Flashpoint Germany Behind Enemy Lines

The following after-action report details the fourth scenario from the British Army of the Rhine mission set. In this scenario I will be playing as the NATO commander during the fifth day of the war May 11, 1989 at 11:00 (this scenario is technically out of sequence as there is no actual day four of combat for the Brits and Scenario 5 “British Steel” takes place on day three of combat operations). If there were a logical chronology to the mission backstory I would be compelled to rearrange the posts, however there is not so I am going in scenario sequence.

This mission takes place two days after the Soviets were repulsed in the “Thin Blue Line” where they were attempting to retake the town of Rensenbach to plug a gaping hole in their supply line which stalled out their offensive movement west. They failed in that task and proceeded to reroute their logistics through other cities. This is where the underlying premise gets a bit shaky as there would be little reason for the Warsaw Pact to be milling about a lost town to supposedly crush a small British force performing a rearguard action there.

Game Options


I am playing the scenario in full 30 minute (simulated) turns. There are a total of 24 turns and this scenario will grind through every last one of them, so enjoy!

Realism Options


NATO units are intended to use stealthy movement by default which enables them to utilize any available local cover and concealment to optimal advantage while moving. The Warsaw Pact forces typically put a premium on high speed movement and overall formation cohesion so they would generally not utilize stealthy movement.

The Electronic Warfare Intensity Level slider is largely irrelevant as the scenario designer sets the degree to which jamming takes place: in this scenario the setting is low.

Order of Battle


There are a number of screens relating information regarding the scenario before the game begins, one of them being the OOB for the friendly forces. Here I have the below strength 4th Royal Tank Regiment, 12th Armored Brigade of the 1st Armored Division, as well as the understrength 1st Royal Irish Rangers, 12th Armored Brigade of the 1st Armored Division. 

Off map support assets consist of two flights of Tornado strike aircraft, and there are no reinforcements coming as indicated by the ominous transmission at the start:


Oh come on…

Critical Units


The FV-432 APC (Milan) is a self-propelled anti-tank vehicle that features the MILAN light AT missile (that in this configuration is a component of dismounted infantry).

For this scenario I will have 60 FV-432’s available as frontline units.


The Chieftain Mk 11-12 is a second line Main Battle Tank that features a 120mm main gun and a unique combination of special characteristics that give it a slight edge over the Soviet MBT’s that will be faced.

I have 16 Chieftain’s available as frontline units (the name is misspelled in the in game graphic image).

The remaining combat vehicles are a mixed bag of FV-101, FV-102, FV-107, Spartans, etc.

Pregame Setup Phase One


This is the pregame setup phase where I can take the default disposition of forces and drag and drop them where I like within the blue bounding box. The game map replicates an area of the western portion of the Federal Republic of Germany measuring 20 km X 15 km, while each grid square represents 500 meters.

The blue bounding box that I have to distribute my forces in is the smallest made available so far in this campaign, and it seriously limits my options in how to best deploy my meager forces to defend the two objective sectors outlined below.

Objectives


NATO has Victory Points available in Sector Five (45) and Sector Six (45), while the Warsaw Pact has Victory Points also available in Sector Five (35) and Sector Six (25). This will be another scenario where both sides will effectively be fighting for control of the same ground.

“Occupying a Quadrant” means having a preponderance of force as measured in unit steps in that quadrant. All that is required is that one side has even one step more than the other for it to be considered occupied. “Clearing a Quadrant” means reducing the number of enemy steps in that quadrant to below 10.

Pregame Setup Phase Two


My forces are orientated towards the only known enemy position at the moment. The bridge crossing at grid 9-12 (just in front of my defensive line) is the quickest way across to the bulk of Sector Six; however any unit traversing that would do so in the face of enemy fire. My overall plan is to hold the current location at all costs.

The only orders given is for the primary HQ unit to move south to a covered location (but still keeping all units within its Command Radius), and a Neutralizing Fire barrage against the indicated grids. I am going to hold off on utilizing the Tornado flights at the moment until I have a better picture of the Soviet anti-air defenses.

Little did I know (due to the absolute lack of any form of battlefield intelligence provided to the player) that the Warsaw Pact would have a sizeable portion of their later turn reinforcements appear on the road at grid 1-15, spawning inside one of the objective sectors (a cheap game design device in my opinion).

