Six To Five And Pick ‘Em D+24 (2 August 1987) 1625-1645


1625 Zulu (1225 Local)


“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.

16 Replies to “Six To Five And Pick ‘Em D+24 (2 August 1987) 1625-1645”

  1. I can’t say I’m on the edge of my seat because I fell off. Wow!!!

    I was just reading about the Pershing II a few days ago. Remarkable technology.

    I have it on my to-do list to read up on Perimtr, the Soviet “dead hand” system. Hopefully the rebels can get a handle on the Strategic Rocket Forces. And hopefully, sub-kiloton weapons don’t reach the threshold to trigger Perimetr. But maybe I’m worrying about a non-issue.

    Anyway, you really are bringing this to a fantastic climax!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m glad the thriller element is still fresh after all of this time.
      Interesting point about the Perimetr. I picked up some research on it and will share after Monday.

      As for the Pershing, well, I’m an air guy and never paid much attention to it until I started the blog. I agree with you though. Remarkable technology and I believe that weapon played a major role in the Cold War coming to an end when it did


  2. There is this war’s GBU-28, and the importance of holding the Fulda Gap.

    I get the feeling that phone call from the Lenin Hills contains the actual coordinates of the Kremlin’s deep underground bunker, and that it is significantly (especially with the planned 0.3-kiloton detonations) different from what the West believes it to be.

    Liked by 2 people


    These are two W86, not 3, since we have 2 aimed exactly at the Kremlin itself, even assuming no fratricide, it won’t kill more than the stated number. Assume _all_ casualties are fatalities: due to the level of destruction, congestion in the city, etc., first responders will not arrive in time to help 99% of them. I’m surprised by how “few” people will die (ca. 24000), but I’m also sure the remaining Soviet government officials will be less sanguine about the matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not too bad. Just remember a couple of things. The number of people in the area will likely be far below 25K. Conditions are far from normal. There was a battle just fought in Red Square, its wartime, etc.
      The worst thing for casualties will be the fact that the impacts are set for groundburst. That will definitely pump up the numbers.


      1. Ooh yeah I didn’t think that they’d have pushed out most civilians for the duration, plus possibly dispersed a great many gov’t employees after the initial strikes…so maybe half as many casualties, or as low as a third (assuming the strikes happen which, at this point, I am thinking not…but only you know and you ain’t tellin’ 😉 )

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Monday….arrgh! You definitely know how to build suspense.

    Romanov thinks he holds the cards but has to wait until 1800 on his own timetable, and maybe thinks he’s out of Pershing range, so, “we stand a damn good chance of catching him with his pants down.” Hopefully.

    Am curious to hear what Chebrikov’s message says. Can’t see Reagan holding off though with 20 minutes to launch.

    Minor typo – you had Chernikov instead of Chebrikov in the third paragraph.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry about that. 🙂 I was hoping to have it wrapped up by today but I’m working on this project and a manuscript at the same time. So one more day. Monday will be it. Worst case, I do a detailed timeline and then go back to give more details after Labor Day.

      Remember, Reagan can wait longer than 20 minutes. And he may have to. SAC and the Navy could need more time to prepare.

      Thanks for the catch. My eyes are numb to writing errors now and my editor has his hands full with my manuscript 🙂


  5. Mike, you really write beautifully. You have excellent story design. This really takes me back to early Tom Clancy days. We are adrift on a sea of mediocre technothriller writers. You have REAL talent. Please use it. You publish a book, I’ll buy it new.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for the compliment. I promise you’ll be seeing a published novel released by February. Probably the US-China one though. The US-Russia manuscript is also done and polished but it’s on hold until my publisher decides Ukraine cools off. So this blog is not the end. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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