Skip to main content

Able Archer 83: the nuclear war game that put US-Soviet relations on “hair trigger”

Twenty-one years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, a NATO exercise, Able Archer 83, came terrifyingly close to precipitating an accidental nuclear war.

National Security Archive

When “Blue’s” limited attack failed to stop “Orange” forces, NATO commanders proposed “follow on use of nuclear weapons” – essentially a carte blanche escalation – which they duly executed on the morning of November 11. Only then, with almost nothing left to destroy, did Able Archer 83, the NATO war game designed to practice the release of nuclear weapons during wartime conditions, come to an end.

While the 1983 nuclear conflagration was fictional, the top military and political leaders involved were entirely real, and the war game they enacted was based wholly on global strategic realities.

Now available to purchase, Able Archer 83, by the National Security Archive’s Nate Jones, tells the story of this dangerous but largely unknown nuclear exercise, the generals who ran it, and the American and Soviet leaders it affected, through a selection of declassified documents pried from U.S. and British agencies and archives, as well as formerly secret Soviet Politburo, KGB, and other Eastern Bloc files. The book vividly recreates what the U.S. government’s spy agency, the National Security Agency, described as “the most dangerous Soviet-American confrontation since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The book shows that Able Archer 83 simulated nuclear launch procedures so realistically that it triggered a Warsaw Pact response “unparalleled in scale” and risked actual nuclear war, in the words of a recently declassified, authoritative, all-source intelligence review included in Able Archer 83. This high-level review “strongly suggest[ed]” to its authors, the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, “that Soviet Military leaders may have been seriously concerned that the U.S. would use Able Archer 83 as a cover for launching a real attack” and that “some Soviet forces were preparing to pre-empt or counterattack a NATO strike launched under cover of Able Archer.

The all-source intelligence review concluded, "There is little doubt in our minds that the Soviets were genuinely worried by Able Archer" and that the U.S. intelligence community's erroneous reporting made the "especially grave error to assume that since we know the US is not going to start World War III, the next leaders of the Kremlin will also believe that."

Exercise Scenario :

The unclassified summary of Exercise Able Archer 83 provided by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) describes how NATO envisioned and practiced nuclear war.

According to the account of the exercise, the impetus for nuclear war began in February 1983 with a change of leadership in the Kremlin. By March, the new fledging Soviet leadership was fighting proxy wars against the United States in the Middle East by providing political and military support to Iran, Syria, and South Yemen.

[...]

Unable to repel the Soviet’s ground advance, NATO attempted to send a message to the Warsaw Pact via nuclear signaling –the nuclear destruction of one city in the hope of averting total nuclear war. On the morning of November 8 NATO requested permission for “initial limited use of nuclear weapons against pre-selected fixed targets” on the morning of November 9. The Western capitals granted NATO permission to destroy Eastern European cities with nuclear attacks.

But “Blue’s use of nuclear weapons did not stop Orange’s aggression.” As a result, the next day the leader of NATO’s military, the Supreme Allied Command Europe (SACEUR), requested a “follow-on use of nuclear weapons.” Washington—and the other capitals—approved this request within twenty-four hours and on November 11 the follow-on attack was executed; a full-scale nuclear war had broken out.

Full:


Key points:

  • This all-source intelligence review of the 1983 War Scare, released to the National Security Archive after a 12-year fight– concludes that the danger posed during Able Archer 83 was real. "There is little doubt in our minds that the Soviets were genuinely worried by Able Archer… it appears that at least some Soviet forces were preparing to preempt or counterattack a NATO strike launched under cover of Abler Archer" and that "the President was given assessments of Soviet attitudes and actions that understated the risks to the United States." According to the PFIAB, the US Intelligence Community's erroneous reporting made the "especially grave error to assume that since we know the US is not going to start World War III, the next leaders of the Kremlin will also believe that."

  • The potential for war with the Soviet Union was frequently on President Reagan’s mind. Months after the War Scare, he met his Ambassador to the Soviet Union Arthur Hartman in the Oval Office. Reagan held two index cards with three questions printed on them during his meeting. The final one asked, "Do you think Soviet leaders really fear us, or is all the huffing and puffing just part of their propaganda?" and remains the most important question of the 1983 War Scare. In his diary, Reagan wrote, "Art Hartman came by. He's truly a fine Ambas. It was good to have a chance to pick his brains." But any answer that the ambassador gave to the president has not been found.

