Wargames: Joshua’s Nuclear War Scenarios 120-140

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This is it. The list of scenarios from the movie Wargames has been laid out and analyzed. It took nearly three years and as far as side projects go, this one was a lot of fun. All good things must come to an end, however, and here we are. The final twenty nuclear war scenarios from Wargames.

  • ALASKAN DISCRETIONARY– A low profile operation by the Soviets to disrupt the Alaskan pipeline or possibly disable US early warning radars in preparation for a first strike. As Alaska is US territory, this would be a direct attack upon the United States and the possibility of escalation is very high.

 

  • CANADIAN THRUST– A Soviet military move into Canadian territory. With East Bloc forces on North American soil the situation would become volatile very fast.

 

  • ARABIAN LIGHT– A regional conflict spills over and provides the spark for a global conflict. The Iran-Iraq War certainly had the potential to serve as a catalyst.

 

  • AFRICAN DOMESTIC– Apartheid was ugly. The South African government was a pariah and the ANC was backed indirectly by the Soviet Union. If Apartheid had exploded, the superpowers would have been drawn in. While the US had no love for the South African government, it could not allow the Soviets to gain total control of resource-rich South Africa.

 

  • TUNISIAN INCIDENT– Libya and Tunisia clash in an isolated action on land or at sea and it escalates.

 

  • MALAYSIAN MANEUVER– China begins making political and military moves to gain control of Malaysia.

 

  • JAMAICA DECOY– Cuba instigates an action in Jamaica to divert attention away from Soviet action elsewhere. The US responds with a Grenada-like operation and it’s all downhill from there.

 

  • MALAYSIAN MINIMAL– Communist insurgency rekindles in Malaysia

 

  • RUSSIAN SOVEREIGNTY– This could refer to an invasion of Russia by the PRC. Possible during the time period. It’s the only realistic possibility.

 

  • CHAD OPTION– In the late 70s and early 80s, the Libyan-Chad conflict raged. French involvement increased the potential of a wider clash between the US and Soviet Union.

 

  • BANGLADESH WAR– Bangladesh’s leader moved away from his country’s strong ties with India and the Soviet Union in the early 80s in favor of a strong relationship with the West. It could have sparked war with India.

 

 

  • BURMESE CONTAINMENT– Again, Burma’s inclusion on this list mystifies me.

 

  • ASIAN THEATERWIDE– Asia explodes. Korea, PRC-USSR, US-USSR, PRC-USA….choose your poison.

 

  • BULGARIAN CLANDESTINE-NATO or independent Turkish covert actions against Bulgaria, a Warsaw Pact member at the time.

 

 

  • GREENLAND INCURSION– Soviet assault to seize and destroy US military assets in Greenland. Considering that Thule AB and the BMEWS radar site are located there, escalation would’ve been assured in this scenario.

 

  • EGYPT SURGICAL– Libyan surgical strike against an Egyptian target. Political or economic.

 

  • CZECH HEAVY– Confrontation between NATO and the Warsaw Pact in Southern Germany and Czechoslovakia. NATO incursion perhaps.

 

  • TAIWAN CONFRONTATION– The PRC launches an offensive to reclaim the ‘lost province.’

 

  • GREENLAND MAXIMUM– Greenland Incursion times 5.

 

  • UGANDA OFFENSIVE– The Ugandans go on the offensive and occupy Congo.

 

  • CASPIAN DEFENSE– A NATO offensive on its southern flank, or alternatively, perhaps an Iranian offensive into the southern Soviet Union.

 

Wargames: Joshua’s Nuclear War Scenarios 100-119

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We’re getting towards the end of the list unfortunately. After this, only one set remains.

  • LIBYAN ACTION– Think Gulf of Sidra in the 1980s. In 1981, US Navy F-14s shot down two Libyan fighters during a period of heightened tension. In 1986, US and Libyan air and naval forces mixed it up and later, USAF and US Navy aircraft bombed targets in Tripoli and Benghazi. In 1989, Navy F-14s shot down Libyan fighters again. Any of these incidents could’ve spilled over into a much larger conflict.

 

  • PALESTINIAN TACTICAL– What if the First Intifada had gone beyond protests and riots? What if Syria had contributed equipment, weapons and advisors to the PLO and the uprising took the form of a more organized and deadly offensive against Israel?

 

  • NATO ALTERNATE– Confusing title. A Soviet move against NATO using an alternative to its war plans or vice versa?

 

 

  • CYPRUS MANEUVER– Cyprus was a bastion of instability from the 1974 coup onward into the 80s. If either Greece or Turkey had moved unilaterally to take over the island there it could have escalated quickly and gone in a direction that nobody had thought possible.

