Flashpoint Germany Thin Blue Line

The following after-action report details the third scenario from the British Army of the Rhine mission set. In this scenario I will be playing as the NATO commander during the third day of the war May 9, 1989 at 11:00. The supply lines for the Soviet 3rd Shock Army are cut at Rensenbach which has ground their offensive westward to a halt. Unable to continue forward, the Soviet High Command commits the superior units of the 14th Tank Regiment of the 7th East German (NVA) Tank Division to save the day.

Each mission offers up an “Aftermath” dialogue at the beginning which details what would have happened in a real life event: in this case the East Germans utilized their 2:1 advantage in armored vehicles to clear the British from Rensenbach and pursue them westward without having to use the nuclear option (see my comments in the Post Mortem section at the end regarding this).

Game Options


I am playing the scenario in full 30 minute (simulated) turns. There are a total of 24 turns however this mission will be over in about half that amount of time.

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 remnants of 1st Battalion, Staffordshire Regiment of the 7th Armored Brigade of the 1st Armored Division, a motley crew of approximately 25 frontline mixed armored units at the very top of the image, and the additional units below that are all later turn reinforcements.

Critical Units (Starting)


The Warrior APC is a first line armored personnel carrier that features a 30mm autocannon, and several infantry dismounted weapons (MG, AT, etc.)

For this scenario I will have 17 Warrior APC’s available at the beginning of the scenario.


The Abbot is a self-propelled light artillery vehicle that features smoke, chemical, and 105mm howitzer rounds in the three firing modes (harassing, suppressing, and neutralizing).

For this scenario I will have 24 Abbot’s in four separate off map support batteries.

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.

Objectives


NATO has Victory Points available only in Sector Five (50), while the Warsaw Pact has Victory Points also available in Sector Five (90). Forcing the action to the left corner of the map is a poor scenario design mechanic in my personal opinion as it creates a false wall that the British will be up against.

“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


The meager amount of forces available to me at the beginning presents a challenge in that for the first time I do not have adequate time to configure an advantageous deployment to defend the objective area. Two of the four off map artillery units are placed on call (there is no FASCAM available from these units).

Combat Action


Turn one ends with the British surviving the first probes of the East German units.

Losses: NATO (5) Warsaw Pact (5)

Additional orders: a flight of West German Tornado strike aircraft arrives at the end of the turn, however with no currently sighted enemy units on the battlefield I am holding off using them for the moment.

Critical Unit (Reinforcement)


The West German Tornado is an interdiction aircraft that is night and all weather capable, and is configured in this game to carry four unguided bombs.


During turn two the NATO losses are mounting and a flight of Mi-24 D attack helicopters appear on the map.

Losses: NATO (9) Warsaw Pact (7)

Additional orders: the Tornado flight is ordered to attack the indicated grid with a two grid discretionary target zone radius.


At the end of turn three things are looking bleak for the Staffy remnants, as the East Germans have broken through the thin veil of a defensive line.

Losses: NATO (14) Warsaw Pact (10)

Additional orders: two of the off map artillery units are ordered to deploy chemicals at the indicated grids, and the other two are ordered to barrage a revealed armored unit with Suppressing Fire.


During turn four additional losses are incurred and the East Germans have clearly broken through towards the objective area.

Losses: NATO (22) Warsaw Pact (11)

Additional orders: at the end of the turn a massive amount of reinforcements appear in the southwest corner of the map in the form of the 1st Battalion, Royal Scots, of the 33rd Armored Brigade of the 3rd Armored Division. Various line units are ordered to move forward in a fanlike orientation to blunt the Warsaw Pact incursion.

Although the electronic warfare setting for this scenario is low (dictated by the designer), any units that arrive stacked are order to move as a single stack group (HQ units will appropriately scoot out of harm’s way based on existing SOP Doctrine of not allowing an enemy to come closer than 3,000 meters).

Even with low EW I eventually run out of staff capacity and have to wait until the end of the turn before issuing orders to the other reinforcements.

Critical Units (Reinforcements)


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).

I have 52 FV-432’s available as frontline reinforcements.


During turn five the remaining units from the beginning are cleared from the table and the reinforcements are making their way towards the East German advance.

Losses: NATO (27) Warsaw Pact (11)

Additional orders: a Tornado airstrike is ordered, as well as additional orders to those new units who did not receive a command at the end of the last turn due to electronic warfare limitations.


Turn six ends with a dire picture forming on the battlefield. A series of airstrikes by Su-25 aircraft have decimated my reinforcements and have reduced my ability to project sufficient force forward.

Losses: NATO (38) Warsaw Pact (12)

Additional orders: the previous Tornado strike was called off due to lack of visible targets, and is ordered to attack again at the indicated grid.


Turn seven was a bloody affair for the British as the units that managed to cross the river were either decimated or completely destroyed. The East Germans are truly some tough bastards to deal with.

Losses: NATO (53) Warsaw Pact (24)

Additional orders: the previous Tornado strike was again called off due to lack of visible targets, and is ordered to attack at the indicated grid. The off map artillery are split with two groups ordered to deploy a wall of chemical agents, and the other two placed on call.


At the end of turn eight, everything that did make it across the river was destroyed by the East Germans.

Losses: NATO (61) Warsaw Pact (41)

Additional orders: a significant reinforcement group arrives in the north in the form of the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards of the 33rd Armored Brigade of the 3rd Armored Division, and they are ordered to move into the objective area of Sector Five.

