Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

TIme to Re-Read Red Storm Rising?

After citing Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising on a recent Midrats show, I decided it was time to revisit the book.

Much of the Clancy book, which was published in 1986 - before the collapse of the Soviet Union - is dated, with discussions of military equipment long gone. But, on the other hand, there perhaps are some parallels to today's Russia. First, a Wikipedia summary of the premise of the book:
Islamic terrorists from Azerbaijan destroy a Soviet oil-production facility at Nizhnevartovsk, Russia, crippling the USSR's oil production and threatening to wreck the nation's economy. Contemplating concessions to the West to survive the crisis, the Politburo instead decides to seize the oil fields in the Persian Gulf by military force.

According to the Carter Doctrine, any attack on the Gulf is an attack on strategic interests to the United States, necessitating a military response. To prevent a combined reaction by NATO, the Soviets launch a KGB operation to carry out a false flag operation framing West Germany for an unprovoked attack on the USSR; afterwards, the Soviets plan to invade Europe in response to that “attack”. With West Germany occupied, and NATO defeated, the Soviets hope that the U.S. will not rescue the Arab oil states when it attacks them, as it can meet its oil needs with Western sources. The Politburo arranges a bomb blast in the Kremlin that kills some visiting schoolchildren, blaming a West German exile for the attack.

How do we re-write the book for today?

Suppose Russia, resource rich but with its arteries clogged by corruption and facing a demographic decline, once again has a "strong man"in power who, steeped in the Cold War resentments of NATO, seizes the opportunity to begin grabbing back chunks of the Soviet "lost empire" by nibbling at the margins of its former captive states - and challenging a much weaker NATO or UN to do anything about it.

Suppose Russia were to use the excuse of "rescuing" ethnic Russians from the clutches of those allegedly dangerous others - say the ¨Ukrainians"- to physically invade adjacent lands and begin presenting the rest of the world with a fait accompli before the Ukrainians or the remainder of Europe or the U.S. could react.

Suppose all this was accompanied by a much more aggressive use of military aircraft and the Russian fleet, including noisy submarine and air intrusions around NATO territory? See Hunt for Red October... off the coast of Scotland: Britain calls in Nato patrol planes to search for rogue submarine after periscope is spotted and Russian planes “exceptionally active” over Baltic.

Just sort of as a reminder to the West that the Bear still has big claws and teeth.

Suppose that Russia, already an economic shambles, is further weakened by sanction and a deep diminution of the value of its natural resources - further "threatening to wreck the nation's economy."

Taking in its situation and its actions, at this point wouldn't you have to ask what the Russian intentions are?

In the Clancy book, of course, a big war results from the Soviet actions.

I haven't yet figured out where the revised version might be headed . . .

But I would guess there are some military planners who are dusting off some old war plans for updating.

Sort of like updating Red Storm Rising.


  1. As usual, you present a thought provoking possibilty. Among major challenges to be taken into account now are :

    1. One Clancy cited: the Carter Doctrine
    update... President Obama has never summarized the Obama Doctrine with such clarity, but here is what Elliott Abrams said it would look like (February 13, 2012 in the "Weekly Standard"): "I will undertake any military attack against our enemies, regardless of the risks and collateral damage, so long as it is over by the time I have to announce it."

    As sarcastic as Abram's interpretation may appear, Americans have notied on more than one occasion the president's hestitancy to take any but dilatory military actions, sometimes proceed such actions aftersharing timing of actions and pullouts publicly, and after ignoring the advice of his top military leaders.

    2. and, one you aptly surmised challenges: Military planners [should have been] dusting off old war plans.
    update... again, the advice of top military leaders may be ignored. Which academic's "war plan" would Obama likely invoke?

    I wish Clancy wer still around just to learn the title of the book related to those issues.

  2. Anonymous2:58 PM

    The problem today is that we are not as well prepared as the US was in the 1980's (and in the novel itself).

  3. I literally read the cover off of that book. It does make me a little sad now to read it as we are headed into the terrible twenties.

    RSR and the somewhat cheesy movie 'The FInal Countdown' are my favorite mainstream naval media. My six year old son plays with his legos and says 'Alert one! Splash the Zeroes!'