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Old 02-04-2015, 09:18 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Location: Auberry, CA
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One of the Soviet-centric stories: How Marshal Sergei Akhromayev became the Defense Minister of the USSR (a job he didn't want)....

Congratulations, Comrade Marshal

Defense Minister's Office, Defense Ministry, Moscow, USSR, 1400 Hours Moscow Time, 16 May, 1987:

Marshal Sergei Sokolov, the Defense Minister of the USSR, sat at his desk. A career soldier, he had taken the job of Defense Minister after the death of Marshal Nikolai Rostov, who had succeeded Dimitry Ustinov. Rostov had been in the job when the war with America and her allies began, and at first, the Soviets and their fraternal socialist partners had experienced success, as well as neutralizing the Chinese threat for the foreseeable future. But, when the Spring-Summer Offensive in 1986 had failed to finish the war in North America, Rostov had been forced out and then liquidated. The General Secretary, Viktor Chebrikov, had then appointed him to the position of Defense Minister, and was tasked with planning “the final victory of Socialism.” However, after the American counterattack that summer, and the disasterous Vancouver campaign, it was his opinion that the best the Soviets could hope for was to bleed the Americans white, and force them to accept a negotiated settlement on Soviet terms. But the Chief of the General Staff, General Pavel Grachev, had reminded him the last time a general promised to bleed his enemy white. That general was the Chief of the German General Staff, General Erich von Falkenheyn, at a place called Verdun. And the man wound up resigning after the German failure.

Now, the promised Spring offensive in America had gone off, and to his horror, the Americans had been waiting for the Soviet forces. The attempt to seal off and eliminate the American salient around Wichita in an operation similar to Operation Uranus in 1942 had failed. According to the GRU, the American media was hailing it as the greatest tank battle in history, surpassing Kursk. And the Americans had won. And all that could be done now was to wait for the inevitable American counterattack. So far, there had been an American attack, but TVD Amerika was hopeful that this attack could be halted, and the situation restored.

Then his speaker buzzed. “Yes?”

“Comrade Minister,” his secretary said. “It's General Maslov, the chief of Operations. He says it's urgent.”

“Put him through,” Sokolov ordered. He picked up the receiver. “Yes, Maslov?”

“Comrade Minister, would you please come down to the Operations Room? We have a situation here.”

“I'll be there right away,” Sokolov said. He got up and left his office. In the outer office, he told his secretary, “Galina? No calls.”

“Yes, Comrade Minister,” his secretary, a very attractive female signals Captain, said.

Sokolov nodded at his ADC. “Mikhail Petrovich, let's go to the Operations Room.”

“Comrade Minister,” Major Mikhail Bosak, an airborne officer who had won the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union in 1985 for seizing the bridges over the Red River along Interstate 35, nodded. The Major rose and followed his Marshal out.

The two went to the secure elevator and went down several stories below street level. There, in a bunker hardened to withstand the effects of a nuclear blast, though Sokolov doubted that it would, in the event of a direct hit, After passing thorough two security checkpoints, the Marshal and his aide entered the Operations Area. There, he found Col. Gen. Nikolai Baranov, the deputy Chief of the General Staff, waiting. The Chief of the General Staff, General Grachev, was on an inspection of the Beylorussian Military District, and was thus unavailable. “Yes, Baranov?

“Comrade Minister, General Maslov sent me to receive you. I think you had better come this way,” he said, gesturing to the Operations Room.

“This had better be important,” Sokolov growled.

“It is, Comrade Minister,” Baranov nodded. It appeared to Major Bosak that the General had a very grave expression on his face. He conducted the two officers into the Operations Room, which had several maps of various regions of the world. On the map of Europe, Soviet air and naval action against the British was shown, along with the assembling forces in Baltic ports for the planned assault on the East Coast of Britain, while Allied air and naval action against Soviet convoys bound for Cuba and Mexico was also noted. In the Mediterranean, Allied convoys with war materiel from Egypt and Israel, as well as Middle East oil, were passing through without much interference, and the same was said for the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. The map for the Far East had the nuclear strikes on China still pinpointed, as well as those PLA units still active in Manchuria. That was still causing the Soviets trouble, though the occasional theater missile strike was needed to keep those bastards quiet. It also showed, much to the Marshal's displeasure, targets in the Soviet Far East that had been hit by American and British bombers flying from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Okinawa, as well as the Soviet convoys going to and from occupied Alaska.

