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Dusty Baker 2
Jul 8, 2011


Since many are getting frustrated by the continuous derails in threads like the Eastern Europe one by those wishing to discuss a worst-case scenario, I decided a thread dedicated to mutual military masturbation should be created. Go ahead and have the endless discussion about tactics, nuclear brinkmanship, and sailors here.

To start: As referenced, the situation in Ukraine; I'm asking you, my fellow goons, for your expert opinions on some scenarios.


Say for a moment Russia moves into Eastern Ukraine, citing the protection of ethnic Russians, a coup/takeover of Kiev by fascists, or some other transparent but nonetheless existing CB. As we witnessed in 2008, Russia's way of war is similar to that of the West's; take out the command/control systems of the enemy and defeat their army individually. This meant large-scale bombing of Tbilisi. In this scenario, Ukraine actively fights the Russians after Russian forces cross into Ukraine proper. Russian warplanes have begun striking strategic targets across Ukraine, many of them in Kiev. The civilian death toll rises rapidly. Between Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland, there are just under a million immigrants from the three aforementioned nations living in Ukraine. That sentence was worded in an extremely poor way.

Do you think one of those three would move forces into Ukraine to defend its people? Would Poland seek to activate the Visgard Group (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland) to defend Poles in Ukraine?

What if Russia were to cite any of the above reasons to enter parts of a Baltic nation? Without getting into the "nuclear war we all die we're radioactive" poo poo, let's discuss how a realistic situation could play out, based on our opinions, stuff we know, personal anecdotes, and legitimate experience in the field of foreign affairs/military affairs. Basically let's take the worst part of the Eastern Europe thread and move it here and try to make it something less awful.

I'm afraid of sounding completely ignorant on the outcome, but I assume most nations in Eastern Europe would stand and fight alongside Poland, if not Ukraine, should Russia press further. I don't think NATO would get activated right away, but I think that NATO would be used to provide logistical support to the forces on the ground while the UN/OSCE tried desperately to talk the situation down. And I feel like, should the worst case scenario happen and NATO get directly involved, and should NATO forces be on the receiving end of a tactical nuclear weapon as some have theorized is possible, that it wouldn't end in all-out war. I feel like such a strike would result in a global step away from the situation, a period of extreme tensions/nuke mania, and an eventual settlement of the situation in a manner neither party is particularly fond of but leaves both sides with a way to back down.

As a disclaimer, I don't think the Russians are maniacs and I don't think they'd nuke NATO forces in the event of a confrontation. I think they would fear a complete retaliation, and I think Russia would/will do everything it can to avoid a direct confrontation with NATO. I think NATO will likewise do what it can to avoid head-to-head military confrontation with Russia.

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Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



I'm thinking that the only way we'd be in a real mess is if Poland deployed into Ukraine as a peacekeeping stabilization force and Russia did something stupid and invaded to counter them.

I'm guessing we need to discuss this at some point as well, since it getting brought up occasionally in the Eastern Europe thread. The Office of Net Assessment's Xībly or Siberia? The Great Siberian War of 2030.

evilweasel
Aug 24, 2002


Every soup ladled to the hungry, every blanket draped over the cold signifies, in the final sense, a theft from my gigantic paycheck.

No nation is going to be insane enough to use nuclear weapons (tactical or otherwise) to support an offensive against a NATO member or ally (or ally of anyone with nuclear capability. Using nuclear weapons is a last-ditch defensive measure, because once nuclear weapons come out there are no winners, merely varying levels of losers (or just the one level, if things get really bad). If we counter-invade the Russian Federation (I also assume nobody is insane enough to try doing this either) then maybe they'd consider nukes but certainly not as part of an offensive.

Tactical nuclear weapons use was always threatened by NATO, not the USSR, during the Cold War: NATO was afraid that they'd be unable to counter the manpower the USSR could potentially unleash against Europe. The USSR had no interest in any such confrontation going nuclear because in a land war they'd probably have the upper hand until things went nuclear.

In addition, there is nothing that Russia could gain through aggression that is worth an actual shooting war with the West, nuclear or otherwise. The seizure of Crimea was done the way it was done to create facts on the ground without a shooting war, so that anyone seeking to change their seizure would have to start a shooting war (also not worth it for anyone).

