Raid and Riposte [Line of Fire Magazine #12],

If anything Balakirev thought, the West Germans were punctual. The rumble of M48’s could be heard in the distance. “Right on time as you said Colonel “ Rasped Dmitri to Balarkirev.

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“Let us hope I am right about the rest of the battle old friend” he said.

Michael Balakirev knew Dmitri like a brother. When he had been tasked with preparing for the invasion of Germany and this raid he knew he wanted this man by his side. He ran a tight operation. Their history was one like any small group of survivors of near death situations. Nothing more need be said.

He had surmised that despite the surprisingly effective attack his men had executed that the NATO forces would respond with vigour. This bridge, one of several that mattered would allow deep penetration to the Rhine. The West Germans were not going to let this little town and this dual lane bridge stay in his hands for long.

Fortunately he had trained, and fought all his life for just these scenarios.  He knew his enemy. He knew his weapons and he would win. While some of this was true, Balakirev would never see Mother Russia again.

They had already repulsed two different probing attacks that were by the book Bundeswehr executions. His Sagger teams, and snipers made short work of the probes to assess dispositions. He could still see the smoking shells of Luchs recon vehicles, and hear the odd cries for help from troopers wounded trying to search out his positions.

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He men had gone forward and dispatched the unsalvageable and brought most of rest to the Church which served as the aid station. Clearly they had missed a few. War can be a shitty business. More luck that anything he thought to himself.

The good news was the NATO forces had no idea about his strength…. The bad news was they had no idea about his strength. The Hind and the ASU -85’s would hopefully be the unpleasant surprise that either the Germans or God forbid the US forces as well would run afoul of.

The ‘48s and a section of Luchs trundled into view, and closed rapidly.  Balakirev knew they would head for the woods, his company of men took some fire and faded back towards the river feigning disorder. The Luchs followed brazenly…

 

The Migs screamed over head firing at the ‘48’s in the trees. Balakirev smiled. So far so good.

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Turn 2

The Soviets expose one of their ASU-85 for a moment to tempt fire from the M48’s, it then fades back to town, the shells bounce and plink harmlessly from the heavy armour of the Soviet tanks.. This causes the Germans to pause. Suddenly Luchs vehicles call in that they are under heavy attack near the river. Fending off the attack they hunker down, until …they receive orders to attack!

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As they cautiously move up on Balakirev’s men, German jets scream over head, dropping danger close munitions into the trees. The Germans call them off hurriedly. A Luchs burns from a German made bomb. The Paras retreat across the river disordered and wary of the thin skinned but well armed vehicles.  Another Soviet air Sortie attacks the tanks in the trees, now that he has their position fixed he will punish them. Thru his ‘nocs he sees some retreat behind the copse of trees.

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Turn 3

Mortar rounds harass  the Luchs in the trees, then a fresh company springs its trap on the isolated forces. Heavy fighting ensues and no one can reinforce the Germans. Balakirev exhorts his men to great heights! The Luchs flees the woods. US Forces enter the edge of town and are immediately struck by fighter bombers causing them to hunker down.

US jets now scream in and push the Soviets out of the recently retaken woods. Balakirev orders his Hind into action.  They pepper the M48s who scurry out of range. German tanks brew up under the onslaught. Balakirev laughs out loud. “Good Good” he calls on the battle net. “ Now scoot, and hit the forces who will shortly be closing across the open ground South town” he orders the Hind crew.

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Turn 4

The distinct growl of the M60’s twin turbo V12 engine hits the Soviet fighters ears. All eyes turn to their leader. “Relax, the Americans while not predictable are brash and rely on their technology. They are weak men, with no spirit” He says to those around him.

His men rally and move back to the woods to pre empt the  3 companies approaching the location.

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US forces fire on them, the T12 and anything they can see. The West Germans rush the open ground.  The fire whilst unrelenting hits little. The Soviets are stunned at the volume of ammo expended.

“Now Now, NOW” roars Balakirev into his hand set.  The terrifying whine of the Hind is heard before the beast is seen. It rises slowly from behind the Church and launches a cascade of fire at the approaching forces as they cross the no mans land between wooded areas.

More tanks explode, men hesitate as the machine guns pound, and spew searing hot death. Balakirev leads the men into the woods to fight the rush of Germans. They launch saggers at the disordered and milling tanks. The last of the Luchs are destroyed as the Hind turns its all seeing eye upon the retreating force.

Desperate now to draw attention away from the Luchs,  HQ elements, remnants of Company 1 of the M48’s and a company of men attack Balakirev’s location.

Heedless of fire he, storms about from tree to tree, Fence post to post directing fire. Balakirevs MG’s and fire teams pour round after round into the advance of the Germans, they slow.

“Enough” He calls. “Dmitri we are headed back, cover us”. Passing the field phone back to his aide he strides back to town. “Well come on “ He cries. “ Lets go”.  As bullets zing, zip and fly about his head and body he considers the current firefight. The Germans are predictable, but they are fighting for their homes and it shows. His return to town is more a retreat than a planned staging. For the first time a crease furrows the brow of his fine weathered features.