Combat Action


At the end of turn one I am shocked to see Soviet forces behind my position actively engaging my HQ unit moving south to what was thought to be safe cover and concealment. My on map mortar unit has to move about wildly due to the SOP Doctrine in effect of not allowing an enemy unit within 5,000 meters. For the first time in these scenarios, I manually edit this down to 2,000 meters. 

Losses: NATO (4) Warsaw Pact (9)

Additional orders: none at this time.


Turn two ends with the left flank of my defensive line crumbling against the Warsaw Pact assault.

Losses: NATO (22) Warsaw Pact (26)

Additional orders: Tornado airstrike at the indicated grid on a unit that obtained 14 kill claims against my various units for a loss of only six of its vehicles.


During turn three enemy units appear to my left and south, and I am practically surrounded at this point. The Tornado airstrike was called off due to lack of visible targets in the strike area.

Losses: NATO (30) Warsaw Pact (31)

Additional orders: Tornado airstrike at the indicated grid.


Turn four ends in a bloodbath for the British as several units simply ceased to exist on the battlefield, not the least of which was my sole artillery asset. The available Tornado flight was a complete bust accounting for zero kill claims before both planes were shot down.

Losses: NATO (53) Warsaw Pact (40)

Additional orders: I am OK with the various remaining HQ units scooting about based on their established SOP Doctrine as frankly there is no safe place to move them to at this point.


At the end of turn five it appears that I am quite rapidly moving towards what most likely will be my first defeat in this campaign. With no reinforcements (save for a Tornado flight upcoming) I cannot sustain the losses I am experiencing however there is simply nothing else I can do.

Although I am fixed by the enemy and artillery is raining down on my troops, moving out from dug in positions into the open in the face of multiple Warsaw Pact units to be picked off one by one is not an option.

We will fight and die here.

Losses: NATO (66) Warsaw Pact (59)

Additional orders: none at this time.


During a rather rapid turn six resolution phase, all Soviet forces disappeared from the map. There were some additional doctrinal movements by several units, resulting in a coagulation of forces in the urban center.

Losses: NATO (67) Warsaw Pact (59)

Additional orders: although a reinforcement flight of Tornados has arrived, there is nothing to point them at for the moment, so I chose to order a sortie to the map entry point on the western edge to see what turns up.


My how the fortunes of war turn in an instant: the Tornado airstrike on an empty grid proved to be wildly successful with the destruction of five enemy vehicles at the loss of no aircraft, and a Warsaw Pact punch into the city was met with withering fire from the British forces which repelled the initial assault.

Losses: NATO (71) Warsaw Pact (80)

Additional orders: I am confident to let this one play out in terms of ground forces and make no moves for the moment.


Turn eight ends with the battle pendulum swinging back to the other side. Several units have run out of ammunition and while attempting to relocate to the distant HQ units that had scooted the area in previous turns, ended up being destroyed as they had nothing to defend themselves with in the open.

Losses: NATO (83) Warsaw Pact (93)

Additional orders: Tornado airstrike at the indicated grid.


At the end of turn nine the Tornado flight again proved devastating, accounting for an additional four Soviet vehicles destroyed at the loss of not a single aircraft.

Losses: NATO (83) Warsaw Pact (93)

Additional orders: I order a stack of units at grid 12-13 to move diagonally southwest by two grids in order to bring them into combat.


Turn 10 ends with a further incursion by the Soviets deeper into the urban center which takes out several vehicles.

Losses: NATO (86) Warsaw Pact (98)

Additional orders: none at this time.


Turn 11 proceeded quite rapidly and I begin wondering why the Tornado airstrike capability has yet to become active again as I still have two aircraft available in the OOB and they show OK on ammunition.

Losses: NATO (87) Warsaw Pact (98)

Additional orders: some straggler units scooting to the north are ordered south back into the city.


At the end of turn 12 a stalemate is starting to emerge as there are a total of 24 turns available and it appears that there is a piecemeal approach going on with the Warsaw Pact AI commander.

Losses: NATO (89) Warsaw Pact (98)

Additional orders: a stack of units at grid 11-14 (a total of 12 FV-432 APC’s) is ordered to assault directly west to grid 8-14.


During turn 13 a Warsaw Pact unit would venture deep into my position and be decimated by the surrounding British units.

Losses: NATO (89) Warsaw Pact (98)

Additional orders: while trying to manually put into effect an airstrike I am informed that the weather is not cooperating and that no airstrike can be executed when visibility is below 1,000 meters.


There was a Soviet unit sitting in grid 8-13 with a British unit to its east and another two due south, one 500 meter grid away and none of the NATO units could sight it. I knew it was there because there was enemy fire coming from within that grid that took out several vehicles.

