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  #1  
Old 01-09-2010, 07:49 AM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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Default Where would of the Soviet Offensive would have hit...

Okay here something I have wonder. Where would the Soviet and Pact Forces had hit in 2000 if it wasn't for the US XI Corps and Third German Army limited offensive that led to the destruction of the 5th US Division.

They had plenty on their plate. From attacking the NATO in the South, to pacifying some Poles, Czech, and I am sure others that weren't playing by the Soviet rules at this time.

They had 4th Guard Tank Army with all that stock of fuel. The 22nd Cavalry Army which probably would of been used in supporting attack along the northern flank if they did pushed into southern Germany. Even the 10th Guard Tank Division of the 3rd Shock Army which after having been stripped to re-equip and re-inforce other units had gotten a real lousy replacement of 3000 troops that they couldn't speak too with several very burned out T-55.

Take in the fact that it seems the 3rd Shock Army had been guarding large supply depots....

Could the Soviets moved said units without NATO realizing it until they got blindsided. Much like the 5th Mechanized Division was when the 4th Guard Tank Army hit them in force.

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Old 01-09-2010, 11:57 AM
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Based on the units I've plotted on my summer 2000 map, the Soviets have an overwhelming manpower and AFV advantage on the Berlin-Cottbus axis. There are only a couple of British divisions in their way, and most of them are situated well behind the front lines (west of Berlin).

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...1,9.854736&z=7

Also, the Soviets have an army in western Byelorussia (the 9th Guards Tank Army) with 9000 men and 48 tanks which could be used to support offensive operations in Poland. This leaves the 1st Byelorussian Army HQ (86th AAB & 7th Guards Tank Army w/ 5900 men and 2 tanks) to perform internal security duties in Byelorussia and deal with the mutinous 3rd GTD.
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Old 01-09-2010, 05:25 PM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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Yes, but Berlin by this time is much like Warsaw. In Ruins, not much to gain there. So what would they be planning....
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Old 01-09-2010, 06:51 PM
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Since the American forces in Germany are arguably the most "fragile" (no replacement troops or equipment easily available), I would think they might want to hit them first.

Or, maybe one could hit the British hard enough that whatever British government remains would call them home?

Either way, the strategic goal would be to weaken NATO as much as possible with this asset. If NATO is weakened enough, maybe some kind of cease-fire can be arranged on terms advantageous to the Pact.

IMO, the best deal for the USSR would be to quit fighting on the terms they had-- the Germans are on their side of the Oder, and are in no shape to drive across Poland for a generation or so.
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Old 01-09-2010, 07:04 PM
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Without addressing the likelihood of such a plan, I propose that the Soviets might have been planning to keep 4th Guards Tank Army as a strategic reserve. They were having more and more trouble with units not following orders, etc. Perhaps 4th Guards Tank Army was intended to act as a fire brigade, moving from place to place to knock down local warlords, marauders, rebels, and anyone generally not on board with Stavka's thinking. The Soviets have long been obsessed with internal security. The internal security situation was breaking down badly after 1998. The creation of a strong, mobile reserve in Belarus would have enabled the Soviets to move quickly and decisively against any of the numerous internal threats in Poland, Belarus, the western Ukraine, Lithuania, western Russia, or Slovakia, as well as parrying any moves by NATO.

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Old 01-09-2010, 08:05 PM
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In Mediterranean Cruise we have the source of the fuel used by the 4'th Tank Army...

Quote:
With the strategic exchanges of late 1997, the Ploesti oil fields
of Romania were the subject of some nuclear strikes, but for
reasons not completely understood, the refineries and oil production
facilities were not completely destroyed and were beginning
to become operational again by mid-2000. By the fall, these
fields had produced enough petroleum to fuel a last Soviet
counteroffensive in Europe (the one referred to in the basic game
which destroyed the U.S. 5th Mechanized Infantry Division),
which brought the active phase of the war to a messy
conclusion.

ALSO NOTE:

Quote:
The only major Soviet force remaining in Europe after December
of 2000 was the Danube Front of the Southwestern TVD

(Teatr Voennikh Deystivy, Theater of Military Operations), consisting
of the 38th Army and the 3rd Guards Tank Army. Located
in the Bucharest-Ploesti area, these forces are currently making
use of one of the few refinery complexes in the world not
destroyed by the war to provide fuel. These two armies represent
the last viable tank forces in Europe.
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Old 01-09-2010, 08:20 PM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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That is my thought as it wasn't suppose to attack NATO. I think it was more of unit that would be threaten of use if someone didn't follow orders.

It goes with Soviet tradition to have large mobile reserve behind the front for clean up. I am sure for couple years after WWII they spent several weeks mopping up the mess that they inherited after WWII.

The Northern Ukraine is about where you would want one decent size mobile Army that could be used to respond in Western Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and possibly toward Iran. At the time there were many threats to the Soviet Union and Stavka. With the number of the Divisional commanders realizing that any further offensive action weather it was in Europe or the Middle East wouldn't change much except maybe more lives of troops they needed. For reinforcements and resupply from Stavka were few and far in between. Remember the ones who opposing the NATO units probably didn't see neither since sometime in 1998 from the Soviet Union.
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Old 01-10-2010, 05:19 AM
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I've been spending a LOT of time on exactly this question of late in preparation for writing up my take on the Soviet side of the Summer 2000 campaign.
It is my belief that the 4th Guards Tank Army was intended as a reserve unit for the offensive, and perhaps to exploit any breakthrough.

There was most certainly a Soviet offensive in 2000. The only definate reference to this however can be found on page 46 of the Survivors Guide to the United Kingdom in the 6th Airmobile Brigade unit history.
Quote:
During the Soviet counteroffensive in 2000, the unit was flung into the attack and was one of the first NATO units to react. A heavy price was paid for this, and the unit was almost destroyed. After the battle the unit was pulled out of front line service for a refit. It remains in Hannover as part of the British Cantonment there.
This was written as of the 1st of January 2001. It is also interesting to note that the British consolidated their forces in the Hannover to Magdeburg area in early 2000, yet the map in the 2.0 yellow book (alleged to be 01JUL00) has one UK unit (the 5th Mechanised) on the other side of Berlin, over 100km north east of Berlin (Bernau) and 250-300km from it's listed position in both the Nato Vehicle Guide (01JUL00) and UK book (01JAN01) - Hildesheim.

