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 Red Army had dispatched the 60th Guards Motorized Rifle to Norderfurt when they came under attack from the Americans, allowing for the West German commander to attempt a temporary exploitation up until the fighting in the southeast has broken off.
While they failed in retaking Westerbrück from the Warsaw Pact forces, their action demonstrated to the Soviets that the war was far from over.
I am playing the scenario in full 30 minute (simulated) turns. There are a total of 24 turns however this mission will take about half that time.
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.
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 high.
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 Panzer Brigade 21 consisting of Panzer Battalion 211, Panzergrenadier Battalion 212, Panzer Battalion 214 (Mixed) (as reinforcements at the end of turn one), support assets comprised of three flights of attack helicopters, and three batteries of off map artillery.
The AH-64A Apache is a first line attack helicopter that features Hellfire ATGM, a 30mm Autocannon, and 2.75” Rockets.
I will have three flights of two Apaches each for a total of six attack helicopters.
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 72 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 36 Marders as frontline fighting units.
Other: also at my disposal are 24 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.
NATO has Victory Points (75) available in Sector 2, which is the same sector that contains all of the Warsaw Pacts VP (165). Strangely the Staff Overview and Summary shows that I have 25 VP for Cleared Sectors in Sector 2, however I have no forces in that sector at the moment.
Finally a West German scenario that is full of tanks and support with a mission to move out and attack something (and not sit on a sector and defend it to the death).
Pregame Setup Phase Two
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With this many units of different types to work with I have to organize what I am attempting to do. I want the recon to identify the enemy formation and priority targets but I want to utilize the Apache attack helicopters to score the first strikes.
The plan is very basic: the armor is set to move into the woods and halt a few grids from the edge of the tree line, and the mechanized infantry is ordered to swing wide left and stop as well. By stopping the forces short of where I hope they would begin to openly engage the enemy I hope to issue cohesive assault orders without the units being spread out all over the map.
The off map artillery units are ordered to barrage with Neutralizing Fire several areas where I would anticipate the tightly packed Soviets to have support forces such as AA and HQ units.
Turn 01: from the outset the Apache attack helicopters picked up enemy air search radar. When they reach halfway to their assigned grid they were able to spot and begin engaging Warsaw Pact forces, inflicting heavy losses. On the left flank the mechanized infantry encountered a Soviet recon probe and duly eliminated it. The armor units are making slow but steady progress through the forest.
To say this turn ended badly for the enemy would be a cataclysmic understatement. The three flights of Apache attack helicopters have destroyed 50 Red Army vehicles for the loss of not a single airframe.
Losses: NATO (6) Warsaw Pact (55)
Additional Orders: at the end of the turn the scheduled reinforcement of mechanized infantry appears in the south. They are ordered to move to the area that I am staging the other West German Marders at for the moment.
Two of the off map artillery batteries are ordered to barrage with Harassing Fire at several grids while the other is left On Call, and the existing on map forces are left to fully complete their movement orders.
Turn 02: the Soviets lost an additional 10 vehicles during the turn, and one of the Apache flights have turned back toward the HQ unit for resupply as they are out of ammunition. The other two are currently showing as Low Ammo.
The tanks have all reached their forming up points in the woods and have not suffered any losses due to artillery fire. I notice that one of my reconnaissance units was killed in action, most likely during the first turn when the force moving left encountered the enemy probe.
The Victory Point balance meter on the task bar went from 75% Soviet to 90% West German during the turn, and I do not have a single vehicle in the objective area.
The Great Westerbrück Turkey Shoot.
Losses: NATO (6) Warsaw Pact (65)
Additional Orders: all forces are left to sit for one more turn to allow for the reinforcement mechanized infantry to reach their FUP. The off map artillery are ordered to barrage with Neutralizing Fire the highest vehicle number enemy counters visible on the map at the moment.
With no anti-air assets to speak of, I am really betting the farm that the Soviets do not have an air attack capability yet.
Turn 03: in the armor formation in the woods several HQ counters were finishing their moves, so they were actually not done with their movement to the FUP as I had first thought. A second Apache has run out of ammunition and has moved back to the HQ for resupply.
