Flashpoint Germany Soviet Punch

The following after-action report details the first scenario from the West German I Corps mission set in which I will be playing as the NATO commander during the first day of the war May 7, 1989 at 08:00 in the town of Westerbrück. The Soviet strategic plan focused on attacking various REFORGER sites with their premier forces, leaving the uncertain West German forces to face significantly weaker attacks from less capable Warsaw Pact elements: this engagement depicts such an action.

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 23rd Panzer Battalion utilized their native tenacity for protecting their own lands as well as some timely airstrikes to disrupt the Soviet attacks which were rather poorly supported. Ultimately the Germans would prevail over the 591st Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment, having a banner day to start World War III.

This scenario is nothing about well-timed airstrikes or Germanic tenacity. It all comes down to nothing more than how much FASCAM is available to the off-map single battery of six M109 A2/3 155mm Howitzers. If you have enough to lay down six minefields, then this could possible end in a West German Tactical Victory outcome. If it is less than six, then the Leopard 2A1-3 MBT's and abysmally pathetic Alpha Jet air support will prove no match for the supposedly “second rate” Red Army forces.

Game Options


I am playing the scenario in full 30 minute (simulated) turns. There are a total of 20 turns and the game will take the full amount to complete.

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 three platoons of Leopard MBT’s, a Jaeger company, and off map support assets consisting of self-propelled medium artillery and four flights of Alpha Jet attack aircraft.

Critical 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 an slight edge over the Soviet MBT (well I used to think that but actually not any longer).

For this scenario I will have a total of 36 Leopard 2A1-3 MBT’s as front line units divided equally into nine panzer platoons.


The Alpha-Jet is a second line attack aircraft that features two unguided bombs. This air asset is mostly a joke in my experience and is perhaps the weakest in the entire game (you are practically giving points to the AI by simply using them).

For this scenario I will have a total of eight Alpha-Jets divided equally into four separate flights.

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 only in Sector 2 (50) where they begin the scenario in the pregame setup phase. The Warsaw Pact also has Victory Points available only in Sector 2 (100), so this should prove to be another bloody slugfest for control of the same territory.

Pregame Setup Phase Two


There are effectively two main autobahns that enter Sector 2, one running from the east entering at grid 20-7, and the other running from the south entering at grid 14-10. While I have zero intelligence as to where the enemy has their forces arrayed, I am going to deploy my forces to cover both approaches.

Without any reconnaissance assets, I am basically blind to either approach and configure my deployment in such a way that they mechanized units aligned south can swing quickly northeast if the armor units are overrun.

The battery of six off map M109’s is ordered to deploy FASCAM at the indicated grids and the four flights of Alpha-Jets is held back until I have a confirmed enemy sighting.

Combat Action


Turn 1: The Howitzer battery managed to deploy one grid of FASCAM before running out of that ammunition type (which thoroughly disgusts me as I needed the minefields to cull the Soviet armor as it approached).

Losses: NATO (0) Warsaw Pact (0)

Additional orders: the off map artillery is placed on call.


Turn 2: Contact with the enemy has made and the hostilities have commenced between the West Germans and the Soviets. At the moment their attack seems focused on the main road running from the east; however I intend to keep an eye out in the south for the time being.

Losses: NATO (1) Warsaw Pact (4)

Additional orders: air attacks are ordered against the two sighted enemy counters with a discretionary radius of two grids.


Turn 3: The West Germans are holding their ground and causing severe losses among the Soviet formations, however the Warsaw Pact should have plenty of cannon fodder to throw my way so I am not sure how the frontline Leopards will standup turn after turn to what appears to be a frontal assault.

Losses: NATO (9) Warsaw Pact (53)

Additional orders: additional airstrikes against the sighted enemy counters (I only have two flights remaining as the rest have been shot down).


Turn 4: The Soviets decimated the thin wall of NATO tanks in the center and have punched a huge hole right into the objective area.

Losses: NATO (26) Warsaw Pact (108)

Additional orders: the mechanized infantry units (M113 APC’s also known as Soviet target practice) are ordered to move into the void left by the Leopard MBT’s. Although the remainder of my weak Alpha-Jet air capability was shot down during the turn, it would not have mattered anyway as visibility has been reduced to 2,000 meters which grounds all air operations for the West Germans.

The off map artillery is ordered to barrage with Neutralizing Fire at the indicated grids.


Turn 5: Battlefield conditions worsened during the turn with heavy rain and visibility that dropped to only 500 meters (a single grid square on the map). Although I cannot see them now, there are Soviet vehicles behind my lines inside the objective area.

Losses: NATO (33) Warsaw Pact (123)

Additional orders: my on map mortar unit has been scooting about due to its SOP Doctrine of not allowing any enemy to come within 5,000 meters, and even though visibility is nonexistent now I chose to edit the doctrine to 1,000 meters and give it a move order back into the objective area. A straggler MBT counter is ordered back as well (the one further south with one tank left is out of ammunition).


