From: on a mountain in Idaho
Every avenue of approach coming from across the border had been surveyed, every possible kill zone was plotted to the point where primary and alternate battle positions were already created with azimuths and ranges to the target area recorded. We had 45 years to prepare for such a war
While this may have been true for many key border crossing areas, it was not true everywhere. I was in 1AD '87-'90 and our GDP was in the Arzberg-Marktredwitz corridor. Just during that time we had a couple of Task Force changes, change of commanders, and changes in battle positions. Those all took time for recons, coordination of basic plans, and communicating down to squad leader level. It was not perfect. If (big IF) we got 24-48 hours warning, uploaded and deployed, then we might have been ready for Day 1. Day 2 and beyond was even more speculative.
I participated in a VII Corps movement map exercise once where we executed the computer-generated movement schedule of all units from garrison to GDP, and it highlighted a number of issues. And that was for clear weather and no opposition. The whole REFORGER fantasy was the planners' ideal, having 10 days to prepare and 10 US divisions deployed to Germany. The reality would probably have been much less warning and utter chaos. Which is the premise for this game, which is fair enough. Grab your stuff and go, now! Movement to contact, hasty attack...
You always have updates to plans, change of commands every couple years, and no doubt a few monkey wrenches thrown into the fray now and then. I was in 3rd ID from 83 to 85 and again 88 to 90, our TOC towns changed periodically. These were the initial assembly areas we would deploy to in time of war. They changed for a number of reasons but mostly for tactical considerations.
The data on the battle positions along with individual vehicle/aircraft firing positions was updated annually and that info was kept in the unit safe. These surveyed areas went from the border for about 40 kilometers deep as far as I know. Some units might not have gone that far, but when I was in an attack helicopter battalion, that's what we had. When I was in the Cav in 3rd ID, it was a different type mission so we didn't have the same requirements as the attack units did.
As for early warning detection, it's kind of hard to move 5 Soviet and 2 East German Armies out of their cantonment areas forward to the border without someone noticing it. Not to mention the trainloads of reinforcements, ammo, and supplies that would be needed for a major confrontation. Then take into account the number of aircraft that would have been moved into Poland and E. Germany. As I mentioned in another thread, an aircraft was monitored the moment it took off from as far away as central Poland. Two to three days would have been the worse case, most likely it would have been 7 to 10 days.
Major field exercises were always known ahead of time by the other side and usually coincided with an exercise of their own. These were always monitored by observers from the other side. This was all part of the post war treaty agreements. Any major movement of forces outside of the known ones would cause the other side to react accordingly.
On a side note, Able Archer was a command and control exercise testing for a nuclear war, not a ground force one. The Soviets new about it ahead of time but they over reacted and started to ready their own nuclear forces. Nato was aware of the WP nuclear capable air units in theatre that were put to a heightened state of alert. Both sides misread one another from a political perspective that caused a rise in tensions. If any major ground forces had been moved by either side, the other would have done the same, but neither side did.
< Message edited by Sabre21 -- 2/26/2014 4:18:48 PM >