Flashpoint Germany Ardennes Revisited

The following after-action report details the first scenario from the West German III Corps mission set in which I will be playing as the NATO commander during the first day of the war May 7, 1989 @ 11:00 in and around the town of Pappeln. With the premiere units of the Red Army focusing on REFORGER sites to attack the American and British positions, weaker screening forces are tasked with confronting the territorial units with the belief that they could at least check the West German war effort.

The 34th Panzer Brigade is stationed near a West German Territorial Army depot when they are confronted with a significantly weaker Warsaw Pact force in the form of the 23rd Motorized Rifle Regiment (BTR) of the 4th East German (NVA) Motorized Rifle Division.

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 Territorial Forces pinned the East Germans allowing the 34th to pierce their formation and exploit an opening into the rear area, causing havoc and destruction resulting in a route of the Warsaw Pact as they tried desperately to escape towards Pappeln.

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 done long before that.

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. WARSAW Pact forces typically put a premium on high speed movement and overall formation cohesion so they would generally not utilize stealthy movement.

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 West German Panzer Battalion 341, 342, 344, and off map support in the form of the 345th Field Artillery Battalion.

There are no reinforcements scheduled for this scenario and I have no off map air support available.

Critical Units


The Leopard 2A1-3 is a first line main battle tank that features a 120mm main gun and a unique combination of special characteristics that give it a very slight edge over the Soviet MBT.

I will have a total of 84 2A1-3’s as frontline fighting units.


The Marder 1 A2 is a first line Infantry Fighting Vehicle that features a 20mm autocannon, the MILAN light AT missile, and several infantry dismounted weapons (MG, AT, etc.)

I will have a total of 45 Marders as frontline fighting units.


The M109 A2/3 155mm Howitzer is a self-propelled medium artillery vehicle that features smoke, chemical, FASCAM, as well as the devastating 155mm round.

I will have a total of 18 of these howitzers as off map artillery units.

Other: also at my disposal are 12 Leopard 1A5 MBT’s with a 105mm main gun, which makes it an inferior unit to the Leopard 2A1-3.

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 setup area is one of the larger ones provided in the game for NATO, taking up an entire third of the battle map.

Objectives


In a unique twist NATO and the Warsaw Pact will not be fighting over control of the same sector (at least on paper). All 100 location Victory Points for West Germany are in Sector 4 (the top right of the map), while all 200 location Victory Points for the Soviets are in Sector 6 (the middle left portion).

Based on the Electronic Warfare Levels set in place by the scenario designer the average Orders Delay at the start for NATO is 0 minutes, and for the Warsaw Pact it is 8 minutes. These amounts will change over time as the battle progresses.

Pregame Setup Phase Two


Full size image is available here.

I have absolutely no intention of allowing the East Germans to attain their location Victory Points. The West Germans are on the offensive, and having almost 100 tanks at our disposal I plan on smacking the "Bear" right in the mouth and seeing what happens.

Having the setup bounding box cover a sizeable portion of their objective sector and thereby allowing me to orientate a spoiling force there to utilize available cover and concealment is something I cannot pass up on.

A battalion of Leopard 2A1-3 MBT’s and a battalion of Marder 1 A2’s are situated behind a hill with an elevation rating of 5, and I issue Assault orders to move into high cover rating grids at the tree line on the opposite side of the hill.

The remainder of my strike group is situated at the top of the map and consists of four full companies of 2A1-3 MBT’s, the single company of 1A5 MBT’s, and a single company of Marder 1 A2’s. Although not an ideal plan by any means, I issue Assault orders straight across the top of the map with the waypoints ending in high cover rating areas.

The off map artillery batteries are set to one on Counterbattery and the other two to On Call status.

Combat Action


Turn 1: I did not detect any Warsaw Pact units until just before the end of the turn, and no shots were fired by either side. My northern group is making great progress across the open terrain and most of the force has reached the relative safety of the hills and the concealment that they provide.

The southern group has been in place for the most part since early on in the turn and are well situated to repulse any East German attack on the objective sector.

Losses: NATO (0) Warsaw Pact (0)

Additional Orders: all on map mortar units that are in firing range of an enemy counter are given an order to barrage with Suppression Fire, and one On Call off map howitzer battery is ordered to barrage with Neutralizing Fire. The other On Call battery is ordered to deploy a Smoke Screen to cover the leading edge of my defensive deployment.