What does this tell me? Well, obviously we have two positions for one unit almost 300km apart on the same day - quite possibly a typo. Up until 01JUL00 the unit history also states this unit remained in the Hildesheim area since February 2000.

I would therefore say that given the information from the 6th Airmobile Brigade, and the two locations for the 5th Mechanised Division, the Soviet offensive occured, at a minimum, in the region to the north of Berlin, and was possibly intended to cut off the US XI Corp (an objective which as shown below was reached).

This is reinforced by the information presented in Going Home that the US XI Corp (less the 5th and 8th ID's obviously) are cut off from withdrawing to Bremerhaven as part of OMEGA.

Additionally, the Situation section of the Omega operations order shows us that:
Quote:
Warsaw Pact forces (1st Western Front, 2nd Western Front, 1st Southwestern Front, and 2nd Southwestern Front) have established a static front line through central Germany along the line Zwickau-Dresden-Frankfurt-Szczecin.
Furthermore, examination of the Soviet unit locations between 01JUL00 and information provided in Going Home, show that Soviet units on the front line north of Cottbus have moved anything up to 140km eastward (the further north the starting point, the further the unit has moved.

This tells me that fighting was most likely fiercest in the north where UK 5th Mech is shown to be on the map.

What units are holding the line mentioned in the Operations Order is unknown - it appears to be clear ground all the way from Szczecin to the ruins of Gorzow Wielkop. My guess is it is still being heavily patrolled (or teeming with marauders) and the remnants of the US XI Corp simply doesn't have the strength, or more importantly, fuel and ammunition to move into this area. Chances are they'd have to travel almost to Berlin before they could find a bridge to cross the Oder.

Polish units on the whole remain in the same location in Going Home as shown at 01JUL00. Some limited movement has taken place in the southern most Polish units, but this is no more than 30km and appears mainly to represent a consolidation of force perhaps in the face of the US XI Corp to the north west.
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  #9  
Old 01-10-2010, 08:31 AM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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That what I mean seems like they lot of time and energy. That GDW apparently not keeping track on where they had placed units by various dates as far as some of the NATO units.

Like I state before a Soviet Division with 3000 - 8000 would mean that the division was at worse off third of the strength starting off, up to three-quarters of their strength at the upper end. Many of the ones I remember being at 4000-5000 range were effectively at half strength. Now contrast this against the US Divisions were if they were lucky enough to have 5000 troop they were still at third of their authorized strength if it was Mechanized/Armored and 3500 - 4000 for the Light Infantry and Infantry units.

As for looking at the AFVs they have listed, by 2000 on both side many kept tracks in front line even if they had parts of the equipment that needed to desperately repair. Such as tracks where the main gun was non operational, due to damage or lack of resupply of ammo. Even M2 or BMP could wreck havoc on locality if show up unexpectedly. The HMMWVs and similar vehicle at this time, which were never meant to be front line fighting vehicle were pressed more and more into those roles to make up differences.

Granted a T-72 that has only MG operational at this time would make a grand impression upon the opposing troops, especially those lacking any AT weapon to counter it.

What I have trouble with is by all writings by GDW. The Soviets power and control had faded and was fading away quickly in Eastern Europe by the end of 2000. Even reading the Middle East stuff in Iran it seemed that the chains of the centralized control from Moscow or where ever Stavka was located at were waning fast. Even the civilian side the Interior Minister and KGB units were same could be said to lesser degree. The writers more or less stated that Soviet war in Europe would be over by then end of 2000.

So was the 4th Guard Tank Army rush to stop the US XI Corps a knee jerk reaction? I don't think this Tank Army was part of any planned offensive the Soviet had for against NATO. There were too many problem in the Ukraine that needed to be sorted with. Ukraine as well as the Transcaucasian Military Districts, were in stages of having open rebellion.

The 22nd Cavalry Army seem to be of more use where they were to. The Baltic were themselves in varying states of open rebellion and could of been used up to the north.

What the Soviets 1st Southwestern Front and 2nd Southwestern front as I remember seemed more than large enough to handle push into Germany by themselves without having to reinforcements sent from the Soviet Union itself. I think what was left of NATO (the Germans) had been quite impress with the speed that the Soviets were able to move the 22nd Cavalry Army and 4th Guards Tanks Army enough, that even if they had the means to continue the war, they would always have to wonder what rabbit was Stavka could pull out of the hat.

the 38th Army and the 3rd Guards Tank Army, located in the Bucharest-Ploesti area would have to stay put for the Soviets to have any chance of regaining control of the Ukraine and further into the Soviet Union.

It is one of the thing that GDW were to obsess with figuring out what happen to the US and the front lines in Europe. They seemed to ignore everything else, even the Middle East stuff they published was more or less influence by the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and efforts the Soviet previous operation against Iran in the past, which ironical also foreshadowed the future to a bit too.

From what I remember reading the GDW actually 'played' the game out, to get the story-line for the start. One of the things I found lacking was their Far East was rarely touched upon and the internal working of the Soviet wasn't touch at all. Same with Norway and Sweden they aren't reference much, and Spain and Portugal seem to be missing except for reference in certain modules. Same with most of Africa, South America, and South Pacific, many of these locals seem to be largely ignored which is sad since when they started out they had full head of steam that seemed to have lost track some where after they had published the first 5 module or so dealing with the destruction of the 5th Mechanized Division and the pulling out of US Forces from Europe. Then when they shifted to CONUS seems things seemed to have gotten lost. I don't know, I would of love to see a more diverse line up in the original product. Getting off my soap box of a rant.
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Old 01-10-2010, 03:35 PM
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Nice work, Legbreaker. Based on all of the available evidence that you've cited, your synthesis makes quite a lot of sense. Just looking at the map you can tell something is wrong with the picture and that the Soviets are in a good position for a significant operational/strategic offensive into German territory in July of 2000. Thanks for doing the legwork and putting the pieces together.

