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Old 01-25-2010, 11:11 AM
Adm.Lee Adm.Lee is offline
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Default Different idea about 2000 NATO offensive?

In recent weeks, we have been musing about the "real story" behind the mysteries of the XI Corps, 5th Mech Division, and so on. The Polish Free Congress/government-in-exile has been brought up, so here's my idea.

I'm wondering if the following isn't a possibility.
- In the winter of 1999, the Polish Free Congress has its agents around Poland. Some are newly inserted, some stayed behind when NATO withdrew in late '97. These agents have been working at subverting Polish Army formations, as well as intelligence gathering for NATO. They report that they have gained some influence over some Polish commanders in the northern sector.
- The Polish Free Congress' representatives to SACEUR or to Third German Army report their findings, and present the possibility that a strong NATO attack, led by the Americans, might enable various Polish formations to break ranks, join NATO, and drive the Soviets out of the country-- or at least farther away from the German border.
- Key to this operation is the appearance of American formations in Polish-held areas, so that Polish commanders can point to them and tell their subordinates that the Soviets won't be able to crush them for switching sides. By the end of the summer, the Pact forces in southwest Poland and southeast Germany would be cut off by Polish and NATO forces, and forced to surrender or starve.
- Thus, the XI Corps is selected to spearhead the drive, with divisions detailed to appear rapidly and suddenly in the Pact rear. Months' worth of fuel production, and reserve stocks of ammunition, are allotted to this drive. Polish representatives are sent to each headquarters, to assist in making contact with the "inside people."
- 2nd Marine Division would land in the rear of the Polish cavalry armies.
- 8th Mech Division is to be sent to Lithuania, where PFC agents had identified pro-NATO (or pro-Polish) resistance elements.
- 5th Mech Division is to storm south to Lodz, and perhaps Krakow or Silesia, bringing those cities and their militias over to the PFC.

A bold plan. Unfortunately, it all breaks down, as we know. The Soviets bring the Fourth Guards Tank Army from way in the rear, not all of the Polish forces switch sides, and fierce counterattacks and raids by Pact horsemen drive off the III German Corps, leaving XI US Corps out on a limb.
Possibilities for the GM: many of the Polish agents were reporting far too optimistically about the possibility of such a coup.
Possibilities for the cruel GM: Some or all of the PFC agents had been burned and turned by the KGB or GRU, and the operation was designed to draw NATO into throwing away an irreplaceable American corps and ruining the reputation of the PFC within NATO.

Note: I've been reading a bit on Operation Market-Garden, and the 2000 offensive seems a lot like the Bridge Too Far. Also read that the whole Dutch resistance network set up by the SOE in WW2 was run by the Gestapo.
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Old 01-25-2010, 12:05 PM
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I approve. It seems to make quite a lot of sense given the high concentration of Polish units in N. Poland and the PFC's location in early winter, 2000. Soviet Baltic Front HQ seems incredibly isolated as there are no significant Soviet units within 100km of its position. One could imagine PFC agents' assurances that it would be seized by PFC-loyal forces in a coup-de-main at the opening of the XI Corps' drive.

As it turned out, the PFC's assurances were either overly optomistic or double agents were attempting to deliberately mislead NATO into a very dangerous gambit.
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Old 01-25-2010, 08:01 PM
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Now this is very interesting. Much better than the game lawyer debates.

Yes, this could be what NATO had in mind when the launched the Third German Army with the US XI Corps as the main body in advance, sending the 5th and 8th US Mechanized Division deep into Pact territory.

Having the KGB and GRU turning PFC agent would be key, and explain how the Fourth Soviet Guard Tank Army seem to hit the 5th Mechanized Division head on, instead of happening by chance. It would explain why the Polish weren't pursuing the 5th in earnest and seem not to worry about the Division in their rear. If they knew that the offensive was ongoing because NATO believed they would turn, they didn't have anything to fear from a units who were there to 'liberate' them.

It would explain the reaction of the Third German Army and III German Corps when the Twenty-second Soviet Army and Fourth Soviet Guards Army take come into play.

