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Quote: "How a war game brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster"

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Quote: "How a war game brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster"

Old 3rd Nov 2013, 13:53
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Quote: "How a war game brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster"

Half expected this article would have been picked up here and apologies if I’ve missed a thread.

Perhaps no frenzy if there is nothing new reported. I did due diligence with a forum search for “Able Archer”. Certainly seems it’s been discussed before. The trigger seems to be release of cabinet papers, so the new news might be the political aspect.
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 14:01
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Yep saw it.

In a nutshell, Thatch was pretty horrified in late 1983 when she read secret intelligence papers on how the USSR had got the message wrong and was seriously expecting to be attacked by NATO, so in response USSR raised her own defence level to a pretty well cocked hair trigger in certain local E European areas.
Thatch got onto the right diplomatic channels to tell the Yanks to start thinking about toning it all down a bit. The years 1983/4/5 we must have been close to disaster at times.
When you remember what it was like>? Anybody on here remember Ocean Train 1985 was it? The NATO convoy back from the USA and we ended up fronting up the Russians off N Norway?
Overflown by Bison, Bear - God knows what else went on because He surely spared the human race/mankind/world in those far off days.
One mistake....one misinterpretation..
Thatcher deserves some credit for this (if it be true).

Last edited by Hangarshuffle; 3rd Nov 2013 at 14:06.
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 16:51
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Read the relevant chapter of the official history of MI5 'Defence of the Realm' by Chris Andrew. Much of the Soviet response was due to the paranoia emanating from the Kremlin - the Soviet Rezident in London was tasked to see whether Britian was stockpiling blood supplies, whether the MoD and other departments were working late etc, in 'obvious preparation' for war. The various Soviet Emabssies in NATO countires had to provide material that supported the bonkers Kremlin narrative, otherwise the KGB officers would be 'recalled' to Lubyanka...
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 17:49
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Read the relevant caapter of the official history of MI5 'Defence of the Realm' by Chris Andrew
Defence of the Realm was published in 2009. The first open source account of Raketno-Yadernoye Napadenie ('Nuclear Missile Attack')was in Ch4;Operation RYAN; of Andrew & Gordievesky's book "Instructions From The Centre" published in 1991. Whilst there were various references to Op. RYAN prior to that, although not by name, it was the first occasion I can recall it being linked to Able Archer.

So in response to the OP, not fresh news at all, in fact very old news indeed.

YS

For reference:
Instructions From The Centre ISBN 0-340-56650-7

Last edited by Yellow Sun; 3rd Nov 2013 at 17:51.
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 17:59
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There was a CH4 programme about it in '08.

Also dealt with KAL 007 and the spurious launch warning system alarm in the USSR at around the same time, I seem to recall.
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 18:12
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Yellow Sun,

You hit the spot precisely. As someone who was serving at that time, I ask this. What's the point of a major, multi national exercise if it does not display " organisational intent, after an enemy transgression". I suspect that the reported hiatus was one of many that appears to have attracted the press to an orgasm of verisimilitude, and may as always have more relevance to sales than accurate analysis.

Smudge
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 19:23
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There must have been a Soxmis out and about who had seen how we were all frantically sawing up broom handles and covering the world in plastic sheeting and Bodge tape, no wonder they thought it real.
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 21:16
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Nutloose,

Ex ABLE ARCHER 83 was mostly a CPX for nuclear forces, which is what spooked the Sovs. Under Operation RYAN they'd already convinced themselves by the early 80s that the west was going to nuke them, so they then went out to find the evidence that this was going to happen. Not finding the intelligence that this was going happen simply meant that the west was hiding it well (no, don't draw comparisons with the UK/US in 2003), leading not just to an intelligence failure, but more specifically, an intelligence-led intelligence failure. Oops.

S41
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 21:32
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And since when did we need such a paultry excuse such as a CPX Nuclear war to avoid frantically sawing up broom handles and covering the world in plastic sheeting and Bodge tape, no wonder they thought it real. In the Airforce I served in it was de rigueur to take a saw to a broom handle at the drop of a beret. And if it wasn't a war, CPX or otherwise, we'd still be at it producing Uckers sets.



.

Last edited by NutLoose; 3rd Nov 2013 at 21:33.
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 21:59
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And by sheer coincidence, the Hollywood movie War Games came out that year after year in production in 1982.
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 22:27
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Now I am freaked, crabs playing uckers! Waffoo or real rules
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 22:42
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^^^^^^^^^^^
Small Ships rules.
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 22:55
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I never understood Uckers, let alone for nuclear war - after all a nuclear war wasn't going to last long enough for WAFUs and Fisheads to argue / agree about "rules".

Ah well, sure they'll do fine on the CVF - plenty of time to sort the rules to Ludo out before any, umm aircraft actually arrive....

S41

Last edited by Squirrel 41; 3rd Nov 2013 at 22:56. Reason: spolink
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Old 3rd Nov 2013, 23:13
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Peter, used to play against 845 in NI so real rules I suppose.
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Old 4th Nov 2013, 19:01
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And since when did we need such a paultry excuse such as a CPX Nuclear war to avoid frantically sawing up broom handles and covering the world in plastic sheeting and Bodge tape, no wonder they thought it real.
We were just playing chicken.