And I believe that somewhere in canon it does mention that the Soviet 4th GTA was supplied with gasoline as it was intended for offensive operations. U.S. 5th ID's appearance preempted said offensive and the 4th GTA was employed instead in destroying it. It makes little sense to supply a GTA with gas for the purposes of a local counterattack. Furthermore, 4th GTA's exhaustion around Kalisz doesn't necessarily mean that the Soviet Army in Poland was unable to carry out an offensive. As you can see on the maps, the Soviets clearly win the correlation of forces east of Berlin. A drive west on that axis could split Germany and the NATO forces in half. And as I pointed out, there are still two GTAs in Byelorussia- enough for a strategic reserve should things go badly in the west and to keep Byelorussia from following suit with Ukraine.

As for political will, perhaps the Soviet's summer offensive, on a strategic level, was one last gasp attempt to secure German soil as a bargaining chip since the Soviets knew that they could neither sustain offensive operations on such a scale, nor hang on to the German territory that it seized. On an operational level, splitting the NATO forces in Germany in half would hopefully force them back in disarray, thereby allowing the Red army to push the entire front west without too much heavy fighting along its entire lenght. in WWII Bagration (launched in July of '44) forced the Wermacht west along the entire front, from S. Ukraine to the Baltic states even though it was directed at Army Group Center.

Perhaps the Summer 2000 Soviet Offensive was called Bagration II.
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Old 01-10-2010, 04:20 PM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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Yes it seems that that the forces that the Soviet had retained in Poland and Germany could of easily split the NATO force easily.

Like I was asking what was the purpose of the 4th GTA. What were they being held in reserve for. With two other GTA's to the north, and I am sure they received a limit supply of fuel too. Or could there have been an Offensive planned for later with the three GTA's into Germany at a later date. With the what they the Soviets had sent to the 10th Guard Tank Division it seems they were planning something big. And GTA and TA wouldn't of been used for security duty, but used for breakthroughs.
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Old 01-10-2010, 04:59 PM
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Sometimes, thinking about the world situation in 2000-2005 in T2K and wonder, "Why isn't everyone pulled into fortified cantonments?" Kind of hunkered down and worrying about themselves.

Then I realize that it's the nature of humans to want more than they have, want better than they have, and unfortunately, to want to project their power to gain what they want. Hence, the march of war would continue.
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Old 01-10-2010, 05:30 PM
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Sadly, Paul, I believe you are correct.

Abbot, I think that 4th GTA would have been slated as part of the planned summer offensive described by Legbreaker.

Here's an idea. Perhaps the Soviets were planning a penetration of the thinly held line around Berlin by the 1st GTA followed by a hook to the right towards the Baltic coast by 4th GTA, cutting German 3rd Army off in a pocket. 4th GTA (with Polish 10th TD), with its gasoline, would have been well suited for the long envelopment operation while the Polish 1st and 2nd Armies and 1st PTA (Soviet Baltic Front HQ) could have been assigned the reduction of the pocket by attacking westward once the pocket was formed by Soviet 4th GTA. This operation could well destroy an entire NATO army (3rd German), capture some prime cantonment land, secure northern Poland, and threaten northern Germany and even Denmark.

This operation is modest but ambitious, has concrete and achievable objectives, and would, if successful, clear northern Poland of NATO forces and completely turn NATO's northern flank, paving the way for further offensive operations.
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Old 01-10-2010, 05:56 PM
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My feeling is that a general offensive along the entire front in Germany was planned with the 4th GTA to be used to bolster either the north, or south section, whichever was showing the greatest chance of success.

Why were they issued with petroleum? Firstly, and possibly formost, for the suprise factor. The entire Army was reported to be in the Ukraine and unable to reach the front for months if running on alcohol. If Nato had been sufficiently dug in and prepared, the Pact units already in the area, while numerically stronger, would probably have a tough time making much headway. Nato command might even think they could hold without radical redeployment of units.

The Pact plan was probably banking on Nato remaining where they were and not shifting reinforcements about (which appear to have consisted almost solely of the entirety British forces in Europe - roughly half a dozen divisions). The presence of the 4th GTA in the area would have caused a serious Nato rethink....

Secondly, the 4th GTA were issued with petroleum over a period of time, not in one, short sharp delivery - there simply wouldn't have been sufficent transportation for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of litres in one go. Therefore we can assume that the 4th's move was planned a very long time in advance.

Rae, I like your thinking. I might actually use that as one of the possible goals of the Pact offensive (the other perhaps turning south and cutting off the units there against the Italians and Czechs, the 4th and other Soviet units in the area then becoming the anvil while the Italians and Czechs were the hammer).

Regardless, the Pact offensive was actually more sucessful than one may initially think. Although they didn't catch the full III German Army, they did get about half of it - the US XI Corps. While not destroyed (if you ignore the 5th ID), they have been rendered ineffectual and are unlikely to cause any further significant problems for the Pact (as long as the Pact can avoid falling apart entirely). Heavy on tanks and heavy equipment, the fuel requirement to shift the two largest surviving components of the XI Corp (50th AD and 2nd MarDiv) is likely to force them to remain immobile for months to come.
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Old 01-10-2010, 05:59 PM
Abbott Shaull Abbott Shaull is offline
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Well the way thing were why stop there, they could of ran toward the Rhine while they were at it. There was little opposing them once and if they were able to do that.

Paul, you would think they would of been doing that instead of trying to be greedy. There will be plenty of communities that would like nothing more than better. The population would be in general like to be left alone, fight when they have too, but in general left alone.
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:12 PM
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Doesn't the Eastern European Sourcebook deal with this matter?
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:13 PM
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We currently know next to nothing about the Pact objective. It is logical however to assume that Nato jumped first radically changing the Pact's plans from an all encompassing offensive, to a counter offensive.
It is also probable that their offensive's aims were not all that great. Pact units of all readiness categories had been mutinying since 1997/98 and so we can assume that generally morale wasn't all that high. Therefore, the Pact command wouldn't be all that confident they could manage more than fairly limited gains.
However, the more success a unit sees, the better their morale is likely to be. The Pact command would be aware of this and may well had organised their plan into stages - ie. if objective A was reached, then objective B would be considered, then if B was reached and the troops were still behaving, they'd move on to C, and so on...
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Old 01-12-2010, 03:33 AM
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In preparation for writing up the possible course of the last Soviet offensive/counter offensive of the war, I need to map out unit movements, hopefully month to month, for the preceeding year or two. I'll need to cover from Finland right down to the Mediterranean.

