Hypothetical - NATO vs WP 1970s

Discussion in 'Modern' started by parsifal, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,676
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    I am curently about to play a simulation literally called "The Next War", designed by James Dunnigan (now DOD military consultant working for the pentagon).

    Its a biggish game, about 2000 counters, and looks at the possibilities for a hypothetical war set in the early to mid 70's. As it turns out, I think Dunnigan over-estimated the Soviet capabilities especially in the air, but it still poses some very interesting questions.

    My chief question is probably at what time would the Soviet chances for victory have been at their greatest. Victory in game terms means the defeat of the NATO forces on the German front in central europe. I think they stood to achieve the best possibility around the time of the 1973 Yom Kippur war.....US still buried in the Vietnam quagmire, huge distraction in the ME, Britain facing major unreast in Ulster. I still think the Soviets would not have won, but for us old guys, it was what we trained for, but it never eventuated.

    Happy to discuss any aspect of the situation as the game designers depict it, and if people want, can report on the outcome of my war

    Anyway, here are some phots of the situation immediately prior to the outbreak of "hostilities"
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Messages:
    3,541
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    Engineer and overgrown schoolboy
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    I think the Soviets much-vaunted river-crossing capability would have come to naught.
    They'd have suffered dreadful losses as they inevitably backed up at the crossing points and all the while NATO in front of them would have been preparing for the ones that got away.
     
  3. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,676
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    #3 parsifal, Jun 17, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
    Thats interesting. In the simulation, rivers are major defensive lines and unbridged rivers are major points of interdiction to the Soviet advance. There are two classifications of rivers....major or inor. Minor can be attempted for an opposed crossing, major rivers cannot (by the Soviets...some NATO nationalities can try to cross major rivers, but is dangerous).

    In the NATO defensive line there is a gap, called the Fulda Gap, where Soviets were thought to treat asa high priority in their pre-war plans. Capturing that point would allow them to outflank most of the river lines east of the Rhine

    Herer is a photograhic detail from the gamer, showing how they saw the situation. the weakness in the NATO deployment is obvious....
     

    Attached Files:

  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    MGR
    Location:
    Phila, Pa
    IIRC, Fulda was a spot with a lot of US combat strength. Critical is right.

    I don't know how much luck the WP would've had with an attack. I agree with the perspective that Nato was distracted. But, from what I've seen, the WP didn't put as much into Logistics as Nato. 60000 tanks are great, until they start running out of gas.

    Given a short war with limited objectives, they could probably pull it off. If they achieved suprise. How they do that is beyond me. But if their goal was the Rhine, they had a decent chance of getting there. It really comes down to Reinforcements. After the pre-positioned troops on both sides (and equipment) chew each other up, who has the ability to get more into the zone of battle faster?

    One more thing. Almost certain this war goes nuclear. Even if Nato keeps it together, there's just too many moving parts to keep it from going that way.
     
  5. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Messages:
    3,541
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    Engineer and overgrown schoolboy
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    Obviously in the US sector then
    I can't quite make out what Fulda is, as a feature but if it's the corridor running between those green features (contours?) then it's a killing lane. I imagine there'd have been an awful lot of US artillery, already spotted-in from years of field exercises, zoned in on that area.

    Very big chance I'm not reading it right, but difficult to imagine the 1 US Corps commander not openly inviting the Soviets to come through there.
     
  6. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    MGR
    Location:
    Phila, Pa
    From what I've read and heard, the Fulda Gap is one of the two really good places to run a lot of tanks through to the Rhine. The other is the North German Plain. The WP was big on sending lots of tanks wherever they were going to attack and those were the only two really good spots to do tanks. Everybody knew when the balloon went up. somebody was going to come through at Fulda.

    It was protected by the Black Horse Calv for a long time. At least it was in the 70s.
     
  7. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    MGR
    Location:
    Phila, Pa
    Parsifal, I am really interested in finding out how your war game plays out. From what I have heard, read and remember at the time, it was pretty much taken for granted that we couldn't stop them and they would be at the Rhine in 7 days. Then it would go nuclear.

    A lot of little details pop into my head about it.

