This is a very well put together story of the Berlin spy tunnel, and some of the context that lead up to it being dug. It looks at the contemporary views and also re-evaluates the impact of the tunnel and whether or not it could be considered a success.
The tale is an interesting one, because the existence of the tunnel was betrayed to the Soviets before it was even dug. Blake took the minutes of meeting that decided to build it, and told his Soviet handler about it. Despite this the KGB didn’t share the information as they wanted to protect Blake as a source, so they couldn’t stop the tunnel until there was a reasonable excuse from another source. For two years the British and Americans taped all the traffic on the cables they’d tapped (it was a joint operation, but the US took the entire blame when it was discovered because Kruschev was on a state visit to the UK at the time).
At the time the tunnel was seen as a great US success, which was changed to a dramatic defeat when Blake finally got caught. There was a feeling that the KGB had used it for strategic deception. This belied the point that the purpose of the tunnel, as with all espionage at the time, was to ensure that there were no surprises leading to a nuclear war. In that respect it had succeeded, whether or not the KGB fed disinformation.
Looking back with fifty years of hindsight, the Cold War ended, and much of the intelligence declassified (at least on the US and Soviet parts if not by the British) it is clear that the information gained by the tunnel was real. The KGB were too scared of giving away Blake to be able to do anything to manage the information. It also took them some time to work out a way of finding the tunnel that wouldn’t lead to Blake as the source. It was only heavy rain and flooding that allowed them to arrange a systematic check along the cables for a damaged section. Once this was triggered there was still no guarantee the tunnel would be found as the KGB had deliberately not briefed anyone about what to look for.
For this part I thought that I would focus on the lessons on urban battles. Rowland and his team used historical analysis on lots of WW2 urban battles and then compared this to a series of field trials using laser attachments to small arms and tank main armaments in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Â The approach was toÂ find battles where single variables could be controlled, and then use them to work out what the effect of that variable was on outcomes.
Here’s an interesting table on how attacker casualties vary by odds and the density of defending machine guns. Interestingly, in successful assaults the defender casualties are constant.
The interesting thing for me is that training/experience counts for a lot, halving casualties. Also attacking with the conventional 3:1 odds for success increases the casualties that you suffer, without having any appreciable difference in those inflicted on the enemy (although it does make it more likely for succesful attacksÂ with untrained/inexperienced troops).
Adding armour support makes a huge difference too. Although tanks in urban areas are more vulnerable if they lose their infantry support. However with infantry they significantly reduce attacker casualties.
Defence experience gave no detectable benefit to causing casualties, but attack experience does (in urban combat)
typically three times as many defenders will surrender (some wounded) as are killed or withdraw, the only sensitivity on this is being completely surrounded (so 20% dead, 60% captured (incl wounded) and 20% withdraw);
attack casualties are less affected by force ratio in urban attacks than in open counrtyside;
successful defence of urban areas is best achieved by light defence with counter attacks supported by armour
Rubble & Prepared Defences
This another area covered. There is a general increase in attacker casualties by about 50% when defenders are in rubble or prepared defences. The primary effect of rubble though is to slow down rates of advance.
Rubble halved the rate of advance compared to undamaged urban areas
maximum unopposed advance rates were about 800 metres per hour in urban areas (400m/hr for rubble)
Opposition slowed the advance by a factor of 7
An interesting aside on this was the relative effectiveness of different types of German Infantry. Parachute troops and Panzergrenadiers were reckoned to be tougher opponents than normal infantry. However the analysis showed that the extra stubbornness was a factor of the higher than normal allocation of MGs to those troops. The rate of attacker casualties per defence MG wasn’t significantly different.
Having cast around for someone to do a plan for Invasion of the West Mukul volunteered, even though he wasnâ€™t able to turn up on Saturday. Mukulâ€™s plan is at the end of this report along with the umpire briefings, but in essence it was for a pre-emptive chemical strike on 1 British Corps near Hanover followed by a mad dash for Antwerp.
On the day Andy Reeve, John Rutherford, Dave Boundy, Terry Martin and Brian Cameron turned up. Andy and John played the Soviets/Warsaw Pact forces with Dave Boundy as their LU. Terry controlled the NATO forces with Brian joining in when he arrived.
The players werenâ€™t entirely happy with the chemical strike but did it anyway. The results were disappointing as the combat capacity of the NATO forces wasnâ€™t degraded terribly as had been hoped, although the civilian casualties were horrendous. (As a game fudge I deemed that the chemical strike would take a step loss when it hit and also inflict a step loss on any units remaining in the area. Fighting in an afflicted zone would be twice as deadly and all combat factors would be reduced to one). The main game effect of the chemicals was to stiffen the resolve of the German territorial forces to fight.
The Warsaw Pact advance hit the slightly softened NATO forces and punched their way past them with a few casualties. NATO correctly guessed the main axis of Warsaw Pact attack and concentrated their air effort, reserves and logs support on the thrust. In a bloody second day the Warsaw Pact air were swept from the sky. At the same time the West German Northern Corps counter-attacked and inflicted a serious stop to the follow-on forces. The forward Soviet thrust bypassed Hanover and almost reached the Ruhr before being annihilated by a British counter-attack heavily supported by aircraft and LSPs. The West Germans died with the Soviet follow-on force in a bitter slogging match.
Down south all was quiet, relatively speaking. The Czechs having been given no orders decided not to play. NATO forces dug in and fortified their positions waiting to see what happened. In the meantime the all the reserve formations were diverted north. The arrival of the Reforger air-deployed division tipped the balance. Although arguably the lack of activity in the South allowed the LSPs that might have been used there to be used in the North. As my mechanism translates LSP use directly into combat step losses this was disastrous as the forces involved very quickly lost all their offensive combat power.
I was reasonably happy with how the mechanisms worked, although I still have one or two reservations. Given that this was the second outing for the game this doesnâ€™t surprise me. The main thing that I got from it was a few ideas on scenario generation. In the post-game discussion it was reckoned that there was some mileage in a political game set in the final throes of the Soviet Union which would provide the background for a game like this.
A Short Victorious War â€“ Forthcoming Game
Given that everyone there seemed keen on this I intend to try and run an invitation game at the June meeting of CLWG, possibly in John Rutherfordâ€™s house. The game will need 15-20 people, which means that I need to go further than CLWG for players. The main teams will be NATO, Warsaw Pact and a few other key states to represent the UN Security Council in a time of crisis. Iâ€™ll also need a few umpires as well.
Each team will have 4-5 members which means I need around 15 players, 3 Liaison Umpires, a military umpire and myself as Game Control.
The background to the game is that the Soviet Union has realised that its collapse is imminent unless it can do something to relieve its economic position. The choices open are either reform, which has a risk of getting out of hand, foreign aid or a relief from the pressures of the Cold War and the level of funding that the Arms Race requires.
NATO This will have representatives from Britain, USA, a European state and one of the peripheral members. Their role will be to try and resolve the tension by bringing the Cold War to an end and negotiating market reforms with the Soviet Union and other WP countries.
Warsaw Pact This will have a Soviet Union, East German, Polish & Czech players. They will be looking for ways to relief the economic pressures that they are under.
UN members To bring some sense to things I want to have a few unaligned states to represent the UN and the peaceful influence that it may have on the events. This is likely to have 5 players.
Umpires Each of the three teams will have an LU umpire to advise and also to relay orders to map control. The game will also use the telephone system for communications between teams (although letters and face to face will also be allowed).
This means I need a total of 17 people to play the game. If you are interested, or know anyone who is then please let me know as soon as possible.