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



evilweasel posted:

Tactical nuclear weapons use was always threatened by NATO, not the USSR, during the Cold War: NATO was afraid that they'd be unable to counter the manpower the USSR could potentially unleash against Europe. The USSR had no interest in any such confrontation going nuclear because in a land war they'd probably have the upper hand until things went nuclear.

Russian Federation no longer follows the "no first strikes" policy the USSR did. It dropped out of that in 1993. It will only use their weapons defensively, much like the United States and other NATO countries, but none of them rule out preemptive nuclear strikes.

Dusty Baker 2
Jul 8, 2011


evilweasel posted:

No nation is going to be insane enough to use nuclear weapons (tactical or otherwise) to support an offensive against a NATO member or ally (or ally of anyone with nuclear capability. Using nuclear weapons is a last-ditch defensive measure, because once nuclear weapons come out there are no winners, merely varying levels of losers (or just the one level, if things get really bad). If we counter-invade the Russian Federation (I also assume nobody is insane enough to try doing this either) then maybe they'd consider nukes but certainly not as part of an offensive.

Tactical nuclear weapons use was always threatened by NATO, not the USSR, during the Cold War: NATO was afraid that they'd be unable to counter the manpower the USSR could potentially unleash against Europe. The USSR had no interest in any such confrontation going nuclear because in a land war they'd probably have the upper hand until things went nuclear.

In addition, there is nothing that Russia could gain through aggression that is worth an actual shooting war with the West, nuclear or otherwise. The seizure of Crimea was done the way it was done to create facts on the ground without a shooting war, so that anyone seeking to change their seizure would have to start a shooting war (also not worth it for anyone).


I was referring to a NATO counter-offensive that crosses into Russia itself. I realize that'd be the line, basically, but what about NATO forces crossing into eastern Ukraine after Russia had annexed it? Or into Crimea? Would that be seen as enough of a push to realize tactical nuclear weapons as a stopgap?

Helsing
Aug 23, 2003

THUNDERDOME LOSER

That doesn't really change the substance of evilweasel's point, which is that there's no plausible strategic scenario where the Russians would think they stood to benefit from offensively using a nuclear first strike against a NATO ally. Nuclear weapons are an extreme last ditch measure not something a great power casually deploys against the members of a rival alliance bloc.

Hell, there have been a couple points in both NATO and Soviet / Russian history (the last one that we know about was in 1995 I believe) where computer malfunctions or miscommunications made it look like the other side was initiating a nuclear first strike. In one 1983 case the man on duty basically just chose to ignore what appeared to be a first strike and his split second decision may have been the only thing that prevented a war from accidentally occurring. So even in situations where a nuclear was "should" have occurred it seems that in practice people are extremely reluctant to initiate one.

evilweasel
Aug 24, 2002


Every soup ladled to the hungry, every blanket draped over the cold signifies, in the final sense, a theft from my gigantic paycheck.

Doctor Chaxtical posted:

I was referring to a NATO counter-offensive that crosses into Russia itself. I realize that'd be the line, basically, but what about NATO forces crossing into eastern Ukraine after Russia had annexed it? Or into Crimea? Would that be seen as enough of a push to realize tactical nuclear weapons as a stopgap?

No. Those are about pride and influence, not national survival. You don't use nuclear weapons when national survival isn't at issue because that risks actual national annihilation. Nobody wins in a nuclear war, and newly conquered territories are never going to be worth it. Whatever annexation laws have been passed, everyone recognizes that the disputed territories are not Russia and a fight over the disputed territories does not imperil Russia itself and a counterinvasion of those territories wouldn't likely cross over into Russia proper.

You deploy nuclear weapons as a last-ditch effort because even the most limited nuclear exchange threatens global nuclear war that obliterates your nation. It is little consolation that your enemy probably also gets obliterated, because you're probably dead or wishing you were at that point.

Dusty Baker 2
Jul 8, 2011


evilweasel posted:

No. Those are about pride and influence, not national survival. You don't use nuclear weapons when national survival isn't at issue because that risks actual national annihilation. Nobody wins in a nuclear war, and newly conquered territories are never going to be worth it. Whatever annexation laws have been passed, everyone recognizes that the disputed territories are not Russia and a fight over the disputed territories does not imperil Russia itself and a counterinvasion of those territories wouldn't likely cross over into Russia proper.

You deploy nuclear weapons as a last-ditch effort because even the most limited nuclear exchange threatens global nuclear war that obliterates your nation. It is little consolation that your enemy probably also gets obliterated, because you're probably dead or wishing you were at that point.