Turn 5/6

The West Germans began moving from the South of town in the woods to the outskirts of Tanenhause.

The Hind like a Demon in flight sweeps across them driving them back into the  woods and then turns its flaming rockets upon the M60’s in the woods.

The T-12 tank killer finds itself all alone.  The Germans swarm the teams and kill them where they stand. Some of the ASU-85s fire on the forces attacking the crews but smoke used by the West Germans blocks LOS for effective fire. The Soviet Mortar team and the weakened VDV para company are caught in the open by the West German tanks and soldiers. A slaughter ensues. More ’48s and a fresh company enter the outskirts of town.

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Outside of town 2 platoons of M60’s turn the 105mm guns turn their attention upon the AGS-17 and flatten every building where they think fire was coming from.  Balakirev watches in dismay as his northern sector coverage disappears in a storm of bloody high explosives.

As the West Germans gather themselves from the simple overwhelming assault, Balakirev  urges his men forward.  The brave paras storm from drainage ditches and prepared positions in a bold counter attack against the Germans.  The Germans respond quickly, fighting furiously. Bullets, grenades and shrapnel tear thru both sides.  Men die.

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A NATO airstrike kills more in friendly fire.  Balakirev now sees more forces marshaling to attack his positions. His ASU-85s cripple enemy tanks and thick black oily smoke rises from the ruins of their broken hulls.  In a desperate attack on the bridge area the remnants of tank forces and the  forces Balakirev and his now weakened company.  Whilst losses are light the weight of enemy troops forces a withdrawal north of town. Cursing Balakirev directs fire from the Hind and radios for help.

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Special Forces Speztnatz arrive with Colonel Petrova…A woman. “Who the hell are you?” he demands. “You don’t really want to know that do you?” Something cold ran down Balakirev spine as he stared into those piercing cold blue eyes. Somehow he thought she might be right.  Across her ample bosom she wore a bandolier unlike anything he had seen in his days of military service. The bullets in it were clearly custom made. Each had a silver tip . She caught him staring.  “Are you done here?” She said coldly, and walked past him without waiting for an answer.

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The hind’s fire does not slow the advancing Americans moving on the western side of the river.

Then, the trail of a LAW! From almost directly under the Hind! “No, look out “ Balakirev cries ineffectually.  Black smoke immediately pours from the  engine housing, the evil behemoth begins to spiral still firing as it weaves across the US forces path.  It limps out of sight back to its soccer field temporary base.  Balakirev assumes the fire has come from Territorialheer.   He is right. Before he knows it both he and his men are taking fire from a determined foe hidden in the buildings just north of the bridge.

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Meanwhile, Petrova and her men attack and kill the West German HQ elements.  Balakirev watches in awe as her men and she weave thru the enemy, dispatching them. But even they cannot force the tanks and a full company of soldiers from their location. The re group SE of town.

The last of the ASU-85’s stand alone at the bridge. Balakirevs men had been forced to cover by the Air strikes. US and German forces marshall for a last push across the river! M-48’s and ASU’s exchange fire.

The VDV company follow up the attack at Balakirevs request. They too are repulsed.

Balakirev and his men are chased thru town, the US forces want blood it seems. Not content with the bridge they drive deeper into down rooting out VDV troopers at high cost themselves and the VDV.

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Turn 7

Now at close neither side misses. Petrova rushes to shore up the southern flank of the bridge, suppressing the Germans but taking losses her self.. The 3 US companies finished what the Germans started.

Storming in from the NW the beleaguered Soviets are no match for the fresh US forces. A law destroys the last ASU, the Soviets retreat.

Hudson mentioned to the CO that he knew a way to get around the defensive positions the Spesnatz had taken up. The CO was all for it, if they could extend their penetration while the enemy reformed all the better.

Balakirev and his men are chased thru town, the US forces want blood it seems. Not content with the bridge they drive deeper into down rooting out VDV troopers at high cost themselves and the VDV.

 

With limited resources Balakirev is in trouble.  He looks around at his men. Even in their reduced state of effectiveness they have a determination in their eye that goes beyond love of country. They fight now for each other. Expecting no quarter.  They steel themselves for the Americans. Petrova is forced further South from the bridge, each Soviet force is now isolated.

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The  Americans attack boldly. The Soviets return the favor. With all of his tanks destroyed, and his men effectively fighting room to room the battle rages around Balakirev in a kind of slow motion dance. No bullet touches him. Nothing marks his uniform.

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The whine of the engine comes to everyone’s ears.  Two full companies of M60’s  park themselves with a killing field positions on the bridge. The rest of the West German forces advance.

The  bridge is secure for the NATO troops.  Their will be no drive on Paris from this location thinks Balakirev.  Time to consider his options. Petrova, turns to her men. “This is not our primary mission. Our fight here is over. Follow me”

She turns on the heel of her long black booted foot gracefully and strides away. After an appreciative if furtive glance all the man grab their  gear and follow in her wake.

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