Over the next weeks and maybe months, I will be posting a Narrative AAR based on playing Fulda, Frontier of Freedom. It will be a game driven story recounting the actions of TF Iron Horse (1/11 ACR+ and 1/68Ar) I hope to paint the picture in words while displaying the game in screen shots. The story will focus around the TF Commander, Col Lanier Ward. I have an attachment to this game and this scenario as I lived the life during those tense years of 1980-1989 as a Tanker and Master Gunner assigned to an Armor Task Force in USAEUR. I hope all of you will enjoy the ride............
Date: 1 August 1985
Time: D1+ 02 Hours (0500 Hours)
Location: Near Fulda, West Germany and Downs Barracks.
Weather: Fog and Calm during the morning. Becoming partly cloudy with moderate wind from the southwest. there is a 40 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms.
Background: World tensions continued to increase during the long summer of 1985. The Kremlin seemed to be deliberately pressing the West, and in particular the United States, on all fronts through the spring with the challenges becoming more serious by the day. The May 30th collision between the Slava Class cruiser Slava (CG-126) and the USS Moosbrugger (DD-980), in the Straits of Hormuz, led to great loss of life when the Slava’s missiles detonated. The Slava’s loss, with all hands, was decried by the Kremlin as a direct consequence of America’s reckless involvement in the Tanker War and its continual interference in the Iraqi-Iranian Gulf War.
Several other tense naval confrontations ensued over the next month with additional near collisions and one accusation of a weapons lock on an American support vessel.
By early July tensions were running at a fever pitch when National Security Agency (NSA) satellites and overflights began to note an increase in Soviet mechanized forces and airborne troops in southern Afghanistan. When confronted with the evidence of the growing threat to Pakistan, during a 4th of July meeting, the Soviet Ambassador to the United Nations walked out of the chamber without comment. On July 9th the Soviet mechanized column struck south with airborne landings in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The President ordered an immediate response and B-52s based in Diego Garcia struck Soviet targets in Kandahar and Kabul on the 11th. By July 15th the first of Central Command’s (CENTCOM) Maritime Prepositioned Ships were arriving in Karachi and marrying up with elements of the Marine Corps 32nd Marine Amphibious Unit flown in the meet the equipment. On the same day the Ready Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division landed at the Pakistani Air Force base at Mianwali and took up defensive positions north of the airfield. They didn’t have long to wait the next day they were engaged with reconnaissance elements of the Soviet 201st Mechanized Infantry Division moving south down the Indus River Valley.
Now that American CENTCOM troops were in direct confrontation with Soviet forces in Pakistan events quickly escalated worldwide. On the 16th the Soviet Oscar Class Missile Submarine Minskiy Komsomolets (K-525 ) launched a missile attack on the USS Saratoga (CV-60) south of Crete. Two SS-N-19 Shipwreck missiles (conventional warheads) struck home setting the carrier ablaze for 21 hours and causing her withdrawal to Naples for repairs after the fires were brought under control. P3C aircraft from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily sank the Minskiy Komsomolets soon after the attack, thus in Soviet eyes implicating the Italians and NATO in the growing Soviet-American confrontation.
Now that the USSR and United States were engaged in full blown a naval war using NATO bases, the NATO Foreign Ministers met in the North Atlantic Council (NAC) chambers in Brussels and called for a cessation of all hostilities by 00:01 GMT July 21st. Failure to heed this decree would result in a NATO general mobilization for its own defense. The Soviet answer came very early on the 21st when the 40th Army launched massive chemical weapons attacks on Pakistani and American CENTCOM units near Lahore. By noon units from all NATO nations were moving out for their forward positions and in a televised address to the nation President Reagan announced the Immediate Implementation the REturn of FORces to GERmany (REFORGER) plans. Early on the 22nd McGuire and Dover Air Force Bases were a buzz of activity as C-5As and C-141B cargo aircraft began the airlift to Germany. In Savannah Maritime Sealift Command Vessels began to load elements of the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division and across the planet the Strategic Air Command assumed DEFense CONdition (DEFCON) 3 posture.
A gradual buildup of NATO forces continued for the remainder of the week, unlike the “bolt out of the blue” attack that many had assumed, this war would be fought with an aroused and ready NATO force. By the 23rd, NATO intelligence was indeed seeing evidence that Warsaw Pact units were being brought into a higher state of readiness, but it was not certain whether this was in advance of an offensive operation or strictly defensive in nature.
By July 31st the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) was deployed across the Fulda Gap. Near Fulda itself Task Force Ironhorse comprising the 1st Squadron, 11 ACR took up defensive positions. They had been reinforced by the 1-68 Armored Battalion of the 8th Mechanized Infantry Division and the 2-18 Field Artillery Battalion of the 212th Field Artillery. Engineering units spent several days creating improved positions and placing obstacles along likely avenues of advance. They wouldn’t have wasted their time.
Col Ward looked at the message he was just handed and immediately looked at his watch. 0230Z. It wasn’t supposed to come to this. They were smarter than this. And yet, the message in his hand said differently. Soviet Recon elements had crossed the IGB. Those units were already in the vicinity of Schwartzbach. "Major Jones, get them to "RedCon1" and have the Cdrs report to me on the secure net NLT 0300Z. Also, order the LP/OP's brought in by 0400z." By giving that last order, Col Ward hoped to instill the seriousness of the situation and the immediacy that it required.
He looked at the map that hung in the TOC. His Squadron had been in sector for the better part of a week. First in the Forward Assembly Area with one Section of Scouts accompanying each of the Engineer Company (Reinforced) Plt’s forward as they laid the minefields, emplaced obstacles, dug fighting positions, and prepped bridges to be blown. The work they did was extensive.