Turn 2: during the turn a mortar unit in grid 15-9 flashes a route reassignment taking it diagonally southeast across the open plain directly through the Soviet counters on the map. Thankfully by the end of the resolution phase this erratic pathing somehow resolved itself and the unit backed up into local cover.

The Victory Point balance meter on the task bar swung from 50% to 97% in favor of NATO during the turn as the opening shots of the scenario took place. Right at the end of the turn I had line of sight visibility on two East German counters that slipped into grid 22-16.

Losses: NATO (4) Warsaw Pact (67)!

Additional Orders: I was somewhat disappointed to see no smoke on the battlefield during the turn. Checking the off map howitzer battery that was ordered to deploy the screen, I see that they are now out of smoke rounds. I order that battery to barrage with Suppression Fire into grid 22-16 and take the other On Call battery and order them to deploy a Smoke Screen at the indicated grids.


Turn 3: this proved to be a costly round for the West Germans with several Leopard 2A1-3 MBT’s being destroyed in grid 19-7 (where I had ordered a Smoke Screen to be deployed). 

Losses: NATO (11) Warsaw Pact (114)!!!

Additional Orders: there is a single enemy counter visible at the end of the turn resolution in grid 23-17. Two of the off map howitzer batteries are ordered to barrage that grid in a three space line with Suppression Fire, while the other unit is left in Counterbattery status. I select one of the on map M106 mortar platoons to deploy a Smoke Screen at the indicated grids (the green overlay is their maximum firing range).

The Soviets are bleeding units at an alarmingly high rate against my entrenched tanks and have to be nearing the end of their combat effectiveness.


Turn 4: a Soviet tank counter snuck under my southern deployment and came up behind a battalion of mechanized infantry in Marder 1 A2’s destroying several of them. Given their proximity to my support forces, various HQ and mortar units begin to scoot about based on their SOP Doctrines.

My force in Sector 6 is surrounded by Soviet armor however I hold elevated positions in the best available cover. Moving any of these units would be wasting their defensive bonuses and subject them needlessly to being picked off out in the open.

Losses: NATO (19) Warsaw Pact (178)!!!!!

Additional Orders: the off map artillery is ordered to lay waste to the incursion in the south with Suppression Fire barrages by two of the howitzer batteries, while the third is ordered to deploy FASCAM at the indicated grids.

While I wanted to move a platoon of tanks down from the northeast to support the southwest, several enemy counters have appeared in the top right of the map at the end of the turn spoiling that plan.


Turn 5: during the turn I receive notice that one side has exceeded 80% casualties amongst their line units, and given that the Victory Point balance meter on the task bar is at 93% in my favor, I decide to accept the offer and stop the East German bloodbath.


The game ends with a Decisive NATO Victory outcome. This is a very satisfying result as I had felt good about the deployment of my forces and the overall plan of attack.

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 330-22, a difference of 308 points. This is the most lopsided result of this entire campaign as NATO and such a score has me wanting to push all the way to Moscow!

The unit loss during this scenario was surreal, with the West Germans losing only 22 total vehicles while the Soviets lost 230.


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

The standout unit was 3rd Platoon, 2nd Company, Panzer 341(Leopard 2A1-3 MBT’s) that accounted for an astounding total of 41 kill claims without the loss of a single tank while they anchored the southern end entrenched in grid 19-17.

Review Final Situation


Full size image is available here.

The West Germans were successful in repelling the East Germans from their Victory Point objective of Sector 6. Although there was a concentrated push near the end it ultimately faltered and NATO was able to utilize their terrain advantage and off map artillery to break up the Warsaw Pact assault into a disorganized vehicular graveyard.

Post Mortem

The first time I played this scenario tonight I scored a 344-20 Decisive Victory in six turns. The East Germans seemed to split their forces in two and attacked both their sector as well as mine and were soundly routed.

The second time I played it (for this blog post) they drove deeper south and with more strength to come up from under and behind my force in Sector 6 giving me a definite scare, however by that time the die had already been cast by their excessive attrition and they lost their overall combat effectiveness.

This game was played on 11/18/15 using a Windows 7 machine. The blog post was completed on 11/25/15 and scheduled for publication on 11/30/15.

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