Sunday, May 9, 2021

Tactical Decision Game: What Would You Do, Brigade Major?

"Neustadt Junction" (fictitious) 1984.  Federal Republic of Germany.  Northern Army Group Area of Operations.  British 1st Battalion, Staffordshire Regiment, 7th Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division (UK).

You crouch low and enter the tactical operations "centre" track and the Major hands you a steaming hot mug of tea.  It's black, not usually the way you drink it, but it'll do as you're running on 2 hours of sleep from the last 48 hours.  The men in this vehicle have scarcely had that.  Artillery rumbles in the distance.

The BM directs you to the map of the area of operations, which is covered in blue and red pencil marks, tics, and arrows.  An hour ago, time you don't have, you charged the staff with developing a battleplan to defend Neustadt Junction from a Soviet assault.  

"Okay, where are we at, Andrew?"  

"Sir, Much like our exercises, the Soviets have penetrated at Kirchenheim and are making top speed for the MLR, which our wargaming assumption had postulated."  

"Right.  Stage is set.  How did we get here?"  You point at the disposition of squadrons on the map.

"Intelligence is confident we are facing the advanced elements of the Soviet 10th Guards Tank Division.  Their forward detachment will consist of a tank company, and likely a motorized rifle company in BMPs with recce and organic artillery support.  They'll need to take Neustadt Junction, where we are posted.  

Division needs us to hold in order to organize the defense west of our position.  The Soviet operational maneuver group could be committed to multiple courses of action more easily if this junction is captured, which is where the we come in. We must hold them today in order to launch a counterattack and blunt the 10th Tank.  Andrew knows that you know all of this but he's a thorough one, and this is also for the benefit of the staff present.

Fair enough.  What's the plan?

Neustadt Junction from the British perspective - the Soviets are coming from the table edge at top of the picture.  British may set up to halfway down the table (3 feet from the British edge).

The vignette above nicely sums up the actions that you, my Brigade Major, were asked to develop an hour ago.  Our Mechanized Infantry Battalion has been tasked organized as follows:

  • 3 mechanized infantry platoons mounted in FV432
  • 1 squadron of Chieftain main battle tanks cross-attached to us from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
  • Battalion Recce section in Scimitar light tanks.
  • 5 x Fire missions  of 105mm from the RHA's Abbots. (FASCAM, Smoke, and HE available on request)

There is no time to develop hardened positions, however the men have time to prepare fighting positions, just no vehicle dugouts.  Engineers are tied up elsewhere.  Tank guns and ATGMs have a 40" range.  The entire length of the table, down which the Soviets will be advancing, is 72" and British forces may start at 36".  Neustadt is 2/3 of the way from the Soviet baseline, so 48 inches from their edge.

You know the Soviets have a company of tanks, a company of mechanized infantry in BMPs, probably plentiful artillery, and recce in support.  All told about 25 vehicles total.  This will be a Soviet hasty attack.

My questions to you were as follows:

  1. What is the defense plan?  Where should we post our platoons and the attached armor to stop Ivan?
  2. What is our Fire Support Plan?  Where are we requesting to drop our artillery to support the plan?
  3. What should we keep as a reserve?

Some coordinating instructions:

  • Platoons must stay organic (due to the rules I'll be using) so the armor stays with the armor.  We cannot break up the platoons.
  • We can start halfway down the table.
  • all woods are light woods.  Neustadt Junction is a small built up area and will provide cover and concealment to the defenders.

Here are some more pictures to help with your plan development:

View from the Soviet point of view 1.  Woods Alpha is visible on the left, along with Hill Bravo to the rear of the British position

View from Soviet approach 2.  Hill Charlie is visible on the right

Aerial view from Soviet approach.  You note the forested area to the front of Neustadt Junction on the left.  The forested hill on the right that commands the valley, and the large hill behind the position.
Let's call the woods on the left, woods Alpha, the forested large hill to the rear is hill Bravo, and the hill on the right of the picture as hill Charlie.  What is the plan, Brigade Major?

Please submit your plans to me in the comments below or via email.  I have already drawn up the Soviet plan on how I'll assault the position, so I'm looking for a defense plan on where to post the British platoons and the fire support plan to support.

Post your questions in the comments and I'll answer them as either the S2 or S3.  Good luck ladies and gentlemen!!


  1. Excellent!
    Initial thoughts are to distribute the armour at centre and left - in woods and high ground - with a fall back position at woods then high ground at rear. Smoke missions to cover fall back moves.

    Infantry platoon forward in wooded area east of village - with reserve at village to either reinforce - or hold. Milans distributed to these forward platoons.
    Reserve platoon of infantry west of village - with fall back to high ground to west. Balance of Milans used to either reinforce village position, or at fall back to high ground.
    Preserve Milans as far as possible - force BMPs to dismount early then target with HE.
    Smoke missions prepped to allow disengage to fall back positions by turn 5 or so.

    I feel it may be too complicated hmmm

    1. Thanks Darren! HQs says the armor has to stay together so we can't distribute it.

      So if I'm reading correctly, you want to put a platoon in the Alpha position woods, a platoon in Neustadt, and a platoon in between Hill Charlie and Neustadt. Each platoon has its inherent ATGM and those will have to remain with the platoons (when I tell you the rules I'm using, this will all make sense).