Ideally I'd be able to add notes to each unit on the map, most being little more than to identify their higher command, but also more detailed info up to a paragraph or more.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how this can be easily done and programs which would be suitable?
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Old 01-12-2010, 02:10 PM
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I don't think there would have been an offensive in 2000 had the 3rd German Army not crossed into Poland. I think the gasoline fueled units would have been used to hunt down and destroy rebelious units in the Soviet interior, in an effort to shore up the declining domestic position of the CPSU. the Baltics, Belarussia, and the Ukraine immediately come to mind.
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Old 01-12-2010, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
Why were they issued with petroleum? Firstly, and possibly formost, for the suprise factor. The entire Army was reported to be in the Ukraine and unable to reach the front for months if running on alcohol. If Nato had been sufficiently dug in and prepared, the Pact units already in the area, while numerically stronger, would probably have a tough time making much headway. Nato command might even think they could hold without radical redeployment of units.

Secondly, the 4th GTA were issued with petroleum over a period of time, not in one, short sharp delivery - there simply wouldn't have been sufficent transportation for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of litres in one go. Therefore we can assume that the 4th's move was planned a very long time in advance.
The question of the original intent for Fourth Guards Tank Army is very interesting. I have written a number of ideas on the subject over the past couple of days. Each draft leads to more material. (Not convenient, as I have been trying to finish a piece for Thunder Empire) In essence, I think one could go either towards seeing the Fourth Guards Tank Army as the operational exploitation force for a Pact strategic offensive into Germany in the summer of 2000 or as a mobile reaction force for the Western TVD that happened to be used against the NATO summer offensive. The difference between the two ideas is one of interpretation of the intent of a handful of senior surviving Soviets about whom we know nothing at all.

We know that Fourth Guards Tank Army received the entire monthly output of the Ploesti oil fields. Regardless of the quantity of fuel this represents, as one-twelfth fraction of an absolutely critical strategic reserve, the investment in the mobility of Fourth Guards Tank Army is massive. Legbreaker is right on target that this sort of investment requires a great deal of lead time, which implies a great deal of planning.

We know a few other factors that will impact the thinking of the senior Soviets. The fighting in 1998 will have demonstrated that mechanized armies have extremely limited endurance, given the incredible imbalance between the need for fuel, ammunition, and spare parts and the ability of the respective supply systems to provide these resources. No doubt the Soviets will notice that the infantry and their light support weapons now are the centerpiece of any kind of prolonged campaign. The armored fighting vehicles still pack a powerful punch, but their effective range and endurance will have contracted so much by mid-1998 that a complete re-thinking of military doctrine is in order. This is not to say that mechanized action is abandoned; mechanized forces are as effective as ever, provided they can be kept in supply and repair. However, correlating military planning with the new, logarithmically downgraded logistical situation of both sides means that mechanized forces take a back seat to light infantry action.

We see this emphasis on light infantry in the v1 chronology, which states that deep raids by infantry define the operations of 1999. I agree with Legbreaker and others that 1999 is a year of readjustment, although I would not go so far as to label said readjustment as true reconstruction. While I don’t doubt that as much reconstruction as can be executed is carried out, I think the activity being undertaken is more that of adjusting to cope with the decentralized, somewhat de-specialized post-Exchange economy. This is a somewhat clinical way of saying that everyone is adapting to the fact that growing and distributing 1,000 calories of food takes vastly more labor than it did in 1996, thanks to the disruption of the petroleum supply system. The breakdown in the transportation system means that every region must now grow its own food, so the ability for regions to specialize in particular types of labor is dramatically reduced. Also, the breakdown in the transportation system means that raw materials and finished goods can’t travel very far, further limiting the economies of scale enjoyed by pre-Exchange industry—even where highly specialized facilities and expertise aren’t required.

The Soviets and NATO probably both realize that any future major offensive action will require very careful stockpiling. I wonder if either or both sides don’t plan some sort of action during 1999 but discover that the logistical realities simply don’t support such plans. In any event, the ongoing infantry actions continue to gather intelligence on the enemy’s disposition, though obviously the intelligence becomes sketchier as one tries to look further into the enemy’s rear.

For the Soviets, 1999 is a transformational year. A lot of divisions go rogue. I counted at least six divisions in the Ukraine as turning marauder or rebel, depending on how one interprets the limited information in the Soviet Vehicle Guide. The Central Asian and Transcaucasian republics also begin to throw off the yoke of central control in 1999. Late in 1999 would be an appropriate time for the remaining Soviet senior leadership to plan for providing Fourth Guards Tank Army with a major stockpile of gasoline. The remaining question is what they intend to do with that gasoline.

If we are choosing between seeing a uniquely mobile Fourth Guards Tank Army as offensive weapon versus an essentially defensive weapon, we should ask ourselves which option will be perceived as providing the Soviets with the greatest measure of security. Is it better to attack Germany or improve internal security in the western Soviet Union and some of Eastern Europe?

There are strong arguments for using Fourth Guards Tank Army in an attack on Germany. The Germans have been a problem three times already in a century. Although the nuclear exchange has wrecked Germany as a modern industrial nation, the same can be said of the USSR. If the front lines settle where they are in late 1999, Germany is basically reunited. The whole war was fought to prevent this. Granted, the toppling of modern civilization has dramatically altered the context and meaning of German reunification. Still, the Germans are a disciplined and driven people. In twenty or thirty years, they might emerge from the ruins as a new great power and once more cast their baleful gazes eastward. Certainly, any self-respecting Russian would want to see Germany damaged as badly as possible. Ideally, Germany could be re-divided and NATO finally defeated in the field.

From this standpoint, the provision of Fourth Guards Tank Army with a high degree of operational mobility makes good sense. Soviet doctrine entails the use of combined arms armies to create gaps in the enemy defenses which are then exploited by tank armies in follow-on. If we see the Pact forces in place in western Poland and southeastern Germany as the combined arms armies, then Fourth Guards Tank Army can be the force that exploits whatever gap opens during a general offensive. Given the slow movement of forces in 2000, a gasoline-driven tank army would have plenty of time to exploit any gaps in the NATO defenses.

