2015 Zulu – Dolgikh and Chebrikov had much work to do. As did President Reagan and his advisers. Before signing off, the new Soviet co-leaders proposed an informal ceasefire be set into place beginning at midnight. The next morning, once SACEUR and Marshal Snetkov met and ironed out matters in Germany, work could begin on a more precise and proper ceasefire. Reagan agreed to the proposal in principle but informed the Soviets that US strategic forces would remain at their present alert posture until evidence of Soviet strategic forces drawing down was received. In Moscow, neither Dolgikh or Chebrikov had issue with this. The conversation closed after the leaders agreed on to make contact again at 0015 Zulu and provide updates.
2020 Zulu– The United States military and government had a strict set of procedures in place regarding a rapid rise in nuclear tensions. Even though the danger now appeared to be dissipating, NEACP-Primary would remain airborne for at least another eight hours. NEACP-Alternate carrying Vice President Bush was looking at twelve hours until it was back on the ground. Two of the three SAC command aircraft that were presently airborne would be returning to Offutt only after the B-52s, B-1s and FB-111s were released from their positive control points. CINC-SAC General John Chain estimated this would start sometime after midnight once it became clear the Soviets were holding to their end of the bargain. Until then the majority of US nuclear forces were remaining at the highest state of alert.
2030 Zulu- This wasn’t the case for B61 armed US Navy A-6E Intruders, however. Flights of these aircraft, along with escorting fighters and support aircraft were loitering in the Barents Sea, Sea of Japan and Black Sea at relatively short distances from the Soviet Union. Orders started going out from the NMCC to 2nd, 6th and 7th Fleet commanders and were then relayed to the affected carrier groups. At 2030 Zulu the first quartet of Intruders over the Barents Sea acknowledged the recall and turned back to the Forrestal and Eisenhower. By 2045 their counterparts around the world were doing the same.
2100 Zulu– In Western Europe, a number of nuclear-armed fighter bombers standing Victor Alert had launched from their home stations earlier in the evening and were now loitering at various points over the North Sea. On command from Brussels, transmitted through COMAAFCE at Ramstein Airbase, the recall orders were issued and acknowledged.
2110 Zulu– For GLCM and Pershing II missile units, their alert status remained unchanged. Batteries remained in the field at various firing positions from the United Kingdom to Sicily and across West Germany. They would remain vigilant until a formal ceasefire was placed in effect for Europe.
2130 Zulu– In Moscow at the Defense Ministry efforts were underway to reduce the alert level at land-based ICBM fields. A new commander was selected for the Strategic Rocket Forces, a general who was both capable as well as reliable politically. The ballistic missile submarines presently at sea would remain there for now. Within the next day, orders were likely to be given to the submarines’ captains to return to their respective home ports. Provided the situation globally continued to deescalate.
2155 Zulu- Following consultations with military commanders, as well as with his fellow leaders of NATO member-states, President Reagan briefly addresses the US population via AM radio. He informs the people that a change of government has taken place in Moscow and he is working with the news Soviet leadership to establish a ceasefire as rapidly as events allow. The threat of further nuclear exchanges has been significantly reduced and the strategic forces of the United States and Soviet Union are in the process of standing down.
12 Replies to “Trigger Fingers Disengaged D+24 (2 August, 2022) 2015-2022 Zulu”
Hello again Mike,
Another solid update, and all plausible.
That said, the more I think about this, I look at these deescalatory measures like I would a sand castle on the beach as the tide is coming in. I understand that you see this timeline as complete, insofar as the actual WAR is concerned; but as I understand the situation as painted, it is a horrifyingly unstable one, given the level of control the Dolgikh-Chebrikov regime (if we can even call it that) actually has over…very much.
What we have is – correct me if I am wrong:
1) A Soviet Western Group of Forces that seems to be in an advanced state of disintegration, with entire divisions surrendering to NATO troops, and remaining ones whose morale level probably can only be detected with an electron microscope;
2) Key Warsaw Pact nations approaching something like open revolt, imperiling the supply and security of the WGF;
3) An Army, KGB, and Soviet public previously fed optimistic propaganda lines on the state of the war who must now be persuaded to accept that it was necessary to allow the Americans to *nuke the Kremlin*, and to abandon the war as a lost cause.
The D-C regime may have Akhromeyev, Snetkov, and key leadership of military and security forces on their side for the moment, but everything under them can no longer be taken for granted. For the moment they are in power chiefly because Romanov’s death has created a sudden political vacuum. If they are unable to close the sale on what they have done – and from what I know of the historical Chebrikov and Dolgikh I do not have a whole more confidence in their political coup capabilities than I did the August coup plotters – then it won’t take much for a challenge to their power to quickly emerge. All while Eastern Europe approaches a state of spontaneous combustion. How much confidence can there be that D-C will still have control of every nuke 48 hours from now? A week from now?
