By YP (All Rights Reserved)
Back in the 1980s I used to subscribe to quite a few military journals and read many of the most recent books on military science… news, and events. I did a little writing, including for the Marine Corps Gazette.
Then like a character in a Hitchcock film I saw a puzzle start to assemble itself before my eyes. But I was not the only person to have the information… at least hundreds of Soviets, Swedes, and Americans knew… But not the American people… At least not the meat of the story.
There was informed discussion in professional journals at the time that the post-Brezhnev leaders of the Soviet Union (before Gorbachev) were paranoid old Stalinists who could see that there was a “light at the end of the Soviet tunnel…” and it was attached to a runaway freight train.
The Soviet system was in trouble and by 1990 the Soviet Union would fly apart. No easy fixes. Stalin might have gone for a full-tilt war, but Chernobyl had shown even the old fossils that the Soviets would not be up to handling the results.
A plan, born of desperation, was hatched. According to some journals writing about the time of the fall of the “Evil Empire” one idea was for a sudden grab of Finland, Sweden, and Norway.
This would be nuts… but it seems that the fossils did not see it that way. The plan was to grab all three countries before NATO could do more than make threats. The Soviets would then “make nice” with West European countries and “Finlandize” them… removing American influence and arranging massive economic inputs to bail out the Soviets.
Crazier plans than this had been postulated (including by SAC at one point), but there had been no support for even the first steps. In this case…
The whole thing (in the view of the fossils) could only work if the invasion and occupation could move with blazing speed and stay absolutely on schedule.
While Finland was courageous and would probably fight… the Soviets could probably blow through them. The problem was Sweden. Sweden did not belong to NATO… but had been arming in fear of a Soviet attack since 1939.
Bogging down in Sweden for any reason would spoil the plan and probably result in the fall from power of the Soviet leadership. While not yet committed to the plan, the Soviets started to take steps.
Soviet submarines and naval commandos had poked around restricted Swedish waters ever since WW2… but suddenly the number and seriousness of the operations increased massively. The Swedes became alarmed.
Every cheeseburger in the Swedish government knew that it was the Soviets… but never named them… hoping that exposure without identification would make the Soviets back off without embarrassing them. The Soviets flatly denied any involvement and blamed everything from “driftwood” to NATO.
One Soviet submarine grounded in restricted Swedish waters… the Swedes offered a tow… the captain refused… Before the Swedes would let the Soviet Navy handle the operation, they got a look at the sub’s logbook… which had been crudely altered.
Soviet sub intrusions (and Naval Spetsnaz landings) continued for a time past the demise of the fossils… though the aggressiveness fell off. (Gorbachev may have been trying to put on a show for hard liners…)
The possible Soviet plan was discussed in various forums… and the Soviet stomping around in restricted Swedish waters was sometimes on the network news.
But about the time that the last of the fossils died, I stumbled across some scary information that the mainstream media apparently never published… though the source impeccable…
This was a time when the Soviets had a treaty-violating facility… invited non-scientific Liberal politicians for a quick tour. These politicos pronounced the facility kosher and government concerns mere paranoia. The media mostly went along with their view. (The ex-Soviets later admitted that the facility was blatantly in violation of the treaty…)
“Armed Forces Journal” got one hell of a story from the Swedish government. Swedish pilots mostly reservists… The Soviets were locating the homes, hours and habits of every Swedish pilot.
This was obviously for assassination purposes just prior to an attack. The scary part was that this sort of information is extremely “perishable…” maybe six to 12 months. The Swedish government was certainly alarmed.
I could only take a fraction of my books, journals, and writings with me when I moved from Seattle to Boise. But with the Russians now getting aggressive again in Swedish waters… I tried to find another source to confirm my memory of the AFJ posting.
This proved very difficult. Not only was most of this info generated before the Internet… but old dusty files placed there can be buried unless you know the “magic words…” Even then, if you looked for say, “Nordic Thunder” (the code name is my invention), you might come up with 500 entries on a Scandinavian heavy metal band.
I located an unclassified Rand Corporation report prepared for the Air Force dated January 1990… It is a PDF file… The first couple of pages are blacked out… but it is quite legible. It is a *massive* history of Soviet incursions in Swedish restricted waters for many years.
The scariest info in that report is what I had been searching for to back up my memory of the AFJ item:
[Perhaps the most alarming of these recent incidents came to a head in 1986 when it was announced that Soviet intelligence personnel (GRU), posing as Polish art dealers, had called at the homes of some120 Swedish pilots for the apparent purpose of determining their identities, family situations, and routines. According to Swedish authorities, the larger objective of these visits was to support a Soviet plan to decapitate the Royal Air Force in the event of war. Swedish pilots would be gunned down in their homes before they were able to answer their mobilization call. Polish “art salesmen,” who had for years visited Sweden for the alleged purpose of selling their wares had evidently begun to intensify their efforts in late 1984 and early 1985.This increased activity, against the backdrop of the continuing submarine crisis, prompted a major investigation by Sweden’s Security Service (SAPO) and Swedish intelligence.]
Scary enough. Even the most rabid pacifists in the Swedish government had to know that Sweden was in the cross-hairs for the next six to twelve months… just didn’t know if the trigger was going to be pulled.
Well… the Soviets did not launch the attack… I figured that unless the new Russian government opened some files, I would never know why.
But one day after the USSR fell I was reading a book by James Dunnigan. He did not mention Sweden or its situation… He simply announced that “…a ‘neutral’ country had tested a ‘dry’ (no fissionable material incorporated) nuke… and allowed that information to leak out to the Soviets.
If indeed Sweden, the Soviets would definitely fear being bogged down if their forces hit with nukes in the Swedish back country.
The pieces were all coming together. But I had to confirm that Sweden had a serious nuke program. I recently did.
Well, the Russians are intruding with subs and frogmen again. A couple of recent items about their misbehavior in the Baltic…
So, “Quo Vadis” (what next?) I don’t know what the Russian motivation is this time around… An invasion seems extremely unlikely, but intimidating Sweden into not thinking about joining NATO and placing itself under the protection of the Obama administration might have something to do with it.
After the Evil Empire fell, Sweden got rid of conscription and massively cut its military spending. It also handed over its secret nuke materials to the U.S. Intimidation might just work.
This is a very short essay of a largely historical nature written at the request of Majrod for Gruntsandco.
I declined an offer to write a long article on the current incidents and incursions for SOFREP. I am not qualified in the areas of submarine reconnaissance or modern Naval Spetsnaz capabilities.
I am only an old Marine grunt with African dust on his boots. I suggested to SOFREP that they have one of their Naval Special Ops writers tackle the subject. At some point they might.