View Full Version : Able Archer 83

11-11-2010, 16:48
Able Archer 83 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia@@AMEPARAM@@/wiki/File:GIUK_gap.png" class="image"><img alt="" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f7/GIUK_gap.png/220px-GIUK_gap.png"@@AMEPARAM@@commons/thumb/f/f7/GIUK_gap.png/220px-GIUK_gap.png

Able Archer 83 was a ten-day NATO command post exercise starting on November 2, 1983 that spanned Western Europe, centred on SHAPE's Headquarters situated at Casteau, north of the Belgian city of Mons. Able Archer exercises simulated a period of conflict escalation, culminating in a coordinated nuclear release. The 1983 exercise incorporated a new, unique format of coded communication, radio silences, participation by heads of state, and a simulated DEFCON 1 nuclear alert.

The realistic nature of the 1983 exercise, coupled with deteriorating relations between the United States and the Soviet Union and the anticipated arrival of Pershing II nuclear missiles in Europe, led some members of the Soviet Politburo to believe that Able Archer 83 was a ruse of war, obscuring preparations for a genuine nuclear first strike. In response, the Soviets readied their nuclear forces and placed air units in East Germany and Poland on alert. This relatively obscure incident is considered by many historians to be the closest the world has come to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The threat of nuclear war abruptly ended with the conclusion of the Able Archer 83 exercise on November 11.

Ian G
11-11-2010, 17:08
Here's another incident from 1983- also from Wikipedia:

The incident occurred at a time of severely strained relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Only three weeks earlier, the Soviet military had shot down a South Korean passenger jet, Korean Air Lines Flight 007, that had accidentally entered into Soviet airspace, killing all 269 people on board. Many Americans were killed, including U.S. congressman Larry McDonald. NATO was soon to begin the military exercise Able Archer 83, preparations for which had been interpreted by the KGB as preparation for a first strike.

On 26 September 1983, Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defence Forces, was the officer on duty at the Serpukhov-15 bunker near Moscow which housed the command center of the Soviet early warning system, code-named Oko. Petrov's responsibilities included observing the satellite early warning network and notifying his superiors of any impending nuclear missile attack against the Soviet Union. If notification was received from the early warning systems that inbound missiles had been detected, the Soviet Union's strategy was an immediate nuclear counter-attack against the United States (launch on warning), specified in the doctrine of mutual assured destruction.

Shortly after midnight, the bunker's computers reported that an intercontinental ballistic missile was heading toward the Soviet Union from the U.S. Petrov considered the detection a computer error, since a United States first-strike nuclear attack would be likely to involve hundreds of simultaneous missile launches in order to disable any Soviet means for a counterattack. Furthermore, the satellite system's reliability had been questioned in the past. Petrov dismissed the warning as a false alarm, though accounts of the event differ as to whether he notified his superiors or notafter he concluded that the computer detections were false and that no missile had been launched. Later, the computers identified four additional missiles in the air, all directed towards the Soviet Union. Petrov again suspected that the computer system was malfunctioning, despite having no other source of information to confirm his suspicions. The Soviet Union's land radar was incapable of detecting missiles beyond the horizon,[7] and waiting for it to positively identify the threat would limit the Soviet Union's response time to minutes.

Had Petrov reported incoming American missiles, his superiors might have launched an assault against the United States, precipitating a corresponding nuclear response from the United States. Petrov declared the system's indications a false alarm. Later, it was apparent that he was right: no missiles were approaching and the computer detection system was malfunctioning. It was subsequently determined that the false alarms had been created by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds and the satellites' Molniya orbits, an error later corrected by cross-referencing a geostationary satellite.

Petrov later indicated the influences in this decision included: that he was informed a U.S. strike would be all-out, so five missiles seemed an illogical start, that the launch detection system was new and, in his view, not yet wholly trustworthy, and that ground radars failed to pick up corroborative evidence, even after minutes of delay.

Petrov underwent intense questioning by his superiors about his actions. Initially, he was praised for his decision.Col. Gen. Yury Votintsev, then commander of the Soviet Air Defense's Missile Defense Units, who was the first to hear Petrov's report of the incident (and the first to reveal it to the public in the 1990s), states that Petrov's "correct actions" were "duly noted." Petrov himself states he was initially praised by Votintsev and was promised a reward, but recalls that he was also reprimanded for improper filing of paperwork with the pretext he had not described the incident in the military diary.

He received no reward. According to Petrov, this was because the incident and other bugs that were found in the missile detection system embarrassed his superiors and the influential scientists who were responsible for the system, so that if he had been officially rewarded, they would have had to be punished. He was reassigned to a less sensitive post took early retirement (although he emphasizes that he was not "forced out" of the army, as the case is presented by some Western sources),and suffered a nervous breakdown.

Stanislav Petrov - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What would have happened if Petrov had reported the 'incoming missiles'? Impossible to say. The Russian Government claims:"Under no circumstances a decision to use nuclear weapons could be made or even considered in the Soviet Union (Russia) or in the United States on the basis of data from a single source or a system. For this to happen, a confirmation is necessary from several systems: ground-based radars, early warning satellites, intelligence reports, etc." That sounds good in theory, but those were tense, highly suspicious times.

Here's a more exciting version of the story: