On September 18th, 2015, NATO forces gained intelligence of a Russian anti-air battery in the occupied Polish town of Ostrowo, Poland. This air defense battery was well within range of NATO operating lines, providing a serious threat to strategic bombers and airlifters. Low flying close air support attempted to find and destroy the air battery, but triple-A guns supported the strategic missile batteries.
NATO Commanders decided a ground assault was the only effective way to take out the battery. The nearest NATO unit was a light infantry company of the US Army's 10th Mountain Division. While highly mobile, the light infantry company was mounted in thin-skinned Humvees, and lacked serious firepower. The company arrived on scene quickly on September 19th, but was unable to make any significant progress. The assault was stagnated and eventually pushed back, with the 10th having lost several vehicles. The Russian defenders took minimal losses, and the anti-air battery remained intact.
Although the assault was pushed back, the mission was not entirely unsuccessful. Engineers from the 10th Mountain established a staging camp within close proximity to the air defense battery. The 10th Mountain was able to guard the camp against counter attack for 12 hours until the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team's 1st Combined Arms Battalion arrived on scene. 9 hours later, the new task group began an assault on the air defense battery.
The Russians, on the other hand, had only the BTR company that had originally held off the 10th Mountain troops. More reinforcements were on the way, but there was a significant chance that they wouldn't arrive before the next wave of American troops arrived.
The small town of Ostrowo was the stage for this battle. Heavy fighting between NATO and CSTO forces over the past months left much of the town in ruins. The locals had evacuated long ago, giving both sides leeway in the conduct of battle. NATO forces approached from the West along Highway A1. The Russians had control of the entire town, so the NATO forces would have to cross open ground, woods, and hills to reach the town.
The Russians began with their forces divided in half. One half took shelter within the woods and hills south of the town, while the other half took up shelter in the town itself. Two of the SA-2 launchers were set up in the hills to the south, while the third sat in the courtyard of the church (building 1). Cav scouts from the U.S. Army identified 2 of the ZSU AA guns and one of the SA-2s before the assault began. The American forces consisted of a company of Stryker mounted troops, along with Stryker fire support vehicles, an engineering attachment, and an M1 Abrams armor platoon. The Stryker infantry platoons began their push along the highway, supported by the Armor and engineers. Charlie Company, 1st Platoon, along with the engineers, took to the highway, while 2nd Platoon and the tanks proceeded along the dirt road even further south. As the assault began, the first of the Strykers rolled into view. The US troops surveyed their surroundings, looking for threats. The US commanders quickly learned that Russians had put up several road blocks on the roads leading into the city.
To the North, two teams of scout snipers took up positions on the hill at the center of the battlefield, hoping to gain a good observation point to look for the enemy. A Russian light machine gun team in the tall apartment building spots one of the scout sniper teams on the hilltop and guns them down. The machine gun team pulls back from the window before the US snipers have a chance to return fire.Moments later, it's clear to anyone observing, even the Russian commanders, that the US assault is in full swing. Over a dozen vehicles are now in the open. The majority of the Strykers have pulled off to the side to let plow equipped vehicles through to the road blocks. US Recon elements spot and identify several of the ZSUs in the tree line, along with a few crew served heavy weapons. The Abrams tanks make their presence known by opening fire on one of the newly spotted vehicles. The first tank manages to knock out the ZSU's anti-aircraft gun. A shot from one of the remaining tanks destroy the vehicle entirely. The Stryker-borne engineers, meanwhile, plow through the first concrete barricade along the main road, and prepare to push through the next barricade consisting of piled civilian cars. At about the same time, the Russians begin dropping mortars on the advancing column of Strykers, inflicting minor damage but scoring no kills. The US forces retaliate by lighting up the wood line with heavy machinegun fire, inflicting casualties. One of the ZSUs hiding behind a hill exposes itself to let loose a burst of 23mm fire and inflict minor damage on one of the Strykers. The Strykers in that area are not equipped to take down a vehicle, so the advance stalls at the choke point controlled by the ZSU. The mortared Strykers to the south continue their advance under the cover of the Abrams' heavy firepower. One of the Abrams breaks formation to assist the Strykers along the main road. The Russian mortars shift their fire to the strykers on the main road, again inflicting only minor damage. US mortar teams also fire mortars at some of the revealed Russian positions, but the mortars fall short, landing on the same Strykers that took fire from the Russians.
