NORDIC THUNDER: A detective story

Posted on: November 8th, 2014 by Will Rodriguez 33 Comments
Soviet era frogman

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.

http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a238953.pdf

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.

http://solarwindpronet.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-secret-swedish-nuclear-arms-program.html

Well, the Russians are intruding with subs and frogmen again.  A couple of recent items about their misbehavior in the Baltic…

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/swedish-cold-war-thriller-exposes-baltic-sea-nerves-over-russia/ar-BBaelfW?ocid=mailsignout

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/10/21/nato-intercepts-russian-jets-over-baltic-sea.html?ESRC=eb.nl

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.

 

-YP-

Be Respectful, Candid and Pertinent. No Posers, No Trolls…
  • clluelo

    wow great history YP . very timely in light what is happening at this moment

  • YankeePapa

    clluelo ,
    .
    …The information re the “art dealers” when revealed, was known by the Swedes, U.S. Intelligence, and (obviously the Soviets…)  Armed Forces Journal is an international publication (among other things had lots of ads for foreign weapons systems) with a solid reputation.  Many in the media who specialize in Defense issues would have seen the story.  
    .
    …One would think that it would have been one of the biggest stories of that year.  But maybe MSM decided that (when the info got out) that it was just “Yesterday’s news…”
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa clluelo 
    “But
    maybe MSM decided that (when the info got out) that it was just
    “Yesterday’s news…”

    That happens but in this case I think it’s a phenomenon we see in the present quite often.
    There are reasons the MSM ignores the democratic student rebellion in Iran, the early almost exclusively secular rebellion against Assad, how Iraq started circling the drain when we left and how Afghanistan is falling apart (I remember a recent 9000 Afghan Army casualty stat thrown out there as being clearly unsustainable).

    If the MSM reports it someone is going to expect the administration to do something and that may get in the way of its agenda or worse, take on a leadership role…

  • YankeePapa

    majrod YankeePapa clluelo ,
    .
    …The freedom to print the truth is no guarantee that the truth will be printed.  “The truth will make you free…”  Perhaps, if you can find it.  
    .
    …Speaking of Armed Forces Journal International… I regret that at the time that I did not have a computer (beyond a Commie 64) with scanner and printer.  Not just for this story but… there was one ad… Unfortunately I tore out the ad and mailed the original to a friend who died some years later.

    .
    …Foreign military manufacturers took out full page ads in AFJI.  Not so much for the American market, but lots of Generals in lots of other countries subscribed.  One ad for a lightweight 105mm howitzer manufactured by the French.
    .
    …The problem was whoever did the translating of the ad into English… (and the final editing…)  The word “Etranger” in French is used to mean “foreigner…”  as in “Legion Etranger…”  But… 
    .
    …The ad was pushing the artillery piece.  As a clincher it trumpeted the fact that… “This piece is used by the French and 13 stranger armies…”  
    .
    …Definitely Jay Leno material…
    .
    -YP-

  • Recon6

    YP, what a fascinating thread !!  The mere idea of ‘art dealers’ captures the imagination but not the implications of the disastrous outcome had this been put into operation !!  Naturally we Never heard of this !  Kudos for locating and presenting for our perusal such Intel, and it certainly makes me sit up and look around on today’s events in that AO…. 6

  • YankeePapa

    Recon6 ,
    .
    …The Soviet government of course had all kinds of high quality art that it either took directly from owners… or took from Nazis at the end of the war.  For the plan to work, the art had to be very high quality without being insanely famous (a Da Vinci would have raised flags…) 
    .
    …The “art salesmen” had to get some happy customers who were friends of pilots… then once introduced to pilots who were made into happy customers… they would be recommended to others.  At each stage they encouraged potential customers to have the art appraised.  Appraisal would come back that artists were high quality… paintings were genuine and not on anybody’s stolen art list… and prices were a bargain… without being suspiciously too low. A very decent return for the salesmen, but a fantastic investment opportunity for the pilots…
    .
    …The “art salesmen” were of course recon… not hit team members.  As a sort of surreal note to a very dark and ominous plot… the “salesmen” got to where they got very good at their work… and eventually enjoyed it… 
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Reports from Sweden, Denmark, and Finland are still coming in as Putin practices “escalatio” on his neighbors… 
    .
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/uknews/russian-planes-play-dangerously-report-warns/ar-AA7mKDh
    .
    -YP-

  • LauraKinCA

    YankeePapa The Russians are doing a good job of making a lot of countries very nervous about the near future.

  • Recon6

    YankeePapa Recon6  Ha !!  now I could see a really good film being made about this… if handled correctly it could
    be really good.  Who doesn’t like a good ‘espionage’ or better yet a ‘gov’t gone bad’ movie!
    With the added benefit of being relevant in today’s world, especially dealing with the Russians and
    their ability to pull this off is outstanding imo.

    Thanks for sharing YP, I Love this stuff….6

  • Luddite4Change

    Interesting.
    remember being told by some British associates that they had planned a similar pilot de-capitation operation during the Falklands war. But, the operation was cancelled following the aborted insertion and loss of surprise.

