WWIII Novel: War Excerpts Part I

From Chapter 16

Stendal, German Democratic Republic

9 July, 1987

The MTLB halted two hundred meters away from what had been 3rd Shock Army’s underground headquarters complex. Now it was nothing more than a collapsed, smoking hole in the ground. It was impossible for the tracked vehicle to get farther. Debris, some of it still smoldering, was everywhere. Rescue and fire teams moved about, tending to their duties. General Snetkov emerged from the MTLB and strode forward, getting as close to the site as possible. Then he absorbed the scene before him.

The air shafts of the underground command post were now in a dozen pieces and scattered across the ground like shredded paper. Thick black smoke seeped from where there had been vents not twenty minutes earlier. The bomb impact points were visible, it seemed to Snetkov. He counted two and they were almost directly above the exact spot where the operations center was –had—been. 

“Mother-of God,” Snetkov’s aide-de-camp breathed behind him. The general didn’t notice. His attention remained fixed on the piece of earth that was now a grave for so many men.

A colonel wearing a dirty, torn uniform came up and saluted. Snetkov remembered him as being one of the less-essential staff officers on 3rd Shock’s battle staff.

Snetkov returned the salute. “Report, Colonel…” he had forgotten the man’s name.

“Galitsky, Comrade General. There were one hundred men on duty underground at the time of the attack. We’ve counted six survivors so far.”

“What the hell happened?” Snetkov demanded.

“It was an air attack. We did not even pick up the bastards on radar until the bombs were on their way.”

“You did not detect the enemy aircraft before then?” Aralov put in, not quite believing it.

The other colonel shook his head. “I was on the surface, checking on an issue with one of our transmitters when the klaxons sounded. The bombs hit just seconds after. There was no warning.”

“Tell me about the survivors,” Snetkov ordered next. “Where did they come from?”

“The security center by the main entrance. I checked.” He read the general’s face. “Nobody made it out of the operations center.”

“General Pyankov?”

“He is dead,” Galitsky said with finality.

Snetkov held his emotions in check. It was not easy, but now was not the time to grieve or mourn the loss of CINC-West’s protégé. “Where is the deputy army group commander?”

“He hasn’t been found, Comrade General. Most likely, he was also in the operations center.” Galitsky paused for a moment, his eyes widening. “That means we have no commanders or battle staff remaining.”

“Correct, and our tanks will cross the border in less than two hours.” This realization galvanized Snetkov to action. He turned to his aide de camp. “Colonel Aralov, I am returning to Wünsdorf to find a new commander and staff for 3rd Shock. You will stay here to coordinate rescue operations with Colonel Galitsky until I return with a replacement for General Pyankov.”

Aralov took his cue. “Understood, Comrade General. I-” His next words were drowned out by the shrill warning cry of a nearby junior officer.

“Air Raid Warning!!”

*** TWO SCENES (UNCONNECTED TO THESE) COME NEXT***

Stendal, German Democratic Republic

9 July, 1987

Snetkov was a man bubbling with rage. Around him, the sounds of battle were finally dying off. For the past thirty minutes the roar of combat aircraft to the south and west could be heard. Explosions, and brilliant flashes of light on the horizon followed close behind, confirming that command bunkers were not the only sites being targeted by NATO on this morning. It was bad enough that 3rd Shock Army’s commander and all of his people were dead. Now, word was arriving that communication links with 20th Guards and 8th Guards were disrupted. 2nd Guards Tank Army in the far north remained in contact, yet that was of little solace.

Snetkov’s worst fears were coming true. NATO air forces were in the midst of a series of successful pre-emptive air strikes. And he was stranded in Stendal, forced to take cover in a hastily dug shelter on the edge of the now-devastated bunker complex. Meanwhile, NATO aircraft ran roughshod in the skies above.

Now, the general needed to gain a clear picture of the situation unfolding around him. That couldn’t be done here at Stendal. He ordered Aralov to arrange helicopter transportation back to Wünsdorf. The aide did not even dare remind his general that enemy fighters might still be in the area. Snetkov’s hardened glare was enough to deter him from verbalizing any objection.

 Once that was done, the general’s next order was to establish radio contact with the theater commander at once. Snetkov would report the situation and strongly recommend a 3-4 hour delay in the timing of the attack. At least that much time was going to be needed to unscramble the mess that NATO air power was causing.

Author’s Note: The final set of excerpts will be up on Sunday. Instead of posting just a single chapter, I’m doing a selection of scenes from different points of the conflict. I think it’ll work better. Merry Christmas, everyone! – Mike

8 Replies to “WWIII Novel: War Excerpts Part I”

  1. Nice story crafted around that incident. Snetkov in the blog entries struck me as a pro… A no nonsense sort but not draconian.

    Reading a personification of him via story is nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He was an old school type commander but surrounded himself with a good number of officers who were disciples of maneuver warfare. Would’ve been interesting to see him operate in the real world

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hope you had a Merry Christmas, Mike. These excerpts are great. Snetkov’s an interesting character; he seems very deliberate, not prone to panic, yet not so cold as to be inflexible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bill. Hope your Christmas was a good one too. Snetkov is really interesting. The more research I did on him in real life, the more I wanted to include him in the manuscript

      Liked by 1 person

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