The next map showed the Northern Theater, from Alaska down thorough Canada, and that theater, since the disaster in Vancouver, was a stalemate. Though the key towns and the roads in Alaska were under Soviet control, the large areas of the state marked “Guerrilla” showed just how tenuous the Soviets' control was, and that the prewar plan to incorporate Alaska into the USSR after victory was likely to be grossly overoptimistic. The same was said for Canada from the Yukon into British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies, where Soviet and North Korean control was also limited to the roads, and there were settlements that had never seen a Soviet or North Korean solider, and those areas were known to be under the control of the Canadian Western Partisan Command. The rest of the Canadian Front was, from east of Vancouver all the way to the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, stalemate. The Soviets weren't getting enough supplies forward from Alaska to sustain offensive operations, while the Allies, mainly British and Canadian, with some Americans in British Columbia and Southern Alberta, were content to keep the Soviets entertained, with minor attacks, probes, and deep raids being the norm. But the main focus was on the Southern Theater, where the Soviets' main offensive had been launched.

“What is it? Sokolov growled as Gen. Andrei Maslov, the Chief of Operations, came into the room.

“Comrade Marshal, we're about to update the map. I suggest you have a careful look at what you see.”

Sokolov, Maslov, and the other staff officers now gathered watched as the map showing the American heartland, from Colorado and New Mexico in the West, to the Mississippi River in the East, showed the current battle lines. Though, given the time lag in updating the map was twelve hours, it was generally sufficient, given how things had gone since 1985. Now, though...

First, Sokolov watched as the last siege lines near Denver fell back, and several American formations pushed forward south from Interstate 70, the main east-west highway in this part of America, headed south and southeast, while another American force, this one pushing through Eastern New Mexico, was headed to meet them. It appeared to Sokolov that the U.S. Fourth and Sixth Armies were intent on creating a pocket similar to that the Soviets had created in Operation Uranus, back in 1942.

Then, to his horror, the forces that had launched the Wichita Offensive were being steadily pushed back, as the U.S. Fifth Army was now pushing not only into Western Kansas, but also down into Eastern Kansas and even the Northeastern tip of Oklahoma. And in Arkansas? Counters now showed the U.S. First Army pushing into Northern Arkansas, and across the Mississippi from Kentucky and Tennessee into the eastern part of the state. Several hundred kilometers of his front line, in fact, nearly all of it, had simply disintegrated.

And to the New Mexico, the U.S. Sixth Army was carving through the state like a butcher carved meat. And it looked as if they wouldn't stop until they reached the border with Texas. About the only bright spot was Louisiana: the U.S. Third Army had limited itself to harassing attacks, but no full-scale offensive. Though that could change at any time. “My God...” Sokolov muttered. “Is this right?'

“Yes, Comrade Minister,” Maslov said. “The Americans have launched a general offensive, all along the front. And given that many of our tank reserves were sent to the Wichita offensive, we lack the armored strength to counter them.”

Sokolov looked at his Operations Chief as if the man had suddenly grown two heads. And yet, he knew that Maslov was right. Proud units like the First Guards Tank Army, the Seventh Guards Tank Army, and Third Shock Army, had been gutted, losing at least half their strength, and in one melee east of Wichita, the First Guards Tank Army had run into their old NATO adversaries, the Americans' V Corps, and had been shattered. The same had gone for Third Shock Army, encountering the U.S. VII Corps, which had last been known to have been in Southern Alberta and Northern Montana, and instead had run into a hornet's nest. Now, those tank armies, along with the rest of the Soviet and Fraternal Socialist forces, were pulling back as fast as they could. It was that, or stand fast and be destroyed. “Where is Marshal Kribov?”

“We do not know, Comrade Minister,” Maslov replied. “He went to a forward headquarters to observe, and if necessary, take control of the battle, but we have not heard from him in several hours.”

“Then find him. In the meantime, notify his deputy, General Alekseyev, and instruct him to take all necessary measures to restore the stability of the front.”

“Yes, Comrade Minister,” Maslov said. He nodded to his communications man, who went off to the communications center to send the message.

“In the meantime, we'll wait until this takes clearer shape. I'll be in my office. Thank you, Comrades.” Sokolov nodded, then he and his aide left the Operations Room, leaving Maslov and his deputy, Col. Gen. Piotyr Boldin, dumbfounded, along with General Branov, who was quite disgusted.

