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View Full Version : What Could've Provoked A Soviet Invasion of West Germany?



Dayton3
26 Mar 09,, 01:10
I've been intrigued by the so called "War That Never Was". An all out, mostly nonnuclear conflict between NATO and the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact in the 1987-1990 timeframe.

One thing I've been wondering is what could actually have provoked such an attack?

I'm convinced of the following:

1) Another leader would have had to be in charge of the Soviet Union. I've always thought that Gorbachev believed his western press clippings too much. There is no scenario where he would've seen a massive invasion as the most desirable course of action.

Romanov or some early 1980s hardliner would have to have been in charge.

2) It would've had to be a breakdown in Eastern Europe. Most certainly in Eastern Germany. For example, the Soviets trying a Tianemman Square type of crackdown in late 1989 for example.

The Tom Clancy "Red Storm Rising" scenario with the Soviets launching an invasion because they are running out of oil just doesn't wash. I can't see the Soviets gambling so much just because they are facing a couple of years of low oil and gas supplies.

3) The actual crisis would have to come quickly and take Soviet leaders by surprise. A matter of weeks at most so that they saw no obvious way out besides military action.

I've developed my own WWIII scenario where the Soviets clamp down bloodily in Dec. 1989 leading to a steady decline in relations with the west followed by another rebellion in East Germany and Poland in the late summer of 1990 that convinces the Soviets that military action against the west is necessary.

Officer of Engineers
26 Mar 09,, 01:36
Have you perchance looked up the NATO's Parallel History Project? It would answer a lot of your questions.

Dayton3
26 Mar 09,, 01:39
Have you perchance looked up the NATO's Parallel History Project? It would answer a lot of your questions.

I've heard references to it.

Do you have a link?

Officer of Engineers
26 Mar 09,, 01:50
This is the subsite to which you're probably interested in

http://www.php.isn.ethz.ch/collections/index.cfm

It contains the known war plans of the Warsaw Pact. Just be advised that the war plans from 1970 on is still state class protected in Moscow, so we don't know what they are but I don't think that operationally that they would deviate too far from what has been presented, only the locations would have changed, ie eastward.

Do search through the site, especially with interviews with former Warsaw Pact Officers. They do provide a clear and concise view of the military confrontation as they saw it. In short, I don't see the minimum 160+ nukes on the first day of WWIII to change anywhere.

KRON1
26 Mar 09,, 01:53
I can't see how the USSR invading Germany wouldn't have gone nuclear unless they did it while Jimmy Carter was president. :))

Officer of Engineers
26 Mar 09,, 02:00
If you looked at the war plans, it would have gone nuclear the 1st day. However, from the interviews with the Warsaw Pact Generals, during the Reagan years, they decided on a defensive doctrine in which they've decided the the Polish-German border was the point of launch, not the West German-East German border. In other words, they expected NATO to cross into East Germany and then afterwards, all nuclear hell are to be unleashed.

Furthermore, if you read the interviews again, none of the Warsaw Pact officers did not expect the conflict to go nuclear. They all thought that a strategic nuclear exchange was inevitable.

NATO's PHP is on par with S-2 find.

Dayton3
26 Mar 09,, 02:04
Still, regardless of war plans, using nuclear weapons would've been a political decision.

And one wonders what the Soviets would've thought given that apparently preparations by the SRF to launch a strategic nuclear strike could be detected well in advance.

Officer of Engineers
26 Mar 09,, 02:08
Again, if you read through the war plans, it was one front alone, not the entire Warsaw Pact and that front was Czech, not Soviet. In short, the final release authority was Czech, not Soviet. In other words, release authority was already given before the 1st strike across the Fulda Gap.

Dayton3
26 Mar 09,, 02:15
War plans or not, the Czechs would never use nuclear weapons without prior Soviet approval.

You can argue "nuclear or not" but I seriously doubt regardless of existing war plans that we know about that the Soviets would launch a nuclear attack just because of a dust up in Eastern Europe.

If NATO invaded perhaps.

But not as part of preplanned offensive action.

Officer of Engineers
26 Mar 09,, 02:16
War plans or not, the Czechs would never use nuclear weapons without prior Soviet approval.That's the point! Please read the war plans and apply what you have just said.

