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

Monday, 16 December 2013

ORBAT - Soviet Task Org, Fronts against NORTHAG

The next set of games we intend to play will primarily looking at opperations in the NORTHAG area of responsibility, initially these will be operations against 1 Br Corps. In order to understand force composition and likly activities I decided to take a slightly closer look at NORTHAG and the Soviet Forces that were likly to head into the North German Plain.

Northag Deployment and Balance of Force

The first piece of analysis looked at the NORTHAG lay down and the composition and location of the Corps assets. Essentialy the Army Group Composition was as follows:
  • 1 Ne Corps, 3 Divisions, 1 Bde Forward Based, MDP around the River Esk, 48 Hours to deploy
  • 1 Ge Corps, 3 Divisions, 2 in place, 1 would hold Dutch Korps area until relieved.
  • 1 Br Corps 3 Divisions, 1 Bde held back in UK, the weaker division on more difficult terrain
  • 1 Be Corps 2 Weak Divisions, holding difficult terrain, 50% reserve formations from Belgium,
  • 3 US Corps, 3 Divisions, providing Strategic depth, if the REFORGER exercise went well. 30 Days to deploy.

in the worst case the Soviets would face 7 Divisions, best case 13 Divisions, depending on warning time and disruption of deployment. If you take the Suverov model a Soviet Front amounted to some 14 Divisions, 14 against 7 was not a great bet, 14 against 13 was abysmal even with echeloned forces and use of economy of force measures such as pinning attacks they would be unlikely to achieve the force ratios required for success. I therefore think it is highly likely that in the Majority of circumstances the Soviets would have tried to push two fronts through NORTHAGs area the first being formed from GSFG and the GDRs NVA and the second from NGSF and the Polish PVA.

Warsaw Pact Operational Plan

Ralph Peters in his book Red Army conceptualises that the Soviet main efforts would have sat against the Belgians in the South and the German/Dutch units in the North with an economy of force action taking place against the British. A sensible plan with a couple of Flaws:
  • The British are attacked by 3rd Shock Army a Tank Army, the Soviets would be doctrinaly unlikely to lead an attack with a Tank Army except under conditions where the defence was unhinged.
  • It is doctrinally implausible that the Soviets would use a Tank Army in a pinning action.
  • As outlined above, one front would probably be insufficient to take NORTHAG down.

My operational plan for the Warsaw Pact on the Central front takes Peter's basic premise but relies on the Soviets deploying 4 Fronts in the first echelon based on 1st Polish Front, 1st and 2nd German Fronts and 1st Czecheslovakian front, the 2nd Echelon would be provided by fronts from the Western Military districts of the Soviet Union. This broadly follows the composition laid down in the Rand Soviet - Warsaw Pact Western Theatre of Operations paper and puts 2 Fronts against NORTHAG.

The outline of the plan would see 1st Polish Front striking against the Dutch, German and Danish Forces in the North whilst the East Germans and Soviets of 1st German Front would hit the Germans, British and Belgians in the South with the inter Front boundaries falling in 1 Ge Corps area and 1 Be Corps areas. This would enable 1 Br Corps and 1 Ge Corps to be pinned by the commitment of one Soviet Army, Whilst an NVA Army hit the weak Belgian Corps and 2 Armies hit the weak Dutch, Danish and Germans in the North who would always be slow to arrive. The tank Armies of each front would sit in the second echelon ready to exploit success.

Of Note, there are references that refer to Polish objections around the split direction of attack they would need to pursue, although additional Naval Infantry and Airborne assets seem to have been allocated to the Danish Peninsular which leave them with reasonably credible force ratios.  The Strategic drivers for securing Denmark were primarily Naval and Air focusing on access to the North Sea for the Baltic Fleet and disruption of NATO Radar chains. (added 17 Dec 2013)

The Second Operational echelon could then be comprised of the 1st Baltic Front and the 1st Carpathian Front (originally posted as Belorussian and Ukranian, amended following analysis of Soviet Military District holdings, and the CIAs Warning of War in Europe). The biggest challenge would probably be getting the Polish army onto the start line given a trip wire scenario. The Map above which I have adapted probably sums this up.

The interesting benifit of this plan from the Warsaw Pact perspective is that it pitches the more obsolete elements of the Warsaw Pact against the more obsolete or late arriving elements of NATO, whilst the bulk of the more Modern Soviet and Czech assets fall against the British, German and US forces.

German Soviet Front Composition and Deployment

Following the same logic as that used for the creation of the Chezcheslovakian front, it is assumed that the components of GSFG would be combined with those of the DDR to form two fronts each composed of two Combined Arms Armies a tank Army and an Air Army, with the Air Armies being formed from the disaggregation of assets owned by 16 Air Army and the Luftstreitkräfte der National Volksarmee.

Each Army is assumed to be 4 MRD and 1 TD in the case of CAA and 4 TD in the case of a Tank army, the idea is outlined in Victor Suverovs Inside the Soviet Army.

