Hell Bent For Leather D+24 (2 August, 1987) 1605-1620

Aboard Nightwatch

1600 Zulu (1205 Local)

Debate over the surgical First Strike option presented by General Vuono continued on and  Reagan’s advisers were divided over the prospect.

Those in favor believed time was running critically short. Romanov was a loose cannon suffering from sleep deprivation, stress and did not appear to have full control of his mental faculties. This man was now in control of the Strategic Rocket Forces and had already demonstrated zero reluctance to employ the nuclear weapons at his disposal in order to attain his goals. If he was not removed from the equation quickly, the war was destined to shift into a final nuclear phase.

The doves did not see the situation from this perspective. They pointed out correctly that most Soviet conventional forces were either surrendering or in total disarray at this point. Commanders were not obeying orders issued by the general secretary. STAVKA and most of the KGB was no longer under Romanov’s command essentially. These men, led by Secretary Schultz urged Reagan to wait Romanov out. His time was limited. Despite the heavy threats, either the faction or one of his own people would remove him eventually. This was preferable to smoking him out and sending half of Moscow up in nuclear flames. Despite the Pentagon’s assurances on how accurate their missiles were, something could always go wrong. If the target was missed, thousands of innocent Russians would pay the price with their lives. The US would be seen as the terrorists of the planet, provided Romanov didn’t manage to order a massive nuclear attack on Europe and North America before meeting his fate.

“It is simply too risky, Mr.President,” Schultz concluded, speaking for those officials favoring a less aggressive course of action. “There is no margin for error. If something goes wrong, no matter how minor, the end result could be the destruction of the planet.”

Then there was the matter of the opposition faction in Moscow. Supporting a bloc being led in-part by the KGB Chairman was distasteful to some members of Reagan’s inner circle. Irresponsible at best, recklessly dangerous at worst. But most of them acknowledged that current circumstances dictated the unorthodox yet vital relationship and pushed the matter aside.

The discussion in the conference room on Nightwatch transformed into a debate that occasionally bloomed into a heated argument. President Reagan watched it all fold out silently. It was important for him to allow his people the opportunity to formulate their thoughts and verbalize opinions coherently in the face of friction. He needed their advice now more than at any other point in his presidency. The fortieth President of the United States was gravely aware that in the coming minutes he would be making the most critical decision in American history. The input of his advisers and cabinet members was essential.

As the discussion continued on, the white phone on the conference table chirped. Reagan pressed the speaker button. “Yes?”

“Mr. President,” the voice on the other end answered immediately. “This is Colonel Dwyer in the NMCC. Sir, a hotline message is arriving at this time.”

Lenin Hills, Moscow, USSR

1610 Zulu (2010 Local)

Immediately following transmission of the hotline message, Romanov made contact with Vladimir Dolgikh and Viktor Chebrikov at the former’s Lenin Hills dacha. The conversation was short and almost entirely one-sided. The general secretary demanded the surrender of the two and Marshal Akhromeyev, as well as the other Politburo members and military commanders who had sided with them. Romanov demanded their surrender within the hour. Failure to do this, he informed them, would force the general secretary to order a massive nuclear attack against the United States as punishment for instigating the coup in Moscow and attempting to overthrow the Soviet government.

Author’s Note: D+24 draws to a close on Saturday.

27 Replies to “Hell Bent For Leather D+24 (2 August, 1987) 1605-1620”

    1. Gonna need a lot of tanker support and some diversions to keep surviving air defenses and whatever interceptors remain busy.


        1. Which neither was available in 1987 nor, once available, fit into the F-117. Can’t wait for the conclusion tomorrow (and fearful that there’s, at least potentially, 7 hours 40 minutes left to cover).