Solid points. Basically backs up what I figured; the Cold War mentality that them Russkies is just lookin' for a chance to clobber us is as foolish now as it was then. Hell, even the North Koreans realize what using a nuclear weapon would mean. I let the WARCHAT seep into my head for a bit, thanks for straightening me back out.

El Scotch
Aug 25, 2009

GrannyD


Rule number one of nuclear weapons: you don't nuke someone who can nuke back.

Rule number two: beware of Godzilla.

Adventure Pigeon
Nov 8, 2005

I am a master storyteller.

I have an uncle who taught at West Point during the Cold War. I asked him over dinner whether he thought that NATO would be able to win a conventional war with the Soviet Union. He basically said that, up until the 80s, maybe even a bit later, the answer was no. NATO lacked the logistics to maintain a defense against the Russians, and probably didn't have the forces to hold the Fulda gap anyways. It was more about maintaining a credible threat.

What was always scariest about the Soviets was how they viewed nuclear weapons initially. For us, they were meant to wipe out cities, but for them, they were basically a bigger, better version of artillery. They didn't understand they were fundamentally different in terms of destructive capability than any other weapon, and as a result the Soviet higher ups didn't appreciate the concept of MAD for some time.

cargo cult
Aug 28, 2008


Doctor Chaxtical posted:

Without getting into the "nuclear war we all die we're radioactive" poo poo,
It's nuclear war we all die

Helsing
Aug 23, 2003

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Depending on how it played out some of us might survive to eke out a bleak and pitiable existence amidst the charred ruins of our civilization. Instant death would be for the lucky ones.

cargo cult
Aug 28, 2008


Without getting into the "There's no food we all eat each other poo poo," let's discuss scenarios for WWIV: Zombie Apocalypse War

Dusz
Mar 5, 2005

SORE IN THE ASS that it even exists!


evilweasel posted:

No nation is going to be insane enough to use nuclear weapons (tactical or otherwise) to support an offensive against a NATO member or ally (or ally of anyone with nuclear capability. Using nuclear weapons is a last-ditch defensive measure, because once nuclear weapons come out there are no winners, merely varying levels of losers (or just the one level, if things get really bad). If we counter-invade the Russian Federation (I also assume nobody is insane enough to try doing this either) then maybe they'd consider nukes but certainly not as part of an offensive.

Tactical nuclear weapons use was always threatened by NATO, not the USSR, during the Cold War: NATO was afraid that they'd be unable to counter the manpower the USSR could potentially unleash against Europe. The USSR had no interest in any such confrontation going nuclear because in a land war they'd probably have the upper hand until things went nuclear.

In addition, there is nothing that Russia could gain through aggression that is worth an actual shooting war with the West, nuclear or otherwise. The seizure of Crimea was done the way it was done to create facts on the ground without a shooting war, so that anyone seeking to change their seizure would have to start a shooting war (also not worth it for anyone).

Yeah pretty much this. Crimea was an easy target made even easier by the political turmoil. Russia no longer has any easy targets.

Farmer Crack-Ass
Jan 2, 2001

this is me posting irl


cargo cult posted:

Without getting into the "There's no food we all eat each other poo poo," let's discuss scenarios for WWIV: Zombie Apocalypse War

That's funny because for awhile now I've viewed ~zombie apocalypse~ fans as basically loving the concept of surviving a nuclear war, but with awesome tree forts and none of that pesky fallout. (and also it's now literally magically okay to shoot people)

RevSyd
Sep 23, 2005

R.i.P.P.o.E.


Farmer Crack-rear end posted:

That's funny because for awhile now I've viewed ~zombie apocalypse~ fans as basically loving the concept of surviving a nuclear war, but with awesome tree forts and none of that pesky fallout. (and also it's now literally magically okay to shoot people)

Some small percentage of them are envisioning a race war, not nuclear war, so "zombies" are their dogwhistle way of discussing guns/tactics that are good for massacring civilians.

Whiskey Sours
Jan 25, 2014

Weather proof.


RevSyd posted:

Some small percentage of them are envisioning a race war, not nuclear war, so "zombies" are their dogwhistle way of discussing guns/tactics that are good for massacring civilians.

RevSyd posted:

Some small percentage of them are envisioning a race war

RevSyd posted:

small percentage
It's all of them.

