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1985: Sacred Oil – And the Sea Gave Up the Dead

This After Action Report covers the Soviet push toward Bandar Abbas, where the first direct clash between Soviet and American forces occurred during the opening phases of World War Three. This report tries to offer a quite detailed description of the events, while at the same time avoiding to plunge into technicalities.

Prologue

Bandar Abbas is the most ambitious initial objective of the Soviet offensive against Iran, as its control would achieve two strategic goals: denying the Americans one of the best strategic areas for building up forces and controlling the sea lanes needed by Western countries for oil supply.

Soviet forces from Afghanistan and Central Asia Military District are assigned to the task, but for once Soviet High Command cannot rely on quantity, as the poor lines of communications and the scarce number of usable airfields do not allow committing vast forces to the operation.

In the days preceding the Soviet attack, Iranian clergy remains impervious to US offers of military support. When access to Iranian air space and bases is finally granted, only a few hours are left for organizing some sort of defense. With time running out and no other forces immediately available, CENTCOM decides to take its chances and orders USS CV-64 Constellation battle group to pass the strait of Hormuz and protect Bandar Abbas until airfields in the area are made operational and the Marines arrive.

SITREP – June 28, 1985

Soviet Union

Soviet offensive against Iran will probably develop along three different axis:

Soviet forces from Afghanistan
(click for details)

From Transcaucasian Military District: 4th Combined Arms Army, 7th Guards Combined Arms Army, 12th Corps, 34th Corps. This Front will probably have Dezful and Bushehr as primary objectives.

From Turkmenistan Military District: 36th Corps, plus additional brigade or battalion level formations. This front will probably move toward Tehran.

From Afghanistan: Part of 40th Combined Arms Army, 17th Corps, 103rd Guards Airborne Division, 56th Landing Assault Bde, 15th Independent GRU Bde. This Front will advance through Eastern Iran with Bandar Abbas as primary objective.

Air Forces (squadrons): 6x Mig-23 fighter, 3x Su-24 fighter-bomber, 2x Su-25 strike, 2x Tu-22 bomber, 1x Tu-22 ECM, 3x Recce, 7x transport squadrons, 2x Mi-24 attack helicopter , 5x transport helicopter.

Naval Forces: 3x nuclear attack submarines, 1x Intelligence ship.

US Coalition

CENTCOM has the primary objective of securing Bandar Abbas, with following forces at its disposal:

CV-64 Constellation Battlegroup (Task Force 1): Stationed approx. 50 nautical miles from Bandar Abbas and reinforced by two frigates and one combat store ship from UK Armilla patrol.

MPSRON 2 (Task Force 2): Stationed at Diego Garcia, it is loaded with 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade equipment and reinforced by two French frigates from La Reunion. TF2 could be in the AO within 4 or 5 days, personnel will be airlifted from US West coast.

1st Marine Amphibious Force (Task Force 3): Formed by LPH Okinawa and two escort frigates, it has just doubled the Malacca Strait and could be expected in the AO within 7 days.

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