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

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

ORBAT - 1980's British BG, NATO Reinforcement Part 1, General

I have had this post on a long list of ones to write for some time, it was always my intention to cover the full range of Battle Groups that could be deployed into Germany with my British collection. This post will look at what that range may be. Forward deployed in Germany as part of BAOR we had effectively the armoured force comprising:
  • Type 57 Armoured Regiments Cheiftain/Challenger
  • Type 43 Armoured Regiments Cheiftain/Challenger
  • Armoured Infantry Battalions Warrior
  • Mechanised (tracked) Infantry Battalions FV432
  • Medium Artillery Regiments M109 + Javalin or Abbott
  • Heavy Artillery Regiments M107, M110, MLRS
  • Field and Armoured Engineer Regiments FV432 or AVRE's
  • Missile Artillery Regiments Lance
  • Air Defence Artillery Regiments Rapier Tracked and Towed
  • Medium Recconaisance Regiments CVR(T) pretty much the whole family
  • Aviation Regiments Lynx and Gazelle
  • Logistic Units - REME, Ordanace Corps Transport Corps, Medical Corps, Military Police. Which whilst vital tend to be of less interest to the Wargamer
These units were the components of the principal combat elements of 1st 4th and 3rd Armoured Divisions which were the forward deployed divisions, of which one, 4th Division had a Brigade in UK.  On top of this there were a raft of reinforcement units that would deploy from the UK in time of war, it was a significant component of this force that participated in the Exercise Lionheart Exercise in 1984.

Not all of the reinforcement force elements would deploy into AFCENT deployments to AFNORTH and  AFSOUTH were also included, the break down is as follows:

  • AFCENT, 5 Bdes
  • AFNORTH, 3 Bdes
  • AFSOUTH, 1 Bde
  • Reserve, 1 Bde

The principal units their broad composition and their deployment responsibilities were as follows:

  • 2nd Infantry Division directly reinforced BAOR and AFCENT and was responsible for the security of the Corps Rear Area.  The Division included 1 regular and 2 TA Brigades, with each TA Brigade including a Fox mounted Yeomanry Recce Regiment.  Of interest on Exercixe Lionheart in 1984 2 Div detached 24 Brigade and received The Bundeswehr's 53 HS Brigade. The Divisions Composition was as follows
    • 24 Infantry/Airmobile Brigade
    • 15 Brigade (TA) 5 TA Bn 1 Yeomanry Regt
    • 49 Brigade (TA) 5 TA Bn 1 Yeomanry Regt
    • 101 Regt RA (TA) 105 Lt Gun (49 Bde)
    • 100 Regt RA (TA) 105 Lt Gun (15 Bde)
    • 27 Regt RA FH70 (24 Bde)
    • 103 AD Regt (TA) Blowpipe/Javalin
    • 38 Regt RE (1 Sqn ?)
    • 655 Sqn AAC (other sources identify this as an NI role unit)

The Mechanised Brigades

  • 19 Infantry Brigade deployed initially as an infantry brigade It started to convert to a Mech (Wh) Brigade in 1985/86 as part of 3rd Armoured division the Corps reserve and a component of AFCENT. On exercises the brigade was frequently pulled forward in a ground holding role for one or other of the forward Divisions.  From 1986 it deployed as a Mech (Wh) Brigade as part of 4th Armoured Division deploying in the area of Bokenum in Lower Saxony.  It was composed of:
    • 3 Light Role Type A Regular Infantry Battalions converting to Saxon 1986-1988.
    • An FH 70 Regiment 40 then 45 Regt RA
    • An Army Air Corps Squadron 657 Sqn
    • Armoured Regt, Royal Hussars (Type 43)  Chieftain
    • 1 AD Tp from 21 AD Bty RA
    • A Recce regiment.  This was the divisional recce regiment, located in UK and probably shown under command of the brigade for administration and deployment.
    • 34 Field Sqn RE from (39 Regt RE)

  • 24 Infantry/Airmobile Brigade, whilst the Brigade was part of AFCENT and deployed with 2nd infantry division its role and equipment change warrant further consideration. Initially 24 Brigade was a light brigade converting first to Mech (Wh) 1984 where it deployed on Exercise Lionheart. As part of this exercise it was detached from 2nd Infantry Division and I suspect committed into the forward Divisons AORs with 19 Bde, one to each. Of interest in phase 1 of the exercise it had a squadron of 4 RTR under command.  in 1988 it became an Airmobile Brigade where it became a component of the Corps Reserve. This evolved to a NORTHAG reserve role as part of a Multi national Airmobile Div including the Bundeswehr's 25 Luftlande Brigade and the Belgium Para Commando Regiment 1990?  24 Brigade comprised:
    • 3 Light Role Battalions, then 2 Saxon (1984/85) and 1 Light role, then from 1988 2 Airmobile battalions and a  saxon Battalion (until 1993) then 3 Airmobile battalions 
    • FH70 Regt but this converted to 105 light gun in the 1990s. 27 Regt RA
    • from 1988 to 1994 by 9 Regt AAC and from 1994 by 3 and 4 Regt AAC1
    • 51 Field Squadron RE from 1988 (38 Regt RE)
    • Air Defence was initially provided by 103 (Lancastrian Volunteers) RA who supported 2 Div, then 21 Battery RA ( 1 troop) from 1989.