    The French were stuck with the choice of staying out of it or having a Soviet Army on their border. Tom Clancy has them coming in but I personally think they would've stayed out.

    The Soviet sub force wouldn't come south into the Atlantic. I think the guys in our subs knew it but we (surface forces) played a game where they would go after our re-inforcement convoys. They had no or little chance of surviving that far south. With the Sosus line and scads of P3/attack sub/hunter killer groups, ect, chasing them, they would be working very hard just to survive. The Soviets seem to know this too and were using their Fast Attack subs to protect their Boomers up in their end of the oceans as a counterstrike to the US and Britians subs.

    No matter how you look at it, Iceland was gonna take a pounding at some point. Just to exposed and too important not to. Probably get nuked.

    Back to the Reinforcement convoys. Getting them organized and heading for Europe would've taken weeks, if not months. Not a week or less as gamed out. Can see that by what happened in the first Gulf War where the prepositioned ships broke down within a day or two of leaving port in Texas and had to be towed home. If you want to see how the logistic progressed (or would have progressed), follow the First Gulf War. Good example.

    Italy and southern europe didn't sit it out, but the main fight was going to be in the area between the East German border and the Rhine. Everything else was a side show. Win or lose, the battle was going to be there.

    Just some thoughts.
     
  8. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,676
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    A few things to respond to.....Fulda in the 70's was defended but not heavily. In the game map that you see, the hexagonal overlay is there to regularize movement and combat, and has a diameter of approximately 5 miles. The green and the brown is meant to represent rougher terrain, whether that be due to slope, vegetation, lack of roads. The most open fighting country is the clear that you see.

    About 30 miles behind this point the US did withold powerful armoured formations (3rd armoured from memory), but at the front they refused to adopt a forward deployment strategy, except for mech cav recon units centred around that 11Cav Brigade that you see. To the north there was a brigade of the WG 2PG XX, but according to the map, this unit will have to also cover a crossing point immediately to the north. This formation is in a difficult position.

    The US witheld its main forces for two reasons. Its priority in the initial phases was to cover the reforger sites, deployed around Frankfurt, and was concerned about possible surprise attacks by Soviet Special Forces and/or airborne units. So most of the army was held back from the front line to cover this eventuality. In the second instance the US did not want to expaose their main formations to the possibility of a preemptive frontal assault, something the Soviets were good at, and likley to try and exploit. The US felt they would get enough advance warning to be able to mobilize their forces and then push them forward from their barracks positions, so as to cover these critical positions.

    I think the US were being over optimistic in their abilities to respond quickly enough.

    Coming down that road will be approximately 5-6 WP divs, mostly guards armoured and mech units. They will be allover the defenders in a very short space of time. But the open country of the frontier rapidly changes to more urban areas, closer to the Rhine, and in these areas the Soviet advantages in armour will not help that much. NATO believed they could contain the Soviets by focussing their defences around these German urban concentrations. Defending in the cities also would act as a deterrent to nuclear exchanges, since an attack against an urban area would be seen as a strategic exchange (as opposed to tactical) and would be likley to lead to a full retalitory strike.

    I will keep you posted about the progress of the game. Am scheduled to start this weekend. The scenario is scheduled to last 30 days of time, and allows for the full range of options. There are rules in the game to cover the political reliability of the nations, including the East germans Czechs, French and Italians. The willingness of the Dutch and Belgians is also covered. They are essentially random eventsthough, so i wont know the outcome until after the battle has started.

    I will be happy to give you udates on the progress of this battle.
     
  9. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    MGR
    Location:
    Phila, Pa
    Parsifal, definitely interested in the results of your wargame. I gather from your posting that it specifically covers the Air/Land war in Western Europe and doesn't have an extensive sea component. No biggie, Western Europe was going to be the center of gravity anyway.

    Agreed with your assesment of Fulda. The trick of holding back against massed Armor is pretty much standard. You don't want to fight the battle the way your opposition desires it. Better to hit him after he's strung out in a linear formation rather than take the full blow of his massed firepower. Hold the shoulders of the breakthrough (around Fulda, from what I've seen, the terrain practically does that for you) and counterattack the follow on forces and resupply. You can do that with land forces in the case of the follow on and air in the case of the resupply. But the other guy knows the trick too and will set up his responses in view of your plan.