The resulting units of the Polish military, the bulk of them had chosen to convert much like the 8th and 14th Polish Motorized Division had done, in that several Cities/Towns had much stronger militias/ORMO. Of the remaining that were no longer accepting orders only one Army HQ, one or two Divisions and one Brigade had joined the PFC for the same reason why the others had stop taking orders to absorb or absorb into local militias they were sick of the war and looking for way to end it for their troops.

It seems to be a theme with many on both side regardless if they were NATO and/or Pact Forces. Many of the local commanders in all location had grown tired of the fighting. Most of them knew no matter where their unit had ended up at, they would still in fight for survival. The only ones who seem to wanted to continue the war, were those in high command echelons.
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Old 01-26-2010, 12:14 AM
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I totally disagree. Sending an entire Corps, and entire army really, peicemeal deep into enemy held territory in the hope those enemy units will switch sides after years of conflict is just pure madness.

The only logical aim is that the German III Army was to clear the Baltic coastline of enemy units and secure valuable fishing grounds while also setting up for a drive either southward to encircle Soviet units, or if the situation warrented/allowed, push onwards further east into Russia itself. Either way the ports in northern Poland would be absolutely vital - there's no way the next phase whatever it was could be supported without them.

Any Pact units which did defect would of course be a bonus, but could Nato really trust them? Sure units consist of soldiers from all sorts of nationalities, butyou can bet those from enemy nations would be looked upon with great suspicion. Concentrate those "enemy" nationalities into units and you have the potential for a terrible disaster.

The only way defecting units could really be used is if "loyal" units were watching over their shoulders 24/7. Leave these defecting units on the front lines, but make sure there a damn strong reserve behind them, just in case...

Note also that the Eruopean theatre was originally a war between Germany and Poland and caused essentially by 7 Germanic Poles refusing to obey orders. The Polish military had every right to deal with these insuborinate men as traitors and possibly even execute them.

Germany then invaded. Germany made the first real move. Germany, backed by Nato, is therefore seen to be the agressors and you can bet the Poles and allies would have been spending every waking moment milking that for every possible propaganda advantage they could.

Therefore, with political officers embedded within the Polish units constantly spreading the party line, would an entire Nato Army be risked on the possibility of a few beaten up and understrength units defecting...?
Before answering consider the apparent disparity in forces in the south of Germany/Poland and the ease in which the Pact could have mounted a very effective offensive of their own...
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
I totally disagree. Sending an entire Corps, and entire army really, peicemeal deep into enemy held territory in the hope those enemy units will switch sides after years of conflict is just pure madness.
I said it was a Bold Plan, I never claimed it for a Good Plan. Lots of history is made by over-reaching, or grasping for what looks (in hindsight) to have been ludicrous.

Quote:
The only logical aim is that the German III Army was to clear the Baltic coastline of enemy units and secure valuable fishing grounds while also setting up for a drive either southward to encircle Soviet units, or if the situation warrented/allowed, push onwards further east into Russia itself. Either way the ports in northern Poland would be absolutely vital - there's no way the next phase whatever it was could be supported without them.

Any Pact units which did defect would of course be a bonus, but could Nato really trust them? Sure units consist of soldiers from all sorts of nationalities, butyou can bet those from enemy nations would be looked upon with great suspicion. Concentrate those "enemy" nationalities into units and you have the potential for a terrible disaster.
This is certainly a strong case, yet we have the wily-nilly wanderings of the 5th and 8th Divisions, and the pullback of the III German Corps, leaving US XI Corps out on a limb. I think my version goes a long way to explain these anomalies.

Quote:
The only way defecting units could really be used is if "loyal" units were watching over their shoulders 24/7. Leave these defecting units on the front lines, but make sure there a damn strong reserve behind them, just in case...
...
Therefore, with political officers embedded within the Polish units constantly spreading the party line, would an entire Nato Army be risked on the possibility of a few beaten up and understrength units defecting...?
Stranger things have been attempted. IMO, the German III Corps commander seemed to have pulled back awfully far, I would suggest that he is of the same opinion you are, and considered the operation a fool's errand.

