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


Commander 6th Fleet Vice Admiral Kendall Moranville, USN was anxious to unsheathe his command’s offensive sword and take the fight directly to the Warsaw Pact homelands. The Eastern Med was secure and Moranville wanted to turn his surface ships and submarines to the next phase of wartime operations. Two destroyers attached to the Saratoga battlegroup were equipped with the land attack version of the Tomahawk cruise missile, ubiquitously known throughout the fleet as the TLAM. Additionally, three of 688 attack subs equipped with the Vertical Launch System for launching TLAMS, were en route to the eastern Med. Once they were in place, Moranville planned to use the subs, and Saratoga group to launch TLAM and air strikes against Warsaw Pact land forces gathering in Bulgaria. Orginially, he wanted to use the TLAMs for direct strikes against Soviet ports and airfields on the Black Sea coast, but Washington nixed the idea outright. There were concern and questions at the White House and Pentagon about how the Soviets might respond to missile strikes against its homeland. There was no way for Moscow to know whether or not inbound missiles contained conventional or nuclear warheads. In the heat of the moment, a misjudgment could inadvertently turn the conflict nuclear. For the time being, TLAM strikes would be restricted to targets in Bulgaria, and possibly Romania as well. Moranville, aboard his command ship USS Belknap, was expecting to have all of the pieces in place by dusk next day.


Sixth ATAF was revising its priorities and concentrating on maintaining air superiority over its airbases instead of across its entire area of responsibility. The change was temporary, however, with the amount of damage inflicted on Sixth ATAF aircraft, and bases, it was necessary. Air superiority over Thrace was not as important at the moment as maintaining control of the skies over western Turkey.


In Thrace, skirmishes along the frontier with Bulgarian forces was revealing a lot to Turkish and Greek commanders. The Bulgarians were not especially capable soldiers, and showed little inclination to deviate from the Soviet tactics and doctrine they were trained to execute. When those tactics did not work, Bulgarian commanders did not make the necessary adjustments. This solid adherence to flawed tactics and doctrine, couple with the truth that the Bulgarians were equipped mostly with obsolete Soviet weapons and equipment had the Turks and Greeks becoming confident about their chances against the Bulgarian Army. The Soviets were another matter entirely.

7 Replies to “The Southern Flank: D+2 (11 July, 1987) Part II”

  1. While such things are unquantifiable (and thankfully never actually realized), I’ve heard/thought that the Bulgarians were the second-worst non-Soviet WARPAC army. (Best is probably East Germany, small and plugged straight in to GSFG, worst is undoubtedly Romania, the iffiest politically by far, underfunded, and not bordering a NATO member)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard the same thing. Cannon fodder more or less, judging from the reports I saw from the 80s.
      BTW, looking forward to checking out your new book.


  2. Given what they’d suffered at the hands of Soviet-installed puppet governments, plus being basically raped* by the Soviets in cooperation with the Germans during the opening of World War II, would the Poles be even less loyal to Soviet military orders?

    *=in the classic “carried off”/”sacked” sense, I mean.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if the war was going well, the Poles and everybody else would’ve soldiered on but if the tide began to turn against the Soviets, the Poles and rest would surrender en masse or defect and make life twice as difficult for their Soviet overlords.


      1. Well, I can’t wait to see what happens in that part of the theater, then.

        Also, are you going to return to the narrative style you first established, the almost Clancyesque “eyes on the ground” mode? I would like to see a bit of what’s going on in that respect, if you’ve time for it. especially with BAOR and US Army units on the ground in Central Germany.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. MY original plan was to present a large overview of the fighting in theater from D Day through to the end, and then in future posts provide detailed looks at specific battles or units throughout the fighting. I’m rethinking that now and considering going back to a more narrative style, at least for the Central Front.


  3. As ‘Suvarov’ noted in his ‘Inside The Soviet Army’, Rumania was the least disciplined of the eastern satellites but was allowed more leeway because the Soviet dictatorship was confident that none of its citizens would wish to escape to live there.

    Liked by 1 person

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