Would you have lasted in 1983?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Star Eater, Aug 5, 2018.

  1. Unknown Member

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    Jan 31, 2004
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    Corpus Christi, TX
    I was nearly 2 years old and living with my parents in Corpus Christi, Texas. The house I lived in did not have a basement. So I'm likely dead, unless there's a miss...
     
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  2. RanulfC Well-Known Member

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    Mar 11, 2014
    BarbaraChandler wrote:
    Not at all patronizing as some of us DID in fact live the history J I was stationed at Tinker AFB when the Wall came down and I recall waking my wife up and sitting watching the news reports as they came on. Both of us having lived pretty much our whole lives to this point with the concept that Germany was ALWAYS going to be divided it was a tense time yet a hopeful one. To give even more context my wife’s parents were naturalized citizens of the US originally from Germany after WWII. Her mother was from Leipzig and her farther from a village that was in Germany when he was born but is now in Poland. (And yes that still causes some questions every couple of years when they re-do an in-depth security check on me J ) So despite consistently fearing it was all “a Russian trick” her Mom got to visit ‘home’ when my wife and I were stationed in Germany in the early 90s.

    In some ways I’m probably even MORE ‘embedded’ in the history of any “Able Archer goes Hot” scenario since at the time I was stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviano_Air_Base
    https://www.aviano.af.mil/

    So no I’m unlikely to have survived such a scenario. We were within ‘scud’ range of WP forces so, (unlike anywhere else I’ve been for exercises, even Korea) every exercise ended the same way; A general announcement that all aircraft were to “Launch for survival! Launch for survival!” because the ‘incoming’ attack was pretty much guaranteed to be one or more nuclear warheads meant to take us out permanently.

    And in fact “we” may have been a factor in the buildup of tension…

    You see in 1983 Aviano did not in fact have an ‘assigned’ (permanent) aircraft unit on the base. “Technically” we didn’t even have a job per-se as we were to be the forward deployed base for an F-16 fighter wing permanently based in Spain BECAUSE Spain would not allow nuclear weapons to be stored on its soil. So in addition to a normal munitions storage area we had “weapons” storage area on base as well. And though I’m not sure of the dates exactly we held a rather ‘different’ exercise while I was there that I believe was one of the ‘warning’ signs the Soviets were looking for. While we’d had several exercises since I’d been stationed there in mid-1982 the difference for this one was our ‘war’ squadrons were here for this one AND someone thought it would be a ‘good idea’ to actually practice with and have actually loaded several aircraft with actual nuclear bombs. (Normally we had two ‘alert’ aircraft loaded and waiting in a special area but during this exercise we had a full squadron of 12 aircraft loaded and parked in hardened shelters)

    This had to be before the end of 1984 because I left around September of that year. It had to be after 1982 because I not only arrived around the middle of that year but we had at least two exercises that year one of which we ‘failed’ an important inspection which was ‘bad’ and we had to work out butts off during the two weeks before we were re-inspected to clean up the mess. That particular exercise itself was quite memorable because someone inadvertently misread a “safe/arm” indicator and I clearly recall the reactions around me as they put over the radio net; “What does it mean when one of these things says “Armed”?” J

    (A dozen people leaping up and staring at each other when our NCO shrugs and says, “What? How far do we think we could run anyway?” And he had a point J ) So we all took chairs outside and watched the flight-line till the all-clear was given.

    Now mind you there’s no way for one of these to be “armed” accidently let alone go off, (and intellectually I knew this the time) but… And keep in mind we knew we were under observation by the USSR (was in fact ‘involved’ in an incident that drew an official ‘protest’ from the Soviets, who knew there was an official “maximum” of people who could ‘moon’ a satellite photo?) so we carefully never moved the aircraft so loaded, (in fact while so loaded we didn’t even open the shelter doors except to load or unload the weapons.

    All and all, despite the danger, Aviano was one of my better assignments over the years.

    After all had these guys "just down the road" so I spent a bit to much money at their shop :) (http://www.deltin.it/home.htm)

    Randy
     
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  3. RanulfC Well-Known Member

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    Mar 11, 2014
    Spens1 wrote:
    Just and FYI but there were ‘spoiling’ scenarios and operations plans that would be designed to deny “surviving” combatant (US/USSR/UK, etc) possible “neutral” or non-aligned support and/or bases. In such a case both NZ and Australia are legitimate targets, (Vietnam, Indonesia, pretty much anywhere that ‘can’ support enemy combatant units would be assumed to be a target by one or both sides to prevent their use) whose major cities would be recipient of a few nukes each.

    Keep very much in mind though these scenerios are pretty specific and would be directed at a ‘long-term’ war plan of which neither a ‘first-strike’ nor a ‘surprise-attack’ scenario would be that type. In an “Able Archer Goes Hot” scenario specifically the USSR sees preperations for a NATO
    first-strike so they plan and execute a “pre-emptive” strike to take out those “first-strike” systems and then (the plan anyway) would be to demand a stand down or the west will face a full strategic strike.

