At 06:00, 9 August 1985, Companies A & D (1st Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment) and Companies G & H (2nd Battalion, 8th Mechanized Infantry Regiment) pushed out from the allied defensive line in the Wiehengebirge at Nettelstedt. Their objective– to seize bridges over the Mittelkanal in the vicinity of Birkenfeld and Ritterbruch.
On the right (east) flank, the six M113 armored personnel carriers of Company D’s scout platoon exchanged machine gun fire with and destroyed a Soviet BRDM2 scout car at a farmstead south of Horst. Half the platoon took up defensive positions there, while the other half moved on towards Horst. After routing a second BRDM2, they occupied Horst and set up a defensive screen to the north and east.
The M1 Abrams of Company A used their smoke generators to provide cover for the armored personnel carriers of Companies G & H following them. On the approach to Aspel, Company A took light fire from Soviet BRDM2 scout cars in Aspel and a small farmstead to the southeast. These were quickly eliminated or routed.
Company A took anti-tank guided weapons (ATGW) fire from the woods north of Aspel, losing one M1 Abrams of 3rd Platoon. Two additional M1s came to a halt and refused to advance. The bulk of Company A, followed closely by the scout platoon of Company H, bypassed Aspel and engaged Soviet elements in the woods.
Company A destroyed an ATGW weapons carrier and at PT-76 light tank in the tree line, but suffered the simultaneous loss of four M1 Abrams and an M113 from artillery fire and from a platoon of T-72 tanks in the woods just south of the Birkenfeld bridge.
Having lost nearly a third of its tanks, at 06:10 the commander of Company A ordered his company to retire from the field to a pre-designated rally point outside Nettelstedt. Unable to advance without tank support, Company G also withdrew.
Company D’s scout platoon remained in Horst. The scout platoon and anti-tank platoons of Company H took up defensive positions in Aspel facing north.
The Americans had little to show for their losses– a few kilometers advance and two villages. They had dislodged Soviet scout elements and reduced Soviet visibility over the battlefield. The next American assault would be bolder, and show greater tactical finesse.