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Old 03-17-2010, 04:48 PM
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Raellus Raellus is online now
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Default T2K: State of the U.S. Army in the late Twilight War

Here is a little "essay" that I've been working on for a while. I thought I would take the plunge and share it here. It's a work in progress and constructive criticisms and suggestion are welcome (please be gentle). The section on Organization, IMO, is pretty weak. The rest are a collection of my thoughts on what the U.S. Army- and most other armies- would look in the later years of the Twilight War.


After nearly three years of heavy combat, and two years removed from significant replacements of men and equipment, by 2000, the U.S. Army in Europe is a shadow of its pre-war self. Nevertheless, with no peace in sight, adjustments were made at all levels to allow the remains of the U.S. Army to continue to fight its Soviet and Warsaw Pact counterparts.


With most supply depots either destroyed by tactical nuclear strikes or emptied of their contents, keeping the troops in the field fed and clothed had become increasingly difficult by the year 2000. As early as 1998, commanders in the field received orders instructing them to live off of the land. The massive American logistics system had almost completely broken down and could keep only a handful of units supplied at mere fraction of their operational requirements. Creative, proactive commanders quickly secured food producing areas and either employed civilian farmers or tasked available troops to begin cultivation of crops for food and fuel production. Commanders that neglected matters of supply soon found their troops approaching starvation and were forced to requisition food, sometimes by force, from the local population, greatly harming the U.S. Army’s civilian relations in the affected areas.

Prepackaged combat rations and other processed foodstuffs became increasingly scarce as 2000 dawned. Although MREs and the like were still issued as emergency rations, hard-baked bread, cured meats, canned goods, and field-brewed beer had become far more familiar as combat rations as the war grinded on. Field uniforms were routinely used far past the point of viability. Civilians were frequently employed mending or even making various items of uniform. As well as weapons, helmets, and body armor, hard to make uniform items like boots and LBE were routinely stripped from the dead and reissued. Overall, a certain DIY ethos developed as field units were forced to become increasingly self-sufficient.


By the year 2000, the means to transport the limited quantities of food, fuel, and ammunition that were available to the front line troops had also become scarce. NATO’s supplies of military trucks had been winnowed down by attrition due both to enemy action and to extended hard use. A dearth of spare parts made repairing damaged or broken down vehicles incredibly difficult. Damaged and broken down vehicles were cannibalized to provide spare parts for other vehicles. Due to their mobile role, priority in motorized transport was given to the Army’s armored and mechanized divisions. Infantry divisions had to find other means to move their supplies and equipment. Horses in occupied areas were requisitioned and simple yet functional wheeled carriages were fashioned out of truck parts. Horse-drawn wagons soon became a common sight in the rear areas of units on both sides of the conflict and they were soon tasked in hauling much of the standard infantry divisions’ artillery as well as their supplies. In this regard, as in many others, armies in the year 2000 resembled the German and Soviet armies of WWII.

Although NATO armies typically did not create horse cavalry units on anything approaching the scope or scale of the Soviet and Polish armies, smaller horse-mounted combat units were developed and deployed. Typically, horse mounted units were not encountered in NATO armies in anything larger than battalion size. More often, horse cavalry units operated at company or platoon size. These units were usually employed for reconnaissance, screening larger units during advances or withdrawals, and rear-area security operations. Although not as fast as, and more vulnerable than, wheeled vehicles, horse cavalry’s cross-country mobility was unsurpassed. An example of a horse cavalry unit in U.S. Army service is the 5th Mechanized Infantry Division’s reconnaissance battalion, the 4th squadron of the 12th cavalry, which preceded the division’s ultimately disastrous raid into northern Poland in the summer of 2000.

In order to increase the mobility of units that lacked sufficient motorized transportation, several attempts were made to reintroduce the concept of bicycle-mounted units. Some army battalions were converted to bicycle infantry. These units often served as their parent regiment’s mobile reserve.

Replacement Personnel

By late 1998, the flow of replacement troops from the United States slowed to a trickle. Those troops that did arrive in the ETO were poorly trained and marginally equipped with heavy weapons. Supply simply could not keep up with demand. Heavy combat losses could not be replaced at anything approaching a 1 for 1 basis. If fact, only about 10% of all combat losses from mid 1998 were replaced by American troops from the CONUS. Battlefield commanders were forced to find replacement combat troops from among the thousands of rear echelon soldiers already in theater. By 2000, this pool was considerably smaller than it had been in the war’s first two years. In many cases, rear echelon troops had suffered more from tactical nuclear strikes against the operational rear areas than front line combat troops had.

