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Old 03-18-2015, 07:52 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And some more:

1915 Hours: Headquarters, 4th Guards Tank Army, Harlingen, Texas

To General Suraykin, it was obvious that the front lines were coming closer to him. Artillery fire was falling nearby, and the warehouse where his command vehicles were parked shook from the concussion. Aircraft could still be heard overhead, and even attack helicopters were in the area, for a battalion from the 105th Guards had reported an attack by AH-64s, and had lost nearly all of their combat and support vehicles. Still, his forces were holding, if only just. Then General Golvoko, his Chief of Staff, came to him. “Comrade General.”

“Yes, Golvoko?”

“Message from 24th Tanks; 'General Markov killed in action. Division's Executive Officer, Colonel Duzhov, now in command.'”, Golvoko reported.

“He's the first division commander to fall in this fight, Golvoko,” Suraykin observed. “Nor will he be the last.” He'd seen worse: at Midland-Odessa, that fight had eaten divisional commanders like a wolf ate rabbits.

“Any further instructions, Comrade General?” Golvoko asked.

“Just remind Duzhov to hold fast as long as possible, and use whatever resources are available to counterattack if the opportunity permits,” Suraykin said.

“Yes, Comrade General,” Golvoko said. “I've been lighting a fire under the Air Force: they'll try some night attacks with Su-24s, though how successful they'll be, even they're not sure.”

“At least it's something, Golvoko,” Suraykin said. “Think again, of the infantrymen and tank crews out there in the dark. Just the sound of friendly aircraft at night will help their morale.”

“Quite so, Comrade General,” Golvoko agreed.

“Now, has XVIII Airborne Corps committed all of their units?”

Golvoko went to the map. “We're still not sure. Though aviation elements from the 101st Air Assault Division are in action, none of the three air assault brigades have been identified. And for certain: not a sign of the 82nd Airborne Division, anywhere.”

Suraykin scowled at that report. With two elite divisions not in combat, that meant that whoever commanded XVIII Airborne Corps could use those two units to either block his retreat, reinforce the units fighting in Harlingen, or worse, coordinate with some other action-an amphibious threat was what General Malinsky had told him-that could seal the end of the campaign very quickly. “Keep trying to pin them down, Golvoko. If that means sending what's left of our Spetsnatz company on a deep reconnaissance mission, so be it.”

“With no helicopters available, Comrade General, they'd have to try getting in via gaps in enemy lines, and they'd have no way back,” Golvoko reminded his army commander.

“I know. But if we have to, so be it,” Suraykin said. He turned to face Golvoko. “Put them on a four-hour notice for an operation.”

1940 Hours: K-236, The Gulf of Mexico

Captain Padorin and several of his officers were enjoying a meal in the wardroom. Though the boat kept Moscow Time, as did all Soviet submarines, he considered it a very late dinner. A quick check of a clock showed what local time was, and he knew his opponents would also likely be enjoying their own meals right now. Though talk had been muted previously, that was no longer the case, once the subject of their conversation had finished eating and left.

“So our dear Comrade Zirinsky has spoken to all of you?” Padorin asked.

Heads nodded, The group not only included the Starpom, Chief Engineer, and the Security Officer, but the weapons officer, and two other engineering officers. One of the latter spoke, “Captain, I may be out of line here, but the man's an example of what's gone on in Moscow; common sense has given way to ideology.”

“You're not out of line, I assure you,” Padorin responded.

“If Moscow had had any common sense, we wouldn't have been in this war, anyway,” the Chief Engineer reminded everyone, and everyone nodded. Even the Security Officer.

“Zirinsky's spoken to me twice, and not only my assistant, but the officer-in-charge of the torpedo room,” the weapons officer said.

“That's it, then.” the Security Officer said. “He's spoken to a majority of officers on this boat. Some more than once, at least.”

“And the subject is the same: mutiny,” the Starpom reminded everyone.

“Being a devoted political officer is one thing, Comrades,” Padorin said. “And we've all served with Zampolits who care for the welfare of the crew-both officers and enlisted. Zirinsky, however, is something else entirely.”

“An old-school Commissar from the days of the Great Patriotic War,” the Starpom commented.

“Exactly,” Padorin said. He turned to Shelpin, the Security Officer. “Has he spoken to any of the warrant officers-other than the weapons and helm?”

“No, Comrade Captain. I'm very sure of that.” Shelpin replied.

And Captain Padorin knew that anything Shelpin said could be considered accurate. “All right. Let's wait until he does something very stupid. Like trying to second-guess a combat-related decision. Then he'll find himself in the Gulf of Mexico, via a torpedo tube. Whether or not he's alive when placed in such tube is up to him.” Padorin decided. “And the patrol report will note that he died of a sudden illness, and was buried at sea.”

2000 Hours: The junction of U.S. 77 and U.S. 83, Harlingen, Texas

Colonel Romanenko's headquarters shook under the relentless artillery fire. The Americans weren't fooling around, and after an initial probing attack had been repulsed by his paratroopers, the Americans were following an old dictum: ammunition is cheaper than human life. And now, both 105-mm and 155-mm shells were falling on his positions, and those of the two adjacent regiments. And Romanenko noticed one thing almost immediately: the American gunners were firing without fear of Soviet counter-battery fire. The shortages of ammunition, along with the elimination of both direction-finding stations and of counter-battery radars, meant that American gunners could throw shells into the pocket without fear of Soviet or Cuban artillery fire in response. Though shells for his own 122-mm and 85-mm guns were plentiful, he was low on Grad rockets and mortar rounds. Not to mention that though drop zones for supplies had been marked, no drops had occurred near his positions. Lovely.

“Major,” Romanenko said to his chief of staff, “Get me General Gordonov at divisional headquarters.”

“Right away, Comrade Colonel.”

A few moments later, the chief of staff handed him the phone. “General Gordonov, Comrade Colonel.”

“Yes, Colonel?” the divisional commander asked.

“Comrade General, is there any chance of a supply drop tonight? We're running low on Grad rockets and mortar rounds. And we can use some more small-arms ammunition.”

“The Air Force says it's impossible. No air drops again until first light,” Gordonov said. “I don't like it any more than you do, but there it is.”

“I understand, Comrade General,” Romanenko said.

“Now, have you identified those in front of you?”

“Yes, Comrade General. They're the 29th Light Infantry Division. We don't have any prisoners, but found their patch on several bodies.” Romanenko told his divisional commander.

“All right: just hold on, Colonel. General Suraykin at 4th Guards Tank Army is hoping to move a tank division for a counterattack at your location.”

“Comrade General, I suggest you inform the Army Commander that may not be a good thing to do. We've spotted AH-64s in the area, looking for armor to shoot up. And if they don't, they're finding our positions and putting rockets, gunfire, and those Hellfire missiles on us. They're very unpleasant,” Romanenko said.

“Apaches or not, that counterattack may have to go in anyway. Do your best, Colonel.” And with that, the divisional commander hung up.

“If those Apaches really get involved here, we're in for it,” the chief of staff observed. “We're down to only ZU-23s and maybe a few Strelas for anti-air defense.”

Romanenko nodded. He also knew the other two regiments were in the same dire straits he was. “At least they can't use their A-10s at night.”

Unknown to Romanenko, several A-10s were out over his regiment. Using their AGM-65 Maverick missiles, and carrying flare pods in lieu of some ordnance, they were out looking for any reinforcing armor or other traffic headed to the front. And one pair of A-10s found his regiment's supply dump.

A very large explosion rocked the headquarters, throwing Romanenko and his staff to the floor. Picking themselves up, men were asking “What was that?” Then a staff officer went outside. “Comrade Colonel!”


The officer pointed just to the south, maybe half a kilometer from their location, where several explosions were still going off. “We'll need those supply drops,” Romanenko observed. He turned to the Chief of Staff: “Get that request off to the Air Force for drops at first light.”

2010 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville.

General Alekseyev and Colonel Segetov were briefing their courier, Major Arkady Sorokin. “You do realize, Major, just how important your mission is?” Alekseyev asked.

“I do, Comrade General.”

“Good. When you get to Moscow, first brief Minister Sergetov. There's several other ministers, candidate Politburo members for the most part, who need to be briefed on this as well,” Alekseyev said.

“Why not Marshal Akrohmayev?” Sorokin asked.

“Right now, it's the political leadership who needs to know first. They got us into this mess, and those Party bosses in Moscow need to know what the consequences of that are,” Alekseyev said. “Though the Marshal was not in favor of going to war. He's the only voice of sanity on the Defense Council. And he's been urging a way out ever since last year,” Alekseyev told the Major.

“It's similar to what German officers at Stalingrad reported,” Sorokin reminded his superiors. “You will recall that a number of German officers were flown out as couriers, and though generals like Manstein, von Richthofen, and Milch, were more than willing to listen, Hitler, and those in his court, were not.”

“Yes, and this may go the same way. Still, we have to try. And I'll be frank, Major. If General Suraykin doesn't hold out, Malinsky's front may very well come apart. And then it's all over. Without an American airborne or amphibious attack. If he does hold, then Powell could unleash the Airborne and Marines.” Alekseyev said. “Either way, it's over in a few days, unless there's a massive infusion of supplies, and that's not likely to happen.”

Then Colonel Sergetov handed the Major his orders, along with a packet.. “Major, here's your pass out of here. The packet holds copies of key documents, including reports on the convoys and supply by air. Compare what was promised and what was actually delivered, and emphasize that in your briefings in Moscow. There's also some photographs, and a few videotapes, showing conditions in the perimeter, especially those in the hospitals.”

“I've seen them; calling them bad would be an understatement, Comrade Colonel.”

“All too true, sad to say,” Alekseyev said. He handed another paper to Sorokin. “Give this to General Petrov. He's to give you any information he has on the actual airlift operation proper. Then get yourself onto a plane out of here. Havana if at all possible, but if Mexico City proves to be necessary, take the chance. Right now, the airlift is problematic at best, with attrition on bad days being two out of three. A good day has only one in three not getting in.”

“Understood, Comrade General. If you have private messages for family, I will take them with me,” Sorokin said.

“Better. I'll have the staff do so as well. Pick them up before you leave.” Alekseyev told the Major.

“Certainly, Comrade General,” Sorokin said.

“Good. Your final staff briefing here is at 0500 local time.” Alekseyev said. And as Sorokin nodded and got up to leave, Alekseyev had one more thing to say. “Major: good luck. Not only tomorrow in getting out, but when you get to Moscow.”
Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, but always have a plan to kill them.

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Old 03-19-2015, 06:22 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And the story continues:

2030 Hours: Gulf Front Headquarters, San Benito Community College.

General Malinsky read the message form. “So, Suraykin has committed both the 6th Guards Motor-Rifle and 105th Guards Air Assault Divisions?”

General Isakov, his Chief of Staff, replied, “Yes, Comrade General. He had no choice, apparently.”

Malinsky went over the map again. “So who is pounding on the door that 105th Guards is holding?”

Isakov paused. “That would be the 29th Light Infantry Division, Comrade General.”

Nodding, Malinsky picked up a GRU order-of-battle estimate. He quickly flipped the pages to show light infantry, and found the 29th. “A division with a distinguished history, Isakov. One brigade is descended from a unit commanded by an American Civil War legend, 'Stonewall' Jackson; while the whole division fought in the European Theater in 1944-45, landing in Normandy and fighting its way through France and into Germany.”

“Quite so, Comrade General.” Isakov noted.

“And the rest of XVIII Airborne Corps?” Malinsky asked.

“From what we're able to put together, the 24th Mechanized Division's on the right of the 29th, facing Suraykin's 52nd Tank Division-which is being steadily ground down, hence the commitment of 6th Guards Motor-Rifles. On the left is the 30th Mechanized Division-expanded from a prewar brigade. They're also facing elements of 28th Army. The 12th Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 194th Armored Brigade are also identified.” Isakov noted.

“But no sign, other than attack helicopters, of either the 82nd or 101st Divisions?” Malinsky asked.

“That is correct, Comrade General.”

“Either Powell wants to save them for the drive into Mexico, or...” Malinsky said, his voice trailing off.

“'Or what, Comrade General?” Isakov asked.

“Both divisions are veterans of urban warfare: Second Houston and Corpus Christi come to mind. If it comes to an urban battle in Brownsville itself, they'll need those light infantry in an urban warfare scenario. But I'll wager that they're also on alert for some kind of operation against our rear.” Malinsky commented.

Isakov looked at the map. Powell was being cautious in his employment of two of the U.S. Army's prewar elite divisions, and even now, those two were the two top light divisions available to the Americans. “If Schwartzkopf was in command, we'd already have had some kind of operation against our rear, Comrade General.”

“Undoubtedly, Isakov.” Malinsky said. “If Powell finds out just how weak we are....it's all over.”

2055 Hours: Cuban 2nd Army Headquarters

General Perez gave his chief of staff another icy look. “Now what does Havana want?”

“Comrade General, it appears that they want the town of Progresso Lakes recaptured.”

Perez spat. “Oh, they do? Tell me, pray tell, with what?” He knew full well that he didn't have anything to attack with. And, he was sure, whoever was informing Havana knew it, too.

The chief of staff paused. “They do know about that tank regiment, and those Soviet air-assault troops with them, Comrade General.”

Perez scanned the room. Only a few officers had known about that-and one of them was missing. “And where's Captain Moron?”

Major Benevides, the operations officer, looked around. “I'm not sure, Comrade General.”

The General and the chief of staff looked at each other. “There's our mole,” Perez said.

“It would appear so, Comrade General. Now, how do we deal with him?” the chief asked.

Perez looked at the map. The 26th Motor-Rifle Division was heavily engaged against both the 49th Armored Division and the 37th Mechanized Infantry Division. “I think that the 26th needs an observer from this headquarters. Write up the order sending Moron forward to the 26th.”

“Immediately, Comrade General.”

A few moments later, Captain Moron returned. “Captain Moron!” he heard.

Turning, he saw the chief of staff waiting for him. “Yes, Comrade Colonel?”

“You're going forward. The General wants a report on the 26th Motor-Rifle Division, as soon as possible. You will leave at once.”

Moron shuddered. How did they find out? “I...I understand, Comrade Colonel.”

The chief of staff handed him the order. “A driver is waiting outside, Captain. The General wants the report as soon as possible.”

“Of course, Comrade Colonel.” Moron took the order and went to his vehicle. The chief watched him leave, and went back in to inform General Perez. “It's done, Comrade General.”

“Good. Now, does he come back intact, or in an ambulance? Assuming, of course, he comes back at all.” Perez commented.

“That, Comrade General, may be up to the Americans.”

2110 Hours: 226th Engineer Brigade, South of La Paloma, Texas.

Major, formerly Captain, Nostrov was not in a good mood. One of his crossing sites had been captured earlier, and ribbon bridges at two others had been bombed as well, and feverish work was underway to get them back to fully operational status. Now, despite the help from some Cuban engineers, things were going poorly-at best. His deputy came up to him “Yes, Captain?”

“Comrade Major, we've got a serious problem: an unexploded bomb is right next to a bridge segment.”

“What?” Nostrov asked, incredulous at the news.

“I'm afraid so, Comrade Major. It's an American five-hundred pound bomb, and no one here is qualified to dispose of it.” the deputy said.

“Of all the....Move the segment, and notify ordnance. Maybe they can send someone to disarm the bomb-or if necessary, blow it up.” Nostrov said.

“Comrade Major, even moving the segment might set off the bomb,” said the deputy.

Nostrov glared at his deputy as if he'd suddenly grown two heads. “All right,close that bridge off, and.....” his voice trailed off as his field phone rang. Irritated, he grabbed it. “Yes?”

“Air-attack warning!” the voice on the other end shouted.

Dropping the receiver, Nostrov yelled, “Take cover!” as the rumble of planes grew louder.

Soviet and Cuban engineers dropped what they were doing and jumped into trenches, foxholes, and even bomb craters as the American aircraft came in. At night, it was hard to tell what kind they were, but whatever they were, they were bombing accurately, for one of the bridges took a couple of bomb hits and was blown apart.

Nostrov and his deputy picked themselves up from that first hit, only to duck as a second plane came in. Another rain of bombs came down, and this time, the bridge segment in question was hit, and not only did it go up, but the unexploded bomb went off as well. And just as suddenly as it started, it was over.

Nostrov peered out of his foxhole, and saw that two of the bridges were totally wrecked, and the bridge segment that his deputy had warned him about was gone. Several wrecked vehicles were tossed about, and most were on fire. “Tend to the wounded, and get to work on those bridges!”

His deputy went to relay the orders. “And one other thing,” Nostrov said. “We don't have to worry about that dud bomb.”

2130 Hours: 398th Coastal-Defense Missile Battalion; North of Boca Chica State Park, Texas

Captain 3rd Rank Ivan Kokorev sat in his command bunker, looking out to sea. He had four P-20M launchers, and four reload missiles, along with a working radar, but it was not operating. A harsh lesson had been learned earlier, when a nearby air-search radar was taken out; first by an anti-radar missile, then by a laser-guided bomb. Now, until his lookouts saw American ships, he'd keep his radar off. And at least things here were pretty comfortable. Not like that penal unit down on the beach. He'd been down there, once, and what he saw appalled him. Hardly any defenses, and even though it was a penal unit, even though the guard company made sure that foxholes were dug, at least. But the sand, and a lack of materials made any kind of fortifications very unlikely. At least his unit had been there a while, and had managed to dig in further inland.

Not seeing anything through his night-vision gear, Kokorev went out to speak to his deputy. “Well, Alexi? Anything unusual?”

“Just another truck bringing more meat for the guns on the beach, Comrade Captain,” the deputy said.

“Not our problem, though if those Marines out to sea do land, there's not much we can do about it.” Kokorev said.

“It'll take the Americans fifteen minutes to get off that beach, Comrade Captain. Ten minutes to laugh themselves silly, then five minutes to blast those penal guys out of their holes.” the deputy remarked.

Nodding, Kokorev said, “At least they'll eat American shells prior to the landing.”

“And we may be in for a lot: this came in a few minutes ago.” said the deputy, handing Kokorev a message form.

The battalion commander scanned it. “Was this decoded right?” he asked.

“It was: I did it myself to double-check,” the deputy replied.

Four battleships, a heavy cruiser, and several destroyers could be expected to form any bombardment group prior to a Marine landing. And it was a given that there'd be ample air-defense coverage for those ships. Not to mention American carrier-based aircraft to prepare the way for the ships. “Four battleships....we should be honored,” Kokorev said.

“That's what, nine forty-point-six centimeter guns per battleship?” the deputy asked.

“Correct. And nine twenty-point-three on that heavy cruiser. And the twelve-point-seven for the destroyers; not to mention those on the battleships and the cruiser as secondary armament.”

“If we live, Comrade Captain, this is something to tell our children about.” remarked the deputy.

“If we live...” Kokarev said. “There's plenty of targets for those guns.”
Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, but always have a plan to kill them.

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Old 03-19-2015, 06:24 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And more....

2150 Hours: 4th Guards Tank Army Headquarters, Harlingen, Texas

General Suraykin was talking with his Air Force liaison, and right now, he wasn't very pleased. The Air Force was trying to get some additional night attack sorties, but with the Su-24 force not only having taken heavy losses, but was now flying from fields in Mexico, at least an hour's flight time away, if not longer. Not to mention that American fighters were now prowling the skies over Northern Mexico, looking for any nocturnal raiders. “Colonel, just get us a few more dammed aircraft!”

“Comrade General, we're doing our best, but right now, if we send a dozen aircraft your way, only three or four will make it. The rest....”

“I know, either shot down by the Americans or forced to jettison their ordnance loads and avoid the fighters,” Suraykin acknowledged.

“Comrade General, I've said this before, but I don't want to make promises that the Air Force won't be able to deliver.” the Colonel said.

“Do your best, Colonel.” Suraykin told the SAF colonel. And with that, he went over to General Golvoko. “Sometimes, Golvoko, I wonder how we managed to get as far as we did in 1985-86 with an air force like that.”

“We had the advantage back then, Comrade General. Not so any more.” Golvoko said.

“True. So, now: what's the situation with the 105th Guards Airborne?” asked Suraykin.

“Right now, they're holding, but barely. American aircraft hit their main supply point, and now, they're short of just about everything: mortar rounds and Grad rockets are at the top of the list at the moment,” commented Golvoko.

“Contact General Malinsky or his Chief of Staff, Golvoko. Request air drops direct to 105th Guards if at all possible,” Suraykin said.

“That may not be possible, Comrade General. The Air Force, as you know, has veto over requested drop zones.”

“That's true, but right now, if the 105th doesn't get what they need, then we'll have to put at least a regiment from either 20th or 38th Tanks to back them up, and that weakens our counterattack force.” Suraykin pointed out.

“Yes, Comrade General,” Golvoko agreed. “However, those drop zones may be too close to enemy lines for the Air Force to risk their transports. And the possibility exists that those drop zones are probably known to the enemy now, and are probably covered by artillery fire at the very least.”

General Suraykin paused. Then he slammed his fist down on the table. “General Powell's not making it easy for us. He's got to have more than enough intelligence.”

“Evidently so, Comrade General,” Golvoko said as a staff officer brought him a message form. “From the 105th: “'American attack helicopters now raiding divisional rear area.'”

2210 Hours: K-236: the Gulf of Mexico.

“Captain to Central Command Post!” the intercom barked.

Captain Padorin jumped out of his bunk. Once again, he put on his shoes before proceeding to the CCP: he'd been sleeping fully clothed ever since they'd left Cienfuegos. Then he rushed to the CCP. “Yes?”

“Comrade Captain,” said Senior Lieutenant Vadim Antuykh, the officer of the watch. “Sonar contact, on the surface, bearing zero-seven-zero relative.”

Padorin went to the sonar room. His senior operator had taken over. “What do you have, Comrades?” asked the Captain.

The senior operator held up a hand, asking for silence. Padorin looked out of the sonar room to the watch officer. “Slow to five knots, and silence in the boat.”

“Five knots, and silence in the boat, aye, Comrade Captain.” Antukyh said, relaying the order.

Padorin looked at the display. “I don't like it,” he told the sonar officer. He stuck his head out of the sonar room. “Vadim, Call Battle Stations, silently.”

The alarm lights flashed red, and both officers and crew raced to their battle stations. The Starpom, Security Officer, and the Zampolit joined the Captain in the CCP. Padorin acknowledged the former two with nods, and the latter with a cold stare, before going back to the sonar operators. “Anything?”

“There's quite a lot of ships up there. Bearing zero-seven-zero relative to zero-nine-zero relative.” the sonar operator said.

Captain Padorin turned to the Starpom: “Make our depth two hundred meters. Smartly, mind you.”

“Two hundred meters, aye, Comrade Captain.” acknowledged the Starpom.

K-236 moved up to two hundred meters. And a lot of tension built up in the boat, as it was clear that a lot of ships were up there. “Any identification?” Padorn asked.

“There's a lot of ships there, but I can pick out at least two Tarawa-class amphibious carriers, one or two Iwo Jimas, and several other amphibious ships. And there's numerous escorts,” the sonar officer reported.

Padorin looked around the CCP. Men were turning and looking at their shipmates. And to no one's surprise, the officers did the same. “Range?” he asked the sonar officer.

“Best guess is 20,000 meters, Comrade Captain, to the nearest ships. Wait, there's several more coming.”

More? Padorin knew about the carrier group and the battleship group, along with the ASW group he'd attacked earlier. Did the Americans have that many ships? He asked, “Who are the newcomers?”

“It's the battleships, Comrade Captain. Four of them, with their escorts. They're on a parallel course to the amphibious group.....Comrade Captain, they're turning, all of them.” the sonar officer reported.

“What's their course?” The Starpom asked: he was in charge of the plot.

“Two-seven five, Comrades.” the sonar operator replied.

Padorin went to the plot. Not only did the Starpom and the navigator make the plot, but the Security Officer looked over it as well. “They're headed right for the coast. Just south of Brazos Island, there's a beach, according to the chart,” said the navigator.

“Mother of God. They're heading in,” Padorin said. He turned to the Starpom. Make your depth twenty meters: we've got to report this.”

“We're not going to attack?” the Zampolit, Zirinsky, asked.

“No. First we have to report the contact. And we still have another mission, in case you've forgotten.” Padorn said.

The Zampolit stood to his full height and glared at the Captain. “Comrade Captain....under my authority, you are relieved of command for cowardice before the enemy. Comrade Shelpin will escort you to your quarters. Weapons officer, make ready all tubes, and...” Zirinsky stopped, hearing a click. He turned, and saw the Security Officer pointing a pistol in his face. “What's the meaning of this?”

“Clearly, Comrade Zirinsky, you're attempting a mutiny,” Shelpin replied. “You've been sounding out the other officers, isn't that right, Comrades?”

All the officers nodded. “And they would be willing to so testify in a court-martial, if necessary?” Those same heads nodded again.

Captain Padorin went over to the Zampolit and glared at him. “It's fools like you who led us into this war, and have gotten how many good men killed or maimed for life? You've never seen faces of wives and parents, who've found out their loved ones aren't returning from a patrol, nor little brothers finding out their elder brother is buried somewhere on the Kansas prairie, never to return home. Party zealot....just like those in Moscow who keep spouting nonsense about 'Final Victory' when there's hardly any food on the table, and shortages of just about everything!”

“What shall we do with this insect, Comrade Captain?” asked Shelpin.

Padorin turned to the weapons officer. “Yuri, we do have an empty 65-centimeter tube?”

“That we do, Comrade Captain,” the weapons officer replied. “And he'll fit neatly inside.”

2240 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville

General Alekseyev was catnapping in his office. Before taking his nap, he'd written a letter to his wife and two daughters, for Major Sorokin to take out with him. He'd also reminded the staff to do the same, and Sorokin would take as many as possible out as well. Alekseyev had also written a personal letter to Marshal Akhromayev, and Sorokin would be under orders to personally deliver that letter to the Marshal. He'd been asleep for about an hour when there was a knock on the door. “Come in!”

General Chibisov entered. “It's you, Pavel Pavlovitch.” He saw that Chibisov had a message form in his hand. “And what is it now?”

“Comrade General, we're to stand by for a very important message from Moscow.” Chibisov reported.

“What?” Alekseyev asked, shaking the sleep from his eyes.

“That's all this is: a warning message.” Chibisov said.

General Alekseyev went over to his desk. He poured himself a cup of Cuban coffee. “Warning about what?”

There was another knock on the door. Colonel Sergetov came in. “Comrade General, here's the first part of the message,” he said, handing Alekseyev the form.

Scanning it quickly, Alekseyev turned to Chibisov. “Congratulations on your promotion to full General, Pavel Pavlovitich.” Alekseyev then handed Chibisov the form.

Chibisov read it. “And may I be the first to congratulate you, Comrade Marshal.”

Alekseyev snorted. “Marshal....our dear Chekist General Secretary has read about Hitler and Stalingrad, it seems. He's presented me with my cup of hemlock, but I'll be dammed if I'm going to drink it.”

“It would seem so, Comrade Marshal,” Chibisov said, looking at Colonel Sergetov, who nodded.

“I have no intention of shooting myself for this Chekist bastard. He got us into where we are now, and I have no intention of becoming a martyr for this asshole!” Alekseyev thundered.

“Comrade Marshal, there's more.” Chibisov said.


“Yes, there's a list of a hundred or so officers who are to be promoted one grade. Malinsky, Suraykin, Petrov, Lukin, Dudorov, Admiral Gordikov, and so on. Every division commander is also on the list.” Chibisov said.

“Just like Hitler.” Alekseyev said, remembering the shower of promotions the Bohemian Corporal had rained down on his doomed Sixth Army at Stalingrad.

“Quite, so, Comrade Marshal. Several of these promotions will be posthumous, however.”

“All those mean is that the family gets a larger pension back home.” Alekseyev snorted. “All right, inform those on the list, and let's get back to work.”

The three returned to the Operations Room, where there was applause for the new Marshal. “Thank you, Comrades. A proper celebration will have to wait until the campaign is concluded.” Alekseyev said.

“Meaning, in the officer's section of an American prison camp,” Chibisov whispered to Colonel Sergetov, who nodded.

2300 Hours: Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport.

Explosions sounded nearby, waking both Generals Petrov and Lukin from their sleep. Getting up, Petrov went to the window, and saw a pair of fireballs very close by. “What the hell?” Petrov asked.

Lukin saw it as well. “What was that?” He went to the phone and called the airlift operations center. “General Lukin here. What just happened?”

Petrov came back to see Lukin hanging up the phone. “Well?”

“One of the hangars being used for supply storage just went up. Fortunately, there were few casualties, and this time, we caught a break.”

“Oh? And just how did we catch a break in this instance?” Petrov asked.

“The hangar in question was storing all the crap we got on this airlift that we couldn't use.” Lukin said.

Petrov looked at him. Then he broke out laughing. “Well, when the Americans come, we'll have to thank them for that. Hitting that did us-and them-a favor.”

“Indeed so, Comrade General.” Lukin said.

The sound of jets interrupted their conversation. Both ducked for cover, and explosions sounded. Some antiaircraft fire was heard, and Lukin stuck his head out the window to see a couple of Igla missiles fired. And just as soon as it had started, the raid was over. “Comrade General, we'd better get over there,” Lukin said.

And both Generals did get over to the ramp area. An An-26 that had come in earlier that day-and had been unable to leave due to a mechanical issue-was burning brightly, while a Tu-154 had been blown in two, and both halves were fully engulfed in flames. Fire and rescue parties were moving to extinguish the fires, while medical personnel tended to the casualties. Some they left, obviously dead, while others were carried over to the nearby field hospital. Even at this distance, both generals could hear the shreiks coming from there. Petrov turned to a SAF Colonel. “Get this cleaned up as soon as possible.” This facility has to be operational again at first light.”

The Colonel nodded. “Right away, Comrade General!” The man said, running off to issue the order.

“They'll be back, Comrade General,” Lukin observed.

“Just like Stalingrad: you're in von Richtofen's shoes, and I feel like Milch,” Petrov said. “Two professionals doing an impossible job.”

The sound of aircraft coming in forced everyone to take cover. Several more bombs rained down on the airport, blowing the old control tower apart, and wrecking the last remaining air-search radar. Now, all the Soviets had were a couple of Osa-M missile launchers without missiles to give any kind of raid warning. “If they keep this up, we're screwed,” Petrov said.

“No argument there, Comrade General. We've got a couple of days: three at the most.” Lukin commented.
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:09 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And the clock keeps ticking for the Russians and their Cuban lackeys:

2315 Hours: 4th Guards Tank Army Headquarters, Harlingen, Texas.

General Suraykin looked at the message form. So he was now a Colonel-General? Well, at least if he was killed, his family in Smolensk could expect a bigger pension, and his sons could expect to get into whatever Military College they chose, but that was the only good thing about his sudden promotion. He'd also found out that all of his divisional commanders had been promoted one grade, as had a couple of his senior officers: his operations officer and his intelligence officer. Shrugging that off, he went from his command vehicle to where his operations people had set up their maps and work space. There, he found his Chief of Staff, Golvoko.

“Congratulations, Comrade General, on your promotion,” Golvoko said.

“It's also an invitation to swallow a pistol and then pull the trigger,” Suraykin observed. “Moscow doesn't want who knows how many general officers going into American captivity when this is over.”

“I imagine that was foremost on their minds,” Golvoko observed.

“Yes. Now, what's going on with the 105th Guards Airborne, and 52nd Tanks?”

“So far, the airborne's holding. Though American helicopter gunships-those Apaches-have been active, ripping up the division's rear area and have eliminated most of their combat vehicles.” Golvoko said.

“Which means it'll be literally building-to-building and room-to-room,” Suraykin noted.

“Yes, Comrade General.” Golvoko said.

“And 52nd Tanks?” Suraykin asked.

“Holding, but barely. Even with 6th Guards Motor-Rifle supporting them.” Golvoko said.

“Not for long, Golvoko.” Suraykin noted. “If they go, that's an easy way to outflank the 105th Guards Airborne.”

“Move the counterattack force?” asked Golvoko.

“No, not yet. I want to know where to commit it, first. And even if we put out one fire, there's likely to be two more coming up, and that means trouble,” Suraykin noted.

2335 Hours: K-236, The Gulf of Mexico:

Captain Padorin led several officers into the torpedo room. And right behind them, with Security Officer Shelpin pushing him forward with a pistol in his back, was Zirinsky, the Zampolit. The torpedo officer and his men were there, and they had opened Tube six, one of the 65-centimeter tubes. Normally, they launched Type-65 torpedoes, or the 86R/88R ASW standoff weapons (NATO SS-N-16 Stallion), but now, they would also launch something else. Captain Padorin, the Starpom, Chief Engineer Guriev, and several other officers were present as Shelpin shoved Zirnsky to the waiting torpedo tube. Then the Captain spoke.

“Zirinsky, you have been charged with attempted mutiny, which is a capital offense. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

“Only that I did my duty. As the ship's political officer, it is my responsibility to relieve the commanding officer if he is failing in his duty to the State.” Zirinsky said.

“On the contrary, when you sound out other officers as well as warrant officers, that indicates a mutiny was your real plan. Do you have anything to say in response to this?” Padorin asked.

“I....I only wanted to know how they would feel if you were to be relieved, nothing more!” wailed Zirinsky.

Padorin turned to the other officers. “How many here were so approached by the prisoner? A show of hands, please.” And eight hands shot up.

Seeing this, Zirinsky turned pale. He was sweating profusely, as Paddorin asked the next question: “And how many can say truthfully that he was advocating or soliciting mutiny?” Again, all eight hands rose.

Captain Padorin then said, “Let the record show that these officers so reported that Zampolit Zirinsky was soliciting mutiny. This is a capital crime under Soviet Military Law, and based on the evidence, I find him guilty as charged.”

“NO!” Zirinsky wailed. Then he went into hysterics, sobbing uncontrollably. Shelpin then stuffed a rag into his mouth to stop his wailing, then nodded to Guriev.

The Chief Engineer then smacked Zirinsky on the head several times with a large wrench. He did so until blood came from Zirinsky's ears, eyes, and nose. However, he was still alive, if unconscious. “Shall I finish him, Comrade Captain?”

“No.” Padorin said. He nodded to the torpedo officer and his men. “Put him in that tube.”

The torpedomen did so, closing and sealing the tube when finished. “Tube ready, Comrade Captain.”

“Good.” Padorin said, nodding. “We're finished here. Back to your posts.”

The group broke up and returned to their duty stations. Padorin, the Starpom, and Shelpin went back to the CCP. As they did so, the officer of the watch shouted. “Captain in CCP!”

“Carry on,” Padorin said. He turned to the weapons officer. “Yuri, flood tube six, and open outer doors.”

“Comrade Captain,” he nodded. The Weapons Officer now knew who was in that tube. After a minute, he reported. “Tube ready in all respects, Captain.”


And with that, Zirinsky left K-236. Padorin then entered in the log that the Political Officer had met with a tragic accident while in the engineering spaces, and his body had been disposed of at sea.

0005 Hours, 3 September 1989; Gulf Front Headquarters, San Benito Community College

“Congratulations on your promotion, Comrade General,” General Isakov told Malinsky.

“Full General. Hmph. I wish Moscow had just instead decided to send us a few more planeloads of supplies,” Malinsky said. “A lot of good those mass promotions do us. Now, what's happening with 28th Army?”

Isakov pointed to the map. “General Dimitriov reports that a division not previously known to be with XVIII Airborne Corps has now been identified: it's the 7th Armored Division, last known to be with VI Corps with Schwartzkopf's Fifth Army.”

Malinsky frowned. One of Schwartzkopf's best divisions down here already? “He's sure of that?”

“Yes, Comrade General. No prisoners, but his Spetsnatz company brought back a couple of bodies, and they had the shoulder patch of the 7th Armored.” Isakov said.

“Where was this?” Malinsky asked.

Isakov pointed to the map. “Right here, at the Rio Grande Valley International Airport, and near our old headquarters.”

“So. Either Powell's asking for help.....” Malinsky thought out loud.

“Or, Comrade General, he's had that division all along, and has only now committed it.” Isakov said, finishing the thought.

“More than likely, the latter,” Malinsky said. “What's Dimitriov doing to counter the penetration?”

“He's committed his last reserve: the 120th Guards Motor-Rifle.” Isakov said. The 120th “Rogachev” Guards Motor-Rifle Division was considered prewar to have been one of the best divisions in the entire Soviet Army. Its combat career in North America had been stellar, though it had been shot to pieces at Wichita, and had been rebuilt twice more since. Still, its reputation preceded it, and even now, it was one of the most respected units in the Army.

“They're in for a fight, Isakov,” Malinsky commented. “The 7th Armored Division is one of Schwartzkopf's best. And, as I recall, they were the first to receive the M-60A4 with the 120 millimeter gun.”

“Yes, Comrade General. They took the 249th Motor-Rifle Division apart, and could threaten Suraykin's right flank.”

“Warn Suraykin, if you haven't already.” Malinsky said.