Losses: NATO (101) Warsaw Pact (107)

Additional orders: none at this time.


Nothing significant happened during turn 15 as there were no combat losses for either side.


Turn 16 comes to a close with several additional NATO losses. It appears that I am going to sit here and wait for the end of the scenario (turn 24) which is actually fine for me as I have no practical capability to go on a search and destroy mission, and I am hoping for at least a draw outcome if at all possible.

Losses: NATO (103) Warsaw Pact (107)

Additional orders: none at this time.


Nothing significant happened during turn 17 as there were no combat losses for either side.


Turn 18 comes to a close with artillery falling on my position.

Losses: NATO (104) Warsaw Pact (107)

Additional orders: with no airstrike capability due to weather and no reinforcements on the way, I decide in a final act of desperation to move the three HQ units in the south into the objective area in an attempt to take fire away from my units located there and to potentially disrupt the Soviet AI commander’s plans.

Who knows maybe I will score a cheap kill out of the movement and trigger the 80% battle declaration.


There was some back and forth fire during turn 19 but little changed on the battlefield.

Losses: NATO (106) Warsaw Pact (108)

Additional orders: none at this time.


Nothing significant happened during turn 20 as there were no combat losses for either side.


Nothing significant happened during turn 21 as there were no combat losses for either side.


While I am a bit disgruntled that a very successful flight of Tornados has been grounded due to weather, I am maintaining my position with the available forces and do not wish to send out a patrol just for it to be picked off.


The Soviets have failed to unseat the British from the objective area and if I do not achieve at least a draw outcome here, I will be quite annoyed.

The Red Army however is not content with sitting still and takes out two more of my vehicles.

Losses: NATO (108) Warsaw Pact (108)

Additional orders: during turn 23 the visibility on the battlefield slightly improves to 2,000 meters with light rain falling, so this brings the Tornados back into the mix and they are ordered to perform a sortie on the indicated grid.


The Tornado flight could not find any targets and I am dismayed at the Marginal Warsaw Pact Victory outcome as this is my first loss of the campaign.

A player wins decisively if he nets 180 points or more over the enemy. 105 points or more is a tactical victory, 30 points or more is a marginal victory, and any other result is a draw.

After-action Reports


The Staff Overview and Summary reveals the final score as 108-168, a difference of 60 points. Both sides lost exactly 108 vehicles, so the Soviets picked up the 35+25 Victory Points available in the two objective sectors by being able to occupy them outside of the urban center but within the sectors themselves.


The Tactical Operations Center Staff Diary details the number of survivors and the effectiveness of each unit.

The standout unit was D Troop A Squadron 4th RTR which accounted for 21 total kill claims at the loss of three out of their four Chieftain Mk 11-12 MBT’s.

While the first Tornado flight was worthless (zero kill claims for the loss of two airframes), the second flight that arrived as later turn reinforcements was stellar in accounting for nine kill claims without any losses suffered. Had the weather cooperated in those later turns perhaps they could have scored some additional kills against the Warsaw Pact forces.

Review Final Situation


Several things contributed to the British being cornered in the center of Rensenbach, not the least of which was my unwillingness to unseat my forces from a dug in position. Coupled with an absence of off map artillery and any kind of ground reinforcements, I was up against a numerically superior enemy that was able to surround my position (in no small part due to an extremely small pregame setup phase bounding box to deploy my forces in and the rather gamey decision to spawn enemy units within the objective sector itself) to pick off my units one by one until they were able to swing the Victory Point balance in their favor.

This is from the “Aftermath” portion of the briefing which provides insight into what would have occurred in a real life battle:

In bitter hand-to-hand combat the Soviets gained the upper hand and drive the British from their hastily prepared defensive positions. With dwindling supplies and mounting casualties the British territory steadily shrank until it controlled barely two football fields. A last desperate attack by the Irish Rangers on the Soviet HQ was beaten back with heavy casualties and by nightfall the Soviets controlled the entire town”.

Not quite.

I was able to maintain control of the center of Rensenbach throughout the mission, and although the Soviets did surround me they had no actual force presence within the border marked by the bridgeheads.

The 4th Royal Tank Regiment and the 1st Royal Irish Rangers did the best they could with what they had to work with and held Rensenbach throughout the scenario.

Ever the battlefield optimist, I count this as a successful holding action (also known as a draw) in my post war history.

This scenario was played 9/7/15 on a Windows 7 machine.

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