0655 Zulu (0855 Local)
*Author’s Note: This post will require two parts so I thought I’d post Part I early. Second part will be up tomorrow night or sometime on Friday. *
General Jack Galvin, US Army stood just inside of a tree line bordering a large tract of farmland that had been hastily turned into an ad-hoc helicopter pad to accommodate the visitor now inbound from the east. The helicopter carrying his Soviet counterpart had escorted by a pair of Mi-24 Hind gunships. At the Inner-German Border the Hinds peeled off and three US Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters took up escort of the single Mi-17 carrying the Soviet general and a handful of aides. It had gone as well as expected and the Soviets were expected to be on the ground here a short distance from 1st Cavalry Division’s forward command post in five minutes time.
SACEUR was nervous about the upcoming meeting and understandably so. The smoke had hardly cleared and here he was about to meet with his Soviet counterpart and barter for peace. He mentally reviewed the biography of Marshal Boris Snetkov while awaiting the officer’s arrival. A decorated World War II veteran and career artillery officer he became commander of Group Soviet Forces Germany not very long before the war began after his predecessor developed severe coronary issues. Galvin himself had taken the reins of command in late June. He smiled thinly at the realization they were both relative newcomers to this level of command when the balloon went up. All things considered, both he and his Soviet opposite had acquitted themselves well. Of course, SACEUR could afford be approbative with his thoughts. He’d won.
Onboard the Mi-17 helicopter, Marshal Snetkov mentally pondered the coming meeting. The new political leadership in Moscow ordered him to reach a temporary ceasefire agreement with the NATO commander. Temporary meant until such a time that formal diplomatic negotiations could begin. Vladimir Dolgikh, the man most probable to become the next general secretary, that he was not to offer the surrender of Soviet forces in Germany to the NATO supreme commander under any circumstances. The thought had never crossed Snetkov’s mind, but CINC-West understood how politicians thought when it came to military matters.
He was not entirely certain what had taken place in Moscow overnight but there had been a change in management at the Kremlin. Romanov was out and it appeared Dolgikh and his troika were in. As for the Kremlin, he was not entirely certain the building still existed. Rumors outnumbered facts by a healthy margin concerning recent events in the capital. He preferred not to dabble in speculation. Facts mattered more and the fact of the moment was the Soviet Union’s new political leaders had issued him orders. Snetkov intended to follow them through the best he could.
CINC-West stared out the left-facing window at the American helicopter positioned close in. It was an Apache, a new, technologically advanced and agile attack helicopter that had made a name for itself in this war. Apache, Snetkov remembered, was the name of a fierce tribe of indigenous Americans. An appropriate name for this weapon. Almost as daunting as the Apache itself was the Hellfire missile it carried as its main armament. The visored-face of the gunner was fixed directly on him. Snetkov wondered what the younger man was thinking.
Reluctantly, he took his eyes away from the Apache and pulled the biography of the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe from a folder. He’d already studied it over and over, but still examined it once more, searching for any detail that might’ve been missed earlier. The American general’s credentials were impressive. He began his career as an enlisted man before winning appointment to the US military academy on the Hudson River in New York. A Vietnam veteran and an impressive pedigree of advanced education degrees. Not only was this Galvin a first-class soldier, but he was also a renaissance man of sorts. Unfortunately, Snetkov noticed for the first time, his opponent did not speak Russian. This was one area where CINC-West had the advantage. His English was quite good and he wondered if Galvin was aware of this fact. It might prove to be an advantage for Snetkov.
He looked up quickly as the helicopter started to decelerate noticeably. A quick glance out the window again showed the Apache positioned there before was now breaking off and to the left. They would be landing within a minute or two.