Officer of Engineers
26 Mar 09,, 02:18
Furthermore, if you read the interviews, all the Warsaw Pact Generals assumed the next war was going to be nuclear - at the strategic level. In other words, they believed WWIII was going to be a strategic nuclear exchange right off the bat.

TopHatter
26 Mar 09,, 02:59
If you looked at the war plans, it would have gone nuclear the 1st day. However, from the interviews with the Warsaw Pact Generals, during the Reagan years, they decided on a defensive doctrine in which they've decided the the Polish-German border was the point of launch, not the West German-East German border. In other words, they expected NATO to cross into East Germany and then afterwards, all nuclear hell are to be unleashed.

Which, de facto, meant that World War III would never have occurred, given that scenario...because I cannot possibly imagine a realistic scenario wherein NATO, defensive organization that it is, collectively decided to invade East Germany, much less continue on into Poland.

Or maybe I'm just uninformed.

Officer of Engineers
26 Mar 09,, 03:04
Like others said, Joe, be thankful we never found out.

TopHatter
26 Mar 09,, 03:05
Like others said, Joe, be thankful we never found out.

True, so true :frown:

Dreadnought
26 Mar 09,, 13:24
Some thought a tit for tat move during the Cuban missle crisis as the Soviets were moving in multiple directions and an attack on their missle sights in Cuba may have given them a green light to do just that.

astralis
26 Mar 09,, 16:46
that wouldn't have ended well for the USSR. they had enough weapons to devastate maybe four or five cities in the US, maybe double that in europe; we had enough to take out about hundred or so in the soviet union (conservatively).

Stitch
26 Mar 09,, 17:18
that wouldn't have ended well for the USSR. they had enough weapons to devastate maybe four or five cities in the US, maybe double that in europe; we had enough to take out about hundred or so in the soviet union (conservatively).

Yes, at that point the Soviets didn't have much in the way of nuclear delivery systems; we were both fairly primitive in terms of our nuclear delivery systems, but we (the US) still had a preponderance of weapons and delivery systems. I don't think the Tu-95's would've made it past the Canadian-US border (via the Polar route), the only weapons that would've made it to the continental US would've been the (few) ICBM's the Soviets had.

astralis
26 Mar 09,, 17:24
stitch,


Yes, at that point the Soviets didn't have much in the way of nuclear delivery systems; we were both fairly primitive in terms of our nuclear delivery systems, but we (the US) still had a preponderance of weapons and delivery systems. I don't think the Tu-95's would've made it past the Canadian-US border (via the Polar route), the only weapons that would've made it to the continental US would've been the (few) ICBM's the Soviets had.

soviets had a few sub-based missiles at the time. in fact, one sub commander was quite ready to launch until he was shouted down by his own crew.

zraver
26 Mar 09,, 19:38
If Gorby had decided to go hardline the cold war might still be on. He chose not to intervene when Hungary dropped its border defenses which started the spiral of events that culminated with the collapse of East Germany. Honecker (?) or his successor asked for Soviet troops but was rebutted. Had Gorbachev chose to hold on to Germany and use troops to do so its easy to see them also being used in Poland against Solidarity and again in Hungary.

One possible scenario for a limited conventional war is a fight erupting between the West Germany on one side and East Germany/USSR on the other over the repression of the unification (Wir wollen raus!) movement in East Germany.

drhuy
26 Mar 09,, 19:51
This is the subsite to which you're probably interested in

http://www.php.isn.ethz.ch/collections/index.cfm

It contains the known war plans of the Warsaw Pact. Just be advised that the war plans from 1970 on is still state class protected in Moscow, so we don't know what they are but I don't think that operationally that they would deviate too far from what has been presented, only the locations would have changed, ie eastward.

Do search through the site, especially with interviews with former Warsaw Pact Officers. They do provide a clear and concise view of the military confrontation as they saw it. In short, I don't see the minimum 160+ nukes on the first day of WWIII to change anywhere.


