WWIII Novel: Final Pre-War Excerpts

From Chapter 12

Brussels, Belgium

5 July, 1987

“Zapad is scheduled to conclude later this evening, but so far there have been no indications of Soviet units preparing to pack up and head home,” the intelligence officer reported to SACEUR and his deputy. It was 1600 hours in Brussels and NATO’s intelligence apparatus was locked in overdrive attempting to make sense of the rapidly deteriorating international situation. The British colonel looked especially frazzled by the information he was conveying. “Activity in eastern Germany and Poland is on the uptick if anything. Also, we are receiving reports of what appear to be advance teams from Soviet divisions based in Belarus scouting sites for potential dispersal areas and encampments.”

“So, if they are planning to come west we’ll probably know by midnight,” the US Army four-star concluded.

“Give or take an hour or two, yes. I believe so, sir.”

“Makes sense.” He nodded and drank from his coffee mug, hoping the caffeine would serve to push the growing cobwebs away. SACEUR had been in motion for over fifteen hours straight. The endless procession of conferences, briefings, and telephone calls showed no sign of letting up. Unfortunately, general officers are not very productive without rest. He needed at least two hours of sleep before he was expected to take part in a National Security Council meeting at 2200 by satellite uplink. It would do no good to come across sounding discombobulated and exhausted to the president but SACEUR felt he needed to remain awake and in his office for the time being.

Military and political events were moving at a faster pace now. NATO had always been a political alliance at its heart. Nothing significant could be accomplished without at least a loose consensus among its member-states. That was happening now, and not a moment too soon. The gravity of this crisis was being realized by every alliance member, large and small. Member-states which share common borders with the Soviet Union or other Warsaw Pact nations were paying especially close attention.

The West Germans were already quietly mobilizing a number of troops and units. Earlier in the day, the Brits raised the alert level of the British Army of the Rhine and RAF-Germany. With SACEUR’s tacit blessing the two US corps in West Germany were increasing their readiness by a notch.  Most of the other alliance members on the continent were awaiting a general mobilization by the West Germans before moving. For decades, this was regarded by most NATO governments and militaries to be the clearest indication of the seriousness of a crisis. If the West Germans started moving troops and tanks, the danger was real.  Personally, SACEUR estimated they were about 24 hours away from the point when Bonn declared full mobilization to be underway.

“Tell me about the Russian ground forces involved in Zapad,” he ordered the intelligence officer

“There are three motor rifle, and two tank divisions involved for certain. We also have seen indications of two more. Maybe three. Aside from that, additional ground units are moving west into Poland. Moscow claims they are part of the exercise but we know that’s a lie. If they do not slow down, we expect them to be in East Germany within forty-eight hours.”

SACEUR absorbed this and sighed. “It is becoming clear what is going on.”

“Quite,” his deputy, a British Army general, agreed somberly.

From Chapter 13

Fort Hood, Texas

5 July, 1987

Mike Velez  arrived home at 1700, four hours earlier than he had on any other night for the past week. The fact that today was Sunday mattered little. Fort Hood was an extra busy place these days.  He called his wife before leaving and she surprised him by having dinner waiting and the boys at the table when he walked in.

Sarah Velez had been an army wife longer than a mother. She had been watching the news attentively for days as well as keeping her ear attached to the grapevine. Things in Europe were growing worse and her husband’s division was slated to reinforce Europe if necessary. Intuitively, and perhaps even cynically, Sarah saw the moment as being nearly upon them.

After dinner, Mike and Sarah sat on the patio while the boys played a little pitch and catch in the backyard. They were getting bigger a lot faster now, Mike noted.  Billy was fourteen now, and his younger brother Nicholas just two years behind. Both of his boys were as smart and perceptive as their mother. They knew something was going on and they were worried, but a brief talk by their mother earlier in the evening had laid the rules down firmly: The kids were not to bring up what was going on in the world or on base with their father. She would make sure they were kept informed. This night was about spending some quality time together, so that was what they did.

            At 2215 Mike said goodnight to the boys, ending with a long group hug between the three Velez men. Sarah sent the boys upstairs and then sat down with her husband and talked. To her pleasant surprise, Mike’s attention was entirely on her. She expected something different, like him being distracted given what was going on in the world. Yet that was not the case and for an hour or so they sat on the couch talking about past adventures and experiences the family had shared. 

They were getting ready to retire for the evening when the phone in the kitchen rang. Velez walked in and picked it up. “Hello?”

“Mike? This is Paul Ianni,” a familiar voice said rapidly. Ianni was the 2nd Brigade S-3, and a close friend.

“Hi Paul. What’s up?” Velez tried to keep his voice even.

 “I thought I’d call and give you a heads up. Warning orders have arrived at division. REFORGER kicks off at midnight.”

 Jesus, Mike thought. Then he gathered himself.  “Is this good info?”

“Rock solid,” Ianni assured him. “The other battalion commanders and brigade staff will get the call in an hour. Since 1st Brigade is on deck and it’ll take the Air Force a while to get enough transport planes down here to begin moving everyone, Colonel Aaron said not to bother coming in tonight. But he wants to meet with you and everyone else at brigade HQ tomorrow morning at zero six. So, enjoy a good night’s sleep. It might be the last one you get for a while,” he laughed quietly.

“Well, isn’t that reassuring,” Velez chuckled.  “Thanks for the early warning, Paul. Guess I’ll see you in the morning.”

9 Replies to “WWIII Novel: Final Pre-War Excerpts”

  1. Reading the piece on the warning order…. it rings pretty true and accurate.

    I remember three times getting a call/notification over my military career (Active and Reserve). The goofiest one happened while in the Training Box at Hohenfels October ’91. Notification we were slated to deploy from germany while we were in the field.

    You’d have thought we won the lottery, all the hootin’ and hollerin’… Damn fools we were. 🙂

    The most sobering…. was the call three days before I was slated to mobilize in 2005 that we were being delayed six months. The mixed emotions from that call… helped lead to a divorce. All the stress leading up mobilizing then that call brought some shit to a head between me and my then-wife. She didn’t want to go through with the stress again. Couldn’t blame her really… cause it isn’t easy stress to deal with.

    But yeah… I’m very familiar with those calls.

    Liked by 1 person

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