1. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    To nuke or not to nuke? That is the question.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by JadeX, Feb 4, 2016.

    Setting: Right in the middle of World War 3. (c. early 1963)

    The Cuban Missile Crisis has turned the Cold War hot. The war is simultaneously nuclear and conventional on multiple fronts. Soviet Navy troopships assist in the ground battle in Europe. Detecting an incoming NATO bomber strike, the troopships retreat into the Atlantic. Moscow is nuked, and the troopships lose contact with HQ in the middle of the ocean. Running low on food and supplies, the troopships turn directly toward the US east coast (they would have gone to Iceland/Greenland/Canada, but there was a strong naval presence there and the Soviet ships were not armed for a head-on fight).

    The Soviets have already nuked Washington DC. They tried to hit the CIA as well, but missed Langley completely and hit nearby Reston. The CIA building is partially destroyed, but most of the documents and files inside remain intact. An infantry group is tasked to secure the area and destroy any potentially important artifacts of the former CIA - before the Soviet troops land and find something important.
    (They then must take up position to defend against the impromptu invasion)

    Here, one of my characters finds a document about a [FICTIONAL] tunnel system underneath Manhattan, NYC. The tunnel, presumably 19th-century Freemason in origin, was commandeered by the Department of Defense in the early Cold War. The document details a project to reinforce and cement the tunnels, nuclear harden them, and convert them to a subterranean fallout shelter-military base combo. An attached memo, however, states that the project was abandoned in 1951 due to the outbreak of the Korean War and its completion status is unknown.

    One question, though - the surrounding area has already been nuked at least twice. All the people are dead or have left. I need my character to find this document, as it is relevant to the plot (after the war), but speaking from a realistic, strategic, and logistical point of view, wouldn't it make more sense for the USAF to nuke Langley themselves?

    Can anyone come up with an explanation why they might not? Or, possibly, an alternate location this document may be?
     
  2. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    There would be a damn good reason the USAF bombed Langley, like a hotzone issue or some kind of deadly outbreak zone. Perhaps they are trying to destroy sensitive materials or secret weapons to keep the enemy from taking possession of. This is all under the assumption that they have lost the base to enemy control.

    So for intents and purposes your MC could find the document at the CIA headquarters. Though it would be a dangerous because of fallout and enemy insurgents. That is where they could find said document, unless Langley is still intact they could go there. Though they will run into enemy insurgents, or intelligence personnel trying to recover sensitive materials. Either way your character is going to have some opposition to them in going out after sensitive documents. Even in the first of the two scenarios you will have everybody scrambling for the classified intel info, so they will have to be ready to fight anyone/everyone to get a hold of the documents you want them to find. Hope this helps a smidgen. :)
     
  3. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    Document could be at NORAD (Colorado Springs, Colorado), NSA headquarters (Meade, Maryland), the CIA has many secret location throughout the US and the world. You could make one up as long as your guy has the clearance to know where they would be located.
    Why would the USAF nuke a place on our own soil? If this were to happen, the war is pretty much over and we lost.
     
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  4. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Interesting alternate-history scenario.

    So you're asking, would U.S. operatives, in a desperate rearguard action to keep potentially-damaging intelligence out of the hands of the Soviets, resort to deploying an atomic weapon to destroy what's left of the CIA building?

    You say nuclear war has already broken out, and Washington, D.C., is already toast. And New York City, too, if I understand you right? So you'll need to answer what's in that collection of documents that will make an already godawful situation worse, such that the U.S. would destroy everything rather than let it fall into enemy hands.

    Seems to me the CIA wouldn't consider nuking the place; they'd be sending in a specially-trained team (probably not regular U.S. Army infantry; no offense to you Army types) charged with securing all those files and hauling them away before the Russkis get there. Yes, it would prove to be a suicide mission later on when they all died of radiation sickness, but right now it has to be done. I mean, why waste all the intelligence gathered up to then? Those records might contain a vital clue to saving what's left of America from falling to the Communist empire.

    And as you say, one of your team does find this one special document.

    But to waste a whole nuke on one building seems shockingly excessive. It'd take out a lot more than CIA HQ, and would be better used on Stalingrad. What I could see is your positing that the vaults at Langley were equipped with a self-destruction mechanism, and the insert team is instructed to get it up and working again and to activate it when they leave. If you want to make that nuclear (like the self-destruction system in Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain), sure, why not?
     
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  5. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Good point. I'll consider that, thanks.

    Actually, not really - there is a theoretical tactic of detonating airbursts above our ICBM silos so that the dust and debris in the air would eat up incoming warheads, which are exposed, but not damage outgoing warheads which are still encased in the missile. (I don't know the exact mechanics of how it works but you can look it up) So there are actual reasons why we'd detonate nukes on our own soil.

    Yep, basically.

    Put that way it makes a lot of sense.

    This gives me an idea - maybe the infantry team is there to protect the special ops team and fend off the invaders when they land. That seems like it would be much more realistic.
    And I wouldn't have to subject my Army character to all the radiation in the local area - he'd be closer to the coast, and perhaps the document was blown away from the CIA by either the nukes, wind, or both.
     
  6. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    Are they still in control of the nukes? Do they still have the capacity to launch them? Perhaps the nuclear codes and footballs are lost, for now.
     