Losses: NATO (6) Warsaw Pact (84)
Additional Orders: due to high electronic warfare levels present in the scenario, I have a total of eight orders that I can issue during this phase. I choose to implement a small probe into the objective area utilizing 2nd and 3rd Company Panzer 214 (the somewhat inferior 1A5 and their 105mm main gun). I order both companies to the tree line with LOS into the objective area.
Two off map artillery units are set to On Call and the third to Counterbattery Fire.
Turn 04: no one died during the turn.
Losses: NATO (6) Warsaw Pact (84)
Additional Orders: the two Apache flights that have returned to the HQ for resupply are rested and ready to return to the battle, and I bring them forward as before to the edge of the objective area so that they can identify and engage priority targets from an acceptable standoff.
One off map artillery unit is ordered to barrage with Suppression Fire on the single visible enemy counter.
Turn 05: before the artillery rounds can even fall on the Soviet tanks the single forward Apache engages it and destroys four T-80’s before running out of ammunition and falling back for resupply.
However during the turn Red Army reconnaissance probes had moved forward and detected my two main force groups, with artillery shells falling not to long after that.
The Leopards ended up being costly scout units as their presence at the tree line brought significant fire from the Soviet position, which was revealed as a massive amount of force boxed up onto the hillside.
Losses: NATO (15) Warsaw Pact (91)
Additional Orders: with my losses doubled and the Victory Point balance meter having swung back to 66% for the enemy, the time has come to assault the objective area. With a total of eight orders available to me this phase, I decide on the following (all tank formations are the 2A1-3 MBT):
- 2nd Company Panzer 213 to Assault to grid 16-7
- 2nd Company Panzer 211 to Assault to grid 16-6
- 3rd Company Panzer 213 to Assault to grid 15-8
- 3rd Company Panzer 211 to Assault to grid 16-5
- 4th Company Panzer 213 to Assault to grid 14-8
- 4th Company Panzer 211 to Assault to grid 15-9
Two of the off map artillery units are ordered to barrage with Suppression Fire the enemy counters with the highest vehicle count. Hopefully the two resupplied Apache flights will have moved up and taken out some more heavy armor before my units break the tree line.
My plan is to issue a mass of Assault orders to the mechanized infantry in a turn or two.
Turn 06: the majority of the weaker Leopard 1A5’s have been destroyed. Both of the Apache flights ran out of ammunition during the turn and headed back to HQ to resupply.
Losses: NATO (31) Warsaw Pact (116)
Additional Orders: with eight orders available it is time to put the mechanized infantry forward into the battle. I don’t want to march them straight up the main road leading into Westerbrück, but there are tanks on the downward slope of the hill that provides the best covered approach.
I opt to split my forces here and assault from both lanes (the units have broken up a bit due to SOP Doctrine and I am utilizing the most stacked forces first).
One mortar unit is ordered to deploy a Chemical Attack on grids 13-5, 13-6, and 14-7, and the off map artillery is ordered to barrage with Suppression Fire the tightly packed Soviet counters.
The last available order is given to the single Apache flight that is resupplied and ready to go.
Turn 07: due to extremely high message traffic levels the Warsaw Pact HQ unit revealed itself at grid 14-4 drawing a high priority fire mission from the artillery. The Leopard 2A1-3 MBT’s that emerged from the tree line in their approach to the town chewed up a number of BDRM’s and other light vehicles, and engaged and destroyed a number of other units on the hill on the opposite side of the urban center.
During the turn I lost one Leopard while the Soviets bled 24 vehicles. I am not sure how much longer they can sustain this attrition rate.
Losses: NATO (32) Warsaw Pact (140)
Additional Orders: some mechanized infantry are brought up through the woods, and all available artillery is set to barrage the visible counters or move within range. With two of the mortar units towards the rear and out of effective engagement range, I move them forward deep into the woods and edit their SOP Doctrine from 5,000 meters down to 1,000 meters.
Turn 08: several units in the mechanized infantry block of force had taken a direct artillery strike and perished, while the overall group began movement towards their waypoints. 2nd Company Panzer 213 has made it into the city center but have run out of ammunition, and are being destroyed in short order as they try to escape south for resupply.
While the Warsaw Pact is effectively pinned in the hills, they are most likely entrenched at this point and proving to be some rather tough bastards to remove from the map.
Losses: NATO (52) Warsaw Pact (153)
Additional Orders: the two resupplied flights of Apaches are brought forward to assist, and various artillery assets are brought to bear on the enemy HQ detected at the end of the turn in grid 14-3.
