Scandinavia and the World
Scandinavia and the World

Comments #9754683:

Thank you so much Petrov 22 4, 2:54am

It gets much worse in context. Pretty much all of 1983 was building up to to a crescendo and frankly the most astonishing thing is that the year ended without a nuclear war starting. History time!

Reagan's evil empire speech, the launch of SDI (conceptual space-based weapons to shoot down Soviet nukes, aka Star Wars), the space shuttle, the B-1 and B-2 programs, the impending deployment of the Pershing II missiles to Germany which the Soviets thought meant Moscow could be hit in as little as 8 minutes, all scared the heck out of the Soviets, who were already paranoid and suspected that the west was going to launch a nuclear war, it was only a matter of when it would happen, and could they preempt NATO and launch first. Then this event. But to make matters worse, the flaw wasn't discovered until 6 months later (turns out light reflected off a cloud over Nebraska- a stupid mistake that had been noted during construction but ignored so they could meet the deadline). The real problem to Soviet leaders was not that their toys were broken, but that their men were inclined to ignore their orders- can they rely on them during a real crisis?

A month later the US invaded Grenada, then a few weeks later began Autumn Forge 83 which was a massive troop readiness training course, which ended with simulated nuclear launches (Able Archer 83). The Soviets knew about the exercises, but weren't sure if they were simply exercises or buildups to a real invasion (Soviet strategy was based on this ruse, they almost invaded Poland in 1981 with the guise of a training exercise, ZAPAD-81). They actually had planes on standby ready to take off in case NATO started moving real equipment around. This whole time they didn't know if they had a faulty launch detection system or if their men could be relied on to do their jobs.