  7. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Why not make the document part of some CIA archivist's personal or small-group plan for survival? Like, he had it in a briefcase and your character stumbles upon on his body, or something like that -- whatever's believable.

    A nuke sounds unnecessary for Langley. <Can't believe I just typed that in this day and age :D> A lot of the information would already be known to the Soviets since these places are kind of like libraries (i.e., data stockpiles) with all kinds of non-sensitive information, especially in light of how bad things have gotten in your story. The Americans could destroy things of strategic importance with smaller explosives, and hope for the opportunity to return to recover things in the event of victory. Fifty years ago, one can only imagine how long it would take to decide and transport whatever the Soviets think would be of importance. So while I'm not saying I'm incontrovertibly right, it's very plausible.
     
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  8. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    I imagine that in this case, they would send in troops to recover/destroy documents if possible, and if not, then they would launch a conventional, non-nuclear strike to destroy the facility. But as others said, it would probably make sense to choose a location other than Langley. It seems unlikely that the facility would be partially destroyed, particularly given the redundancy that would likely be employed around the Washington area (multiple warheads per high-value target). And anyway, the building would be too irradiated to visit if it were partially destroyed.
     
  9. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Having a bit of a problem with your entire scenario. And it starts with how is the nuclear war limited? I mean it's 1963. Both Russia and the US had plenty of nukes - thermo nukes or H bombs - and they've bombed each other's capital cities. Why didn't they carry on? I mean the prevailing military strategy at the time was nuke the other side before they could nuke you. That meant launch everything and pray.

    Now of course it's far too late to do that. Enough would get through that everything would be destroyed in the first strike on both countries. And the rest of the world would follow into death. Thatwas the basis of MAD - Mutually Assured Destruction. But back then people still thought there was hope of some survival. That was why they built bomb shelters.

    As for Russia landing ground troops on US soil - not going to happen. Not just because they're going to all die of radiation poisoning in a matter of hours. But because there's no naval / military command structure left as well as no government. Who's going to give the command? And who would the dead soldiers report back to anyway? On top of which there'd be no communications possible. Nukes are one damned efficient EMP.

    Sorry. But if you want to have a survivable nuclear war, you'd have to go back at least another ten years before that.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  10. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    Good point. It should also be noted that the logistics of a large-scale naval operation would mean that it would take a huge amount of time for any nation to move that many troops over the Atlantic and expect to support them with supply lines. Could be possible with thorough planning, although I think Soviet war plans involved invading Europe rather than the United States.

    Curious: is your plot more focused on the "defending a location against attack in a post-apocalyptic world," or "finding tunnels secretly made by the freemasons?" If the former, then you could move the setting elsewhere to make it a bit more feasible (if that's your goal). If the latter, then the nuclear war scenario could be scaled down to a terror attack for example.
     
  11. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    I've changed the scenario.

    Firstly, it is no longer early 1963, it is earlier in the war - late-October to early-November '62, somewhere around there.
    At this point, the US has invaded Cuba with upwards of 4,000 Marines. Both the US and Soviet navies have become very active in the area. Skirmishes at sea are frequent, and the ground battle in Cuba is fierce. A couple of nukes have been thrown, but the war has not yet gone full nuclear - and while tensions in Europe are on a hair trigger, that theatre of war has not blossomed yet either.

    The CIA office is no longer at Langley - instead, as per @Raven484 's suggestion, I have chosen an alternative location - the CIA office at Naval Air Station Richmond (18 miles south of Miami).

    The troopships are no longer Soviet - well, they may be Soviet in origin, but nonetheless they are being used by the Cubans. Cuban-sponsored terrorists have been active in South Florida for weeks (even before the war officially began), carrying out small-scale attacks in a sporadic manner across the Miami area. Now that the war has really begun, Cuban regulars are being sent to reinforce the terrorist elements. Castro has his sights set on taking as much of Florida and beyond as possible - likely as revenge for the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

    A special forces unit is sent to either remove or destroy data from NAS Richmond - before the Cubans can get to it (especially since this particular base was the home of the CIA's intelligence gathering operations regarding Cuba).

    My US Army infantry character's unit is sent to the Miami region with orders to: A) cover and defend the SF unit while they do their work, B) monitor enemy naval movements off the coast (in coordination with the Navy and Air Force of course), and C) defend NAS Richmond and the city of Miami from any attempted landing by Cuban troops.

    And, @psychotick , this war does not play out exactly as the theories go. It develops a lot slower; instead of a massive exchange all at once, it is a wave of small strikes and counter-strikes over a period of a few months, coinciding with an ever-widening conventional war with multiple theatres. (Different, I know - that's the point. Why write a story just to make it go exactly as everyone assumes?) Keep in mind, in 1962, the US had four or five times as many nukes as the Soviets. The Soviets knew they were behind and they were nervous about it. At this point in time in my revised scenario, the US still thinks it can win - overwhelm Soviet and Cuban forces, push them out of Cuba, throw just a few small nukes on tactical targets to let them know we mean business, then remind them we've got a whole lot more where that came from. All with the goal of eliminating the Cuban missile threat and demonstrating to the Soviets that "we can kick your ass and if we need to we will." And that, hopefully, would be the entire war - and, with extra luck, perhaps rattle the Soviets enough to coerce them into partial or full disarmament and peace negotiations.
    . . . Or, at least, that's the plan. But things don't always go as planned. ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
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