 

  • EGYPT MISDIRECTION– An Egyptian move against Libya goes awry and brings in Soviet assistance for its Libyan allies.

 

  • BANGLADESH THRUST– In the late 1970s, when this list was originally put together (years before the movie) Bangladesh was in a period of political disarray. Ziaur Rahman came to power in 1979 and was a popular president. It’s not inconceivable to imagine that Rahman, had he not been assassinated in 1981, could have prepared and executed an offensive against one of the nation’s South Asian neighbors.

 

  • KENYA DEFENSE– Kenya finds itself under attack by an external or internal enemy.

 

  • BANGLADESH CONTAINMENT– Unlike the Bangladesh scenario previous, this one revolves around containing an aggressive and outward looking Bangladesh.

 

  • VIETNAMESE STRIKE– Vietnam moves against one of its neighbors.

 

  • ALBANIAN CONTAINMENT– This one is a bit hard to swallow; Hoxa and Albania’s aspirations needing to be checked.
  • GABON SURPRISE– Omar Bongo was unpredictable and deadly. He could have taken Gabon over the edge at any time.

 

  • IRAQ SOVEREIGNTY– An internal uprising (Iranian backed?) against the Ba’ath party and Saddam Hussein.

 

  • VIETNAMESE SUDDEN– Similar to STRIKE, only faster

 

  • LEBANON INTERDICTION– This one actually became reality. Think Lebanon 1982-834

 

  • TAIWAN DOMESTIC- Chinese backed opposition groups sew political chaos on Taiwan

 

  • ALGERIAN SOVEREIGNTY– Social unrest was common in Algeria from the late 70s through the 80s. Libya or another outside nation-state player might have tried to turn the situation to its favor and chip away at Algeria’s status as a sovereign nation.

 

  • ARABIAN STRIKE– A Soviet move into the Arabian Peninsula to seize the Saudi oil fields.

 

  • ATLANTIC SUDDEN– The Soviets begin a war against NATO with a major, sudden effort to close the Atlantic.

 

  • MONGOLIAN THRUST– Either Mongolia moving against China or the Soviet Union, or perhaps a Sino-Soviet encounter within the borders of Mongolia.

 

  • POLISH DECOY– A Soviet gambit to take attention away from another region where it will be making moves in the near future.

 

Wargames: Joshua’s Nuclear War Scenarios 60-79

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I forgot how much I enjoy posting these scenario lists. Apologies for there being such a large gap in time between lists.

 

  • Danish Paramilitary– The Danes sponsoring and training paramilitary groups in the East Bloc to carry out raids and strikes against Soviet targets.

 

  • SEATO Takeover– Worst case result of the domino theory following Vietnam

 

  • Hawaiian Escalation– Pearl Harbor II? A Soviet or Chinese attack on the US naval base leads to quick escalation.

 

  • Iranian Maneuver– Back during the Cold War this scenario could’ve referred to a Soviet move against Iran to secure oil fields and/or a warm water port.

 

  • NATO Containment– The Soviet Union moves to limit NATO power and expansion

 

  • Swiss Incident– Swiss neutrality is breached in some form and it escalates

 

  • Cuban Minimal– A situation similar to Operation Urgent Fury leads to the Caribbean exploding.

 

  • Chad Alert– Back in the 80s Libya and Chad were involved in a conflict that led to French intervention three times. If the Soviets had decided to back their Libyan ally, the situation could have escalated significantly.

 

  • Iceland Escalation– A Soviet military move to neutralize Iceland would have assured a clash between the superpowers.

 

  • Vietnamese Retaliation– In the late 70s, China and Vietnam were not the best of friends. In fact, China even invaded Vietnam in 1979. There was a lot of animosity between the two former allies.

 

  • Syrian Provocation– Bekka Valley, Lebanon, terrorism….choose your poison.

 

  • Libyan Local– A clash between Libya and Egypt or another neighboring state draws in the Superpowers.

 

  • Gabon takeover– Omar Bongo would never have gone quietly into the night. It would’ve gotten ugly quick.

 

  • Romanian War– Nicolae Ceaușescu was something of an East Bloc maverick. If he had stepped out of line, the Soviets may have come down hard on him. A Western response might have enflamed the entire continent.

 

  • Middle East Offensive– Soviet thrust to capture Saudi Arabia or Iran.

 

  • Denmark Massive– Whoever controls Denmark controls the Baltic Sea. The Soviets had their eye on Jutland for much of the Cold War and any move against Western Europe would have begun with a large operation against Denmark.

