The Southern Flank D+13 (22 July, 1987) Part I

Preparations continued in the Southwestern TVD’s area of operations through the first half of D+13. In Bulgarian Thrace six divisions were massed along the border with Greece and Turkey. Five more were located in staging areas 25-30 kilometers to the north. Convoys of armored vehicles and supply trucks motored south to the border area. After 1200 Warsaw Pact ground activity in Thrace dropped off. By midafternoon, it was down to a minimum. Soon afterwards, the Soviet and Bulgarian divisions turned quiet as church mice. The same held true for Warsaw Pact air forces. No sorties were flown against targets in Turkey, or Greece from Bulgaria and the Black Sea region. Outside of combat air patrols, ELINT, and reconnaissance flights virtually nothing was flying after 1500 hours.

In the Black Sea the Soviet amphibious task force was steaming southwest towards the Turkish Straits. Forward of the group and on its flanks, attack submarines, and fast attack craft patrolled the vicinity. By this point in the conflict Soviet control of the Black Sea was uncontested. There were no more Turkish or Greek surface ships patrolling anywhere north of the Dardanelles. Two diesel subs remained, actively seeking the current position of the Soviet amphibious group, and running ELINT missions. The main threat to Soviet and Warsaw Pact ships in the Black Sea was from NATO aircraft, though like their Pact counterparts, the NATO air forces in Greece and Turkey were fairly quiet through much of D+13.

NATO was aware of the Soviet and Pact activity around the Southern Flank. It was evident a major attack was coming in the near future, and the location of the attack was just as clear. The Dardanelles and Bosphorus were the objectives. To seize them, the Pact was expected to use three separate approaches. The first was a land advance through Greek and Turkish Thrace to the Dardanelles. This push would link up with and relieve Soviet naval infantry that conducted an amphibious landing and captured the northern waterway. That landing was the second expected approach. The third was a drop of Soviet airborne forces on the Bosphorus in the early hours of an attack. NATO had reinforced both areas with local Turkish forces to increase the defenses there. A large part of a US Marine amphibious brigade in place in Greece would likely be used to counterattack one or both positions if the Soviets seized them. Other defensive measures were also underway. Greek and Turkish brigades and divisions in Thrace were digging in. In Greece and Turkey, airbase defenses were being bolstered, and a vigilant watch was being kept on Turkey’s eastern frontier.

Author’s Note: Short post to start the Southern Flank. Turned into a long weekend. I’ll make sure to cover everything in Part II on Tuesday. D+13 is a fairly quiet day in theater, however. Unlike the rest of the world 😊


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

  1. Excellent post. Things are hotting up.
    I am reminded of the recent movie ‘Hunter Killer’. Worth watching on Netflix if you have not seen it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Man if Ivan faceplants in the Dardanelles they might have to throw in the towel After trying to hit NATO carriers to little effect, losing the Poles, the disaster of an amphib invasion, and the drives further West faltering.

    I do wonder what things are like “back home” for the average Soviet citizen…I know the government will be pushing 100% propaganda, but still, some folks have gotta know something’s up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Back home they’re probably hearing “All is well, victory is coming any day now!” from TASS and Pravda. Little signs are popping up here and there but the bulk of the Soviet people are unaware how things are going abroad

      Liked by 1 person

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