Sunday, October 30, 2011

North German Plain 85 / Steel Beasts ProPE - Tactical Plan

Liddell Hart once compared a successful offensive to the flow of a stream of water in a hilly landscape, avoiding points of high resistance and eventually succeeding finding a way through low ground. Two Bundeswehr companies are about to find out how hard is to build a dam in the wide area of operations east of Hameln. So few bricks to engineer such a long wall ...

Victory in tactical combat always leans towards the side that has superior firepower and initiative. During this  damn summer morning, the Germans have neither.

The mission was to stop a Soviet tank regiment (-) from reaching Hameln. The enemy force expected was of around 70 tanks supported by BRDMs. Own troops were a company of Leopard 2A4s and a company of panzergrenadiers (Marder 1A3s).

The area of operations east of Hameln is a semi-restrictive mix of streams and rolling hills dominated by two prominent ridges laying in a south north direction. On the far side of the area of operations, a 4 Km wide (average) valley centered in Hemmendorf is the likely LD of the Soviet forces. There are two possible axis of advance from Hemmendorf: (i) moving north, up the valley and pivoting west at Coppenbrugge and (ii) crossing the ridge via route L425. Whatever route the enemy was to use to move out from Hemmendorf, a 3 Km wide valley running north from Bisperode was the next stop. From there an additional ridge separates the enemy from Hameln. This ridge could be crossed at three points: (i) at the very north edge of the area of operations near Herkensen, (ii) at the middle of the area of operations near Behrensen and (iii) at the south of the area of operations, via L16 near Voremberg. There is an additional crossing point in the southern extreme of the area of operations (route L425),  but this route would force the enemy to pivot north into yet another ridge which appears to be non passable.

The tactical plan for this defensive operation was more or less conceived from these two general principles:

  • Since the initiative belongs to the enemy it is urgent to establish contact and, if possible, to maintain observation on the depth of the enemy's offensive maneuvers
  • Establish a delaying defensive posture with enough depth to break down the enemy's field of fire and  locally concentrate the firepower of tanks. This is to be achieved by a combination of battle positions and limited-objectives tank counter-attacks 

Click the image to see the tactical plan in detail
The most important tactical control measures for the mission were laid out to match for culminating points of the battle:

  • Phase Line Walden (eastern ridge-Coppenbrugge): enemy crossing into the Bisperode valley
  • Phase Line Mohawk (ridge close to Hameln): enemy crossing and located 2-5 Km from Hameln
  • Phase Line Navajo (Fluthamelstrabe canal): enemy has crossed the last water obstacle and is entering Hameln

At the start of the battle, there were two immediate courses of action available to the enemy:

  1. Cross PL Walden at Coppenbrugge
  2. Cross PL Walden in the south using route L425

The enemy's main effort couldn't be determined before the establishment of observation posts, so a decision was made to concentrate most of the firepower available in a delaying action onto the enemy advancing through Coppenbrugge.

Orders for A and B Companies were as follow:

  • 1, 2 and 3/B Plt. (PzGr), detach one vehicle to establish observation posts 1, 2, 3 and 4 (OP1, OP2, OP3 and OP4) and immediately fall back to PL Mohawk to establish ambush positions at possible enemy crossings. 4/B Plt (PzGr), establish a BP at or near Hastenbeck (BP3)
  • A Company (Pz), delay enemy forces advancing through Coppenbrugge from battle position 1 (BP1). On order, fall back through PL Mohawk in order to establish a battle position 2 (BP2) in Rohrsen. Refit and ready up for offensive actions against enemy formations crossing PL Mohawk.



Anonymous said...

Hello JC,

Very nice write-up of the the FRAGO, spasiba !

And curious if your plan will work:
IMnotsoHO you give up unfortunately one important element of your defense ...
Ahem, let's have an armchairgeneraldiscussion when you published the AAR :-)

(and of course I'm not objective, as I have some knowledge of the Soviet battleplan ...)

Thanks again, Koen

James said...

Great stuff!
I do have a question though: if one of your Tasks is to prevent ~60% of the enemy tanks from crossing PL Walden aren't you starting off a little short on room for maneuver? I'm guessing you are by your tactical plan and you have simply chosen to ignore that task?
(I probably should have asked this question when you posted the OPORD)


Anonymous said...

Wonder also how the scenario plays out in NGP 85. Comparable or what ?

This was a stimulating experience for me, almost like playing chess with JC: he delivering the tactical situation & I trying to make up a "thinking" Red opponent (hopefully not too thinking poorly)

NB mission is uploaded now at


JC said...

Hi Koen,

We need to discuss this one once I finish up the AAR. Kinda of what went wrong and why.

James, I am very short of tanks in this scenario. It can be argued that I gave up too much room to the enemy from the beginning. We are going to discuss that in a later post.