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Subject: World War III: prelude rss

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Jean-Luc Lanctot
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A few months ago, a friend and I decided to replay the whole GDW third world war series. Last may we played The Persian Gulf and The Arctic front games, and I posted the sessions in each of those games sections. As some of you might recall, we decided to use the early attack option for the Warsaw Pact. The Warsaw Pact had a marginal victory in the Persian Gulf, and a substantial victory in the arctic front.

Over the last few weeks, we had time to play The Battle for Germany and the Southern Front modules (we decided to play those two simultaneously) and I will post the sessions over the next few days in their respective sections. But just to put you in the mood, and to link those modules with the ones we played in may, I decided to re-create the atmosphere that might have prevailed in the Soviet General Staff in preparation of this war. Hope you enjoy:

Sharapovo, south east of Moscow, May 21st 1988, Soviet wartime Defense Council (the discusions have already been going on for a few hours)

(General Petrov)"So General Egorov, according to your analysis you are certain that war with the West is inevitable?"

(General Egorov)"Yes General Petrov. All my experts at the GRU are quite clear on this. The will of the American government to intervene and fight in the Persian Gulf for their bourgeois puppets has been grossly underestimated. As soon as the Oman government has granted the US access to its territory, the RDF has been deploying around Mascat. Now you know as well as I do that they have started to deploy in southern Iran over the last few days. It is only a matter of time before our land or air units fight against each other."

(Admiral Andreev)"Or even our navies general. I have received several reports that the few naval units we have in the Indian Ocean have been aggressively monitored and followed by naval and air assets of the US navy over there. Several of our naval reconnaissance planes had radar locks on them. People are getting nervous over there and an incident is bound to happen. The intentions of the US government in the Persian Gulf is very clear to me, and NATO will probably back it"

(General Federov)"At least Turkey will. I have kept a few divisions in the Caucasus to block any incursion by turkish units, but all the formations of the 4th Army are reporting an increase in activity by Turkey. They are sending sections of mountain infantry along the border and their reconnaissance planes have been flying dangerously close to the Iranian border. It is pretty clear to me that they will intervene in Iran, or even in the Caucasus, if we fight against the Americans."

(General Petrov)"So comrade First Secretary, in view of all these informations, should we not prepare for the worse and launch a preemptive strike against the West?"

(First Secretary)"I can see no other option then war. To back down from Iran would be to accept losing face to the entire world right now. This is clearly not acceptable, especially with all those nationalist movements going on in our caucasian republics nowadays. It could very clearly provoke the downfall of the Soviet Union and all we have been fighting for over the last seventy years.What is your evaluation of our chances against NATO and what are the risks of a nuclear confrontation?"

(General Petrov)"As you know, we have made a lot of simulations for a possible conflict against NATO over the last few years. The situation has changed dramatically over the last ten years. Before the end of the seventies, I wouldn't have any doubt about our chances against NATO. The difference between our armement and theirs was not that great. Now, the West has put several weapon systems that are clearly more advanced than ours. The Americans have deployed hundreds of A-10 aircrafts and Apache helicopters that can destroy any armored vehicules we have. The most important NATO countries have deployed extremely powerful tanks, and most NATO artillery is self-propelled. Most of their units also have very effective anti-tank missiles. Their AWACS planes are very effective to command air combat, and finally their navies are stronger than ours.
In view of all those constraints, all our simulations have shown that our only option is a surprise attack against NATO. If we can prevent the American, West German and British units from fully mobilizing and getting to their forward defense positions, we might be able to isolate and destroy several of their divisions.
Our main axis of attack will have to be the western TVD. This war will be won or lost there. This is where we will encounter the most Americans units, and West Germany is also the strongest western european economy and army. To conquer West Germany will be a catastrophic political, military and economic blow to the West. This is also why we will commit the strategic reserve (see The Arctic Front rules) to the western TVD."