Enjoy
Apr 18, 2009


Adventure Pigeon posted:

What was always scariest about the Soviets was how they viewed nuclear weapons initially. For us, they were meant to wipe out cities, but for them, they were basically a bigger, better version of artillery. They didn't understand they were fundamentally different in terms of destructive capability than any other weapon, and as a result the Soviet higher ups didn't appreciate the concept of MAD for some time.

Yeah that is scary. The Americans being such sociopaths, I mean, not the USSR having higher moral standards.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

robot whores
come before
a cure for
cancer




Whiskey Sours posted:

It's all of them.
I don't think everyone who's ever thought about zombie apocalypse wackiness is fixing to gear up with A. Wyatt Mann.

But everyone who started doing it in 2005 and is still doing it with no service interruptions? Yeah... pretty likely.

Doctor Spaceman
Jul 6, 2010



Whiskey Sours posted:

It's all of them.

Sure, assuming you ignore all of the post-apocalyptic stories where clinging to morality and human decency is more important than survival at all costs.

Darkman Fanpage
Jan 31, 2012

~kill ur parents~

and hail satan


cargo cult posted:

Without getting into the "There's no food we all eat each other poo poo," let's discuss scenarios for WWIV: Zombie Apocalypse War

It will be fought with sticks and stones. Or so I've heard.

Dusty Baker 2
Jul 8, 2011


Darkman Fanpage posted:

It will be fought with sticks and stones. Or so I've heard.

We're break their bones, but our words will never hurt them.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Doctor Spaceman posted:

Sure, assuming you ignore all of the post-apocalyptic stories where clinging to morality and human decency is more important than survival at all costs.

Haha. Most of these survivalist types talk about post-apocalyptic pragmatism, battlefield necessity, and lifeboat rules trumping over your human decency and pre-apocalyptic morality. If they aren't sequestered by behind a bunker made of 3-foot-thick concrete and their own apathy watching the world burn away, they'll be the one's out in the wasteland lootingfinding food and medical supplies, stealingscavaging arms and ammunition, and rapingrepopulating the human race. And even then, the bunkered preppers will become the latter whenever the food runs out.

Ardennes
May 12, 2002

It is always about people.


The funny thing is that the entire assumption about the Fulda gap was mostly incorrect and a lot of it was complete artifice. According to the archives themselves, the Soviets were mostly focused on a defensive strategy within Germany rather than a deep dive into Belgium. They were willing to use tactical nukes but generally as a stop gap solutions but at least during the early cold war we were also willing to use tactical nukes. If anything the Soviets expected us to use nukes first, and they would have to respond in kind.

The Soviets knew that while they had much larger numbers of tanks and troops, the West had a considerable technical edge and that the West would likely obtain air superiority at some point which is why the Soviets preferred a strategy where their ground forces could be protected by established SAM sites or at least mobile SAMs.

Ultimately the expectation was by the Soviet was that the West would use its vastly more powerful economic strength and technical edge in a more mobile war so the best hope was to make them pay for every inch of ground in central Germany through "annihilation."

Ardennes fucked around with this message at Mar 29, 2014 around 09:40

Barlow
Nov 26, 2007
Write, speak, avenge, for ancient sufferings feel

Ardennes posted:

According to the archives themselves, the Soviets were mostly focused on a defensive strategy within Germany rather than a deep dive into Belgium. They were willing to use tactical nukes but generally as a stop gap solutions t but at least during the early cold war we were also willing to use tactical nukes.
Is there any good reading you'd recommend on this? I've never found anything written post-Cold War that specifically addressed what a potential conflict would have looked like.

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Ardennes
May 12, 2002

It is always about people.


Barlow posted:

Is there any good reading you'd recommend on this? I've never found anything written post-Cold War that specifically addressed what a potential conflict would have looked like.

I don't know of good secondary works off hand. Obviously at least some of the source material is out there, the Red Army archives are fairly open to a point (you may have trouble accessing the 1980s).

The Cold War History Project (by the Woodrow Wilson Center) is a good place to start if you don't want to crawl around some vertical bunker in Moscow. http://www.wilsoncenter.org/program...history-project

Ultimately, post-collapse history (and academic work period) largely moved off from the military during the 1990s and 2000s in the US/UK and now largely seems focused on cultural and social history. That might change again since the military "issue" with Russia now has been reinserted in the public's consciousness.

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