  • 1st Infantry Brigade reinforced AFNORTH, It was the main component of the UKMF (UK Mobile Force) and deployed into Denmark.  It was initially a Light Role infantry Brigade becoming a Mech (Wh) Brigade, I suspect in 1988.   The Brigade had an interesting organisation being composed of:
    • 3 Light Role Infantry Battalions converting to Saxon in 1988
    • TA Battalion, light role, 1 Wessex
    • Armoured Sqn, Royal Hussars Chieftain (1 Sqn)
    • Recce Regiment, 13/18th Royal Hussars (-1 Sqn to AMF(L))
    • 1 Engineer Regiments, 22 Engr Regt 
    • 1 Rapier Battery from 16 AD Regt
    • 26 Regt RA, FH 70.
    • 656 Sqn AAC
    • AD Troop from 21 AD Bty RA (assumed)

The Airborne Brigades

  • 5 Airborne Brigade I believe was part of the national reserve with no specific identified role in the European Theatre.  It contained two in role para battalions and 1 regular light role infantry battalion in the air landing role and a Gurkah battalion.  Units were supported by a range of Combat Support and Combat Service Support Battalions including an armoured Recce squadron.
    • 2 in role Para Bns
    • 2 Air Landing Bns 
    • 7 Para Regt RHA, 105mm Light Gun
    • 9 Indep Para Sqn RE
    • 658 Sqn AAC
    • 1 Recce Sqn, CVR(T) (Life Guards)
  • Para Regiment Group.  The Parachute Regiment Group was a headquarters that sat over the 3 TA Para battalions which were equipped with enhanced allocations of Milan and came under command of 1st Armoured Division reinforcing AFCENT with a role of defending Hildeshiem. The Group consisted of the 3 TA Para Battalions  4th, 10th and 15th.

The Commando Brigade

  • 3 Commando Brigade had identified roles on the Northern Flank with AFNORTH.  This included options in both Norway and Denmark.  The Commando Brigade included elements of the Royal Dutch Marines and was equipped with BV 202/206. In addition this force would be supported by both Naval, Marine, Army and Air Force Aviation units.It contained
    • 3 RM Commandos 
    • 29 Commando Regt RA with 105mm Light guns, and Navel Gun Fire Support Battery
    • 59 Commando Sqn RE.
    • G Troop,  Light AD (Javalin)
    • 1 Recce Squadron CVR(T) (Life Guards) 
    • 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron (Gazelle and Lynx)
    • 20 AD Battery (Rappier? 1990 16 Regt)

The Multinational Brigade

  • AMF(L) covered both the Northern and Southern Flanks, so both AFNORTH and AFSOUTH.  It provided a multi national brigade group this may have been to each.  The Northern Force included a British Light Role Battalion equipped with BV 202/206, a recce squadron a gun battery and aviation squadron.  The force exercised in alternate years to each of the respective flanks but I assume that in war both could have deployed.  Force composition was broadly as follows:

    • Northern Option; 
UK Light Role Bn, 
Canadian Bn, 
Italian Alpini, 
UK Med Recce Sqn
, 5 Bty RA

Southern Option
; US Para Bn, Ge Fallschirm
jager Bn, Be Para Commando Bn, 
UK Med Recce Sqn
, 5 Bty RA

Special Forces

  • UK Special Forces (Regular and TA)
    • 21, 23 SAS Stay behind OPs
    • 22 SAS Strategic Reserve (SACEUR)
    • SBS
    • Stay behind Artillery Units HAC

Artillery, Aviation and Engineers

  • Air Defence RA
    • 102 Light AD Regt RA (TA) Blowpipe/Javalin
    • 104 Light AD Regt RA (TA) Blowpipe/Javalin
    • 105 Light AD Regt RA (TA) Blowpipe/Javaline
    • 16 Regt RA, Rapier towed (-1 Bty UKMF, - 1 Bty 3 Cdo Bde)
  • Army Air Corps
      • 657 Sqn was an independent Squadron with a reinforcement role with 19 Bde
    • 7 Regt Army Air Corps Supported UKLF Squadrons were allocated:
      • 656 1 Mech Bde
      • 658 Para Bde
      • 666 (V) Home Defence
  • Engineers
    • 29 Engineer Brigade (TA) Corps rear area
      • 71, 72, 73 Engr Regt (TA)
That effectively put another 9 Brigades into the field, 10 if AMF(L) could deploy both components effectively 3 Divisions and the distribution of supporting arms suggests that it was not far off that level of capability  The reinforcement formations were largely comprised of the following unit types:

  • Mechanised (Wheeled) Battalions
  • Light Role Battalions (TA and Regular)
  • Para Battalions (TA and Regular)
  • RM Commandos
  • Air Mobile battalions

  • 1 Armoured Regiment
  • 3 Medium Recconaisance Regiments (with at least 2 different organisations)
  • 2 Yeomanry Recconaisance Regiments

  • Field Engineer Regiments
  • Medium Artillery Regiments (FH70)
  • Light Artillery Regiments (105mm Light Gun)
  • Light Air Defence Regiments (Rapier/Javalin and Blowpipe)
  • Aviation Squadrons

The next set of projects will start to create the ability to represent a range of these reinforcement units, starting with the Mechanised Wheeled and Light Role Type A Battalions of 19, 24 and 1 Infantry Brigades and including the capability deployed by 6 and 24 Airmobile Brigades and possibly the Commando or AMF(L) Bn.  All up some very interesting force compositions available.


Other Posts of interest:

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