“Already done, Comrade General,” Isakov said. “However, that puts whatever counterattack that Suraykin has in mind to support the 105th Guards Airborne in danger.”

0020 Hours: 8th Guards Tank Regiment, 20th Guards Tank Division, 4th GTA, near Harlingen, Texas

Major Krylov sat in his T-80K command tank. Normally, in the regiment, he would be in his command vehicle, directing the battle, but now, he decided to take over any counterattack his regiment mounted personally. Instead, his deputy commander would run things at the regimental command point, while he led his men into battle one more time. And this time, he knew full well from what the divisional commander had told him and the other regimental commanders, it would likely be their last battle.

Krylov had been commanding the regiment since the previous summer. Though the division had not seen serious combat since an attack in support of the failed Midland-Odessa offensive, he and his men were almost all veterans. Krylov had also made sure that his men conducted themselves in a manner befitting that of a Guards unit, and that their conduct towards the civilian population reflect that. It also ensured that his regiment had more guerrilla attacks that spring in support of the American Spring Offensive than any other in the division.

Now, his regiment was on standby to move out. An American breakthrough to the northeast was threatening the right flank of the Army, and threatened to split the 4th GTA from the 28th Army entirely. Though the Americans could see better in the dark than he or his men could, it was hoped that the factors of surprise and of numbers, especially if the full division was sent in, could restore the situation. For a while, anyway, or so the divisional commander hoped. And they'd be facing the M-60A4s-the hybrid of a tank with an M-60 chassis and an M-1 turret. Though slow, they were deadly, and his regiment had had a few encounters with them in the past year.

“Comrade Major,” his deputy radioed. “We're getting a warning order.”

“Very well,” Krylov called back. And he got his radio onto the division's frequency. And he didn't have long to wait.

“All Volga Units, this is Kuban Ten,” the divisional commander radioed. “Move out. Objective is the Rio Grande Valley International Airport.”

Krylov switched to the regiment's radio. “All units, this is Dagger One. Move out.”

And with that, the regiment's tanks cranked up their engines and began to move. The division was headed right for the Americans, and they wouldn't know what hit them. Memories of their past successes in 1985-86, where Krylov had been a company commander, came back. We may be down, Yankees, but you haven't won yet. Just you wait and see, he thought, as the 20th Tanks headed into battle one more time.
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:17 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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It continues:

0030 Hours: K-236, The Gulf of Mexico

After disposing of the Zampolit's attempted mutiny, Captain Padorin returned to his mission. He had K-236 come to antenna depth to listen for any messages, and was about to lower the antenna when a message came in. “Get that message decoded quickly!” he ordered, and had the boat remain at antenna depth. The communications officer disappeared into his spaces, where not even the Captain could go, and was busy decoding the message. After a few minutes, he returned with a message form. “Comrade Captain, message from Fleet Command.”

“Thank you, Gennady,” Padorin said. Then he read the message. “Well, they want us to report on the American amphibious force, but to take no action. Our primary mission is more important.”

“That's a change,” the Starpom said. “You'd think someone would want us to have a go at the amphibious group.”

“I'm just as curious,” Shelpin said. Though he was KGB, he'd paid rapt attention in sub school to not only the technical side, but the tactics as well. “Who is so bloody important that we'd have to let those amphibious ships go?”

Padorin nodded. “That, Comrades, is a very good question.” He turned to the navigator. “Where did we encounter the amphibious force, and the battleships?”

The navigator checked his chart. “Right about here, Comrade Captain,” he said, pointing.

Padorin and the Starpom looked at it. “Very well. Plot that position, and we'll get it off to Fleet Command.”

The navigator did so, and Padorin went to his cabin to compose the message. Then he summoned the communications officer. “Get this off to Fleet Command at once.”

“Right away, Comrade Captain,” the officer said.

After the message was sent, Padorin made a periscope sweep “No contacts, scope clear.”

“Orders, Comrade Captain?” asked the Starpom.

“Make your depth 250 meters. Speed: ten knots. Course two-seven zero.”

K-236 dove and headed west. One thing Padorin quickly noted; with the Zampolit gone, the boat was a much more happy one, and a lot of crewmen were breathing easier with Zirinsky out of the way.

0055 Hours: 8th Guards Tank Regiment, 20th GTD, near Rio Grande Valley International Airport:

Major Krylov lead his regiment forward, towards the airport. Off in the distance, he could easily see the flashes of gunfire, and fireballs of exploding vehicles in quantity. The only problem was, that there was no way to tell who was getting the worst of the fight. He called his deputy in the regimental command vehicle. “Dagger Two, this is Dagger One. Anything from division?”

“Dagger One, negative. Orders are to advance to contact, and report upon encountering the enemy.” his deputy replied.

“Acknowledged,” Krylov responded. He then ordered his regiment's reconnaissance company forward, and right behind that, his motor-rifle battalion in BMP-2s. Somewhere out there, the Americans were lurking, and he didn't want the first sign of the enemy to be exploding vehicles. And his regiment's air defense battery, with the Strela-1M missile vehicles (SA-9B Gaskin) and ZSU-23-4 mobile AA guns were at the alert; with AH-64s reported, it was vital that the air-defense troops not only gave early warning of an attack, but successfully defend the regiment as it advanced.

“Dagger One, this is Hammer,” one of his battalion commanders called. “We have friendly vehicles to our right flank.”

“Stand by, Hammer,” Krylov radioed. “I'm coming over.” Krylov ordered his driver to move to the east, and he found Hammer One, Captain Vassily Reiter, with another officer, and a command BTR-70. “Who have you found, Vassily?”

“Comrade Major, this is Major Loginov, 356th MRR, 120th Motor-Rifles.”

“Major, where is your unit headed?” Krylov asked, shaking hands with the newcomer.

“I would ask you the same thing: we're supposed to be searching for an American attack, but so far, we've found nothing,” Loginov replied.

“Stand by, Major.” Krylov said. He mounted his tank, and called his regiment's command vehicle so he could speak to his deputy. While he was waiting for the deputy, things on their right flank exploded violently: other units from the Rogachev Guards had found the Americans. And T-64Bs and BMP-1s from the latter began to explode. “Dagger Two, We've found the enemy as well as the 120th Motor-Rifles. Does Division have any new orders?”

“Dagger One, affirmative. Continue to move and support the 120th, and maintain contact with them if at all possible.” the deputy radioed.

“Copy, Dagger Two.” Krylov said. “Major Loginov, my regiment will be on your left. We will support you.”

“Understood!” Loginov said as he mounted his own command vehicle.

Unkown to either officer, other elements of 7th Armored Division were watching. A Bradley troop from the division's cavalry squadron was taking note, and relaying the information back to Division HQ. And as these Russians advance, they'll be in for a rude surprise.

0110 Hours: Headquarters, 4th Guards Tank Army: Harlingen, Texas.

“So, Comrades. General Powell has thrown us a surprise.” Suraykin said, pointing at the map.

His intelligence officer nodded. “We had assumed that Fifth Army was in reserve around San Antonio, Comrade General. If, however, Powell has secured at least one division from that Army...”

“It's possible there are others,” Golvoko said, finishing for the intelligence chief.

“Very possible, Comrades,” The intelligence man said.

Suraykin pointed again. “That weakens our counterattack plan to support 52nd Tanks and the 105th Guards Airborne. And I'm sure that whoever is commanding XVIII Airborne Corps had that in mind when he unleashed the 7th Armored.”

The operations officer came up. “Comrade General, 20th Tanks has met up with the 120th Guards Motor-Rifle from 28th Army. And they're moving to contact the enemy.”

Suraykin nodded. “That puts the Americans here, right at the airport.”

Golvoko looked at the map. “It does, Comrade General. If this breakthrough had happened just a day or so earlier....”

“If it had, we'd be moving to meet it, instead of having a prepared defense,” Suraykin said. “And any chance of fighting a delaying action would be gone. A meeting engagement would've been trouble. Especially in daylight.”

“Quite so, Comrade General,” Golvoko agreed. “What about 38th Tank Division? Do they move to support the 20th?”

“No. We still need some kind of counterattack force. And apart from the 41st Independent Tank Regiment, the 38th is all we've left.” Suraykin noted. “We'll need them to assist the 105th Guards.”

0125 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville.

Marshal Alekeseyev (it was still a new thing, thinking of himself as a Marshal of the Soviet Union, he thought) looked at the situation map. Clearly, this penetration was a serious one, and Malinsky was worried. If the Americans could split the 28th and 4th Guards Tank Armies, they could bypass Harlingen, get to U.S. 77-83, and not only block the 4th GTA's line of communication, but that of 8th Guards and 3rd Shock as well. And according to Malinsky, 28th Army had committed its last reserves, the 120th Guards MRD, while Suraykin had sent in half of his counterattack force, the 20th Tank Division. He turned to Chibisov. “Thoughts, Pavel Pavlovitich?”

“This has to be a way for Powell-or at the very least, XVIII Airborne Corps-to divert Suraykin's reserves away from the junction. Once they do that, I'd wager that the 105th Guards Airborne-and the 52nd Tanks-will be in a heap of trouble before too long. If 52nd Tanks goes, that leaves 6th GMRD to stop the 24th Mechanized Division, and they won't be in any shape to do that for very long,” commented Chibisov.

“My thoughts exactly. That means Suraykin has to move his remaining reserves to assist 6th GMRD, and leaves the 105th Guards to fend for themselves. And whoever is behind 29th Infantry Division can simply pass through, blast a way forward, and be down the highway before anything can be done about it,” Alekseyev observed.

“And we have to keep 47th Tank Brigade and Andreyev's 76th Guards Airborne available to counter any amphibious landings,” Chibisov said.

“Correct. Now, let's hope that doesn't happen. Powell had a chance for an amphibious operation at Corpus Christi last year, and from what our intelligence said, the Marine generals were pushing for one. He refused, and the Americans' own Joint Chiefs of Staff supported his decision,” Alekseyev said.

“Comrade Marshal, that was last year. Now, such a landing can decide the issue-and in a few hours,” Chibisov noted.

“True. But the threat of such a landing ties down those two units, which could be used elsewhere,” Alekseyev said. “

Admiral Gordikov came in. He was now a Vice-Admiral, and like the others, knew what Moscow was thinking when the promotions were issued. And like the others, he was a professional to the end. “Comrade Marshal, here's a message from Caribbean Squadron Headquarters in Cienfuegos,” he said, handing a message form to Alekseyev.

Alekseyev took it. “So, one of our submarines had an encounter with the American amphibious force?”

“Yes, Comrade Marshal,” Gordikov said. “The position puts them only six hours or so from the beach at the eastern end of Highway 4.”

“Four battleships?” asked Alekseyev.

“I'm afraid so, Comrade Marshal,” Gordikov said. “Plus a heavy cruiser, and several destroyers.”

Chibisov noted, “That's a lot of firepower.”

“It is, Comrade General.” Gordikov said. “And they can stand off the beach and use those guns to rip into any counterattack. Granted, it was over forty years ago, but they did the same thing in their landings in Sicily, at Salerno, Anzio, and of course, in Normandy.”

“And any counterattack force would be pounded from the air by carrier-based aircraft, and smashed up by naval guns,” Alekseyev said. It was not a question.

“That would be so, Comrade Marshal.”

Alekseyev nodded. “Colonel Sergetov!”

His aide came up. “Yes, Comrade Marshal?”

“Go down to General Andreyev and bring him here. I have his final orders.”

“Right away, Comrade General,” Sergetov said. Then he left to find Andreyev.

“We've got a day, maybe two,” Alekseyev commented. “Not much longer than that.”

Both Chibisov and Gordikov nodded. “Admiral, you've done all you can here. Do you still wish to stay?” Alekseyev asked.

“Yes, Comrade Marshal. There are naval personnel who will never make it out of here, and a final sortie-with missile boats and minesweepers would be throwing lives away for no purpose-even if there weren't mines in the way-we'd just be targets for carrier-based aircraft. If they can't leave, then neither will I.” Gordikov said.
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Old 03-21-2015, 07:00 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The next one...

0140 Hours: Gulf Front Headquarters, San Benito Community College.

General Malinsky was actually getting some good news for a change. His Air Force liaison had just gotten off the phone, and had come over to him. “Comrade General?” the Air Force man asked.


“Good news, for a change, Comrade General. Additional air support is available, beginning at first light.” the SAF Colonel said.

“What kind of sorties will we get?” Isakov asked.

“Ground-attack and some fighters, Comrades. Including some Il-102s.” the Colonel replied.

“I thought those were prototypes only,” Malinsky said.

“A squadron's worth of preproduction models was sent over in one of the last convoys to make it to Mexico, Comrade General. They should make their combat debut tomorrow.”

Malinsky nodded. “And the rest?” he wanted to know.

“Su-17s and -22s, and some -24s for night work, Comrade General. We're just about out of Su-25s, but a few can make it from Matamoros International Airport, which is where the Il-102s are flying from.”

“And the airlift?” Malinsky asked.

“It resumes at first light. Air drops first, then actual landings. Drop Zones to be marked as usual. However, no drops near the 105th Guards Airborne, despite their requests. They're too exposed to both enemy fighters and SAMs.” the Colonel said.

“Good, Comrade Colonel,” Malinsky said. He turned to Isakov. “Notify all commanders about the increased air activity beginning at first light. And I'll be in my office getting some sleep. You, too Isakov. Tomorrow will be a busy day. Wake me, however, if there's anything serious.”

“Of course, Comrade General.”

0200 Hours: 8th Guards Tank Regiment, 20th Tank Division; Rio Grande Valley International Airport, Texas.

Major Krylov pushed his regiment forward, moving towards the sight and sound of the guns. Off to his left, near what had been a private military school prewar, the rest of the division was moving forward, but where were the Americans? Clearly, the 120th GMRD was in contact, but so far, his regiment, and the division, was chasing ghosts. Then his reconnaissance company came in. “Dagger One, this is Mace. Contact front! Probable Bradleys and..” A burst of static ended the transmission. Apparently, the company commander had been found himself. Krylov peered through his periscope, and noted a burning vehicle, then two more vehicles, almost certainly his own, exploded. He called his battalion commanders; “All Dagger elements, this is Dagger One. Contact front. Engage at will: independent fires on contact.”

His battalion commanders acknowledged the order, and the 8th GTR moved ahead. Though his own night sights were the best the Soviet Union had, they were still a generation behind the Americans, with their Thermal Sights on tanks, Bradley IFVs, and on both aircraft and attack helicopters. Where were they? His tank came across his reconnaissance company, and he saw two BRDMs and a BRM burning, and a tank from the company was also disabled. But the rest of the company had moved forward. Then, suddenly, all hell broke loose.

“Contact front!” one of his battalion commanders called. “Engaging!” And several T-80s began to fire. And that fire was returned, for numerous tanks began taking hits and exploding.

“Hammer, Dagger One. Say type of enemy.” Krylov called.

“Dagger, Hammer. Tanks. M-60A4s with the 120. We're....” and the transmission stopped.

Then another call came on the radio “Enemy helicopters!”

Krylov peered through his periscope. Yes, he could see several helicopters out there, their flare dispensers showing where they were. And they were firing. And more tanks took hits and erupted in fireballs. Krylov noted where the enemy tanks were, and called for his regimental artillery to fire on that location. Quickly, 122-mm shells began falling. Then another call came from the regiment on his left, the 155th Tank Regiment. “They're coming on our left!” The Americans had laid a trap, and were outflanking the 20th Tanks. A chill came down Krylov's spine as he heard that.

“Rapier, this is Dagger. Do you need assistance?” Krylov called the 155th.

“Dagger, this is Rapier. Affirmative. There's at least a brigade coming in on us. And...” the transmission disappeared in static. Either the 155th's commander had been hit, or enemy jamming was taking hold.

“Dagger two, contact division. Is there a change of plan?” Krylov called his deputy.

“Stand by, we're talking to them,” was the response. Then another call came that chilled him. “Comrade Major! Enemy tanks to the front!” That was his gunner talking.

“If you have a target, engage at will,” Krylov told the gunner, who began laying on a target. But before he could fire, another American tank, unseen by either Krylov or his gunner, targeted him and fired.

The 120-mm sabot round pierced the side armor, and penetrated the crew compartment, throwing out spall as it did so. Hot fragments whirled around the crew compartment, shredding fuel and hydraulic lines, as well as the crew. Neither Krylov or his crew had any chance to complain, for a few seconds later, the propellant for their 125-mm shells exploded, blowing the turret off the tank, and leaving a burning tank hull.

0220 Hours: 398th Coastal Defense Missile Battalion; North of Boca Chica State Park, Texas.

Captain Kokarev and his deputy scanned the horizon with their night-vision glasses. They'd been alerted that the American amphibious group was likely on its way, and Kokarev had ordered his men to their positions. The missile radar was still off, though. No need to attract attention until it was necessary, Kokarev felt. “Anything?” he asked his deputy.

“Nothing so far. Wait, though....ships to the left. Bearing zero-seven-zero.” the deputy said.

Kokarev turned to that bearing. He saw a sight that chilled his heart. Two battleships and a heavy cruiser were closing on Brazos Island. The only Soviets there were air-defense troops manning a radar station and a SAM site, though the defenders were a Cuban infantry battalion. Slowly, surely, the three ships turned as if they were off a practice range, and then they began to fire.

“Mother of God...” Kokarev said as 40-centimeter and 20-centimeter guns opened fire on the island. For several minutes, shells rained down on Brazos Island, and the defenders there could do nothing but hug the ground, and get into their bunkers.

“What are your orders, Comrade Captain?” the deputy asked.

“Hold fire. Do not turn on the radar. I'd rather wait until they come for us. And when they do...at least we'll get four missiles off,” Kokarev replied.

The bombardment continued for a half-hour. Then, just as it had started, the ships ceased fire and sailed off to the east. As they did so, Kokarev scanned the area to the northeast, and again to the east and southeast. Nothing else in sight. “Why didn't they shell us?” he asked.

“Perhaps they're waiting on something else?” the deputy said.

“Something else....an air attack to take us out...” said Kokarev. “Get the men to cover. Now!”

As the Soviets went for their bomb shelters, Kokarev remained in his command bunker It wasn't an air attack that came in, but something almost as bad: helicopters coming in from the sea, and landing on Brazos Island. He watched as CH-46 and CH-53 helicopters landed on the island, and U.S. Marines spilled out onto the island. He was an interested spectator as a battalion-sized force of Marines quickly and efficiently cleared the island, and within a half-hour, it was over. Kokarev picked up his field phone and called this in.

0240 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville.

Marshal Alekseyev was in his office with General Andreyev. Now that his special mission was completed, the Marshal had a new task for the General.

“Once the warheads are on the freighter, Andreyev, you'll have a new assignment.” Alekseyev said.

“How may I serve the Marshal?” Andreyev asked.

“You'll be in command of a grouping consisting of not just your division, but the 47th Tank Brigade. The 76th Guards Air Assault Division and the 47th are the only full-strength units left,” Alekseyev said, pointing at the map.

“And my task is?”

“You'll be my personal reserve. Not Malinsky's. Where and when you go into battle, is my responsibility, no one else's.” Alekseyev said.

“I see, Comrade Marshal.” Andreyev replied. “Do we back up Malinsky, or guard against an airborne attack?”

“Both, and one additional mission,” Alekseyev said. He pointed at the end of Highway 4 on the map. “There, Andreyev, the U.S. Marines may land, either today or tomorrow. If they do, you're our only hope of delaying them. Rest assured, I will not split your force, and your paratroopers will go into combat with armored support.”

“Thank you, Comrade Marshal,” Andreyev said.

“One other thing. Moscow issued a whole raft of promotions along with mine. Your name was on the list. Congratulations, Lieutenant-General Andreyev.” Alekseyev said.

“Right now, Comrade Marshal, I don't know whether to thank someone or curse someone. This was Moscow's idea?” Andreyev asked.

“It was.”

“Then, Comrade Marshal, someone in the Kremlin has read about Hitler and Paulus. And not only did the failed artist promote Paulus, he promoted a whole slew of senior officers one grade,” Andreyev said, remembering his history courses at Ryazan's Airborne Academy.

“True, General. Quite true. And the sense of deja vu does come up,” Alekseyev commented. “Do you wish to refuse the promotion?”

“No, Comrade General, I won't. But I'll take your congratulations over Moscow's any day of the week.” Andreyev said.

There was a knock on the door. It was Colonel Sergetov. “Comrade Marshal, I'm sorry to disturb you.”

“What is it, Colonel?” Alekseyev asked.

“Comrade Marshal, the Americans have bombarded Brazos Island, and have landed Marines there.” Sergetov reported.

“Situation?” Alekseyev asked.

“Comrade Marshal, neither the beach defenses, nor the air-defense radar there, answer radio calls. Our coastal-defense troops along Highway 4 report that the battle has been decided. Two battleships and a heavy cruiser shelled the island, then helicopter-borne Marines landed. They appear to be mopping up at the moment.” Sergetov said.

“I guess I'd better get back to my division, Comrade Marshal.” Andreyev said.

“Go, then. Wait for my orders to move,” Alekseyev said.

Andreyev saluted and left the office. “Comrade Marshal, there's one other thing.” Sergetov said.

“And that is?”

“General Chibisov ordered me to see you to bed. As he pointed out, tired generals make mistakes. A few hours' sleep is what you need, “ Sergetov reminded his Marshal.

“As always, Chibisov is correct. And tell him to get some sleep himself-and you, too.” Alekseyev said.

“Of course, Comrade Marshal.”

“I don't think the Americans will land this morning, anyway. That was just a prelude. This afternoon, though...” Alekseyev said as he laid down on his office couch, “Still, notify Admiral Gordikov and have him get the Cherepovets ready for her final voyage.”
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Old 03-21-2015, 07:03 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And the saga goes on:

0315 Hours: Cuban 2nd Army Headquarters

General Perez looked at his map again. He had just been awakened by his Chief of Staff after only three hours' sleep. The main concern was his left flank: it was slowly, but surely, giving way. His only reserve, a tank regiment augmented with some Soviet air-assault troops, would have to be committed. And he knew which division they would be facing. “That's the 49th Armored on our extreme left, correct?” Perez asked his Chief of Staff.

“Yes, Comrade General.” the Chief replied.

Perez sighed. He knew full well that the 49th had been battered in the early days of the war, and now, it was here at the end. His intelligence officer pointed out that although the division had been rebuilt, there were still many officers and soldiers who had been in the early fighting, members of the Texas National Guard, and those soldiers had not only lost fellow soldiers, but family and friends, to the invasion. And the members of the division not only vowed revenge, they practiced it. But to shore up his left flank, he had no choice. “Luis, move the 214th Tank Regiment, with the Soviet airborne troops, into a blocking position along Highway 281.”

“Right away, Comrade General,” the Chief said. “Are they to hold, or is this a delaying action?”

“The latter, Luis. Delay as long as possible.” Perez said. “I know, that may be difficult at best, but we've no other choice. There's a time and place for last stands, and right now, this isn't it.”

“Understood, Comrade General. I'll issue the order.” the Chief replied.

“One more thing,” Perez told the Chief.

“Yes, Comrade General?”

“Tell the regimental commander he doesn't need to ask permission to withdraw. It's a delaying action, remember. He's to fight it as he sees fit.” Perez said.

0325 Hours: South Padre Island, Texas.

“Comrade Captain,” one of Kamarov's lookouts said, shaking him awake.

“Yes, what is it?” Captain Lieutenant Kamarov said groggily.

“Movement offshore.” the lookout responded.

“Let me see, and get Major Lazarev,” Kamarov said.

The lookout nodded, and grabbed the field phone as Kamarov peered through the night glasses. “What bearing?” Kamarov asked.

“Zero-nine-five to one-zero-five, Comrade Captain,” the lookout replied.

Kamarov turned the glasses through those bearings. “Are you sure, because right now, there's not a thing here.”

“I'm positive, Comrade Captain. It was moving north to south.”

A few minutes later, Major Lazarev came into the room. He'd gone up five flights of stairs, and had been asleep when the phone rang. “Well, what's going on now?” he asked.

“I hate to have awakened you for what might be a false alarm, Major,” Kamarov said. “But one of the lookouts thought the saw movement offshore.”

Lazarev asked, “Are you certain?”

“The lookout is sure of it, but right now, I don't see...wait. There is something out there. Two ships.” Kamarov checked the bearing. “Zero-nine-five and zero-nine-seven.”

Lazarev came to see for himself. “Can you identify the ships?”

“Not yet. They're too far away. They may be playing their games again.” Kamarov said. “Have a look.”

Lazarev knelt down and peered through the glasses. Sure enough, there were two ships on the horizon. He wondered if they were connected to the firing they'd heard earlier, for someone to their south had caught hell from a bombardment earlier that night. “I can't tell, either.”

“Someone got shelled earlier tonight,” Kamarov reminded Lazarev. “If I was in command, I'd have an ASW group watching the battleships and cruiser. I'd bet that's what those two ships are.”

“For once, I hope you're right.”

0350 Hours: South of Rio Grande Valley International Airport, Texas.

Captain Ivan Popov had his hands full. He had been the deputy commander of the 8th Guards Tank Regiment, but now, with Major Krylov's death, he was now in command. After the Major's tank went off the air, and cries for help came from the other battalions, he pulled the regiment back, and rallied the survivors. What had been a nearly full-strength regiment only an hour earlier had now been cut down to only a battalion's worth of tanks and hardly any BMPs, for the motor-rifle battalion had been virtually annihilated. And the regimental artillery had also taken a mauling, for a dozen of their 2S1 122-mm guns had been hit by either counter-battery fire or by air attack, and clearly the 8th GTR was in no shape to continue forward. He also knew that he may have no choice but to keep going once he rallied the regiment.

Popov went from tank to tank, talking to the crews, and doing the same to the motor-rifle troops-now a short company, and he'd also spoken to the artillerymen. The regiment's air-defense battery was gone, as was the reconnaissance company, and the engineers had been cut down by half. And it wasn't over yet, Popov knew. His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of his Zampolit, Senior Lieutenant Viktor Gruishin. “I see you're still alive, Comrade Captain,” chimed the Zampolit.

“Right now, I'm not sure if I'd rather be alive, or dead,” Popov replied, not caring if the Zampolit decided to file a report on him.

However, this time, he need not have worried. Grushin, though a Party man through and through, was trained as a tank officer, and knew full well what had happened to the regiment. “I've got the same feeling myself. What happened?”

“The Americans laid on a trap for us. And the 120th Guards Motor-Rifle. And we paid for it, dearly.” Popov said. He waved his hand towards the north. “And it's still going on for those poor bastards,” pointing out the 120th's positions amidst the flashes of gunfire and the sounds of both aircraft and artillery fire.

“That explains why they didn't overrun the airport when they had the chance,” Grushin said. “The Americans wanted us to move down those runways-and want to bet they had them zeroed in by their artillery?”

“I thought the same thing myself, only after they shot us to pieces,” Popov said. He noticed one of the regimental staff coming “Yes, what is it?” he asked with a lot of irritation in his voice.

“Division is on the line, Comrade Captain. They want to speak to the regimental commander-whoever he is.” the staffer replied.

Popov and Grushin went into the regimental command BTR. A staffer handed Popov a radio “This is Kuban Ten, who am I speaking to?” the voice over the radio asked.

“Captain Popov, former deputy commander of the 8th GTR, and acting commander now.” Popov replied.

Major General Mikhail Boborov was on the other end. “I see...Captain,what happened to Major Krylov?”

“I regret to say that he was killed in action. His tank took a direct hit and blew apart,” Popov responded.

Boborov's sigh could be heard on the other end. Unknown to Popov, that sigh meant that two regimental commanders had been killed already, and the morning was still young. “Understood. Can you continue the mission?” Boborov asked.

“Negative, Comrade General,” Popov replied. “I only have a battalion's worth of tanks, most of my artillery is gone, and no air defense. I can hold here, or act as a flank guard, but that's all I can do.”

“I'm not angry with you; your neighbors to the left are in the same shape. Be prepared to act as a flank guard, and hold until then,” Boborov said. “The rest of the division will pass through your lines and continue forward. Any questions?”

“None, Kuban Ten.”

“Very well, Dagger. Kuban Ten, out.” And Boborov cut the link.

“Now what?” the Zampolit asked, and the Regiment's Chief of Staff asked the same thing.

“We hold here, and act as a flank guard.” Popov said.

“Hold with what?” the Chief of Staff asked.

“I know, but the rest of the division will pass through us and the 155th and continue forward.” Popov said.

The Zampolit and the Chief of Staff exchanged glances. “After what happened to us? Good luck with that,” the chief replied.

0410 Hours: 4th Guards Tank Army Headquarters, Harlingen, Texas.

General Golvoko looked at the situation map, and digested the information that Boborov had just relayed to him. The 20th Tank Division's attack had failed, with heavy losses, and it appeared that the 28th Army's attack with the 120th Guards Motor-Rifle Division was being chopped to pieces. Like it or not, he had to wake General Suraykin. He'd been awakened himself only a few minutes earlier by a staff officer when the bad news came in. Golvoko went to Suraykin's command vehicle and knocked. “Come in.”

“Comrade General,” Golvoko said. “I'm sorry to disturb you, but we have news of 20th Tanks' attack at the Rio Grande Valley Airport.”

“And?” Suraykin asked.

“Their first attack has failed, with heavy losses,” Golvoko reported.

Suraykin got up. He still marveled, after all this time in America, that anyone could go to a sporting-goods store and get a sleeping bag. It was a lot more comfortable than sleeping on the hard floor of a command vehicle, and he had thanked the staff officer who had “liberated” one for his general. “Show me, Golvoko,” he ordered.

Both generals went to the map, where Golvoko pointed out the battle results. “The two regiments involved from 20th tanks have been shot to pieces: each has only a battalion's worth of tanks left, and not much else.”

“What's Boborov doing now?” Suraykin asked.

“He's going to try again: his two remaining regiments, one tank and one motor-rifle, will pass through and continue forward.” Golvoko reported.

“If he pushes any more forward past the airport, he'll have an open flank,” Suraykin commented. “And it won't take long for 7th Armored to find that out.”

“Not long at all, Comrade General,” Golvoko agreed. “Do you want him to continue the attack, or assume a hasty defense?”

Suraykin thought for a minute. “Only as far as the northern end of the airport. Any further, and he will have an open flank. If this was 1985, I'd tell him to push as far ahead as possible, but not today. I don't want to take the chance that he'll be pocketed, along with the 120th Guards Motor-Rifle, and caught in a cauldron battle.”

“Understood, Comrade General,” Golvoko replied.

“Get me some of that Cuban Coffee, Golvoko,” Suraykin said. “Four hours' sleep isn't enough. And what news from the air force?”

“They still can fly missions from the Matamoros airport, Comrade General. Front Headquarters tells me that we'll have more air sorties beginning at first light. One final supreme effort, they said.”

“The Air Force had better. Though I do understand their problems: they're running out of planes and operational airfields. Not a good time to be an aviator.” Suraykin said, remembering his time at the Freunze Academy, where the problems of air force/army cooperation had been a subject of not-inconsiderable attention. “And the airlift?”

“It resumes at first light.” Golvoko said.

Suraykin looked at the map. The 105th Guards Airborne was still holding, as was 52nd Tanks and the 6th GMRD. But only just. And 24th Tanks was also teetering. He turned to Golvoko. “One more day. That's all we need. Just one more day. When the Army's fuel and ammunition is exhausted, I'll notify Marshal Alekseyev directly.”
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Old 03-22-2015, 07:11 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The clock keeps ticking for the Russians and Cubans...

0430 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment, U.S. Highway 281, west of Santa Maria, Texas.

Colonel Carlos Herrera scanned the horizon with his night-vision sight. He commanded the 214th Tank Regiment, and found it unusual that he now had two short battalions' worth of Soviet air-assault troops under his command, but in these times, nothing should have surprised him. Colonel Herrera had looked at his orders again, and he knew that this time, last stands were not in the cards-unless the Americans forced him into one. General Perez had been most specific on that. And he knew that coming down 281 was at least a battalion, with the rest of that battalion's brigade on its left. Delay, delay, delay, those were the orders of the day. He turned to Major Pavel Murayev, the commander of the Soviet air assault group. “Can your men give us some warning?”

“No problem, Comrade Colonel,” Murayev said. “I'll have them fire off a flare, then fall back to the main defense line. Like you, I'm not ready for a last stand just yet.”

Herrera nodded. “Excellent. As for the civilians in Santa Maria....” He turned to his chief of staff. “Who's in charge of the town?”

The chief consulted his notes. “Some rear-area troops, Comrade Colonel. Mostly ours, but a company's worth of Nicaraguans as well. The vast majority are unfit for front-line service.”

“Tell the town commander to order all civilians to take shelter. Anyone seen outside will be shot.” Herrera said.

“Immediately, Comrade Colonel.” the chief replied.

“What else is in the town?” Herrera asked.

“A Soviet S-75 SAM site, Comrade Colonel.” the chief responded.

“Is the site operational?” asked the Colonel.

“Yes, Comrade Colonel, it is.”

Herrera paused for a moment. “Raoul, tell the site commander to be prepared to destroy his radar, communications equipment, and all secret documents. No, tell him to do it now.”

“Comrade Colonel?”

“If we can't hold here, we fall back. And the site commander won't have time to destroy what needs to be denied the enemy. Tell him to do it-fast.” Herrera said.

“Yes, Comrade Colonel,” said the chief, who went off to issue the orders.

Herrera nodded as the chief left. He looked around, and saw the shapes of T-72G tanks taking up positions. He had two battalions of T-72s, the last Cuban T-72s left in Texas, and one battalion of T-55s delivered in a convoy in June, before the Americans turned the Gulf of Mexico into a shooting gallery. His regiment also had 24 2S1 122-mm guns, and a motor-rifle battalion with BMP-1s, and the late arrival of the Soviet airborne troopers was a welcome addition. However, he could not count on the town garrison: when his chief mentioned “unfit for front-line service,” he meant it. Reservists out of uniform for twenty years or more, and Nicaraguans, though motivated, had castoffs from the 1950s in terms of heavy equipment and heavy weapons. If we can delay for an hour or so, then we'll fall back, and do it again, he thought. But Colonel Herrera also knew that the end was only a matter of time.

0450 Hours: Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport.

General Petrov looked around. The last American attack had been two hours earlier, when two aircraft, type unknown, had swept over the field and left two dozen Mark-82 bombs in their wake. Three valuable aircraft-two Il-62s and an Tu-154, had been destroyed, and another hangar blasted apart. This time, though that hit had been costly, for many wounded men had been sheltered there, hoping for a place on a flight out. And another bomb had wrecked a nearby fuel storage tank, sending up a large fireball as the jet fuel inside exploded. His engineering officer came up to him. “Yes?”

“Comrade General, we've gotten the wrecks cleared. The runways are being double-checked right now, as we speak. If there are no....complications, I'll declare the field ready by 0530.”

“Good, Comrade Colonel. You've moved the bodies from that hangar?” Petrov asked.

“That is underway, Comrade General.” the Colonel said.

“Good. It's an hour until first light. We should have airdrops beginning then. Make sure the drop zones are marked.”

“Absolutely, Comrade General.”

“Good. Carry on, Colonel.”

The engineering colonel went off to his tasks, while Petrov went back to the hangar where he and Lukin had their work space. He found Lukin on the satellite phone to Havana. “Well?”

“First aircraft were wheels up at 0430 our time. An hour and a half away.” Lukin reported as he hung up.

“That's a start. Airdrops first?”

“Just as yesterday, Comrade General.” Lukin said.

“A drop in the bucket, Lukin,” Petrov spat. “Whose bright idea was it to try a resupply operation like this by air?”

“Someone who didn't read about the Stalingrad airlift,” Lukin replied.

“You have no argument from me on that,” Petrov said. “And when do they expect landings?”

Lukin looked at the wall clock. “0700, Comrade General. No sooner than that.”

“Lukin, you've got a son and daughter-in-law in Leningrad, with a grandchild on the way. I'm divorced. Today, you're leaving on one of the aircraft.”

“Comrade General! My duty....” Lukin said.

“I have something to send to friends at Air Force Headquarters and in the VTA. Something that has to go by courier. You're it. Pack and be ready to go sometime in the afternoon. Cuba if at all possible, but Mexico City in a pinch. And that's an order.” Petrov said firmly.

“I...I understand, Comrade General.” Lukin said. “I'll take letters from those on the staff who are staying.”

“Thank you, Lukin.”

0515 Hours: K-236, the Gulf of Mexico.

“Captain to CCP!” the intercom barked.

Captain Padorin jumped out of his bunk and into his shoes. A minute later, he was racing for the Central Command Post. “What is it?”

Captain Lieutenant Yevgeni Milstein turned to face the Captain. “Comrade Captain, we have a sonar contact, surface, bearing zero-nine-five relative, range about 15,000 meters.”

“Any identification?” Padorin asked.

“Not yet, Comrade Captain.” Milstein replied. He was a young officer, only a year out of the Academy, and this was only his second cruise. Combat was a lot different than what the lecturers there had told him it would be, but his eagerness was still evident in his tone.