    Not really much unknown on either side, but it's still going to be very interesting to see how it plays out.

    The covering of the Reforger points is a strategic dilema. Do you keep major forces back to cover Rhamstien or use them to counterattack. I guess the question becomes, which option buys you more time ('cause time is what you are really looking for). The screening forces in Fulda will not hold the WP for long but, it is always better to have your enemy come to a battlefield of your choosing than meet him further up on ground that might not be as good. A lot can happen between the gap and Rhamestien, most of it bad for the WP. On the other side, such a decision will have political rammifications as the West Germans are not going to be happy and will probably want a more forward defense. Similar to the French in 1914, the closer to the border they WP is stopped, the better. Casualties may be secondary to this consideration.

    The politics of this thing are something that is going to be huge, at least in my opinion. Luckily, for you, it seems that most of your problems are around Fulda and that means it is a US problem. Not entirely, but the majority of C and C are US as are the forces. Up on the German Plain, things are much different. Brits, Belgians, Dutch, West Germans, a whole mishmash of countries and considerations. Resupply is not as much of a problem, from a standardization point of view of equipment, but little oddities like language, operational tempo, enthusiasm (or strong lack thereof) will come into play. Does the game cover that as well? Essentially, the Fog of War. Is it covered and how?
     
  10. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Messages:
    47,645
    Likes Received:
    1,416
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Cheshire, UK
    As I remember it, the Fulda gap was designated as a choke point. Many of the forests had been cultivated as barriers against a possible/probable Soviet advance with armour, leaving two 'gaps', one at Fulda, and one further north, on the edge of the North German plain. It was hoped that these would be the routes taken in event of a major incursion, and that NATO forces could be rushed into the areas to combat the threat.
    I think you're right about October 1973 - I was just about to leave Germany after a major NATO exercise, wnen we were put on immediate alert, as the Soviets had started to mass armour along the border apparently. Anytime between roughly 1970 and 1974 coild have been critical. It was thought that the WP forces could have reached the area of Hannover and further west within three to four days, with heavy use of NBC preemptive strike and airborne forces, followed quickly by the MRD's and Armour.
    If you can get a hold of a copy,'The Third World War', published around 1974 I think, is worth a read. (can't remember the name of the author! But he's a well known historian, former senior officer!).
     
  11. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    12,631
    Likes Received:
    309
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    You are referring to the book writtn by Sir John Hackett in 1982?
     
  12. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Messages:
    47,645
    Likes Received:
    1,416
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Cheshire, UK
    Hmm. It could be, but I think I would have remembered that name, seeing as who he was. I could be wrong about the date, but I feel fairly sure it was the mid 1970's, and a double-barreled name, like Liddell-Hart, but not him!
     
  13. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    MGR
    Location:
    Phila, Pa
    Hackett wrote one. It was a pretty good one too. He later revised it and both sold very well. If anybody had a good idea how it was going to turn out, it was him. I like the idea he had about dropping the 1st Air Cav in behind the advance elements of the WP attack to screw things up and buy time. But I wouldn't want to BE in the 1st Air Cav when it happened as they were going to get chewed up, probably wiped out.

    There were two other decent fictional accounts of the European War (that never was). One was by Tom Clancey called "Red Storm Rising". Good fiction, had those odd little vingettes that happened like a guy stepping off the curb and looking the wrong way, getting hit by a car and ending up being in the head's up Nato needs to get it's act together. That one has the main force coming through Fulda.

    The other, that I thought was better, was by Ralph Peters. I think it was called "Red Army" and told the story from the point of the Soviets involved in the war. Good read. In this one, the Soviet forces come in over the North German plain and really stick it to the Northern flank. A better read, IMHO, than "RSR" but not as wide spread. No naval or air component to think of, but plenty of stuff about the ground war.
     
  14. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,160
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    Up to about 1973 my money would be on the WP to win. After that it evens out and probably by say 1978 the advantage switches to NATO.
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,676
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    we made a start with the game, but I couldnt really do a lot today, with the new addition to the family, and some other things to do around the house. Guess I have to get used to that.

