Red Storm in the Fulda Gap – a Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm AAR

By Michael Capobianco 15 May 2015 0

Possibly the best wargame to be released in 2013, Matrix Games Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm is still extremely popular and the game has great replayability (see our extensive review here). Additionally, the game has been heavily updated following feedback from the player base and last November a “Player’s Edition” was released based on the feedback. To see why Flashpoint is enduring we have here an AAR from Michael Capobianco of one of the classic scenarios based around (the theoretical) fighting in the strategic Fulda Gap

 

Each time I play this scenario I learn more and more … not enough to feel 100% confident that I can win as the US, but in the fact that the nuances are becoming clearer.  The best thing is how the AI plays very very close to the Soviet doctrine of the day.  The timing and spacing can be a bit off with the CRP, FSE, ADV Guard, Main Body, etc, but that's in reaction to what I do playing the US. 

This is a tough fight.  The Soviet Artillery Counter-Battery missions hurt me for the first time, and it’s Artillery that allows to US to hold on in the first place.  It's brutal.... 

Here's the game as it unfolded:

 

08010200z… Col Ward, along with LTC Dan Merritt, the Bn Cdr of 1/68Ar had called one final “Orders Group” to go over how he was going to fight the upcoming battle. He restated that the LP/OP’s were to be recovered by 0445z.  The bridges over the Hanne were to be blown by 0500z, reiterated to Delta and Alpha Troops that their forward units were to pull back before getting decisively engaged, and let the artillery take its toll on the enemy within the obstacle belts.  He also reminded the Delta Troop Cdr that a FASCAM minefield would close off the L3330 road between Bieberstein and Kleinsassen between 0500z-0515z. 

Years of General Defense Plan (GDP) alerts and exercises would pay huge dividends today.  They had been rehearsing this battle for over a decade. Every fold in the ground was known, every unmapped trail was known, and when it came to the M1 Tank, every gas station location was known.  The civilian population was finally evacuated 3 days ago ensuring that any vehicle movement that was observed was questioned and assumed enemy. 

“Gentlemen….SACUSAREUR has confirmed that Soviet Forces have crossed the IGB at 0100z.  We are at war with the Soviet Union.  Within our sector, enemy Recon elements of the 79th GTD have been reported moving down the L3256 towards Hoffbieber and the L3293 towards Schwarzbach.  We are going to be attacked by at least a divisional sized enemy with heavy indirect fire support.  The bottom line here is that we have to make Mr Bear pay a heavy price for this chunk of ground and there is nothing that is going to stop me from accomplishing that. We are expendable …” 

He reviewed the TO&E of the Soviet 79th GTD and the doctrine of attack they would follow.  “Our job is to throw them off schedule, to cripple their ability to make decisions, to insert the unknown.  It is here, that we excel.” 

“Friends will be lost today, this I am sure.” stated the Commander. “It is not what we choose, it has been thrust upon us to finish.” The day they all hoped would never come had arrived …

 

 

 

 

 

08010458z … ”Sir, GSR 3 reports vehicle movement in Elters, moving south along the K28.” Ward moved to the center of the Tactical Operations Center of Team Ironhorse and announced “People, it’s time to do our jobs,. Let’s keep it to a low roar and be accurate with your reports. It’s going to be a long day….” 

08010502z … The rumble of Artillery, the crack of the 120mm cannon on the M1A1, the quick thump of the M3 Bradley's 25mm Bushmaster, and the staccato of machinegun fire reached the TOC almost at the same time. All the heads in the TOC turned towards the direction of the sounds for a split second, then went right back to the business at hand.

Delta had reported that enemy BMP’s and Tanks were hitting the obstacles outside of Bieberstein and were engaging.  Alpha Trp was reporting BRDM’s and Tanks approaching Traisbach and Niederbieber.  By 0504z Delta was reporting multiple hits.

When the sun broke the horizon at 0506z, the extent of the Russian attack became evident. Tanks and BMP’s were spotted coming down the L3258, large formations approaching Elters, vehicles in the minefields Bieberstein … 

01080522z … The Soviet CRP, and FSE came into EA Dog and hit the Obstacle belt where their advance bogged down.   Delta Troops 2 forward Tank Plt's scored multiple hits.  Other CRP's were being reported in Hoffbeiber and Neiderbeiber by the screening elements of Alpha and Bravo Troops.