Padorin went into the sonar compartment. The senior operator was on watch again, and he was listening. “Many ships on that bearing, Comrade Captain,” he said.

“It's the outer perimeter of the amphibious group?” Padorin wondered out loud.

“I think so, Comrade Captain,” the operator replied.

Padorin turned to Milstein. “Battle Stations. Silently, if you please.”

Milstein nodded. “Battle Stations, aye, Comrade Captain,” and the lights turned red, and the alarm buzzed. Officers and crew raced to their stations, as Padorin took over the con.

The weapons officer came in and checked the tube status. “Comrade Captain, we've got two Type-65s left, and four Klub missiles. Full load of standard torpedoes as well.”

“Very well,” Padorin said. He turned to the navigator. “How far are we from South Padre Island? That's our secondary pickup point.”

“At ten knots? About fifteen hours, Comrade Captain.” replied the navigator.

Padorin looked at both his Starpom and Shelpin. “We still have that potential rendezvous on shore: that is our first responsibility.” He turned to the helm: “Come right: course three-five-zero. Maintain ten knots, and make your depth two hundred meters.”

“Someone is playing with us back home,” the Starpom said. Padorin looked at him, and saw Shelpin nod.

“Not just that, it's the Americans,” Padorin said. “If they keep this up, there's no way we can make the pickup point-either the main one at Brazos Santiago Pass, or the backup at South Padre Island.”

“Mother of...” the Starpom said. “And if they're landing at South Padre Island....”

Even Shelpin, the KGB officer, knew it. “If that's the case, then forget about the pickup. Whoever we were supposed to get out is going to be out of luck.”

“Exactly. I'm not risking this boat just to save a few Party types-or American collaborators-from the end there.” Padorin said. He turned to the navigator: “Plot a course around that amphibious group. Then we'll make a run west. If, of course, the Americans will allow us.”

0540 Hours: 8th Guards Tank Regiment, 20th GTD, south of Rio Grande Valley International Airport, Texas.

Captain Popov watched from his command vehicle as tanks and BMP-2s from the 144th Motor-Rifle Regiment moved forward past his depleted regiment's positions. So far, he'd watched as the 120th GMRD on his right got shot to pieces, and the 356th MRR from the 120th, which had been on their flank had came back-what was left of it. He'd talked with that unit's senior surviving officer, a captain like himself, and it had been the same story: move forward until contact, but it had been the Americans who'd initiated the action, and that was that. Tanks, Bradley IFVs, and attack helicopters had come down on the entire 120th, just as they'd done with his division, and now....he'd be lucky to hold what he had.

Now, seeing the fresh regiment come up, maybe they might push the Yankees back. But Popov was surprised to see them halt just as they reached the northern edge of the airport boundary, and the motor-rifle troops stopped and began to dig in. This isn't an attack, now, he realized. Hasty defense. And they'll be coming. Soon, he knew, as he looked to the east as the faint light of dawn began to break. His thoughts were interrupted by the Zampolit, who was now his deputy commander-and not just for political affairs, deputy period. “Are the men ready?” Popov asked.

“As ready as they can be, after what happened last night,” Grushin said.

“The Americans saw us coming; how they did, I have no idea, but they were waiting for us, and shot us to hell. There's no way around that.” Popov said.

Grushin nodded sympathetically. He'd been a popular Zampolit, acting as morale officer when not engaged with military duties, and he knew many of the men personally. “No arguing there, Comrade Captain.”

“Get the men fed: who knows when they'll have their next meal,” Popov told his Zampolit. “And after that, have them stand to. The Americans will be back,” he said, motioning to the north.

“Right away, Comrade Captain.”

“And Grushin,” Popov said.

“Yes, Comrade Captain?”

“If you have to, destroy your identification papers that show you're a Political Officer. The Americans may not like that, if you get caught. Wouldn't want you dragged behind a motorcycle by those maniacs in the 13th Cavalry, and then left for the ants.”

Grushin laughed. “If I have to, I'll just throw them in a burning vehicle. I imagine there'll be plenty of those about.”

“Good.” Popov said. Then his chief of staff came up. “Yes?”

“Comrade Captain, division has told all units to hold at their present positions. We're to let the Americans come to us instead.” the chief replied.

“Hasty defense. Just as I thought,” Popov said as he turned north and saw the 144th MRR digging in. He turned back to the chief. “How long until they get here?”

“No word on that, Comrade Captain.”
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Old 03-22-2015, 07:13 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And the battle continues...

0605 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment, West of Santa Maria, Texas.

Colonel Herrera stood in the hatch of his regimental command vehicle, a converted BTR-60. Though he had a T-72K command tank at his disposal, he felt that this time, he needed to see “the big picture” and not what the limited view from a tank's periscopes offered. Instead, his deputy commander manned the tank, and relayed his observations from his location with Third Battalion, the T-55 unit. Fortunately, Third Battalion was not yet threatened, but as the sun began to rise, his forward outposts reported dust clouds approaching down Highway 281. The Americans were coming. Right now. He turned to his regiment's air-defense officer. “Your guns and missiles are ready, I trust?”

“Ready, Comrade Colonel,” the captain replied. Four ZSU-23-4s and four Strela-1M (SA-9) missiles were all he had to defend against air attack, other than Strela-M missiles (SA-14) carried by the motor-rifle troops, and probably some Igla (SA-16) in the hands of the Soviet air-assault troops. Not much if A-7s or A-10s decided to come calling, let alone those dreaded Apache gunship helicopters: it had been Apaches that had reduced his Third Battalion to a remnant back in May. Shrugging his shoulders, Herrera focused his attention on the issue at hand, and he saw it before anyone else did: a green flare fired ahead of his positions. That was the signal from the Soviet air-assault troops that the enemy was approaching. “All units, do not fire until I so order,” was his response.

Then commanders of both First and Second Battalions began reporting tanks and Bradleys approaching. He turned to his regimental artillery officer. “Put some fire-fused for airburst-on them. That'll get their attention, and maybe cause them to slow down.” And within moments, 122-mm guns began firing. Then the Soviets came on the line. “Estimated battalion strength at least, with a second battalion on their right. Falling back now,” was the call from the Soviet air-assault commander. And he was doing just what Herrera wanted: get information, fall back, and then get ready for some kind of fight in the town. But no heroics: just another delaying action. Hopefully, they could keep this up most of the day.

His Second Battalion came on the line next: “M-60A4s and Bradley fighting vehicles. Range now estimated at two thousand meters.” It was time.

“Commence firing. Independent fires at will.” And Cuban tanks and IFVs began to fire. The Battle of Santa Maria was on.

In her Bradley, Captain Kozak was initally surprised at the volume of fire coming from her front. The battalion scout platoon had reported T-55s and some infantry, but now, it looked like a full regiment of armor was in front of her. She ordered her Bradley platoons to fall back, and the tank platoons to cover them. And she got on the line to her Air Force FAC to get some air support, while her FIST began to call down artillery-both HE and smoke. Her battalion commander approved, and began to work the rest of the battalion to the left and right of the enemy (they didn't know if it was Soviet, Cuban, or whoever) to try and pinch them out. It was shaping up to be a busy morning.

0620 Hours: 4th Guards Tank Army Headquarters, Harlingen, Texas.

“Comrade General, it's Gordonov,” the operations officer told General Suraykin, holding up a phone receiver as he did so.

“Give him to me,” Suraykin said, and he picked up the receiver. “Yes, Gordonov?”

“Comrade General,” Gordonov said, “Right now, we're holding, but just. It's building-to-building now, and some have changed hands more than once.”

“I see.. And any sign of heavy forces behind the 29th Division to your front?” Suraykin asked.

“No, Comrade General. My division's reconnaissance has been out, and though most haven't reported back-and probably because they're dead, some have reported. No sign of heavy armor behind the 29th Division. Not yet.”

Suraykin tuned to his Chief of Staff, “Golvoko, get our Spetsnatz company out. Their mission is to locate any heavy armor coming up behind the 29th Division. This will have to be a ground insertion.”

“Right away, Comrade General.” And he went off to issue the order.

“Is there anything else, Gordonov?” Suraykin asked.

“We do need those airdrops, Comrade General. Right now, we've got enough to hold for maybe twelve hours, but if you expect us to hold any longer...” Gordonov's voice trailed off.

“The Air Force says it's impossible: the drop zones are too exposed to enemy air defense and fighters. We'll get some drops further back, and try and get what you need.” Suraykin said.

“Comrade General, with all due respect,” Gordonov said. “We need those supply drops. It's not just food and ammunition: we need medical supplies. My medical people are running out, and we can't even evacuate our casualties, and they're heavy.”

“I realize that, but the Air Force stands firm. No drops that close to the front lines.” Suraykin reminded his subordinate.

“Then, Comrade General, when can we expect a counterattack to relieve us?”

Suraykin looked at the map. So far, no sign of additional American pressure on the 20th GTD, nor the 52nd Tanks and 6th GMRD. The final calm before the storm? “If things don't develop elsewhere, by noon.”

“That's cutting it close, Comrade General, but we can hold until then.” Gordonov said.

“Good luck, and hopefully, I can move the counterattack force sooner.” Suraykin replied.

“Thank you, Comrade General. We'll be here. Gordonov out.” and that was that.

Suraykin hung up the phone and went to the map. “What's going on opposite 52nd Tanks and 6th GMRD?” he asked Golikov.

His chief of staff replied, “Not much. They're probably waiting until full dawn, then resume the attack.”

“Get on to the Air Force: even if you have to talk to General Petrov. We need drops close to the 105th if at all possible.”

Golikov nodded. “Right away, Comrade General.”

0640 Hours: Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport

General Petrov was in his office with General Lukin. “Here, Lukin. Everything about the airlift. What we needed, and what we received. Not to mention an appraisal of the mistakes made,” he said, handing Lukin a report he'd compiled a few days earlier, and had been waiting for the right moment.

“I understand, Comrade General. I've spoken with the staff, and they've provided me with their input.”

“Good. And did you get their last letters?” Petrov asked.

“Of course, Comrade General. You are divorced, but you have children, don't you?” Lukin asked.

“Yes,” Petrov said. He pulled two envelopes from his desk drawer. “One for my son: he's at the DA Air Academy at Tambov; he's an instructor pilot there. One for my daughter: she's living with her mother in Minsk.”

Lukin took the letters. “I'll see that they are delivered. Personally, if at all possible.”

Petrov nodded, just as a staff officer came in. “Comrade Generals, the first aircraft are coming in.”

Lukin looked at the wall clock. “They're early.”

“These are from Mexico City, Comrade Generals. Four Il-76s, two An-12s, and several An-26s,” the staff officer replied.

“Lukin, get on one of those. I don't care which one.” Petrov ordered. “I know, it's not headed to Cuba, but anyplace in a storm.”

Lukin nodded. “Yes, Comrade General. And may I say, it has been an honor to serve under your command. We did our best, but it wasn't enough.”

Petrov put his hand out, and Lukin shook it. Then Petrov saluted Lukin, as if he was the senior officer. Lukin returned it. “Comrade General.”

The two officers then went outside. A full dawn had broken, and it promised to be a beautiful day. The first plane came in: an An-26 with Soviet markings. It taxied up to the ramp, let down its vehicle ramp, and cargo pallets came out. The two Generals looked it over.

“Canned food, some medical supplies, and clips of 5.45 ammunition,” Petrov observed. “We can use all of it.”

“Indeed,” Lukin said. “Where's the pilot?”

“Right here.” an SAF Major said. He noted the two Generals. “Comrade Generals!”
“Major, this is General Lukin. He's being flown out of here on my express orders. Get him to Mexico City, or wherever your destination is in Mexico.”

“Yes, Comrade General.” the pilot said.

Petrov looked around. There were about forty or so specialists designated for evacuation. “Get those men on this aircraft,” he ordered. “Lukin, best of luck. Get that material to those who need to see it. And give them my regards.” And then Petrov went to the next aircraft, an An-12.

Lukin turned to the pilot. “You heard the general. Get those men aboard, and let's get out of here.”

0705 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville.

General Chibisov had arisen a few minutes earlier, and after shaving, he looked at the map in the Operations Room. So far, other than the failed attack by the 20th GTD and 120th GMRD, things were calm. For the moment, anyway, he knew. No doubt General Powell was thinking about the next round, even as combat continued throughout the night and into the morning. And the American amphibious force had moved-putting Marines ashore in a heliborne assault on Brazos Island. He was thinking, Now where are you going? Marshal Alekseyev should sleep some more, he thought. Today will be a very busy day, and he needs his rest. Colonel Sergetov came to Chibisov. “Comrade General,”

“Colonel. Is the Marshal still sleeping?”

“Yes, Comrade General. He is. Shall I wake him?” Sergetov asked.

“No. Not yet. He needs his rest. I know: four hours isn't enough for both of us. But he needs his rest even more. Today, I fear, he'll need all the strength he can muster.” Chibisov said.

“Quite. No word from our troops on Brazos Island, I'm afraid,” Sergetov said. “Either they're dead or prisoners.”

“That was an interesting operation. We thought they'd come at dawn, not in the middle of the night. And they surprised us,” Chibisov commented. “No warning at all, and the naval gunfire was enough to prevent the coastal-defense troops from noticing the helicopters until it was too late.”

“So where will they come next?” Sergetov asked.

General Dudorov came in. “The amphibious force?” he asked.

Chibsov turned. “Correct. And good morning, General.”

“Not much is good this morning, Comrade Chief of Staff,” Dudorov replied. “And things will get worse.”

“No doubt about that,” Chibisov agreed. “Now, the amphibious force?”

“There's only two possible landing sites. Either South Padre Island, or the Boca Chica area: that's the east end of Highway 4. They have sufficient forces at sea to mount either operation, and possibly both.”

Chbisov and Sergetov looked at each other. Two landings? “One would have to be a diversion. The Queen Isabella Causeway between Port Isabel and South Padre Island is rigged for demolition, and no doubt the Americans know it,” Chibisov noted.

“Yes. Any attack on South Padre Island would be a diversion. Get us to move Andreyev's grouping to counter that landing, and leave the Boca Chica area wide open,” Dudorv commented.

“What about an airborne or heliborne assault?” Chibisov asked.

“Either one is possible, and shouldn't be discounted. If they mount a simultaneous airborne and amphibious attack, they have us in the coffin, and the nails are being driven.” Dudorov said. And both Chibisov and Sergetov knew it. Then the operations officer came over. “Comrade General,” he said, handing a message form to Chibisov.

Chibisov scanned it. “Of all the....Don't wake the Marshal over this. He can sleep a little bit more.”

Perplexed, Sergetov asked. “What is it, Comrade General?”

Chibisov handed it to Sergetov. “Read it.”

Sergetov scanned the message. The General Secretary had issued an Order of the Day. He was encouraging the troops to continue fighting, and that their sacrifices would be long remembered in the history of the Soviet Union, and their work would help bring about final victory in the coming year. “The workers and peasants of the Soviet Union stand behind our soldiers in Texas, and all of us stand with you in your hard struggle.” Sergetov returned it to Chibisov. “Of all the...”

“Yes. Wake the Marshal at 0745, if you would, Colonel. I think I know what his reaction to this will be. And get Major Sorokin. The Marshal will want to see him one last time before Sorokin leaves.”
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Old 03-23-2015, 07:25 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And it goes on...and time for the Russians and Cubans is running out:

0720 Hours: Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport.

General Lukin watched as some forty men, designated as specialists, got aboard the An-26. Most were officers from special branches such as communications, air-defense, missile officers, and so on. Others were now planeless pilots or navigators from the Air Force, and there was even a naval officer. Some were also acting as couriers, from various headquarters, and he counted himself among those. Finally, several walking wounded whose injuries would not heal sufficiently to return to duty came aboard: a number had two broken arms, while others had lost hands or feet due to injuries. When the last had come aboard, Lukin went to the cockpit to talk to the pilot. “We're headed for Mexico City?”

“Not yet. Monterrey first: they're not flying near that field-the air defense is too strong from their viewpoint, or so we've been told,” the pilot said.

“Was there any fighter activity on the way in?” Lukin asked.

“Not at all. No F-4s, F-15s, F-16s, or F-20s. They may still have been at breakfast,” the Major said.

“That's good enough. Let's go.” Lukin said, strapping himself in to a jumpseat behind the pilot. “You're the pilot, I'm just a passenger.”

Nodding, the pilot radioed for takeoff clearance. When the green light flashed, the copilot pushed the throttles forward, and the Antonov rolled down the runway and into the air. Staying low, the pilot made a 180 turn and headed southwest. Lukin nodded his approval, and put on a headset. “Low level all the way?”

“That's right, Comrade General. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.” the Major said.

General Lukin looked out the navigator's port side window. He watched a second An-26 follow them, and an An-12 lifted off and headed east as well. Then he saw in horror as a missile, what kind he didn't know, came in from the east and slammed into the An-12, blowing the cockpit apart, and sending the big transport spiraling down into the ground in flames, exploding in a fireball on impact.

0750 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville

Marshal Alekseyev went into his private washroom. He had found out when he inherited the office after Marshal Kribov's death that it had belonged to the University's president, and the man had wanted a private washroom. Despite the lack of power in the city, the headquarters was still running on a generator, and he was able to wash and shave. When he was finished, he came into his office. Colonel Sergetov was there, waiting. “Comrade Marshal,” he nodded.

“Good morning, Ivan Mikhailovich,” Alekseyev acknowledged his aide. “What do we have at this moment?”

“The Americans are pressing the Cuban 2nd Army, again. And Suraykin reports that the counterattack at the Rio Grande Valley International Airport has failed. He's ordered the division that conducted it to assume a hasty defense, though they're not falling back as yet. The 105th Guards Airborne is still holding the junction, though they're beginning to run short on everything: airdrops have been requested but refused: the drop zones are too close to enemy lines.” Sergetov reported.

“And our other forces?” Alekseyev asked.

“General Malinsky reports that 28th Army's counterattack with the Rogachev Guards has also failed, and the division has been severely handled. As with Suraykin's counterattack, the division has assumed a hasty defense pending further orders. Eighth Guards, Third Shock, and Cuban First Armies continue to hold, even if they're barely holding on,” said the Colonel.

“Hm. And at sea?”

“The landing at Brazos Island, you know about; our coastal-defense troops south of there report the Americans have finished mopping up. General Dudorov reports that two landings-one at South Padre Island, and the other at Boca Chica-that's the east end of Highway 4-are now a distinct possibility. He suggests ignoring the former: that's more likely to be a diversion from the main assault at Boca Chica. If the Americans pull off an amphibious assault with an airborne drop-as was done so many times in Europe during the last war, we'll be finished-and soon.”

“I see,” Marshal Alekseyev replied. “And the airlift?”

“General Petrov reports it has resumed, though the aircraft landing so far are coming from Mexico City. Aircraft from Cuba should be arriving by now.” Sergetov reported.

“We'll know soon enough, as to how many are arriving,” Alekseyev commented.

“Yes, Comrade Marshal,” Sergetov said. “The ambassador to the Hall government wishes to see you as soon as possible: he's got a list of people in that government that are supposed to leave.”

“That's just great. How many, besides Hall and his cabinet?”

“About two hundred and fifty,” Sergetov said.

“I'll see him at 1000. Now, there's two people I'd like to see as soon as possible. Get Major Sorokin here one last time; make sure he's got everything he needs.”

“That has already been taken care of, Comrade Marshal,” Sergetov said. “And the second?”

“I'd like to talk to our guest over breakfast, Ivan Mikhailovich. Have a meal ready at 0830, and bring her here. See to it personally.” Alekesyev said.

“Of course, Comrade General. Is this between the two of you, or do you want service for four?”

“Yes, Colonel. Yourself, and General Dudorov.” Alekseyev nodded. “Anything else?”

Sergetov hesitated, then he pulled out a folded message form and handed it to Alekseyev. “This came in not long ago. General Chibisov felt it wasn't worth waking you.”

Alekseyev took the form. He read it, and began to crumple it as he did so. “Of all the....More nonsense from that Chekist bastard! More Party blather. It's the same kind of bombast Hitler gave just before our final offensive against Berlin.”

“That was General Chibisov's view, Comrade Marshal,” Sergetov said.

“Good. Don't bother passing that message down the chain of command. Our commanders have more important things to worry about.”

0810 Hours: Port of Brownsville, Texas.

General Andreyev watched as the vans carrying the nuclear warheads arrived at the port. Thirty-six warheads in all, that he and his regiment had “liberated” from the KGB....and now, those warheads would get ready for their final voyage. Now, he was looking for a naval officer: Marshal Alekseyev had told him that a naval officer would be taking the Cherepovets out, but he couldn't leave until the warheads were actually in the freighter and it had cast off. “Comrade General?” he heard a voice say.

“Yes?” Andreyev turned to see a naval officer saluting him.

“Captain Second Rank Romonov, at your service, Comrade General. I'm to take the freighter out for her final trip.” the navy man said.

Andreyev returned the salute. “I see. You've been told what your mission is?”

“Yes, Comrade General. By Admiral Gordikov himself,” Romonov replied.

“Then let's get to it.” Andreyev said.

The navy man nodded. “Of course, Comrade General.”

Andreyev waved his right hand, and the warhead vans drove up to the dock. They were still guarded by paratroopers from the 234th Guards Air Assault Regiment, and would remain so until the ship sailed. “I'm told that these vans must be loaded into the ship. It's that important.” said the General.

“So I've been informed, Comrade General.” Romonov said as the dock hands-all Soviets-began rigging the vans to be loaded aboard. “It'll take three or four hours, Comrade General, but he will be loaded by noon.”

“Good. Because I'd like to rejoin my division. But Marshal Alekseyev's orders were precise: Until you sail, that cargo is my responsibility.” Andreyev reminded the naval officer.

“May I ask what the cargo is? The Cherepovets won't be going far, but I've been told that the cargo must be denied to the enemy.” Romonov asked.

“You may not, Captain.” Andreyev said.

“I see,” Romonov said. “There's something else, and you'd be surprised to see it.”


“Have a look at the other side of the waterway. It's been happening off and on since yesterday. Small groups of men-some ours, some Cubans, have been building small rafts and trying to get down the waterway to the ocean, and make a run for Mexico,” Romonov said. “Some were caught by the Commandant's Service, but others....they made it into the waterway.”

“And what happens when they reach the open ocean?” Andreyev asked.

“I imagine the Americans find them. Either that, or they face a lonely, lingering death out on the open sea.” Romonov commented.

Andreyev wasn't surprised: there had been a small trickle of deserters trying to get into Mexico ever since the pocket had been formed. Now some were willing to take their chances on the water-and try to make a run for the Mexican coast. If the Americans picked them up, well...a trip to an American POW compound meant they were going to live. If not....well, he'd rather face his adversaries one final time in battle, than take his chances on the open ocean. “As a sailor, what would you do?” asked the General.

“If I had a choice?” Romonov asked, seeing the General nod. I'd rather find a fighting ship: even a corvette or a patrol boat, and face the U.S. Navy one final time, than try a homemade raft on the open water. At least I'd die a sailor's death, and not have to worry about sharks, exposure, the sun, thirst....and so on.”

0825 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment, Santa Maria, Texas.

Colonel Herrera was actually pleased. He'd forced the approaching Americans to deploy, and form up for an attack, instead of trying to take the town off the march. He'd used the time to get his most exposed units back into the town, and the Soviet air-assault troopers had prepared some positions in the town proper, though a stand was not on their agenda. Herrera had emphasized the need to delay the Americans, and not make a stand, unless they found themselves surrounded, and his battalion commanders understood it.

Now, his Third Battalion had fallen back to just east of the town, while Second Battalion had done so along the river. First Battalion had also pulled back to the center of town, along with his motor-rifle troops and the Soviet airborne. Major Murayev had come to him with an idea, and after having it explained, Herrera was all in favor of it. “Comrade Colonel,” his chief of staff said, “Everyone's ready.”

“Good. Tell the artillery to fire one final volley, then displace. Is Major Murayev ready?”

The chief nodded. “Yes, Comrade General, he's ready. And that artillery mission will fire immediately.”

Herrera saw his 122-mm guns fire one final salvo, then the 2S1s and their ammo carriers displaced. As they did so, Major Murayev came to him. “Comrade Colonel, we're all in position.”

Herrera looked at him. “You do know that standing and fighting isn't an option?”

“Absolutely, Comrade Colonel.” Murayev said. “What we've done is steal something from the Americans: something they did in 1986. See for yourself, when it happens.”

Colonel Herrera nodded. His battalion commanders were reporting that American armor was closing in again, a mixed battalion of tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. And it was likely that the brigade that battalion belonged to would not be far behind. He called his armor: pull back to their third line. And the Cuban armor did so.

In her command Bradley, Captain Kozak watched the Cubans pull back. Strange. They didn't usually pull back without a serious fight, and she suspected a trap. Her battalion commander didn't agree, and ordered his units forward. As her company team advanced, she told her platoon leaders to be on the alert. And soon, she was proved right.

Major Murayev watched the M-60A4s and Bradley vehicles come into the town from two directions. One company from the west along 281, the other from the north. His air-assault troopers had studied this tactic after being on the receiving end of it in the Ozarks in 1986, and had returned the favor several times since. Murayev knew that the two companies would expect to close a pincer, but there was nothing in the presumed pocket to be trapped. His men were all on the east side of town. He turned to a trooper with a Metis (AT-7 Saxhorn) missile launcher. “Watch for a command vehicle, then fire. Don't wait for my order.”

“Yes, Comrade Major,” the trooper replied.

Kozak watched as Team Bravo came in. Two Bradley Platoons and a Tank platoon. She knew Team Bravo's commander, who rode in his Bradley, as did the Exec. As she came up, the man waved at her. Then she saw it. “Missile! Missile! Missile!” she yelled over the radio as she saw a missile heading for her counterpart's Bradley. And her gunner began firing 25-mm HE rounds back at the missile operator. But it was too late, as the Metis missile slammed into the Bradley, and it fireballed, killing everyone inside. Then a second missile tracked another Bravo Bradley, and it, too, exploded.

Murayev ducked as 25-mm rounds exploded around him. The missile operator died when a 25-mm round struck him in the chest, and another trooper was also killed by the 25-mm fire. Then machine-gun rounds began splattering all around him and his men. Murayev grabbed the guidance unit from the dead man, and two soldiers grabbed the reload missiles, and they worked their way out of the building, where two captured pickup trucks were waiting. Other air-assault troops were also getting out the same way, and by the time the Americans realized what had happened, Murayev's men were already gone.
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Old 03-23-2015, 07:29 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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It continues:

0830 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville.

Colonel Sergetov and two soldiers went up to the floor where the American was being held. When he arrived, he found two guards sitting outside the former faculty office. He nodded, and one of them unlocked the door. Commander Carlisle sat up; to her, this was unusual. When she was allowed to walk the hall, it was Dudorov and one of his officers who did that. “Commander, will you come with me, please?” Sergetov asked politely.

She got up and came outside. “Let me guess: another conversation with Dudorov? He's been very persistent.”

“No. But please follow me,” Sergetov said, and she did, with the two soldiers following behind. They went down the stairs and then to Alekseyev's office. Sergetov knocked, and he heard, “Come in,” and he opened the door, and stood aside after he did so. “Commander,” he motioned to her.

Commander Carlisle went into the office. She recognized both officers already there; Dudorov, who'd had several conversations with her, and Alekseyev, the theater commander. Only now, she noticed, he had a single large gold star on his shoulder boards: and that meant Marshal of the Soviet Union. “Well,well. Either this is a promotion party, or there's something else in mind.”

Alekseyev laughed. “At least our guest has a sense of humor.” He stood up. “Have a seat, Commander. I've been wishing to have a talk with you, but other matters-and your lack of appetite last night-have prevented that.”

She sat, and thought that even if it was an act, the Russians were going out of their way to be very polite. Something's up, she felt. “You do realize, I've told you what I'm allowed to, and anything else is a waste of time.”

“Of course, but anything you do know is now out of date,” Dudorov said, nodding at Alekseyev. “Consider this an polite conversation between adversaries.”

Commander Carlisle noticed that. “Perhaps,” she nodded.

Colonel Sergetov joined them at the table, and the Marshal's orderlies brought in breakfast. “Comrade Marshal, this may be the last good breakfast any of us, the Commander excepted,may have,” he observed.

“Quite so, Colonel,” Alekseyev said. The meal was actually larger than what they'd been having lately: boiled eggs, toast with jam, sausage, and some Cuban coffee. He nodded to Commander Carlisle. “Your efforts at breaking the airlift and the convoys have succeeded only too well.”

“That's one thing I can take back, when this is over,” she said.

“Yes,” Alekseyev said. “And speaking of which, there is something that you may be able to help me with.”

“Oh, and what is that, Marshal?” Carlisle asked. “A naval aviator may not have anything that could help a Marshal.”

Alekseyev looked at her. “On the contrary. You are aware of the reputation that units such as the 42nd Infantry and the 49th Armored Divisions have. Not to mention those manics who call themselves the 13th Armored Cavalry Regiment?”

She nodded. “I've seen them on CNN. Can you blame members of the 42nd, for example? Many of them lost relatives or friends in the New York bomb, and to them, the war is personal. No surprise they promise revenge, and they get it.”

Alekseyev sighed. It was similar to the Red Army in the Great Patriotic War, and expecting the Americans to act otherwise might have been unrealistic. “I'll admit, we had the same thing in 1944-45 in Germany. Not only did we preach revenge, but practiced it.”

She nodded. “And what does this have to do with me?”

Alekseyev looked at Dudorov. “Commander, there are a number of female members of the Soviet military here. I'd like to evacuate them to Mexico when the time comes, and when it does come, you will be with them.”


“By the time they're evacuated, the end for us may be very near. I don't want to see those women-many of them are doctors and nurses, or clerical staff, falling into the hands of units like the 49th Armored or the 13th Cavalry. You will accompany them as far as a ribbon bridge into Mexico.” Alekseyev said.

“And then?” Carlisle asked.

“You'll be given a safe-conduct pass just before they cross the border. Show it to any Soviet or Cuban officer you encounter, and they'll direct you to American lines. Now, if for whatever reason, the convoy is intercepted by your own forces, you'd be able to vouch for them, and see that they're treated well.”

Commander Carlisle looked at all three Soviet officers. “You're serious?”

“Very,” Alekseyev said gravely. “I know, our hands are not clean in these matters; and certainly, our own behavior towards prisoners hasn't been worthy of any kind of humanitarian awards. But I want you-and your superiors when you do reach your lines-one way or another-to see that we're not all barbarians.”

0850: Gulf Front Headquarters, San Benito Community College.

Generals Malinsky and Isakov looked at the map. Today would be the day of decision, both knew. Soon, both realized, their war would have between twenty-four and forty-eight hours left. Malinsky turned to Isakov. “What do we know about 28th Army's attack?”

“Not much, other than the 120th Guards Motor-Rifle has been roughly handled. The division is down to less than fifty percent strength.” Isakov reported. “The rest of the Army is still holding.”

“And Suraykin's counterattack?” Malinsky asked.

“20th Tanks was shot up at the Rio Grande Valley Airport, Comrade General. They have had to halt and assume a hasty defense.” Isakov said, pointing at the map.

Malinsky nodded. “And the highway junction?”

“The 105th Guards Airborne is still holding, but just. Suraykin reports that he'll have to move his counterattack force-now down to 38th Tanks and 41st Independent Tank Regiment, to assist them. That is, if a crisis doesn't develop with 52nd Tank Division and the 6th Guards Motor-Rifles.” Isakov said.

“All right, Isakov. Get whatever help from the Air Force that you can. I know, they've promised whatever they have available, but get onto them anyway.” Malinsky said.

“Understood, Comrade General,” Isakov said.

“And the Cubans?” Malinsky asked.

“Their 1st Army is holding-but just. They've had to give some ground, but as long as that wildlife refuge is on their right flank, with all those wetlands, the terrain prevents any kind of amphibious end run around them. Their 2nd Army is in worse shape: they've got two divisions coming against them, and one of them is the 49th Armored. By noon, General Perez says, he's going to have to start giving ground, or he may be outflanked,” Isakov reported.

Malinsky knew it, and nodded. “I'd rather he give ground than be outflanked. Soon, we'll have to pull them, as well as 3rd Shock Army, back at any rate. Start thinking about a line running from Highway 83 west of Harlingen down to the river. If, that is, we still hold the 77-83 junction.”

“I'll get right on it, Comrade General,” Isakov said.

“One other thing: I know Alekseyev hasn't issued the order, but let's get things moving on it anyway. Pass the order to all of our female officers and soldiers: be ready to evacuate on one hour's notice.”

“Are you sure, Comrade General?” Isakov asked.

“Yes, because if Powell does get Highway 281, all of our ribbon bridges to Mexico will be gone in short order, and even though it's a two-lane highway, that would be enough for a charge down the road and into Brownsville,” Malinsky noted.

Isakov nodded. “It will be done, Comrade General.”

0910 Hours: Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport

General Petrov watched as two An-124s lumbered overhead, with Su-27s providing fighter escort. Supply parachutes blossomed as their cargoes were dropped, and the pallets drifted to earth underneath. So far, today had been mixed, with several aircraft getting in from Mexico, and most of those had gotten out, including General Lukin's aircraft, but one An-12 had been shot down, and an An-22 inbound from Cuba had been shot down as well: the big plane crashing into Loma Alta Lake after F-14s had gotten into the transport stream. Several other transports had also been destroyed further out to sea, and not just to fighters: one had reported being fired on by a SAM, and that meant an American ship doing the deed. And he knew full well there was nothing that could be done about that. Then one of his staff came to him, “Comrade General?”

“What is it?”

The staffer held out a message form. “From General Lukin: he says he's arrived safely in Monterrey, and should be in Mexico City in a few hours.”

“Excellent. First stop on the long way home. He's lucky-as are those who flew out with him.” Petrov commented.

“Yes, Comrade General. We've also gotten word from Havana: two Il-62s and two Tu-154s are en route: they're on a special assignment, with specific people to be evacuated on at least two of the aircraft,” the staffer reported.

Petrov looked at him. “What do you mean? Specific people?”

The staffer nodded. “Yes, Comrade General. Orders from Moscow. The Hall Government, and not just their cabinet, is to be evacuated to Cuba.”

“Of all the....Orders from Moscow?” Petrov asked.

“Yes, Comrade General.”

Petrov dismissed the man. So many in the pocket deserved to leave before the Americans arrived, and those very people who were last on his list were being bumped to the front of the line at Moscow's insistence. Not good: there were so many key personnel who needed to get out, along with wounded, and Moscow wants its “liberation government” out instead? If this is that Chekist bastard's idea, maybe, just maybe, there will be a reckoning for such things, even if he didn't live to see it.

0930 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment; U.S. 281, east of Santa Maria, Texas.

Colonel Herrera watched from the top of his command APC with his binoculars, scanning the town of Santa Maria. He noticed that the Americans were getting themselves organized again, and that they would soon be coming this way. Only this time, out in the open with not much cover, things would be different. Last time, his regiment had fought a delaying action and escaped with minimal losses. Now, his regiment was fully exposed, and American aircraft and helicopters would be out in force. Colonel Herrera turned to his Chief of Staff. “Well, now. They'll be coming for us again, and soon.”

“Yes, Comrade Colonel. This position, though, is good. A dried-up creekbed with a small bridge, and the regimental engineers have wired it for demolition.” the chief replied.

“Not good enough, though,” Herrera replied. “I'd like it if this was wider, and there was another town.”

“I understand, Comrade Colonel,” the chief said. “Do you want outposts beyond the creekbed?”

“No. They may not have a chance to get back to our side,” Herrera said. “Where's Major Mureyev?”

The Soviet air-assault officer came up at the mention of his name. “Right here, Comrade Colonel.”

“This time, your tactic won't work here. The creekbed's too narrow, a bridging vehicle can replace that bridge easily, and there's not much in the way of cover.” Herrera noted.

“True, Comrade Colonel,” Murayev agreed. “But we do have a few more missile teams that can cover the bridge, and my troops can make life exciting for those at the bridge itself.”

“Only if the Americans don't send helicopters out in front, and whoever is running that brigade isn't going to be caught napping a second time,” Herrera said. “Be ready to fall back when I give the order.”

“Comrade Colonel, If I may....” Murayev's voice trailed off, then he yelled “Air attack! Helicopter gunships incoming!”

Herrera watched the sky: sure enough, four AH-1S Cobra gunships were coming in, and they had spotted his regiment's positions. “Take cover!” he yelled.

The Cobras from the 49th Armored Division's aviation brigade came in, and picked out the tanks and APCs of the 214th. They called in the target position, and maneuvered for TOW missile shots. Quickly, TOW missiles began firing, and within minutes, two dozen of his regiment's vehicles-tanks, APCs, engineer vehicles, and two of his 2S1 howitzers were all burning wrecks.

Herrera and the officers around him stood up, and shook themselves off. “They'll be back,” one of the staff said, and he had no reason to disagree.

Major Murayev spoke up, “Now what, Comrade Colonel?”

