1625 Zulu (1225 Local)
Full text of General Secretary Romanov’s Hotline Message 1620 Zulu, 2 August, 1987: MR PRESIDENT, IMMEDIATELY UPON TRANSMISSION OF THIS MESSAGE TO YOU, I WILL CONTACT THE LEADERS OF THE ABORTED COUP AND DEMAND THEIR UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER BY 1800 HOURS ZULU TIME. FAILURE TO MEET THIS DEMAND WILL RESULT IN AN IMMEDIATE NUCLEAR STRIKE AGAINST THE UNITED STATES IN RETALLIATION FOR YOUR GOVERNMENT’S ILL-CONSIDERED SUPPORT OF THESE TRAITORS AND THEIR ATTEMPT TO OVERTHROW MY GOVERNMENT.
“Forward and to the point,” Vice President Bush summed up over the conference line. “This guy is not messing around.”
The discussion that came after the fairly accurate Bush observation was less heated than the earlier one. Some of those who just minutes earlier had been against the prospect of a pre-emptive attack were reconsidering their positions. Romanov was clearly growing more desperate and unstable as the minutes passed by. He regarded the United States government as being the enemy at the gates now. The troika of Chebrikov, Dolgikh and Akhromeyev couldn’t get to him in time. He’d have enough time to order at least a partial first strike and get enough missiles off the ground to prompt Reagan to respond in kind. It was clear that Romanov would use nuclear weapons again at some point.
President Reagan’s mind was all but made up by this time. It was becoming clear to everyone on the phone line and in the Nightwatch conference room. Even Secretary Schultz could see the writing on the wall. The Princeton-educated diplomat knew the time to play devil’s advocate was drawing to an end. He concluded his argument with a final question. “Mr.President, what will happen if a decapitation strike fails and Romanov is still alive?”
“In that case we will follow up immediately with a counterforce-centered first strike. Our aim will be to take out as many of his ICBMs and submarines as possible,” Reagan answered in a tone of voice that left no doubt he was prepared to issue the orders for that.
The Secretary of Defense realized this as well. “Sir, before we move ahead, I’d like to have General Vuono walk us through the decapitation strike details briefly one final time.”
“Good idea, Cap,” the president nodded his agreement as Weinberger went about bringing the Army Chief of Staff back into the conversation.
The Lenin Hills, Moscow, USSR
1633 Zulu (2033 Local)
“I will not surrender to that insane bastard,” Vladimir Dolgikh declared loudly and angrily. The demands made by the general secretary had only enflamed him and his two comrades.
“If we do, Grigory Vasilyevich will have our necks,” Chebrikov pointed out gruffly. “Then no one can possibly stop him. On the bright side,” the KGB Chairman grinned thinly. “I don’t think we’ll live long enough to face a firing squad. The American missiles will get here long before then.”
Dolgikh chuckled at the gallows humor. “Grigory Vasilyevich was never the smartest man in a room. The most dedicated and conniving perhaps, but he’s far beyond his depth now. Do you think he will strike the Americans with nuclear weapons?”
“Da. I sincerely believe that our general secretary has intended to destroy the NATO countries with nuclear weapons since the moment he took power in April.”
“Do they know it?”
“I’m sure Reagan and his advisers have drawn the right conclusions,” Chebrikov sighed. “More to the point, I am almost sure they are now considering a pre-emptive strike against Moscow to prevent it from happening.”
Dolgikh crumbled into a thick leather seat at that and ran a sweaty hand across his face. “Is there anything that we can do at this point?”
Chebrikov turned around and searched out his driver standing white faced against the wall on the other side of the room. “Boris Alexandrovich, will you please do me the favor of contacting your friends in Virginia once again?”
1640 Zulu (1235 Local)
General Vuono’s voice came through the speaker phone clearly. “It took approximately twelve days of testing to certify the W86. The process started at Los Alamos three days before the war started. The three warheads were air-transported to Germany, arriving on D+14 and mated to the Pershing IIs of a platoon from 1/9 Field Artillery. As VII Corps pushed towards the Czech border the W86-armed missiles moved forward behind them. At present they’re in concealed firing positions southeast of Hof. Just spitting distance of the Czech border.”
“And the W86 is the penetration warhead designed for the Pershing, correct?” The National Security Adviser queried.
“Yes, sir,” Vuono answered. “Development was slowed down in the early ‘80s when the mission of the Pershing II shifted to destroying softer targets at greater ranges. A small number of warheads were kept in case that mission reverted back in the future. These three were recommissioned and deployed to give us the option for a strike against a priority hardened target if it became necessary.”
“General,” Secretary Schultz went next. “I was under the impression the Pershing II doesn’t have the range to reach Moscow.”
“Mr.Secretary, the missile does not have the range to get to Moscow from the primary launch positions throughout West Germany . But from the Hof area these three birds can hit any point within the city limits.”
“That’s three missiles. Each one will be targeted on the Kremlin?”
“Given the current parameters, I recommend placing two missiles on the Kremlin and one on the KGB headquarters building at Lubyanka. That will guarantee destruction of each site with minimal collateral damage.”
“How powerful are these warheads?”
“The W86 has a selectable yield of between point-three and eighty kilotons. Point three will be enough considering the Pershing II’s accuracy and speed. You have all been briefed on its capabilities.”
“We have,” President Reagan spoke for the first time, his eyes searching around the conference room at every man present. “How long will they take to get to Moscow?”
“Seven to nine minutes, sir. Considerably less time than an ICBM or a cruise missile. As well as being considerably more difficult for Russian radars to detect until it is too late.”
“One final question, General Vuono. How much time do you need to get the missiles prepared?”
“The preparation period is roughly twenty minutes, sir. Starting from the moment the order is given.”
“Consider that order given,” President Reagan told him. “Let me know when the Pershings are ready. At that point we will discuss launch time and the authentication procedures.”
“Yes, sir.” Vuono clicked off.
Reagan was about to address the advisers there with him the phone buzzed again. He pressed the speaker button. “What is it?”
“Mr.President,” a communications tech in the alternate military command center at Raven Rock chirped. “I have Director Webster here with me right now wanting to speak with you. He says it’s urgent.”
Author’s Note: The End will require another entry it would seem. 😊 Monday.