 

  • Chile Confrontation– Chile and Argentina clash.

 

  • South African Subversion– Think back to the 80s. Apartheid was still enforced in South Africa, Pretoria had nuclear devices, and the Border War was underway. It could’ve ended very badly.

 

  • USSR Alert– The Soviet Union prepares for military operations on a global scale. Their conventional and strategic forces go on alert. The US responds in kind………

 

  • Nicaraguan Thrust– Ronald Reagan’s worst nightmare. Nicaragua, backed by war materials from Russia and possibly manpower from Cuba, takes to the offensive in Central America.

 

 

Wargames: Joshua’s Nuclear War Scenarios 40-59

It’s been a couple of years since the last posting. Definitely time for the third installment of the list seen on the board at NORAD in the final few minutes of the movie Wargames.

 

  1. ETHIOPIAN ESCALATION– During the late 70s the Horn of Africa was a very active Cold War chessboard. Ethiopia and Somalia had fought a war in 1977-78, aided by supplies furnished by the Superpowers. Another conflict in the area was always possible.

 

  1. TURKISH HEAVY– A conflict on NATO’s Southern Flank, whether part of a larger Soviet operation or not, would have run the risk of swift escalation.

 

  1. NATO INCURSION– Open ended somewhat. It could refer to an attempt by NATO to break through a Soviet/East German blockade of Berlin.

 

  1. U.S. DEFENSE– Think Red Dawn

 

  1. CAMBODIAN HEAVY– The end of the Vietnam War in 1975 did not bring everlasting serenity to Southeast Asia. China and Vietnam had already locked horns once as a result of Vietnam’s invasion and occupation of Cambodia. A second war between the two could have escalated.

 

  1. PACT MEDIUM– Generic title. Invasion of Warsaw Pact territory by NATO, or vice versa.

 

  1. ARCTIC MINIMAL– The world’s attention on the Arctic in recent years is nothing new.

 

  1. MEXICAN DOMESTIC– Civil war in Mexico, perhaps touched off by Nicaraguan backed rebels. The US would not stand idle while its southern neighbor dissolved into chaos.

 

  1. TAIWAN THEATERWIDE– China moves to recapture Taiwan, touching off a conflict that rages across the entire Western Pacific.

 

  1. PACIFIC MANEUVER– A ruse by the Soviets in the Pacific to take attention away from another region where they were preparing to make a move.

 

  1. PORTUGAL REVOLUTION– Revolution in Portugal. The communists came close to seizing power there once or twice. Portugal was and still is a valuable member of NATO. A revolution there could have drawn in Spain and perhaps even France.

 

  1. ALBANIAN DECOY– A Soviet gambit to deflect attention away from somewhere else.

 

  1. PALESTINIAN LOCAL– Arafat’s dream. The Palestinian conflict draws in the superpowers and escalates to a nuclear showdown

 

  1. MOROCCAN MINIMAL– Morocco has been a bastion of stability in North Africa for decades. This title is open to speculation

 

  1. BAVARIAN DIVERSITY– When I think about diversity in Bavaria, I’m generally thinking about the diverse selection of beers available there

 

  1. CZECH OPTION– NATO launches an operation through Czechoslovakia, maybe in an effort to shear it away from the Warsaw Pact

 

  1. FRENCH ALLIANCE– France allies itself with someone and before they can surrender, the mushrooms sprout

 

  1. ARABIAN CLANDESTINE– A covert Soviet operation to secure or destroy the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia leads to escalation

 

  1. GABON REBELLION– Yet another African hotspot during the Cold War

 

  1. NORTHERN MAXIMUM– Soviet operation against the Northern Flank of NATO, or perhaps Sweden.

 

A Quick Look Around The World: Ukraine, ISIS and the Baltics

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2014 has been a dangerous year thus far. Crises and conflicts have been cropping up across the globe at an almost regular pace. From the Middle East to Europe, conflicts rage and crises simmer, threatening to explode into regional conflagrations at any moment.  With the final two months of the year approaching, it does not seem that the trend will change anytime soon. At the moment, ISIS and the Ukraine are the two most significant international crises in the world.  Ebola, despite the danger it poses, is a healthcare crisis and cannot be included in the same category as the aforementioned. Recent events in the Baltic Sea area suggest the potential formation of a new regional crisis by the end of the year.

Below is a quick overview of each of the three crises that currently hold the world’s attention.