 

 

 

Col Lanier needed to get a firsthand look at Delta's position. It was here, south of Bieberstein, that the initial brunt of the attack was heading. By the time he arrived at the Troop Cdr's tank, he could see the plumes of smoke rising on top of, and beyond the hill that one Plt of M1A1's had started the fight. 

"They're trying to breach the obstacles but 1st and 2nd Plt's are making it rough for em" stated Cpt Fisk.  "1st lost two tracks, but the crews are ok. They are trying to disengage but it’s a bitch" as the Cdr continued his SITREP. 

08010543z … The S2 identified the three Bn's leading the attack of the 79th GTD.  BMP equipped Bn's are engaged in EA DOG and MOUSE, while a T64 equipped tank Bn along with supporting Infantry were moving within EA CAT. 

Preplanned artillery fire takes its toll as enemy formations are decimated in Traisbach and outside of Bieberstein.  Charlie Trp reports engaging Bmp’s…..Ward’s line was now fully engaged.

 

 

 

08010604z … Ward reported to the 11th ACR Cdr that he was now engaged with five Soviet Bn’s as Charlie Troop’s reports indicated a Mech Bn trying to breech the K29 choke point at 042011 (hex 4211). Although Delta had punished the Soviets in EA DOG, they were down to only 5 runners from the effects of artillery and direct fires. Alpha, on the left flank, had utilized its long fields of fire and still maintained the Traisbach Niederbieber line.  His main concern was Bravo’s sector where the Soviets were pouring units down the L3258 in an attempt to split his lines …

 

 

Enemy vehicles were pushing just pushing into Langenbieber when another round of artillery began to land…the effect was devastating.

 

 

08010626z … The concentration of enemy vehicles within the three choke points (Grid 2007 exiting Traisbach along the K4, the K18, L3258 intersection in the Hoffbieber, Langenbieber corridor, and the K29 choke point at grid 4211 were targeted by the bulk of Ward’s artillery.  Bravo Troop was under severe pressure as the Soviets continued to push more and more units into the center of his line…It was now that Ward’s FSO let loose another bombardment from his MLRS Battery.

 

 

 

 

 

The Bravo Trp Cdr, who had held his tank platoons in reserve, he ordered them into blocking positions at grid 2713 and 2915 as reports from his screen line indicated that that enemy units were coming down the L3258 and K21 south of Langenbieber and Bieberstein. 

By 0630z, the surviving units of Delta Trp had finally disengaged and were beginning to resupply as were elements of Alpha.  Ward’s problem was his Command elements were taking a beating. Besides the command elements of 1/68Ar, all his Trp Hq’s had taken fire and loses.  His chain of command was disintegrating … 

08010645z … Soviet artillery hit across his entire line. Units were being attrited and Bravo’s Scout Sections in the woods south of the K19 were off the net.  Reports of enemy vehicles heading towards Kleinsassen from the L3329 were confirmed …The obstacle line was breeched! 

08010649z … Ward made it back to his Hq’s and headed towards his S2’s track.  The Cpt had just finished posting enemy unit locations, paths, and kills.  “My God’ he muttered under his breath as he saw the red and blue crosses. The tank Plt from Bravo had gotten into position just in time to stop an enemy tank column from gaining the L3258/L3379 intersection, and Charlies positions in and around Kleinsassen has reduced the enemy Mech Co in the open fields.  Just then, 10+ enemy tanks were reported leaving Bieberstein down the K21.  Ward’s center positions were being stretched to the limit …

 

 

 

08010713z … Alpha had stopped the Soviet attack at Traisbach as evident by enemy vehicles moving SE out of that village to support the attack in the center.  Ward got on the radio and contacted the 1/68Ar Cdr: “Dan, get your Bravo Co moving to the ridgeline SW of Kleinsassen.  They have to contain the penetration there as elements of my Charlie Trp defending the town just got overrun.”  Ltc Merritt acknowledged the order and Ward hoped he didn’t wait too long to commit the first of his reserves.  The battle for Kleinsassen had turned ugly …

 

 

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