“We do the best we can. Make sure that bridge is rigged to blow. Wait until the Americans come close, then blow it in their faces. I'll have artillery drop some HE and smoke on the position, and fall back under cover of the artilery fire. That will cost them time as they deploy for an attack, and by the time they've done so, we've fallen back to the next position,” Herrera said.
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:05 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And so it continues:

0950 Hours: K-236; the Gulf of Mexico.

Captain Padorin watched the sonar display. Though K-236 had skirted the American amphibious force, the sonarmen had picked up other ships to the north and northeast. And he was concerned: that ASW group he'd tangled with earlier might still be around-and looking for blood. “Any identification?” Padorin asked the sonar operators.

The senior operator replied, “Nothing definite, but I'm sure at least one carrier is to the northeast. It sounds like John F. Kennedy, but I'm not entirely sure.”

Padorin frowned. “One carrier? What else is out there?”

“Escorts-several of them. At least one Spruance, maybe two, Comrade Captain,” the operator responded.

Padorn stepped out of the sonar room. He found his Starpom and Security Officer in the CCP, waiting. “Well, Comrades. We've stepped out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

“Comrade Captain?” Shelpin, the Security Officer, asked.

“We've dodged the amphibious group, only to find one of the carriers. And there's two more carrier groups out there as well,” Padorin said.

The officers in the CCP looked at each other. Three carriers? First the battleships, now this. Something to tell their children about-provided they lived, of course. Then the navigator asked Padorin, “Do you want their position so we can report it later?”

“By all means. I don't know when we'll be able to do so, but plot the estimated American position,” Padorin replied.

“Right away, Comrade Captain,” the navigator responded.

Padorin went over to the chart. “That places the amphibious force off both South Padre Island and Brazos Santiago Pass,” he said, pointing at the chart.

“They're blocking any way in,” the Starpom observed.

“Correct. And I'm not risking this boat on an extraction unless those ships move away-a hurricane is something we could use,” Padorin said, unknowingly echoing General Petrov ashore.

“Not much chance of that,” the navigator chimed in. “We're past peak hurricane season.”

Padorin nodded. “Right. Make your depth two hundred and fifty meters, and maintain speed, ten knots. Course, zero-nine-zero. Let's get away from the coast.”

1005 Hours: Port of Brownsville.

General Andreyev watched as another one of the warhead vans was loaded onto the Cherepovets. About bloody time. Whoever in the pocket wanted to use the dammed things ought to be skinned alive and left for the ants, he thought. He looked around for the 234th's air-defense officer. If American aircraft came over and noticed the activity, they might assume the freighter had just arrived, and would likely try and sink her right then and there at the dockside. It didn't take him long to find who he was looking for. “Major!”

“Yes, Comrade General?” the air-defense man replied.

“Keep a sharp watch for enemy aircraft,” Andreyev reminded the man. “I can't express that enough.”

“Understood, Comrade General.”

“Good. You've got your Shilkas and Strela-1Ms, and how many with shoulder-fired missiles?” Andreyev asked.

“As many as I could equip, Comrade General,” the major said.

“Excellent. Until that ship is loaded and on its way, we're responsible for defending it. Is that clear?” Andreyev reminded the major.

“Absolutely clear, Comrade General,” said the major.

“Good,” Andreyev said. He turned to Colonel Suslov, the 234th's regimental commander. “Suslov, any sign of our....other enemy?”

“None, Comrade General. I imagine they're wondering who it was that took the warheads. Also, they're probably got something more important on their minds-like saving their own skins.” the Colonel replied.

Andreyev nodded. “An interesting observation, Comrade Colonel.”

1020 Hours: 8th Guards Tank Regiment, 20th GTD, Rio Grande Valley International Airport.

Captain Popov watched as the positions to the north of his regiment were pounded. American artillery fire rained HE and submunition rounds on the two regiments holding the northern edge of the airport, and only lifted to allow air strikes to go in. Those devilish A-10s, A-7s, Skyhawks, and Intruders came in with bombs, rockets, and where possible, cannon fire. Popov shook his head. How long ago was it that the situation was reversed? He'd been a Junior Lieutenant in 1985, and remembered his unit at the time-he'd been with an independent tank regiment in 28th Army then-doing the same thing to the Americans they'd faced-with MiG-27s, Su-25s, and Mi-24s wreaking havoc. How things change, he thought. Then he noticed Grushin coming up. “Ah, Grushin. Anything new?”

“No, Comrade Captain, nothing yet. Though our comrades to the north are getting a pounding,” said the Zampolit.

“You've been a front-line Zampolit, not one of those Party stooges in the rear; what's your take on all of this?” Popov asked.

“Comrade Captain, things are....different. When we came here, I was just as idealistic as the next one. Hoping we'd find a willing populace that would welcome the promise of Socialism and what it could do here, instead....” Grushin's voice trailed off.

“Instead, we acted like it was Germany in 1945, with rape, looting, pillage, and murder. Not to mention rounding up anyone who not only posed a threat, but anyone who even shot a hostile glance at us,” Popov remembered. “Not the way one wins over a civilian population to our side.”

“Indeed, Comrade Captain. And, as much as I hate to say it, their people responded as ours did in 1941, when the Hitlerites invaded the Rodina. Just as we fought for Mother Russia, they fought here for America.” Grushin said. “Party dogma to the contrary.”

The regiment's chief of staff came up. “Comrade Captain, message from division.”

“And?” Popov asked.

“The two advance regiments now report a ground attack. We're to be ready for any attempt to encircle or flank them.” the chief said.

Popov nodded. “All right. Have everyone in their vehicles or fighting positions. If the Americans do try a flanking attack on the 144th, we'll be ready. “

“Right away, Comrade Captain!” the chief said as he went to issue the order.

“Grushin,” Popov said.

“Yes, Comrade Captain?”

“I'll be in a tank. I want you in the command BTR. The staff is in their own vehicles. I don't want you doing what you did last year near Austin: going from vehicle to vehicle, hole to hole, talking to the men. No time for that this time.” Popov said. “I know Krylov liked the idea, but this time's different.”

“Comrade Captain..” Grushin started to say.

“I know, but if anything happens to me, and the regiment's chief of staff, you're in command.”

1045 Hours: 324th Field Hospital, Brownsville, Texas.

Lieutenant Colonel Dherkov read the message again. He looked at his clerk. “So, the next notice is the evacuation order?”

The clerk nodded. “Yes, Comrade Colonel.” He'd taken down the message himself.

Dherkov swore. “All right, get Captain Chernova here. If she's in surgery, don't pull her out, though. If she's available, have her report to me.”

“Yes, Comrade Colonel. Right away,” the clerk said. He went off to the gym-now the OR-to find the Captain, who the senior ranking female on the staff. A few minutes later, he came back, with the female officer, who had just finished an operation. “Captain Chernova, Comrade Colonel,” the clerk said.

“Galina, we need to talk. I want you to walk with me,” Dherkov said.

Chernova nodded. “Is this the evacuation order?” she said, as the two started to walk around what had been an elementary school prewar.

“No, but it's the final warning. The next message will be the actual order to leave.” Dherkov said. “I know you want to stay, and many of those with you want to stay as well, but this comes from the top.”

An ambulance pulled up near where they were talking. Even ten or twenty meters away, one could hear the screams from those inside. Doctors, nurses, and medics went to the vehicle-its engine still running-to unload the human cargo and offer what aid they could. She looked at the ambulance, then at Colonel Dherkov. “Comrade Colonel, it's scenes like those that make me want to stay. What little comfort we can give them, they need. What will happen to their morale if they find out all the nurses and female doctors have left?”

Dherkov looked at the same scene. As the first ambulance left, a second pulled up. This time, there wasn't much screaming, for these were burn cases. None of them could expect to live long outside a major burn center, and the airlift was their only hope. And that hope was shrinking with each passing hour. “I can tell you, it's worse if you stay, and fall into the hands of those maniacs in the 13th Cavalry-or the vengeful New Yorkers from the 42nd Infantry,” he said as those patients were tended to.

“I know, Comrade Colonel.” Chernova said. “Do we all have to leave?”

“The orders are firm on that, I'm afraid.” Dherkov said. “Nobody wants to take a chance on you-and the other women-falling into American hands.” She started to speak. “Yes, I know, the Americans say they treat all prisoners well, but remember what we did in Germany after a battle was over-or here, in 1985-86, for that matter..”

Chernova knew. Her grandfather had been an infantry colonel in Berlin during the final battle. He'd told her about how Soviet soldiers had treated German women-and German wounded as well-though Grandfather Sasha had made her promise not to tell anyone what he'd just told her. Not to mention her own experience in America in those early days. “I understand, Comrade Colonel.”

“Good. Galina, I hope you do. Personally, if it was up to me, I'd let you stay and take your chances. But that's out of my hands. And I'm responsible for you and the other female staff. I'd rather you all took your chances on the evacuation then with those lunatics when they get here-which may only be a couple more days.” Dherkov said.

Chernova nodded. “So do we fly out, or go to Mexico?”

“Mexico, almost certainly. There's too many people waiting for flights out, and not enough planes.”
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:08 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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The clock keeps ticking...

1100 Hours: 4th Guards Tank Army Headquarters, Harlingen, Texas.

General Suraykin glanced at the operations map. It was time, now. The 105th Guards Air Assault Division was being ground down more steadily than he'd thought, and despite the situation with 52nd Tanks and 6th Guards Motor-Rifle Division, it was obvious: the counterattack force had to go to the aid of the 105th. Suraykin turned to his chief of staff. “That's it, Golvoko. Move the counterattack force. Notify 38th Tank Division to move to the Highway 77-83 junction to relieve the 105th Guards Airbone. The 41st Independent Tank Regiment is under operational control of 38th Tanks for this operation.”

Golvoko nodded. “Right away, Comrade General.”

“How much in the way of supplies have we received from the supply drops?” Suraykin asked.

“Several tons: food, bottled water, ammunition-mostly small-arms, but some 122 artillery shells and 125 tank rounds,” Golvoko reported.

Suraykin looked at the map again. “Send what you can from that to the 105th: they've been hanging on for dear life since last night. Any vehicles returning from that supply run can bring out their wounded.”

“Yes, Comrade General.”

General Suraykin turned to the operations officer, “Get me General Gordonov. I'll inform him personally.”

A couple minutes later, the operations officer handed Suraykin the phone. “General Gordonov, Comrade General.”

“Gordonov? This is General Suraykin. Can you hear me?”

“Yes, Comrade General. However, the Americans are making it very hard to hear you: we've had to move division headquarters three times since last night,” Gordonov said, with the sound of artillery fire and small-arms fire in the background.

“Gordonov, the counterattack force is heading your way. They should be there in an hour or so.” Suraykin said.

“Thank you, Comrade General. Any longer, and the only ones holding here would be dead.” Gordonov replied.

“They'll also be bringing you some supplies-food, ammunition, and some medical supplies. And your wounded will be evacuated south.” Suraykin told the airborne general.

An explosion came over the line-a loud one. “Sorry about that, Comrade General. They've been dropping heavy stuff: one-five-five and two-oh-three all morning.” Gordonov said. “My wounded will come out?”

“That's right. Just hang on for one more hour, and 38th Tanks will be there. After that, there are no more reserves.” Suraykin said.

“Understood, Comrade General. We'll be here-those of us still alive, that is. And thank you again.” Gorodnov said.

“Good luck, Gordonov,” and with that, Suraykin hung up. He looked at the map again. “Has 38th Tanks begun to move?”

“They've begun to move out, Comrade General. The 41st is closer, though.” Golvoko said.

“Just hope the air force can help out-if they can't, that counterattack force will get mauled before they even reach the front.”

1120 Hours: Port of Brownsville

Captain Romonov watched as the last warhead van was loaded into the Cherepovets' number four hold. With that, the ship's final cargo was secured. And it was time for the final voyage to begin. He turned to the freighter's first officer. “Start engines.” Then he went to the bridge wing and waved at the airborne troops who had guarded the warheads until loading was complete. He knew they were warheads of some type, but he didn't know exactly what. All he knew was that the warheads could not be allowed to fall into American hands.

Two tugs-operated by Soviet Navy personnel, edged the freighter's bow into the shipping channel, and the Cherepovets got underway. “All ahead one-third,” Romonov ordered.

“All ahead one-third, aye,” the quartermaster responded.

“Steady as he goes.”

“Steady as he goes, aye.”

As the freighter moved towards the Gulf, Romonov looked to starboard. He noticed a shipbreaking yard, and both Soviet and Cuban military personnel scavenging hulks for metal plates, or anything else that could be used to help shore up a bunker. Others, it appeared, were trying to build rafts, preferring to take their chances on the water than on shore. In their position, he didn't blame them at all. Though he'd prefer to take one of the remaining naval units out and face the U.S. Navy one final time, instead of risking a lingering, lonely death on the open water. Though he knew that wasn't very likely, given the fact that the Americans had mined the safe-passage channel through the Soviets' own minefields.

“Make turns for ten knots,” Romonov ordered.

“Ten knots, aye,” the quartermaster acknowledged.

“Captain?” the first officer asked. “Is that wise?”

“The sooner we've gotten to where we're headed, the better.” Romonov said.

The freighter moved down the waterway, and soon got to the entrance to Port Isabel's harbor. And Long Island soon appeared on their port side. The third officer, who was acting as navigator, looked up from his chart. “We're here.”

“Helm, ninety degrees to port.” Romonov ordered.

“Ninety degrees, aye.” the helmsman replied.

The Cherepovets swung until the ship was completely blocking the shipping channel. Both Port Isabel and Brownsville would be closed to shipping of any kind until the Cherepovets was cleared.. “Drop anchor,” Romonov ordered, “And open the valves, leave all watertight doors open. Engine-room staff topside.”

The first officer nodded, and then relayed the orders. The second officer came up from below. “All set, Comrade Captain.”

“Very well. Lower the boats, and all hands over the side.” Romonov said.

The abandon-ship drill went flawlessly, and only Romonov and the second officer remained aboard. The man showed Romonov the plunger. “Ready, Comrade Captain.”

Romonov pushed the plunger, and a muffled explosion sounded from below. Then the two officers jumped over the side and swam to one of the boats. As he was pulled into the boat, Romonov ordered, “Get to Port Isabel, now!”

As the boats headed to shore, everyone turned to watch. The Cherepovets settled down on an even keel, stern first. And she sank. Slowly, but surely. Until only her upperworks and cranes were above water.

1130 Hours: 8th Guards Tank Regiment, 20th Guards Tank Division, Rio Grande Valley International Airport.

Captain Popov watched through his binoculars from the tank hatch. Though it wasn't a specialized command tank, it would have to do for his purposes. The tank commander had been wounded, and it had been easy to take over the vehicle, and now, it was his. But not for long, he knew. Popov saw the two regiments to the north under attack, and this time, it wasn't an air attack: the Americans were coming for them-tanks and mechanized infantry. Though his battered regiment was technically a flank guard, he knew that any counterattack would also involve his regiment, and thus was likely to be his last. His regiment's chief of staff came on the line. “Comrade Commander, division says to be ready to move within five minutes.”

“Understood,” Popov replied. He waved over to the BTR command vehicle, where his Zampolit was situated. And Grushin waved back. Popov waved him back, and Grushin knew it. It would be so easy to take out both vehicles, and leave the 8th GTR leaderless, and then wipe out the survivors at leisure.

Then the chief of staff came back. “We're to move. Forward.”

And Popov ordered the 8th Guards forward. He'd read about the British in the Crimean War, and that cavalry regiment that had charged headlong into Russian guns-and had been wiped out in the process. Now, his regiment was in a similar position, and was moving headlong into enemy armor. While the counterattack would be short, they would try anyway.

Artillery fire began to fall around the 8th Guards, but Popov paid it no heed. It was HE, not those irritating ICM rounds with those submunitions that could strip reactive armor off of tanks, or knock treads off. Or knock out an engine if there was a lucky hit to the tank deck. He reached for his radio: call signs were meaningless now, so he simply said, “Motor-Rifle troops ahead. Tanks to support.”

BMP-2s moved ahead of the T-80s, and they began searching out targets. Up ahead, they could see vehicles exploding in fireballs as the 144th MRR attempted its own counterattack, and its regimental guns began direct fire. Popov called for artillery fire ahead of his own unit, and the remaining 122-mm guns started to pump out shells. “All Dagger units, let's get them. Independent fires on contact,” Popov radioed.

Subunit commanders acknowledged, and T-80s began searching out their own targets and firing. Popov looked for a target, and found one: a Bradley. “Gunner, hard core. Bradley front!”

“Identified. Hard core loaded.”


The big 125-mm gun roared, and the Bradley exploded. “Target destroyed!” the gunner shouted.

“Reload hard core,” Popov said. “Tank at eleven!”

The reload took its time, and as Popov watched, the American tank was laying its own gun on a BMP-2. That tank gun-a 120-mm, roared, and the BMP was just blown apart. The gunner shouted, “Hard core loaded! Target identified! Range one thousand.”

“Steady. And fire!” Popov shouted.

The T-80 fired, but the shot missed. Then the M-60A4 turned its turret, and Popov fired the T-80's smoke grenades, covering the tank in white smoke. Then Grushin came on the line, “We're hit! We're....” and the transmission stopped.

“Reload!” Popov shouted.

The driver moved the tank forward, and poked out of the smoke cloud. The tank was still there. And Popov's gunner tried to lay the gun on the American, but this time, the M-60A4 spoke first. And the 120-mm sabot round tore through the left side of the T-80, ripping into first the ammunition, then the crew compartment. Within two seconds, the T-80 exploded, but Popov and his crew never had a chance. They died as the tank fireballed around them. And their deaths preceded those of most of the 8th Guards Tank Regiment's survivors by minutes. The Soviet force was smashed, and the Americans began to push forward.

1155 Hours: Gulf Front Headquarters, San Benito Community College.

General Isakov had just finished talking with General Rybikov at 28th Army. The Rogachev Guards had been overwhelmed, and it looked like the 20th Guards Tank Division was suffering the same fate. He knew that this would mean that Suraykin's counterattack would have to go elsewhere, but he'd also have to notify Malinsky. He went to the small office-which had served a professor of some kind before the war, and found his general, who was having a small lunch. “Comrade General,” Isakov reported.

“Isakov. Do come in. I know it's not much, but I insist.” Malinsky said. Lunch was a can of fruit cocktail, some canned fish, and some bread, along with a bottle of water. And both knew that those on the front lines were lucky to get even that, given all of their supply issues. Malinsky noted the expression on his chef of staff's face. “What is it?”

Isakov sat down. Before he took a bite, he said, “20th Guards Tanks has been overwhelmed at the Rio Grande Valley Airport. Suraykin will have to divert most of his counterattack force to block the penetration.”

Malinsky looked at him. He had his own operations map in the office, for when he had to talk to Marshal Alekseyev. “Show me.”

Isakov did so. “The 7th Armored Division has punched a hole-that endangers both 28th Army and 4th Guards Tank Army. If the Americans realize it, they can put whatever follow-on forces they have, and get in behind both armies.”

“Anything new? The Air Force has been out.” Malinsky noted. He'd been talking with his air force representative often that morning.

“They do report some movement along Highways 77 and 281, but what, they're not entirely sure.” Isakov said.

Malinsky finished his fruit cocktail.”Get whatever air force assets you can, and get them up there. Notify Suraykin to get 38th Tanks up to a blocking position, and have 28th Army get what they can: the Rogachev Guards were their last reserves, correct?”

“Their last reserve division, Comrade General.” Isakov said. “They do have an independent motor-rifle regiment available, and they can commit their remaining engineers as infantry, if necessary. As can the 4th GTA.”

“Then have them do so.” Malinsky said.

“And the 105th Guards Airborne?” Isakov asked.

“They'll have to make do with a single tank regiment, instead of a reinforced division,” Malinsky noted. “And as long as that amphibious force is off the coast, there's no way we'll get the 47th Tank Brigade or the 76th Guards Air Assault Division.”

Isakov nodded. “Understood, Comrade General.” He got up to leave.

“Isakov,” Malinsky said.

“Yes, Comrade General?”

“Select two or three officers from among the staff: men who are only sons, or have the most children at home. Have copies made of all of our documents about the last few weeks-especially the medical and supply situations, and designate them as couriers. Get priority passes for them on the airlift, or failing that, into Mexico. And see to it that all the staff have a final chance to write home. They'll also take the private letters out with them.” Malinsky said.
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Old 03-25-2015, 07:56 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And it continues:

1205 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville.

Major Sorokin knocked on the door of Marshal Alekseyev's office. “Come in,” he heard. Entering, he found the Marshal having lunch. Alekseyev was having some soup-likely from a can, and some canned fruit. “Major, come and have a seat. Have you eaten?”

“Thank you, Marshal,” Sorokin replied as he sat down. “I suppose this is my last meal in America-or maybe, if I don't get out of here, my last meal, period.”

“Don't worry about the latter. You're going to Mexico instead of Cuba, first,” Alekseyev said. “General Chibisov has arranged transport from Monterrey to Mexico City for you. Just get on a plane for Monterrey.”

“Yes, Comrade Marshal. That, you don't have to worry about,” Sorokin said.

“Good. Now, you do know your mission, once you arrive in Moscow?” Alekseyev asked.

“Yes, Comrade Marshal. First, to brief Minister Sergetov, and the other candidate members of the Politburo. Especially Gorbachev and Yeltsin. After that, Marshal Akrohmayev, and both the Chief of the General Staff, General Grachev, and his deputy, General Moisyev.”Sorokin replied.

“Very good, Major,” Alekseyev said. “If the two generals so enable you, also brief the commanders of both the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts. There's been quite a few officers getting reassigned to Leningrad because the climate in Moscow....has, shall we say, gotten unhealthy.”

“Shall I mention those two officers to General Grachev?” Sorokin asked.

“Use your own judgment, Major.” Alekseyev said. “But when you brief the candidate Politburo members, emphasize that we were promised full support, and have gotten very little. And show those photographs and videotapes to them. I imagine, from what Marshal Akrohmayev has said to me, that the Defense Council isn't going to be interested, though some of the full members of the Politburo may be.”

Sorokin checked his briefcase. Yes, everything was there. Including the private letters that staff officers had entrusted to him. “Do you have anything for your family, Comrade Marshal?”

Alekseyev smiled. He pulled out a letter to his wife, and separate letters for his daughters. “Just these. All are in Leningrad: my wife is visiting her sister, and both daughters are in university there.”

Sorokin put those in the briefcase. He looked at the wall clock. “Comrade Marshal, if I'm to leave today....”

Marshal Alekseyev stood up. “Go, then. When you get to Moscow, I don't care how, but you must show that we could have ended this a year ago, and ended this war with our honor intact-though not much else. And who knows how many would still be alive if we had done so?”

Major Sorokin got up to leave. “I will, Comrade Marshal. And may I say, it has been an honor to be under your command.” And he saluted the Marshal for the last time.

Alekseyev returned it. “Good luck, Major. And give my regards to the Rodina.”

1220 Hours: 159th IAP, over the Gulf of Mexico.

Major Dimitri Volkov scanned his radar, then scanned visually to his left and right. His wingman was in position, as was the other element. His flight of four Su-27s had left San Antonio de Los Banos in Cuba, escorting several Il-62s and Il-76s into the Brownsville pocket. And from his past escort flights, he knew the Americans were waiting for him. Every mission, the Americans had been out in force: land-based F-15s, and carrier-based F-14s and F/A-18s. And more often than not, the escorts had been diverted from their charges, and the American fighters had gotten into the transport stream, and wreaked havoc. In one fight, he'd been distracted by a pack of F-15s only a hundred kilometers from the coast, only to have four Tomcats get in behind him, and knock down four transports and another pair of escorting fighters. And to add insult to injury, not only did the F-14s get away, but the F-15s had played with him enough that he'd never managed to get a shot off.

Now, the group of transports and their escorts were still an hour away from Brownsville, though they'd passed the halfway mark. Due to the range limit, the Su-27s could only carry six AAMs: four R-27 missiles (two each radar and heat-seeking) and two R-73s on the wingtips. And, in a touch of irony, he'd been advised that he only had fuel for fifteen minutes' combat, before he'd have to break off and head back to Cuba, or make a one-way down to either Monterrey or Victoria in Mexico. His intelligence officer had even noted that the Americans might have had that pattern identified, and force the Soviet fighters into combat early, then force them to break off, and then go for the transports.

So far, the flight across the Gulf had been uneventful. On some days, it had gone exactly that, but on others....he and his fellow fighter pilots had been fighting for their lives, and had been helpless to protect the transports. Then a “bing-bing” sounded in his headset, while his RWR display noted a radar at his one o'clock position.

Falcon leader, this is Falcon three. Radar at one o'clock.” his second element leader reported.

“Copy three, I see it.” Volkov replied. “Either an E-2 or E-3. They know we're here now.”

The Soviet flight continued on ahead. With no A-50 AWACS in-theater to give them the big picture-the only two left in North America were in Cuba, providing air defense coverage for the island-they'd have to use their own radars to pick up threats. And soon enough, there were: eight targets on the scope. “Falcon flight, Falcon leader: Crows at twelve o'clock!” (crows: Soviet slang for enemy fighters). Then his RWR lit up with a missile lock. That meant F-14s and Phoenix missiles! “Break!”

The Su-27s broke away, and both Volkov and his wingman were able to evade. Three and Four, though, were not so lucky: Three took a Phoenix missile that blew his tail apart, and the big Sukhoi tumbled across the sky in flames. There was no parachute. Four, though, didn't have the chance to evade: another Phoenix struck him nearly head-on, and blew the cockpit apart. His plane, too, tumbled out of the sky.

“Two, are you with me?” Volkov called as he pulled out of the maneuver.

“Leader, I'm right with you!” his wingman called.

“Follow me in, Two,” Volkov replied. And both Su-27s charged ahead to meet the incoming American fighters. As they did so, Volkov looked back: two Il-62s suddenly blew apart-with missile trails betraying their killers. More F-14s had taken Phoenix shots, and had scored. Then Volkov saw a sight that surprised him. As the Su-27s closed with the Tomcats, he saw two small fighters fly right past his Sukhoi. Volkov thought his eyes were playing tricks, but his wingman called it as well.

“Leader, Two. Those were F-8s!”

Crusaders? Where did those antiques come from? Then he remembered the intelligence briefing: an older American carrier from the Vietnam era had been reactivated, along with F-8s from storage, and that ship was now believed to be in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, seeing those F-8s verified that. Then Volkov's threat receiver lit up again. “Break!”

Two Phoenix missiles came in, and they barely missed his Su-27. Two, though, was not so fortunate, for another pair of Phoenixes blew his aircraft to pieces. Don't grieve, that comes later. If there is a later, Volkov knew. Then a cry came from the transports: “Fighters in the transport stream!”

Volkov finished his turn, and saw the F-8s had gotten into the transports. One, then two, Il-76s took Sidewinder shots and fell out of the sky, burning. Enraged, he tried to lock up one of the Crusaders, but ignored his RWR again as it buzzed in his headset. Only when a missile flew past him did he respond, and saw two F-14s on his tail. He tried turning inside and to the left, but it was too late: another missile-probably a Sparrow-was fired, and tracked to his Sukhoi. The explosion blew the left wing off, and by reflex, Volkov fired his K-36D ejection seat.

Major Volkov was hanging in his parachute, and he had a seat to the massacre. Of eight transports in this group, six of them fell to American fighters. Only a pair of Il-76s made it. And as he descended to the water, his life raft dangling below him, he wondered if someone would find him before the sharks did.

1245 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment, U.S. 281, east of Santa Maria, Texas.

Colonel Herrera watched as the Americans deployed to attack his previous position. Only a few Soviet air-assault troops waited at the small bridge, and as the lead American vehicles approached, they blew the bridge. He watched as the Soviets tried to get away in their captured pickup trucks, but a hail of fire from the Americans cut down the Soviets and blew the two trucks apart. But he'd accomplished his mission, for the Americans stopped, and a few minutes later, watched as engineers came up to check the bridge foundations for booby traps, and began checking for mines. The colonel smiled. That would delay the Americans, since they wanted this road, for an hour or so. He picked up his radio. “Sparrow, this is Vulture. Target the bridge.”

His artillery battalion responded. Though they'd lost a couple of their 2S1s to an American helicopter attack, the 214th still had twenty-two of the guns left. And a battery of those guns began hurling shells at the bridge. Shells dropped near the Americans, and they took cover. A couple minutes' worth of firing was all that was needed, and that suit his purposes perfectly. Herrera called the artillery off, and they began to pull back-if that American brigade was alert, their Firefinder radars would be tracking the Cuban shells, and American counter-battery fire would be coming in short order. And sure enough, 155 shells began falling. Most of the Cuban artillerymen and their vehicles got away, but one ammo truck took a direct hit, and its cargo detonated. The truck disintegrated, along with its crew, in a cloud of smoke and flame. And a 2S1 took a near miss and threw a track. The crew got out, hopped another vehicle, and picked up a ride out of there.

Colonel Herrera watched as the Americans picked themselves up, and tended their wounded, while others got back to work. Still, it would take a while to make sure the area was safe before a bridging vehicle arrived, and that was enough. He turned to his deputy. “Fall back to Position Delta.”

1310 Hours: 105th Guards Air Assault Division, Harlingen, Texas.

General Gordonov and his chief of staff looked out the window of their latest headquarters. It had been, of all places, a auto-service center before the war, and it offered a view down Highways 77-83. That, and the fact that it was right next to the freeway, a convenient escape route, should that be necessary, had appealed to the General. But something else was on his mind: where are the tanks? General Suraykin had promised him reinforcements by noon, and now, it was after 1300. “Get on the phone to Army headquarters, and find out where those dammed tanks are!” he thundered.

“Right away, Comrade General,” the chief replied. But before the chief could make the call, a shout came from outside. “Tanks to the south!”

Gordonov went to one of the open garage bays. Yes, he could see tanks approaching. And a sigh of relief came from him as they revealed themselves as T-80s. He turned to the chief of staff. “Inform Army headquarters that the reinforcements have arrived.”

“Yes, Comrade General!” the chief responded. The lead tank rolled up to the building, and an armor Colonel got out.

“I'm looking for General Gordonov,” the tanker said.

“You've found him,” Gordonov said as he came out. His battle dress was dusty and greasy, as was his blue beret. And an AKSU-74 carbine hung by his side. “You must be 38th Tanks?”

“No, Colonel Arkady Chesnikov, 41st Independent Tank Regiment.” the tanker replied.

“Where's 38th Tanks?” Gordonov asked.

“Comrade General, don't ask me. All I know was that I was to move in support of your division.” Chesnikov said.

“Comrade General, I have Army Headquarters on the line,” the chief of staff said.

“Wait here, please,” Gordonov asked. “I have to speak with Army on this.”

The tanker nodded as Gordonov went to the phone. Before could speak, he heard General Suraykin's voice. “Gordonov, glad to hear you're still fighting.”

“Comrade General, so am I. The lead regiment of reinforcements has arrived: when can I count on 38th Tanks arriving?”

“You can't.” Suraykin replied. “Get to your map, Gordonov. I need to tell you this in this way.”

Gordonov walked over to the operations map. “Yes, Comrade General?”

“All right. The 20th Tanks got chewed up at the Rio Grande Valley Airport to your northeast,” Suraykin said. “And I mean chewed up. They're no longer responding, and I fear they have done their full measure of duty.”

Gordonov gulped involuntarily. He knew full well what that meant. The 20th Tanks had been effectively destroyed. And that meant a hole in the Army's right flank. “I see, Comrade General.”

“I'm glad you do. I've had to send 38th Tanks to fill the gap. The 41st Tank Regiment and some engineering troops-who can fight as infantry if needed-are all you're able to get, Gordonov.” Suraykin told the airborne general.

“It may not be enough, Comrade General,” Gordonov replied.

“I know, and I don't like it any more than you do,” Suraykin said. “But that's the way it is.”

“Understood, Comrade General.”

“There's some good news, though: the 41st has brought some supplies to you. And you can use the supply trucks to evacuate your wounded.” Suraykin said.

“Glad to hear that, Comrade General.”

“Good. Do the best you can, and Front Headquarters is working to get additional air force action in support of you. And be aggressive with the 41st: they're under your command, as of now.” said the Army commander.

Gordonov looked at the armor colonel. “Thank you, Comrade General.”

“Good luck,” and then Suraykin hung up.

The airborne general looked at the tanker. “General Suraykin says your regiment is now under my command. Push north up the highway, to the 77-83 junction, and just crash into the Americans.”

“We'll give them a pasting, you can bet on that,” Colonel Chesnikov replied. “Where do you want your supplies?”

“Take one-third to the regiment holding the junction. The rest, turn it over to my supply officer.”

“We'll do that.” And the armor officer went out, mounted his tank, and led his regiment forward. And he did surprise the Americans, and pushed the 29th Division back a kilometer or so. And the 41st gave the 105th Guards some breathing room.
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Old 03-25-2015, 07:58 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And more:

1330 Hours: Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport.

Major Sorokin got out of the UAZ-469 jeep that brought him to the airlift hub. He had his briefcase chained to his wrist, which identified him as a special courier. He showed his pass to the officer from the Commandant's Service who was screening those hoping to get on an aircraft, and that pass enabled him to go to the head of the line, ahead of wounded and even most of the specialists awaiting evacuation. Taking a look around, he noticed several wrecked aircraft that had been shoved aside, while another plane, this one an Il-76, was taking on some of the stretcher cases. Then a commotion got his attention: two officers had tried to bring a looted car with them, and a search had revealed not only some looted goods, but one officer's very unwilling American mistress. The two men, both Army officers, had their epaulets torn off their shoulders, and both were taken away and summarily shot. Another scene caught his as he looked back. A doctor was screening wounded men, checking for self-inflicted wounds. To Sorokin's surprise, three officers-either Air Force or Voyska PVO-were determined to have such wounds. The three were also taken away and shot. Then the first aircraft of the afternoon came in. Two Il-62s, a Tu-154 coming in from Cuba, and four An-24s and -26s, presumably from Mexico, came in to land. Though the passenger aircraft couldn't carry cargo in, they were needed to fly people out.

The Major watched as the aircraft taxied up, and he noticed that one of the Il-62s and the Tu-154 taxied to another section of the ramp area, away from the other aircraft. But an An-26 came up near his location, and dropped its stern ramp. Several pallets with food and medical supplies were unloaded, and an Air Force Colonel came over to him. “Major, that's your aircraft.”

“Thank you, Comrade Colonel. What's up with those two over there?” Sorokin asked.

The Air Force man didn't hide his contempt. “The Chekists wanted the collaborationist government flown out: those two planes are doing just that.”

“How many of us could they have flown out instead?” asked Sorokin.

“Total? About three hundred. Specialists or walking wounded,” the air force man spat.

Sorokin nodded. One more thing to include in his report to both Marshal Akhromayev and Minister Sergetov. “This one's going to Monterrey?”

“That's right, Major. Now get aboard.” the SAF Colonel said, shoving him towards the aircraft.

Besides Major Sorokin, thirty others-either specialists or those designated as couriers-got aboard, and after that, several walking wounded. One man, Sorokin noticed, had both shoulders broken, while another limped aboard on crutches with a broken leg. All were clearly not going to heal up in time before the battle ended. Just after the last man was aboard, the stern ramp closed, and the pilot gunned the engines. Sorokin and the others were pushed into their seats as the plane took off and almost as fast as it took off, leveled out.

Major Sorokin asked the loadmaster, “ Low level to Monterrey?”

The loadmaster noticed Sorokin's airborne insignia. “That's right. Be glad you're not jumping!”

“What about enemy fighters?” Sorokin asked.

“If they find us, we're dead no matter what. So far, they haven't yet,” the loadmaster said.

And they did not. An hour later, the An-26 landed at Monterrey Airport, and those aboard were glad to a man to be out of the pocket. And Sorokin, for the rest of his life, would consider 3 October to be his second birthday.

1355 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville.

Marshal Alekseyev came into the Operations Room. He found that a brief nap, even one for only a half-hour or so, refreshed him and got him through a rough afternoon-and rough afternoons had been all too frequent these past days. The Marshal went over to the operations map and had a look for himself. As he was perusing the map, General Chibisov came over. “Ah, Pavel Pavlovitch,” Alekseyev said, “What do we have right now?”

“Good afternoon, Comrade Marshal,” Chibisov replied. “Right now, things are in flux. So far, the left flank is holding-if only just-though both Third Shock and the Cubans will have to pull back before too long. That also means Eighth Guards Army will need to do so as well. The Cuban 1st Army is giving ground, mainly because 28th Army has had to; their counterattack failed, and the Rogachev Guards, for all intents and purposes, has been destroyed. The same goes for 20th Tanks from 4th Guards Tank Army as well. Suraykin had to divert most of his remaining counterattack force to deal with that penetration, and only an independent tank regiment was able to reinforced the 105th Guards Airborne. They did, however, take the Americans by surprise, and push them back-oh, only a kilometer or so, but enough to get the 105th time to reorganize.”