We don’t really know much about the state of NATO and Pact forces on the front lines, though, other than location, rough head count, and operational AFV. Differences in national character may still count for something. For instance, the Western Allies start the war with much larger support organizations than their Pact counterparts. Support organizations tend to have a higher level of technical expertise than the combat arms. Add to this the fact that the level of education among Western armies would be considerably greater than in the Soviet Army, and you may have a recipe for a superior ability to adapt to the post-Exchange reality. Admittedly, the emphasis here is on “may”. By 1999, all armies are putting their uniformed personnel into combat units, while civilians take over the non-combat jobs.

We don’t know much about either side’s supply situation, either. We may assume that both sides are in equally wretched condition, but I’m not certain such an assumption is based on anything more rational than lack of analysis and/or imagination. If the Soviets are going mount a large-scale offensive, they are going to need logistical support and ample forward supply dumps. We don’t know these things don’t exist, but we don’t know they do, either. Again, we really know very little about the supply situation of the Soviet forces in First or Second Western Fronts or in the NATO commands opposite. However, if they are going to be attacking prepared defenses in Germany, the Pact will need significant supplies of artillery ammunition and fuel. Do they have what they need?

Getting back to the supply situation, the amount of food, fuel, and locally-manufactured items in each area in eastern Germany and western Poland will depend on a variety of variables. What kinds of surpluses are being generated in these and adjacent areas? How successful are the surviving governments at securing the existing surpluses? How successful are the surviving governments at encouraging the production of surpluses? How much of the available produce is being lost to spoilage, marauder action, and so forth? If one side is markedly more successful at securing the industrious cooperation of the local inhabitants, then paper strengths may not mean much.

Specifically, how successful are the Soviets at securing the cooperation of the Poles and Czechs in their respective homelands? It’s all well and good to threaten and brutalize. The locals soon find their own ways of retaliating, even if there is no actual bloodshed. There’s no way around the fact that the Germans, Poles, and Czechs are the only ones operating on their home turf in this area. If the Poland-based modules are any guide, the Soviets get mixed support from the people of Poland. It’s hard to say what level of support the non-German members of NATO receive in Germany. It would be hard for the local Germans to see British and American troops as invaders, as many Poles will be wont to look on the Soviets; however, in times of real shortage, the locals may come to see American and British units as occupying forces and/or unwelcome guests. It doesn’t take very many chuckleheads on a two-day bender to turn the local populace against the foreign military. On the other hand, summary execution for raping local girls will be a lot easier to complete in the post-Exchange environment and could go a long way towards restoring trust between the locals and the non-German NATO unit in the area. How enthusiastically the locals support a given cantonment will have a huge impact on such things as supply, unit readiness, morale, and the like. We don’t know very much about these things in western Poland and eastern Germany.

Do the Soviets believe they have the muscle to launch an offensive into Germany in the summer of 2000? This is a very difficult question to answer. What the division and army commanders in First and Second Western Fronts believe may be entirely different than what the senior surviving Soviet planners believe. It may be that even if the local commanders believe that offensive action is unwise, the theater leadership feels an urgent need to destroy the NATO forces in eastern Germany and/or capture the agricultural lands east of the Elbe. Or it may be that the local commanders are telling the theater leadership that an offensive is possible, provided certain conditions are met. It’s all very hard to say.

Looking at the reasons for seeing Fourth Guards Tank Army as a mobile strategic reserve, we can see that there are at least six rogue Soviet divisions in the Ukraine by the end of 1999. Rebellion is brewing. The movement of Soviet forces to the Ukraine shows that the Soviets are worried about what is going on in the Ukraine. The Soviets were willing to go nuclear to avoid losing the Ukrainian grain belt (although I rather believe that the senior pre-Exchange Soviets were just as worried about their own necks as they were about the future of the Soviet Union). Will they be any more willing to see the Ukraine lost to separatists and rebels? The Ukraine is the breadbasket of the USSR. If the Soviet Union is to get back on its feet after the Exchange, the State is going to need Ukrainian produce. Crushing flare-ups of Ukrainian rebels is critical. According to the Soviet Vehicle Guide, First Ukrainian Front disposes about 13,250 troops and 28 tanks in its divisions and separate brigades. Adding in support units may double the total number of men under arms; and we should not fail to take into account the value of lighter AFV, such as the BRDM-3 belonging to 98th Guards Motorized Rifle Division in the color plates of the Soviet Vehicle Guide. Nevertheless, the Ukraine is the size of France. There is a lot of ground to cover in a place that will have mixed loyalty to the Soviet state. Local militias and State security troops can go a long way towards filling the manpower gaps. However, there are thousands of rebel or marauding troops from combat formations. This is an entirely different challenge than that faced by MilGov in Colorado or Oklahoma.

Then, too, there security issues in Romania, Slovakia, Poland, and the Baltics. Rebels and warlords in any of these locations might need swift destruction by a powerful mobile force. A highly mobile Fourth Guards Tank Army has the ability to move rapidly into any of these areas. As an added bonus, a highly mobile tank army in Belarus can be used to parry any NATO offensive action in Poland.

I think it highly likely that the Soviets knew something about the NATO plans for action in 2000. Human intelligence is a traditional strong suit for the Soviets. The build-up of NATO forces in northwestern Poland is unlikely to have escaped Soviet attention. Knowing how difficult it would be to attack NATO forces in prepared defensive positions, the Soviets may have decided to let the Western Allies come out on their own. It may not be a coincidence that a gas-powered tank army and a horse cavalry force met Third German Army fairly soon after the NATO offensive started. If the Soviets had these forces on standby, they could be used to parry NATO attacks as well as crush local rebels. If NATO failed to make its move, Fourth Guards Tank Army still would be available for security missions throughout the Western TVD.

In the end, I think it comes down to personalities. If the CINC Western TVD is the man responsible for getting Fourth Guards Tank Army supplied with gasoline, is he the type to believe that it is better to knock down Germany, or is he the type to believe that the USSR is better off holding onto what she has? It seems to me that there is little point in seizing eastern Germany if the Soviets lose control of the Ukraine. However, I’m not the commander of Western TVD. A Soviet leader may believe that what can be done to end the German menace for the next generation should be done.

All of this said, I realize that a deliberate Pact offensive into Germany is a far more exciting idea than the creation of a mobile reaction force. I know I’m selling Treasury bonds, while a Pact offensive in 2000 is an IPO. Twilight: 2000 is as much about good story-telling as it is about military realism.