Turn 09: The mechanized infantry units moving through the woods encountered additional Soviet units apparently scooting out of the way and exchanged fire, eventually running into and causing the destruction of several T-80U tanks. Approximately halfway through the turn a straggler unit moving into the woods detected two Red Army artillery units to the far left of the map, and after being engaged they scooted down the edge of the map.
Losses: NATO (72) Warsaw Pact (184)
Additional Orders: off map artillery is ordered to continue pounding the sighted counters within the city, while I send two mechanized infantry platoons out with Assault orders on a seek and destroy mission to find those artillery assets.
All of my off map artillery is low on ammunition, so I am barraging with Suppression Fire. I am hesitant to place them into resupply at this moment as I want to press what advantage I do have and force a declaration of battle.
2nd Company Panzer 211 is sitting in grid 20-10 with Screen orders, so I issue an Assault movement to grid 16-5.
Turn 10: finally the resupplied Apaches begin their movement north to rejoin the battle. The infantry moving over the hill and down the slope reveal at least eight previously unseen counters in the urban center and I am shocked at the amount of units the Warsaw Pact have left (after destroying 180+ so far).
With many of the counters being tank units with a high vehicle count, I am banking on my Apaches to thin the heard and improve my chances of a Decisive Victory outcome (which I want so very badly at this point after the first two scenarios from this mission set ended in disappointing Draw outcomes).
This turn was a bloodbath.
Losses: NATO (80) Warsaw Pact (214)
Additional Orders: I place two of the three off map artillery units into Rest/Refit and change the remaining one from Counterbattery Fire to On Call status. My two mortar units that had their SOP Doctrine adjusted to 1,000 meters are in place and are ordered to barrage with Neutralizing Fire on grid 17-6 that contains an enemy counter identified as air defense. One of the Apache flights on the left flank is ordered to Assault forward by two grids to bring them back into contact with the enemy.
For the Love of God, how many units do the Soviets have to burn in this scenario?
Turn 11: during the turn I receive notice that casualties amongst the line units of one side have exceeded 80%, and I am presented with the option to declare the battle over or to continue fighting. The Victory Point balance meter on the task bar is at 75% NATO, and while I would like to clean house and fully remove the Soviets from Westerbrück I decide to cut my losses and end the contest here.
The game ends with a Decisive NATO Victory outcome. Given the two draws that I had to start this mission set for the West German I Corps, I am ecstatic for it to end it on such a positive note.
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.
The Staff Overview and Summary reveals the final score as 278-89, a difference of 189 points. The unit loss during this scenario was quite severe for the entrenched Soviets, with NATO losing 89 units and the Warsaw Pact losing 228.
The Tactical Operations Center Staff Diary details the number of survivors and the effectiveness of each unit.
The standout unit was without a shadow of a doubt the three flights of Apache attack helicopters which accounted for an astounding 105 kill claims without the loss of a single airframe (due in no small part to my absolute refusal to risk them by flying straight into the objective sector).
Proper standoff utilization is essential for the success of this asset, and they are not overpowered if used to their strengths (standoff engagement) while avoiding their weaknesses (fighting toe to toe with units supported by air dense capabilities).
When in doubt, bug out.
Review Final Situation
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The West Germans were successful in knocking the Soviets out of Westerbrück, however I feel that had I continued the battle I would have suffered additional losses to my main fighting units and I am not confident I would have gotten the job done with the remaining turns available. Resupply would have been an issue (as it proved to be several times during the previous action) given that the pregame setup excludes Emergency Resupply.
I was greatly frustrated with my performance with the first two scenarios ending in Draw outcomes. Both were effectively defensive holding operations where the Warsaw Pact basically kicked my NATO ass. It was nice to put the West Germans on the offensive, and with Apache attack helicopters (instead of the abysmally pathetic Alpha Jets) I was able to fix the enemy and engage them with standoff weapons and indirect fire assets.
The mission kind of reminds me of Bread and Butter from the US V Corps mission set in which NATO gets to attack a Soviet stronghold and then withdrawal yet still achieve a victory due to losses inflicted.
This scenario was played 11/9/15 on a Windows 7 machine, and the post was written during the actual game play turn by turn and scheduled for publication on 11/23/15.