Critical Units (Reinforcements)


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 64 Chieftain’s available as frontline reinforcements (the name is misspelled in the in game graphic image).


Turn nine proved to be very difficult for NATO as a lone BRDM vehicle appeared in the valley between the two groups of reinforcements in the north and acted as a spotter for a hailstorm of Warsaw Pact artillery that took out many units before the offender could be neutralized.

Losses: NATO (72) Warsaw Pact (51)

Additional orders: a Tornado airstrike is ordered, as well as Suppressing Fire barrages against sighted enemy units. Other prior turn reinforcements who could not be given orders due to EW activity are now brought forward.


The 10th turn is basically a massacre with multiple kill claims on both sides. The British are having an incredibly tough time dealing with the well trained elite East German units.

Losses: NATO (91) Warsaw Pact (71)

Additional orders: NATO cannot stand up against the Warsaw Pact in an attrition war. I order all forces in the southern area to move north into Sector Five, and all available assets (air, artillery) are ordered to attack any revealed enemy units.


At the end of turn 11 it is quite apparent that the British forces have met their match and then some with these East Germans. The exchange of medium to long range fire is absolutely scandalous; with the Brits missing two shots while the enemy is scoring at least one hit and kill for their two shot rebuttal fire.

It seems as if NATO cannot hit the side of a barn all of a sudden, unless that barn is right in front of them and they have a sawed off shotgun on full auto.

Losses: NATO (109) Warsaw Pact (95)

Additional orders: all straggler units are ordered to move into the objective area, and the Tornado flight is ordered to engage the closest sighted enemy unit.


Turn 12 ended up being much more in NATO’s favor with the losses between both side virtually even. However this type of attrition typically cannot be sustained as the Warsaw Pact has more units to dispose of.

Losses: NATO (112) Warsaw Pact (108)

Additional orders: straggler or isolated units are continued to be brought forward, and Neutralizing Fire barrages are ordered on the sighted enemy units.


The 13th turn is quite rapid with little exchange of fire between the two sides.

Losses: NATO (114) Warsaw Pact (111)

Additional orders: straggler or isolated units continue to be brought forward, and a Tornado airstrike is ordered at the indicated grid.


Turn 14 comes to a close with yet more suspect fire from the Brits (there are way too many misses in my opinion). I have achieved the maximum number of victory points in the objective area and my only hope of Tactical Victory outcome is to destroy their vehicles and stop losing mine, but that seems highly unlikely due to the previous mentioned scandalous engagement of the NATO forces.

Losses: NATO (123) Warsaw Pact (123) this is the first time it has been even in kill claims.

Additional orders: Suppressing Fire barrages are ordered for two artillery units at the indicated grids, and some straggler HQ units are brought back into the fold.


During turn 15 an enemy HQ is spotted at grid 32-9 and I am wondering how that occurred as I did not have a Tornado flight up and it is impossible for any of my units to have seen it, so I believe this is from the high message traffic levels that the Warsaw Pact is using causing their HQ to be detected by electronic warfare capabilities.

Losses: NATO (131) Warsaw Pact (130)

Additional orders: a Tornado airstrike is ordered on grid 32-9.


Turn 16 comes to a close and I am thoroughly disgusted. Two East German units moved into the objective area and completely laid waste to the British forces there. NATO landed two kills from this incursion, while the Warsaw Pact sat literally one 500 meter grid away and destroyed five of my vehicles, many of them MBT’s.

Losses: NATO (136) Warsaw Pact (132)

Additional orders: the Tornado airstrike was a complete bust, so it is ordered against the sighted enemy unit. Straggler units are brought into the area to assist in the engagement, and the on map mortar units are ordered to barrage with Neutralizing Fire.


During turn 17 I receive notice that casualties amongst the line units of one side have exceeded 80%. With Victory Point balance meter at the bottom of the task bar only at 57%, I begrudgingly accept the offer to end the battle as my forces have proven no match for the East Germans.


The game ends in a Marginal NATO Victory outcome. Given how pathetic the medium to long range engagement of the British forces were middle to late game, it was not in my best interest to pursue them out into the battlefield when they had attack helicopters supporting them.

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 185-137, a difference of 48 points. The unit loss during this scenario was steep for both sides, with NATO losing 137 units and the Warsaw Pact losing 135 (the closest it has been yet and the first time the enemy scored more kills than me).


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

The standout unit was the flight of Tornado strike aircraft that accounted for 15 kill claims for the loss of one aircraft.

Review Final Situation


The East Germans managed to place a single unit inside the objective area, a total of three T-72B MBT’s.

Post Mortem

While it was indeed interesting facing a superior East German force, the scenario would have benefited from a different color counter for the Warsaw Pact forces (as the Americans have green, the British have blue, and the West Germans have grey for NATO counters). All the Warsaw Pact has (as far as I have seen) is the red colored counter, whether it is Soviet or East German.

When researching the scenario for this AAR I was shocked to learn that the East Germans had the SS-21 nuclear capable launcher available to them during the scenario (arriving during turn 10 as an off map reinforcement unit). What is more stunning is that the Soviet AI commander chose not to utilize the weapon against my British forces in a final desperate attempt to unseat NATO from Rensenbach and open up the supply lines to the front.

This game was played 9/5/15 on a Windows 7 machine.

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