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Our Russian buddies are not playing nice in the Baltic… The transport jet is particularly annoying…  given the sudden landing of troops in Afghanistan one fine day. I keep being reminded of the line from “Hunt For Red October…”  Neither side intended a war… but provocations and confrontations can get out of hand… the local Soviet commander in Cuba who shot down the U-2 without authorization …………..  
    .
    …”This is going to get out of hand and we’ll be lucky to live through it…” 
    .
    …This is the kind of behavior that one expects from North Korea…
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/russian-ship-enters-latvian-waters-in-fifth-violation-in-a-week/ar-BBdytRy?ocid=mailsignout
    .
      http://www.inquisitr.com/1607947/russian-jet-baltic-f-16-fighters/
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa
  • YankeePapa

    Waterborne ,
    .
    …Well, of course the Soviets were looking to decapitate the Royal Swedish Air Force.  Most of its pilots are reservists… and hitting them at home just prior to a call-up would massively have blunted Sweden’s  ability to muck up a Soviet invasion.  
    .
    …Our forces too vast for such an approach… nor is it something that ISIS would contemplate.  Rather… they are going for the idea of targeting military (preferably in uniform).  Very obvious targets… and almost always unarmed in public settings.  
    .
    …One possible side approach would be to target the families… especially the children of servicemen.  Various communities outside military bases are taking steps to make military children in their schools less obvious… (locally, no longer having military family appreciation activities with pictures of local military families…)  
    .
    …Meanwhile, the Russians are all over the Baltic doing their “bad boy” act.  But this time around the Swedes already beat most of their swords into plowshares… and got rid of the draft (Universal Military Service like Israel and Switzerland… not “Selective Service”)  Even if they get the grit to get the once impressive military machine up and running again… it might take anything from a decade to a generation to reach the same levels that they had ca. 1990… and this time they have no nukes…  They gave them up… just like the Ukraine…
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …The Russians seem to want us to get used to them flying military aircraft around the Baltic without transponders…  Makes some Eastern Baltic countries feel a definite lack of assurance…
    .
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/sweden-says-russian-jet-nearly-collided-with-passenger-plane/ar-BBgLQxQ
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Seems that the Russians are sending bombers to the UK as well.
    .
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/britain-says-fighter-jets-scrambled-to-intercept-russian-bombers/ar-AA8Ijkl?ocid=ansnewsreu11
    .
    …BTW, I looked up “Nordic Thunder” just to see what might be there… Massive number of hits on an air guitar champ…  That sort of thing can really mess up research on line…
    .
    -YP-

  • .
    …More bad behavior by the Russians in the Baltic…
    .
    …Russian rhetoric in the Baltic is starting to remind one of North Korea’s rabid threats.
    .
    http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/mikeshedlock/2015/03/23/russia-threatens-missisle-strike-on-denmark-n1974464
    .
    …Russia
    has a history of behaving badly in the Baltic… and since it initiated
    its Crimea swallowing act, has been at it again. 
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa 
    I’m AMAZED at the little commentary threatened Russian nuclear strikes get from the world.
    If it were the US making these threats the world would stop spinning.

  • majrod YankeePapa ,
    .
    …One expects such irresponsible threats from North Korea, and the MSM could almost be excused for ignoring them… but they don’t…. they trumpet them to the stars…  But Putin makes a ghastly threat to a tiny country that is no threat to anybody… 
    .
    …FWIW,  Denmark has not had a lapse of memory… and still expresses its gratitude for liberation at the end of WW2.
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa
  • YankeePapa
  • YankeePapa 
    Interesting but with only the ability to land a tank platoon or a BMP company it isn’t a huge threat.  The Russians have all of seven of them.

    I’m sure the Russians hope they run better than their new tank… 
    http://rt.com/news/256437-armata-stuck-moscow-parade/

  • YankeePapa

    majrod YankeePapa ,
    .
    …I did say “toy…”  :#)
    .

    …Saw a piece yesterday said that these might be “Potemkin Tanks” in the parade.  Said probably won’t be complete for some time… type of painted over cardboard to fill in some gaps…
    .
    -YP-

  • Michael_mike

    Not a military operation but the Swedish installed a few russian scarecrow. Are they going to pick up their reaction on the sonar? LOL

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/sweden/11603383/Swedish-underwater-gay-sailor-to-scare-off-Russian-submarines.html

  • YankeePapa

    Michael_mike ,
    .
    …Yes, I saw that.  Still, it is more than some are willing to do against the Russians.
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …You might not agree with everything that the author says… but much useful information re matters such as Finland’s military preparations… Sweden’s government statement on alarm… and so on…
    .
    http://www.vox.com/2015/6/29/8845913/russia-war
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Ok boys and girls.  Turns out that Russian government is about to discover that granting independence to the Baltic States after the Soviet Union tanked was “illegal…” 
    .
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/russia-examines-baltic-independence/ar-AAcmnbT?ocid=mailsignout
    .
    …More on this story as it develops.
    .
    -Yankee Papa-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …The Swedes are beginning to massively regret largely gutting their self-defense capabilities:
    .
    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2015/0702/Is-Sweden-s-military-too-small-even-for-its-peacenik-ways
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Another update:  Seems that the Soviets… uh, er… Russians are building new mini subs.  Swedes should be just delighted…
    .
    http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2015/07/10/russia-bringing-back-cold-war-mini-subs-report-says/
    .
    -YP–

  • YankeePapa
  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Sweden’s military is unable to defend anything in Sweden for any length of time…

    .
    http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6287/sweden-military
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Norway’s TV just spent a fortune and some years preparing a drama about being occupied by the Russians.  The Russian embassy is pretty pissed off…
    .
    http://www.inquisitr.com/2379174/occupied-moscow-not-amused-over-norways-fictional-tv-show-depicting-a-russian-invasion/
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …Swedes nervous… seriously thinking NATO.  Putin making threats if they do…
    .
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/sweden-rethinking-neutrality-amid-fear-of-russian-aggression/ar-AAdTNE8?ocid=mailsignout
    .
    -YP-

  • YankeePapa

    .
    …And a tad bit of a push in Finland’s direction:
    .
    http://yle.fi/uutiset/finnish_researcher_russia_ramping_up_its_information_war/8385245
    .
    -Yankee Papa-