“And at sea?” Alekseyev asked.

“Admiral Gordikov says there are now three American carriers in the Gulf of Mexico, and four battleships, along with a heavy cruiser. The latter ships are accompanying the amphibious force.” Chibisov reported.

“Any sign of an amphibious landing?”

“Not yet, Comrade Marshal. Though one can be expected at any time. If they don't land this afternoon, we'll probably get one at first light tomorrow.” Chibisov pointed out.

“Hmm,” Alekseyev noted. “The Cherepovets?”

“Scuttled as per orders, Comrade Marshal. The wreck now blocks the shipping channel into the Port of Brownsville, and the smaller channel into Port Isabel.” said Chibisov.

“Good. I won't inform Moscow of the ship's final cargo until the very end,” Alekseyev said. “What of the remaining naval assets here?”

“Gordikov will order them scuttled. Though there's still a few missile boats and corvettes at South Padre Island-and their crews might decide to either go out in a death-and-glory ride, or make a run for Mexico.” Chibisov said.

Alekseyev grunted. If he was a sailor in those circumstances, he, too, might want to face his enemies one last time, even if it meant getting sunk. “Frankly, I don't blame them, Pavel Pavlovitch. Now, the airlift status?”

“About half of the scheduled flights from Cuba have come in. Due more to luck than anything else, Petrov says. There's considerable fighter activity over the Gulf, the pilots report.”

“What about the flights from Mexico?” Alekseyev asked.

“Most of those have come in, but of those that do, only half make it back to their fields. There, too, is a lot of fighter activity on that portion of the airlift.” Chibisov reported.

“And Belgin's bridges?”

Chibisov pointed to the ribbon bridges over the Rio Grande. “So far, we've lost one to enemy ground action, and two have been bombed, but repairs are underway. Most traffic has been southbound, as you'd expect.”

Alekseyev paused, digesting the information so far. “The air force?”

“So far, they're doing their best, but the air force says they'd rather not make promises they can't keep,” Chibisov said. “More aircraft have been over the front today, and there has been fighter cover on this side of the airlift. They'll try again tomorrow, but they're running low on serviceable aircraft and on pilots.”

“Your thoughts, Pavel Pavlovitch?” Alekseyev asked.

“We've got a day, maybe two. An outside chance on three, but I'm not willing to go that far,” Chibisov commented. “Though if they do mount a combined airborne and amphibious operation, we're finished no matter what happens at the front line.”

1405 Hours: K-236, the Gulf of Mexico.

“Periscope depth, Comrades. Let's get that contact report off to Caribbean Squadron.”

The helm and planesmen responded to Captain Padorin's command. The K-236 moved to periscope depth, and the scope was raised. And the Starpom took a look. “No contacts. Scope clear.”

“Down scope, and raise the antenna.” Padorin ordered.

The antenna was raised, and the communications officer had the message ready to send. It went out quickly, and a brief acknowledgment followed. After decoding, the communications man brought it to the Captain.

“So, they still want us near the coast?” Padorin growled. He went to the chart. One carrier group had been plotted, along with the amphibious force, but he knew that there were two more carrier groups out there, and in addition, that ASW group he'd tangled with earlier.
“Someone's still not giving up on extraction,” the Starpom noted.

“Yes, and that someone's in Moscow,” Padorin said.

Shelpin, the KGB Security Officer, noted, “I don't know if that came from Dzhernisky Square, or the Navy, but I'd bet on the former.”

Padorin and the Starpom looked at the Security Officer. “Chances are, you're right,” Padorin said. He looked at the chart. They were still a hundred kilometers off the coast, and close enough to make a dash to either pickup point. If the Americans cooperated, however. If not....

“Comrade Captain, may I suggest a figure-eight patrol pattern here?” the Starpom asked. “Close enough to dash for the coast if we can, but if that's not possible, we can make a run for deep water. And do it fast.”

Padorin looked at Shelpin and the Navigator. “Thoughts?”

“Sensible enough. Though I'd rather not get too close to the shore if one can help it.” Shelpin said.

“I agree, Comrade Captain,” replied the navigator.

“Very well. Make one final periscope search, if you please, Shelpin.”

Shelpin went to the scope, and it came up. He made a sweep. “No contacts...wait. There's a life raft at two-eight-zero degrees.”

Padorin went to the scope to have a look for himself. “Ours or theirs?”

“No way to tell, Comrade Captain,” Shelpin replied.

Padorin looked again. “Rescue party to the torpedo room. Surface, and get whoever's in that raft aboard. I don't care if it's an American or one of ours. Once the party's back in the torpedo room, take us down.”

K-236 surfaced, and the Rescue Party went into action. They noticed the raft's occupant was a Soviet pilot, and he quickly swam to the submarine. The sailors took him below, and Padorin quickly snapped orders, “Dive. Make your depth two hundred meters. Make turns for ten knots.”

1420 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment, along U.S. 281.

Colonel Herrera watched again as the Americans advanced. This time, though, he'd have to make a stand for a while. For two kilometers to his rear was F.M. 506, and that road led to a ribbon bridge across the Rio Grande. Colonel Herrera knew that the Americans would love to have a bridge-even a ribbon bridge-across the river, and he knew that this time, he'd have to stand and fight. This time, though, besides the Soviet air-assault troopers and the remnants of the Santa Maria garrison, he had other reinforcements. To his surprise, two battalions of Mexicans had crossed the bridge, and their commander had offered his men. Though the Mexicans were poorly equipped, with old T-54s and BTR-152s, not to mention old WW II ZIS-3 76-mm guns, Herrera found that these Mexicans wanted to fight. And he knew exactly what to do with them.

“All right, Comrades, here's how we're going to do this,” he said to his officers: Cuban, Soviet, and Mexican. “I want the Mexican battalions here, just to our west. Set up along the road, and let the Yanquis come to you.”

The Mexican commander nodded. Despite his old equipment, there was no denying that his men wanted to fight. The last thing they wanted was Norteamericanos on their soil for the first time since 1916-17.

Herrera went on, “Now, I want the Soviets here, just west of the F.M. 506. Have your anti-armor weapons ready. Second battalion will be right behind you, and I'll have the motor-rifle battalion, First Battalion, and what's left of Third ready to support.”

Heads nodded. “Now, artillery,” Herrera went on. “Fire in support, but don't stay in place for very long. That Firefinder radar's out there, and there's no way for us to counter it. Fire a few rounds, then relocate. As for engineering support, there's no time for minefields, but give the ribbon bridge people whatever help you can. Hopefully, we'll be here for an hour or two, but don't get comfortable. Chances are, we'll have to fall back sooner or later. Any questions?”

The commander of Second Battalion raised his hand. “What about a counterattack?”

“If it looks feasible, I'll give the order. But we'll lose more coming out into the open than if we let them come to us. Our mission is to delay, remember that. Dead tankers can't delay the enemy, that's for sure.” Herrera reminded his commanders. “Anything else?” There wasn't. “All right. Get in position, and wait. I'm sure we won't have too long in that regard.”
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Old 03-26-2015, 09:27 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And the day goes on....

1435 Hours: 4th Guards Tank Army Headquarters, Harlingen, Texas.

General Suraykin stared at his operations map. So far, the 105th Guards Airborne had made use of the 41st Tank Regiment, and so far, they had done their job well. The Americans had been pushed back, and that gave the 105th time to regroup, absorb its new supplies-such as they were-and evacuate the division's wounded. The 52nd Tanks was also holding, along with the 6th Guards Motor-Rifle, but they, too would soon be in need of help, and Suraykin knew full well they wouldn't get any. On the right, 24th Tanks was in the same condition, but was still hanging on, if only just. And much to his disgust, he'd had to commit 38th Tanks to plug the gap at the Rio Grande Valley airport, and so far, they'd held off the 7th Armored Division's efforts-though the neighboring 28th Army wasn't faring so well. He turned to General Golikov, his chief of staff. “If 28th Army's left flank goes, we'll have to order 38th Tanks to pull back, otherwise...”

“Otherwise,” Golikov finished for his general, “they'll have an open flank, and we could be rolled up.”

Suraykin nodded. “Exactly. All of our reserves are committed, and this is what I was afraid of.”

Golikov looked at the map again. “As was I, Comrade General.”

“I know. And now, if someone goes, there's not much we can do about it, except fall back everywhere. And that means as we do pull back, we'll be exposed to American aircraft and attack helicopters. And they can turn an orderly withdrawal into a massacre.” Suraykin reminded his chief of staff.

“Yes, Comrade General,” agreed Golikov. “We've had several of those since 1987,”

“Too many,” Suraykin said. “Now, get all of our remaining nonessential rear-services troops. They've got small arms, but find whatever antitank weapons you can, and deploy them not just along the freeway, but behind 38th Tanks as well. It's not much, but there's little else left.”

Golikov nodded. He knew full well that if it came to it, those rear-services troops would face American armor. And in all likelihood, they'd be brushed aside like so many flies. “Comrade General, if it comes to it, those men don't stand a chance.”

“I know, Golikov. I know. But we have no choice. Issue the order.” Suraykin told the chief of staff.

“Immediately, Comrade General.”

1450 Hours: K-236, The Gulf of Mexico.

Captain Padorin checked the plot. Yes, the Americans were still there, and blocking the way to the coast. His sonarmen had counted not just one ASW group, but there appeared to be another, not to mention the escorts for the amphibious force that was keeping him from any rendezvous with whoever Moscow wanted evacuated. Padorn looked at Shelpin, who was serving as officer of the watch. “I'm headed to sick bay to see about our guest. You have the con,”

“Aye, Comrade Captain,” Shelpin replied. As he left, Padorin thought, he may be KGB, but he's a born submariner. Padorin went to sick bay, not far from the CCP, and found the boat's medical officer coming out of his small treatment room (a cubicle would have been a more apt description). “Doctor?”

“He's going to be fine. A dislocated shoulder from his ejection, and some facial lacerations, but other than that, he's in good shape.” Captain 3rd Rank Pavel Noskov said.

“Can I visit him?” Padorin asked. “I'd like to know what happened.”

“Of course, Comrade Captain.” Noskov said. He took the captain into the small treatment room, where a corpsman was cleaning up. The pilot was still sitting on the examination table. “Major.”

“Doctor.” Major Volkov said. Then he noticed the other officer. “And you are?”

“I'm Captain Padorin. Welcome aboard K-236.” he said, putting out his hand. “Major...?

“Volkov, 159th IAP. Thank you, Comrade Captain,” Volkov said. “Glad you were here. I thought I was shark bait for sure.”

“Anything to help our Air Force comrades,” Padorin said. “What happened?”

“I was escorting transports into Brownsville. American carrier-based fighters jumped us. All four fighters-and six of eight transports, went down.” Volkov recounted.

“Did any others bail out?” Padorin asked.

“No, Comrade Captain. I was the only one,” Volkov said.

Padorin nodded sympathetically. “I wish we could go after the carriers, but we have another mission.”

“We all have our missions, Comrade Captain.” replied Volkov. “Is there any way to report on that massacre I saw?”

“Later tonight, we'll be able to listen for messages again, and send any out. I'll appreciate anything you have.”

“Thank you, Comrade Captain. Hope you don't mind having a passenger for a while.”

1500 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville.

Marshal Alekseyev went to the phone. It was time for another conference call with the Defense Council in Moscow. And he knew that this time, it might just be the last. Malinsky had informed him of the need to put all nonessential rear-services troops in as ad hoc infantry, and Alekseyev had agreed. He'd ordered the same thing for those under his own command to be prepared on one hours' notice to be sent to the front. But there had been a little bit of good news, as the Air Force had increased its activity: not only were there more ground-attack aircraft, but also fighters from Mexican fields to assist in covering the airlift. So far, they'd helped out, but it wasn't enough. His own Air Force commander had told Alekseyev that he was running low on serviceable aircraft, and though there were pilots available, there weren't enough. And General Dudorov had even benefited: several MiG-25R missions had been flown over the front, and he'd had his first aerial photographs in days-though they had been air-dropped in. Now, the Defense Council was waiting on his report. “Comrade Marshal, the call has gone through: the Defense Council is on the line,” his communications man said.

“Marshal, are you there?” General Secretary Chibrikov asked.

“I am, Comrade General Secretary,” Alekseyev replied.

“Good. How goes it today?”

“So far, Comrade General Secretary, we're holding. Though we've had an enemy penetration to the east-at the Rio Grande Valley Airport in Harlingen, it's been contained. For the moment, that is.” Alekseyev reported.

“How bad was the penetration?” Marshal Akhromayev asked. He already knew from a call that General Chibisov had taken, briefing him on the day's developments.

“So far, it's manageable, Comrade Minister. However, the losses were serious: both the 120th Guards Motor-Rifles and 20th Tank Divisions were destroyed, for all intents and purposes. The 28th Army has taken a beating, as has 4th Guards Tank Army.” Alekseyev said.

There was silence on the other end. The members of the council were digesting the news that one of the Soviet Army's premier divisions had been destroyed. “Are you sure, Comrade Marshal?”Chibrikov asked.

“Comrade General Secretary, so far, there's nothing from any sub-unit of the 120th. The Rogachev Guards has given everything they had in their duty to the Rodina.” Alekseyev said gravely.

“I see. Their sacrifices will be long remembered,” Chibrikov said.

Then another and familiar voice came on the line. “Marshal, this is Chairman Kosov.”

“Yes, Comrade Chairman?”

“I would like to know when the Hall government will be leaving. They want to get to Moscow eventually, even if their first stop is Havana.” the KGB Chairman reminded Alekseyev.

“Comrade Chairman,” Alekseyev said, choosing his words carefully. “President Hall and his cabinet have not left, but their advance echelon has. About half of their staff has left this afternoon, and should be arriving in Cuba later today or this evening.”

“Good, Marshal. That's very good news indeed. When will the rest leave?” Kosov asked.

“Comrade Chairman, as you know, the airlift stops at dusk,” Alekseyev reminded his listeners. “They'll likely leave in the morning.”

“Thank you, Marshal. Foreign Minister Tumansky will be pleased as well to hear this.” Kosov said.

Marshal Akhromayev spoke up next. “What about the American amphibious threat? The GRU says there's a strong amphibious force in the Gulf.”

“Comrade Marshal, they've already shown themselves. There has been shore bombardment, even by battleship guns, and a U.S. Marine helicopter assault has seized Brazos Island,” Alekseyev reported. “They probably won't land today, but if they do, it'll be tomorrow sometime.”

“And your plans if they do land?” Akhromayev asked.

“I've positioned the last reserves available: 76th Guards Air Assault Division and 47th Tank Brigade. They're waiting outside the range of naval gunfire, and will meet the enemy in a meeting engagement when they do land. Any landing can be contained in that case,” Alekseyev said.

“Good, Marshal,” the Defense Minister replied.

“There's one thing, however, that can finish us, and quickly.” Alekseyev said.

Chibrikov cut in. “And that is, Marshal?”

“If, and I do mean if, the Americans coordinate an airborne or heliborne assault in coordination with the Marine landing or landings. If they do that, no matter what happens elsewhere, we're finished. And Comrade General Secretary, there's no way around that.” Alekseyev said.

Pugo, the MVD chief, chimed in. “And why haven't they done that?”

“Comrade Minister, it could be that they're saving the 82nd Airborne and 101st Air Assault Divisions for urban combat-here in Brownsville, and across the border in cities like Matamoros or Reynosa,” Alekseyev said. “However, it could be that General Powell is reluctant to risk the lives of two elite U.S. Army divisions in a risky operation. If Schwartzkopf was in command, he'd be more willing to do so.”

“You mean Powell may be saving those divisions for an invasion of Mexico?” Kosov asked.

“That is correct.” Alekseyev commented.

“Marshal, you will continue to fight, and fight. When enough ships are assembled in Cuba, the Navy will mount one supreme effort to supply you fully. And they will do so over the winter as well. In the spring, our armies in Canada will push south, and they will, I am sure, bring about final victory. We won't bother you any further today. You have a battle to fight and win. Good luck,” and with that, and without waiting for a response from Alekseyev, the connection was ended.

“Final victory...More useless blather.” Alekseyev commented.

“Why do I feel like it's 1945?” Chibisov asked. “Only this time, we're the Germans with a leader who refuses to see what's happening.”

“Not just the General Secretary,” Colonel Sergetov commented. “From what my father has said, it's the bulk of the Defense Council and most of the full Politburo members. Only the Defense Minister and the Minister of Agriculture-who sits on the full Politburo, see reason.”

Alekseyev thought for a moment. “And these are the people who got us into this mess! Sorokin will have his hands full when he gets to Moscow.”

1520 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment, along U.S. 281.

“Comrade Colonel,” Herrera's chief of staff said, “They're coming.”

Herrera nodded, and put his head out the top hatch of his command BTR. He scanned the horizon with binoculars, looking north along the highway, and he could see the lead American vehicles coming. Scout versions of the Bradley in front, with armor and more Bradleys behind. And there were helicopters up as well. So far, they were the OH-58 scouts, not the dreaded Cobras or Apaches. And it had been Cobras that had knocked out over two dozen vehicles from the Regiment earlier in the day.

He'd deployed his forces the best he could, and the Mexicans had eagerly set up their part of the defense. Herrera had also sent a platoon of T-55s to assist one of the Mexican battalions, though they were not under the Mexicans' command. The two Soviet air-assault battalion groups were also dug in, but they were ready to withdraw quickly should the need arise. “No heroics,” Herrera had told their commanders, and they understood. He'd also said the same thing to his own regiment's officers, and he hoped they understood.

In the American force, Captain Kozak watched from her Bradley as the battalion's scouts moved along the road. Highway 281 was a mess, and she'd heard that engineers from the division were coming to at least get the road somewhat serviceable; if it was going to support heavy traffic in the drive south, the road had better be in somewhat decent shape. Now, she was traversing her Bradley turret right and left, searching for targets. This close to the river, there was enough brush to give any ambushers cover. And this time, she'd put her company team into a Tanks lead formation: tanks in front, Bradleys behind. But her Bradley was just behind the tanks, along with the Company XO's Bradley. Then she saw it. One of the scout tracks sprayed 25-mm fire into some brush, and a vehicle exploded. Then a scout helicopter fired a missile into another bush, and another vehicle blew up. “Contact right!” the scouts called. And heavy, but inaccurate, fire came from the direction of the river. She called for artillery, and also for some air support, and the artillery fired promptly, dumping HE, WP, and ICM rounds on the enemy position. And a pair of Air Force A-7s responded to the call for air support, dumping 500-pound bombs and strafing. Only after the fire lifted and the A-7s pulled away did she move her force on ahead.

Colonel Herrera watched it all. The Mexicans, instead of waiting for the American main force to enter the kill zone, had fired on the scouts. And the Americans responded promptly. He watched as M-60A4 tanks blasted Mexican positions, while Bradley fighting vehicles covered them. The lead Mexican battalion made its stand, and even tried to counterattack, as several T-54s came out, but they were soon dealt with. The other Mexican battalion, positioned further along the road, but on the east side of the highway, was content to wait. They would not have long, Herrera knew.

“Good Lord, Captain!” Kozak's gunner said. “Those were antiques.”

“Those T-54s and old BTRs you mean?” Kozak replied.

“Yeah, L-T. But those guys charged us like they was on somethin', if you know what I mean, Ma'am.”

Kozak nodded. “Remember this, Sergeant: If it can still kill you, it ain't obsolete.” Just as she said that, a crash-boom sounded. A antitank shell hit one of her tanks, and the explosion simply scratched the paint on the turret. The tank traversed right, found the offending gun, and snuffed it out with a single fiery blast from its 105-mm gun. “That, though, was obsolete.” she remarked, referring to the antitank gun. And she traversed the turret again, surveying the battlefield. Burning Mexican vehicles, T-54s, BTRs, and trucks, along with knocked-out guns and dead Mexican bodies, littered the scene. And something in her said that there was another such fight coming. “All units, continue the attack. Be careful, though: there's more of 'em up ahead.”
Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, but always have a plan to kill them.

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Old 03-26-2015, 09:30 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Some more:

1540 Hours: 105th Guards Air Assault Division, Harlingen, Texas.

Major Sefrim Butakov crouched down, below a window. He'd taken command of the regiment defending the actual highway junction after Colonel Romanenko had been critically wounded. The desantniki had fought hard, and had given ground only when necessary. They'd been forced back, no matter how hard they tried, and at times, the fighting had been room to room, and even hand-to-hand. Only the appearance of Soviet tanks from the south had decided the issue for the time being. But American snipers were still active, and one of them not only had wounded the Colonel, but had shot dead the Zampolit, the regiment's chief of staff, and had also killed two radio operators.

Now, the 41st Tank Regiment had arrived, and had brought some supplies-oh, not all they needed, but enough to last the rest of the day, and maybe a little longer. And they'd enabled the wounded to be evacuated, and as the wounded were loaded aboard the trucks, little groups of desantniki bade their Colonel farewell. The Regiment's surgeon had come to Butakov and told him that the wound was more than likely fatal, and it was only a matter of time. He'd said goodbye himself, and the colonel, unconscious due to his head wound, was then taken south. More than enough good Russians had died in this war, and now their colonel-who had led the regiment through thick and thin, was gone.

Butakov's new deputy, who'd been commanding the First Battalion, crawled up to him. “Comrade Major, the tankers need to talk to you.”

“All right, let's go.” Butakov said. And the two airborne officers crawled out of the rubble that had been a drive-through restaurant before the war, and made their way to where Colonel Chesnikov had parked his own regimental command group. “Yes, Comrade Colonel?” Butakov asked.

“I've sent my regiment's reconnaissance company out just now. What are we facing?” Chesnikov asked.

“So far, it's the 29th Light Infantry Division. Though there's some armor-and we don't know who they're from,” replied Butakov.

“All right. I've got my tanks deployed to give your paratroopers the most support they can, and regiment's artillery is set up to give direct fire if they have to.” Chesnikov said. “And my motor-rifle troops are set just to the south of the junction.”

Butakov digested the news. Good, he thought. But that means something else. “Comrade Colonel, there's likely going to be American helicopter gunships before too long: and not just Cobras. Those Apaches have been giving us trouble since we got here.”

“I've got regimental air defense setting up now,” Chesnikov replied. “That should make them sit up and take notice.”

For now, Butakov thought. “Thank you, Comrade Colonel. Now we'll give it to them. They won't get this junction if we have anything to say about it.”

“Good. And my Second battalion is set up to be a counterattack force: we're likely going to need one.” Chesnikov said.

The two officers looked to the north. It was quiet for now, but they knew it wouldn't last. “They'll be back. And if they don't know about the armor, they will shortly. Then we're in for a long night,” Butakov commented.

1605 Hours: 4th Guards Tank Army Headquarters, Harlingen, Texas.

General Suraykin stepped outside for some air. It had been the first time since his headquarters had set up in these warehouses that he'd actually gotten some fresh air-a trip to the front notwithstanding. And the view of the freeway in front of him was not a good one, though. Wrecked Soviet vehicles, from tanks to trucks, littered the road, victims of American aircraft or helicopter gunships. It wasn't just wrecked vehicles littering the road, but bodies as well; the medics hadn't had time to collect the dead, only those whom they had a chance of saving, and he could smell it, even from this distance away. If only those Party bosses who'd started this war could see this, they'd call it a day and end this madness, he thought. Then his chief of staff, Golikov, came up. And he knew his brief sojurn outside was likely over. “What is it, Golikov?”

“Comrade General, some good news for a change. The 105th Guards Airborne reports that the Americans have halted. It appears they've paused to regroup.” Golikov reported.

“Did they?” Suraykin asked. “If so, it won't be for long.”

“That's probably true, Comrade General,” Golikov said. He took a look at the scene on the highway and shook his head. “A first-class mess we're in, Comrade General.”

“At least, Golikov. At least,” Suraykin said. “I'd love to have some of those who thought this war was a great idea to have a look at this. We've made so many mistakes in this, and the last one is not finding a way out.”

“Yes, Comrade General,” Golikov said. “It's easy to start a war, but hard to stop one-unless you win outright.”

Suraykin nodded. “Anything from 38th Tanks?”

“They've reported in: so far, the Americans are not following up on the destruction of 20th Tanks and the Rogachev Guards,” Golikov reported.

Suraykin turned. “Let's look at the map, and see what's happening.”

Golikov nodded, and both officers went back inside. They went to the operations map, and found 38th Tanks' positions south of the Rio Grande Valley airport. “Perhaps 7th Armored has to regroup, Comrade General.”

“That's very likely, Golikov.” Suraykin said. “Look at it from his perspective: he's just eaten two of our divisions for breakfast and lunch, and spat out what he couldn't. Now he has to resupply his division's main force, and then get moving again.”

Golikov looked at the map. “And when he does....”

“He'll meet 38th Tanks. Tell the Air Force: half of all sorties to the area around the airport. The rest go in support of the 105th Guards Airborne and 52nd Tanks: they'll have to split what's left.” Suraykin told Golikov.

“Right away, Comrade General.”

1615 Hours: 175th Naval Infantry Brigade, South Padre Island, Texas.

Major Lazarev watched in amazement, along with many of his officers and men. Here was something they'd only seen in history books-when the Soviets had taught the Pacific War in their academies.. Four battleships, steaming up and down the coastline, in full view of the defenses, and knowing full well there was nothing left on shore that could so much as scratch the paint on any of them. One of them looked like it mounted cruise missiles along with its guns, but the other three looked like they'd stepped out of a book, with plenty of guns besides their heavy forty-centimeter weapons. He went to find Captain Lieutenant Kamarov, and found him at his observation point on the fifth floor of the headquarters building. “For what it's worth, Kamarov, what are those ships?”

Kamarov was checking his recognition manual, then occasionally glancing through his spotting glasses. “Do you really want to know?” he asked.

“One could say that, yes,” Lazarev said.

“Right. The lead battleship is Iowa. She's the one mounting the cruise missiles-if you'll take a look, Comrade Major, you can see the armored box launchers for Tomahawk missiles amidships.”

“I'll take your word for it. What are the other three?” Lazarev demanded.

“The second one is her sister ship Wisconsin. She hasn't yet had the full modernization work done to her, otherwise she'd have the same missile armament as her sister ships-which are not here: Missouri and New Jersey. Next is Massachusetts, a former museum ship, and last in line is North Carolina, also a former museum ship. The Americans must have put a lot of effort into reactivating those ships-and so far, they've proven deadly in shore bombardment,” Kamarov replied.

“That must have been the gunfire we heard and saw last night?” asked Lazarev.

Kamarov checked his glasses again, and answered as he did so. “No doubt, it was, Major. Someone caught hell from those ships, and I'm glad it wasn't us.”

Lazarev peered through his binoculars. “I'm not arguing that, but what are they doing?”

“Probably proving an old adage: 'showing the flag'. And by doing that, they are telling us those ships can go anywhere along the coast they want, at anytime, and do whatever they wish to do. This time, they don't want to fire a shot. That will come later. But somewhere, they will announce their presence. And someone will find out what those heavy-caliber shells can do,” Kamarov said.

Lazarev took another look. “And where's that cruiser? The one that shelled us?”

“Probably on a bombardment mission elsewhere, or if the fools back in Cuba sent another convoy, she might be ripping that up,” said the destroyer officer. “Maybe she had to break off and refuel.”

Lazarev sighed. If those ships decided to open up, his brigade and its attached units didn't stand a chance. He left and went down to his command post. There, he called Admiral Gordikov. And the Admiral didn't like what Lazarev told him.

1640 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment, along U.S. 281, West of Rangerville, Texas.

The sound of artillery fire resonated along the east side of U.S. 281. Colonel Herrera and his staff watched as American shells ripped a path along where Herrera had deployed his other Mexican battalion group, and everyone knew the Mexicans were in for it. He also knew that the American commander, whoever he or she-he'd heard there were women commanding units of battalion size now-was, wasn't taking any chances. Again, HE, WP, and the dreaded ICM rounds were falling in quantity on the Mexican position, and there wasn't much he could do about it. He had no counter-battery radar of his own, and thus had no way to silence the American guns. “All right. Tell the Soviets to take their anti-armor shots when they can, and once they've fired one or two rounds, they're to fall back as previously directed.”

His operations officer nodded, and relayed the order. “Major Murayev acknowledges the order, Comrade Colonel,”

“Good,” Herrera said just as the fire lifted. “Now watch, Comrades.”

The staff watched as two flights of American aircraft, what looked like A-4 Skyhawks and A-7 Corsairs, bombed and strafed the Mexican position. Once the aircraft had expended their ordnance, only then did the Americans advance. “Just as we did, back in 1985, Comrade Colonel,” the Chief of Staff commented.

Herrera nodded. “Yes, just as in those days. Only we weren't that concerned about our own casualties. The Americans, though, unless necessary, never regard their soldiers as expendable. They've adopted the adage, 'Ammunition is cheaper than human life.' And they've done it often enough-to our sorrow.”

The chief nodded. Then he got a message. “Comrade Colonel, First Battalion reports: M-60A4 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles approaching the Mexican line. Company strength at least.”

Herrera nodded again. He turned to his regimental artillery officer. “When the Americans get in contact with the Mexicans, get a fire mission on them. Fire, then move. Fire, then move. Do it for ten minutes. Then fall back; we'll cover you.”

The artillery chief nodded, and relayed the order to the gunners. “Ready at your command, Comrade Colonel.”

In her Bradley, Captain Nancy Kozak watched as her platoons advanced. They had left the previous Mexican position for Delta Company to mop up-they were pure Bradley-and now, her Team was continuing the advance. The battalion commander had decided to mount a reconnaissance by fire, and had called in artillery and air strikes on any likely ambush position, and the fireballs set off by the shelling and the air strikes indicated some enemy up ahead. So she'd told her platoon leaders, “Don't wait for my order. If you see enemy, fire first, report later.” And sure enough, just as the Team was moving close to where the artillery and air had concentrated, one of her tank platoons opened fire. And a T-54 tank exploded right after. Then a hail of small-arms and heavy weapons fire erupted.

Colonel Herrera watched as the Americans opened fire first. He nodded to his artillery officer. “Now.”
And almost immediately, 122-mm shells were falling.

As the Cuban shells landed, Kozak yelled into the radio, “Keep moving! Don't stop, just keep moving!” And her platoons acknowledged, moving forward and firing as they did so. Mexican vehicles exploded, and infantry tried charging the American tanks and Bradley vehicles, trying to get shots with RPGs. The would-be RPG gunners died to a man, and tank fire also destroyed the B-11 recoilless rifle positions, and the battery of ZIS-3 guns. In a few minutes, they'd advanced past the artillery fire, and through the Mexican position. Most of the Mexicans died fighting, but a few came out of their holes to surrender. Kozak's people had no time for prisoners, so the Mexicans were simply pointed north, told to walk down the highway, and other Americans would collect them. To Kozak's surprise, a Mexican officer nodded, gathered the remaining Mexican soldiers, and marched them north. Her gunner commented, “Too bad they're not all like that, L-T.”

“I know. Still, we've got a ways to go before Brownsville. We've got it easy: Harlingen's proving a tough nut to crack.” Kozak said.

“Who's fightin' us there?” asked the gunner.

“Soviet airborne.”

The gunner didn't respond. He didn't need to. Everyone knew how tough those Soviet airborne troopers were, and wherever one found them, a hard, tough fight was always expected. “Well, L-T, looks like we've got...Missile! Missile at 11 O'Clock!”

The Metis (AT-7 Saxhorn) missile missed her Bradley, and plowed into the FIST track, exploding it, and everyone inside, in a fireball. Then another missile came out, and hit the front drive sprocket of one of her tanks, blowing it off, and wrecking the track. The First Sergeant, who saw it, immediately called for an M-88 recovery vehicle, while other tanks sprayed machine-gun fire where the missiles had come from. “Where'd they come from? The driver asked.

“No idea, Terri,” Kozak replied. She got on the battalion net and asked for an ICM mission where the missiles had come from. It came almost immediately, but she had no way of knowing if any of the missile gunners had been taken out. She looked to the rear, and saw the burning FIST track; five good people gone, she knew. But she saw the Humvee with the Air Force ETAC (Enlisted Tactical Air Controller) following behind, and she knew that she could go through him if necessary to get air strikes.

Colonel Herrera noted things with satisfaction. The Mexicans had been shattered, true, but the Americans had paused, and they'd be busy for a few minutes-maybe even a half-hour, getting things back in order. It was enough. And Major Murayev had checked in. One of his missile teams had been caught by tank fire and wiped out, but the rest of his men had escaped. It had been a mixed day, but right now, though he knew things would end sooner or later, he'd been doing what the general had told him to do. Delay. And as long as he was able, he'd do just that. “All units. Fall back to position Echo.”
Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, but always have a plan to kill them.

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Old 03-27-2015, 09:36 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And the campaign keeps going:

1700 Hours: Gulf Front Headquarters, San Benito Community College.

General Malinsky noted the updates on the map. Right now, the Americans were regrouping, and preparing for the next round. He'd just had an update from General Suraykin: the 105th Guards, though badly handled, was still holding, and the 41st Tank Regiment had reinforced the paratroopers. Though the real problem at the moment was the situation around the Rio Grande Valley Airport, where the 20th Tank Division's destruction-and that of 28th Army's 120th GMRD-had opened up a serious gap in both armies. So far, the Soviets were holding, though both 4th GTA and 28th Army had committed their final reserves, and if a new fire got started, there wouldn't be much around to put it out. Then Isakov came over. “Isakov, you have something?”

“Yes, Comrade General. There's a developing situation on the left flank. Both 3rd Shock and 8th Guards are in the same position as 4th Guards Tank and 28th Armies: the Americans have hit at the boundary between both. Both VIII and XII Corps have mounted a joint attack, and right now, there's not much either army can do at the moment.”

“Let me guess: all reserves committed?” Malinsky asked.

“That is so, Comrade General,” Isakov replied.

Malinsky checked the map again. “Both will have to fall back, and hopefully, by doing so, they can shorten their lines and pull units off the front, and thus reconstitute a reserve,” he noted.

“I'm afraid so, Comrade General. That has consequences for the Cuban 2nd Army on our extreme left, it should be noted,” Isakov reminded his front commander.

“That's obvious: look at 49th Armored Division's attack down Highway 281. If the Cubans pull back, and do so without it becoming a rout, we still have the highway. If not....it may not be a motorway like the 77-83 is, but still...it'd be a straight run to Brownsville if the Cuban defense folds.” Malinsky said, gesturing at the map.

“The Cubans are still giving ground grudgingly, Comrade General, and that's not likely to change,” Isakov observed.

“Still....we'll have to shorten out lines there and consolidate. With no Front level reserves, there's no other choice.”

“Understood, Comrade General.” Isakov said.

“Notify Marshal Alekseyev, and then get in touch with all army commanders. See if we can't get this done without the Americans noticing too much. If they do...they'll have so many aircraft and helicopters overhead and they'd turn an orderly withdrawal into a massacre.” Malinsky reminded his chief of staff.

“I'll notify the air force, Comrade General. Hopefully, they can cover the withdrawal.”

1715 Hours: Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport:

General Petrov scanned the sky with his binoculars, waiting for the next inbound transports. He'd heard from General Lukin, on the satellite phone from Monterrey, and things there were still in flux. A big problem on that end was similar to what had been happening in Cuba, namely, supplies being loaded willy-nilly aboard aircraft without anyone checking to see if the cargo was what the pocket needed. Lukin himself had ordered useless items removed, and more food, ammunition, and medical supplies loaded. And when a political officer tried to upbraid Lukin, Lukin had put Petrov on the phone-and Petrov gave the Zampolit a blast of invective that shut the man up. Now, Petrov had some second thoughts: maybe I should have sent Lukin to Monterrey or Havana, to take charge at the supply hubs. Too late now, he knew. He turned to his air-operations officer. “What's the ETA on the latest transport stream?”

“Eight aircraft with escorts are due at 1740, Comrade General,” the man replied. “There were twelve, but one turned back with engine trouble, and three were...intercepted en route.”

“Shot down, you mean,” Petrov said.

“Yes, Comrade General.”

Well, Petrov thought. This afternoon was shaping up to be a decent one. The latest group had come up from Mexico, and to his surprise, even included two Libyan aircraft. One was an Il-76, belonging to Libyan airlines, the other was a Libyan Air Force C-130! He'd had a laugh at that: The Libyans had ordered sixteen of the Lockheed transports in the 1970s, and had paid $100 million for the aircraft. Eight had been delivered before an embargo had been slapped on the North African country, and the other eight impounded at the Lockheed factory in Georgia. Now, he'd bet, those eight had been seized and were now flying in USAF markings, no doubt. But he did appreciate the irony. But the transports coming in from Cuba, though, that was different: fifty percent weren't making it. “All right, just get everything ready. Get those planes unloaded fast, get their passengers aboard, and get them out. We've got an hour and a half of daylight left, so let's make full use of it.”

The operations man nodded. “Yes, Comrade General. Passenger priority?” he asked.

“Wounded if at all possible, then specialists. If we're getting passenger aircraft, then it's the reverse.” Petrov said.

