details about his whereabouts.