Thanks for your link, very interesting. i've just read through some, and this one grabbed my attention

http://www.php.isn.ethz.ch/collections/colltopic.cfm?lng=en&id=16248&navinfo=15365

its kind of a study of head of the Soviet Main Intelligence Administration dicussing a nuclear war scenario in which NATO is the aggressor. I've known that bragging, illusion were always a disease in communist countries, but i thought at least it was just for the people they ruled. I dont know why in such document, which was not meant to be used as propaganda, they were still talking nonsense like western nations were more vulnerable to nuclear war than socialist ones, USSR was more advanced in anti-balistic sphere (!?) the fact that even now intercepting a short or medium bm is a real headache for rus, then how on earth back in 60s they could be so confident in intercepting an atlas or polaris. So on and so forth.

this study was for their own sake, why they had to make such these boasts? The most likely reason, i think, is that their propaganda worked so well that it even fooled themselves (!!?)

Stitch
26 Mar 09,, 20:15
stitch,



soviets had a few sub-based missiles at the time. in fact, one sub commander was quite ready to launch until he was shouted down by his own crew.

IIRC, the Soviet boomers were constantly being shadowed by US hunter-killer subs, like the ill-fated USS Scorpion and USS Thresher, as soon as they came out of Murmansk and Vladivostok, so the Soviet commander probably would've only been able to launch one or two missles before he was sunk by a Permit or Skipjack-class sub.

Dayton3
26 Mar 09,, 23:07
stitch,



soviets had a few sub-based missiles at the time. in fact, one sub commander was quite ready to launch until he was shouted down by his own crew.

I thought the Soviets didn't have any SLBMs back in 1962.

What they had during the Cuban Missile Crisis were three Diesel Electric attack submarines each carrying two nuclear armed torpedos.

One commander reportedly wanted to launch one of the nuclear tipped torpedos when the U.S. was forcing his sub to surface. He had to have the other two top ranking crewman agree with him but one would not go along.

The worst he could've done was destroy a U.S. Navy ship with a nuclear warshot.

Grees
26 Mar 09,, 23:24
IF USA would have been so sure about its advantage over USSR and its certain victory in a nuclear exchange - and vice versa - I'd say the World War III would have happened. I think everyone is happy, we've not found out the “winner” in such a contest.

astralis
27 Mar 09,, 02:00
dayton,


I thought the Soviets didn't have any SLBMs back in 1962.

What they had during the Cuban Missile Crisis were three Diesel Electric attack submarines each carrying two nuclear armed torpedos.

One commander reportedly wanted to launch one of the nuclear tipped torpedos when the U.S. was forcing his sub to surface. He had to have the other two top ranking crewman agree with him but one would not go along.

The worst he could've done was destroy a U.S. Navy ship with a nuclear warshot.

first soviet SLBM came out in 1955.

Dayton3
27 Mar 09,, 02:59
dayton,



first soviet SLBM came out in 1955.

But did they work?

I remember a former Soviet admiral appearing on a History Channel show about the Cuban Missile Crisis.

He talked about his command of one of the first submarines with ballistic missiles and how he was ordered to launch one with Khrushev as a witness.

Due to the timing, he was forced to abandon all procedures and basically trust in luck.

By some stretch of luck , he hit the target area precisely.

IIRC, he was literally promoted on the spot while Khrushev danced a little dance and reportedly exclaimed "Now the Americans can kiss my ass!"

astralis
27 Mar 09,, 13:48
dayton,


But did they work?


sorry, don't know the operational effectiveness off the top of my head. but wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS-N-4)says around 70-80%.

Albany Rifles
27 Mar 09,, 15:44
Answer: If Celien Dion had started singing in Russian.

Triple C
27 Mar 09,, 16:51
soviets had a few sub-based missiles at the time. in fact, one sub commander was quite ready to launch until he was shouted down by his own crew.