The operations officer nodded and went off to relay the order. Petrov resumed scanning the sky, and, to his surprise, spotted two An-2s coming in. Whoever was flying them certainly had guts, he thought. Both biplanes came in and landed, and he saw that both had Cuban markings. He went over to see the pilots. “Where are you from?”

“Monterrey, Comrade General, via Villa Hermosa,” the lead pilot replied. “We've brought some supplies-not much, but it's things like medicine in my aircraft, and bottled water in the other.”

Petrov nodded. One good load, and one...questionable. “Where did the water come from?”

“Cuba, Comrade General,” the second pilot replied.

“Good. At least we won't have to worry about Montezeuma's Revenge with that load,” Petrov said, and everyone around laughed. He smiled at that: there hadn't been much of that. “You men,” he motioned to some ground crew, “Get these two unloaded immediately!”

The ground crewmen went to work with a will, and soon, both biplanes were unloaded. “How many can you take out?” Petrov asked.

“Twelve in each,” the lead pilot said.

Petrov looked over at the passenger area. He went over to where an officer was checking passes. “I want twelve on the specialist list, and twelve walking wounded to those An-2s, Now.”

“Immediately, Comrade General!” the man said. And very quickly, both groups were in the aircraft. “Get to Monterrey as quick as you can, and then get back in the morning. I know you won't make it back before dark.” Petrov said to the Cuban pilots.

“We will, Comrade General.” and both pilots went and mounted their aircraft. Both An-2s gunned their engines, and were in the air. Petrov watched as both headed southwest, and to safety. As they did so, he noticed an An-22 coming in from the east, with no escort. As the plane came in, he saw a pair of fighters approach it, then a missile launch. The An-22's pilot apparently never saw the missile, for it struck between the two port engines, and the explosion blew the wing off between the engines. The big plane spun to the left, with the port wing shredded and ablaze, and then crashed to the east of the field. A huge fireball erupted on impact, and the two American fighters orbited briefly to check their kill, then flew off.

1725 Hours: Cuban 2nd Army Headquarters

General Perez looked at the message form. About time, he thought. Front Headquarters had ordered a gradual withdrawal, and his forces would pull back. He turned to his chief of staff, wondering how they'd be able to do this with all the American air activity overhead. “Luis, we're to pull back. Send an advance party to the Rangerville area, and find a suitable location for Army Headquarters.”

“Right away, Comrade General,” the chief replied. “And where will the main body of the Army fall back to?”

“Our left flank is the Rio Grande. The right flank-where 3rd Shock Army will be, is the Arroyo Colorado. Take a straight line from the F.M. 3067-F.M. 800 junction: that's where our line will be.” Perez said.

The chief did so. “Not much in the way of roads there, Comrade General, and most of what there is not in good shape,” the man pointed out.

“I know. The Americans aren't giving us any choice,” Perez said. “Now, how is the 214th doing along Highway 281?”

“So far, they're delaying the Americans, a minor skirmish here, an ambush there, though they did lose the ribbon bridge at the end of F.M. 506,” the chief replied.

“That was to be expected. Did the engineers save the bridge segments, or did they have to destroy the bridge?” Perez asked.

“That, Comrade General, I have no information. Other than that the enemy did not get the bridge intact.”

“Good. Not the place I'd put a bridgehead into Mexico if I was on the other side, but if the chance came up....” Perez' voice trailed off.

The chief nodded. “Quite so, Comrade General. We've also gotten this: the latest weather report.”


“No change, Comrade General. No storms in the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico-nothing that could grow into something major.”

“And clear weather means enemy aircraft will be very active, Luis. Wonderful.” Perez said. “All right, inform the divisional commanders, and let's do this.”

1740 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville.

Admiral Gordikov came into the operations room. He knew that things from a naval perspective were just about finished, and what he would be reporting would only add to that. With total naval supremacy in the Gulf, the Americans could do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and to whomever they wanted. Though if he'd been in command on the other side, he would have had his battleships shell South Padre Island, even if it was just a demonstration shoot. It would have reminded the Soviets of the fury that could descend upon them at any time, and that there was nothing the Soviets could do about it. He found both Marshal Alekseyev and General Chibisov. “Comrade Marshal, General,”

Alekseyev turned. “Yes, Admiral?”

“Comrade Marshal, I've just gotten this in from South Padre Island. Four battleships were spotted just offshore, out of range of our coastal defenses, not an hour and a half ago.” Gordikov reported.

“Did they bombard the island?” Alekseyev asked.

“No, Comrade Marshal, they did not.”

“Why would they not shell the island?” Chibisov wondered.

“I doubt it was for lack of ammunition, Comrades,” Gordikov said. “Though I believe it was simply a demonstration. They were saying, 'We're here, we're going to shell you whenever we please, and there's nothing you can do about it.'”

Alekseyev noted the island. And the Boca Chica area east of Brownsville. That, too, was threatened with an amphibious landing. “And nothing so far from here?” he said, pointing to Boca Chica on the map.

“Nothing so far, Comrade General.” Gordikov admitted.

Chibisov asked, “What about that submarine, the one you've previously mentioned?”

“He's under orders to wait for an extraction, Comrades. I've checked with Caribbean Squadron in Cienfuegos myself,” Gordikov reported. “Who they're to extract, I have no idea, and I was not told who.”

“Probably GRU or KGB assets,” Alekseyev snorted.

“That's very likely, Comrade Marshal,” Gordikov said.

The operations officer came in. “Comrades, there's been a new development on Malinsky's extreme right.”

Alekseyev turned. “What is it?”

“Comrade Marshal, there's been a heliborne assault at the Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport, just south of the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge. No word on who, though. It could be U.S. Marines,” the man said.

“Or they could be the 101st Air Assault Division,” Chibisov said. “Any other information?”

“No, Comrade General, none at all.”

“All right,” Alekseyev said. He turned to his senior air officer. “Get some reconnaissance up there before daylight ends. I need to know who that enemy is.”

The air force man nodded, and went to get a flight sent that direction. Alekseyev turned to Gordikov. “Your Naval Infantry is all on South Padre Island, correct?”

“Not all of them, There is a battalion responsible for security at the Port of Brownsville, and another at Laguna Vista, charged with coastal defense. Then there's base personnel at the South Padre Island Coast Guard Station.”

“That battalion at Laguna Vista is now Malinsky's. Order them to move to the airport, and engage the enemy,” Alekseyev ordered.

“Yes, Comrade Marshal. And there's one other thing: I've ordered the remaining ships at the Port of Brownsville scuttled. A couple of tugs, some barges, two freighters from a convoy that came here a month ago and were damaged by air attack, and a damaged Koltin-class destroyer in the same condition.” Gordikov said.

“And the missile craft and corvettes at South Padre Island?” Chibisov asked.

“Comrade General, they may have a chance at getting out: they may not be large enough to set off the mines the Americans have laid. Even so, it's a final death-and-glory ride into the waiting arms of the Americans. I've talked with the squadron commander: he'd rather do that than have his ships scuttled.”
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Old 03-27-2015, 09:38 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And more:

1805 Hours: Gulf Front Headquarters, San Benito Community College.

General Malinsky was talking on the phone with General Vega of the Cuban 1st Army, and he was not a happy man at the moment. The Americans had done another end-around, and had put heliborne troops into the Soviet/Cuban rear, and right now, there wasn't much that could be done about it. Vega did have some reserves available, and he was moving them, but it would take time, and those reserves were exposed to American air attack. Whoever had come up with this operation was a smart one, Malinsky knew, and when this was over, he actually wanted to have a talk with his opposite number. “Vega, move your reserve-fast. There's a naval infantry formation moving as well, and between the two, you should be able to contain the enemy. Do I make myself clear?”

“Comrade General,” Vega was saying, “You do. However, there's been a lot of American air activity, and the weather isn't cooperating.”

“Vega, you will contain, and if possible, eliminate that landing,” Malinsky said in a very forceful tone of voice.

“We'll do our best, Comrade General,” Vega said.

“Good. Now get to it!” Malinsky thundered, and then hung up. He looked at his chief of staff. “Anything new, Isakov?”

“We've identified the American force. Though it's not exactly clear which unit, however.” Isakov said.

“All right, then. Who are they?”

“Based on their helicopters, CH-46s and CH-53s, they're U.S. Marines. Though we don't know if they came from II MAF, or from the amphibious force off the coast.” Isakov reported.

Malinsky swore, and swore again. With that amphibious force, the Americans could launch such attacks, and conduct a major beach landing, and there was precious little the Soviets could do about it. “Let's hope it's just II MAF: they've done these end-arounds before, correct?”

“That's true, Comrade General,” Isakov confirmed. “They did it to the Nicaraguans when their offensive started, and did it to the Cubans as well.”

General Malinsky nodded. “And now, they do it to us. Vega's got what to throw at them?”

Isakov pointed on the map. “Right now, he's got a tank brigade and two independent regiments: one tank, one motor-rifle. The MRR is closest: and will be there in an hour or so, depending on the American air activity. He's reluctant to commit his other reserves-because we know full well he'll need them later tonight or tomorrow.”

“One regiment, and one of our Naval Infantry battalions....Isakov,” Malinsky said.

“Yes, Comrade General?”

“Let's hope it's just a raid, nothing more. Because if it isn't, when II MAF comes down on the Cubans tomorrow, Vega's going to need all he's got.” Malinsky remarked to his chief of staff, who simply nodded in agreement.

1820 Hours: Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport:

The roar of jet engines briefly deafened General Petrov, but it was music to his ears. This was the final serial for the airlft today, and he'd been pleased at the results. Six Il-76s and four An-12s had made it in from Cuba, and had unloaded not only foodstuffs, ammunition, and medical supplies, but had also brought in some fuel bladders. Though the Soviets and Cubans were not that short on fuel for combat units, others weren't so fortunate, and any extra fuel delivered was welcome indeed. And those planes were now loading passengers: and this time, he was pleased to see, none of the KGB's American lackeys-as many Soviet officers referred to those who had collaborated with the KGB or the GRU.

This group had actually gotten in after another flight, which had made it nearly all the way from Cuba, only to run into American fighters just short of the coast. And he'd watched through binoculars, and he'd been totally helpless as fighters-believed to be F-14s or F-15s-it was hard to tell at that distance-got into the transports and wreaked havoc. Eight transports had been coming in on that flight, and six had fallen to the fighters' guns and missiles. Though the Su-27s flying escort had done their best, two of the four had also been shot down, leaving two Il-76s to make it in. They'd landed, quickly unloaded their cargoes, taken aboard a hundred passengers each, then took off again.

Now, Petrov watched as the Il-76s began to taxi. They'd done a rapid unloading, and taken aboard wounded and some specialists, and were now getting ready to leave. His operations officer came up. “Comrade General, telephone for you.”

“Who is it?” Petrov asked.

“Marshal Alekseyev himself, Comrade General,” the ops man replied.

Petrov went to the Air Operations Center, where a staffer was holding the phone. He handed it to the General. “Comrade Marshal?”

“Petrov, how much have we gotten today?,” Alekseyev asked.

“I'll have to double-check my figures, but about half of what was promised, Comrade Marshal.” Petrov reported.

“Half.” It was not a question.

“That is so, Comrade Marshal.” Petrov said. He, too, had hoped for more, but with those American carriers off the coast, and the Navy unable to do anything about them, even getting what they'd received so far had been a victory of sorts. Though a good deal of what they had received had been quite useless.

“I take it you've gotten out the staff of the Hall government? I”m asking this because our Ambassador is here, and he wants to know if they made it onto a plane.” Alekseyev said.

“Comrade Marshal, they did get out. Whether or not their planes-and they were on two-made it to Cuba, though...that's a wholly different issue entirely.” Petrov reminded the Marshal.

“Understood, Petrov. The airlift closes at dusk, correct?”

“Yes, Comrade Marshal. Six Il-76s have just departed, while the An-12s are finishing loading. They've got wounded in two of the Antonovs, while specialists and couriers are in the other two.” Petrov reported. “After that, we're finished for the day. Operations will resume at daybreak.”

“All right, Petrov,” Alekseyev said. “If we get a breakthrough from the Americans at any time tomorrow, you'll have some warning. I want you on a plane out of here in that eventuality. Do I make myself clear?”

“Comrade Marshal...there's still air force personnel here who'll never get out. I'd only be abandoning them to their fate. I'd rather stay with the men,” Petrov said, tears mellowing in his eyes.

“I understand, Petrov, but your talents will be useful to the Rodina elsewhere. If you get that warning, get on whatever aircraft is available, and get out. Even if it's to Mexico,” the Marshal said. “That's an order.”

Petrov sighed. He didn't want to leave his men in the lurch, but neither could he disobey his theater commander. “Yes, Comrade Marshal.”

1845 Hours: 105th Guards Air Assault Division/41st Tank Regiment, Harlingen, Texas.

Major Butakov and the tankers looked around-especially up both Highways 77 and 83. They knew that the Americans were only regrouping, and would be resuming the attack when they felt ready to do so. But that didn't mean the danger was gone: far from it. American snipers were active, and Butakov knew that it was becoming worth a man's life to keep his head visible for any length of time. And the tankers from the 41st Tank Regiment were quickly learning the same thing, for several tank and motor-rifle troops had fallen victim to the snipers, and they were so well camouflaged that no one knew where the shots were coming from. Just like at Stalingrad, he mused, only this time, we're the Fascisti, and they've got a Vassili Zaitsev out there, or maybe a Ludmilla Pavlachenko, and they're making our lives miserable. And his paratroopers had given up trying to shoot back, for not only did they not know where the shots came from, but several of their own men with SVD sniper rifles had fallen victim to the Americans, often taking shots through their own scopes....

What should we have expected when we came here, Butakov wondered. A country where it seemed everyone had a gun and in this miserable state called Texas, it was everyone and their mother. And the locals knew how to use them: he'd been on several counter-guerrilla operations, and the insurgents rarely showed themselves-melting away, and leaving a sniper or two to entertain the Soviets. And in the confusion, the snipers themselves slipped away. They'd also been eager students-not only using captured weapons, but using them effectively and with deadly results. His thoughts were interrupted when a BRDM pulled up: its commander waved at the Major, and when he crawled to the vehicle, the commander informed him that Colonel Chesnikov wanted to see him. Butakov managed to get into the BRDM without drawing fire, and the vehicle took him to the 41st's command point. When it got there, Chesnikov was waiting next to his command tank. Butakov got out and asked, “Yes, Comrade Colonel?”

“Major, I'm glad you're here,” Chesnikov said. “I've got some information via my regiment's reconnaissance platoon: the survivors, anyway.”

“What do the reconnaissance people say, Comrade Colonel? My own reconnaissance people can be counted on two hands, I'm afraid.” Butakov replied.

“The Americans have brought in some additional ground troops. Some of them are wearing the AA shoulder patches-do you know who those are?”

Butakov nodded. He knew full well about his opposite numbers. “That's the 82nd Airborne Division, Comrade Colonel. So we're now facing the elite of the U.S. Army now.”

“Maybe, maybe not. The soldiers were mostly artillerymen, and some helicopter ground crews. The artillery was setting up alongside the guns from the 29th Division, and it appeared the helicopter people were preparing for the arrival of their own unit's helicopters,” Chesnikov said.

“But no maneuver units?” Butakov asked. He knew that if those American paratroopers faced his, it would truly be a battle between equals. And that the 82nd would have as much fixed-wing air support and helicopter gunships in support as could be arranged.

“No. Not yet. And my reconnaissance company's badly depleted now. I've less than a platoon available to us. They can give advance warning of an attack, and that's it, I'm afraid.” Chesnikov said.

“At least....” Butakov's remark was interrupted by a shout from a nearby soldier: “Air Attack Warning!”

Hellfire missiles rained down on nearby vehicles, exploding a pair of ZSU-23-4s, and a pair of Strela-10M3 (SA-13) missile vehicles, and as both Butakov and Chesnikov watched, the offending AH-64s pulled away, dropping flares as they did so. Then A-10s came in, firing Maverick missiles and their 30-mm cannon, ripping into tanks and APCs in the process. The remaining air defense vehicles tried to engage, spraying an A-10 with 23-mm fire, and it headed north smoking heavily. But the other three A-10s came back, dropping cluster bombs on their final run, and disabling a number of tanks and APCs in the process. Then the Apaches returned, and killed several more tanks. When it was all over, the two senior officers picked themselves up. And Butakov turned to Chesnikov. “And this is the beginning, Comrade Colonel. They did that to us the first night we were here. And now, my regiment doesn't have a single BMD left.”

1905 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville

Marshal Alekseyev paid attention to his situation map. Right now, his left flank was pulling back, and so far, things were going well, but American aircraft were active everywhere, and for once, the Soviet and Cuban Air Forces were seriously contesting the air over the pocket. Right now, though, his air force liaison had said, the Soviets were considering things a success if American aircraft had to abort their missions and head north, not just if a kill or two was scored. But that success was coming at a price, the air force had said: for every American aircraft shot down, six of theirs were also sent down. And at this rate, they'd be out of planes within a few days. Alekseyev winced at that: he knew the pocket would be finished before the Soviets ran out of aircraft. Then there was the demand for airlift protection: every fighter protecting the transports was one not contesting the air. And General Petrov made it very clear, and so there was nothing that could be done about it: the airlift had to be protected. His thoughts on that were interrupted as General Isakov came over. “Yes, Chibisov?”

“Comrade Marshal, there's an update on the helicopter assault at the Port Isabel airport.” Chibisov reported.


“It was a raid, apparently. Though the helicopters described were U.S. Marine CH-46s and CH-53s,” Chibisov said. “They landed, seized the airport and set up a perimeter.”

“That airport, as the air force has said, once had some of our attack helicopter units, and Mi-8 transports: they've either been lost in combat or had to retreat south of the Rio Grande,” Alekseyev commented.

“True, Comrade General. But the enemy may not have known that.”

“So, a raid? I take it they've accomplished whatever they set out to do and have left?” Alekseyev asked.

“That is the latest information, Comrade Marshal,” Chibisov replied.

Both officers looked at the map. “With the helicopters gone, what else was there?” Alekseyev wondered.

“There was an S-200 SAM site near the airport, Comrade Marshal, and an S-125 site as well.” Chibisov commented. “Those may have been their objectives. Destroy the sites, gather whatever documents-and any prisoners, and then withdraw.”

“It also creates a hole in what's left of our air defenses,” the air-defense officer-a Voyska PVO man, chimed in.

“And we reacted to the raid as if it was a major attack,” Alekseyev hissed.

“Comrades, we had no choice. Any serious helicopter assault can finish us if they can secure the 77-83 highway below Harlingen and block Suraykin's line of communication and retreat.” Colonel Sergetov pointed out, speaking for the first time.

Alekseyev calmed down. “I know, Colonel. No doubt they know that as well. If Schwartzkopf was in command, he would have unleashed the airborne element already. Powell is more cautious-but he's proven that he's willing to take risks if necessary.”

“Indeed, Comrade Marshal.”

“Tomorrow, Chibisov. Tomorrow. The crisis point will come: either here, at the Rio Grande Valley airport, at the 77-83 junction, or just west of there,” Alekseyev noted. “And when that happens, they'll present us with a worse one: that's when their Marines will land.”

“Comrade Marshal....” Chibisov's voice trailed off. “This time, I hope you're wrong.”

“I don't think so. Powell smells victory, and he means to have it,” Alekseyev said. And he knew it, too. If he'd been running things on the other side, he, too, would be smelling victory. But unlike Powell, he'd be willing to risk the airborne and Marines to seal matters.
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Old 03-28-2015, 07:00 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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A little bit of everything: ground, air, and naval action....

1925 Hours: Soviet Coastal Forces HQ: South Padre Island Coast Guard Station, Texas.

Captain 2nd Rank Vassily Tupolev sat at his desk in the former base commander's office. He had commanded the Soviet and Cuban naval forces based at South Padre Island for two years, and had seen his command steadily whittled down. No matter how hard the effort had been, nor the sacrifices made, the coastal forces had gone out to confront the U.S. Navy at both Houston and Corpus Christi, and had been battered as a result. He'd watched as missile and torpedo craft, along with frigates and corvettes, sailed out to confront the Americans, and had been lucky to get one or two back, usually heavily damaged. Carrier-based aircraft, and helicopters from other warships, had made life for the coastal forces exciting but usually short, and there was no doubt about that. Now, there was an American amphibious force off the coast somewhere, and there was not only a three-carrier task force, but also four battleships as well, to face his handful of missile craft, a couple of old Riga-class frigates, and a couple of ex-USCG patrol craft. Better to be sunk on a final sortie than either scuttling, or worse, handing the ships over to the Americans when it was over, Tupolev thought. A knock on the door, and the question, “Comrade Captain?” brought him back out of his reverie. “Yes?”

It was Captain 3rd Rank Yegor Shatalin came in. Shatalin was his deputy-a real deputy, not a Zampolit. And for that, Tupolev was grateful, for the Zampolit had been killed two weeks earlier in an air raid. “Comrade Captain, do you wish to sail at first light?”

Shatalin knew full well what Tupolev was planning. This was it: a final sortie against the mighty U.S. Navy, and both officers knew full well that it wasn't likely that any of them-or their men, would be coming back from this one aboard a ship. If they did return, they'd be swimming. Captain Tupolev nodded, “Yes, first light will do. Who can sortie, and who will be left here?” The unspoken phrase was “to be scuttled.”

“Comrade Captain, both Rigas can sail. Then three of the corvettes: two Grishas and a Poti can make it as well. Of our missile craft, two Cuban Osas and one of our Nanchukas can sail. No torpedo craft, I'm afraid, are in shape to go out.” Shatalin reported.

“I take it the remainder will be left to scuttle?” Tupolev asked.

“That is correct, Comrade Captain.”

“Very well. Ask for volunteers among the crews of those who have to scuttle, if they wish to accompany those going out,” Tupolev ordered.

“Certainly, Comrade Captain.”

“Also, make sure there are demolition charges on the fuel storage tanks and the communications center. We'll blow them before we sail,” Tupolev said.

“That has been taken care of, Comrade Captain. And what time do you wish to sail?”

Tupolev thought a minute. The best time to start an amphibious operation was at dawn. And he knew that there was a chance that the Americans had mined the channels through the Soviets' own minefields. “We'll need some daylight. Make our sailing at 0700.”

“Yes, Comrade Captain,” Shatalin said.

1945 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment, Along U.S. Highway 281.

Colonel Herrera knew that the Americans would have some advantages now. The sun had just about set, and with their night vision devices, they could see in the dark better than he could, or any of his men. With those Thermal sights on the M-60A4 and the Bradley, the Americans could see just as well at night as they could in the daytime, and pick his vehicles off before they knew what was happening. But there was one advantage he had now: the rest of the Army had pulled back, and General Perez had informed him that the 22nd Motor-Rifle Division was on his right, and that Herrera could call on their division artillery if necessary-with all the army-level assets either committed or destroyed, it was the best that could be done.

Now, Colonel Herrera decided to stir things up a little. Third Battalion, now down to fourteen T-55s, would draw American attention, while First and Second maneuvered as if preparing for a counterattack. Maybe, just maybe, that would force the Americans to halt and assume a hasty defensive position. And if they did that, he'd call down artillery on them, and in the confusion, he'd pull back to the next defensive position. There was one major problem: the Americans might not do so, and things would develop into a meeting engagement, and that was the last thing Herrera wanted. For those M-60A4s, even these with the 105-mm gun, could deal decisively with his armor in such an encounter, and he didn't want that to happen. The other problem: none of his antitank missiles-either the Konkurs (AT-5) on his BMPs, nor the Metis (AT-7) that the Soviet air assault troopers had, could deal with the American tanks unless one shot out the treads, or waited and took a shot at the rear, much as one did with a German Tiger forty-plus years earlier. And that option was not conducive to a long lifespan for the missile gunner in any event. Still, with things the way they were, everything had to be tried, no matter how low the odds of success were. He turned to his chief of staff. “Major, inform Third Battalion: Proceed as directed. No heavy contact, however. Just draw the Americans' attention.”

“Yes, Comrade Colonel.” the chief replied, going off to relay the order.

Major Murayev came up; he was the senior Soviet air-assault officer and was in command of the two battalions attached to the 214th. “You wanted to see me, Comrade Colonel?”

Herrera nodded. “Yes, Major. There's a couple of abandoned farms about five hundred meters in front of us. Can you put an anti-tank ambush in each?”

“That shouldn't be a problem, Comrade Colonel. I won't risk any more missile teams, but a squad in each-with RPGs and BG-15 grenade launchers should do.” Murayev replied.

“How many missiles do you have left, though?” Herrera wanted to know.

“I've three launchers, and a dozen missiles left. When they're gone, that's it.” Murayev said. “I'd like to conserve them: wait until we get into more favorable terrain for using the missiles.”

“I understand, Major. No heroics from your men tonight. If a situation develops unfavorably, fall back. No last stands unless there's no other option. Am I understood?”

“Perfectly, Comrade Colonel,” Murayev replied. “If you'll excuse me, I'll go brief my men.”

Herrera nodded as the air assault officer left. He'd worked with Cuban air assault troops in Angola, but Murayev and his men were a cut above the Cubans. Some of the Cuban airborne knew when to get into a fight, but not when to get out of one. Murayev, though, did. Maybe because there would be no more replacements coming, perhaps? He turned again to his chief of staff. “Get First and Second Battalions moving. Again, demonstration only, and no heavy contact. Fall back if they get into a serious fight.”

“Right away, Comrade Colonel.”

To the north, Captain Nancy Kozak's company team was pushing south alongside the highway. They'd found a few Mexican stragglers, most of whom had quickly surrendered. Those who did not, died with weapons in hand. That last fight had been a strange one: the Mexicans had been rolled over, and most of them had fought until their battalion had been ripped apart, and then the survivors had surrendered. Then someone had shot a couple of antitank missiles at her company, damaging a tank and killing her FIST track-and everyone in it. Her Second Mech Platoon had checked out where the missiles had come from, and found several dead Russians. And to everyone's surprise, they were wearing air assault uniforms. First Cubans, then some Mexicans, then Russians. Maybe the Russians were “stiffening” the Mexicans? It had taken an hour to get the damaged tank repaired and back into the fight, regardless, and she'd have to call for fire herself, until a replacement FIST track and crew could be made available.
Then her Third Platoon-which had armor, called it in: Tanks to the front. T-55s by the look of them. “Take 'em!” she called.

Colonel Herrera watched in horror as his Third battalion came under American tank fire. The American gunnery was accurate and deadly, for four T-55s exploded almost at once. Herrera ordered the battalion to pull back immediately, and called down his own artillery, but this time, the 122-mm fire fell short. Two more T-55s exploded before the Cuban tanks pulled back under cover of their artillery, and what remained of Third Battalion was now a short company. Herrera swore-and swore loudly. He called for a flare mission, and saw American armor was approaching the two farms: maybe this ambush might come off.

Kozak's Fourth Platoon-her other tank platoon, spotted some movement among the abandoned farms. They'd had thermal contacts around the farmhouse and the barn in both instances, and the platoon leader smelled an ambush. He requested artillery fire, or at the very least, battalion mortars. Then her ETAC came on the line: he'd been talking to some Apaches, and a two-ship wanted to come in. She agreed, and the two Apaches unloaded their 2.75-inch rockets on the farmsteads, ripping up the farmhouses and barns, and setting them ablaze. The two helicopters then raked the area with their 30-mm cannon, killing anything they saw moving. A couple of secondary explosions in both houses convinced Fourth Platoon's leader that there had been an ambush, and as the Team advanced, Bradley-mounted troops dismounted to check. Sure enough, there were several bodies of Soviet air-assault troopers, with RPGs. After the farmsteads were secured, artillery fire came down on them.

“Blast it!” Colonel Herrera shouted. Someone on the other side had smelled an ambush-a not unreasonable suspicion, given the events of the previous few hours, and had called in a pair of AH-64s. Herrera called in a brief artillery concentration, and ordered his regiment to fall back to the next position.

Kozak's people had either gotten back into their Bradleys, or had taken cover. But still, someone on the other side was being very smart. And she wanted to push through that someone, nail his ass to the wall, and get into Brownsville. And do it before either the airborne prima donnas in XVIII Airborne Corps, or those Jarheads waiting off the coast.

2000 Hours: K-236: The Gulf of Mexico

Captain Padorin came into the CCP. So far, everything was going all right: his boat was on the patrol pattern just off the coast: right at the continental shelf. Close enough to the coast to make a high-speed dash to pick up whoever he was supposed to retrieve, and then make another dash for deep water. And, if things didn't work out, he'd be a short distance from deep water and a run below the layer-if there was one-to get away. And the most recent message from Caribbean Squadron had told him not to initiate contact with the enemy: the pickup came first. He shook his head at that: either the mission was a go, and he'd do his best to get in and make the pickup, or cancel it and he could get out. And with all those American ships about, the ASW environment would get pretty nasty in a short while. Especially so if the Americans decided to land on the Texas-or Mexican-coast.

He noticed Shelpin, the Security Officer, taking his turn again as Officer of the Watch. Even though the man was KGB, he had proven his abilities as a submariner time and again. Shelpin's reasoning was that if he was assigned to a sub as Security Officer, he'd better learn to be a submariner first, and had gone to sub school and not only qualified, but qualified as a watch officer. And he took his turn at that duty. In so doing, he'd earned the respect of not only the Captain, but every other officer and warrant officer on the boat. “Shelpin, status, please.”

“Comrade Captain,” Shelpin replied. “We are maintaining our patrol station. Depth is steady at two hundred meters, speed ten knots. No thermal layer detected as yet, though.”

“It may be too deep for us, given where we are and the time of year,” Padorin said. He went to the chart. “Any change in our friends up there?” He asked.

“No, Comrade Captain, no change. The Amphibious Group is to our south, and they presumably have the battleships with them, as they haven't been picked up in the past few hours. And the carriers are to the north,” Shelpin said.

“Any signs of an ASW group?” Padorin wanted to know.

“No, none of that, either. They may be closer in to shore, though.”

Padorin stroked his chin. “And no submerged contacts?”

“No, Comrade Captain,” Shelpin replied. “If there were...”

“If there were, I would have been notified at once,” Padorin finished. “Carry on.”

Shelpin nodded as Padorin went to the sonar room. “Any change?” he asked the sonar officer.

“No, Comrade Captain,” the sonar officer replied. He pointed to a display. “To the north, here's the carrier group-or at least, one of the carriers. He's been tentatively identified as John F. Kennedy, though we've also picked up a Nimitz-class ship, but too far to get anything positive as to who he is.”

“Any sign of a third carrier?” Padorin asked. His latest report from Caribbean Squadron mentioned three carriers.

“Not yet, Comrade Captain. He may be to the north. That may be why we haven't picked him up.”

Padorin nodded. “And this here, to the south, is the amphibious force?”

“Yes, Comrade Captain. They keep going back and forth on an west to east pattern. And there's a probable ASW group here, between us and the coast,” the sonar officer said.

Then the communications officer came in. “Comrade Captain, we have an ELF message.”

That meant there was a more detailed message waiting for K-236. Padorin went back into the CCP. “Officer of the Watch, make your depth thirty meters. Slow to five knots.”

Shelpin nodded, and gave the necessary orders. Soon, the boat was at thirty meters. “Raise the antennae.”

Just as the antennae were raised, the message came in. It was quickly decoded and passed to the Captain. And as Padorin read it, he let out a huge sigh of relief. “Well, that ends that.”

“What is it, Comrade Captain?” The starpom asked. He'd just come into the CCP.

“Our date with someone on the Texas coast is off. For good. We've been relieved.” Padorin said.

Heads nodded around the CCP. “Do we have new orders?” Shelpin asked.

“Just maintain patrol position. Further orders to follow.” Padorin said, nodding. “Reel in the antennae, and take us down. Back to two hundred meters. Maintain speed.”

2015 Hours: 8th Fighter Aviation Regiment, over Brownsville.

Major Yuri Shavarov maintained his racetrack patrol pattern over the city. His squadron of Su-27s had made the trip from San Julian in Cuba, and so far, things had been uneventful. But the flight in had been-or so he saw just to their north, as American fighters had savaged some transports-some going in, some going out. And the bitter pill he'd had to swallow was that he didn't have the fuel to intervene. His mission was clear: protect the last group of aircraft as they unloaded their cargo, took on passengers, and took off again. Right now, he was wondering, what was taking them so long? Then his radio crackled. “Mace One, the hens are getting airborne. Watch for crows.” Crows meant enemy fighters.

“Copy. Good luck down there.”

“Roger, Mace One. Do you have the hens in sight?”

Shavarov checked his radar. “Got them.”

The Su-27s formed up on the transports and headed east. To his surprise, in the fading light, he could see what they were: An-12s. Wonderful. They'd have to criss-cross back and forth to maintain their position. Shavarov called one of his flight leaders. “Hammer One, this is Mace One. Go on ahead, and see if any crows are waiting.”

“Hammer One, Roger.” the flight leader called. Then he called in, “SAM radars at One! Repeat: SAM Radars at One O'Clock!”

That would be the American ships, Shavarov knew. Though he couldn't see them, he knew they were down there. And with this long a trip back, he couldn't go in low to avoid radar: If combat developed, his Su-27s had only fuel for fifteen minutes' combat time, before they'd have to break off and head for Cuba. And sure enough, there were crows out there. Shavarov picked them up on radar, just as Hammer One called them in. “Crows at Eleven O' Clock! Engaging!”

The four Su-27s shot toward the unseen American fighters-and then Shavarov himself picked them up-just as his radar screen turned to snow. An unseen EA-6B Prowler was jamming his radar. Up ahead, he saw explosions just below his flight level, and two aircraft falling out of the sky in flames. His own threat receiver was quiet. Shavarov called the transport leader: “Get down on the deck. We'll cover you.” And without waiting for a reply, he led his own flight in, after telling his remaining flight to stay with the transports.

Mace Three then made a call: “Crows at Ten O'Clock!”

Major Shavarov looked in that direction. Four F-14s were coming in on the Su-27s. And not only did his threat receiver light up, he saw them: Sparrow missiles being fired. “Mace Flight, break!”

The four Su-27s broke as the Tomcats dove on them. A night fight was more dangerous, he knew, but then, so did the Americans, as both the F-14 and Su-27 had the same twin rudder configuration. Finding out who was friend or foe visually was next to impossible. And the Americans scored first, as Mace Three, his second element leader, and Mace Four, both took Sparrow hits and exploded. In the darkness, he didn't see any parachutes.

Shavarov cursed as he swung his plane around. He saw a missile trail pass him by, then another just right over his head. Then a fireball erupted behind his plane, and a scream came over the radio. His wingman had just died. Shavarov looked back, and saw the Su-27 tumbling out of the sky, and then explode as the flames touched off the fuel and ordnance. Right now, he ought to try and break off the fight, and get away, he knew, but that wasn't on his mind. Shavarov saw an F-14 and he turned toward it, hoping to get a lock for his R-73 (AA-11 Archer) missiles. Just as he did, his own threat receiver lit up again. Shavarov ignored it, and fired two missiles. The R-73s left the rails just as a pair of Sparrows slammed into his aircraft, and the plane simply blew apart. He never saw the attacker, nor did he see one of the R-73s miss the F-14. The other missile closed, but a shower of flares from the Tomcat decoyed it away: the missile did explode, and damaged the port engine. That Tomcat crew would have to divert to Corpus Christi, as a night landing on one engine was not advised. But Shavarov would never know. For he never bailed out of his aircraft.
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Old 03-29-2015, 06:48 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Comments so far, gents, on how things are going?
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Old 03-29-2015, 06:54 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And it continues:

2025 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville.

Marshal Alekseyev was in his office. He'd retired there to have a private dinner with Colonel Sergetov and General Dudorov. He'd hoped to have Commander Carlisle as a guest again, but she had politely, but firmly,declined. She had reminded Dudorov of her training about declining special favors from the enemy, and even Alekseyev admitted he actually admired that. “Yuri, when we're finished, have a plate from our table sent to her, regardless,” he told Dudorov.

“Of course, Comrade General,” Dudorov said.

“Now, I imagine that tomorrow will be the day of decision,” Alekseyev continued. “Suraykin's army will give way-somewhere. Either at that highway junction, or at the Rio Grande Valley airport. And then we'll be in big trouble.”

“That, Comrade Marshal, is likely to be an understatement,” Dudorov said.

“Quite. Colonel, if you were in Powell's position, where would you strike?” Alekseyev asked.

His aide paused, thinking for a moment. “Comrade Marshal, I would try at the airport. Success there means that a sizable penetration can be made, even as far as Highway 77-83. That seals Suraykin's fate-splits Malinsky's front, and enables a charge down the highway,” Colonel Sergetov said.

“Yuri? How about you?” Alekseyev asked.

“It's been a hard fight, but I'd go for the actual highway junction. Use the airport as a diversion, and simply put more into that sector. The 105th Guards and the 41st Tank Regiment won't last past midday unless there's a dramatic upsurge in supplies. And I just don't see that happening.” Dudorov said.

