The Southern Flank D+19 (28 July, 1987)

Rescue operations in Madrid were well underway on D+19. AFSOUTH continued to direct rescue and relief assets into the area. Torrejon, the US airbase situated just east of the Spanish capital received considerable damage. Air operations were impossible for the time being. Madrid–Barajas Airport, the international airport that serviced the city, was in no better condition. Lack of a functioning airport was going to have a significant impact upon rescue and relief efforts in the first forty-eight hours of the post-attack phase. It was already clear that the scope of the disaster extended far beyond Spain’s national capabilities. The nation’s emergency services were already straining. The situation on the ground was not helped by the current condition of the Spanish government. Right now, it was functioning with a skeleton staff. Even though Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez had been in Barcelona at the time of the attack and survived, many senior civilian officials and military officers were now missing or among the casualties. Juan Carlos I, Spain’s king, was alive but seriously wounded. The conditions and locations of other Spanish royal family members was not known. About the only thing in Spain’s favor was the fact the Western Mediterranean was secure. This was allowing Spain to focus its full attention on dealing with the aftermath of the Madrid attack.

In Thrace, Bulgarian and Soviet motor-rifle troops generally limited their operations on the ground to probes and the occasional reconnaissance-in-force. The defending Greek and Turkish brigades were reluctant to take the bait. As a result, engagements were restricted to company-sized engagements across the length of the front that. These were fairly short clashes with neither side showing an appetite for more decisive engagement.

Turkey’s eastern frontier was quiet apart from a handful of aerial encounters between NATO and Soviet fighters. A heavy combat air patrol was established and maintained over Incirlik Airbase, home to a stockpile of NATO nuclear weapons and the squadron of USAF F-111s tasked with carrying them to Russia in the event of the war turning nuclear. Soviet and Syrian aircraft gave the base a wide berth, demonstrating a reluctance to engage in any activity that could lead to unintended escalation.

The Levant was an area that remained conspicuously quiet. Syria, Israel and their respective proxy groups were on their best behavior for the first nineteen days of the war. On D+19 there were indications that this was about to change. Off the Lebanese coast, Israeli and Syrian naval forces exchanged fire in the late morning. There was no damage or casualties to either side’s naval units. Three hours later, Israeli warplanes attacked Syrian air defense positions east of Beirut in the Bekaa Valley.  In the aftermath of the previous day’s destruction of Madrid, Gorki and a pair of military installations, Syria and Israel seemed to be taking advantage of the distraction to get their own shots in. As night fell, there were mortar attacks on Israeli military encampments in Southern Lebanon. These led to Israeli artillery strikes on suspected Islamic Jihad positions near Lebanon. In the big picture, the clashes in the Levant were minor and inconsequential. However, if the war continued on without further nuclear attacks in the coming days, the Israel-Syrian situation ran the danger of becoming a new flash point that dragged the United States and Soviet Union in.

11 Replies to “The Southern Flank D+19 (28 July, 1987)”

  1. I don’t expect a response to this until next week, Mike, but for when you get back…I’m a bit of a numbers nerd, and one thing that no WW3 book has ever really given is the materiel costs; will your book have a breakdown of losses in men and equipment? Based on analysis and scenario-gaming?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Bill. Happy Thanksgiving! No, the book will not have any of that. It’s your basic narrative-based technothriller. There are numbers, however, that will be shared through this blog at some point. I’ve even been able to modify them more in recent months

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I think I mentioned that my summer reading list included Team Yankee, and it had been years since I’d read it…by the time both sides stood down, the Team was in pretty awful shape. Very different from what I remembered back in the day.

            Liked by 1 person

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