      Got it re fireplan - target dismounts. Keep smoke for final protective fires.

  2. Steve - great table and Idea.

    I do not really have much idea about the period and practical aspects of the weapons (range and effect etc), but here goes, you may have to translate some of this into what could really happen!

    INFANTRY - 1st platoon in the fields just in front of the Alpha woods, to cover road approach. This position will keep them out of the woods which is likely to be an initial target to soviet artillery. Judgement to be made at what point to deploy them back to the woods for cover and to hold. Abandon and retreat to behind Big Wood Bravo once they look like being overwhelmed.

    2nd platoon behind the village and await the initial soviet artillery attack on the village. As soon as practicable, they should occupy the village, tasked as last line of defence. Hold as long as possible.

    3rd Platoon amongst the woods on Hill Charlie. Hold until likely to be overwhelmed and then exit via safest route.

    Chieftan Squadron - concealed to the rear of Hill Charlie, the reserve and a counter-attack force, with a priority of attacking the Soviet flank if they move on to the village - otherwise act against any threat that develops directly against them, including a drive on Charlie by armour from the large Soviet hill opposite.

    Scimitars - I am not sure of their role in this sort of defensive situation and whether they have FOO capacity …. So they can start on Big Hilly Wood Bravo for an observation position re artillery plotting and on call. Otherwise they are a final reserve to cover other units retreating.

    Artillery - 3 missions to fire on turn 1 with FASCAM along the Soviet axis of advance and in front of the two enemy hill features, so that those areas are seeded with mines and the enemy forces are channelled towards the road.

    The two remaining missions are on call HE to be used by need, but in any case, pre-game registering to take place on that house (mid board next to the road) and the associated fields either side of the road as being the likely point of need.

    Overall objective, is to slow enemy advance, inflict disruption and high casualties, hold all features as long as possible, but to withdraw before being compromised and overwhelmed.

    1. Thanks Norm! I got the idea this morning when setting up. I was looking at the table trying to figure out how I would assault the position as the Warsaw Pact commander. When I got to thinking about the defenders, I thought I'd ask you all to help, since I've already developed an attack plan. I want to see how it will fare!

      Okay - infantry dug in to the front of the Alpha Woods (and a good idea about being OUT of artillery), a 2nd platoon behind Neustadt, and 3rd Platoon on Hill Charlie. Chieftains in reserve for counterattack behind Hill Charlie. Scimitars do have FOO. Will keep them on Big Hilly Wood Bravo.

      FSO / FOO is tracking 3 missions on Turn 1 with FASCAM along the Soviet Axis of Advance. Shall we wait until the Soviets are identified? Or would you like to use pre registered fire and drop the mines in front of both enemy hill features?

      Will keep 2 remaining for Final Protective Fires in case we need to bug out!

      I will post a follow-on as the attack develops so you can see. THis is alot of fun because I've already drawn up the attack plan. I cannot wait to see how it fares against tough, dug in British troops!

  3. Pre registered please, 1 mission to the left of the road in front of the small hill and two to the right of the road in front of the big hill.

  4. Late to the party as usual, but I’ll have a go! First off, get some proper tea you heathen. First platoon goes on or around Alpha, second in the fields on the other side of the road in front of La Haye Sainte, third on or around Charlie. AOP on Bravo and Chieftains behind Charlie - the open ground in front is their killing ground. Scimitars deploy forward of 2nd platoon to shoot & scoot. 2nd to withdraw to village if pressed; Scimitars redeploy on the right to cover the open ground and 1st platoon withdrawal (to Bravo) if required. Artillery is opportunity only on anything that dismounts or smoke to cover withdrawal. Hold for as long as necessary, then leave the table and nuke it from space. It’s the only way...

    1. Cheers, Jeffers! You noticed Le Haye Sainte :)

      Your plan is very similar to Norm's. I like it, although the Recce boys in their Scimitars are gonna be busy :)

    2. Hopefully busy enough to stop James Blunt singing.

    3. ...this is great stuff Steve

      ...also, not even a tactical nuke could stop James's dulcid tones. he did save the world from WW3 apparently ???

  5. PS I figure (looking from the Soviet side) the left and road are potential bottlenecks, the main effort with armour will be on the right where it is relatively open, so the Jocks are best placed ready for action there, assisted by ATGWs from 2nd and 3rd platoons.

    1. I am super excited to launch the Soviet attack after these posts :)

      I might actually do a post right after the platoons get into place and prepare for the attack.

      Proper tea :) love it!

    2. You might also need to adopt a cockney accent Steve.

      ' ee's bin and gone and dun it an all'
      Translation - he has performed the task admirably.

      'get all yer sh1t in one sock mate'
      Translation - please correct this delicately balanced situation with due process, and in good time.

    3. Cheers, Darren! Check this out - this one had me in absolute stitches:

      I need to get myself over there when you all have SALUTE next. We should all link up.

      Also, cream or milk in the team. I got it.