Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Friday, 6 April 2012

ORBAT - 1980s Soviet MRR and TR, Part 3 Engineer Support

Engineer support was provided to the Soviet MRR and TRR in a number of ways. The engineer company's assets could be grouped with other regimental or divisional assets to produce Manoeuvre Support Detachments MSDs, Mobile Obstacle Detachments MODs and specfic assault river crossing support dependent on the units mission. Engineer and chemical reconnaissance would be provided in support of these functions.

The MOD was covered in the Post on the Anti Tank Reserve and essentially consisted of minelaying capability for rapid obstacle creation in support of such groups as the anti tank reserve, and could include:
  • The provision of Scatterable Mines from Trucks, Helicopters or MRLS (BM27),
  • Cratering, booby trapping and hand laying of mines or other obstacles from an engineer platoon which could be reinforced by attached MR assets
  • The provision of mine laying capability through either towed PMRs or tracked GMZs from division. The rates of laying that could be achieved by these assets make this very gamable. 1000m in 30 minutes by GMZ, 500m in 30 minutes by PMR. 

Interestingly the Soviets include the deployment of persistent chemicals as a means of channelling an enemy and the deployment of them can therefore be considered as part of the obstacle plan. The deployment of the Anti Tank reserve together with the development of obstacles would be triggered by the reconnaissance and march security elements of the unit or higher formation. At my 1:3 vehicle scale the regiment can support the creation of one MOD as can Division further groups could probably be generated from Army and Front assets. Groups would be allocated based on the priority of the mission, units acting as covering forces or dealing with flank protection of key forward detachments could receive considerable support, which makes for some interesting scenario options.

Big Game 2011, Rutgers MRR approaching the River Line
The Manoeuvre Support Detachment

The Manoeuvre Support Detachment was responsible within the MRR for the identification, clearance/breaching and marking of obstacles on the supported units route as well as the provision of route marking capability, the maintenance of the route and an element of its own security.  The detachment would include reconnaissance, security and engineer elements. Bridging capability was limited to small gaps crossable using either truck or armoured vehicle launched bridges from within the regiments own assets.

 The assets that could be drawn on to form an MSB include:
  • AVLBS and VLBs the engineer company in a tank regiment deployed 3 AVLBS either MT - 55 or MTU  in a MRR this was 1.  The VLB being the TMM , this could have included the TMM6 toward the later part of the period but I am unclear on the in service date.
  • Mine ploughs and rollers were the principal method of clearing mine obsticles. The Regimental Engineer company in a MRR could deploy 9 KMT 3/4, and 3 KMT 5 rollers/ploughs for the TR the figures are 28 and 9.
  • Tank Dozer blades. 3 BTU are held at regiment, essential for filling small gaps improving and maintaining entry and exit points from bridging and breaching AT ditches. I will probably use these to represent general earth moving capability as there are limited models available for the other equipment.
  • Explosive mine clearance devices were available based on T55, BTR 50 (MTK) and 2S1(MTK2) hulls.  The divisional Engineer battalion held between 2-6 depending on source. They had considerable utility on assault river crossings where the BTR 50 and 2S1 elements could swim and therefore begin mine clearance in advance of getting tanks across.
  • Tank platoons/companies could provide both security and clearance assets when equipped with either dozers mine ploughs or mine rollers.
  • Engineer Platoons. The Regimental Engineer Company fielded 2 Sapper Platoons 1 mounted in BTR 60 and 1 mounted in trucks. The divisional Engineer battalion had a further 2.  Against the Orbat shown above these were probably components of the Bridge and Mine warfare platoons, Isbey breaks them out as separate entities.
  • Engineer Recce. Divisional engineer Recce fielded 3 BTR 60. The BTR 60 equipped sapper platoons could provide a similar function.
  • Motor Rifle Platoons/Companies, provided security and additional labour for tasks such as hand breaching.
  • Chemical Recce detachments provided chemical recce capability, 3-4 BRDM 2 Rkh existed within the Regimental Chemical Defence Company, and 9 within the Divisional NBC Defence Battalion.
Big Game 2011, Rutgers MRR commences the River Crossing