Turn 6: the mechanized infantry units were duly ripped to shreds by the Soviet armor.

Losses: NATO (37) Warsaw Pact (124)

Additional orders: the remaining intact company of panzers aligned on the hill in the north is ordered to assault south into the center of the objective area in a desperate attempt to kill enough Warsaw Pact vehicles to trigger the 80% loss declaration. The off map artillery is ordered to barrage the indicated grids with Neutralizing Fire.


Turn 7: my forces are effectively broken into combat inefficient vignettes on the battlefield are attempting to engage an enemy that can barely be seen in the miserable weather conditions.

Losses: NATO (45) Warsaw Pact (129)

Additional orders: all units that have ammunition and frontline fighting vehicles are ordered to Route March back into the objective area.


Turn 8: during the resolution phase I had picked up a number of kills on sighted enemies and I thought that I would receive the 80% casualty notice, but it is not yet to be.

Losses: NATO (47) Warsaw Pact (137)

Additional orders: while I really do not want this scenario to drag on for an additional seven turns in these abysmal battlefield conditions, I am hesitant as well to send individual units out on suicide search and die missions. For the moment I am content on barraging sighted enemy locations and leaving the counters where they are.


Turn 9 losses: NATO (48) Warsaw Pact (137)


Turn 10 losses: NATO (49) Warsaw Pact (142)


Turn 11: no losses for either side.


Turn 12 losses: NATO (49) Warsaw Pact (143)


Turn 13: no losses for either side.


Turn 14: Battlefield conditions improved greatly with the weather changing to light rain and the visibility increasing to 2,000 meters which reveals several Warsaw Pact units on the map.

Losses: NATO (49) Warsaw Pact (145)

Additional orders: the off map artillery is out of ICM and is effectively useless at this point.


Turn 15 losses: NATO (49) Warsaw Pact (147)

Additional orders: in a pure gamey move to swing the tide in my favor (note that the Victory Point balance meter on the task bar is at 50%), I order a Route March for all units close enough to move back into the objective area.


The game ends in a Draw outcome (this is the first instance where a scenario has not ended with either side falling below the critical threshold of 80% of starting forces). I have won this scenario in the past with a Tactical NATO Victory outcome; however it plays out somewhat differently from time to time. This effort was severely hampered by only having one FASCAM grid deployment, and poor weather that would have grounded air operations (had they not been shot down).

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 149-150, a difference of -1 point. The unit loss during this scenario was lopsided however, with NATO losing “only” 50 units while the Warsaw Pact bled out 149 vehicles.

In the end however the Soviets had more of everything (as in a real life engagement I would suspect) and therefore were able to blast through my thin veil of a defensive line to swarm the objective area and secure the 100 Victory Points that came with it.


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

The standout unit was 1st Platoon, 4th Company, Panzer Battalion 23 which accounted for a total of 28 kill claims without experiencing a single loss to enemy fire.


The Alpha-Jet flights were a complete failure in every conceivable manner, accounting for not a single kill claim before all were shot down. In a biting ironic twist, just two turns after the last plane was shot down the weather changed to the point they would have been grounded anyway.

Review Final Situation


A picture speaks a thousand words.

Post Mortem

In all the times that I have played this scenario this is 1) the first time that I had anything less than a Marginal Victory outcome, and 2) by far the longest it went – all the way to the last turn (the previous record was seven turns before I won).

The immediate lack of FASCAM (artillery launched minelets) from the outset crippled me. I know that the Alpha-Jet is probably the worst air asset in the entire game, and although I was trying to employ them judiciously they still faltered and died. They however are not what lost this game for me.

What lost it was the FASCAM.

In all of the scenarios that I have played (including this one with a boatload more of that munition type in the past than what I drew this time) I know firsthand how much the minefields can be a game changer. They can breakup and stall a Soviet push and cause the AI to consider rerouting the units, which delays their breaching an objective area. Sufficient mines are a distinct force multiplier, and the absence of that capability was plain to see here today.

This scenario was played 9/18/15 on a Windows 7 machine and the blog post write-up was completed on 10/18/15.

Update


11/11/15: the result I obtained in this scenario did not sit well with me so I went back and played it again with a very basic alignment of the forces top to bottom and the artillery drew three FASCAM rounds which I laid horizontally along the main road.


Those three FASCAM rounds accounted for a total of two kills attributed to the sole artillery battery, so my basic alignment of the forces in a vertical line effectively won the scenario as the Warsaw Pact could chip away at it here and there, but basically bounce off of it like a Nerf Ball.


The inferior Alpha Jet flights were marginally better the second time around, scoring eight kills while having all eight aircraft destroyed in the process, a hideous 1:1 ratio.

The result was a Decisive Victory outcome in only six rounds.

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