The Polish Army could also easily be restructured into a standard front given the incorporation of the Soviet 20th Tank Division into the tank Army, to create 1st Polish Front as follows;

  • 6 PVA TA; 5PVA TD, 10PVA TD, 11PVA TD, 20TD (Soviet)
  • 1 PVA Air Army
The Soviet Front attacking into the NORTHAG sector, 1st German Front, I have composed from:
  • 5 NVA CAA; 9 NVA TD, 1 NVA MSD, 8 NVA MSD, 11NVA MSD, NVA MSD (res)
  • 2 GvTA as a CAA; 16GvTD, 94GvMSD, 21MSD, 207MSD, 6MSD (fm NGSF)
  • 3rd Shock Army TA; 7GvTD, 10GvTD, 12GvTD, 47GvTD
  • 16 Air Army.
Whilst the front focused on CENTAG 2nd German Front would be comprised of;
  • 8th GvCAA; 79TD, 27GvMSD, 39GvMSD, 57GvMSD, NVA MSD (res)
  • 1st GvTA as CAA 9TD, 20GvMSD, 35MSD, 4 NVA MSD, NVA MSD (res)
  • 20th Guards Army (TA) 32GvTD, 25 TD, 90GvTD, 11GvTD
  • 4 Air Army
The 1st Czechoslovakian Front, could equally standardised as follows;
  • 22 CAA; 30GvMSD, 18GvMSD, 48 MSD, 15 CSLA MSD, 31 TD
  • 1 CSLA TA; 4CSLA TD, 9CSLA TD, 13CSLA TD, 15 TD (Soviet)
  • 1 CSLA Air Army

This Orbat can be created by rationalising divisions within the Soviet Armies to meet Suverovs definition and redistributing the East German 3 NVA CAA and reserve units to bring the Soviet Fronts unto strength. Alternativly you would be bring forward 3 Soviet MRDs from the Western Military districts which would obviate the need to use the NVA reserves.  The same logic works for NGSF, CGSF and the Baltic, Belorussian and Carpathian Military Districts.  Depending on the Type of Scenario trip wire or  escalation the composition of the forces and fronts involved might vary considerably.  The CIA in Warning of War in Europe postulated 2 options:
  • Trip Wire: 3 Fronts - 1/2 German and Czech, 2 Week Warning
  • Soviet Preferred: 5/6 Fronts - as described above, 4 Weeks Warning
These warning times were stated for 1989 following Soviet force posture reductions and were considerably longer than those stated in 1984.  The illustration above would take some effort on behalf of the Warsaw pact to orchestrate.

1st German Front Deployment

The Soviet 1st German Front attacking into the Southern Half of NORTHAG is attacking with two Combined Armes Armies forward and a Tank Army in the second echelon. Following Ralph Peter's concept for Battle, the Front is deploying 5 GDR CAA South against the weak 1 Be Corps and the Southern most elements of 1 Br Corps, 19 Infantry Brigade. 20 Guards CAA atack into the remainder of 1 Be Corps and Southern most units of 1 Ge Corps, 3rd Shock Army is echeloned to exploit success either to the North or South.

The scenario I am working is against 4 UK Armoured Division which will be engaged by 20 GvCAA .  Given the fact that this will be a pinning attack, I am assuming they Soviet's will attack with 4 MRD in the first echelon and a single TD in the second. 20GvCAA is comprised of:

  • 94GvMSD
  • 21 MSD
  • 207 MSD
  • 6 MSD from Reinforcement from NGSF
  • 17 TD
94GvMSD is our selected opponent for that part of 4 Armoured Division not hit by 5 NVA CAA

94GvMSD Zvenigorodsko Berlinskaya Order of Suverov

94 GvMSDs composition is reasonably well documented, from a number of Russian language sites and broadly seems to have consisted of the following:
  • 204 The Red Guards Motorized Rifle UmanskoBerlinsky Orders of Suvorov, Kutuzov and B.Hmelnitskogo Regiment (Schwerin) BMP, 204GvMSP
  • 286 The Red Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment Brandenburg (Schwerin) BTR, 286 GvMSP
  • 288 The Red Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment Chisinau (Wismar) BTR, 288 GvMSP
  • 74 Guards Tank Valginsky Order of Lenin Red Banner Orders of Suvorov, Kutuzov and B.Hmelnitskogo Regiment (Schwerin), 74 GvTP
  • 199 Guards Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment Brandenburg Red Banner (Wismar)
  • 896 SAM Demblinsky Order of Alexander Nevsky Regiment (Schwerin)
  • 20 Independent Tank Battalion (Schwerin)
  • 496 separate anti-tank artillery battalion (Schwerin)
  • 12 separate reconnaissance battalion (Schwerin)
  • 159 separate communications battalion (Schwerin)
  • 107 separate engineering battalion (Schwerin)
  • 1130 separate battalion of material security
  • 52 separate repair and refurbishment battalion


Related Posts


  1. Rezun (Jackson) - absolutely not a reliable source. Recommend the book: Feskov VI, KA Kalashnikov, VI Golikov "The Soviet Army during the Cold War" (unfortunately only in Russian)
    You can read here http://militera.lib.ru/h/0/pdf/feskov_vi02.pdf

  2. Superb thanks for that been trying to find a copy of that for a while

  3. 19 Bde is not the southern most element of 4 Div, 11 Bde is/was. 19 Bde was the northern Bde mostly deployed in and around the Bockenem bowl, with 11Bde ot the south towards Bad Gandersheim and Seesen. 20 Bde to the front as covering force and then reserve post reconstitution. At least it was after we rewrote the GDP in 87-88. Tony

    1. Tony, thanks for that any other information about 4 Dive deployments in that period gratefully received as I am wanting to write a mini campaign looking at aspects of the Breakthrough Battle and the target selected is 4 Div and 19 Bde, primarily because I have a soft spot for Saxon :)