" A Scenario for Invasion"

“In the event of a general European war in the near future, the Soviet/Warsaw Pact forces would probably launch an all-out offensive to destroy NATO’s military capability and finish West Germany as a political entity. The invasion might be timed to coincide with a large Warsaw Pact exercise or with the twice-yearly troop rotation of Group of Soviet Forces Germany (to give Pact forces an edge in readiness), or it might come as a surprise jump out of garrison. In any event, it would certainly be accompanied by a devastating air raid aimed at catching NATO forces off guard.”
“The Fulda Gap sector, leading to Frankfurt as an immediate objective and to the Ruhr and US POMCUS (reinforcement) sites as deep objectives, might be the target of a major frontal thrust led by the Soviet 8th Guards Army (three motorized rifle divisions and one tank division), with 1st Guards Tank Army (two tank divisions and one motorized rifle division) as the second operational echelon. The remainder of 34th Artillery Division’s guns would support this axis. Defending the northern part of this zone is one West German division plus one brigade of West German III Corps. The rest of the area is covered by US V Corps (two divisions and one armored cavalry regiment).”
ARMIES OF NATO’S CENTRAL FRONT by David C. Isby and Charles Kamps Jr., NY: Jane’s Publ Co., 1985, pp. 19, 22.
“First Moves”
“The greatest threat to NATO is that of being taken by surprise. Should the Soviets attempt a surprise attack – either a ‘standing-start bolt from the blue’ from garrison, or while carrying out large-scale exercises, as in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, NATO might have less than the 48 hours of intelligence lead time projected as the minimum necessary to react. The Soviet high command could conceivably notify its forward-deployed divisions and selected Warsaw Pact units as late as about 24 hours before H-Hour. Combat and support formations would make last-minute preparations in daylight and move out of barracks at dusk. First-echelon divisions would proceed to jump-off positions near the Border, while second-echelon and other follow-on formations, having more distance to cover, might load their tracked vehicles on tank transporters or railway flatcars to deploy closer to the frontier late on D-Day. Assuming an obvious build-up of world tensions, NATO units might not be caught badly unprepared. Given a good 48 hour lead time and a resolute higher direction, NATO units could be ready to fight. This of course presupposes a political lead time of zero: during the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and the mobilization of the Soviet western military districts during the 1980-81 Polish crisis, US units on routine training alert were recalled to their barracks so that their movements would not appear provocative to Moscow. The implications for a future crisis are not encouraging.” [Isby and Kamps, pp. 23-24.]
“The NATO covering and delaying forces would attempt to buy time for the NATO main force units as they assumed defensive positions in the divisional battle area, usually a line along the most advantageous terrain features and located as far forward as possible. After disengaging, delaying force units would go into tactical reserve. NATO divisions would hold nominal frontages of about 40 kilometers, with battalions occupying sectors 3-5 kilometers wide.” [Isby and Kamps, p. 25.]
“Until recently, NATO counted on advance deployment of Soviet aircraft to small dispersal airstrips as one of many indicators of an impending attack. Today [1985], however, it is possible that the Warsaw Pact would attempt a knockout blow, without prior dispersal, in an effort to catch most of NATO’s aircraft on the ground and its troops in garrison.” [Isby and Kamps, p. 25.]
“The Battlefield”
“The historical lessons to be drawn from recent European wars must be modified in the light of the changes that have taken place in Western Europe since 1945. The expansion and improvement of the road network is the most significant of these. The resulting increase in mobility would be of more benefit to the attacker than the defender, allowing the former to create a rapidly changing threat and to resupply his spearheads. The construction of the Frankfurt-Fulda autobahn in the 1970s provided the Soviets with an excellent axis of high-speed advance, albeit one that could be blocked by demolitions. The newer roads bypass cities that would otherwise act as bottlenecks, and generally make it easier for an attacker to avoid urban areas.” [Isby and Kamps, p. 41.]
“In the denser terrain of CENTAG the Fulda Gap, the object of much US Army attention as the shortest route from the inner German border to Frankfurt and the heart of the Federal Republic, has poor trafficability, especially in the 50 kilometers closest to the Border. In the Gap itself, the terrain would canalize movement. While Soviet armored fighting vehicles have good cross-country mobility, the trucks required for resupply would be limited to the road network in the Gap.” [Isby and Kamps, p. 43.]
Summary for US Army Europe
“V Corps, headquartered at Frankfurt, is tasked with the defense of about 130 kilometers of the inner-German border. Although the terrain is defensible, it includes the Fulda Gap – which is looked upon as the shortest invasion route to the Rhine. V Corps considers that it could accomplish its defense mission for a limited time, but that it would be severely hampered by a shortage of transportation, signals and engineer units; an extremely limited stock of Lance missiles (the only Army system which can strike deep); very limited decontamination, electronic warfare and medical assets; and service support shortfalls.” [Isby and Kamps, p. 450.]
“The 3rd Armored Division plays a critical role in the CENTAG General Defense Plan. Its defensive sector is roughly the size of the state of Delaware.” [Isby and Kamps, p. 451.]
“While the 3rd AD believes that it could perform its wartime mission, the lack of transportation assets and handling equipment, coupled with the fact that much of its artillery basic ammunition load is located at storage sites, greatly reducers the Division’s ability to take up its General Defense Plan positions quickly.  The 8th Infantry Division (Mechanized) has as its principal mission in V Corps the defense of the Fulda Gap. Its peacetime garrisons, on or behind the Rhine, make deployment to positions in the divisional area difficult.” [Isby and Kamps, p. 451.]




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