To the North, Charlie Company's Heavy Weapons platoon, which remained coherent (rather than attached to the various other infantry units), advances over the hill. Some of the weapons crews advance along the edge of the town, while others move into the wood line near the main road. Along with the weapons crews, some fire support Strykers including a 105mm cannon armed vehicle and an Anti-tank guided missile platform, come into view, taking aim at Russians on the Northwestern edge of town. Their advance is halted, however, by a roadblock and a Russian Anti-Tank Guided Missile team lying in wait.
More Russian infantry engage the advancing US forces from the outlying buildings. The US returns fire, taking
out a Russian platoon leader and several infantry fire teams. Supported by infantry and Strykers, the Abrams
tanks advance into the southeastern woods and finish off the Russian anti-aircraft weapons there. One of the ambulances breaks off from the main formation to aid the downed sniper team on the northern hill.US Infantry fire teams from 2nd Platoon dismount from their vehicles in between volleys and head for cover within the newly cleared structures, just before another volley hits their Strykers. An Abrams tank leads the push into town, gunning for the ZSU controlling the choke point. At about that time, the Russian reinforcements arrive and two platoons of T-90 tanks roll through the town.
Meanwhile, to the north, the weapons platoon gains a foothold in the outlying houses on the edge of town. A Russian squad dismounts their BTR and attempts a counter attack, but an M240 LMG team rains down deadly accurate fire on them from the window of a house. At the same time, the Russian T-90s exchange fire with some of the heavy hitters on the battlefield. Javelin and TOW ATGMs target the tanks, but the T-90s shrug off the missiles thanks to their Shtora Active Protection Systems. An Abrams tank scores a hit on one of the T-90s and disables it. The other T-90s fire at the line of fire support Strykers on the hill and destroy a TOW Stryker. The southernmost US forces, havingcleared out the AA threats and infantry south of Ostrowo (including a pair of mortar teams) now begin to flank north. Their dismounts begin moving into the town under the cover of their Strykers' heavy machine guns. The US troops succeed in claiming several buildings from the occupying Russian infantry. Seeing a hole opening in their defensive line, a few Russian BTRs move into a blocking position. The Russian T-90s and BTRs continue their advance, looking for holes in the American line. Several of the tanks and most of the BTRs press into the grassy clearing between the town. Another T-90 speeds down the main road, seemingly ignoring the American forces to either side. An American rifle team fires and misses a rear shot on the tank with their AT-4 as it passes them.
The American push in the north loses momentum as more Russian troops and the tanks converge on their position. The Javelins and TOWs continue taking shots on the advancing Russian tanks with minimal success. One Javelin makes a direct attack against a T-90's vulnerable rear armor and scores a kill. The Russians return fire with the 100mm guns on their BMP-3s, inflicting some kills on the fire support vehicles.American MG teams tear apart exposed infantry squads dismounting from vehicles. US mortars continue to rain down fire on the center of town (far enough away from US troops), while Russian mortar fire has dropped off since all but one of their mortar teams were wiped out. Despite all of this heavy fire, the US assault stagnates. With ammunition quickly dwindling and the casualty rate increasing, the US assault force pulls back. The United States battle group managed to destroy three of the five ZSU-23-4s and two of the three SA-2 launchers. The last of the AA Assets were centered around the church deep in the center of town, too far for the Americans to even observe, let alone attack.
In Addition to all of this, the US forces inflicted considerably more casualties on the Russians (at a ratio of about 3 to 1 at the end of the battle, compared to at least 7 to 1 before the Russian reinforcements arrived). On top of that, the US staging camp just outside of town remained intact and hidden. Given all of this, the battle was labeled a US victory.After the US forces pulled back to a safe distance, a flight of F-22 Wild Weasel aircraft finished off the Russian forces in the town. The remaining SA-2 launcher downed only one of the fighters before being destroyed. With the Anti-air battery gone, the stress on NATO air lanes was relieved. Sorties and airlifts in the vicinity of Ostrowo resumed. Although Russia and CSTO remained on the offensive, this small victory was a step in the right direction for NATO.