Ukraine

Destroyed T-72 tanks are seen on a battlefield near separatist-controlled Starobesheve

Putin continues to successfully play the Brinkmanship card in the Ukrainian Crisis.  An energy deal between Russia and Ukraine is yet to be completed with winter fast approaching. Russia is demanding assurances on how Ukraine will find the money to pay in advance for November and December gas supplies. The Ukraine is requesting an additional 2 billion euros in credit from the EU to cover the costs. If Kiev receives the credit, Gazprom is prepared to reopen the gas flow shortly thereafter. There are serious concerns in Europe that energy supplies from Russia to Europe –piped through Ukraine – will be disrupted if a deal is not struck soon.  Putin is threatening an energy crisis in Ukraine and Europe in order to ensure that Russia is paid.  Some would consider this to be a Realpolitik approach to the problem while others consider it blackmail. I see it as Brinkmanship and so far it is working well for Putin.

Officially, the faltering ceasefire agreement (Minsk Memorandum) is holding. Sporadic fighting between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces has continued off and on, however. Today, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donestk People’s Republic announced that the rebels are ending the ceasefire agreement. With parliamentary elections coming soon, this appears to be an attempt to influence the outcome of the voting, orchestrated by Russia. Ukrainian law enforcement and security apparatuses are increasing their readiness in anticipation of possible terrorist attacks by the pro-Russian separatists.

ISIS

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The light footprint has been a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s foreign policy doctrine. Militarily, the idea behind a light footprint is to achieve large results with small means. The concept was brought to the forefront by Donald Rumsfeld, yet President Obama has adopted and tailored it to fit not only military policy, but foreign policy as well. The results have been mixed to say the very least. In Libya, a light US footprint helped to remove Gaddafi from power. In Pakistan, a light footprint utilizing mostly drones led to some large achievements in the War on Terror. However, there were pitfalls to the use of drones, namely in the form of collateral damage.

The light footprint behind Operation Inherent Resolve has not yielded significant setbacks to ISIS yet. The reasons for this are diverse. In short, the campaign against ISIS will be almost impossible to win without the introduction of ground forces in substantial numbers at some point. With the exceptions of Desert Storm and Allied Force, airpower alone has never been responsible for singlehandedly winning a military campaign. Iraq in 1991 and Serbia in 1999 were relatively modern militaries. ISIS, despite its claims, is not a modern military force.

Airpower alone is not going to keep ISIS from expanding its influence and territory. The performance of the Iraqi military still leaves much to be desired and the Kurds, while excellent fighters, do not have the numbers to stand up to ISIS on a large scale. ISIS has to be stopped on the ground and eventually it will be up to the US to bear the burden. Unfortunately, the political will for such a move does not exist at the moment. In all likelihood, that will not change for some time, if ever.

Sweden and the Baltic

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In October 1981, a Soviet Whiskey class diesel submarine hit an underwater rock and had to surface a few kilometers from Sweden’s main naval base and in Swedish territorial waters. The event was not the first instance of foreign submarines being detected in Swedish waters. Throughout the Cold War, a number of foreign submarines (For the most part Soviet/Russian) invaded Swedish waters to conduct surveillance and intelligence gathering missions. Now, decades after the Cold War came to an end, Sweden is enduring another submarine ‘chase’ in its territorial waters. Or is it?

The truth is that no one knows for certain. Most people assume the submarine is Russian. Unfortunately, there is no solid proof that the object is a submarine or submersible, let alone one of Russian origin. Civilian sightings, as well as some photographs that show something on the water, have sparked the biggest Swedish naval operation in years. The problem is that defense cuts have all but gutted the Swedish Navy and Air Force. ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) platforms such as ASW helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft are practically non-existent. The Swedish Navy does not have any warships dedicated to ASW.

That is not the only military activity going on in the Baltic neighborhood either. Swedish and NATO fighter jets were scrambled to intercept a Russian Il-20 Coot intelligence aircraft that briefly entered Estonian airspace. Danish F-16s from Denmark, and then Portuguese F-16s, operating with the Baltic air policing program, were scrambled. The Danish F-16s first intercepted the Coot and it turned north towards Swedish airspace. Swedish fighters then intercepted it and the Coot turned south again and entered Estonian airspace. Portuguese F-16s then intercepted it and led the Il-20 away from NATO airspace.

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Since the beginning of the Ukrainian Crisis, interceptions of Russian military aircraft by NATO have become regular occurrences.  This encounter was different in that the aircraft actually violated the airspace of a NATO nation. At a time when tensions are increasing over the Ukraine and the submarine hunt in Swedish waters, encounters like this do nothing to decrease the tension level.