Ignition on the Central Front: 9 July, 1987 0100 Hours Local


At 0100 hours local time (GMT+2 hours) on 9 July there were two dozen Soviet special operations teams in place across West Germany. The majority of them were moving towards their mission objectives by this time. Some were already in position and simply waiting for the right time. Most teams were made up of anywhere between eight and twenty Spetsnaz soldiers, and one or two KGB operatives. A handful of groups consisted solely of KGB personnel. These were the ones tasked with political assassinations and the like. When the time came, most of the teams and groups would act independently of one another. Only in a handful of instances was more than one team assigned to the same target.

The Red Army’s infatuation with special operations teams was well known within NATO military circles. It was assumed that a Soviet offensive would kick off with raids by these groups against NATO targets deep behind the lines. The primary purpose of the strikes was to sew confusion, and chaos in the early hours of fighting. Quite possibly, if the stars lined up properly, one or two of the strikes might succeed in causing enough damage to tilt the balance in favor of the Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces at a critical moment somewhere down the line.

The list of potential Spetsnaz targets was staggeringly large. The grim reality facing NATO was that its security forces were stretched to the limit already. It could not defend every possible target at one time. Many 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 defenses would be dependent upon on 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 in the war was briefly touched upon. KGB-trained saboteurs charged with destroying the NATO E-3A Sentry detachment at Gielenkirchen Air Base began their effort at 0100. The initial wave of Spetsnaz, and saboteur attacks behind the lines was not supposed to commence until 0130 hours. 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 security to a higher state of alert before the initial wave of attacks began a short time later. Some sites which may not have been ready were. In other cases, the additional time gained made little difference to the end results. In any event, it did not matter in the larger scheme of things. The war that millions of soldiers, politicians, and civilians around the world had been waiting for had become a reality, even if very few of them were aware of it at the moment. By dawn, the rest of the world would be fully aware that the Third World War was underway.


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