I won’t blame you, however, if you choose a less exciting outcome tree to wrap this alt-history up.
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Richard, you’re definitely on the right path. That’s all I can say until a few more entries are posted. 🙂 But you’re warm!
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Agree 100% on the instability of the situation and am interesting to see how the next events play out, but disagree on a couple of specific points.
First, regardless of the propaganda fed the Soviet public, both the army and the KGB leadership have extremely good, first hand knowledge of exactly how the war has been going, and while they may not like the idea of the Kremlin being nuked nor will everyone have any understanding of why that had to happen, they also know that they’re no longer in a position to continue the war – and I don’t see any of them wanting to ride the H-bomb down waving the Soviet equivalent of Slim Pickens’ cowboy hat.
Second, the degree of centralization within the Soviet Union means that the loss of KGB headquarters eliminates an enormous focal point for the security forces including leadership and, more importantly, records. In 1987, Gorbachev had not seriously weakened Party control in the republics and the tradition of top down control means that the number of capable independent actors, and those accustomed to exercising initiative, is likely small. The Party apparatus outside Moscow would, historically, acquiesce to whatever happened in Moscow. There will be a fight for power, and with people like Yeltsin, who had decent political skills – better than either D or C, – still around, things will definitely happen, but the hardest of the hard core went up with the Kremlin and Lubyanka.
Third, by this time, the Soviet public was so cynical about everything that, I’d argue, the concept of Soviet patriotism was largely dead.
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Sort of like when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Russian patriotism was awakened but not Soviet patriotism.
The first cracks began to show (in real life) in the late 70s and early 80s. By the time 1989 rolled around the end results were pretty obvious. The Soviet Union was living on borrowed time and wouldn’t last. We’re just fortunate that when it did come down, it was rather orderly
Nicely done. I never had much confidence that such deescalation could successfully happen “in real life”, but that’s just my pessimism.
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I agree. Too many variables and factors. Communicating with strategic forces was no cake walk for the Soviets. Even under the best of circumstances. After a limited exchange, who knows how bad it would’ve been. They had no serious alternate C3 layout like we did and their centralized mindset would’ve been a major hindrance.
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I cannot help wondering how your WW3 in 1987 would have worked out as regards the current state of mainframe, mini and micro computers & networking technology back in the 1980’s ? Of course micro computers had just appeared ‘on the scene’ in the 80’s as the IBM PC was launched in August 1981, to become the standard for personal computers; next you have MS Windows as the big OS interface for OS MS-DOS on the IBM PC’s that didn’t appear until November 1985. The ARPANET’s domination of computer networking wasn’t surpassed until TCP/IP came along in the 1980’s, along with it’s adoption by CERN that led to others converting to it and of course the World Wide Web that brought the internet to all of us wasn’t even invented until 1989. So I assume NATO & the west were ‘ahead of the curve’ ( compared to the Soviet Union & it’s WP allies ) when it comes to computer power and the interconnecting of their computer systems, although no doubt Computer Laptops at the time were ‘still wanting’ in a number of areas, as the first commercial IBM compatible Laptops wasn’t introduced until 1986. Looking back at many photo’s of life in the Soviet Union before it collapsed; even well into the 1980’s & early 90’s many Soviet shops, markets & department stores were still using the Abacus rather than calculators or any electronic or computerised tills – whether this was due to trade embargoes or no doubt the Soviet military getting preferential treatment for such computer products, I cannot say ? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abacus#Russia
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The Soviets were trying hard to get their hands on computer technology in the 80s…in real life. Mainly for military use. The Toshiba-Kongsberg scandal is a good example of that. But compared to the West, Soviet computers were very lacking at the time. Far behind the curve, both in military and civilian use
I wonder, post war, what the limited use of nuclear weapons (mostly tactically) would have done to the anti nuclear movement worldwide…particularly the non-proliferation movement. I could see it going both directions (eg…post WW3, does South Africa willingly just give them up after seeing how small weapons can be effective….yet on the other hand, Madrid probably causes a real push to limit strategic weapons and Germany probably becomes VERY anti nuclear). Just thinking aloud…bravo on “concluding” the war…
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I think it would all depend on the future. A lot of smaller nations had nuclear weapons by this point. Israel, India, even South Africa most likely. So the taboo on tactical nukes has gone by the way side and nations like Iran and Iraq might be considering a way to get some. But yeah, Madrid and Gorki will revitalize the anti-nuke movement worldwide for a while at least.
Thanks! 🙂 It took years of real life work to do, but the war has finally ended. And there’s a lot left to write about too.
That instagram reel track of the kid singing “… and nothing can go wrong!… crash… “ keeps playing in my head.
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Yeah, that’s a good comparison, Bill.