Holy crap. When did that happen, the Cuban Unpleasantry?

astralis
27 Mar 09,, 17:05
triple c,


Holy crap. When did that happen, the Cuban Unpleasantry?

yup.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB75/


Huchthausen includes a disquieting account of an incident aboard submarine B-130, when U.S. destroyers were pitching PDCs at it. In a move to impress the Communist Party political officer, Captain Nikolai Shumkov ordered the preparations of torpedoes, including the tube holding the nuclear torpedo; the special weapon security officer then warned Shumkov that the torpedo could not be armed without permission from headquarters. After hearing that the security officer had fainted, Shumkov told his subordinates that he had no intention to use the torpedo "because we would go up with it if we did."(7)

Possibly even more dangerous was an incident on submarine B-59 recalled by Vadim Orlov, who served as a communications intelligence officer. In an account published by Mozgovoi (see document 16), Orlov recounted the tense and stressful situation on 27 October when U.S. destroyers lobbed PDCs at B-59. According to Orlov, a "totally exhausted" Captain Valentin Savitsky, unable to establish communications with Moscow, "became furious" and ordered the nuclear torpedo to be assembled for battle readiness. Savitsky roared "We're going to blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all." Deputy brigade commander Second Captain Vasili Archipov calmed Savitsky down and they made the decision to surface the submarine. Orlov's description of the order to assemble the nuclear torpedo is controversial and the other submarine commanders do not believe that that Savitsky would have made such a command.

http://books.google.com/books?id=cP4KPxaB8DQC&pg=PA203&lpg=PA203&dq=soviet+submarine+cuban+missile+crisis&source=bl&ots=HHgG7mPeLI&sig=78tnH5hrzVHVq8IlCk_Q6O-JdnE&hl=en&ei=7PjMSfFY3eqVB6D_kM0J&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PPA203,M1

pg 203-204

http://books.google.com/books?id=Zhi5zXI1RVYC&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=SLBM+cuban+missile+crisis&source=bl&ots=9SemwmAyNC&sig=otZyagphl9gefju7y3GJ25Za0uk&hl=en&ei=jPnMSa3vOonglQei59TvCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA48,M1

pg 48

astralis
27 Mar 09,, 17:22
there's an interesting site out there,

http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/nuclear/wrjp205.html

US total number of warheads, October 1962 (Cuban Missile Crisis)
28,000

total yield
13,900 mt

USSR, total number:
3,400

total yield:
4,500 mt

not sure how accurate this is, but taking stuart slade's nuclear 102:


OK back to working over Asylumville, the capital of Outer Loonyistan. If its like most other capitals, it'll probably merit a total of between five and ten devices to take out all the things we want to...Now we have to get them there. Missiles are not terribly reliable and a lot can go wrong. A Rectal Extraction figure suggests that only about 60 percent of them will work when the blue touchpaper is ignited. So we have to add extra warheads to allow for the duds. To give a feel for the sort of numbers that we're talking about, the British calculated that they needed 32 warheads to give Moscow a terminal dose of instant sunrise. In other words, the British nuclear deterrent took down Moscow and that was it.

and that's assuming pretty good CEP. back then the soviet SLBMs they had a CEP of 1.5-2 miles, while their ICBMs were 3-5 miles. they'd need to expend a LOT of nukes to hit what they wanted...

clackers
30 Mar 09,, 05:53
they were still talking nonsense like ... USSR was more advanced in anti-balistic sphere (!?) the fact that even now intercepting a short or medium bm is a real headache for rus, then how on earth back in 60s they could be so confident in intercepting an atlas or polaris. So on and so forth.

The Soviets were more advanced, Drhuy ... they did the first successful ABM interception, and deployed an experimental ABM ring around Moscow from 1966 onwards ... because ABMs are a can-of-worms as far as Balance of Power goes, Nixon and Kissinger were keen to put them on the table at the first SALT talks in 1969 ...

KRON1
30 Mar 09,, 07:13
http://www.php.isn.ethz.ch/collections/colltopic.cfm?lng=en&id=16248&navinfo=15365

I dont know why in such document, which was not meant to be used as propaganda, they were still talking nonsense like western nations were more vulnerable to nuclear war than socialist ones, USSR was more advanced in anti-balistic sphere (!?) the fact that even now intercepting a short or medium bm is a real headache for rus, then how on earth back in 60s they could be so confident in intercepting an atlas or polaris. So on and so forth.


From the document...

Senator Strom Thurmond has warned U.S. military that "the Russian defense systems have reached such a level that the Russians could destroy our Polaris and possibly even Minuteman missiles in the air." . . .