“What?” Boldin shouted. “We've just had a combination of Operation Uranus and Operation Kutuzov inflicted on us, and all he says is 'wait?'”
“I don't like it any more than you do,” Maslov replied calmly. The Operations Chief thought for a few moments, then nodded to his aide. “Where is General Grachev?”

“In Minsk,” the aide replied. “He's on an inspection trip to the Beylorussian Military District.”

Maslov looked at General Baranov. “We need him here.”

“I agree,” Baranov replied. He turned to his own aide. “Get to the communications center. Send a message to General Grachev in Minsk.” He thought for a moment, composing the message in his head. “Advise him that the situation at the front requires his presence in Moscow.” Baranov looked at the man. “Do it on my authority.”

“Yes, Comrade General,” The aide, a tank forces major with a burn scar on his neck, replied.

“Wait,” Maslov said. “Where is Marshal Akhromeyev?”

“In Omsk, inspecting the Ural Tank Works,” Baranov replied. “Why do you ask?” Then it occurred to him. When Chebrikov found out about the scale of the disaster now unfolding on the American prairie, Sokolov would be out. And then the deputy Defense Minister would take the job. “You want him back here?”

“We'd better,” Maslov said “Especially if the Minister is.....retired.”

Barnaov looked at General Boldin, who nodded. “I agree, Comrade General.”

“Well, Baranov?” Maslov asked. “Do you send that message, or do I?”

Baranov looked at the other two generals, then at the map. He then turned to his aide, who had waited patiently. “Send the same message to Marshal Akhromeyev.”

“Yes, Comrade General,” the aide replied, heading for the exit.

“And do it fast.”

Marshal Sokolov and his aide returned to the Minister's office. “That will be all for now, Bosak,” he said to his aide.

“Comrade Minister,” Major Bosak replied, heading for his desk.

“Any calls, Galina?”

“No calls, Comrade Minister,” his secretary replied.

“Thank you,” Sokolov nodded. He went into his office and sat at his desk. There, he thought for a few minutes. The General Secretary had insisted on this offensive, and Sokolov, knowing the consequences of not doing otherwise, had acceded. Now, not only had the Americans stopped the offensive in its tracks, but they had themselves gone over to the offensive. The map didn't lie. Most of his line in the American heartland was threatened with collapse, and there wasn't much anyone could do about it, except give Marshal Kribov, or Alekseyev, if Kribov had been killed, the freedom of action to stabilize the front. And the General Secretary would not be pleased when he was told of the disaster now unfolding, and that there would be an obvious target of his wrath. He took out a pen and paper, and composed a note for his wife. He then wrote another letter, meant for his successor, and a copy for General Grachev as well.

Marshal Sokolov then went to his liquor cabinet, poured himself a glass of vodka, and then sat back at his desk. He then took out his service pistol, put it to his temple, and fired.

His secretary and aide heard the shot. They came into the office to find the Marshal slumped over his desk, bleeding from a single bullet wound to the brain. “I'll get a doctor,” Galina, his secretary, said.

“Don't bother,” Major Bosak said. “Call Generals Maslov and Baranov. Ask them to please come to the Minister's office.”

“Yes, Comrade Major.”

Omsk-Sevrinny Air Base, Omsk, RSFSR: 1600 Hours Moscow Time:

Marshal Sergei Akhromayev left his staff car at the Base Headquarters, and went into the operations section. A phone call had come in on his staff car's telephone, saying that an urgent message had come in for him from Moscow. He was now wondering what the fuss was about. The Marshal found the base commander, a harried Voyska PVO Colonel, waiting for him. “Yes, Comrade Colonel?”

“Comrade Marshal,” the Colonel nodded. “This message is for you.”

“Thank you, Comrade,” Akhromayev replied. He read the message form, then turned to his ADC, a young airborne major who still had a slight limp. “Well, Arkady, the rest of the trip is off. Notify the advance party in Krasnyoarsk.”

Major Anatoly Sorokin, a holder of the Red Banner who had been wounded outside some town in Colorado on the first day, said, “Yes, Comrade Marshal. We are....?

“Returning to Moscow,” The Marshal replied. Have our aircraft readied for departure as soon as possible.”

“Right away, Comrade Marshal,” Major Sorokin replied. He first went to send the message to the advance party, then informed the commander of the Marshal's aircraft, an Il-62 fitted out as a command plane with the latest communications equipment the USSR could provide. A half-hour later, the aircraft was airborne, heading west.

“What's going on in Moscow?' Akhromayev asked his aide.

