Flashpoint Germany Forward Defense

The following after-action report details the second scenario from the West German I Corps mission set in which I will be playing as the NATO commander during the second day of the war May 8, 1989 @ 08:00 in the town of Westerbrück. After the 591st Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment failed to secure the area during the previous days combat action, they double down with the 65th Guards Tank Regiment of the 16th Guards Tank Division in an effort to finally obtain a lodgment.

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 West German 22nd Panzer Grenadiers (Mixed Battalion) protection of the town failed miserably. The theory of tactical mobility as an effective defense against a Soviet incursion crumbled when the rubber (or tank track) met the road. The Soviets captured Westerbrück and were able to bring up additional forces to strike further to the west.

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 in about half that 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. 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 medium.

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 Panzer Battalion 23, Panzer Grenadier (Mixed) Battalion 22, 3rd Company Jaeger Battalion 522, some mechanized infantry, and off map assets in the form of one flight of two Alpha Jets and a battery of 155mm howitzers.

Critical Units


The Leopard 1A5 Main Battle Tank is a second line MBT that features a 105mm main gun and has a maximum range of 4,000 meters. I will have a total of 12 of these as frontline fighting units.


The Leopard 2A1-3 is a first line main battle tank the 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 just seven of these 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.

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 in Sector 2 (50), and the Warsaw Pact has 75 available in the same sector. With the West Germans practically sitting on top of the objective area from the start this will effectively be a defensive holding action against a Soviet assault.

Pregame Setup Phase Two


For the first time in this series of AAR’s I take a serious look at available concealment and opt to utilize it. The forces are arrayed in high cover areas (usually with a rating of 90) that also offer excellent line of sight to the anticipated approach of the enemy.

The Marder IFV’s are out front on either side of the main road, with the weak Leopard 1A5 MBT’s along a tree line to the south. The mechanized infantry Jaegers and their abysmally weak M113 A1 APC’s are positioned within the urban center which cuts their LOS dramatically but should help increase their survivability.

Two of the three off map batteries of M109 A2/3 155mm Howitzers are ordered to deploy FASCAM at the indicated grids as well as two grids further west, and the on map M106 Mortars had their SOP Doctrine adjusted to allow enemy units to within 1,500 meters (in an effort to reduce their scooting constantly and not conducting fire missions).

Combat Action


Turn 1: enemy contact and quite a bit of back and forth fire took place during the first turn (which is somewhat unusual in this game overall). One of the Marder platoons was eliminated during the action and several HQ units have begun to scoot based on their SOP Doctrine.

Losses: NATO (4) Warsaw Pact (12)

Additional orders: the on map mortar is assigned a Suppressing Fire barrage on the three sighted enemy counters, and one of the off map howitzers is ordered to deploy FASCAM at the indicated grids.


Turn 2: the Warsaw Pact seems to be fully committed to a diagonal approach coming from the southeast and the Marder units stationed there have been soundly routed.

Losses: NATO (17) Warsaw Pact (43)

Additional orders: two platoons of Leopard tanks are brought forward and FASCAM is deployed at the indicated grids.


Turn 3: the Marder units that were place in the southeast have been eliminated and the Soviets are moving a significant amount of armor towards the objective area.

Losses: NATO (28) Warsaw Pact (67)

Additional orders: I have been waiting to employ the pathetically weak Alpha Jet flight as it is virtually giving Victory Points to the enemy, however I do not see any anti-air assets yet so I decided to order a sortie, as well as a Neutralizing Barrage by the off map artillery units.


T4: the airstrike was a wash because it reported there were no visible targets in the area, however at that time there were still enemy counters in the same exact grid as the attack was ordered on. The two Leopards that were moved up have reached their positions (which afford excellent LOS on the plain in front of them) and managed to destroy several Soviet vehicles.

Losses: NATO (30) Warsaw Pact (87)

Additional orders: all artillery units that still have supply are placed On Call and the Alpha Jet flight is held until I have eyes on the enemy nearer to the objective sector.


T5: the turn went by lightning fast as the only engagement occurred to the south.

Losses: NATO (31) Warsaw Pact (90)

Additional orders: a Neutralizing Fire barrage is ordered against the only visible enemy contact at the moment.


T6: a large amount of Warsaw Pact units would be revealed during the turn and they took a severe pounding as a result. Right at the end of the turn the enemy HQ was sighted in grid 38-21 and the AI subordinates ordered a barrage against it; however I did not detect any kills by the time the turn ended.