  • While Akhromeyev [former head of the Soviet General Staff,] states that he felt no "immediate threat of war," he stated that “the Soviet leadership was gravely troubled by the state of Soviet-America relations” and that, "I must tell you that I personally and many of the people that I know had a different opinion of the United States in 1983 than I have today [1990]. I considered that the United States is [was] pressing for world supremacy … And I considered that as a result of this situation there can [could] be a war between the Soviet Union and the United States on the initiative of the United States."

  • According to the CIA, “If they [the Soviets] had convincing evidence of US intentions to launch its strategic forces (in, for example, and ongoing theater war in Europe) the Soviets would attempt to preempt” but, “[b]ecause preempting on the basis of such evidence could initiate global nuclear war unnecessarily, the Soviets would have to consider the probable nuclear devastation of their homeland…” Nonetheless, “The Soviets have strong incentives to preempt in order to maximize theater damage to US forces and limit damage to Soviet forces and society.

Full report:


Recall that, an evil coincidence(?) is that the same year the film WarGames was released, according to which a young hacker who unwittingly accesses WOPR (War Operation Plan Response), a United States military supercomputer programmed to predict possible outcomes of nuclear war, gets WOPR to run a nuclear war simulation, originally believing it to be a computer game. The simulation causes a national nuclear missile scare and nearly starts World War III.

Previously:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trump's "brigades" are ready to start a civil war in case he loses November's election

globinfo freexchange
Signs show an extremely explosive situation now in the America of Donald Trump. 
Starting with the murder of George Floyd, we witness almost in daily basis some very disturbing incidents, which unveil a deeply divided society that was hiding for decades behind the "American dream" facade. As the facade now rapidly collapses, due to a major financial crisis and a pandemic, in less than fifteen years, the reality looks terrifying.
In a latest incident, Common Dreamsreported that members of a far right militia group were arrested Monday evening in Albuquerque after a standoff at a statue of a notoriously brutal conquistador in the New Mexico city turned violent with a demonstrator advocating for the removal of the monument shot and sent to the hospital.
As dusk fell, demonstrators began attempting to pull the monument down from its pedestal on the Albuquerque Museum grounds. At that point, members of the New Mexico Civil Guard militia group moved in, attack…

Evidence that Biden will start an AI-conducted war with Iran on behalf of the new Military-HighTech complex

globinfo freexchange

About two months ago, we mentioned Joe Biden's terrible response on whether he would lift sanctions on Iran due the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
As we wrote back then, Biden didn't even bother to defend one of the very few positive achievements that the Obama administration - during which he served as vice-president - left behind: the Iran nuclear deal.

Instead, he dropped all the assets he had in his arsenal that would help him attack Trump from the Left. And he did it, just only to make sure that he would not disturb the deep state apparatus with his response because the question was meant to test Biden's loyalty on the deep state agenda.

Connecting the dots, we found something even more terrifying. New evidence shows that key people around Biden and his potential cabinet in case he wins November's election, are deeply connected with the Military-HighTech complex. And that they will not hesitate to make Iran a test field for the first AI war i…

Ο Κούλης επιβεβαιώνει πλήρως ότι θα εφαρμόσει νέο, σκληρό μνημόνιο!