“Comrade Marshal, I haven't the faintest idea,” Sorokin replied. “It could be anything. Though news from the front would be my guess.”

“It would be mine as well,” the Marshal nodded. “It's a five-hour flight, Comrade Major. Wake me when we're getting ready to land.”

Sorokin nodded. “Comrade Marshal.” His Marshal nodded back, then closed his eyes and sat back in his seat. In minutes, he was fast asleep. The Major then went aft, to the aircraft's communications and staff area. “Anything new?” he asked the Communications Officer, an army signals Major.

“Nothing except the message asking him to return to Moscow,” the signals man replied.

Sorokin nodded. His brother was still serving in America, with the 76th Guards Air Assault Division, and he wondered how Arkady was doing. Hopefully, his unit hadn't seen service in this Wichita business, and from what they'd seen before leaving Moscow, that attack had been turned back, and the Americans were building up to something. Oh, there had been local counterattacks, but nothing major. Had that changed? Well, in five hours or so, he thought, they'd find out. Though the Major was outranked by several of the staff, his position as ADC to the Marshal meant he could give them orders. That was a unique feature of the Soviet system.....”Very well. Don't disturb the Marshal unless it's absolutely important. And I'll be the judge of that.”

The staffers looked at each other, then at Major Sorokin. “Understood, Comrade Major,” the signals man replied.

Five hours later, the Il-62 landed at Vunokuvo-2, the VIP only airport outside Moscow. The Marshal had awakened a half-hour before landing, and he actually felt refreshed. After the aircraft taxied to a stop outside the military terminal, and the mobile stairway put in place, the Marshal saw a pair of staff cars, and a familiar face; General Grachev, the Chief of the General Staff, waiting. Had he been recalled as well? Grachev was on an inspection tour of the Beylorussian Military District, and the two had left on the same day. Well, he'd soon find out.

Grachev was waiting for him at the foot of the stairs. “Comrade Marshal,” he said, saluting.

“General,” Akhromayev replied as he returned the salute. “What's this, bringing both of us back to Moscow?”

“They didn't tell you?” Grachev replied, puzzled.

“Tell me what?” The Marshal shot back.

“I just found out a half-hour ago. Defense Minister Sokolov took his own life in his office earlier today.”

“WHAT?” The Marshal shouted. “He killed himself?”

“That's all I know, Comrade Marshal,” Grachev replied. “Your presence is urgently needed in the Ministry.”

“Let's go, then,” Akhromayev replied. A staff car was waiting, and the Marshal, Grachev, and their respective aides got in. And the car then left the base and headed into Moscow.

The staff car raced through Moscow, in the special traffic lanes reserved for high party or military officials, and the Moscow Militia simply waved the car through. After a half-hour, the car pulled up to the Ministry, and pulled up to the entrance. General Maslov was waiting. “Comrade Marshal,” he saluted.

“Maslov,” replied the Marshal. “What happened?”

Maslov “Please, Comrade Marshal, inside.” He indicated the entrance. After Akhromayev and Grachev went in with Maslov, he turned to them. “The Minister went down to the Operations Room, where the map was updated. The picture isn't good, and he gave orders to relay to either Marshal Kribov or General Alekseyev to take whatever measures are needed to stabilize the front. He then went back to his office, and both his aide and secretary then heard a shot. They found him slumped on his desk, a bullet in his head, and his service pistol in his right hand.”

Akhromayev nodded.”All right, Maslov. Has the General Secretary and the rest of the Defense Council been informed?”

“They have, Comrade Minister-”

“Please, not that tile,” Akhromayev said sternly. “I know, I'm now Acting Defense Minster, but right now, it's the last thing I want right now.” He looked at the other officers. “I'd like to see the Operations Map.”

Maslov nodded. “Yes, Comrade Marshal.” He conducted Marshal Akhromayev and General Grachev to the elevator, and then down to the bunker. General Boldin was waiting for them when they arrived after passing through security.

“Boldin,” Akhromayev said. “Let's have a look at the map.”

Boldin looked at General Grachev, then General Maslov, who nodded gravely. “Yes, Comrade Marshal,” Boldin replied. “This way, please.” He conveyed his superior officers to the Operations map.
“This is what Minister Sokolov saw.”

Akhromayev and Grachev took a look for themselves. “Mother of God...” Grachev said. “Has this been updated since?”

“No, Comrade General, Maslov said. “When I saw it, I was wondering if it was like this in Hitler's Headquarters during the Kursk battle.”