Losses: NATO (34) Warsaw Pact (102)

Additional orders: a Marder unit in the north is brought slightly forward to improve their LOS into the main engagement area. Neutralizing Fire barrages are ordered against sighted enemy counters.


T7: the Soviets were pummeled by the artillery barrages and began pulling back towards the west. During the turn several of my units have run out of ammunition and are moving out of the immediate area towards the HQ units to Rest/Refit, reducing my overall footprint.

Losses: NATO (34) Warsaw Pact (109)

Additional orders: none at this time.


T8: the turn went rather fast however the enemy moved some additional forces into the area and there were a number of long range engagements between the sides.

Losses: NATO (35) Warsaw Pact (112)

Additional orders: the Alpha Jet flight is ordered to attack and the off map artillery is ordered to barrage several sighted units.


T9: the Alpha Jet flight was a total failure accounting for no kill claims at the loss of both aircraft.

Losses: NATO (38) Warsaw Pact (115)

Additional orders: several units are running low on ammunition and are automatically repositioning themselves, and one unit that has since been resupplied is ordered forward.


T10: the Warsaw Pact made a stern push in towards the objective area, coming alongside my M113A1 APC’s in the urban center and exchanging fire.

Losses: NATO (42) Warsaw Pact (121)

Additional orders: I place all three off map artillery units into Rest/Refit in order to rearm.


T11: the Soviets managed one kill shot during the turn, but do not seem to be mounting any coordinated attack into the urban center. By the end of the turn all of their units have disappeared from the map.

Losses: NATO (43) Warsaw Pact (124)

Additional orders: two of the Marder mechanized infantry units at the top of the map are brought into the city, while the remaining unit is left behind to hold their position as a form of reconnaissance to anything attempting to come overtop that hill.


T12: as the Marders were working their way back into the city they come across a Warsaw Pact HQ unit that had been hidden from view. Almost immediately artillery begins to fall on the NATO units as they are moving over the hill.

Losses: NATO (44) Warsaw Pact (124)

Additional orders: the three off map artillery units are now showing as “OK Ammo” so I place one of them on Counterbattery, one On Call, and the remaining one to deploy FASCAM at the indicated grids.


T13: I feel sucker punched as the Red Army has steamrolled over my West German forces and have broken into the objective area in force, taking out all of my Leopard tanks (four of them) that was holding the southern edge of my weak line. The Marders are suffering from bad morale and have reverted back to what I perceive to be hiding in the forest on the hill as they are heading back there in the face of enemy fire.

Losses: NATO (54) Warsaw Pact (134)

Additional orders: things are not going well for NATO and my options are limited at this point. Given the morale is ranging from poor to high; I cycle through all of the counters and take any unit not presently engaged with the enemy and place them into Rest/Refit. The off map artillery is ordered to conduct Neutralizing Fire barrages against the visible Soviet units.


During turn 14 I receive notice that one side has exceeded 80% casualties among their line units, and given that the Victory Point balance meter on the task bar is at 76% in my favor, I decide to accept the offer (a risky proposition at such a low number).


The game ends in a Draw outcome, which given how poorly I was doing in the later turns is a welcome result.

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 134-131, a difference of only two Victory Points. The unit attrition during this scenario was not insignificant, with NATO losing 56 units and the Warsaw Pact 134.

The game changer is that the Soviets were able to take control of the objective Sector 2 and secure the 75 VP that went along with it.


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

The standout unit was 2 Plt/2 Co/PzBtl 23 that accounted for 24 total kill claims at a loss of all of its vehicles.

Review Final Situation


The Warsaw Pact managed to push a total of six counters in the objective Sector 2 for a total of 27 vehicles, which outnumbered my 19 vehicles. Although from the beginning I made an effort to take full advantage of cover, in the end it could not hold up to the superior numbers that the Soviets would throw at the Victory Point location. Had I decided to continue the scenario I am quite certain that I would have lost the remainder of my front line units and been left with HQ’s and off map artillery.

Post Mortem

Playing as the West Germans with Leopard 1A5 and 2A1-3 Main Battle Tanks against a numerically superior Soviet force that contains a boatload of T-80U’s is a difficult task. Personally I do not think this engagement would have lasted as long as it did had it occurred in real life as I believe the Warsaw Pact would have swept through the area and decimated the defenders.

This game was started on 10/14/15 and completed on 10/28/15 using a Windows 7 machine. The blog post was completed on 11/7/15 and scheduled for publication on 11/16/15.

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