The Northern Flank D+13 (22 July, 1987) Part II

In Northern Norway NATO ground forces were moving expeditiously, and with determination.  US Marines had Andoya almost fully secured. Small groups of Soviet troops continued to hold out at three separate locations in and around the airbase perimeter. It would only be a matter of time before they surrendered or were neutralized. In the midst of the periodic skirmishes, and sniper fire, Marine engineers were repairing runways, and essential facilities to make Andoya ready to accept friendly aircraft.

Two hundred and twenty miles northeast of Andoya, Royal Marines were performing similar work at the now-secure Banak air station. Like their American counterparts, the British marines had to contend with a number of Soviet hold outs that were making life for the perimeter guards interesting to say the least. Reinforcement was a major priority at Banak, and in the late morning additional troops of 3 Commando Brigade were arriving by helicopter. Unlike Andoya, the recently liberated air station at Banak was in a potentially vulnerable position. Elements of the Soviet 131st Guards Motor Rifle Division were strung out across the northern reaches of Norway. The more recent intelligence reports showed none of these subunits presently moving in the direction of Banak, but at some point, when the Soviets realized the air station was no longer in friendly hands, that would change. When the time came, the Royal Marines were going to need as much support as could be afforded. Therefore, it was critical to move as many additional 3 Commando Brigade troops north as time would allow.

By the late morning it was becoming clear to Colonel General Vladimir Arkhipov, Northwestern TVD’s newly installed commander that he was perched on a precariously thin branch. In the space of ten hours a major raid was launched against the NATO carrier force approaching the Barents Sea, US and British warplanes had attacked airbases on the Kola, dispersal of Northern Fleet’s SSBNs was happening at a sluggish pace, and NATO had retaken two airbases from Soviet control in Northern Norway.

The results of the attack on the enemy carriers had yet to be confirmed. Post-attack BDA was incomplete, and the data obtained so far only presented an inconclusive picture. The commander of the Red Banner Northern Fleet was optimistic though. Surviving aircrews were debriefed, and if their assessments were accurate, Admiral Kapitanets believed at least one enemy carrier had been sunk, and one damaged. Arkhipov hoped this was the case, as much for Kapitanets sake as his own. Naval Aviation, and Long Range Aviation’s bombers had been decimated by American fighters and air defenses. Over fifty aircraft had been lost. Probably more, but Arkhipov knew not to press. The fleet commander was holding back the true number of planes shot down, and aircrews lost until he could report some good news. Otherwise, the losses suffered will have been for nothing.  

Arkhipov was doing the same, but he had less leverage and time to work with. He could only stonewall Moscow for so long, and if the Politburo learned from other sources that NATO aircraft were attacking targets on Soviet soil, he would share the same fate as his predecessor. Fortunately for him, his superiors in Moscow were keeping the news close to their vests until Arkhipov could report some good news to balance out the bad. The fact that US carrier aircraft did not make an appearance over the Kola yet today encouraged his hopes that considerable damage had been done to the US carriers.

The clock continued to tick, and with every passing second the situation in the north became more desperate.

Author’s Note: Okay, I did not get as much in this entry as I had hoped. Instead of writing a Part III I’m going to press forward over the weekend to Baltic Approaches. Before D+13 concludes I will post an addendum for the Northern Flank and wrap it up properly. There’s still a lot of action to cover in various theaters and getting too far behind now might cause issues later on.

4 Replies to “The Northern Flank D+13 (22 July, 1987) Part II”

  1. “US Marines nearly Andoya fully secured”

    I think you accidentally a verb there, Mike 😉 😀

    Still, a good report nonetheless. I am encouraged that our boys are going to make the Sovs pay up north!

    Also, is that a US Marine using Nord SS-18 ATGMs there?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for showing me that, Bill. I changed it quick.

      Things are finally going NATO’s way in the north.

      That’s a Norwegian using an SS-11. Close enough though. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Here’s hoping that crushing Soviet Naval Aviation up in the Kola means more ReForGer convoys get through…once there’s a steady, uninterruptible flow of material and troops from the US, Ivan’s going to be on the ropes.

        Liked by 1 person

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