Quote:
Before answering consider the apparent disparity in forces in the south of Germany/Poland and the ease in which the Pact could have mounted a very effective offensive of their own...
See, I think the Soviets were concentrating there for their own offensive, whether or not they were counting on NATO over-extending itself to the north. I haven't "solved" for myself the lack of NATO forces in that region, nor the disorganization that I see.
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
Before answering consider the apparent disparity in forces in the south of Germany/Poland and the ease in which the Pact could have mounted a very effective offensive of their own...
I think this actually supports the Admiral's theory. If NATO believed that most of the Polish units in the north were looking for a fait accompli to turn on the Soviets, it would be worth the gamble. After securing the Baltic coast and the loyalty of the Polish units there, the combined forces would be in a good position to hit the comparitively stronger Soviet forces in western Poland in their long and newly exposed right flank. This alone could prompt the Soviets to pull back, or at least keep them from attacking the weaker NATO forces around Berlin.

There is historical precedent for switching sides during war. It's not that far fetched. During WWII, Romania switched sides, jumping the sinking Axis ship to fight alongside the Soviets whom they'd been fighting against previously. The Italians pulled a similar move. The Finns too, went back and forth a couple of times.

Also, perhaps the PFC provided NATO with the intel surrounding RESET. Part of the 5th ID's seemingly random drive south was aimed at assisting, indirectly at least, in the capture of RESET. I've heard mention that canon hints at this somewhere, although, honestly, I don't know where.
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Old 01-26-2010, 04:55 PM
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Unlike the last days of WWII, neither side has the upper hand and therefore the idea of Polish forces defecting to the winning team is irrelevant.

Yes, the 5th was seemingly out of place, but I believe I've already addressed this in http://forum.juhlin.com/showpost.php...5&postcount=14 Same goes for the 8th.

Reset was an SF operation. The unit tasked with it's retrieval were using the 5th as a cover and unofficial escort to the area before splitting off and entering Lodz on their own. B Coy, 116th ACR were another "parasitic" unit tasked with meeting a contact in central Poland (which they never did) and receiving further intel and orders for their mission (recovery of the Black Maddonna - a mission they still don't know about months later).

We have indications in canon that the Soviets mounted a counteroffensive. We also have clear indications that the US XI Corps was cut off by this counteroffensive. As the XI Corps was the spearhead, it is not unreasonable to assume the soviet thrust split the III German Army in two - the XI Corps to the east and everyone else to the west.

The Soviets undoubtably devoted a sizable force to this thrust. I think we can safely assume at least an Army of 3 divisions (which ones I'll have to check later when I'm home), but probably consisted of as many units as they could muster.

Realistically, the XI Corp was not overextended according to the plan, however due to hold ups in northern Poland and the soviet counteroffensive, the follow on units for the 5th ID never made it, stranding it hundreds of kilometres from friendly lines, the 8th ID moved too far and the 2nd MARDIV, not to mention the rest of XI Corp, pulled back from their easternmost positions further increasing the apparent overreach of the two infantry divisions.
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Old 01-26-2010, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
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Unlike the last days of WWII, neither side has the upper hand and therefore the idea of Polish forces defecting to the winning team is irrelevant.

Yes, the 5th was seemingly out of place, but I believe I've already addressed this in http://forum.juhlin.com/showpost.php...5&postcount=14 Same goes for the 8th.

Reset was an SF operation. The unit tasked with it's retrieval were using the 5th as a cover and unofficial escort to the area before splitting off and entering Lodz on their own. ...

Realistically, the XI Corp was not overextended according to the plan, however due to hold ups in northern Poland and the soviet counteroffensive, the follow on units for the 5th ID never made it, stranding it hundreds of kilometres from friendly lines, the 8th ID moved too far and the 2nd MARDIV, not to mention the rest of XI Corp, pulled back from their easternmost positions further increasing the apparent overreach of the two infantry divisions.
Right, they were not overextended by the plan. I think you and I are just differing about the inputs that led to the plan in the first place-- I am adding that the Polish Free Congress tantalized NATO with the idea of mass defections of Polish formations. Given the anti-Soviet feeling known to exist in Poland, I can see that as a big lure.
The extraordinary mobility of the Fourth Guards Tank Army, and the unreliability of the PFC's agents, were additional elements of sand in the gearbox that collapsed the plan.
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Old 01-26-2010, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
I think this actually supports the Admiral's theory. If NATO believed that most of the Polish units in the north were looking for a fait accompli to turn on the Soviets, it would be worth the gamble. After securing the Baltic coast and the loyalty of the Polish units there, the combined forces would be in a good position to hit the comparitively stronger Soviet forces in western Poland in their long and newly exposed right flank. This alone could prompt the Soviets to pull back, or at least keep them from attacking the weaker NATO forces around Berlin.

