The Southern Flank: D+2 (11 July, 1987) Part I


Overall, D+2 was a quiet twenty-four hour period across the Southern Flank. Reinforcements continued moving into theater for both NATO and the Warsaw Pact as both sides continued their respective preparations for offensive and defensive operations. To be frank, neither side was ready to launch a major land offensive at the present time, though this was less of a setback for NATO than it was for the Warsaw Pact. Air operations in Thrace, and the Sixth ATAF’s zone were just a fraction of what they had been 24 hours ago.  In the Mediterranean, Soviet naval activity was minimal. Libya remained dormant for the time being. However, CINCSOUTH and his staff was under no illusions about the Colonel’s intentions. Libyan force would make their presence felt at an opportune moment. NATO ASW efforts in the western Med were building with the anticipated movement of reinforcements and equipment through the Strait of Gibraltar on the horizon. Securing the Mediterranean SLOCs was becoming a major priority for AFSOUTH.

The temporary lull in activity created uneasiness from Naples to Thrace. CINCSOUTH understood that the next move by his Soviet counterpart would depend on the situation on the Central Front. World War III was going be won or lost in Germany, this much was certain. If Moscow decided to divert reinforcements tagged for the Southwestern TVD to Germany, it was going to have a negative effect on Warsaw Pact operations in the south. On the flip side of the coin, if SACEUR chose to move AFSOUTH units north to help influence the situation on the Central Front, CINCSOUTH’s defenses from Turkey to Spain were going to suffer. Fortunately, SACEUR had not yet attempted to pillage AFSOUTH’s current forces, or expected reinforcements.

The Southern Flank’s political sphere appeared quiet, but just beneath the calm surface there were rumors of possible trouble looming in Ankara. Elements of the Turkish government were horrified by the deaths, and damage Turkey was suffering at the hands of Soviet warplanes and ships. A small cadre of parliament members affiliated with left-leaning political parties were making soft inquiries to the Soviet Union, through the embassies of neutral nation-states, about the possibility of a separate peace for Turkey. These moves were being made against the wishes of the prime minister and the Turkish president who were staunchly supporting Turkey’s position in NATO. Through the diplomatic grapevine in Ankara, Robert Strausz-Hupé, the  US Ambassador to Turkey heard rumblings about the unsanctioned actions of the parliamentary members and informed Turkish Prime Minister Turgut Özal in person. By the end of the day, those members had been quietly arrested. Özal placed a telephone call to President Reagan and assured him the Turkish government was not seeking a separate peace.


(Author’s Note: Part II will be posted by Friday morning.)


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