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Old 06-22-2009, 03:48 PM
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chico20854 chico20854 is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Washington, DC area
Posts: 358

Originally Posted by Targan
I hope the DC Working Group read this thread.
We are. Things have been hectic! (But the subway is all fouled up tonight so I'm not getting home anytime soon!)

Jason has stated some of his feelings. I'm working on the Soviet orbat and am more optimistic about Soviet performance. There are a heck of a lot of units! (As far as Soviet reinforcements from the West: 1 CAA from GSFG, 1 from Byelorussia, 1 from Ukraine, 37 tactical aviation regiments (3 Air Armies, roughly) plus Long-Range Aviation and Naval Aviation bomber regiments, and 2 Polish, 2 Czech, 2 East German and 1 Bulgarian division plus Hungarians & misc. other Pact allied brigades).

We made some adjustments to the model Soviets in GDW's Third World War wargame. We made the T-90 (GDW T-90, not IRL upgraded T-72 that is now called T-90) on par with the M1A1. Likewise, the BMP-3, in service with Cat A & B Divisions in the Western USSR, is nasty. On the air side, the Soviets have some really dangerous aircraft out there, gleaned from Paul's Best Aircraft That Never Was page.

As a result of this discussion, I'm going to suggest that we raise the proficiency ratings of Soviet units in the Far East to levels on par with US troops. (Proficiency covers a multitude of factors - morale, training, C3I capability, robustness of the logistical system, efficiency of loss replacement, etc. In many of these areas the Red Army is deficient, but combat experience in China would fix many of those deficiencies in units in combat. Given the size of the Red Army and the strains on the Soviet economy, I'm not sure that they would spread meaningfully across the system in the 15 months or so before war breaks out in the West. The Afghanistan model - where reforms took a few years to spread as the the conflict went on - is my model here, cognizant of the apples-oranges of guerrilla war in Afghanistan vs armored combat in China.) When those units come back west they will be a challenge for NATO units. (I also model the learning effect of combat experience for Soviet units entering action in Iran from Afghanistan - the 103rd Guards Airborne Division is as tough as the Marines that come to evict it from Bandar Abbas)

Those units coming back to the West will, unfortunately, be a slow process due to the limited transportation network through Siberia (finished goods - in 1996 vehicles, ammo & troops - go East, raw materials go West). With a war economy those raw materials are going to be in great demand, and the sea route - which in the 80s took roughly half of all Soviet westbound tonnage, mostly through the Indian Ocean - closed. In the winter there will be a trickle of cargo going by road, but the roads are unpaved (even now!) and impassible for many parts of the year (and trucks capable of travelling long distances on such roads are best used to support forward armies, requiring so much maintenance & support as to be almost useless).

As far as the amount of new equipment in service, I'm modelling fairly significant numbers. Soviet tank production 1990-1995 averages 3000 per year (plus exports), APC production almost as high. Total Soviet tanks in service are about 63,000, 2/3 T-64 or later (additional thousands are in non-Soviet Pact service), with an additional 15,000 T-55 series tanks and WWII-vintage AFVs in reserve. This is enough to equip 190 of the roughly 280 Red Army divisions at full strength, and the remainder (mobilization-only) at about 50% of full strength. Soviet artillery strength is about 30,000 tubes (mortars over 120mm, MRLs, guns & howitzers). (And many of the non-Soviet Pact have over 2000 tubes each!) And the equipment sent to the Far Eastern Front is not top of the line gear - there's no need for it to be, since the vast majority of the PLA is equipped with cheap Chinese copies of Soviet equipment of 1955 vintage. So the brand-new T-90s, BMP-3s and Su-27s are sitting in the Western military districts, facing NATO.

The vast amounts of Western aid don't ever really start arriving in quantity enough to change the course of the war - by the time Western nations negotiate arms export contracts, ramp up production, figure out how to deliver the weapons past a Soviet blockade, train Chinese troops to use them and adjust Chinese tactics to use Western weapons - the war in the West is raging and the production gets diverted to NATO use.

By way of comparison, the US starts the war with about 16,000 tanks in inventory, many of which aren't assigned to combat units, and a little less than 10,000 artillery tubes. The NATO allies bring more in, but overall they're outgunned at day one.

The war is rough on both sides - the Luftwaffe is trashed by Frontal Aviation interceptors (and it might have been wiped out had Soviet airfields in Germany not been attacked by NVA forces on the first day of the Reunification). The Soviets have some tricks up their sleeves - such as anti-AWACS long-range AAMs, Shtora active-defense anti-ATGM systems and 200-knot torpedos - that catch NATO off guard, and NATO's vaunted high technology is shown lacking when the stockpiles of the latest generation munitions run low. (It turns out that the major reason that development of 105mm gun armed light AFVs was dropped in the mid-80s was the discovery that most 105mm NATO tank gun ammo couldn't penetrate a T-72 frontally, based on secret tests of T-72s captured in 1982 in Lebanon. Ever wonder why there was the big push to upgrade all the US tank units in Saudi Arabia to M1A1 in 1990-1? And this was for Iraqi model T-72s!) Like Grae said, every shot has to be a kill shot (or at least I think that's what he meant), when you're outnumbered 3 to 1, even more so when you're attacking. The Eastern European transportation system is not nearly as robust as the one in Western Europe, even before Pact troops implement a scorched-earth fighting withdrawal, so the NATO advance is limited due to the difficulty in sustaining logistic support (late summer 1944, anyone?), moreso because so much NATO logisitic planning in the Cold War involved extensive use of Western European civilian transport - barge, rail & road (although NATO troops would not be forced to fight back hordes of panicked friendly civilians!).

I also agree with Raellus on the morale factor. The Soviets (and Poles and Czechs) don't really need a lot of hard-core propaganda for the population to get whipped into a frenzy about German military adventurism - many of the population has first-hand knowledge. On the same time, many NATO troops are going to have a harder time getting fired up about supporting the German effort - sure, they're all for liberating Eastern Europe from Communism, but the commies didn't burn their grandfather's farm like the Germans did to the Polish soldier! (and Dutch and Danish troops also have the same historical memory of German adventurism as the Poles, Soviets and Czechs).

And on to the naval war. Early on, NATO has a rough time getting reinforcements across. There's a MAJOR naval battle going on in the Norwegian Sea. Most civilian shipowners aren't letting their ships leave port, control/reporting measures are still getting started, unknown Soviet Primus raiders and subs are running around worldwide. Thousands of merchant ships with peacetime cargoes are at sea, and the US has six divisions worth of war reserve equipment (the peacetime equipment of the six divisions that flew into POMCUS sites) to move to Europe, get unloaded without use of Belgian or French ports and moved close to the front (but not so close that it's vulnerable to SSM attack, airstrike or Spetsnaz raid). The USN is in a frenzy to get every possible ship to sea - bringing older ships out of reserve, integrating recalled reservists, upgrading ships, training & retraining sailors, hastily finishing vessels under construction and getting them brought into service with vastly curtailed shakedowns of crew and equipment, and trying to integrate the US Coast Guard into its structure. It's not really that the USSR is able to shut down the North Atlantic sea lane, its that the USN isn't sure what it (the USN) or the USSR is capable of doing, or even how to do it.

So these are some of my thoughts! I hope they help explain a little of where I am coming from on the Soviet war effort.
I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. Someday this war's gonna end...
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