Saturday, 20 April 2013

Countdown to War

In the run-up to my fictional Third World War scenarios, the players received regular daily broadcasts from the BBC over the preceding week. They are reproduced here for the delight of readers.  Feedback from John and Tim was quite positive, and they seemed an effective mechanism for setting the scene. The scenario is perhaps a little fanciful, but is based on that used in the 1984 BC TV drama 'Threads' albeit with a rapidly accelerated timescale. Those who have seen Threads will recall that things didn't turn out too well, particularly for Sheffield! I regularly run past 'Ruths parents' house, and it is all a bit sobering really. At least no-one tries to shoot me for stealing a packet of crisps.

1. Here is the news from the BBC at 6pm on Thursday June 25th 1981.

Soviet forces commenced an invasion of Iran in the early hours of this morning. The Kremlin declared that this was to safeguard their southern republics from the threat of Islamic extremism and complemented their internal security efforts in Afghanistan. It is believed that several mechanised divisions have been employed with massive air support and the Iranians report their their borders have been breached in several places with Soviet units already many miles inside the country.

From the White House President Reagan condemned the actions of the 'Evil Empire' and announced that the Carrier Battle Group operating in the Gulf had been placed on a state of alert, warning the USSR to avoid threatening vital US interests in the region. From Downing Street Mrs Thatcher said the West must no longer tolerate Soviet expansionism and should stand up to bullies.

2. Here is the news from the BBC at 6pm on Friday the 26th June 1981.

In the Middle East, Soviet forces continue to advance in Iran. Some reports place their spearheads as much as 75km into Iranian territory and it is also reported that an airborne division has seized the major airport outside Tehran with further reinforcements being flown in. There are unconfirmed reports that Sovet units have employed chemical weapons against centres of resistance.

President Reagen has declared that he is willing to do whatever is necessary to protect American interests in the region, while the Kremlin has responded that it is taking necessary steps to secure the integrity of the USSR and warned the USA against intervening in the conflict.

US Marines have landed in Kuwait to provide additional security for US airbases there.

3. Here is the news from the BBC at 6pm on Saturday 27th June 1981.

In a major escalation of the conflict in Iran, US aircraft have begun conducting airstrikes against the Soviet airhead outside Tehran. The Iranian government has announced 'it will not interfere with US aircraft in its airspace'.

The White House declared its actions were a reasonable response to Soviet aggression, reiterated its intention to protect US interests in the region and called on the USSR to stop its attack on Iran. The Kremlin warned of serious consequences if the US interfered with the internal security of the Soviet Union.

Observers in Tehran report that US aircraft appear to be carrier borne, although some high level bombers (possibly B-52s) have been observed. On the ground, the Soviet advance continues with further advances of over 50 miles in some areas as Iranian resistance continues to be patchy. The use of chemical weapons by the USSR has now been confirmed.

Major movements of military formations by road and rail have been detected in the USSR. The Soviet government stated that these were in preparation for summer exercises.

Leave for military personel in NATO has been cancelled.

4. Here is the  news from the BBC at 6pm on Sunday 28th June 1981.

For the first time since WW2, nuclear weapons a have been used in armed conflict.

A formation of B-52s attacking the Soviet airhead outside Tehran were engaged by a surface-air nuclear anti-aircraft missile and suffered heavy losses. US forces retaliated with a battlefield nuclear weapon against the Soviet held airfield.

The White House condemned the 'insane escalation of hostilities' by the USSR and called on the soviet forces to withdraw. The Kremlin defended its right to protect its internal security and accused the USA of plunging the world towards nuclear armageddon. Soviet forces in Iran announced an immediate halt on their current positions 'in the interests of world peace'.

Defence analysts noted that the nuclear exchange was limited in both scale and scope, and the fact the Soviet ground forces have halted gives some hope that a negotiated settlement may be reached. It is thought that the robust response of the White House to the Soviet attack has taken the Kremlin by surprise, however the use of nuclear weapons by the USSR is an indication of how seriously they regard the situation in Iran.

NATO forces were placed on a high state of alert and military movements in the USSR continue. CND supporters staged a large demonstration in Trafalger Square and there were a number of arrests. There are reports of panic buying in some shops and petrol stations.

5. Here is the news from the BBC at 6pm on Monday 29th June 1981.

Soviet forces in central europe have dispersed from their barracks. Moscow said this was just the usual summer exercises. There has been a large increase in Russian civilian air traffic over western Europe, and large scale military movements in the western USSR continue.

NATO forces are now on a high state of alert. The UK government has declared a state of emergency and taken control of all motorways, ferries and airports which have been closed to civilian traffic. Reservists have been called up and are en route for units in Germany. Civil defence advice has been issued to the civilian population.

In Iran hostilities appear to have stopped. The White House once again urged the USSR to withdraw, the Kremlin responded that it had a right to protect its internal security.

6. Here is the news from the BBC on Tuesday, 30th June 1981.

The border between east and west Germany has been closed. Huge Soviet troop movements have been detected in northern, central and southern Europe. The Kremlin still claims these are summer exercises.

Reservists and reinforcements have been moving across the Channel for the last 24 hours to bring the BAOR up to war strength. Reforger flights have  been ferrying US troops across the Atlantic. NATO troops all along the front are forming up in their wartime assembly areas.

The White House has once more called upon the USSR to withdraw from Iran,  but no response has been received.

The UK government has urged the population to remain calm and stay in their homes. Secondary roads are reported to be choked with traffic moving out of urban centres, and there are reports of looting and rioting in major cities. In a speech to the House of Commons, Mrs Thatcher said "Defeat? I do not recognise the meaning of the word".

7. 31st June 1981

Well, this is fiction after all. On the 31st June, tanks roll over the border and it is game on.


  1. Fantastic- I love Threads to the point of doing my dissertation on it... look forward to seeing the games you get out of it.



  2. Thanks, although I really just used the 'Threads' run up as a background to the war. The military situation in Germany is rather more based on SPIs Central Front series (as I have the maps and OBs for all of those). The nuclear genie is however out of the bag....

  3. Sure you could come up with a Threads based game though probably would be a little bleak... Tank warfare in Germany would seem like light relief by comparison. Will look out for Central Front- I've got the recent Lock and Load games but wasn't that impressed.