He was most likely referring to nuclear tipped SAMs. All in all, it is a feasible boast.

clackers
30 Mar 09,, 11:55
He was most likely referring to nuclear tipped SAMs. All in all, it is a feasible boast.

Yes, Kron, they found nuclear SAMs were more likely to do the job ... but in the 70's and '80's, MIRVs and medium range missiles further complicated proceedings ...

Triple C
30 Mar 09,, 15:32
Astralis,

Thanks. I am still shaking my head at how close that was. Fainting security officers and freaked out captains. Great.

Purity... Bodily... Fluids.

Steezy
30 Mar 09,, 17:17
It was all just scaremongering, I wonder if the Soviets used the same tactics on their fellow citizens. You know, "The West will invade the glorious USSR, watch out for the capitalist dogs, they will invade from West Germany at any moment" and so on and so forth in said Cold War manner...

Not that I would know, I'm just saying from what I've seen about it, It seemed that Western leaders were just talking about the "Soviet Invasion of the world" to enhance their political careers like any normal politician would

drhuy
31 Mar 09,, 20:33
The Soviets were more advanced, Drhuy ... they did the first successful ABM interception, and deployed an experimental ABM ring around Moscow from 1966 onwards ... because ABMs are a can-of-worms as far as Balance of Power goes, Nixon and Kissinger were keen to put them on the table at the first SALT talks in 1969 ...

i'm not sure in which way they were "more advanced". And the ABM ring was just for showing, up to now there is operational technology dealing with icbm, let alone in 60s. Even the nuclear tipped sam idea wouldnt be as useful as it may sound.

but it was not technology aspect that i mentioned, it was the tone of underestimating your enemy throughout the whole document that surprised me. Its always a fatal mistake no matter what.

gunnut
01 Apr 09,, 00:09
there's an interesting site out there,

http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/nuclear/wrjp205.html

US total number of warheads, October 1962 (Cuban Missile Crisis)
28,000

total yield
13,900 mt

USSR, total number:
3,400

total yield:
4,500 mt

not sure how accurate this is, but taking stuart slade's nuclear 102:



and that's assuming pretty good CEP. back then the soviet SLBMs they had a CEP of 1.5-2 miles, while their ICBMs were 3-5 miles. they'd need to expend a LOT of nukes to hit what they wanted...

So just aim a few miles off the city center and you'll hit it. :))

KRON1
01 Apr 09,, 01:53
Yes, Kron, they found nuclear SAMs were more likely to do the job ... but in the 70's and '80's, MIRVs and medium range missiles further complicated proceedings ...

But we aren't talking about 70's or 80's. The report is from 1964.

Officer of Engineers
01 Apr 09,, 03:37
but it was not technology aspect that i mentioned, it was the tone of underestimating your enemy throughout the whole document that surprised me. Its always a fatal mistake no matter what.

You were not the intended audience of this report.

clackers
01 Apr 09,, 13:23
i'm not sure in which way they were "more advanced".

I'll give you two ways, drhuy. Nobody did a successful ABM to kill test until they did in 1961. And they began constructing a 16 site system in the same year.


And the ABM ring was just for showing, up to now there is operational technology dealing with icbm, let alone in 60s.

The Moscow ring was operational, drhuy, and still is today.


Even the nuclear tipped sam idea wouldnt be as useful as it may sound.

I don't know what you're talking about, it's how both the Soviet Union and the United States did it, drhuy.

Nuclear tipped ABMs were set up to defend Moscow and the ICBM silos in North Dakota.

clackers
01 Apr 09,, 13:37
But we aren't talking about 70's or 80's. The report is from 1964.

Yes, Kron, but drhuy was wondering why the nuclear tipped ABMs of the day weren't developed further ... the expensive research made it hard to justify in the 70s and 80s as amongst other reasons ICBMs grew multiple warheads and a new generation of medium missiles appeared which were harder to react to in time.

KRON1
02 Apr 09,, 03:13
Yes, Kron, but drhuy was wondering why the nuclear tipped ABMs of the day weren't developed further ... the expensive research made it hard to justify in the 70s and 80s as amongst other reasons ICBMs grew multiple warheads and a new generation of medium missiles appeared which were harder to react to in time.