    But we did complete the setup, choose the particular scenario we wanted to try, undertake the pre-invasion moves, and fight the air combat segment. We finished up selecting a scenario called "spring manouvres", which postulates a Soviet attack in April, using their annual WP manouvres as a screen fopr a partial buildup. But surprise is not total.

    Regarding the political unreliability aspects, we have not yet reached the stage for checking the Allies, but the WP was extremely lucky in its unreliability checks. The Czechs staged an attempted coup, but it is failing, though this means the Czech army is unavailable for a couple of days. Its air assets are unnaffected. Apart from that the WP is more or less intact politically.

    In the air, losses were very heavy, but particulalry so for the WP. In the game there are four air sectors: Baltic, North, Central and South regions. The air war is very abstracted, essentially however there are two levels of air combat, which are misleadingly called strategic and interception combat. Really what they are trying to simulate are, in the first instance stand off missile attacks, which the allies have a marked advantage in, and then close in combat, using guns and close range missiles. Here the Soviets enjoy at least parity. If a side wins combat at this level, helos cannot fly in that sector and airborne operations become prohibitively expensive. If the interception level is won (the stand off attacks strand of air combat), the losses to fixed win attack aircraft rise dramatically, and ther are also some losses to transports and helos.

    We have not yet resolved the combats against helos, tranports and strike aircraft, but the fighter v fghter combats are complete. WP forces won air superiority in the North (over north germanyHolland and Belgium), and the south regions (Austria and Italy. They lost it over the Baltic (Denmark) and the Central (southern Germany) two of the planned airborne ops planned have had to be cancelled. There may be additional losses to the allies however if any allied forward air bases are overrun. Both sides are likley to take further losses due to flak and SAMs

    But the majority of losses have been sustained, with the following results:


    WP: 152 lost, 248 damaged
    loss break downs were as follws:

    SU: 72 MiG-21, 8 MiG-23, 4 MiG-27
    HU: 12 MiG-21
    Cz: 12 MiG-21,
    Po: 20 MiG-17, 4 MiG-21
    EG; 20 MiG-21

    NATO/Neutral: 84 lost, 80 Damaged

    Au: 4 Saab 105
    It: 12 F104, 8 G-91
    WG: 12 F104, 4 G-91, 4 Alpha
    RCAF: 4 F104
    RNAF: 12 F104
    Belg: 12 F104
    Fr: 4 x Mirage III
    Den: 8 F104

    The damaged numbers are significant. barring a runaway breakthrough and capture of NATO airfields, all the NATO aircraft should return to operational by GT-2. WP return to readiness will not exceed 100 ( and will be less if airbases are bombed, so WP losses from the ready to fly lists are actually closer to300A/C to 80 NATO aircraft.

    The F-15s of the USAF and F4Es/F4s of the USAF and LW do a disproportionate amount of killing. They excel at standoff attacks, and so long as the lesser aircraft can hold the WP suffer no losses. All the NATO losses to this point have been with the older, less capable types, whilst Soviet losses are pretty much spread across all their types. The Soviets just dont have the capability to sit back and shoot into the barrel, so to speak......


    By the third day, with the arrival of a second F-15 wing, and 9 squadrons of F4s from the US, the WP will be in deep trouble in the air......
     
  16. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    12,631
    Likes Received:
    309
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    parsifal, what about US and UK naval assets being available? Or are they busy fighting at sea?

    And just wondering; what if an airbase is seized by WP paratroopers with the missions to hold out and deny its use for "x" number of days?
     
  17. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,676
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    There are no British or US Naval assets (apart from an outside chance of the a US Marine Div arriving). Its strictly WG and Danish coastal forces, and a significant portion of the Soviet Baltic Fleet. Chief weapon for the allies are mines, aircraft and small subs, in roughly that order of importance. Probably the best Soviet wepons are their CGs, DGs , PGs and twin engined Naval Air.

    Unlike most WWII sims, airborne units (particularly airmobile formations) can move pafter landing. Not being able to drop in Denmark is a major blow, and my WP partner and me are not sure whether to make a deep penetration into the low countries, or a more consertive drop just west of Hanover. I will let you know which if any airfields will fall. We also have eight companies of commandoes to drop, their main mission will be to take out the three main SAM sites protecting northern Germany.