Intriguingly, I was Germany based at the time. We heard whispers about this but laughingly discounted them. It did later get a bit fraught; but it was closer than we imagined.
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Old 5th Nov 2013, 00:47
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I think it was "Ocean Safari 85" not Ocean Train, and according to intelligence we receives it did cause a major bout of indigestion in the soviet ranks.

Bob C
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Old 5th Nov 2013, 13:33
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Thanks Bob I think your right. Remember the response well, on the FD numerous overflying Soviet aircraft, I've still got some of the photos somewhere in my old sea chest, of 800 NAS SHAR closely shadowing I think Bison or Badger, and Bear .
Agree in principle of course all training regardless of scale should be both realistic and relevant, but what 28 years later think that particular massive exercise must have looked particularly bullish to the Russians. Provoking or misleading an opponent into making a catastrophic mistake...surely trying not to do that that gets highlighted before the start?
Our aircraft were never armed on these cold war occasions, ever as I recall. Cant remember if the accompanying American Tomcats were...think they were in retrospect. See if I can dig out my old photos from that era.
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Old 5th Nov 2013, 14:30
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Yellow Sun,

Chris Andrews wrote the official history of MI5 and helped to, um, debrief some defectors earlier in his career. Defence of the Realm wasn't the first account of it by nay means, but it was the first fusion of Soviet and British intelligence material.
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Old 5th Nov 2013, 18:18
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The Soviet reaction to Ocean Safari was not out of proportion to the size of the exercise. What was of particular interest from our pov was that they were apparently using it as an operational test of their ocean surveillance system. The presence of a significant number of "live" targets and the opportunity to correlate the results might appear heaven sent. However knowledge that is going on can also provide an assessment opportunity of the system's capability.

I never really understood the "intercept at all costs" obsession displayed by many in the hierarchy. By all means intercept when there is a reason but in many instances it seemed to be about "presence" and pretty piccies rather than any substantive intelligence gathering.

YS
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Old 20th Feb 2021, 07:37
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https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/s...veal-8tpkt9t8d

Soviet Union was ready to scramble 100 nuclear bombers in 1983, files reveal

The Soviet Union armed 100 aircraft with nuclear bombs and put them on a 30-minute alert status as Cold War tensions threatened to boil over in the early 1980s, declassified US intelligence files disclose.

The documents add another layer to the story of how close the world came to catastrophe in 1983 when harsh rhetoric set both sides on edge. The world was on the brink after Soviet forces shot down a Korean Air Lines jet west of Sakhalin island and Nato held war games to test its ability in a nuclear war.

The report, released by the US state department, claims that Lieutenant General Leonard Perroots, the top US intelligence official in Europe, discovered that Soviet air force units had been secretly armed and put on full alert to launch nuclear strikes as Nato prepared to play out its Able Archer exercise on November 7, 1983.

Soviet fighter-bomber regiments in East Germany and Poland, equipped with about 100 Mikoyan MiG-27s, Sukhoi Su-17s and Su-24s, were seen being armed with nuclear bombs. The air crews were briefed “to destroy first-line enemy targets”. All routine missions were cancelled in preparation.

Previously declassified intelligence reports in 2015 disclosed that the Soviet Union had become worried about the Able Archer exercise, which rehearsed a simulated nuclear attack on Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces. The high-level exercise even involved Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl,

the West German chancellor. The Soviet Union at the time was so worried about the West launching a pre-emptive strike that Yuri Andropov, the KGB chief, ordered that all Soviet intelligence officers stationed overseas had to report any signs of war preparations, even down to whether the lights were on in London at government offices late into the night.

The British government alerted America to the Soviet fears after receiving detailed intelligence reports from Oleg Gordievsky, the senior KGB official at the Soviet embassy in London who was serving as a double agent for MI6.

It was an era of high tension. By the 1980s the Soviet economy had stagnated and its soldiers were bogged down in Afghanistan. President Brezhnev died on November 10, 1982, leading to a power battle in the Kremlin that was only resolved with the selection of President Gorbachev in 1984.

In the US President Reagan denounced the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” and announced plans for a Star Wars anti-missile defence system while preparing to base Pershing II and cruise missiles in western Europe. In September 1983 the Soviet Union shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 over the Sea of Japan, killing all 269 passengers and crew on board.

The new documents show that Perroots, who went on to become director of US defence intelligence, initially advised his superiors against “increasing our real alert posture” because the picture was uncertain. Only after Able Archer was over did he realise that the Soviet Union had prepared “for immediate use of nuclear weapons”.

His later assessment of the scare appears in his “end of tour” report in 1989 on his retirement. He expressed his disquiet over what he felt was “inadequate treatment of the Soviet war scare”.

He said that a lack of intelligence of Soviet intentions and apprehensions during Able Archer could have led to “a potentially disastrous situation”. He later admitted: “If I had known then what I later found out I am uncertain what advice I would have given.”

Fortunately, a few days after Able Archer was completed, the Soviet air force returned to “normal alert status”.
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