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-   -   Quote: "How a war game brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster" (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/526950-quote-how-war-game-brought-world-brink-nuclear-disaster.html)

Will1593 3rd Nov 2013 13:53

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 Iíve missed a thread.

Perhaps no frenzy if there is nothing new reported. I did due diligence with a forum search for ďAble ArcherĒ. Certainly seems itís been discussed before. The trigger seems to be release of cabinet papers, so the new news might be the political aspect.

Hangarshuffle 3rd Nov 2013 14:01

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).

Whenurhappy 3rd Nov 2013 16:51

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...

Yellow Sun 3rd Nov 2013 17:49

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.


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

Willard Whyte 3rd Nov 2013 17:59

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.

smujsmith 3rd Nov 2013 18:12

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.


NutLoose 3rd Nov 2013 19:23

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.

Squirrel 41 3rd Nov 2013 21:16


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.


NutLoose 3rd Nov 2013 21:32

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.


chopper2004 3rd Nov 2013 21:59

And by sheer coincidence, the Hollywood movie War Games came out that year after year in production in 1982.

PeterGee 3rd Nov 2013 22:27

Now I am freaked, crabs playing uckers! Waffoo or real rules

Surplus 3rd Nov 2013 22:42

Small Ships rules.

Squirrel 41 3rd Nov 2013 22:55

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....


NutLoose 3rd Nov 2013 23:13

Peter, used to play against 845 in NI so real rules I suppose.

ShyTorque 4th Nov 2013 19:01

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.

Robert Cooper 5th Nov 2013 00:47

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

Hangarshuffle 5th Nov 2013 13:33

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.

Whenurhappy 5th Nov 2013 14:30

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.

Yellow Sun 5th Nov 2013 18:18

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.


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