That didn't stop the Soviets from nuclear tipping thousands of S-300 missiles.

clackers
02 Apr 09,, 06:07
But they're SAMs, not ABMs, right?

KRON1
04 Apr 09,, 06:25
But they're SAMs, not ABMs, right?

With a nuclear tip they could get close enough to act as ABMs. Once they came out with the 48N6E missile it was no longer the preferred choice.

drhuy
04 Apr 09,, 17:54
You were not the intended audience of this report.

:)) that's exactly why i'm surprised. If i (outsider) were the targeted audience, boasting would be understandable and desirable. you dont need to be a military expert to know that never to underestimate your enemy.

drhuy
04 Apr 09,, 18:16
I'll give you two ways, drhuy. Nobody did a successful ABM to kill test until they did in 1961. And they began constructing a 16 site system in the same year.

a successful test is too little to say anything, such system only lengthen the targets list.


The Moscow ring was operational, drhuy, and still is today.

still today, with 60s tech? i believe the rus put it in operational status just to make themselves feel a bit secure. Everybody knows for sure that nothing can stop a massive nuclear launch.


I don't know what you're talking about, it's how both the Soviet Union and the United States did it, drhuy.

Nuclear tipped ABMs were set up to defend Moscow and the ICBM silos in North Dakota.

that's what i'm talking about. Using nuclear tip is nothing fancy or 'advanced' at all, like the worst shooter on earth try to blow a can 2m away with a grenade. It highlighted the limit of techonlogy back then. I would say using nuclear for defense is a desperate measure. Besides, like you said, both did it, then where was the 'edge' of the cccp? there was no reason for them to be so overconfident, wasnt it?

Anyway, i feel that throughout the cold war, the american was successful in creating and maintaining a more balanced nuclear triad, wasnt they? The cccp nuke relied too much on the icbm.

Officer of Engineers
04 Apr 09,, 20:38
:)) that's exactly why i'm surprised. If i (outsider) were the targeted audience, boasting would be understandable and desirable. you dont need to be a military expert to know that never to underestimate your enemy.The intended audience was Kruschev and if you want to keep your job, your write what he wants to hear.

drhuy
05 Apr 09,, 16:46
The intended audience was Kruschev and if you want to keep your job, your write what he wants to hear.

well, like i said, their propaganda went so well that even fooled themselves.

Dayton3
05 Apr 09,, 22:00
Yes, Kron, but drhuy was wondering why the nuclear tipped ABMs of the day weren't developed further ... the expensive research made it hard to justify in the 70s and 80s as amongst other reasons ICBMs grew multiple warheads and a new generation of medium missiles appeared which were harder to react to in time.

I've read that fears that the detonations of the first few nuclear tipped ABMs would disrupt the targeting of the follow on ABMs made it hard for the concept of nuclear tipped ABMs to get a foothold.

IIRC, the Sprint ABM which was supposed to intercept Soviet ABMs at only 100,000 feet (less than 20 miles up) had a huge 5 MEGATON enhanced radiation warhead.

clackers
13 Apr 09,, 15:38
a successful test is too little to say anything

Tested, and built operational stations.

Drhuy, if you do something before anybody else does, you're "advanced" in that area. Get it?


still today, with 60s tech?

What are you talking about?

It's been upgraded a couple of times. Who said it still had 60s computers, missiles and radar?


i believe the rus put it in operational status just to make themselves feel a bit secure. Everybody knows for sure that nothing can stop a massive nuclear launch.

Are you forgetting that the US later implemented much the same thing in North Dakota?

I hate to cover old ground again, but you've already been told that both sides researched and implemented ways of stopping ICBMs, but that it's a costly business, and since 1961 the equation of warheads vs their interceptors has altered so that both sides have mutually agreed to halt their implementations.

However, the research continues, and despite you saying nothing can stop a massive nuclear launch, the governments continued to spend money. Reagan's Star Wars project received billions in funding in the 1980s, and the Soviets only gave up on their space SDI program in 1992.