Akhromayev nodded. “Worse. It's like it was during Operation Uranus and Little Saturn.” Not only did he see the blue arrows striking deep, but the blue pins sprouting up all over the Ozarks in Arkansas, the Quachita Mountains in Oklahoma and Western Arkansas, and the eastern Rocky Mountains in both Colorado and New Mexico. The American resistance had come out of their lairs, and would surely be a “force multiplier” as the Americans called it. “Are we in touch with Marshal Kribov?”

“Not exactly, but General Alekseyev reports that he has turned up at the airport in Ponca City, Oklahoma. He no longer has secured communications due to his forward headquarters being abandoned in the face of an American penetration,” Boldin said.

Akhromayev nodded. “All right: inform Kribov to pull back to the Red River line. Do it, and fast.”

General Grachev stared at the Marshal. “Comrade Marshal? If we do that...”

“I know, but right now, we need to stabilize the front. The Red River is the only real natural defense line available at the moment. Try and hold onto Northern Louisiana, and do what we can in West Texas, but that's all we can do. At least right now,” Akhromayev said. “If we can read a map, so can the Americans' Joint Chiefs. They will no doubt whip their commanders into more decisive action. And that, we can't allow. Do it, Grachev. Do it now.”

“Immediately, Comrade Marshal,” Grachev said. He nodded at his communications man, who went off to send the message.

“Comrade Marshal, a question. What about General Secretary Chebrikov?” Major Sorokin asked.

“I'll tell him these are Sokolov's orders. And that it's too late to countermand them.”

“Yes, Comrade Marshal.” Sorokin said. Though he wasn't too sure about that, it was likely that, when the rest of the Defense Council was informed, it would certainly be too late to countermand those orders.

“Now,” Akhromayev said. “That pocket that's forming in Colorado. I hate to tell Kribov what to do, but get those forces out of there. The Americans are about to form a pocket, and this is too much like the early days of the war with the Fascists in 1941. Remember Bialystok?”

Heads nodded at that. They remembered the first big German encirclement of the attack on the Soviet Union, where two Soviet Armies had been destroyed near that occupied Polish city. And the Commander of the Western Front, General D.G. Pavlov, his Chief of Staff, and several other officers were immediately summoned to Moscow on Stalin's orders-and shot. “Exactly so, Comrade Marshal,” Maslov nodded.

“So....A general breakout?” Grachev asked. That was the only solution that appeared to him as possible. While there were two Soviet Armies, the 14th and 22nd, there were East Germans,
Poles, Czechs, Nicaraguans, Libyans, an Angolan brigade, and Mexicans as well. Those forces had been deemed sufficient to maintain the Denver siege perimeter, and even though the siege had been partially lifted, the southern and eastern siege lines had been held. Not anymore, and some of the American spearheads had penetrated into undefended territory. No, those forces had to break out before it was too late.

“There's no choice,” Akhromayev said. “Issue the orders.”

Grachev nodded, a grave expression on his face. “Immediately, Comrade Marshal.”

Akromayev nodded, and kept looking at the map. “We've lost the initiative. And we're not likely to get it back.”

The Chief of the General Staff looked at the map. And as he turned to head to the Communications Center, he said, “Comrade Marshal, I'm afraid you're right. So what do we do now?”

“The best we can, General. Issue those orders.”

After Grachev left, General Vitaly Berkenev, the Director of the GRU, came in. “Comrade Marshal,”

“Berkenev,” Akhromayev nodded. “Have a look for yourself.” The Marshal indicated the operations map.

The GRU Director did so, and he wasn't surprised in the least. “What now, Comrade Marshal?”

“We do the best we can. It may not be enough, but we'll have to try anyway.”

“The Foreign Ministry has been trying to find a way out,” Berkenev said. “Their demands on the Americans and their Allies have been....unrealistic, to say the least.”

Akhromayev turned to his intelligence chief. “What went on at those meetings?”

“That, I do not know for certain, Comrade Marshal,” Berkenev nodded. “But I can find out.”

“Do it, and fast. Because any hope of a compromise peace is now gone,” replied the Marshal. “Right now, I recall the words of a Japanese Admiral, before they launched their own war with the Americans, also in 1941.”

“Yes, Admiral Yamamoto,” Berkenev said. “And his words?”

“I don't recall exactly what he said,” Akhromayev replied, waving at the map. “But, it went something like this: 'We have awakened a sleeping giant who will destroy us all.”
Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, but always have a plan to kill them.

Old USMC Adage
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