There is historical precedent for switching sides during war. It's not that far fetched. During WWII, Romania switched sides, jumping the sinking Axis ship to fight alongside the Soviets whom they'd been fighting against previously. The Italians pulled a similar move. The Finns too, went back and forth a couple of times.

Also, perhaps the PFC provided NATO with the intel surrounding RESET. Part of the 5th ID's seemingly random drive south was aimed at assisting, indirectly at least, in the capture of RESET. I've heard mention that canon hints at this somewhere, although, honestly, I don't know where.
I think the part where it hits at is the back ground both in the Black Madonna and Free City of Krakow. Black Madonna explains B Troop/116th being where they are at. In the Free City of Krakow if the group came across of the shot up SF team they would be warn of Sgt C..... Who claimed to the team he was from the 5th, and led them into an ambush and now the marauder/gang he works with has RESET project paper and what not....
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Old 01-26-2010, 10:31 PM
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Quote:
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Given the anti-Soviet feeling known to exist in Poland, I can see that as a big lure.
I think you're underestimating the anti-German feeling and minimising the importance propganda and political indoctrination would have several years into the war.

Don't forget that in Polish eyes, it was the Germans who started the war by invading. As Poland has been invaded by Germany on several previous occasions, and the last time wasn't exactly describable as a "pleasant" experience, it would be a very steep uphill battle to convince many to defect to the west. This is made even more difficult as Nato is probably seen as supporting the "unprovoked" German invasion.

Without a seriously massive propaganda campaign on the part of Nato aimed squarely at having the Poles defect, I just can't see defection as playing any significant role in the planning. Of course any propaganda campaign couldn't be carried out covertly so it's a given the Soviets would hear about it and act appropriately (probably by moving the Polish units to another area where they couldn't defect without suffering serious repercussions).
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:10 PM
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I would have to agree with Adm.Lee. Yes, Nations have thrown away valuable military assets with misconceptions before. It isn't total unheard of wrong intelligence having misled an entire operation. Just the Russia Navy of 1905, or Germans in 1941 in Soviet Union or French Alliance when it was still Russia in 1812. There was a strong learning curve that both sides had to learn after supply chain dried up.

Seems the Pact and NATO had left certain areas of their respective thin for a reason that can not be easily explain, but do provide plenty of speculation. Maybe the areas that lack troops are area that both side decided wasn't worth a concentration of troops due to destruction/lack of fertile farmland/lack resources.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:18 PM
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One thing I've been intending to do for a while is a study on the actual terrain in the Germany/Poland/Czech areas to see how that might impact on troop movements, etc. I have a suspicion terrain may play a larger part in how various units are deployed than we've thought.

The Fulda Gap for example is described in many references as vital to the sucess of any operation in central Europe. Why this is and how the rest of the area channels movement is well work considering.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:29 PM
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The Fulda Gap for example is described in many references as vital to the sucess of any operation in central Europe. Why this is and how the rest of the area channels movement is well work considering.
Are any of the members of this forum former US Army armor or mech infantry who were posted to Germany? I'm sure they'd know. And ex-BAOR soldiers to I'd guess.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:32 PM
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A brief glance at Wiki appears to show Fulda as further west than the "front" in 2000. Still, other terrain feature are likely to be important, how much so remains to be seen.
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:09 AM
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Regarding the feeling of the Polish population regarding Germany and Germans vs the feeling they have towards Russia and Russians. The Poles don't like Germans, there is obvious relatively recent historical examples as to why, but they also have longstanding issues with the Russians as well, and there is significant resentment in Poland of Russia on a cultural level. Many Poles feel that Poland should be the centre of slavic culture, and not Russia.
This is another reason why US XI Corps is sent to link up and possible encourage defection of Polish Army units as suggested above in the 2000 summer offensive. I don't think it's a good plan, but it does make sense in following the core idea of this thread.
Regarding the Polish Free Congress, I have always called it the Polish Government in Exile, and linked it to the actual government which had continuity with the Pre-WWII polish government, and possessed some of the key artifacts of authority in Poland until the early 1991's when they gov't in exile recognized the post coldwar democratically elected polish government...
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Old 01-27-2010, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
I think you're underestimating the anti-German feeling and minimising the importance propganda and political indoctrination would have several years into the war.