Webstral

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Old 01-12-2010, 04:11 PM
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Good analysis, Web.

I don't think one has to go quite as far as a Summer WTO offensive into Germany, though.

The operation I've described basically involves clearing NW Poland. The scale of this operation is well within the capacity of 4th GTD in terms of fuel and combat power (when working in conjuction with elements of the Soviet Baltic Front). The payoff is significant (the destruction of German 3rd Army) and improves the WTO's ability to hold on to its gains in Poland by seriously disrupting and hindering NATO's ability to conduct future offensive operations.

This operation could also be followed up by other WTO units attacking towards objectives in the west.

Had the Soviets known much about German 3rd Army's offensive, I think it would have dealt with it more decisively. What canon describes seems more like a drunken brawl than a planned operation.

I liken what happened between U.S. 5th ID and the Soviet 4th GTA to two boxers, each throwing a blind left hook. When their fists collide, the boxer with more mass is left standing- in pain but still standing- while the other is left with a broken hand.

As I pointed out, the Soviets have two Guards Armies in Byelorussia that they can use as a strategic reserve to either...

respond to a major NATO offensive,

support a major Soviet offensive (already planned),

or respond to the insurrection in the Ukraine.

This frees up 4th GTD to focus on conducting offensive operations in Poland and/or Germany.
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Old 01-12-2010, 04:15 PM
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After reading your post Web, I'm left wondering just what condition the Ukraine is in mid 2000. Could the Soviets afford to ignore what was apparently going on for another year, or could Ukrainan industry move quickly enough to effectively re-equip and supply "loyal" troops enough so that the Soviets would be unable to crish them? A lot appears to rest on this ability to recover quickly.

However, Poland as we know is the most heavily nuked region in the world - the Ukraine is right next door. Nato units were on Soviet soil when nukes were first used in the west, so it's not unreasonable to think a number of tactical warheads struck the Ukraine. Furthermore, as Nato were driven back in 1997, they became more than a little desperate. It is probable that transportation hubs, industry, etc were targeted by them, in addition to troop concentrations, in an attempt to disrupt and slow the westward juggernaut that was the Pact.

Therefore I imagine the Ukraine to be in a similar state as central and eastern Germany - not as bad as most of Poland, but not all that far behind either. This assessment leans me more towards the thought that crushing Ukrainan revolt could wait.

It is also possible that the 4th GTA could have been sitting on their fuel supply for months, suppressing revolution just by being there and ready for a rapid westward move. If this is the case though, it's unreasonable not to assume the black market in the area didn't see an increase in supply of petroleum fuels and the 4th's supplies dwindle from theft. Also, the longer those fuel stockpiles were there, the greater the risk knowledge of it's existance would reach unfriendly hands. I would therefore "cap" the time the 4th had this stockpile to just a few months with the first significant deliveries arriving early to mid spring (a much smaller and limited flow of a few dozen barrels a month may have been in place all along, just to keep the absolutely VITAL equipment running). This further reinforces the probability the 4th GTA were intended to head west in support of an offensive.

If the stockpile was delivered earlier and Nato (or anyone not CLOSELY aligned with the Soviets) heard about it, you can guarentee something would have been tried to destroy it. It may have been a strike by the last few operating and fueled aircraft, perhaps a missile or two, or maybe a very long range SF team, maybe even an Op by the DIA. Leaving such a valuable and seriously dangerous resource in the hands of the enemy would be potentially almost as bad as cutting your own throat. In my opinion, a hundred thousand litres of diesel fuel in the hands of an enemy army is more deadly than half a dozen deliverable nukes.

Even Soviet allies might have been sorely tempted to destroy the stockpile, after all, the Soviets have had a tendancy to brutally crush any of their client states showing even the slightest degree of independance. Elimination of the stockpile and making it look like it was Nato (or some other 3rd party) would go a long way towards securing one's own position...
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Old 01-12-2010, 04:39 PM
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The Soviets have two armies on the front in west Poland/east Germany, plus a number of less reliable divisions. Looking north we have the entirety of what's left of the Polish military (less a handful of units, most of which have gone rogue). It is my believe that these two Soviet armies were intended to be the main assault force of their planned offensive with one attacking around the north of Berlin and the other around the south.

Nato jumped first however resulting in the planned Pact offensive never getting off the ground to any significant degree. Plans had to be rapidly adjusted from an offensive to counter offensive. The penetration of the Polish sector by the US 5th and 8th IDs meant that Pact commanders could no longer rely on the Poles to secure this area - they had to swing the northern arm of their planned offensive around and attack to the north and north west instead of the probable westerly axis they'd intended (at least in the opening stages).

It wasn't all bad though. The German III Army had effectively opened the door to the Soviets. They'd left their positions, strengthened and fortified over the previous year or two and were now exposed. One might even compare it to WWI - the intial stages of WWIII were mobile as in 1914, then as fuel ran out everyone dug in, just like in 1915-18. The III German Army's move can be equated with leaving the trenches and, although in the attack, exposing themselves (it's not an exact analogy but you get the idea).

The 4th GTA, even running on petroleum, is unlikely to have been immediately in fighting condition upon reaching the front. They would need at least several days to allow straggling units to catch up, reorganise, rest and carry out maintenance after their rapid move across Poland. The value of suprise while not eliminated, would be degraded and Nato commanders could begin redeploying reserves, or strengthen already strong bunkers, minefields and other defensive belts.

Admittedly the units already there preparing for the offensive would probably have rung a few alarm bells, however their increased activity could have been misinterpreted by Nato as a response to their own preparations. The arrival of the 4th GTA would have radically altered Nato plans and expectations.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:38 PM
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Wow. Clearly some great analysis here. I'll merely add my two cents to what has already been said.

I think it is easy to underestimate the tenuous position of the Soviet divisions in eastern Germany in 2k. While they are numerically superior to their NATO adversaries, it is not clear that they could make headway against prepared positions without heavy losses. They are at the far end of an increasingly insecure line of supply that runs all the way through the chaos of 2k Poland including increasingly mutinous divisions. A number of Polish units and at least two Soviet formations have recently gone rogue (I'm without my references, but one pulled out of SE Germany w/o orders and another near Warsaw declared for US Civgov (?!?) in addition to the 10thTD? mutinying east of Krakow). There is risk that front line divisions pull out of their own accord or simply tune out in place without adequate support from home.