(General Egorov)"I concur with General Petrov's evaluation. It will be especially important for our armies in Germany to overrun as many POMCUS sites as possible. Our main enemy in West Germany will be the US Army.Their divisions are extremely powerful and they are well equipped with anti-tank helicopters."

(First Secretary)"What about Scandinavia and the Balkans?"

(General Vasiliev)"For my part, a surprise attack against NATO would be the best possible scenario for my units in Scandinavia. This would keep the British and American units from my theater of operation for at least a full week. My formations would be able to capture Finnmark without any problem, and my marine infantry and airborne troops would be able to invade the Troms province with very little opposition from the norwegian army. Also the Norwegians would only have their F-16 to defend their airspace against our much stronger frontal aviation. This is probably the only theater of operation where we will be able to gain air superiorety. Our colleagues of the Red Banner Northern Fleet will be able to use the norwegian ports and airfields to interdict the North Atlantic to US and Canadian convoys. To increase the rate of advance, I will send a few formations through northern Finland."

(First Secretary)"The Finns will accept that?"

(General Egorov)"All our informations indicate that they will probably accept a northern passage option, as long as we don't go south of the arctic circle. Anyway, even if they try to resist their army is small and we will be able to deal with it. I will strongly suggest that we leave Sweden alone though. Its army and airforce are strong and it could turn the tide against us in Scandinavia if we threaten them.
For the Balkans, the situation will be much more complicated but I will let General Alekseev discuss this."

(General Alekseev)"Thank you comrade general Egorov. After long discussions with General Petrov, Egorov and Federov, we have concluded that the Western TVD and Norway will be our main axis of advance at the beginning of the campaign. My theater of operation, the southwestern TVD, will be in a more defensive posture at the beginning. Our main problem over there is that we have very few category A units available for Bulgaria and Romania. To have more units would mean mobilizing for a longer period of time, and therefore potentially losing the surprise advantage that we could gain in West Germany and Norway. Nevertheless I want to reaffirm that we will be facing a period of about one week where Bulgaria will have to defend itself against both Greece and Turkey. Romania will not be ready, and I will only be able to send two airmobile brigades, the Black Sea Fleet marine infantry division and the 102 Guard airborne division to help Bulgaria. Our colleagues of the Red Banner Black Sea Fleet have also been stressing that the fleet will not be able to exit in the eastern Mediterranean to help us against NATO. Turkey will probably close the Turkish Straits to our navy under the Montreux Convention before the war starts.
Nevertheless, we will be able to resume offensive operations when our category B divisions get into Bulgaria. With the GRU, we decided that a limited offensive against Greece will probably be our best option because NATO will probably be in a very good defensive position around Istanbul. We could loose to many men, and maybe even Romania, if we try to go against the Turkish Straits. If we can damage Greece enough, we could even force them out the war or at least put them on the defensive. I will insist on the fact that since my position in the southwestern TVD will be very difficult at the beginning, I strongly advise against any move against Austria or Yugoslavia. To do so would put my entire front in jeopardy, especially since the Romanians are so unreliable."

(First Secretary)"What about the risk of nuclear confrontation?"

(General Egorov)"On our part, we will not use tactical nuclear missiles, at least we will not be the first one to shoot them. The few discussions we had in the past with our other european allies has clearly shown that most of them would not accept it, especially the East Germans. We would be running the risk of massive defections from our allies if we were to use them. For NATO, our evaluations show that the western european governments and populations will be against the use of tactical nuclear weapons. I doubt that their political leaders will accept to fry their countries with nukes to save them. But you know as well as I do that the use of nuclear weapons is a poker game. It is a deterrent. My best guess is that they will not use it but there is no way to be sure comrade First Secretary."

(First Secretary)"Well then comrades. We will go to war against the West. Let us hope that we win, and that we will not provoke the end of the world. You can start to mobilize and begin operations against NATO."

The session on Germany will soon follow.

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