Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Simple Plan, Well Executed(?)

    I just finished up with the Castro OOB, so here is the Operational Plan for the liberation of Cuba, as well as the CLA OOB.

In the overall scheme of things, the Western end of the island is very lightly defended, presents an easy approach to supplanting Castro in Havana (which the CLA leadership believes will have a tremendous impact on the will of the regime's forces), and is geographically protected by the small range of mountains immediately east of Havana, and the Escambray Mountains in the center of the island, though Cienfuegos and its three battalions (one armored) will have to be dealt with in the near term.

Cuban Liberation Army OOB (ground combat elements only):

1st Airborne Infantry Battalion (screen Pinar del Rio/La Fe)
2nd Airborne Infantry Battalion (screen Cienfuegos/Bay of Pigs)
3rd Infantry Battalion (Landing Force-La Fe)
4th Infantry Battalion (Follow on Force- La Fe)
5th Armored Battalion (Follow on Force- La Fe)
6th Infantry Battalion (Landing Force- Bay of Pigs)
7th Infantry Battalion (Follow on Force- Bay of Pigs)
8th Popular Force Battalion (Havana)
9th Popular Force Battalion (Matanzas)
10 Popular Force Battalion (Jaguey Grande)

The plan calls for amphibious assaults in two locations simultaneously: 1) the Bay of Pigs will see two infantry battalions (6th and 7th Inf Bns) deposited there by small craft, with an airborne infantry battalion (2nd AB Bn) dropping due east (at El Rincon, on Hwy 122 between the Bay of Pigs landing beaches and Cienfuegos) to screen Cienfuegos; and 2) at the far western end of the island (just outside the small port of La Fe in Guadiana Bay on the Peninsula de Guana Hagabibes.  Here the plan is for one infantry battalion (3rd Inf Bn) to land (at Playa Colorada) and invest the port so that a ship carrying a mechanized battalion (5th Armored Bn) and the CLA's final infantry battalion (4th Infantry Bn) to land.  An airborne infantry battalion (1st AB Bn) will drop to the east (just east of Sandino) to screen the garrison at Pinar del Rio.

A Popular Force battalion (8th Pop Force Bn) staging near Mariel (just west of Havana) will demonstrate towards the city, ignoring its rear and flanks (the assumption being the western landing and parachute drops will occupy the attention of the Pinar del Rio garrison to their rear), with the goal of tying down the regime Airborne and Armored forces in Havana.  A second Popular Force battalion (9th Pop Force Bn), staging near Arcos de Canasi (on the north coast between Havana and Matanzas) will conduct a forced march and demonstrate against Matanzas and its infantry battalion.  CLA leadership does not love the idea of being so aggressive in the east, particularly with a Popular Force battalion, but the decision was made to close with the enemy as opposed to establishing blocking positions between the Matanzas garrison and Havana because the Matanzas garrison could take either the coastal road or the inland road to Havana, and the blocking force could easily find itself out of position.  The remaining Popular Force battalion (10th Pop Force Bn), staging near Pedroso (north-northwest of the Bay of Pigs) will assume blocking positions on Highway 1 just west of Jaguey Grands, to halt the advance of troops from Cienfuegos should they drive on Havana, or be in a position to lend support to the Bay of Pigs landing force should things go astray.

Following the successful landings, 7th Inf Bn will swing east and link-up with 2nd AB Bn, then move along the coast to Cienfuegos, whilst the 10th PF Bn, representing the second prong of the two-prong attack, will move along Highway 1.

4th Inf Bn will move north to the coast and march to Havana, while the 3rd Inf Bn and 5th Armored Bn will move east, effect a link-up with 1st AB Bn, and reduce the Pinar del Rio garrison.  Once finished, they will move east along Highway 4 to link up with the 8th PF Bn and continue combat operations to take Havana.

6th Infantry Bn will move northwest on Highway 1 to Guines and will serve as the reserve, where it can move northwest to reinforce the Havana assault, move northeast to reinforce 9th PF Bn against Matanzas, or assume an aggressive stance towards unforeseen regime machinations.  9 PF Bn's mission is to eliminate the Matanzas garrison or at least pin it in place (do not allow escape to east or to reinforce Havana to the west), until Havana reduced and forces from that engagement can be released to assist at Matanzas.

The political leadership believes the regime's forces will crumble once Havana is taken, and possibly as soon as the population realizes Castro is no longer in control of the island nation.  CLA leadership is a bit more pragmatic, and a major point of contention in the planning process is the investment of Cienfuegos.  It is quite possible 7th Inf Bn, 2nd AB Bn, and 10th PF Bn are unable to defeat the Cienfuegos garrison, but simply pin it in place.  The decisive point of that fight will likely be when follow-on CLA forces arrive from Havana, or regime forces from Santiago de Cuba arrive, with the victor likely being whomever receives reinforcements first.  Strategically, defeat of 7th Inf, 2nd AB, and 10th PF probably means a stalemate in the Cuban liberation despite the early investment of Havana.  This is because the forces on the eastern end of the island, combined with the forces in Cienfuegos, are quite strong (1 Tank Bn, 1 Armored Bn, 1 Mech Bn, 3 Inf Bns, and 4 Territorial Bns).

The approach to tie down those forces on the eastern end of the island is multi-pronged.  On the ground side, there are approximately a dozen Unconventional Warfare (UCW) teams spread throughout the Escambray and Sierra Madre mountain ranges, with their goal being to delay the advance of regime reinforcements moving east to west.  CLA Special Operations forces are charged with a number of 'special' missions on D-Day, primarily the destruction of regime Navy forces and anti-aircraft/radar sites, though they are also charged with takng a key regime broadcast station and transmitting signals to the the Popular Force battalions as well as information operations for the Cuban populace.  If the situation presents itself, CLA SOF will attempt to kill/capture the regime's leadership.  Following that, CLA SOF will regroup via small craft and helicopters for transport east to supplement CLA UCW forces in their delaying actions.

The CLA has two squadrons of F-4 phantoms, with one designated for air superiority and one for ground attack.  At H-Hour on D-Day both squadrons will perform ground attack missions to destroy as much of the Cuban Air Force on the ground as possible.  Second tier targets are regime artillery and rocket forces and naval vessels.  Following the reduction of those targets, the focus of the ground attack squadron will be interdiction against enemy armor forces, primarily those in the east moving west in order to assist the vulnerable Cienfuegos operation.

More to come...

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