In the cannon there is a notable lack of loyal formations in central Poland before the arrival of the 4thGTA. In fact it would be dificult to establish a reliable line of supply between Kiev and Minsk and Berlin with all the marauder and warlord activity going on.

In this context I think there could have been a middle road where the 4thGTA was pushing west, but not neccesarily with the goal of making additional territorial gains into Germany. Significant portions of that formation could be used to move into central Poland toward Warsaw and Lodz to shore up the situation in those areas, provide support to the Polish communist government in Lublin and still provide coverage against additional mutinies in Ukraine and Bielorussia. From there they provide a bridge between the remaining Soviet heartland and the true front outside of Berlin. Some formations may have been intended to push on into Germany, but likely with more local goals around consolidating territory under their control and spoiling NATO offensives.

In this context, the actions of the German 3rd Army force the soviets hand. As misguided as it may have been, the offensive of the 5thID did threaten to further isolate the divisions across the Oder and jeopardize the gains already made there. This required the full commitment of the 4thGTA to keep the lines of communication and supply open where a partial commitment might have have done the job and secured the area from local bandits and prevented additional defections.

This drew the army further West and committed it more than originally intended. This came at the cost of additional partisan fighting capability in the bread basket, but if it prevented additional mutinies and solidified Soviet gains in Germany it might have been worth the trade.
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Old 01-12-2010, 09:44 PM
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I disagree that the 5th ID's offensive was misguided. It has to be remembered that the intention was that the bulk of the German III Army was to have followed along behind - the 5th ID did not act in isolation.

It also has to be considered that Nato command had at least a passing knowledge of the situation in central Poland, particularly in reference to the rogue Soviet units. Essentially, until the 4th GTA showed up there was nothing much more than a few speed bumps in the 5th ID's way.
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Old 01-12-2010, 10:58 PM
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It wasn't all bad though. The German III Army had effectively opened the door to the Soviets. They'd left their positions, strengthened and fortified over the previous year or two and were now exposed. One might even compare it to WWI - the intial stages of WWIII were mobile as in 1914, then as fuel ran out everyone dug in, just like in 1915-18. The III German Army's move can be equated with leaving the trenches and, although in the attack, exposing themselves (it's not an exact analogy but you get the idea).
I think your analogy is quite good.


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Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
After reading your post Web, I'm left wondering just what condition the Ukraine is in mid 2000. Could the Soviets afford to ignore what was apparently going on for another year, or could Ukrainan industry move quickly enough to effectively re-equip and supply "loyal" troops enough so that the Soviets would be unable to crish them? A lot appears to rest on this ability to recover quickly.

However, Poland as we know is the most heavily nuked region in the world - the Ukraine is right next door. Nato units were on Soviet soil when nukes were first used in the west, so it's not unreasonable to think a number of tactical warheads struck the Ukraine. Furthermore, as Nato were driven back in 1997, they became more than a little desperate. It is probable that transportation hubs, industry, etc were targeted by them, in addition to troop concentrations, in an attempt to disrupt and slow the westward juggernaut that was the Pact.

Therefore I imagine the Ukraine to be in a similar state as central and eastern Germany - not as bad as most of Poland, but not all that far behind either. This assessment leans me more towards the thought that crushing Ukrainan revolt could wait.
We know from the published "USSR Hit List" that the major nuclear targets in the Ukraine include Kiev, Lvov, Mukachevo, Sevastopol, Nikolayev, Pervomaysk. The missile complex in Pervomaysk in south central Ukraine was hit by two one-megaton ground bursts, Sevastopol got a one-megger, as did the shipyards in Nikolayev west of the lower Dnepr. Lvov received three 200kt warheads, while Mukachevo was dealt a single 250kt warhead. Except for Pervomaysk, all of the major nuclear strikes on the Ukraine were airbursts.

Of course, the major nuclear strikes aren’t the whole story. As Legbreaker points out, during the tactical nuclear exchange there would have been much smaller weapons (10kt-25kt) used against communications hubs, airfields, supply dumps, command-and-control nodes, and other nuclear weapons and launch systems. It’s difficult to say how many would have been directed against targets in the western Ukraine. However, given the proximity of the Ukraine to Poland, it’s probably safe to say that several dozen might have been used over the course of the tactical exchange, along with, perhaps, chemical weapons. The Ukraine within one hundred miles of Poland might be in very tough shape.

Worse, prevailing winds will carry fallout from Europe across the Ukraine. How much fallout blows across the Ukraine will depend on how many ground bursts there were, since air bursts don’t tend to generate much fallout compared to ground bursts.

All in all, it appears that the western Ukraine is in pretty tough shape. How far east from the Polish border the beaten zone extends is hard to say. We should bear in mind, though, that the front did not stay at the Soviet border for very long. NATO probably would have attacked a combined arms army in the Lvov area with a strike package of tactical nuclear weapons in July, 1997. Whether a formation in the Zhitomir area would receive a strike package in another matter. I strongly doubt a package would have been deployed against an army in Kiev, as this might have been seen by the Soviets as crossing the line from tactical use against troops to use of tactical weapons against strategic targets. By the time the exchange escalated to a more strategic level, the front had moved west. Tactical nuclear weapons might have continued to be used, but the Pact targets would be in Poland or Czechoslovakia.

I can agree, then, that west of Rivne the place is pretty much like Poland. East of Zhitomir, though, there is still plenty of Ukraine that hasn’t been hit by strategic nukes and probably hasn’t been hit by tactical nukes. The level of fallout contamination is hard to estimate. Clearly, though, multiple parties consider the Ukraine worth fighting over. "USSR 2000" paints a picture of a turbulent but potentially resurgent Ukraine. It’s worth noting that in April, 2000 the leading Ukrainian rebels declare a new republic, which the neighboring Soviets consider too strong to tackle. (If so, this might “free” Fourth Guards Tank Army for action against the West.)