“And the landing options? Both of you, please,” Aleksyev asked the two officers.

Dudorov spoke first. “Comrade General, I'd go with the amphibious option. Leave out the airborne drop-that is, the 82nd Airborne Division, but proceed with the amphibious landing. And the Boca Chica area is where I'd land. Unfortunately, I don't have information as to who is at sea, but the Americans have enough to put at least a brigade-sized force ashore, probably two. And no one doubts that they have ample naval gunfire and carrier air support available.”

“Colonel? What's your opinion?”

Sergetov thought again. “Comrade Marshal, Powell's been cautious. I expect him to remain so. Though he's taken risks in the past, we do know he chose not to conduct such a landing at Corpus Christi last year. There was considerable pressure on him to do so, if you'll recall, Comrade Marshal.”

“I do. And Dudorov here was following it closely-even if his sources were the American news networks,” Alekseyev said.

“His previous campaign could have ended sooner if he'd conducted such an operation, Comrade Marshal,” Sergetov continued. “Unless there's an opportunity that develops.....In my opinion, Comrades, he'll keep the Marines offshore. I may be wrong, but based on Powell's past experience, he'll forgo the amphibious option.”

Alekseyev nodded. “It's always good to have more than one viewpoint, Comrades. Personally, there's an even chance he'll do it.” He looked at his office map, and visualized the ships offshore, helicopters forming up, and landing craft in the water, with battleships and destroyers shelling the coast. “Be ready to finish the destruct bill if he does. We won't have much time. This means your offices especially, Yuri.”

“Understood, Comrade General,” Dudorov replied. “There's one more thing. Do you wish for the safe-conduct pass for our guest to be prepared?”

Alekseyev thought for a moment, then nodded. “Make it so. Make sure it's in English, Russian, and Spanish. And see to it personally.”

2055 Hours: 105th Guards Air Assault Division/41st Independent Tank Regiment, Harlingen, Texas.

General Gordonov watched from the roof of his headquarters. He'd moved twice since the morning, and was now watching things from the roof of a middle school library. His chief of staff was nervous as a result: they'd seen American aircraft and helicopter gunships going after any vehicle traffic, and more often as not, that traffic was turned into burning junk. The General focused his binoculars to the north, where a battered regiment continued to hold the 77-83 highway junction, while the two flanking regiments were hanging on, but just barely. And having a tank regiment bolster the defenders at the junction meant that for now, the Americans wouldn't sent light infantry or even airborne troops to take the junction from his desantniki. Continued tracer fire in that direction did show, however, that the Americans were still there, and if they redirected a heavy unit, such as the 12th Armored Cavalry Regiment or even a brigade from the 7th Armored Division, they might just break through.

Now, he turned his attention to the northeast. The 38th Tank Division was waiting on the Americans to push south, and if they did, they'd meet them, then finish the 24th Tanks, and he'd barely have time to reorient his own division into an all-around defense. If he didn't, then 7th Armored would simply roll up his division from the right flank, as well as the rear, and there was nothing he could do about that. Then his intelligence officer came to him. “Yes?”

“Comrade General, from what little I've been able to put together, the Americans have decided not to press the issue tonight. So far, it's only patrol activity along the division's front.” the intelligence officer said.

“So they've decided to dig in for the night?” Gordonov asked.

“It appears to be the case, Comrade General. Though their aviation is still active.” replied the major of intelligence.

“I've noticed. Those bloody Apaches again. And tactical aircraft, as well. They can see in the dark very well, the air force liaison says.” Gordonov commented.

“Quite so, Comrade General. Not much we can do about those helicopters, other than have Igla (SA-14) missiles ready.”

Gordonov shook his head. He knew the Air Force was doing its best, but their casualties had gone from merely horrendous to downright frightful, the air force liaison officer said, and they were trying to conserve aircraft and pilots. How they did that, wasn't his problem. Then his supply officer came to him. “Comrade General, everything that can be distributed has been allocated.”

“That's it, then, until first light, and maybe, an air drop that Army can send our way.” Gordonov said, and it wasn't a question.

“I'm afraid so, Comrade General.”

Gordonov knew, but had to ask anyway, “And if we don't get those supplies?”

“We'd have to withdraw by noon, Comrade General. It's either that, or stand and be destroyed.”

2110 Hours: Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport, Texas.

General Petrov shook his head. Just as the last transports had gotten airborne, four F-111s had come in, and laid down a pattern of bombs on the runways. To his surprise, one runway had not been hit, and it was still operational. The other two, though, had been cratered, and his engineers were already working to fill the craters and get the field operational again by first light. Petrov looked at the ramp area, and saw the fire crews dousing the wrecks of an Il-18 and an An-74 that hadn't been able to leave before the runways were closed. At least the An-74's cargo had been unloaded, he thought, and Petrov also wondered who was supposed to leave on the Il-18, though he had an idea-and a most un-Soviet one. If the KGB had been hoping to fly out some of its own personnel, or worse, some of their American collaborators, well, as far as he was concerned, it was their bad luck.

Now, he was going from strongpoint to strongpoint, encouraging his men. Many of the excess air force and Voyska PVO personnel, those whose specialties did not entitle them to a ticket on the airlift out, had been formed into provisional infantry to defend the airport against an American airborne or helicopter assault. Though they had plenty of small arms-and even had some time to relearn their weapons training-something that nearly all of them had forgotten since their basic training days, heavy weapons, other than some old B-11 recoilless rifles and some RPGs, were in short supply. Petrov knew that if these men had to go up against the elite paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne or Rangers, it would be a slaughter. He cursed whoever had ordered this insanity, feeling it a waste of trained air force and air defense personnel, but professionally, he knew that there was no real choice. He then went over to his air-defense officer, also a Voyska PVO man, “Anything, Comrade Colonel?”

“Comrade General, we did get some Osa-M rockets. We've got eight launcher vehicles, but we can only put rockets on them all if we only give two rockets per launcher,” the man replied. Though the Osa-M (SA-8s) were operated by Army personnel, the overall air defense was in the hands of Voyska PVO-the Soviet Air Defense Force, much to Petrov's disgust. He'd wondered, who made that decision? Likely someone in Moscow, he knew. And yet another mistake piled on top of all the others.

“That's all?” Petrov asked.

“No, Comrade General, we did get some 23-mm ammunition, and some heavy 14.5 as well. Enough to give the ZPUs a full unit of fire.”

“That's something, at least,” Petrov said. “All right, just do the best you can. That's all anyone can ask right now.”

The air-defense man nodded. “Of course, Comrade General. We'll do our duty.”

Petrov nodded and continued on. As he headed towards the hangar where he had his office, he passed by where the wounded were being assembled for departure. If those Party bosses in Moscow could see this, he thought, they'd work out a deal and end this madness. For he saw stretcher cases with heavily bandaged limbs, burn cases who needed a full-service burn center, men missing hands or feet, and many of them with bandages that hadn't been changed for days. Only the walking wounded, whose injuries would not heal in time to return to their units, were in decent shape. And all of the wounded glared with hostile eyes at the specialists, those whose services were needed elsewhere, or those who had information that could not fall into American hands. Their priority passes enabled them to jump the line, and get on aircraft rigged for passenger hauling, while the stretcher cases had to wait for an aircraft rigged to carry them. Petrov spoke a few words of encouragement to the wounded, and talked with the medical staff as well. After that, he went to his headquarters, where a staffer was waiting. “What is it?”

“Comrade General, we've had a message from General Lukin.”

“Oh, where is he now? Cuba, unless I'm mistaken.” Petrov said.

“He is, Comrade General. And he's found a lot that we've been angry about. Supply officers there are throwing whatever can be loaded onto a plane, regardless of whether or not it's on our priority list. He's kicked a few backsides, but he's certain that his efforts will be, and I quote 'too little and too late.'” the staffer reported.

“I'm afraid he's right. I should have had him sent to Cuba when the decision was made to mount the airlift. He would've been in a better position to get things going right. Send him this: 'Your efforts greatly appreciated. I concur in your estimate, but hoped to be proved wrong. Request a maximum, repeat, maximum effort beginning at first light. This goes for the Mexico side as well.'” Petrov said.

The staffer nodded. “Do you wish anything else, Comrade General?”

Petrov thought for a minute. “Add this: 'May be evacuated on TVD orders if crisis point comes. If so, I'll see you in Havana.' Get that off at once.”

“Immediately, Comrade General.” The staffer turned to go send the message. “Colonel, one more thing.”

“Comrade General?”

“Inform the communications people: be prepared to destroy all radios, codes and code machines, and classified documents. They are to be destroyed upon my express orders. And no one else's. Other than Marshal Alekseyev or his Chief of Staff. Is that clear?” Petrov said.

“Completely clear, Comrade General.”

“And remind the staff that any female personnel are now on one hours' notice to leave. That includes all female medical staff.”

2150 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment, along U.S. Highway 281, Southwest of Rangerville, Texas.

Colonel Herrera went from position to position, giving words of encouragement to his men. Though that was usually the political officer's job, he'd always done so, regardless. He felt that if the men saw their Colonel, and even one or two spoke to him, that would boost their morale. And more often than not, he was right. Even Third Battalion, which now only had eight tanks, had felt his presence, and the troops had a boost of confidence. Of that, he was sure.

Now, he saw his regimental command vehicle pulling up. This was unusual, but not surprising. Something must be important. His chief of staff got out, and came over to him. “Comrade Colonel!”

“Yes, what is it?”

“Message from Havana, of all places. You've been made a Hero of the Revolution, as have all the division and separate brigade commanders.” The chief said.

“Of all the things Havana could send us, and this would be last on the list,” Herrera spat. “It happens every time there's a cut-off army: there's a shower of awards and promotions on those who are trapped.”

The chief nodded. “Yes, Comrade General. The Germans at Stalingrad, the Americans at Bataan, the French at Dien Bien Phu, and so on.”

“Hmph,” Herrera said. “All right. Anything from up front?”

“No, Comrade Colonel, nothing so far. Our outposts report no sign of the enemy.” the chief responded.

“With their sights, they can see us further than we can see them,” Herrera reminded his chief of staff. “They're sure?”

“As sure as one can be, Comrade Colonel.”

Herrera went back into his command vehicle. He needed to look at his map. Right now, though things were bad, given that one of his battalions was now the size of a company, it could be worse. One could hope for the best, he thought. “At least we'll get some rest, Luis. I think the Americans have stopped for the night, or at least, for a few hours.”

“Perhaps so. And our men are bone-weary. A few hours' rest, and some food, and be ready to do it all again in the morning,” the chief replied.

“Get them fed, now. We may not have time in the morning. Because once the Americans have rested and resupplied, they'll be coming. And I want our men ready.” Herrera snapped.

The chief nodded. “Right away, Comrade Colonel.”

To the northwest, along Highway 281, Captain Nancy Kozak was in a rage. Her battalion commander had ordered all of his companies to halt for a few hours, and she wasn't happy, as she felt they could get further south before having to stop. The Colonel had explained that this not only came from brigade, but division as well. Everyone was to be fed, rested, and ready. Because before dawn, the Soviets and Cubans were going to get a wake-up call along the coast. And when that happened, everyone would move-and give the Soviets more fires to put out than they had the means. Hopefully, one or two of those would grow to an inferno that would engulf the defenders. Kozak liked the sound of that-as well as the imagery. With luck, her Team would be the one to punch a hole down 281, and make a rush for Brownsville.

Like Colonel Herrera to the south, Kozak went around her team, talking to the platoon leaders and some of the soldiers. Every man and woman there was tired, but eager. They wanted to finish this. And if they could, do it in one or two days. One platoon sergeant, she'd heard, was taking bets as to whose tank or Bradley would be the first to reach the International Bridge. If the Soviet and Cuban defenses collapsed, as Battalion and Brigade thought they might, somebody was going to have a nice payday-if he or she lived. One thing at a time, she thought.

As she went back to her Bradley, she came across not only the First Sergeant, but the company mascot. The company had adopted a German Shepherd puppy when PRAIRIE FIRE got started, and Roscoe had been through it all. He'd been with the company long enough to have a dog tag-somebody liked that phrase-a real dog tag on a dog-and he usually rode with the First Sergeant in his M-113 APC. And even when most of the company was asleep, Roscoe would be awake and alert. And those pulling watch had learned to pay attention when he growled. One time, he'd stood up with a start, and growled in a particular direction. The First Sergeant woke up, grabbed his weapon, and a starlight scope, and looked that way. Two men were approaching the company laager, and the First Sergeant opened fire. Both men dropped, and everyone went back to sleep. The next morning, they'd found two dead Cuban recon troopers. Nobody ignored Roscoe after that. Kozak came up. “Well, First Sergeant, Roscoe ready to go on watch?”

“He is, Ma'am.” the First Sergeant replied. He'd had three tours in Vietnam, and had fought in the Southwest with 3rd Armored Division before coming to help rebuild the 49th, just as she had, fresh out of West Point and the initial female infantry officers.

“Good. Get everyone fed, and make sure the OPs are out. Can't tell you when, but before dawn, we'll be moving again. And this time, we're not stopping.” Kozak said.

“Next stop Brownsville, Ma'am?”

“If everything goes right, First Sergeant.” Kozak replied. “And those Cubans ahead of us don't pull any more tricks.”
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Old 03-29-2015, 06:58 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Some more:

2220 Hours: 38th Tank Division, near Rio Grande Valley International Airport, Texas.

Major General Gennady Nikonov scanned the northern horizon from his command vehicle. He now had the last full-strength tank division left to the Soviets in the pocket, and his orders from General Suraykin had been clear: hold the area south of the airport as long as possible. On this occasion, he'd learned from what he thought were serious mistakes on the part of 20th Tanks and the 120th Motor-Rifles, divisions that had been destroyed just prior to his division's arrival. Instead of moving two regiments up to meet the Americans, and having two others ready to exploit, he had three regiments up forward, with his motor-rifle regiment in the center. On their left and right flanks were a full tank regiment, and the one remaining tank regiment was in reserve, ready to counterattack. General Nikonov had sent his division's reconnaissance battalion forward, and so far, they'd found wrecked vehicles and a few survivors from 20th Tanks. After they'd been sent back to the division's command point, Nikonov had talked to them; and they all said that there had been American armor in quantity, while attack helicopters and aircraft roamed at will, destroying whatever they found. Then the Americans, for whatever reason, had pulled back, leaving the airport's runways and tarmac littered with wrecked and burning vehicles, as well as Soviet corpses. When asked who the Americans were, the survivors shook their heads: all they knew was that the Americans had ripped their division to shreds, and they were lucky not to be dead or prisoners.

Nikonov's plan was basically sound, he thought, but he also knew there was a big problem: his tanks were T-64Bs, and his APCs were BMP-1Ms. The Americans, he knew from General Suraykin's briefing, had the M-60A4-120s, and Bradley fighting vehicles, all with thermal sights. He knew that they could see his positions before his own tanks could see the Americans. And on the flat, open terrain of the airport, one could see a long way. Not good, he thought.

Then his chief of staff came to him. “Comrade General, message from Army Headquarters.”

“Read it.”

“Americans believed halted for the night. You may expect attack at any time past 0530. American force identified as 7th Armored Division.” the chief said, reading from a message form.

Nikonov simply nodded. So, he thought, they're staying put for the night. Either their command wants the troops well rested, or their supplies haven't caught up to them yet. Maybe a combination of the two. “All right. Inform the regimental commanders. They can stand the men down and go on night watch. But be prepared to stand-to at any time.”

“Yes, Comrade General.” the chief replied.

“And one other thing: ask Army Headquarters if any air support will be available. Because chances are, we'll need it.” Nikonov said.

2235 Hours: Gulf Front Headquarters, San Benito Community College.

General Malinsky looked at his situation map again. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. “They're doing this all over the front?”

“Yes, Comrade General,” his chief of staff, Isakov, replied.

“They're halting for the night. Why? When they can see us in the dark almost as clearly as in the daytime. I'm not sure what they're up to.” Malinsky said.

“Comrade General, there may be a combination of factors: First, General Powell may have something planned for the coast, and he wants a simultaneous attack to take place. Second, some of his units may have outrun their supplies-those on our left especially, and they need time to get caught up. Then, there's the desire to avoid any kind of fratricide-especially from the air-so there's that issue to contend with,” Isakov reported.

“And Powell's caution means he's decided to halt for the evening. But there's still that amphibious threat out there, and a chance that he's going to go for it,” Malinsky commented.

“That's very possible, Comrade General,” Isakov said.

Malinsky nodded. Even so, there were things that needed to be done-or at least, prepared for. “Have you prepared a destruct bill? Because we'll have a lot of classified materials to destroy,” Malinsky reminded Isakov.

“I've already issued orders to begin preparations, Comrade General. It can be implemented quickly,” Isakov reported.

“Good. Now, what from the Air Force?” Malinsky asked.

Isakov looked up from his notes. “The Air Force will try and maintain their sortie rate, Comrade General, but their loss rate itself is going up. They'll try, nevertheless.”

Malinsky nodded. Just as they had said, the Air Force had insisted on not promising anything that they couldn't keep. All they'd said was that they'd try their best to support the Army. “And the airlift? So far, we've held onto the drop zones.”

“I've spoken with General Petrov, Comrade General,” Isakov replied. “He, too, can make no promises, but said they'll make the effort. As long as those drop zones can be protected-and that means no enemy missile teams with Stingers lurking around-we'll get our share of supply drops.”

“Easier said than done, Isakov, especially given our other....difficulties.” Malinsky noted.

“Yes, Comrade General.”

“All right. I'm going to get a few hours' rest. You, too, Isakov. Because I think sleep is going to be in short supply for all of us the next few days.”

“Of course, Comrade General,” Isakov said.

“Oh, one more thing,” Malinsky remembered. “Have a final headquarters selected. We may not have much time to go looking about for a new one.”

“I've taken that step, Comrade General. The Rancho Viejo High School, just north of Brownsville. It's large enough, and suits our purposes.”

“Good, Isakov. Now, I'm off for some rest. Wake me, though, if anything serious develops.”

2300 Hours: K-236, The Gulf of Mexico.

“Captain to CCP!” the loudspeaker over Captain Padorin's bunk barked.

Padorin leaped out of his bunk, pulled on his shoes-he'd been sleeping fully clothed, as had been usual the past few days-and raced for the Central Command Post. Strenlikov, the Officer of the Watch, was standing next to the periscope. “What is it?”

“Comrade Captain, we've received another ELF message. Per the order book, I have ordered us to thirty meters, and maintained five knots.” Strenlikov reported.

“Very good. Now, maybe we'll get new orders,” Padorin said. “But we'll be vulnerable, just the same. Battle Stations, if you please.”

Strenlikov nodded, then sounded the general alarm. Officers and men raced to their stations, and within three minutes, all stations were manned and ready. Padorin went to the sonar room. “Anything?”

The sonar officer pointed to the display. “Just the same, Comrade Captain. The carrier group to the north, with the ASW group directly west. Then the amphibious force to the south.”

Captain Padorin nodded and went back into the CCP. The starpom and Shelpin were there, along with the weapons officer. A tracking party was already waiting, just in case. Then the diving officer reported. “At thirty meters.”

“Raise the antenna,” Padorin ordered.

The message came clattering in on the teletype. Then the communications officer took the paper and went into the code room to decode the message. He came back a few minutes later, shaking as he held the message form. “Comrade Captain,” he said, handing Padorin the form.

“What's the matter?” asked Padorin. “You'd think something dreadful has happened.”

“Read the message, Comrade Captain, please.” the communications man said.

Padorin did so, and his eyes widened. “Mother of God....” he said, shaking his head.

“Comrade Captain, what is it?” the starpom asked.

“Here's the message: 'Brownsville pocket expected to be liquidated by enemy in 48-72 hours. Proceed to Yucatan Channel, and establish a patrol pattern. Conduct Search-and-Rescue operations for downed Soviet aircrews once clear of American ASW activity while en route.' That's it, then,” Padorin said.

There was silence in the CCP. Some of the crew, Padorin knew, had had relatives serving in North America at times since 1985, and he also knew that the starpom's brother-in-law had been trapped in the pocket. “So the war's over?” the starpom asked.

“No. Just the war in Texas. We're still at war until we get a cease-fire-or we're sunk. Up periscope, and reel in the antenna.” Padorin said.

The scope came up, and Padorin made a full scan. “No contacts. Down scope. Sonar?”

“No new contacts, Comrade Captain.”

“Very well. Navigator: give me a course for the Yucatan Channel.”

The navigator checked his chart. “Recommend new course one-two-zero for the moment, Comrade Captain.”

Padorin nodded. “Make your depth two hundred and fifty meters. Come to one-two-zero. Make turns for ten knots.”

K-236 dived and turned onto the new heading. Soon, the boat was at the depth Padorin had wanted. “At two hundred and fifty meters, Comrade Captain,” the diving officer reported.

“Let's get out of here, but quietly, mind you. Maintain one-two-zero and ten knots,” Padorin ordered. “Secure from battle stations.”

2330 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville.

Marshal Alekseyev was in his office. This time, the call with Marshal Akhromayev was for their ears alone-though who knew what other parties might be listening in? Still, the two officers felt this time, a private call was necessary, and both could speak their minds. Though Alekseyev knew that his thoughts were more often than not those of his staff. And he suspected that Akhromayev not only knew that, but also his staff in Moscow had the same feelings as the Defense Minister. “I'm here, Comrade Marshal,” Alekseyev said over the satellite phone.

“Good, Alekseyev, very good. I know things are bad and getting worse by the hour, but just how much longer can you hold out?” the Defense Minister asked.

“Comrade Minister,” Alekseyev said formally, “I can give you forty-eight to seventy-two hours. At the most. If the Americans mount any kind of airborne and/or amphibious attack, things will be over much sooner.”

“All right, Alekseyev,” Akhromayev said. “I've talked with General Grachev, and he's made the same estimate to me.” General Pavel Grachev was the Chief of the General Staff, and a friend of Alekseyev's. “You're certain?”

“As certain as one can be about anything in war, Comrade Minister.” Alekseyev replied.

“Understood. For what it's worth, General Berkernev has given you thirty-six to forty-eight hours.” Akhromayev said. Berkernev was Chief of the GRU.

“Comrade Marshal, I'm erring on the side of caution in this. But we'll be finished within seventy-two hours, no matter what.” Alekseyev said.

“That's obvious, even to us here, Alekseyev. I take it the special weapons have been....properly taken care of?”

“Comrade Minister, those weapons have been denied to the enemy. They were loaded onto a freighter, and that ship was scuttled in the shipping channel leading to the Port of Brownsville.” Alekseyev reported.

“Good. You've kept the weapons out of enemy hands, and have also blocked the port. At least that's one thing the Defense Council will appreciate later on,” Akhromayev said.

“Comrade Minister, there's something else.” Alekseyev said.

“Go on,” the Minister replied.

“I've sent a courier from my staff out on the airlift, Major Arkady Sorokin. He flew out to Mexico, and should be en route to Moscow by now. He's got copies of all of our reports, supply figures, as well as both photographs and videotapes of conditions in the pocket. He's to brief you, General Grachev, and a number of candidate members of the Politburo. Such as Comrades Gorbachev, Sergetov, and Yeltsin.” Alekseyev said.

“I've heard his name: Didn't he lead his airborne battalion out of that Midland-Odessa debacle?” Akhromayev asked.

“Yes, Comrade Minister, and he was wounded in the process. He's been on the staff here ever since his release from the hospital. I politely suggest, and suggest strongly, that when he briefs you, that you and your staff listen to him. He's come from here, and the picture he will show is a far cry from what the Defense Council wants to see and hear.”

“Don't worry about that. He'll find a very receptive audience when I see him. Is there anyone else he should see?” Akhromayev asked.

“Comrade Minister, I think that General Mosiyev, the commander of the Moscow Military District, should be briefed, and that Major Sorokin should also see General Arbatov, the commander of the Leningrad MD, as well.”

Marshal Akhromayev knew full well why those two had been suggested. Both generals had been urging Akhromayev that the Soviets cut their losses and come to a negotiated peace with the Americans and their allies. And he also knew why those three candidate Politburo members had been named: they, too, had urged some kind of settlement that would allow the USSR to end the war with its honor intact-what little of it there was left. Fat chance of that happening, Akhromayev knew. The last time the Defense Council had authorized such approaches to the Americans had been prior to the Battle of Wichita. Those talks in Zurich-informal ones,he knew, had ended abruptly when the news from Wichita had hit the newspapers in Europe. And the Americans, along with the Canadian and British representatives, had simply told the Soviets that the issue would be settled on the battlefield from then on, then they all had walked out. There had been several approaches to try and get a settlement since, but all Soviet offers, even very generous ones, had been summarily rejected. And if I was the American Secretary of Defense, Akhromayev thought, I'd be urging the President to do just that. They're not interested, and they mean to have us. “All right, Alekseyev. I'll get out of your hair for the time being. Get some rest, because I doubt that the Americans will let you have much time for that once daybreak over there comes.”

“Yes, Comrade Minister,” Alekseyev said. “And Comrade Minister, let me say that it has been an honor to serve under your command. Just in case circumstances do not allow us to speak again.”

“Thank you, Alekseyev Hopefully, we'll still be able to talk before the end. And good luck.” Then Akhromayev cut the connection.

Alekseyev put the phone down. He went back to the Operations Room, where Chibisov, Dudorov, and Sergetov were waiting. “Anything?”

All three looked at each other. Then Chibisov spoke. “Nothing new, and I suspect there won't be until first light, Comrade Marshal.”

“That's a relief. Dudorov, is that safe-conduct pass prepared?” Alekseyev asked.

“Yes, it is, Comrade Marshal.”

“Good. Sergetov, when the time comes, bring Commander Carlisle to me. And it won't be long.”

Sergetov nodded. “Of course, Comrade Marshal.”

Alekseyev looked again at the map. “All right. Get some rest, all of you. Because we'll be so busy in the coming days, you'll all be glad you had some sleep tonight. Wake me at 0400, Sergetov,” Alekseyev said.

Colonel Sergetov nodded. “Yes, Comrade Marshal.”

“One other thing. Chibisov, have our coastal defenses stand to. I don't want them caught asleep when those Marines land.” Alekseyev said.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:28 AM
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rcaf_777 rcaf_777 is offline
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Great Read! keep them coming
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:43 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And it goes on to the last full day of the battle:

2355 Hours: Federal Building, Brownsville.

Ambassador Markarev's car pulled up to the building that housed the offices of the “Liberation Government,” and as he got out, he noticed the Cuban Ambassador, Lorenzo, coming up as well. “Good evening, Hector,” Markarev said pleasantly as Lorenzo got out of his own car.

“Some evening,” Lorenzo spat. “I know you're trying to be optimistic, but there's damned little to be optimistic about.”

“I know. From what Marshal Alekseyev's told me, it could be over in forty-eight hours. Maybe less.” Markarev said.

“That fast?”

“Yes, if the Imperialists land their Marines and airborne troops. Alekseyev has hardly anything left to oppose such landings, and if they do land....” Markarev's voice trailed off as he drew a finger across his throat.

Lorenzo shook his head. “Well, I for one, do not plan to be here if they do land. President Castro's orders: I'm to take my staff out as soon as possible.”

“That's the reason I'm here as well: Foreign Minister Tumansky has ordered me and my staff out as well. So I guess we both bid farewell to President Hall and this place called Texas.”

Lorenzo nodded as both diplomats went into the building's foyer. They noticed the armed ALA and PSD personnel, as well as some KGB officers: the “advisors” to the PSD. Unlike their last visit, the generator had run out of fuel, and so they had to go up four flights of stairs to Hall's office. When they got there, they saw Vice-President Davis shouting on the phone, her office lit by candlelight, and documents being taken down below. Maybe someone had finally convinced that bitch to destroy her papers, Makarev thought. Then they came to Hall's office. The President's secretary shook their hands, then went in to announce them.

“President Hall will see you now,” the man said when he returned.

Both ambassadors went in, and they found Hall sitting at his desk, staring out the window behind his desk. The two diplomats looked at each other, then Makarev spoke, “Comrade President?”

Hall turned around, and his eyes lit up when he saw the two ambassadors. “Ambassador Makarev, and Ambassador Lorenzo. I am truly glad to see the both of you. Please, have a seat.”

The two sat down. “Comrade President, we have some good news, and, I'm sorry to say, some bad news as well.” Makarev said.

Hall took notice, and Markarev thought the man was coming out of whatever fantasy world he was living in. “Good news for a change? Please, tell me.”

“Two of the planes with those staff members that you had wished evacuated have arrived in Cuba. They will make preparations to receive the rest of your staff, and of course, you and your cabinet tomorrow,” Makarev reported.

“And the bad? Hall asked.

Lorenzo spoke next. “Comrade President, I'm sorry to report that the third plane did not arrive. It was shot down about a hundred kilometers off the coast. There were no survivors, it seems.”

Hall nodded sadly. “I understand.”

“And Comrade President, there is one other thing: both of our respective diplomatic missions are shutting down,” Makarev said.

“So it has come to that?” Hall asked. “And thus the dream has really come to an end.”

“I am afraid so,” Lorenzo said. “However, thanks to President Fidel, you will be able to continue the struggle from Havana, until you and your government can get to Moscow.”

Hall nodded. “And do we know what the Fascists have in mind once they're through here?” he asked.

“No, Comrade President,” Makarev said. “There's no consensus. Some say they'll continue south into Mexico, and march all the way to Mexico City. Others feel that the Imperialists will force Mexico to sign a separate peace, and then attack Cuba,” the Russian said, looking at his Cuban counterpart. “And then there are those who believe that they'll blockade and bomb Cuba, while moving forces to fight in Canada.”

“So no one really knows what the Reactionaries have in mind?” Hall asked.

“That is correct, Comrade President,” Lorenzo said. “Our own intelligence is just as divided.”

Hall nodded again. “Whichever way, the dream of a socialist America is over,” he said with tears in his eyes. He then looked at the Soviet ambassador. “When do we-my remaining staff and cabinet-leave?”

Makarev chose his words carefully. “That, I do not know exactly, but it'll likely be after noon. I will, of course, try and get a more exact time of departure.”

“Thank you, Ambassador, for everything. I only wish that things had turned out differently, but one cannot change the past, no matter what he wishes.” Hall said. “I do plan on leaving something for the Imperialists to find, however.”

Makarev and Lorenzo exchanged glances. “What do you mean, Comrade President?” Lorenzo asked.

“I've made some videotapes, explaining my position. Vice-President Davis has done the same, and others have left written statements. Hopefully, people will understand, and the American people will realize my actions were all in good faith.”

Not much chance of that, Makarev thought. He looked at Lorenzo, who seemed to be thinking the same thing. “Perhaps so, Comrade President.”

“Perhaps,” Hall said.

Makarev and Lorenzo stood. “At least, we'll see you off, Comrade President, and then we'll get out of here ourselves.”

“Thank you, again, for everything. And I will be glad to see you again tomorrow.” Hall said.

All three shook hands and then the two ambassadors left. After they got to the foyer and left the building, only then did the two ambassadors talk freely. “What are the chances he and his cabinet get to Havana?” Lorenzo asked.

Makarev looked back towards the building. Then he turned to the Cuban. “No better than fifty-fifty at best. If the Americans put everything they have in the air tomorrow, Hall and his people will be lucky if only one plane gets through.”

0015 Hours: 4 September, 1989. 398th Coastal Defense Missile Battalion, Boca Chica State Park, Texas.

Captain Kokarev sat in his command bunker, overlooking the beach. He'd received word from the Admiral, and had stood his men to. Though he had reload missiles, he knew full well that the Americans were not likely to give his men a second chance in that regard. When faced with the firepower that was lurking offshore, one could only do their best, and little else. Even though the best job one could do would hardly dent a battleship or heavy cruiser, and given how obsolete his missiles were, Kokarev felt they had to try anyway.

It wasn't just the missile crews, but he'd formed excess personnel into an infantry company, and his men were now at the alert, waiting. He scanned the sea again, seeing nothing, then turned to his deputy.

“Vitaly, if this turns out to be a false alarm,” Kokarev said, shaking his head, “I'd like to know who advised the Admiral to order us to stand to.”

“We've had a couple of alerts before, Comrade Captain, and then there's those Marines on Brazos Island,” the deputy said, referring to the American helicopter assault that had taken that island the previous evening.

Kokarev nodded. At least I don't have to worry about a Zampolit, he thought. The 369th's Political Officer had been wounded in an air attack a week earlier, and had not returned. It actually felt good for a change, not having a Party Stooge watching over his shoulder, giving useless political lectures to the men, and generally getting in the way. When this war is over, he vowed, things need to change, and getting rid of the Zampolits would be a good way to start. “And those Marines can see us, though not as well as we can see them, Vitaly.”

“Quite so, Comrade Captain. But we're ready for whatever comes our way.”

“Get the men to digging more holes. When those battleships come, there's going to be shells raining down, and I want our men under as much cover as possible,” Kokarev said.

The deputy raised an eyebrow. “Even now? Comrade Captain, we've got plenty of protection.”

“Even now. And tell the men if they'd rather be tired or dead while they're digging. Get to it, right away.”

“Yes, Comrade Captain.”

0035 Hours: K-236, the Gulf of Mexico

“Captain to CCP!” the loudspeaker barked.

Captain Padorin had been in the torpedo room, talking to the torpedomen and the officer-in-charge of the compartment. He raced back to the CCP, where he found Antukyh, the Officer of the Watch, waiting. “Yes?”

“Comrade Captain, we have sonar contacts on the surface bearing zero-four-zero, range 20,000 meters,” Antukyh reported. “No identification as yet.”

Padorin went into the sonar room. The chief sonarman on duty pointed at his display. “How many ships?” Padorin asked.

“Six, Comrade Captain,” the man replied.

The captain nodded. He turned to Antukyh. “Battle Stations.”

The general alarm sounded, and once again, officers and crew raced to their stations. Back to work, the Captain thought. “The Captain has the deck and the con. Bring us to periscope depth.”

The diving officer relayed the command, and soon, the boat was at periscope depth. The Starpom began the track, with Shelpin assisting him. Then the sonar officer reported in. “Six ships bearing zero-three-eight, range 15,000 meters.”

Padorin nodded. “Up scope.” As the periscope came up, he went to take a look. First he swung the periscope around, making sure there were no other contacts, then he saw the outlines of ships when he took the periscope to full magnification. “Several ships, but I can't tell what type. Down scope, and raise the ESM antenna.”

The ESM came up, and the operator noted several radars-both ship and most disturbing, airborne. “One appears to be a helicopter radar, Comrade Captain,” the operator reported. “An LN-66 radar, Comrade Captain.”

“That means an SH-2 is out there,” the Starpom noted.

“We have identification on four ships, Comrade Captain, one Spruance or Kidd, one Charles F. Adams, one Perry, and one Farragut. Nothing yet on the other two,” the sonar officer reported.

Padorin turned to the weapons officer. “Yuri, weapons?”

“Four Klub missiles left, plus two Type-65s, for long-range shooting. A full load of torpedoes if you wish to get closer,” the weapons officer replied.

“We'll do this just like last time. Put two missiles on the Perry, one on the Adams, and one on the Spruance or Kidd. Then whoever takes missile hits, send a torpedo their way. Load two MG-74 decoys in the empty 65 tubes as well. Once the torpedoes are gone, we'll fire the decoys.” Padorin said.

Nodding, the weapons officer relayed the order to the torpedo room. The sonar officer relayed range and bearing, then gave identifications on the last two ships. “One Knox, and one more Adams, the sonar officer reported.”

“Very well. Weapons status?”

Tubes loaded and ready in all aspects, Comrade Captain.” the Weapons Officer replied.

“Let me know when you have a shooting solution,” Padorin ordered.

“Aye.” the man replied. A couple of minutes passed, then it came. “Solution light on missiles one through four.”

“Flood tubes, and open outer doors.”

“Tubes ready, Comrade Captain,”

Padorin looked at the Starpom and Shelpin. He turned to the weapons officer. “Fire.”

Four SS-N-27 missiles shot from the tubes, and their booster engines ignited. They soon raced for their targets.

Up above, the American ASW group was east of the amphibious force, expecting that any submarines attempting to interfere would be coming from the east. They were surprised when four missiles came in from the west, but reacted sharply. The Kidd-class destroyer Scott fired two SM-1 missiles at the missile targeting her, and the inbound weapon took a hit and exploded well short of the ship. The destroyer Semmes also fired, and she, too, exploded the weapon targeting her. But the Perry-class frigate Clark wasn't so fortunate. Her CIWS 20-mm gun exploded one missile short of the ship, spraying her with missile fragments, but the second struck home, exploding in the superstructure, engulfing the bridge and CIC in the explosion, and leaving her dead in the water.

“One hit, Comrade Captain,” the sonar officer reported. “The Perry has stopped.”

Padorin nodded again. “Put one Type-65 on her, and have the other Type-65 on the nearest ship.”

“That would be a Knox-class, Comrade Captain,” the sonar officer replied.