    Something to keep very much in mind in this scenario is that those ‘first-strike’ systems were all in Europe and consisted of mostly ‘short’ range nuclear assets with some intermediate systems included so the “plan” was to take those out and then pause while getting NATO to back down. (Of course that was ALSO the expected scenario if NATO launched a first strike on the Warsaw Pact)

    Part of the reason the Soviets were so worried was that under the “first-strike” scenario they’d built from NATO capabilities any such attack would mostly come from those ‘short/intermediate’ range systems because of the short flight times and ability to limit and control the ‘obvious’ preparations for such an attack. And lo-and-behold on November 7th 1983 NATO began to make just such “preparations” under the ‘guise’ of a C3 “exercise”.

    Note that military ‘exercises’ and ‘maneuvers’, since they are obviously ways to ‘disguise’ large troop and equipment movements to ‘attack’ positions are of course the most likely time to actually LAUNCH an attack so quite often opposition forces will have similar ‘exercises’ in the same area. Just in case.

    But in the case of Able Archer the Soviets had a major problem in that the MAJORITY of preparations and ‘indicators’ that would be a prelude of a nuclear first strike, while there were ‘many’ there weren’t enough to give them a high confidence one way or another. And simply put the more ‘preparations’ they made the more NATO would make and the possibility of the cycle getting out of control was high. On the other hand the majority of the leadership were well aware and always had in the back of their minds Hitler and Barbarossa so were quite paranoid about America pulling a nuclear version. (Quite unsurprisingly America was just as paranoid about the USSR pulling a ‘nuclear Pearl Harbor, especially the leadership of the day) On the gripping hand there was the knowledge that despite the ‘plan’ the most likely outcome of ANY nuclear strike by either side would be full-release of ALL strategic, and tactical weapons by both sides so that while the side that a ‘first-strike’ might take out some tactical weapons in the end the overall effect would be only a slight reduction of counter-weapons on a very local level but still result in vast destruction of the ‘main’ nations.

    The problem was that while “official” policy on both sides stated that they would NEVER engage in a first strike but only in retaliation to a strike against themselves or allied nations. The perception was very much that the ‘other guy’ could and if possible probably WOULD do just that and take the resulting damage in the hopes it would be less severe than the enemy. At the same time both sides really DID have a policy of not striking first and planned on sticking to it but if you believe the ‘other guy’ can’t be trusted….

    Now in that context take Reagan’s rhetoric about the impossibility of coexistence, the “Evil Empire” and early administrative suggestions that it was possible to ‘survive and win’ a nuclear war and you have even more grounds for Soviet paranoia. Note that at the same time paranoia about Soviet “preparations and intentions’” for fighting and winning a nuclear war were just as high in the US. We were told they had an active Civil Defense system whereas we did not. (True) That they had dedicated hardened and stocked shelters for their entire population, (partially true) and duplicate underground industries, (not true) to ride out a nuclear counter-strike. That they had and were developing more ‘first-strike’ only weapons systems, (which was a POV issue and used to justify US development of similar systems which of course LOOKED like “first-strike” systems to the USSR) and were of course willing and ready to not only strike first by surprise but had a ‘history’ of doing so….

    Mind you the “fact” here is you have two main ‘belligerents’ that both have had their basic policy shaped by events from WWII that have deeply ‘scared’ them due to being attacked by surprise with major loses and both sides therefor ‘assume’ that the other sides only ‘lesson’ from this it to attack unexpectedly by surprise at every opportunity.

    Randy
     
  4. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    There certainly were plans for "neutrals" to be the recipients of some instant sunshine, but this would be later in the game as noted. One of the theories talked about was "whoever has the most toys at the end wins". Building new nukes and delivery systems in a postwar world is not going to be happening for a LONG time. Nuclear facilities and factories that make strategic systems are high on the list of "destroy now" targets. Neither side will want to waste reserve weapons or delivery systems on neutrals, or even places like New Zealand that represent no immediate threat until such time as that makes military/political sense. Likewise city busting/countervalue in a first strike or "Able Archer" is less prominent, after all if you squash the enemies offensive potential right off, why randomly smash cities. You can still threaten them, and of course those co-located with military targets will go away.

    Fir an "Able Archer" the USSR will have only so many missiles/bombers ready to go on zero notice, so they have to be selective with what they target. While a first strike would have more weapons/delivery systems ready, there are all sorts of indicators US/NATO intelligence watched and "excessive" readiness is one of them - so the hitting cities to hit cities is still a second place task. It may very well be that those in areas near strategic but non-military targets (dams, civilian airports, industrial facilities) or even some major cities may do better in an "Able Archer" scenario than a more delivberate war.
     
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  5. Marc reformed polymath... Donor

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    Several years of universal crop failures throughout the world, makes survival past November '83 rather a moot point, where ever you are.
    If you really look closely at the current literature on global climatic effects, that level of nuclear war is so catastrophic, that it qualifies as a max extinction event...
     
