Ignition on the Central Front: D+0 (9 July, 1987) 0100 Hours**


At 0100 hours local time (GMT+2) on 9 July there were two dozen Soviet special operations teams in place across the Federal Republic of Germany. The majority were moving towards their mission objectives by then. Some were already in position and waiting. The teams were made up of anywhere between eight and twenty Spetsnaz commandos, and one or two KGB operatives. A handful of groups consisted solely of KGB personnel. These were the ones tasked to undertake political assassinations, and other missions deemed political in nature. When the time came, most teams and groups would act independently of one another. Only in a handful of instances were more than one team assigned to the same target.
The Red Army’s infatuation with special operations teams was well known in NATO military circles. It was assumed that a Soviet offensive against NATO would kick off with raids by these groups against NATO targets deep behind the lines. The principal aim of these attacks would be to create disarray, and chaos in the early hours of fighting. It was a gamble by the Soviets, but one that held the potential to pay out handsomely. One or two of the raids might succeed in causing enough damage, or sew enough confusion to tilt the balance in favor of the Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces at a critical moment.
The list of potential Spetsnaz targets was extraordinarily long. The grim reality facing NATO was that its security forces were stretched to the limit already. It could not defend every potential target at one time. Most fixed targets such as airbases, headquarters, and POMCUS sites had their own security forces and that helped to ease the burden. Unfortunately, an equal number of important locations had no indigenous security forces of their own. Their defense was dependent upon recently called up reservists, or units taken from the rapidly diminishing pool of NATO’s specially trained security forces.

In a previous posting, the first contact between NATO and Soviet troops in West Germany  was briefly touched upon. KGB-trained saboteurs charged with destroying the NATO E-3A Sentry aircraft based at at Gielenkirchen Air Base began their effort at 0100. The initial wave of Spetsnaz raids, and saboteur attacks behind the lines was not set to commence until 0130, however. They encountered alert NATO security troops almost immediately and after a furious firefight were all either killed or wounded.

The premature attack gave NATO valuable time to get the warning out and bring its security troops to a higher state of alert before the rest of the attacks began a short time later. Some sites which may not have been ready otherwise were. In other cases, the additional time gained made little difference to the end results. In any event, it did not matter greatly in the great scheme of things.

The war that millions of soldiers, politicians, and civilians around the world had been tensely awaiting had arrived. Even if very few people were aware of it at the moment. By the time dawn broke over Western Europe the rest of the world would be fully aware that the Third World War was now underway.

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