''Able Archer'' Command Test

  • Cold War
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

''Able Archer'' was among one of the last large scale Cold War Era Tests, conducted by The United States. The Test was unusual in that not only were all of The American Nuclear Deterrent Protocols put into place (again as a Test), but all Allied (NATO) Members participated. Happening in 1983 (at a time when Soviet Russian diplomacy was at a low not experienced since The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 (which almost precipitated World War III), but the Test's realism was such that The Soviet Command Structure was sure that ''Able Archer'' was a prelude to a NATO ''First Strike'' Initiative.

 

Soviet Forces were placed on an all-time High State of Readiness. As such, any mistake or perceived misinterpretation could have actually started World War. Despite NATO reassurances, The Soviet Union ''watched'' nervously.

 

''Able Archer'' incorporated several sub-Tests which included various DEFCON 1 (Full War) scenarios. These involved NATO Submarines (mostly American), which traveled to the very boundaries of Soviet Territorial Waters. Psychological Warfare measures, Chemical and Biological scenarios were also implemented (with actual Units deploying to actual locations that would have been used in time of War).

 

Even National Guard and Reserve Forces of many Countries were ''activated''. Again, it would be easy to see ''why'' The Soviet Union was so scared. With so many Commanders in The Field, anything (including weapons malfunctions) would have been construed as as ''Act of War''. This mentality was passed on to Soviet Field Commanders as well.

 

The most tragic ''miscalculation'' of '' The Tests came in September of 1983, when a Korean Airlines Passenger Jet, with 269 travelers and crew, was accidentally shot down by a Soviet Interceptor Jet Fighter near The Sakhalin Islands (Soviet Territory). Soviet Radar misidentified KAL 007 as a possible US Bomber and dispatched an Interceptor to engage. It is still unclear why The Soviet Pilot did not attempt visual confirmation (but it was assumed that due to the high state of hostilities between The Soviet Union and The United States, this was the actually a case of ''fire first'', then assess). Due to this incident tensions were raised even higher.

 

The US Strategic Defense Initiative (dubbed ''Star Wars'') was born as a result of ''Able Archer'' The US was determined to launch into Earth Orbit, a series of ''Killer Satellites'' designed to strike any potential Soviet ICBM launch. All of NATOs and The US Missile Systems throughout The World was upgraded.

 

The final ''scare'' came to play in late September of 1983. A Soviet Missile Command monitored what was a ''launch'' of US Missiles at The soviet Union. In most cases, defensive protocols would have automatically been activated. As such, The World should have ended on September 26th of that year! As it would happen an alert soviet Junior Officer ''doubled checked'' His Systems. Rather than following protocols, He took the time to determine the ''launch'' was nothing more than a computer ''error''. One Man literally ''saved The World'', that night.

 

While 'Able Archer'' would end by December of 1983, the ensuing ''realities'' of what could have happened brought both The US and The Soviet Union to the diplomatic ''bargaining table''. Both sides signed various Treaties designed to eliminated various Classes of Nuclear weapons and limiting the total number that a Country could possess.