globinfo freexchange
Όπως είχαμε αναφέρει ήδη από το 2016 και αμέσως μετά την εκλογή Μητσοτάκη στην ηγεσία της ΝΔ, το αποτέλεσμα των εσωτερικών εκλογών στη γαλάζια παράταξη έλυνε τα χέρια του άξονα Βρυξελλών-Βερολίνου. Οι γραφειοφασίστες των Βρυξελλών και το διευθυντήριο του Βερολίνου απέκτησαν μια πρώτης τάξεως εφεδρεία σε περίπτωση που τα πράγματα "στράβωναν" με την κυβέρνηση Τσίπρα.  
Έτσι, ο νέος [τότε] αρχηγός της ΝΔ, Κυριάκος Μητσοτάκης, αποτελεί την καλύτερη λύση προκειμένου να εφαρμόσει πιστά τις πιο σκληρές νεοφιλελεύθερες πολιτικές προκειμένου να ολοκληρωθεί το πείραμα με κάθε λεπτομέρεια.
Ήρθε η ώρα να μας επαληθεύσει πλήρως ο ίδιος ο Μητσοτάκης. Όπως αναφέρει ρεπορτάζ του tvxs.gr:
Μνημόνια με τη μορφή κυβερνητικής πολιτικής είναι το οικονομικό σχέδιο του Κυριάκου Μητσοτάκη, όπως προκύπτει από τη συνέντευξή του στους Financial Times, με αφορμή τη σύνοδο κορυφής της ΕΕ στις 17-18 Ιουλίου. Ο πρωθυπουργός μάλιστα θεωρεί ότι η πανδημία μπορεί να αποτελέσει…

Meet the far-right oligarchs working to topple Mexico’s progressive President AMLO

A Trump-like Mexican oligarch, Gilberto Lozano, is leading a coalition of corporate leaders and far-right fanatics called FRENA to try to overthrow President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
by José Guadalupe Argüello III and Ben Norton
Part 2 - The extremist National Anti-AMLO Front (FRENA) proposes a color revolution
On May 30 and throughout the weekend of June 13 and 14, traffic across Mexico was disrupted with motorcades of honking cars displaying signs of opposition to President López Obrador. In the days leading up to the event, opposition supporters in the country, and in parts of the United States, had been called to protest in vehicle caravans under the slogan “Andrés López, we don’t want you.”
The group that organized these protests calls itself the National Anti-AMLO Front (Frente Nacional Anti-AMLO in Spanish), and uses the acronym FRENAAA, typically simplified to FRENA. This far-right Mexican group modeled its demonstrations against AMLO after similar protests organized by the …

Leaked documents reveal right-wing oligarch plot to overthrow Mexico’s AMLO

Mexico’s oligarchs and establishment political parties have united in a secret alliance to try to remove left-wing President López Obrador from power, with help from the media, Washington, and Wall Street. Leaked documents lay out their devious strategy.
by Ben Norton 
Part 3 - Mexico’s establishment political parties and former presidents unite to oust AMLO
With backing from the US government and utter dominance of media narratives, the Broad Opposition Bloc plan is to unite all of Mexico’s establishment political parties.
Together, these parties could potentially run candidates under the BOA umbrella, according to the document. Their goal would be, in the 2021 legislative elections, to end the majority that AMLO’s left-wing party Morena won in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies. 
After that, BOA states clearly that it plans to block reforms in the Mexican legislature, and ultimately impeach President López Obrador by 2022 — at least two years before his term ends.
Quite revealing is that th…

The US imperialist machine calls for a G-7 expansion to tackle China's 5G penetration in its Western sphere of influence

globinfo freexchange

The US imperialist machine openly calls Western allies (and particularly the UK), to sabotage China's economic and technological penetration in its Western sphere of influence, through a Foreign Policyarticle.

Although the article adopts Trump-style anti-Chinese propaganda, it is clear that the US imperialists have difficulties to accept Trump's inconvenient proposal regarding the expansion of G-7, because it includes "hostile" Russia.

Instead, they think that London's proposal regarding the expansion of G-7 (into D-10), is the most appropriate.

Although according to the article, "The D-10 is not an anti-China alliance.", its hawkish style is more than evident, as can be depicted with that "United Kingdom's D-10 is the right size and shape ... covering only the Cold War West.", for a start.

