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Old 03-03-2015, 08:38 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The next part:

1900 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville


Lieutenant General Yuri Dudorov came into the Operations Room. He was Alekseyev's Intelligence Officer, and he knew the General would not like what he had to report. And he also knew that what he had to say would mean the Soviet position in Texas was now a terminal one. “Comrade General, I've got some bad news.”

“What is it, Yuri Dimitrovich?” Alekseyev wanted to know.

“Comrade General, our coastwatchers on Brazos Island and South Padre Island report explosions and antiaircraft fire off to the east. There's also smoke clouds, though light's fading, and one can probably expect the glow of ships burning to take their place,” Dudorov reported.

Admiral Gordikov looked at him. Then he checked the map. “That may have been our last chance, Comrade General. Unless someone's coming in under cover of darkness....”

“And that may not be likely, Admiral. Again, I'm not blaming you. You've been given an impossible job, and under the circumstances, you did your best,” Alekseyev said. “If you wish, I can order you out.”

“Comrade General, there are still naval personnel here. Coastal-defense troops, Naval Infantry, some Naval Aviation-though they're down to a few helicopters, and a few patrol craft. I'd only be abandoning them. With your permission, I would prefer to remain until the end,” Gordikov said.

“Granted, Admiral.” Alekseyev said. Turning to Dudorov, he asked, “How long until Powell is ready to launch his next attack?”

“He is conservative with the lives of his soldiers, as you know, Comrade General,” Dudorov replied. “But I would expect sometime in the next twenty-four hours. He won't attack until he's ready.”

“That is the General Powell we've come to know,” Alekseyev said. “General Chibisov?”

“I would agree with General Dudorov, Comrade General.” Chibisov replied. Then the phone rang, and Colonel Sergetov answered.

“Comrade General, it's General Malinsky,” Sergetov said.

Alekseyev grabbed the phone. “Yes, General?

“Comrade General, Powell's renewed his attack. He's not stopping. We've got heavy fighting in McAllen and Edinburg, with the Cuban 2nd Army and 3rd Shock Army involved.”

Alekseyev swore. “Anything to the north?”

“Not yet, Comrade General, but that's XVIII Airborne Corps and II MAF facing us there,” Malinsky reported.

“All right, Malinsky. Do you need the 4th Guards Tank Army? They have their mission, you know.”

“No, Comrade General. I've got two independent tank regiments, though both are understrength, and the 105th Guards Air Assault Division. I know Suraykin's mission, and expect to be alongside him in a day or so,” Malinsky said.

“Understood, General. Keep me informed,” said Alekseyev, who then hung up. “Powell's not stopping. The 3rd Shock Army and Cuban 2nd Army are in a fight for McAllen and Edinburg.”

Both Chibisov and Dudorov looked at the map. “That's VIII Corps and XII Corps, Comrade General. VIII Corps was Powell's reserve, or so we thought,” Dudorov said.

Chibisov nodded. “Perhaps their respective commanders got drawn into fights they didn't expect?”

“Maybe, General,” Alekseyev said. “No activity from XVIII Airborne Corps and II MAF yet, so that lends credence to your theory.”

“That may be so, Comrade General,” Chibisov said. “Yuri, what's the worst case, apart from the 76th Guards and the handful of air-assault troops under Andreyev's command, all we have left is the 47th Tank Brigade.”

Dudorov looked at the map. “In that case, Comrades, if I was in General Powell's position, I'd try an amphibious landing. Not on South Padre Island: there's the bridge between Port Isabel and the Island, and it should be rigged for demolition by now. No, not there, Comrades. But here, at the terminus of Highway 4.”

“What kind of beach is it?” Alekseyev wanted to know.

“On the south, marshland, wetlands, that sort of thing. But at the end of the highway, there's a firm sandy beach for about two thousand meters or so. Enough to put forces ashore with landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles, Comrade General.” Dudorov said.

“Who's defending that beach?” Alekseyev asked.

His operations officer provided that information, “The 247th Independent Penal Battalion, Comrade General.”

Alekseyev paused. “They need to be stiffened. I know Andreyev has his own special mission, but he's got the remnants of several air-assault battalions under him, along with 76th Guards Airborne. Take the ad hoc grouping, and send them to reinforce that beach. Leave the rest of the 76th Guards where they are. And position the 47th Tank Brigade to either go north to reinforce Malinsky, or go east along Highway 4.”

“Yes, Comrade General,” the Operations Officer said.


2030 Hours: Off Brazos Santiago Pass


Captain Romonov's damage-control parties had been busy since the attack. The fires, one near the wrecked mainmast and one aft near the SAM magazine, were now out, while engineering staff were trying to free the jammed rudder. But the Boiky had made some progress towards the coast. His Exec came to him in the CCC.

“I have a casualty report, Comrade Captain.”

“All right, let's have it,” Romonov said.

“Twenty-four killed, with thirty-two wounded. And four missing, Comrade Captain,” The Exec said. “And one of the killed is the Zampolit.”

“Ah. So we won't have to put up with Comrade Loginov any more,” Romonov said. On the Boiky, the one officer that everyone-officers, petty officers, or enlisted sailors-couldn't stand had been the Zampolit. “Insufferable Party stooge.”

“Uh, yes, Comrade Captain,” the Exec replied.

The phone rang next to the Captain's chair. “Yes?” Romonov asked.

“Comrade Captain, we've freed the rudder!” It was the destroyer's Chief Engineer.