    The southern airborne force is larger - two divs. Traditionally these are used on suicide runs to disrupt the US forces around Frankfurt, but I see this as high risk, high cost. We have decided to drop the airborne divs around Innsbruck, to contain the Italians south of the Alps, and maximise the chances of a blitz through Austria.
     
  18. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Messages:
    3,541
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    Engineer and overgrown schoolboy
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    The aim of the para drop is to do what? Secure something? Disrupt something?
    Because into the low countries from a standing start on their side of the start line, is a hell of a thrust for the Soviet ground forces if they intend to hook up with, and relieve, the para drop.

    The Soviets maintained 7 Airborne Divisions during the Cold War or 1.75 armies, if you like. It could be argued that just putting down one 'army' in the Low Countries would hold NATO up long enough in the rear for the Soviets to make good their gains but I would argue that concealing the build-up to a four-division drop from NATO intelligence would be nigh impossible; the consequent run-in would also likely be a turkey shoot.
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,676
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    That gets back to the original starting surmise of the scenario. We are using the Spring Manouvers scenario which masks, to a degree the actual intent of the Soviet buildup. Every April the Soviets undertake theatre wide manouvers, that involve I presume the use of at least a portion of their airborne formations. Thats why the WP in this scenario have 5 airborne divs.

    What your saying about these formations getting cut to pieces is absolutely true, provided NATO can achieve air superiority in those sectors of the front. Thats why in those sectors where air superiority has not been achieved, the airborne operations that were planned have been postponed. In those sectors where air superiority for the WP has been achieved, namely in this case over norther germany and Italy, we can proceed with our airdrop. We still have the localised AA defences to contend with, but we do not have a gaggle of NATO fighters roaring in to hack our transports and our helos out of the sky. It is the opposite in fact....it is the WP for the moment (and temporarily given the cost needed to achieve their victories) that controls these skies.

    What is arguable is whether in a real shooting war the Soviets could have gotten anywhere in the air combat along the front. They outnumber the Allies almost three to one in the air, and not all the allied air assets are impressive in terms of the electronics and firepower they are carrying. In terms of straight up performance the WP aircraft are very good....a MiG-21 is a very dangerous manouvre fighter. They lag in their electronics, long range weaponary, command and control, pilot skills and servicing rates. They have an advantage in close in fighting, turn and burn tactics and sheer numbers
     
  20. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    MGR
    Location:
    Phila, Pa
    Parsifal, thanks for the update. I was amazed to see the WP got Air Sup over Nothern Germany. The Italian end of the world is less of a suprise but also less of a worry. More on that later.

    The numbers you quoted for losses seem to indicate that the WP lost about 400 aircraft to the Nato 160. Of the Nato bunch, 80 will be returned to active service within the next period or two. Given that, and seeing as how the F15/F4 USAF replacements are on the way from the US, I'm questioning the wisedom of going after those SAM sites with so much of your airmoble components. Maybe a wiser move would be to supress the SAMs with a lessor force of combined Air/Air mobile while going after the crossing and bridging sites in the NG Plain in preparation for your coming ground assalts. You don't really need to destroy the SAM sites a much as suppress them for now. Deal with them using ground forces in a week or so.

    Also, with the given exchange rate with Nato and the fact that they are losing second line aircraft more than primary while you are losing primary, at what point does your air offensive collapse due to losses? Assuming your losses will increase with the USAF reinforcements. My thought would be, if you're going to use your airmobile assets, you'll have to do it fast. In a week, they may not survive without air cover (that will be driven down to the level of losses that their appearence is sporatic).

    Lastly, just my thought on this, I'd forget about Italy. Airmoble and air action over there is probably easier, but it is a distraction from real fight going on up in Germany. If you sieze territory on the far side of the Alps, you set yourself up for getting cut off due to a Airmoble assault on the passes supported by air and an armored counterattack. Toss in an arial blockade of the mountain passes/valleys of Austria and anything you throw over the Alps is as good as lost. If Nato High Command throws anything serious in your way down there, they are making a mistake. Northern Italy is a side show.

    IMHO, of course.
     
Loading...

Share This Page