Furthermore, according to the article, the UK appears to be the most suitable, among the US allies, to lead the race against China…

Hong Kong’s ‘pro-democracy’ movement allies with far-right US politicians that seek to crush Black Lives Matter

As a Hong Kong protest leader promotes far-right condemnations of US anti-racism demonstrations and activists shut down a Black Lives Matter rally in the city, Hong Kong organizers forge close ties with hardline Republicans in Washington.
by Ajit Singh
Part 4 - Hong Kong’s opposition aligned with same far-right US politicians repressing Black Lives Matter
There are some within Hong Kong’s “pro-democracy” movement who have issued statements expressing support for the protests taking place in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement, arguing that both movements are engaged in a shared struggle against oppression and police brutality. 
Joshua Wong, a poster-boy for the Hong Kong protests, along with Nathan Law and other leading members of his political party, Demosistō, have stated that they stand with Black Lives Matter. “Many of you have asked me about the ongoing U.S. protests” wrote Wong in a June 2 tweet. “As a human-rights activist, I stand firmly on the side of the #BlackLivesMat…

Βούρκος, παρακράτος και... σκάνδαλα

Kαθώς τα εσωτερικά προβλήματα, οι αποτυχίες, το φιάσκο της διασπάθισης των 20 εκατ. ευρώ αλλά και η τρέχουσα και επερχόμενη κατάρρευση της οικονομίας απειλούν την επίπλαστη εικόνα της κυβέρνησης και ναρκοθετούν το ρίσκο των διπλών εκλογών του Φθινοπώρου, η ΝΔ φαίνεται ότι επιλέγει να κυλήσει την πολιτική ζωή στο βούρκο και να μεταχειριστεί πρακτικές παρακράτους.  
Ελλείψει πολιτικού αφηγήματος, ο Υπουργός Άδωνις Γεωργιάδης όταν δεν εγκαινιάζει ανύπαρκτες επενδύσεις στο Ελληνικό, απειλεί δημοσιογράφους, πολιτικούς αντιπάλους ακόμη και εισαγγελείς που τον ελέγχουν για μίζες, στους οποίου υπόσχεται φυλακή και δίνει τον τόνο της θεσμικής αμετροέπειας.
Η ακροδεξιά κυβερνητική πτέρυγα, που έχει κουρελιάσει κάθε έννοια νομιμότητας στην Προανακριτική Επιτροπή, επιστρατεύει παράνομες υποκλοπές και γυρνά τη χώρα στις εποχές του «Μαυρίκη», προσπαθώντας απεγνωσμένα να αντιπαρέλθει τις αποκαλύψεις για τα εμβάσματα της Novartis και τις μίζες των 2,5 εκατ. ευρώ από τον Παναμά. Αλλά και το ίδιο το π…

Here we go again: neoliberal machine prepares ground to blame the Greens for a potential Biden defeat in November

globinfo freexchange

It seems that the neoliberal machine creates the suitable climate in order to put the blame on the usual scapegoats in case Joe Biden loses November's election.

Politico's recent article leaves little doubt. Check out the title:
Jill Stein cost Hillary dearly in 2016. Democrats are still writing off her successor.

And the first paragraphs confirm the case:

                         Jill Stein still haunts Hillary Clinton’s campaign team. “Oh woof. I can’t bear to talk about that,” said former communications director Jennifer Palmieri. For good reason: Had voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin cast their ballots for Clinton rather than the Green Party’s Stein, Clinton would be president. 

                         Now, with the Green Party set to elevate its presumptive nominee — Howie Hawkins, a longtime labor activist keen on attracting disillusioned Bernie Sanders voters and calling for a “#DemExit” — many Democrats are unfazed. Not to worry, they sa…

Armed vigilantes antagonizing protesters have received a warm reception from police

by Mara Hvistendahl, Alleen Brown
Part 3 - Special Treatment for White Vigilantes
A day after Trump’s tweet about looting and shooting, Constable John Shirley of Hood County, Texas, posted a “Call to Action” in an Oath Keepers Facebook group accessed by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. Shirley called for adherents to provide protection at Dallas’s Salon à la Mode, which had defied the governor’s order to shut down in response to the pandemic, and encouraged current and former law enforcement to carry pistols. “We are now in a Global War on Antifa,” Shirley declared in a second Facebook post.
In communities in the Pacific Northwest, meanwhile, public officials welcomed “local boys” who poured into the streets to defend against rumored busloads of antifa. In Snohomish, Washington, the mayor applauded the armed men who guarded the city’s downtown on May 31, some waving the Confederate flag. Many drank alcohol as they stood watch, and the police chief characterize…