Saturday, August 16, 2014

East German/Polish/Soviet organization (and my 100th post)!!!

First things first. This is my 100th post!! Yay!!!

Ok, let's get down to business. This weekend, I've spent my time texturing and flocking some bases (I try to stay ahead of my useage rate), which isn't terribly photogenic. That being the case, I thought I'd talk a bit about East German, Polish, and Soviet military structure as it pertained to the LANDJUT area of operations. 

East Germany was divided roughly in half into two military districts; District V in the north and District III in the south. Along with elements of the East German Army (the National Volksarmee - "NVA"), about 60% of all Soviet troops in East Germany (Group of Soviet Forces Germany - "GSFG") were also stationed in District V:
which itself was subdivided into northern and southern zones and, as my 1981 campaign deals with operations in LANDJUT, we'll concern ourselves only with District V's northern zone. (As an aside to the above maps, the 3rd Shock Army wasn't called that after the mid to late 1950's, when the name was changed to the 3rd Assault Army. In the late 1960's or early 1970's, the name was changed again to the 3rd Red Banner of the Soviet Union Combined Arms Army, which is what it remained until the unit was dissolved in 1991). 

The East German 5th Army was assigned to the thrust into LANDJUT and was made up of the 8th Motor Rifle Division and the 9th Armored Division (which didn't have "Heinz Hoffmann" appended to its name until after his death in 1985). In addition to its front-line divisions, East Germany had a further five motor rifle divisions that were kept in a reserve status, but which would've been called to active duty prior to the outbreak of any hostilities. The unit dedicated to the northern zone of District V (and to the 5th Army) was the 20th Motor Rifle Division. The 9th would've been equipped with T-55's, as well as about one battalion's worth of T-72's. The armored elements of the 8th would've had only T-55's and the 20th a mixture of T-54's and T-55's and probably even a few T-34/85M's. Reserve divisions would also have been more likely to use at least some obsolete APC's as well as some infantry that was motorized (ie, truck-transported), as opposed to mechanized. 

Supporting the East Germans (or vice-versa) would've been the "2nd Guards Red Banner of the Soviet Union Tank Army". You can see why it was always referred to by its short form: the 2nd Guards Tank Army. To be fair, the majority of these Soviet troops would have been committed to the seizure of Hamburg and the subsequent push on to the North Sea, but at least a few units would likely have been diverted into the advance up the Jutland Peninsula to seize the Kiel Canal, particularly the airborne (the VDV; likely elements of the 7th Guards Airborne Division based at Kaunas, Lithuania) and possibly a few naval infantry units, in addition to any ground troops. 

In the early 1980s, the 2nd Guards Tank Army consisted of the 16th Guards Armored Division, 21st Motor Rifle Division, 94th Guards Motor Rifle Division, and 207th Motor Rifle Division. In early 1981, all of the 16th and the armored elements of the 21st, 94th, and 207th would've been equipped with mostly T-64A's. In the 16th, there would've been a healthy minority of T-64B's and the three motor rifle units only would have been not quite half T-62's. 

Behind East Germany, in the second echelon, was the Polish People's Army (the "LWP"). It was the largest non-Soviet Warsaw Pact army, but a decade of weak economic conditions in Poland had left its army less modern than that of East Germany. A large portion of the Polish Army was stationed in the south of the country, earmarked to support the Soviet/Czech push into central and southern West Germany. Likewise, the bulk of the Soviet Northern Forces Group ("NFG") was in southern Poland. 

The force which would've been involved in LANDJUT, apart from the airborne and marines, was the Polish 1st Army, comprised of the 8th, 12th, and 15th Motor Rifle Divisions and the 16th and 20th Armored Divisions. The 16th and 20th would've been equipped with a majority of T-55's, with a few companies of T-72's. The armored elements of the motor rifle divisions would've had T-55's, with a few T-54's mixed in. Like the East Germans, some T-34/85M's would also have been seen. The majority of the 1st Army would've been thrown into the assault on Hamburg, but at least part, if not all of the 12th Motor Rifle Division in particular would likely have been diverted to bolster the forces pushing into LANDJUT, as it was to assume the far northern flank position during the advance of the 1st Army. 

And finally, behind Poland lay the Western Military Districts of the Soviet Union, which would have held major reinforcements for the ground offensive into Western Europe. For the purposes of LANDJUT, the northern portions of these districts would be present-day Kaliningrad, Lithuania, and northern Belarus. Large reserves were held just inside the Soviet Union to provide a strong third wave of units, generally equipped with quite modern matériel. This is where the vast bulk of Soviet T-72's and most of the then still fairly rare T-80's and T-80B's were held in readiness. 

This is all obviously the short and simplified version of an ORBAT that otherwise would be far too long and overly complex for a wargaming blog. In my wargaming, I strive for historical accuracy, until it begins to bog everything down with minutiae. At that point, I switch to "historical plausibility" and begin using a simplified version. 

I hope this has provided a coherent overview. More from me during the coming week!


  1. A very interesting post. Having grown up in the '70's & '80's I, like many other's, was aware of the threat from the Soviet Union and it's allies. But it is now I'm finding that I have more interest in the subject from a historical point of view and the 'Cold War Gone Hot' scenario. So I enjoy posts like this one. More please!