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Conclusion pushed to Monday, but there’s a post up today. I’m writing up two conflicts this weekend and I’ve put Reagan and Pershings in present day Taiwan more than once LOL

            I loved the -28 and its history. Came together over a couple of weeks in the middle of a war. Thing is a pig to handle but it gets the job done

            Liked by 1 person

  1. R- “Traitors… surrender or I nuke the United States!!”

    Team Traitor- “How is this a bad thing? You kill the United States, We Kill You. Two Enemies to the Rodina are destroyed… and while The Rodina might suffer, we will survive because Moscow is not Rodina. Its people are. Either way, both are no longer threats the Rodina. We don’t see a down side to this.”

    R- “…..”


    All gallows humor aside, this is kinda how I see this. And I am pretty sure not all those around Romanov are ***THAT*** loyal. Despots/ megalomaniacs (usually one in the same) almost always throughout history go a step or two too far and get taken from within their circle. Almost seems like one of those unwritten rules of the Universe.

    Adolf supposedly was the exception- offing himself. And I say supposedly, because of some of those silly ass theories abound of him and Braun not actually dying and being smuggled out to Argentina or something.

    No, I don’t believe that crackpot theory- but it is a neat story hook for an Alt History tome (just saying)… but lack of remains ever being found is what fueled that silly theory. That or the Soviets took them as a trophy and don’t speak of such things. *shrug*

    In any event, history is full of inner-circle-capping-the-wacko-leader or engineering his downfall. I see this as a possible end here but only a possible one. Y’all already have the internal coup that seems to afflict Russia periodically. What is one more history-justified equivalent event here?

    Still a kickin’ read and I hope the book eventually sees the light of day/my bookshelf.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Interesting twist by Romanov. I don’t see Dolgikh, Chebrikov, and company (and the still missing Yeltsin) walking to their deaths, which is what surrendering to Romanov amounts to. If they go, they’re dead; if they refuse, and he unleashes nukes, they’re still dead and so is he and everyone with him. The contents of the hotline message have me wondering. They will likely decide Reagan’s course of action.

    Have to admit I was with Schultz’s camp when considering the whole response to the false flag nuke but Reagan’s response was good (retaliation was necessary) and his message set the fox amongst the pigeons. Now, not so sure it’s worth waiting Romanov out. I guess the thought is that even if he regains full control, he can’t really get anything more out of the situation.

    Looking forward to your resolution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Schultz camp makes a compelling argument. And you’re right, the hotline message will play a major role. You got a preview of that in the last part of today’s entry.


      1. We’re all so focused on our side’s decapitation versus hold fast, debate we may have forgotten that the Dolgikh faction could fly a couple of SU-24’s armed with fuel-air explosives over the Kremlin…the conventional Soviet military isn’t answering Romanov and he wouldn’t be looking for this.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll put up a post tomorrow and then the last one on Monday. That’s going to be the plan anyway since I’m running low on time 🙂


  3. I think a decapitation strike will fail at this point……everyone is too primed for this. Even a Pershing missile won’t be quick enough

    The President should probably tell the Soviets that we will launch on warning and a first strike attack will just fail. Doing that might just cause the Soviets to stop and think….and cool down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the problem though. Can Romanov think normally and cool down at this point? He’s starting seem a bit unstable. Stress, lack of sleep, danger, and a host of other factors


  4. I was a Junior in HS when President Reagan was elected. President Carter had to be replaced and Reagan was great choice, but he scared me. I felt we would end up in this war and would be in this position and he would likely choose a “quick-draw” solution like an old west sheriff (a Genesis music video is playing in my head as I type this).

    In 1984 I did vote for him, while on leave between Basic training and doing to West Germany for two years, he was still the better choice but still scary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can certainly see that, but my perspective comes mainly from hindsight. Dangerous time and his policies were definitely scary. Pershing II and GLCM, pushing the Soviets to the edge….and beyond since they crumbled. I’m just glad Reagan knew enough to slow down a bit when Gorbachev came around. He saw an opportunity and it helped bring the Cold War to a close. But the ride was definitely scary as hell 🙂


  5. I have a sneaking suspicion that our boys from the KGB can control the Strategic Rocket Forces, knowing they can’t intercede to stop commands from going to the sub bastions, they’re giving direct targeting information to Reagan to cut off communication there.

    Liked by 1 person

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