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It is also possible that the 4th GTA could have been sitting on their fuel supply for months, suppressing revolution just by being there and ready for a rapid westward move. If this is the case though, it's unreasonable not to assume the black market in the area didn't see an increase in supply of petroleum fuels and the 4th's supplies dwindle from theft. Also, the longer those fuel stockpiles were there, the greater the risk knowledge of it's existance would reach unfriendly hands. I would therefore "cap" the time the 4th had this stockpile to just a few months with the first significant deliveries arriving early to mid spring (a much smaller and limited flow of a few dozen barrels a month may have been in place all along, just to keep the absolutely VITAL equipment running). This further reinforces the probability the 4th GTA were intended to head west in support of an offensive.
It’s certainly possible that Fourth Guards Tank Army was in possession of their fuel stocks for a period of time. I agree that corruption and profiteering would have seen fuel siphoned off. I’m not sure I agree that the presence of the fuel or the possibility that NATO might get wind of the fuel possessed by Fourth Guards Tank Army necessitates the tank army being used for a westward offensive.

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If the stockpile was delivered earlier and Nato (or anyone not CLOSELY aligned with the Soviets) heard about it, you can guarentee something would have been tried to destroy it. It may have been a strike by the last few operating and fueled aircraft, perhaps a missile or two, or maybe a very long range SF team, maybe even an Op by the DIA. Leaving such a valuable and seriously dangerous resource in the hands of the enemy would be potentially almost as bad as cutting your own throat. In my opinion, a hundred thousand litres of diesel fuel in the hands of an enemy army is more deadly than half a dozen deliverable nukes.
I certainly agree that if NATO intelligence had become aware of the stockpile they would have liked to do something about it. But what? I find it unlikely that Fourth Guards Tank Army would not go to great lengths to protect their fuel by means of dispersal, camouflage, and sheltering. The idea that a small group of individuals, however highly motivated, would be able to tackle or even meaningfully diminish a stockpile of millions of gallons of fuel more valuable than gold is iffy at best. A one-megaton strike might not even do the trick if the fuel were dispersed and protected in covered revetments, though I’m sure NATO would have tried it. I can’t imagine what a handful of strike aircraft would have been able to accomplish that would have been meaningful. We must bear in mind that we’re not talking about disrupting the fuel supplies of a Soviet force moving in the open. Before it starts to move, Fourth Guards Tank Army has the advantage of using a variety of protective measures to safeguard the invaluable fuel resource.

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Had the Soviets known much about German 3rd Army's offensive, I think it would have dealt with it more decisively. What canon describes seems more like a drunken brawl than a planned operation.

I liken what happened between U.S. 5th ID and the Soviet 4th GTA to two boxers, each throwing a blind left hook. When their fists collide, the boxer with more mass is left standing- in pain but still standing- while the other is left with a broken hand.

As I pointed out, the Soviets have two Guards Armies in Byelorussia that they can use as a strategic reserve to either...

respond to a major NATO offensive,

support a major Soviet offensive (already planned),

or respond to the insurrection in the Ukraine.

This frees up 4th GTD to focus on conducting offensive operations in Poland and/or Germany.
A lot of fights look like barroom brawls on the ground. No plan survives contact with reality. The Americans were taken by surprise by the rapid movement of Fourth Guards Tank Army. The Soviets simply didn’t do very well. As the Soviets repeatedly discovered in WWII, it’s all well and good to have a solid map plan. Getting the units to execute that plan reliably is a whole different kettle of fish. In Escape from Kalisz, someone points out that the leaders of Fourth Guards Tank Army had spent too much time chasing peasants in ox carts and didn’t understand how tough the Americans were.

As for other tank armies in Belarus, certainly the remaining concentration of armor has a value. But it’s the fuel in combination with the armor that is at the heart of the (friendly) debate over what was intended for Fourth Guards Tank Army. If the fuel goes west, then the remaining armor is no more mobile than Fourth Guards Tank Army would have been without receiving any fuel in the first place.

Overall, reading "USSR 2000" further compels me to believe that Fourth Guards Tank Army was used as it was intended: as a mobile counterstrike force. The disintegrating state of the Soviet Union from mid-1999 onwards makes the idea of a renewed offensive in Germany seem like folly. As I have said before, though, I’m not Russian. A Russian senior leader might have given action against Germany a priority I can’t imagine.

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Old 01-12-2010, 11:32 PM
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I'm trying to look at this like a CIA/DIA analyst.

If the 4th GTA really has "Gasoline" then I think it was intended for an offensive, due to the fact that long term stability is an issue. If I was the 4th GTA commander and I had Diesel fuel I would have less of an "Use it or lose it" philosophy so I would be more comfortable as a strategic reserve.

Do we know anything about refinery(s) used? If refineries were an issue is low grade diesel more likely than gasoline?

What was the timeline for the fuel production? How long was the transport time? If it was gasoline is it nearing it's usable shelf life.
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:25 AM
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I've always felt that gasoline was rather an unlikely choice of petroleum fuels for Fourth Guards Tank Army. Diesel makes much more sense--so much so that I've always believed the "gasoline" reference in Escape from Kalisz to be a misnomer or a catch-all term intended to refer to the kind of widespread liquid fossil fuels used in automobiles (including trucks and military vehicles) before the war. Gasoline is harder to make, more flammable, and has other drawbacks besides. I've been using the term to avoid being sidetracked into a discussion on petroleum refining, etc. I should have known you'd pay attention to the details, Kato.

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Old 01-13-2010, 12:36 AM
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I should have known you'd pay attention to the details, Kato.
When I have to draw conclusions from so few written words, it tends to make me over analyze them.

I agree Gasoline could very well have been a catch all. I wish they had only used is in common speech and quotes and not in GM briefings or summaries, that would make it much easier to accept the "catch all" defense. But when they wrote it I am sure they never expected that 26 years later someone would be parsing their words.
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:31 AM
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I'm trying to look at this like a CIA/DIA analyst.

If the 4th GTA really has "Gasoline" then I think it was intended for an offensive, due to the fact that long term stability is an issue. If I was the 4th GTA commander and I had Diesel fuel I would have less of an "Use it or lose it" philosophy so I would be more comfortable as a strategic reserve.

Do we know anything about refinery(s) used? If refineries were an issue is low grade diesel more likely than gasoline?

What was the timeline for the fuel production? How long was the transport time? If it was gasoline is it nearing it's usable shelf life.
I've always assumed its was diesel. I've made that asumption in previous posts on this topic. Its much easier to produce, has a longer shelf life and it seems obvious that was what the Russians were using.
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