“Well done, Maxim Andreyich. Well done! How much speed can you give us?”

“Comrade Captain, I'd be against anything past fifteen knots. Some of those near-miss bombs sprang some seams, and until they're shored up....”

“Understood. Do the best you can.” Romonov told his Chief Engineer.

“That we will, Comrade Captain.”

Romonov hung up. He turned to the Exec. “How long to Brazos Santiago Pass?”

“About four hours, at this speed.” the man said. “We're at twelve knots as it is.”

“Make it so. When we get there, fire the recognition flare, and we'll await further orders. I imagine we'll be joining our Comrades ashore, one way or another.”


2140 Hours: The International Bridge, Hidalgo, Texas.


Major Luis Mendoza, Cuban Army, shook his head. Though the supply trucks had stopped coming across the border, the Mexican Army still insisted on sending troops into Texas. The troops, mounted in trucks, with a few BTR-40s and -152s, along with some old T-34s and SU-100 assault guns, crossed the bridge in a steady stream. Why the Americans hadn't used their air power to drop the bridge, he wondered. Then it occurred to him: they wanted to use the bridge for themselves, because rumors of an American invasion of Mexico were running wild in both the Cuban and Mexican armies.

His unit, what remained of the 53rd Motor Rifle Regiment, was dug in the city of Hidalgo. It had been one of the first cities in Texas to see the war, as Soviet and Cuban forces had crossed on the first day, back in 1985, and for the next two and a half years, it had been a backwater. Supply convoys crossed on a regular basis, as did reinforcements headed north, but other than that, the war had seemingly passed the town by. And there had been little underground activity, though the occasional graffiti being sprayed, phone lines cut, and occasional shots fired at the garrison showed that things were not as “pacified” as the Soviets and Cubans believed. But hardly anyone had been killed, and though the usual “enemies of the state” had been rounded up for “re-education”, the occupation here had been relatively mild, compared to other parts of what had been the “Liberated zone of America.” Now, that had all gone away, and the Americans were close: he could see the flashes on the horizon, and hear the rumble of artillery fire. Not to mention the occasional aircraft overhead. And one could tell that the citizenry were eager for their countrymen to return, and they didn't hide that at all.

The 53rd MRR had gone into the war with T-72 tanks and BTR-70 APCs. Now, after four years of war, and having been mauled several times, the regiment was lucky to have old T-55s and BTR-152s, and 122-mm artillery pieces from World War II. And the replacements! Boys fresh out of training, with no experience at all, and the officer replacements were hardly better. His deputy, a veteran since 1986, came up to him.

“Comrade Major, here's some coffee.”

“Thanks, Ricardo. I take it you've seen our Mexican comrades?” Mendoza asked.

“Yes, Comrade Major, I have.” Capt. Ricardo Gonzalez said. “If they run into any American force, I'd say even a company could deal with those Mexicans in short order. And where they're headed...” He motioned to the north, where the rumble of artillery fire, along with the other sights and sounds of battle, weren't that far away.

“And if the Americans come here, Ricardo? Because they will be, soon.”

“We can make it hot for them, Comrade Major, but not for long,” Gonzalez said.

“I know. And there's been no word from Army headquarters since the late afternoon. I know, our orders were to hold as long as possible,” Mendoza said, remembering his orders from 2nd Army HQ.

“And when we can't hold?” asked Gonzalez.

“We'll pull back across the river and blow the bridge. I don't have those orders, but that's what we'll do,” Mendoza told his deputy.


2300 Hours: Gulf Front Headquarters, Marine Military Academy, Harlingen, Texas


General Malinsky stood at the wall of his own operations room, and he didn't like what the map was telling him. Both the 3rd Shock Army and the Cuban 2nd Army were now in heavy contact with the Americans, and he fully expected the East Germans to have a similar problem before too long. He turned to Major General Alexi Isakov, his Chief of Staff. “Perhaps we've underestimated Powell, Alexi.”

“I would imagine so, Comrade General. But so far, there's no sign of an attack by either XVIII Airborne Corps or II MAF. Perhaps it's both VIII Corps and XII Corps getting into fights neither corps commander expected,” Isakov told his commander.

Malinsky looked at the map again. “Perhaps you're right. How are things on the Cuban 2nd Army's left? I'm referring to the bridge across the Rio Grande at Hidalgo.”

“We believe there's a Cuban Motor-Rifle Regiment there, but the Cuban 2nd Army's been in and out of communications since this morning,” Isakov responded.

“If I was in Powell's shoes,” Malinsky said, “I'd try this: Punch a hole in the Cubans' left flank. Take the bridge at Hidalgo, and get a bridgehead across the Rio Grande before Reynosa. While I'm doing that, get forces around the Cubans, and then roll them up. And that also endangers 3rd Shock Army, and probably the East Germans as well.”

“That's a bold plan, Comrade General,” Isakov said. “If that was the Powell we know, I'd say it was unlikely. Now, though, it's possible.”

“Try and notify the Cubans. Warn them of the possibility of such an attack. Who do we have facing II MAF?

“That's the Cuban 1st Army, Comrade General. And so far, they're holding,” said Isakov.

“Good. And what's this about additional Mexicans coming across the river?” Malinsky asked.

Isakov frowned. He didn't like that any more than Malinsky did. Or General Alekseyev, for that matter. “All we know, Comrade General, is that two brigades' worth of Mexican troops have joined the Cuban 2nd Army. No more information than that.”

“Mexicans....at least we won't have to be bothered with them for much longer.”
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