First to be pulled for front line duty were the pilots and ground crew of air force and army units who, due to aircraft losses and the scarcity of fuel and spare parts for what few aircraft remained, found themselves surplus to requirements. Then dedicated air defense troops who, by mid 1998, had largely lost their raison de etre, were drafted into Army units. Finally beached navy personnel, their ships destroyed or damaged beyond repair in the fierce fleet and small unit actions of 1997 and ’98, were called upon to serve in ground combat formations (when local circumstances permitted, navy personnel were usually assigned as replacements for Marine infantry units). Although some naval infantry and Air Force field units were formed during the Twilight War’s later years, these units were usually relatively small. The majority of surplus Air Force and Navy personnel were integrated into existing Army units. By early 2000 around 35% of all divisional personnel were former Air Force, Navy, and Army aviation and air defense troops.

Another method for increasing the fighting strength of American ground combat units was reducing the amount of time wounded servicemen (and women) spent convalescing before returning to active duty. Soldiers who in previous wars would have been sent home with a “million dollar wound” were cycled back into combat units. Soldiers with more serious wounds- those missing limbs, for example- were often assigned to logistics services.

After 1997, it became increasingly common to encounter troops from allied militaries serving in American combat units. Field commanders, desperate for experienced manpower, often made little or no effort to return stranded allied personnel (often wounded troops returning to duty after receiving treatment in American medical facilities) to their original units. Although many of these men deserted and returned to their own forces when the opportunity presented itself, hundreds (if not thousands) of allied troops elected to remain in their assigned American units after developing strong bonds with their new American comrades in arms. Therefore, it was not uncommon to meet British and German soldiers serving in American units (and vice-versa). Less common, but also present in American fighting units by 2000, were Canadians, Danes, Dutch, and even Australian troops.

In addition to allied troops, some former enemy troops were also eventually incorporated into U.S. army units. Enemy defectors were often employed as translators and guides. POW camps throughout the ETO were canvassed for enemy combat personnel deemed safe/stable enough to be employed as laborers or supply troops. As time wore on, many of these defectors and former prisoners found their way into combat formations. By 2000, it was not unusual to encounter former enemy combatants serving in U.S. Army line infantry units. Although there were some notable exceptions, for the most part, former enemy soldiers were assimilated piecemeal into existing American units rather than being organized wholesale into nationally homogenous “foreign legions”.

This fresh infusion of military personnel, a large proportion of which was relatively untrained and inexperienced in ground combat, was still not nearly enough to replace the devastating losses suffered by combat units. In order to free up more American soldiers for combat duty, rear echelon troops had to be culled for combat replacements. More and more duties traditionally fulfilled by rear-echelon troops were turned over to local civilian volunteers. Most supply production and distribution duties were entrusted to local civilian “contactors”. In some cases where volunteers were not forthcoming, civilians were “conscripted”. Field commanders who were able to recruit and employ willing civilian workers in these essential noncombat tasks were able to significantly increase the fighting ability of their units.


By 2000, most United States army and Marine divisions were operating at around a third of their authorized operational strengths, oftentimes much less. This posed numerous organizational and operational complications for field commanders. In many cases, shattered brigades were disbanded and their surviving personnel used as replacements for other units. The number of maneuver battalions in each brigade was often reduced. Infantry companies routinely operated at around pre-war TOE platoon strength. Most armored brigades contained only enough functional MBTs to equip a single tank battalion. Due to heavy losses in IFVs and APCs, mechanized infantry divisions were often forced to reequip at least one of their brigades with trucks, some of which were lightly armored by field depots. Wherever possible, captured enemy vehicles were used to supplement the dwindling supplies of domestically manufactured vehicles and were often organized into separate units. For example, a mechanized infantry battalion might contain one company mounted in M2 Bradley IFVs, another in M113 APCs, and a third equipped with captured BMP-2s. As with combat personnel, allied AFVs were often claimed by American units. For example, in July of 2000, the U.S. 2nd Marine Division listed a former Bundeswher Leopard III on its rolls.

In order to mislead enemy military intelligence as to NATO units’ actual strengths, and to provide whatever morale boost divisional identity and tradition may have given its members, divisional designations were maintained.

Late in the Twilight War, Divisional, brigade, and regimental HQs routinely operated with reduced staffs. Battalions, companies, and platoons were often commanded officers of lower grade than their established TOEs called for. Many platoons were commanded by NCOs. Field commissions were granted in abundance but the Army bureaucracy was so broken down that many of those commissions were never officially recognized.
Author of Twilight 2000 adventure modules, Rook's Gambit and The Poisoned Chalice, the campaign sourcebook, Korean Peninsula, and co-author of Tara Romaneasca, a campaign sourcebook for Romania, all available for purchase on DriveThruRPG:

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