So for my Wargames MSD I intend to use at 1:3 with some poetic licence to maintain each capability and introduce some interesting models:

Engineer and Chemical Recce (Reinfoirced from Division) 1 BTR 60, 2 BRDM 2Rkh (These will work forward on the main march routes with Regimental Recce and March security elements)
Mine Clearance, 3 Tanks 1 per Company with KMT 3/4/5. The KMTs can be held on trucks (1) and be issued as required to the tank companies. Additionally I'll provide MTK2 to the MSD
Route Improvement Maintainence 1 Tank with BTU Dozer
Route Marking and Security 1 BMP Company.
Bridging 1 MT 55 AVLB
1Truck mounted Sapper Platoon 6 Figures

The Tank Platoon and MR Company will be drawn from the 2nd Echelon Battalion

Assault River Crossing group

If the unit was expected to meet a significant water Obstacle then an Assault River crossing group could be provided from Divisional assets. The composition would probably vary dependent on the type of unit being supported as wheeled MRR would have a lot more trucks because of there towed artillery, particularly in the earlier organisation options.

 The Divisional Engineer battalion had 6 complete GSP ferrys and 12 PTS2 Tracked Amphibious Load Carriers. David Glanz in The Soviet Conduct Of Tactical Manoeuvre sugests a grouping of 3 GSP and 2 PTS, given the numbers I am going for 3 GSP and upto 6 PTS. The assault crossing assets would be grouped with units and sub units acting as forward detachments as these would be the lead element and be responsible for creating the initial crossing of water obstacles.  Deliberate bridging would most likely occur once an initial bridgehead had been established and cleared to the point where the enemy could not bring the bridging site under direct fire.

For Wargames representation of this I will be using 1 GSP and 2 PTS

River crossings make for excellent scenarios as they allow considerable scope for task organising and could include;
  •  An airborne forward detachment drawn from the Divisional or Army second echelon using helicopter insertion, 
  • A ground based MRB strength forward detachment drawn from the divisional second echelon and supported by air and aviation to establish the initial bridge head
  •  The Divisions first echelon MRR which would have the Divisional bridging capability grouped with it and if on the main axis could be reinforced by key divisional assets which could include Recce, anti tank, engineer and artillery. 
I am currently working up a post which will look in detail at the force composition the TTPs and a Scenario that could be played at a few different levels.

Significant additional engineer assets were held at Army and Front which would allow quite a number of such groupings to be formed if required.  Forward detachments would potentially be created at each level  such that an Army advancing with two divisions in the first echelon each with two regiments BTR in the first echelon, could have across the front two divisional forward detachments of Battalion Strength (BMP) and a regimental Strength Army forward detachment (BTR or BMP), effectively putting 5 Battalion sized reinforced groups across the frontage with the opportunity to put at least one in front of every regiment in the first echelon. Within the scope of the Army and Frontal engineer assets most could have significant MSDs and Assault River Crossing capability, without touching the MSDs of the first echelon regiments.

S&S PTS2 Amphibious Tracked Transporter

This video gives a reasonable impression of the sequencing of an assault river crossing, sadly no GSP ferries.


The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Manoeuvre, Spearhead of the Offensive, DM Glantz
Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Union, D Isbey
Identify Engineer and Decontamination Equipment
FMSO Instant Obstacles Russian remotely delivered Mines
FM 100 -2-1 The Soviet Army Operations and Tactics
FM 100-2-2 The Soviet Army, Specialised Warfare and Reara Area Security, Chapters on Airborn, Heliborn and River Crossing Operations
FM 100-2-3 The Soviet Army Troops, Organisation and Equipment, Engineer and Chemical Sub Units and Units
Wargames Unit - Soviet MRR Anti Tank Reserve
Wikipedia Military Engineering Vehicles
ORBAT- 1980's MRR and TRR, Part 1Part 2, Part 4

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