“Make it so, Yuri, and fast.” Padorin said.

The weapons officer worked the solution, and nodded. “Tubes ready. Weapons ready, Comrade Captain. Decoys ready.”

“Very well, Yuri.” Padorin said. “Fire.”

Two Type-65 torpedoes shot from K-236 and began running to their targets. Running time: eleven minutes.

“Launch decoys, and get us out of here. Right full rudder, new course one-five-zero, and make depth two hundred meters. Make turns for twenty knots.” Padorin ordered.

Two decoys were also fired, and the MG-74s ran different courses, with Padorin hoping they attracted American attention, maybe convincing them there were two submarines, as K-236 made its getaway.

0040 Hours: 4th Guards Tank Army Headquarters, Harlingen, Texas.

General Suraykin looked at his map one more time. The Americans had halted for the night, and though he was certain at first they'd renew the attack after midnight, so far, though, there'd been no sign of an attack. He turned to his operations officer. “Anything from General Nikonov at 38th Tanks?”

“He reports no sign of enemy activity to his front, Comrade General,” the operations man said.

General Golvoko, the chief of staff, spoke up. “So what's XVIII Airborne Corps doing?”

“That, Golvoko, is a very good question.” Suraykin replied. He turned to his intelligence officer. “Any ideas?”

“Comrade General, with no prisoners to interrogate, I can only speculate,” the intelligence officer responded.

“Then do so,” Suraykin snapped.

“Comrades,” the man said, addressing not only Suraykin, but the other staff officers. “It could be any number of reasons. First, they may be running low on supplies-such as fuel and ammunition, and the Corps commander may have decided to hold up so that he can replenish. Second, it may be a decision from higher up-at Third Army Headquarters,”

“General Powell, you mean.” Suraykin noted.

“Yes, Comrade General,” the man replied. “Powell may have something in mind elsewhere, and wants a coordinated operation as a result. Then there's the real likelihood of what they call 'friendly fire', especially from their aircraft, and Corps may have decided to hold off until morning,” said the intelligence man.

“And it could be a combination of all of those factors,” Golvoko commented.

“Yes, Comrade chief of staff, it could.” the man replied.

General Suraykin nodded silently, digesting the information. Then he pointed at the map. “So, where will the crisis point come?”

Golvoko spoke up. “I'd load up at the airport, Comrade General. Take the 12th Armored Cavalry away from the 29th Division, reinforce the 7th Armored, and come down from that direction. Push 38th Tanks aside, and get into the rear of not only 24th Tanks, but also the 105th Guards Airborne.”

“And if they did that, we'd be making a hasty withdrawal to avoid being cut off, and they'd have us for breakfast,” the operations man said.

“Intelligence?” Suraykin asked.

“The 77-83 junction is still very possible. Make a demonstration at the airport, and punch a hole in our defense at the junction. They've come close at least twice, and there's no reason they won't do it again.” the intelligence officer ventured.

“And a combination of the two would be worst-case, in any eventuality?” Suraykin asked, though this was for the record. He personally believed that was exactly what his counterpart at XVIII Airborne Corps had in mind.

The staff nodded. Golvoko himself feared that possibility worst of all. And if that happened, there wasn't much the 4th Guards could do about it. “Yes, it would, Comrade General.”

Suraykin nodded. “Very well. I imagine sleep will be in short supply in the coming hours. I'm going to get some sleep. That goes for all of you. Golvoko, wake me at 0500. Sooner if anything develops.” Suraykin said. And this will likely be the last day, he thought to himself.
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:45 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And more:

0046 Hours: K-236, The Gulf of Mexico

As K-236 dove for the deep, Captain Padorin was standing next to the sonar room, checking the display. Then he turned to the weapons officer. “Yuri, running time?”

“Less than a minute, Comrade Captain,” replied the weapons officer, checking his stopwatch.

Up above, the ASW Group was busy: not only were they working to prosecute and kill whoever had attacked them, but the Americans were also busy fishing sailors from the water as the frigate Clark had been rapidly reduced to a burning wreck. Her captain and executive officer had both been killed, and it had fallen to the ship's damage-control officer, the highest ranking survivor, to order Abandon Ship. Most of the crew who had survived had left the ship, and had either been picked up by boats launched from other ships, or by helicopter. Only a few were still aboard, making sure there was no one left behind who was still alive.

Aboard the destroyer Scott, a sonar operator checked her display, and then she yelled into her headset. “Torpedoes in the water! Two torpedoes bearing two-one-eight!”

The ships began taking evasive action, and also streamed their Nixie torpedo decoys. If these were Type-65s, they had a fair chance of decoying the torpedoes, even though they were wake-homers. And two ships, Scott and the Farragut-class destroyer Dewey, counterfired torpedoes down the bearing of the incoming weapons. Then the Type-65s found their targets.

Clark never had a chance: one torpedo exploded beneath the hull, just aft of amidships, and the explosion blew the frigate in half. Those who hadn't left the ship were killed, and both halves of the frigate quickly sank. Of 206 crew, 122 either went down with the ship or died of injuries later.

The second Type-65 found the Knox-class frigate Valdez, exploding just past the stern. The big fish's warhead blew the stern off the frigate all the way to the helicopter hangar, and caused extensive shock damage to the rest of the ship. Though the frigate was doomed, she managed to stay afloat long enough for the other ships in the group to conduct rescue operations. Still, of a crew of 282, 74 were lost.

“Two hits, Comrade Captain!” the sonar officer reported.

Padorin turned to the weapons officer. “Well done, Yuri.” The weapons officer nodded as Padorin turned back to the sonar officer. “Any incoming torpedoes?”

“No, Comrade Captain. There were two torpedoes-Mark 46s, apparently-but they've run out of fuel.” the sonar officer said.

“Let's get beneath the layer some more,” Padorin decided. He turned to the diving officer. “Make your depth two hundred and fifty meters, and make turns for ten knots. New course: one-five-zero.”

K-236 settled on the new heading, and slipped away from the hunt taking place astern.

0100 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment, along U.S. 281, near Rangerville, Texas.

Colonel Herrera woke up with a start. He'd been sleeping in his command vehicle, and unknowingly echoing General Suraykin, he silently thanked whoever it was that had given him a sleeping bag. It was a lot better than just a blanket, and much more comfortable. Herrera looked around at first, then decided to check on things before getting some more sleep. He walked over to the command point was, and found his executive officer keeping watch. “Major.”

“Comrade Colonel, I didn't see you.” the executive officer replied.

“Not to worry Fernando. I just decided to check on how things are before going back to sleep. Anything happening, or are they asleep just as we are?” Herrera asked.

The executive officer shook his head. “Nothing going on, Comrade Colonel. They're asleep, it looks like.”

Herrera went to an observation point, and peered out in the distance with a starlight scope. He knew full well the Americans could see farther with their thermal sights than he could see himself, but what he saw verified the executive officer's report. Herrera went back to the command point, nodding. “Maybe you're right, Fernando. Still, make sure the men on watch are alert.”

“Yes, Comrade Colonel,” the exec replied.

“I'm going to get some more sleep. Wake me if anything develops.” Herrera said, walking back to his command vehicle.

The exec nodded. “It will be done, Comrade Colonel,” the man said.

Herrera nodded, and climbed back into his command BTR-60. The driver was on watch, but the rest of the vehicle's crew was asleep on the ground. He got back into his sleeping bag and went back to sleep.

0120 Hours: Soviet 105th Guards Air Assault Division/41st Independent Tank Regiment, Harlingen, Texas.

Major Butakov peered outside the window of his command post. It was strange, not seeing the tracer duels that had been an hourly occurrence at night, ever since his regiment had arrived and taken up its positions. The occasional crack of a rifle, though, showed that it was still dangerous, for snipers were still active-on both sides, and on occasion, someone's bullet found a target. Other than that, it was eerily
quiet, with no artillery fire, no sounds of tanks or other armored vehicles moving about, in fact, hardly anything at all. And that made him uneasy. Then he crawled into a room away from the shooting and found his regimental staff, still at work. “So, anything new, either from Division, or from the 41st?” he asked his staff.

His deputy replied. “No, Comrade Major, nothing. But so far, it's like this all over the front, and not just with Division. It's happening everywhere along the line, from what Division has said.”

“They're up to something. I can feel it.” Butakov said, and he saw his chief of staff-along with his deputy, nod. “But what?”

“That, Comrade Commander, we don't know. Without any prisoners....” his intelligence officer said, his voice trailing off.

“I know. They're probably resting up, and getting ready for the morning. They'll be coming down both Highway 77 and Highway 83, and they'll be out for blood,” Butakov said. He turned to his supply officer. “How much is left?”

“Comrade Commander, we have one unit of fire for all regimental weapons. That's all we have. When that's gone,”

“When that's gone, so are we,” Butakov said, and the supply officer nodded. “Talk to Division again. See if we can't get some airdrops close to our position in the morning. Find out if those Air Force blockheads are willing to do whatever it takes to keep us fighting.”

The chief of staff nodded. “Yes, Comrade Major.”

A runner then came into the command post. “Comrade Commander, Colonel Chesnikov wants to see you right away.”

Butakov nodded, and went to follow the runner. Both managed to get to where the command point for the 41st Tank Regiment was, and Colonel Chesnikov was there, sitting beside his T-80. “Comrade Commander, Major Butakov,” the runner said as he reported.

Chesnikov stood up. “Major, Glad to see you still alive,”

“And you, Comrade Colonel. May I ask why I'm here?” Butakov asked.

“You may. How soon can you be ready for all-around defense?” Chesnikov wanted to know.

“Not that long, Comrade Colonel,” was the reply.

“Good. Now, I've got my channel to Army headquarters, and they're worried about the possibility we may get outflanked. It's not likely, but possible, nonetheless. Just be ready in case we have to conduct an all-around defense.” Chesnikov said.

Butakov nodded. “We'll be ready, Comrade Colonel. But whether or not we'll have a lot to fight with...”

“I know, Major. My regiment's in the same position. We've shot off half of our ammunition, and haven't been able to restock from regimental supply due to those aircraft and helicopters. With this lull, maybe we can. If not...my orders are to fight with what I've got left.” said Chesnikov.

Butakov understood what that meant. Fight to the last round, then, and only then, one could give up. Not before. “Is there anything else, Comrade Colonel?”

“No. Just watch the right, and the rear. If it appears we're being pocketed, call it out on the radio. Don't worry about code, just do it in plain language. Get it out-fast.” Chesnikov said.

Butakov saluted and headed back to his command post. And this time, he barely made it back, for twice, snipers took shots at him and they'd barely missed.

0200 Hours: Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport.

General Petrov woke up from a fitful sleep. He'd been camped out in his office, sleeping on a cot, and had been asleep for four hours, when a staff officer came in. “Comrade General, this just came for you,” the man said as Petrov woke up.

“What is it?” he asked groggily.

“Comrade General, I suggest you read the message,” the staffer said, handing Petrov a message form.

Petrov took it and read it by flashlight. “All right. When do they expect to be here?”

“Comrade General, perhaps a second message will tell us. All we were told was to expect some Mi-26s in from Mexico this morning.”

The Mi-26 was the largest transport helicopter in the world-just beating out the American CH-53E for that honor. And it could carry 85 troops or plenty of supplies. Oh, there'd been numerous helicopter flights into and out of the pocket, mainly Mi-8s or Mi-17s, but no heavy lift like the Mi-6 or the Mi-26. Now, for whatever reason, there would be the heavy lifters coming in. And Petrov knew that those would be easy and tempting targets for American fighters, no doubt about it. “Very well,” Petrov said. “Notify our Frontal Aviation comrades in Victoria and Monterrey. See if they can't get some fighter sorties to cover the helicopter lift.”

“Right away, Comrade General.”

“And one other thing,” Petrov said.

The staffer stopped. “Comrade General?”

“Specialists are priority for those going out via the helicopter lifts. Is that clear?” Petrov asked.

“It is, Comrade General,” the staffer responded.

“Good. Now, unless there's an attack, I'm going back to sleep. Wake me at 0400 if there's no attacks,” Petrov ordered.

“Yes, Comrade General,” the staffer said, closing the office door behind him.

Well, now. Thank you, Lukin. We never did know why the helicopters weren't used earlier, but now.....but it's not going to be enough. Another 'too little and too late' item we should've done from the start. At least some of those who need to get out of here will get that chance. Now, will this be our Saigon, or will it still turn out to be a bloodbath in the sky, Petrov thought.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:46 PM
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Schone23666 Schone23666 is offline
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Good read. One almost feels sorry for the Soviets just hanging on in Texas.

K-236 has been rather lucky so far....but how long will their luck hold? So far they've encountered ASW groups and come away with several kills...but what if they were to say, encounter a Los Angeles class sub or two prowling the waters? That would be interesting.
"The use of force is always an answer to problems. Whether or not it's a satisfactory answer depends on a number of things, not least the personality of the person making the determination. Force isn't an attractive answer, though. I would not be true to myself or to the people I served with in 1970 if I did not make that realization clear."
— David Drake
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:31 AM
Olefin Olefin is offline
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A great read and a compelling story - and that sub is getting very very lucky - have a feeling with as many kills as he has had that its going to get at least one Los Angeles class going after it if not two - the story as a whole has some great touches - including some very graphic details that many ignore in their stories about war

cant wait to see more installments
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Old 03-31-2015, 06:27 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And the clock keeps ticking...

0220 Hours: 38th Tank Division, Rio Grande Valley International Airport, Harlingen, Texas.

General Nikonov stepped out of his command vehicle, and went to the where the 327th Tank Regiment's command post was situated, just south of the airport perimeter. A soldier on watch stopped him, but when he recognized the general, called for the Sergeant of the Guard. Nikonov went to the regimental command post, where Colonel Anatoly Pushkin was waiting. “Comrade General,”

“Pushkin,” Nikonov said. “All quiet? I wanted to have a look for myself, before things get started.”

“All is quiet to the north, Comrade General,” Pushkin replied. “It looks like they're all asleep.”

“Not for long, Colonel. I take it you're on normal night watch?”

“Absolutely, Comrade General!” Pushkin replied. A normal night watch had one-third of the men awake at all times, with the rest asleep. What worried Niknonov, though, was that the Americans could be coming, and they'd see his men before they could see the Americans.

“Good, Colonel. Is your regimental reconnaissance out?” Niknonov asked.

“Yes, Comrade General,” Pushkin replied. “They've gone north about two kilometers, and have only found wrecked vehicles and aircraft-along with bodies. As you instructed, they halted before going any further.”

Nikonov nodded. “Excellent,Colonel. At least we'll have some warning for when they come, or at least, I hope we will.”

“Yes, Comrade General. But so far, there's not a sign of the enemy.” Pushkin said.

“That won't last. Come daybreak, there's going to be tanks and fighting vehicles coming down those runways, and all over the airport. M-60A4s with those 120 guns, and Bradleys and their TOW missiles. And the sky's going to be full of aircraft-mostly theirs, but ours as well. Remind your air-defense people not to knock down our own planes.”

Pushkin nodded. “They've been told, Comrade General.”

“Tell them again,” Nikonov ordered. As he turned to leave, he said one more thing. “Pushkin? There's this: if we go, the entire Army will be outflanked. And they'll have 28th Army as well. Give them our best, no matter what.”

“We will, Comrade General!” Pushkin said, with a little too much enthusiasm in his voice.

As General Nikonov returned to his command vehicle, he knew that most of the 327th was going to die come morning. He'd talked to some survivors from 20th Tanks and even the Rogachev Guards. The Americans had been very methodical-and very precise. Every tank, every armored personnel carrier or infantry fighting vehicle, every artillery or antitank gun, and every truck, had been destroyed or simply knocked out. And he fully expected the same fury to descend on his division come first light. A pity about Colonel Pushkin, though. Three years at Freunze as an instructor, and he finally gets the combat command he desired. Only now, his first battle in America is going to be his last. He'd seen his share of commanders with too much enthusiasm before, and he'd been a regimental commander then, at a place hardly any Russian had heard of until May, 1987. At a place called Wichita.

0245 Hours: 175th Naval Infantry Brigade, South Padre Island, Texas

Major Lazarev peered out to sea from the ground floor of his headquarters. Mentally, he cursed whoever had ordered his unit-and the other units tasked with coastal defense-to a full alert status. As if the Americans would risk a landing now, in the dead of night. No, they'd wait, until daybreak, and before that, they'd bombard the defenses with not only carrier aircraft, but those battleships. And word of the Brazos Island landing had been passed around, so he imagined that was why his unit (among others) had been alerted.

Now, as he peered through his binoculars, he saw nothing. Shaking his head, he went up to the fifth floor, where the lookouts from the now-wrecked destroyer Boiky had set up their observation point after an American cruiser had shelled the area-and rooftop access was now hazardous, at best. There, he found Captain Lieutenant Kamarov, the former executive officer of the Boiky, sitting behind some very powerful glasses. Kamarov turned, and spotted Lazarev, “Good morning, Comrade Major,”

“The same to you, Kamarov,” Lazarev replied.”Anything from your vantage point?”

“Nothing so far,” the destroyer officer said. “My guess is that they'll wait until daybreak to show themselves. Then we'll be in for it.”

“That's assuming they land here,” Lazarev pointed out.

“True, but even if their appearance here is a diversion, there's nothing diversionary about those forty-centimeter shells they'll be dropping in on us.” Kamarov reminded the naval infantry officer.

Lazarev shook at that. He remembered how bad it had been when the cruiser Des Moines had shelled the area, and those had been twenty-centimeter rounds. And there were four battleships that could, in theory, be pounding away at his defenses, clearing the way for the U.S. Marines to land. “Quite so, Comrade. Quite so. But there's nothing at the moment?'

“Not a sign.” Kamarov said. “Our field phone still works. You'll get word if we sight anything.”

“Let me know the instant you sight any ships coming in,” Kamarov ordered. “At least, we can get to shelter and ride out the bombardment.”

Kamarov thought for a moment. Was the naval infantryman crazy, or just optimistic? But, he remembered, there were other possible landing sites, and those battleships couldn't be everywhere at once. “There is that, Comrade Major.”

0305 Hours: Cuban 214th Tank Regiment, U.S. 281, southwest of Rangerville, Texas.

Colonel Herrera woke up in his command vehicle, and this time, he was fully awake and alert. He checked his watch, and found that he'd gotten about five hours of sleep. It would have to do, he knew, and today promised to be as busy as the previous one. The Colonel got out of his command vehicle, where several of his men were still asleep on the ground, and quietly went over to the regiment's command post. There, he found his executive officer, and several staff officers, quietly talking. “Comrades?”

The executive officer turned. “Comrade Colonel, you're up early.”

“I'm fully awake, and decided to go ahead and get up, Fernando. Is there anything new?”

The executive officer motioned for one of the staff orderlies to get a cup of coffee for the Colonel. After he did so, he reported, “No, Comrade Colonel, nothing yet. Though Major Murayev was here a half-hour ago. He's sent some of his men out ahead of us. When the Americans come, we'll get some warning at least.”

Herrera nodded. The Soviet air-assault troopers were showing just how tough they were-and how their officers could use their heads when things demanded it. Murayev had been an Afghan vet before coming to America, and he'd brought that experience with him. Perhaps that explained his continued survival: a year in Afghanistan, and four years here, and the man hadn't even had so much as a scratch. “Very good , Fernando. Go get some rest yourself, I'll take over here, until stand-to.” When the executive officer hesitated, Herrera reminded him, “That's an order, Fernando.”

The man nodded, and went off to his own vehicle to get some sleep. As he did so, Herrera told the duty staff, “Wake up your counterparts, and get them here. Then get some rest yourselves. You'll be glad you did.” As they did so, Major Murayev came in. “Ah, Major. Have your men reported anything?”

The air-assault officer shook his head. “No, Comrade Colonel. Nothing serious. Though they did draw some fire as they set up. Probably from someone who thought he'd seen something and opened fire. No casualties, though.”

Herrera nodded. It was a common enough occurrence, and often not worth reporting. “How many do you have out?”

“Two platoons, Comrade Colonel,” the Soviet major replied.

“Good. Because until we stand-to at daybreak, they're the only warning we'll have,” Herrera said.

To the north, along the highway, Captain Nancy Kozak's company team was in the same position as the Cubans: most of them were still asleep. Though Kozak herself had awakened at 0300, having snatched about five hours' sleep herself. Like Colonel Herrera, she was fully awake, and decided not to go back to sleep. But she checked her map, reading it by a red flashlight, and thought to herself, Soon, Fidel. Soon. We're going to Brownsville today, and just you try and stop us.

0325 Hours: 315th Independent Transport Helicopter Regiment, near Villa Hermosa, Mexico.

Major Gregori Sabin was not a happy man at the moment. Someone, he thought, had lost his head, and as a result, he and his fellow pilots and crew members stood a chance of getting themselves killed in the process. His Regiment-though a regiment in name only-had received orders to start flying into and out of the pocket, bringing supplies in, and taking people out. With what, he asked. Only four Mi-26s remained, and one of those was unserviceable. The Americans had been out looking for any helicopter or transport fields-and bombing them heavily whenever they found them. And whenever a helicopter was found in the air, it was an easy target for any American aircraft, and he knew full well that any self-respecting fighter pilot would gladly go for a helicopter and rack up an easy kill. And a fully laden Mi-26 was easy prey for such fighter pilots.

Sabin's regiment had been stationed in Kaunas, Lithuania, prior to deploying to Mexico, and he'd seen a great deal of action since the war began in 1985. San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Tulsa, the Ozarks, he'd been there for all of it. And then they'd been kicked back south, and he'd flown missions evacuating wounded and flying in supplies to places like Dallas, before getting sent unceremoniously packing again. And now, the 315th was back where they'd started, but only this time, his squadron was a shadow of its former self. And the same went for the regiment: Of two Mi-8 squadrons and two Mi-26 squadrons, there were only five Mi-8s left total, and only four Mi-26s. And due to casualties, he was the acting regimental commander, something he'd rather not have. At least I don't have a Zampolit, he thought, and that's the only good thing about it. He went over to the air command post, where he found his deputy, who was busy checking the maintenance records. “Yuri,”

Captain Yuri Kovpak looked up from the records he was checking. “Major. Just checking all the records of the available helicopters.”

“Good. Because I have a feeling this is going to be our Saigon today. I want all three aircraft flying as long as possible.” Sabin said.

“That bad? The fixed-wing airlift's been a mess, and I thought they were keeping us out.” Kovpak said.”Our loss rate's been prohibitive.”

“It's that bad. And probably going to be worse. Between you and me, they've got two days left there. At the most. There's a lot of people-wounded and others-who need to get out. And we may be their last chance if the airlift closes.” Sabin reminded his deputy.

“At least we won't have to refuel. Just get everyone out, load up on supplies, and get back in,” Kovpak said. “What about air cover? If those F-16s or F-20s find us....”

“No guarantees, but we should have fighters overhead. Should, Yuri,” Sabin said, remembering the mission orders they'd received the previous afternoon.

“Should,” Kovpak said. “How many times have we seen American fighters get in among the transports? And not a single MiG or Sukhoi in sight.”

“Enough. But we have no choice but to try.” Sabin reminded his friend.

“When do we start, then?” Kovpak asked. Soon, they'd have to wake everyone up who was needed.

“Daybreak. And we'll be at it all day, or until we're either shot down or forced down with a mechanical,” Sabin pointed out.

Kovpak thought for a moment. He knew full well what their odds of getting through the day were. But like his CO, he was a professional to the end. “I'd rather take the mechanical. Then I know I'll get home-eventually.”

0350 Hours: 177th Independent Reconnaissance Battalion, 38th Tank Division, Rio Grande Valley International Airport, Harlingen, Texas.

Captain Ivan Penkov scanned the northern horizon from his BTR-70. He commanded the 38th Tanks' reconnaissance battalion, and he knew the Americans were out there, somewhere. General Nikonov himself had given him his orders: report the enemy advance, then fall back. Information was needed, not heroics, and the General had repeatedly stressed that, not only to Penkov, but to his company commanders. Though his long-range reconnaissance company was out, he doubted they'd return, for he'd heard tank fire and what sounded like cannon fire from a Bradley several times, followed by fireballs. All he knew was that they had not reported since passing the line of departure, and after that, nothing. He'd reported that to division, and was told to continue his mission.

Now, he scanned the runways and their approaches. Burned-out vehicles and corpses littered the whole area, and the airport buildings had been reduced to rubble, and his own reconnaissance vehicles and tanks lurked among them, watching and waiting. Penkov knew the Americans cold see farther at night than he could, and it was very likely the first sign that they were about would be one or more of his vehicles exploding. At least he'd ordered his dismounts outside, and some of them had occupied the wrecked buildings, using them as observation points.

His Zampolit came up to him. Senior Lieutenant Vladimir Gorenko, though a political officer, was no party hack. He was a combat veteran, having been in the company for over a year, and was well liked by the other officers, as well as the men. And for once, Penkov thought, if anything happens to me, I'd rather have Gorenko take over than someone who thinks Party dogma is a substitute for doctrine. “Vladimir, anything?”

“Nothing, Comrade Captain. Nothing at all. They must be asleep to the north.” Gorenko responded.

“That won't last. From what the General said, they'll be coming down on us at first light, and we'll be in for it.” Penko reminded his political officer.

“That's likely to be an understatement, Comrade Captain,” Gorenko said. “Still can't believe the 20th Tanks and the Rogachev Guards got shot to pieces. Those two divisions were among the best.”

“Not anymore,” Penko said. “What's left of them is just so much scrap.”

Unknown to Penko or Gorenko, some American LRRP troopers were slipping into the airport. They'd easily avoided the Soviets-the lack of dismounts in quantity had enabled that, and now, they were reporting back on the Soviet strength at the airport. Their information confirmed what the Air Force had reported: reinforcements at the airport, and in division strength. The commander of the 7th Armored smiled. The Soviets had reinforced a failure, and he was more than willing to make them pay for that. He looked at his watch. Not that long, he knew. And then the Soviets would find themselves in a world of hurt. And he wasn't planning to stop until he reached the 77-83 Freeway. Then he planned to turn left and keep on going.
Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, but always have a plan to kill them.

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Old 03-31-2015, 06:30 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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And the final assault is about to go in....

0405 Hours: Soviet Headquarters, Brownsville

General Chibisov entered the Operations Room. He'd been awakened only a few minutes previously, and despite Marshal Alekseyev's orders to be awakened at 0400, the Chief of Staff knew that the Marshal needed sleep, much more than he or the rest of the staff did. Chibisov decided to let Marshal Alekseyev get some more rest, before waking him. He went over to the map, and found the deputy operations officer. “Anything new?” Chibisov asked.

“No, Comrade General, nothing. We've gotten regular updates from the various headquarters, but so far, nothing unusual.”

Chibisov nodded, and looked at the map again. “I don't like it at all,” he said. “Powell is up to something.”

“Yes, Comrade General, but what?” the staffer replied.

“That is a very good question,” Chibisov said as General Dudorov came into the room. “General,”

“Comrade Chief of Staff,” Dudorov said. “Where's the Marshal?”

“He needs his sleep. Let him sleep in for a while longer. If nothing's happening, I'd rather let him sleep some more.” Chibisov said.

Dudorov nodded. “Yes. And so far, nothing is happening?”

“Not even at sea,” Chibisov replied.

Then one of the phones rang, and a staffer took the call. “Comrade Chief of Staff, it's South Padre Island. Some of the obstacles on the beach have been blown up,” the man said.

“Beach obstacles?” Dudorov asked. “That means there's going to be a landing.”

“Or simply a diversion,” Chibisov commented. “Where, exactly?”

“On the southern tip of the Island, Comrade General,” the staffer said.

Chibisov turned to Dudorov. “Now something's happening. I'll go wake the Marshal.”

Dudorov nodded agreement, as Chibisov went to Alekseyev's office. He knocked, and then entered. “Comrade Marshal?”

Alekseyev opened his eyes. “Hmm. It's you, Pavel Pavlovitich. What time is it?”

“0410, Comrade Marshal. You needed some more sleep time, Though it was only ten minutes, I'm afraid. But something has happened, and it may be nothing, or the prelude to something.”

Alekseyev stood up. “I'll shave first. Then go to the operations room. You can tell me then. And get Colonel Sergetov.”

Chibisov nodded and left the office. Alekseyev quickly shaved and took care of his morning routine, then went into the Operations Room. He found Sergetov there, waiting. “Comrades,”

“Good morning, Comrade Marshal,” Sergetov said.

“Now, what's happened?”

Chibisov took a pointer. “Someone, not quite a half-hour ago, blew up some of the beach obstacles on South Padre Island. Obviously it was a SEAL operation, but for what purpose?”

Alekseyev nodded. “Either a landing is planned, or there's the first diversionary action. Either way, they're coming ashore. Today.”

“It looks that way, Comrade Marshal.” Chibisov said.

Alekseyev turned to Sergetov. “Inform General Andreyev. Tell him it's coming. Today.”

0420 Hours: Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport.

General Petrov left his office, and went outside to find his engineering officer. Operations were planned to resume at first light, and he wanted a runway status update. On the way to the engineers, he noticed the number of wounded had grown. And he knew full well that there was no way all of them would get a ride out. Still, we have to try, he thought. And so it has come to this: the American adventure is in its final throes. If he'd had his way, there would have been an honorable way out months earlier, but since no one had been interested.... Still, he was a professional to the end, and he would do his duty.

Petrov came to the engineers, and found his engineering officer. “Well, Colonel? Runway status, please.”

“Comrade General,” the man replied. “I've got crews out, repairing last evening's craters. Two craters, one each at two runway junctions. Both should be finished by 0500.”

“Very good,” Petrov replied. “And the drop zones?”

“Being checked now, Comrade General,” the Colonel said. “So far, nothing. But the check's only half finished. My men are dead tired, as you know, and things aren't going as fast as they usually would.”

Petrov nodded. “I know, Comrade Colonel. But ask your men: Would they rather be tired or dead?”

“Point taken, Comrade General. We'll get these runways finished by 0500. A foreign-object sweep, then we'll be ready for operations.” the SAF colonel replied.

“Very good. Keep at it,” Petrov said.

The SAF man nodded as Petrov left to return to the Operations Room. He stopped to check the aircraft status board: two An-26s had been trapped overnight, and would leave first thing as soon as the runways were declared safe and ready. Also leaving would be an Il-76, and that Libyan AF C-130. How that plane had managed to get in and out without being shot down by either side was something that amazed him, but he decided not to ask. Maybe it's the fact that it's the last thing the Americans would expect, he thought. Then his communications officer came to him. “Comrade General, the first aircraft have left Cuban fields. We should have the first aircraft making drops at 0700.”

“Excellent, Major,” Petrov said. “You should also be thinking about the destruct bill: if worse comes to worse, how fast can you destroy your codes and classified materials?”

“I've got a couple of burn barrels prepared, Comrade General. It won't take long, I can promise you,”

“Good. Because it's likely that today may be our last day here. Be ready to implement the destruct bill at any moment.” said Petrov.

0445 Hours: 76th Guards Air Assault Division/47th Tank Brigade, East of Brownsville, Texas.

General Andreyev was meeting with his regimental commanders, as well as with Colonel Sergei Glavchenko, the commander of the 47th Tank Brigade. Andreyev looked over the officers, and he'd served with the airborne officers ever since the beginning of the war, with the drop into Colorado. Now, it was down to this, and what might very well be the last day of the war-in this part of North America, anyway. Glavchenko, he only knew by reputation, but he'd carved out a name for himself as a hard-charging armor officer, who'd also been a little reckless at times, especially in the early days, but now...it wasn't recklessness that was needed, but caution.

“So, that's it, Comrades. We're now on full alert, and our task is simple: halt any inland progress of a Marine landing for as long as possible.” Andreyev said.

Colonel Suslov, who led the 234th Guards Air Assault Regiment, nodded. “And where do we deploy, Comrade General?”

“Right now, we haven't been released. There are two possible landing sites: the first is on South Padre Island, though that's not likely due to the fact that the Queen Isabella causeway is rigged for demolition, though a SEAL operation to disarm the charges can't be ruled out.” Andreyev remarked.

“And the second?” Colonel Mikhail Ivanov, who had the 236th Guards Air Assault Regiment, asked.

“Right here, at the eastern end of Highway 4,” Andreyev said. It's more likely to be a landing site, due to the beach, and a good road leading away from the beach.”

Andreyev's intelligence officer spoke next, “Those tidal flats and lagoons will help, Comrade General.”

“They're still within range of Naval Gunfire, and our task is to hold them outside the range of those battleship and cruiser guns,” Andreyev replied. “I think we can assume that we're headed along Highway 4, as South Padre Island is not a likely landing site.”

Colonel Glavchenko noted the area, “Not much room to maneuver, Comrade General.”

Andreyev nodded. “True, but right now, there's not much choice. The Americans will choose the landing site, but we'll choose the battlefield. Here, just as the beach area, along with the tidal flats and marshes end, and more solid-and defensible terrain, begins.”

“Has the Navy done anything?” Colonel Suslov asked.

“Not much: there's a coastal-defense missile battalion with four launchers, and they've had minefields, but those are mainly to protect the shipping channel,” Alekseyev replied. “And Comrades, the beach itself has but a single battalion defending it. And of all the possibles, it's a penal battalion.” Alekseyev said, allowing that bit of information to sink in.

“A penal unit?” Major Nikolai Boborov, who commanded the 235th Air Assault Regiment, asked, dumbstruck.

“Yes, Comrades,” Andreyev said. “And I imagine that they'll hinder the Americans for all of a half-hour, at the most. Longer if the guard company hasn't taken to its heels.”

Andreyev's officers nodded. It had happened before: a penal unit left to hold an impossible situation, and had not resisted hardly at all. “That, Comrade General, won't be a surprising development,” Suslov remarked.

“Yes. Right, then: Suslov, your regiment is divisional reserve. Boborov, you and Ivanov are up front. The 235th is on the left side of Highway 4, 236th on the right. And Colonel Glavchenko, your brigade is right behind the 234th. Be prepared to pass through and counterattack on my order.” Andreyev said. “Any more questions?”

“Just one, Comrade General,” Boborov said. “What's our ammunition state?”

“One unit of fire for all heavy weapons, and two days' worth of small-arms and other infantry weapons. That's it.” Andreyev said. “All right, if that's it, get back to your units, and be ready to move.”

0510 Hours: 4th Guards Tank Army Headquarters, Harlingen, Texas.

General Golvoko went to the door of the warehouse the command vehicles were parked in. He looked towards the east, and saw the first hint of light beginning to appear on the horizon. He nodded, and went back inside. Soon, he knew. And he knew that he'd best wake General Suraykin. He walked over to the command vehicle, and knocked on the hatch. Then he opened it. “Comrade General?”

Suraykin stirred in his sleeping bag. “Oh, Golvoko. What's the time?”

“It's 0510, Comrade General. You needed some more sleep, so forgive me for not waking you earlier.”

Suraykin got out of his sleeping bag, and climbed out of the vehicle as Golvoko got out of the way. “One thing that all generals seem to have: a chief of staff who's more like mother hen. No matter what army they're in.”

“Quite so, Comrade General.” Golvoko reported. “So far, things are quiet, all along the front.”

Suraykin nodded as he went to shave. “That won't last. Once dawn breaks, they'll be coming at us, and it won't be long before we'll be unable to stop them. Have breakfast waiting in the operations section, and brief me then.”

Golvoko nodded as Suraykin went to shave and brush his teeth. Then he came into the operations section and checked the map. “So far, not a thing?”

“They have been quiet since late last night, Comrade General,” Golvoko reported. “Minor patrol activity, and in the more urban areas of Harlingen, there's been continued sniper activity as well.”

Suraykin nodded as a breakfast of bread, cheese, a boiled egg, and tea, was served by his orderly. “Anything else of note?”

His air force liaison spoke next. “We'll be getting some helicopter lift in,once it's light enough, Comrade General. Mi-8s for the most part. And a maximum effort by Frontal Aviation as well.”

“And the airlift?” Suraykin asked.

“Some drops, but most of what we can expect is going to be by helicopter. For as long as they're flying.” the Air Force man said.

“And with the American fighter activity, that won't last,” Golvoko observed.

“One thing at a time, Comrades,” Suraykin noted. “Their fighters can't be everywhere at once, and I'm sure our helicopter comrades will do whatever they can to support us.” He turned to the air force man. “Will they be taking passengers out?”

“Yes, Comrade General.”

“All right, then.” Suraykin turned to his staff. “Get a list of all those who absolutely can't fall into enemy hands, all of you. Have them ready to leave on those helicopters. And do it fast.”

Heads nodded. Then the phone rang, and Golvoko answered. “Comrade General, it's General Nikonov at the airport.”

Suraykin swallowed a piece of cheese and took the phone. “Yes? When? All right, Nikonov, do your best, and I'll get whatever the Air Force can spare up to you.” He hung up the phone.

“Comrade General?” Golvoko asked.

“They're coming. The 7th Armored Division is starting to move.”
Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, but always have a plan to kill them.

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