  6. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    Unless you have an "On the Beach" situation where radiation levels worldwide become fatal, humanity will survive even the max nuclear war. There will be enough places where food sources will be adequate to maintain a population, not necessarily a lot but a population. With time, as the effects stabilize there will be spread, even if a significant change has occurred to render a lot of the earth not suitable - and remember humans can live everywhere from the Kalhari to Greenland. Now civilization as we know it may be toast, a huge amount of knowledge lost one way or another. Between the potential for increased mutations and the necking down to small populations several hundred years after the war the human race may have some significant differences from what we are now, although not a different species. Of course for many millenia after the war, life for humans will be Hobbesian in every way. One of the post-apocalyptic problems that is not often mentioned is that readily accessible resources will be gone - coal near the surface, bog iron, etc so rebuilding much of a civilization afterwards will be quite a task merely to get raw materials.
     
  7. Retiarius Officially That Guy

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    My parents would've frozen to death. Heck, my mom almost did anyways, when she stayed in the prairie.
     
  8. Changundramon Well-Known Member

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    My mother was at this time in somewhat remote areas of Yugoslavia. I was not even close to existing, but I think she would not be killed by a nuclear blast.
     
  9. Marc reformed polymath... Donor

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    Exactly so. As it stands right now, we have already exploited all the easy to acquire stuff.
    Pohl Anderson's The Maurai series, is a great set of stories set in an resource crippled future - not dystopian, but very well done in terms of how humanity might manage.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  10. El_Presidente Are you a rebelde?

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    My parents were living in Barcelona at that time, so I imagine they would be toast.
    Yes, I'm that unlucky: just two cities worthy of a nuclear attack in Catalonia and they were living in one of them.
     
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  11. JDF_01 Well-Known Member

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    Probably yes, my family came from europe in the 70's and i live in South america, the main changes would be that any radical socialist government would be easily butterflied (not a lot of people would be fond of supporting the ideology that the one that launched all the nukes has, no matter if its good or bad), and that it would receive most of the refugees as it was one of the richest countries of the continent by that time (and the closest to the main targets, outside mexico and cuba of course)... (if i can recall, chavismo was butterflied away during 1983: DD, and Machado was running the presidency :love: )
     
  12. duckie Well-Known Member

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    Nov 28, 2012
    Yes, but there is a lot of scrap metal in the form of cars, trucks, etc. lying about to kickstart new development.
     
  13. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    How much of it is safe for use though? I have to imagine that a lot of that scrap would be highly irradiated.
     
  14. Halcyon Dayz Hobbesian Anarchist™

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    Scrap rusts, so that's a time-limited resource.
     
  15. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    Another problem is that where scrap or stockpiles might be located are likely to be the places where humans have not survived, and lingering radiation is likely to be an issue...
     
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  16. Tovarich Lumpen Proletariat's Proliest Lump

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    But once the surface layer oxydises, shouldn't that prevent any further rusting?

    Indeed, I seem to remember in an old chemistry lesson (very long while ago that, so I could be wrong) that so-called 'rust proof' metals like aluminium are so reactive that an inert layer of compound appears almost instantly upon contact with air, thus protecting the main body of metal.
     
  17. duckie Well-Known Member

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    I think that "highly irradiated" is a much smaller problem than we think. I work at the Dutch Customs and we have found over the years dozens of radioactive consumer goods (ladies handbags, parfum bottles, valves, cuttlery etc.) In all cases and "orphaned" radioactive source was melted down and resulted in an radio active batch of metal. The actual dose from these goods (per item) are low and there is no risk of spreading. Getting an X-ray of flying to an vacation gets you a much higher exposue.
     
  18. kuzux Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't born then, but I think both of my parents survive the initial blasts (based on where they are, mom's in university in middle of nowhere in Turkey while dad is in a strategically unimportant military thingy in the middle of nowhere in Turkey), but my dad is conscripted at the time and I doubt he would be in a desirable situation (IN the military in a country bordering the Soviet Union in a cold war turns hot situation)
     
  19. Tovarich Lumpen Proletariat's Proliest Lump

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    If the often mooted Fallout Europe game ever gets made, we must petition them to have a quest set in a Dutch Customs office ;)

    Joking aside, difference between those things and 'Able Archer' exchange is that the former don't produce particles which enter the body via cuts, breathing, or swallowing.

    Luminous clocks are a good illustration here. Fine for the end user, deadly for the poor sods who made them & had to lick the paintbrushes.
     
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  20. duckie Well-Known Member

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    Nov 28, 2012
    don't I know it. Every time an old airplane comes true customs, the radiation portals go berserk. A few months ago we had an Original Hawker Hurricane, with an beautiful spike right at the cockpit (it was on an flat rack). No problems as long as you don't mess around with instruments (aka break the glass), because the radium paint does flake off and inhaling the radium dust is a big no no.
     
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