Don't forget that in Polish eyes, it was the Germans who started the war by invading.
I don't think I am underestimating that feeling, but also recognizing the anti-Russian & anti-Soviet feelings. As of the end of 1999, the Germans aren't now in Poland, but the Soviets still are. If the Grand Plan works, there won't be either in Poland. Since we can be sure the Polish government-in-exile is anti-Communist, I'm suggesting that they weight that more strongly.

Anti-German and anti-NATO propaganda by the Polish Communist government and Pact, and the invasion by the Germans, should be a contributing factor why the Polish soldiers don't all defect. [War-weariness should be another.]
I am willing to consider that a flaw in the plan was that the PFC hoped that only American and/or British troops would be the forces involved in the 2000 offensive, but NATO didn't/couldn't/wouldn't make that happen. The presence of the German forces following the American XI Corps fed into anti-German feeling, and some Poles that might have switched sides, didn't.

Sidebar: I wonder who in Krakow, the PFC might have tried to sway to their side? Who would they see as leaning their way, and who could promise to switch over (whether or not he meant it)? Kutrzeba or Bohusz-Szyszko? I haven't read the module in a long time, but the former seems like the guy to do that. What about Filipowicz?
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Old 01-27-2010, 12:20 PM
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Don't underestimate anti-Russian, anti-Soviet sentiment either. Their track record regarding interaction with Poland isn't so great either. Don't forget that the Soviet Union invaded and occupied the eastern not-quite-half of Poland in '39 and then set up a one-party, police, puppet state starting in '44, after kicking back on the east bank of the Vistula and watching the Home Army uprising in Warsaw get stomped by the worst of the German military.

Poland was one of the more uppity of the Soviet satellites.

And I'm sure that Soviet requests (read: demands) for material and military assistance in its war against China would cause some resentment. Heck, in the eyes of many Poles, the USSR started the war.

The offer of self government given by the PFC and its American allies might have been very attractive to many Poles tired of Soviet domination.
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Old 01-27-2010, 12:24 PM
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There is an old Polish tale about the last days of September 1939. A squad of Polish soldiers were surrounded and their NCO crawled up to them.

I've got good news boys," he said, "the Russians are a hundred meters to the East and the Germans are a hundred meters to the West so we get to choose who we fight."

The soldiers grabbed their guns and headed West, one said, "Ah well, buisiness before pleasure."
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:51 PM
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One also has to remember the German Autobahn system would help/hinder things too depending on how things were working for each side.

One of the things I do remember looking up the old map related to the 14th ACR or 11th ACR. It showed where in relation their base was compare to the border.

I also do remember that this was the Northern flank of CentAG.
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
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The Fulda Gap for example is described in many references as vital to the sucess of any operation in central Europe. Why this is and how the rest of the area channels movement is well work considering.
The Fulda Gap is on the inter-German (DDR/FRG) border. It's a valley between two wooded hill masses, and points more or less directly west into the Ruhr. Thus the US put the 11th ACR at one end to screen it, and V (or VII?) Corps at the other end. Most of the time that I played GDW's Third World War or VG's NATO wargames, a Soviet drive there was not a terrific idea. Bashing through the Benelux and British worked much better. {Dumping 3 divisions of paratroopers on the ReForGer sites worked MUCH better!}
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:37 PM
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Very true, however I'm sure we all understand the importance of terrain and how easily it can be ignored when all we look at is two dimensional maps...
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:15 AM
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That's why I consult wargame maps as often as possible.
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