COUNTDOWN WWIII: OPERATION PERSIAN GULF BY W.X. DAVIES WITH THE STRATEGIC OPERATIONS GROUP

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Copyright 1984.

It is the near future of 1987 and the Ayatollah Khomeini dies. This leads to a power struggle within the Islamic Republic of Iran. On one side the mullahs. On the other an army general who stages a coup. The coup manages to take Tehran and some other major cities but the mullahs remain in control of a good part of the country. The mullahs turn to the Soviets to help them in the war. They send in troops and the army general turns to the U.S. which starts sending troops and supplies. Soon the Marines land at the strategic oil fields and the Soviets threaten to attack with nuclear weapons. In steps Triad with a plan to defuse the situation. They plan to free a dissident mullah held by the regime. The cleric is a moderate who supports neither the Soviets or America but has broad support among the population. His government would restore the status quo of an Iran in neither of the superpower spheres. So they must rescue him and convince the Soviets to also accept this alternative. Otherwise the world will be plunged into a nuclear war.

So for the final book in the series the author sets it in Iran. He envisioned factional fighting and a civil war after the Ayatollah’s death. He was only off by his death two years but there was speculation of what a post-Khomeini regime would be like. The reality was that the mullahs grip was strong and they remain in power to this day. But they didn’t know that at the time. A plausible scenario that ratcheted up the threat to a possible full blown nuclear war between the U.S and Soviets. I love the realpolitik approach by the author to solve the crisis. Just return the status quo with them assassinating the pro-western general and the Soviets taking out the head mullah. An exciting story to end the series.

So the series ends. I hope that the author enjoyed writing it for I don’t think he had much success in achieving a more sophisticated espionage capability for the U.S. In fact I think this was probably not read by many and remains an obscure series. Some real Books that Time Forgot. I personally enjoyed the series and wish I discovered it when it first came out. I would have loved to see where this series would have continued. But for now it is more of a historical curiosity to those like me who love the old cold war thrillers.

COUNTDOWN WWIII: OPERATION CHOKE POINT BY W.X. DAVIES WITH THE STRATEGIC OPERATIONS GROUP

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Copyright 1984.

In the near future a border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana threatens the peace of the region. Guyana has a socialist government and receives massive aid from the Soviets in weapons and advisers. They also get seasoned Cuban troops fresh from Angola. Tensions escalate and soon a shooting war starts. A war that sees the inexperienced Venezuelan army lose ground to the Cubans. Naturally the U.S. is concerned about the threat to Venezuela’s oil and calls on Triad to defuse the situation. They start by finding the secret Soviet staging area in Costa Rica a country destabilized as all the region is by insurgencies. They gather a force of anti-Communist refugees to launch an attack on the base. They also have to stage an assassination of a KGB official and make it look like an accident to preserve the status of their main Soviet double agent Mr. Clean.

The third book in the series has the crisis in South America. Wow times have changed to have Venezuela a U.S. ally fighting Cubans and a Socialist government. This definitely does feel dated. Still for the times is was a fairly accurate scenario. Guyana did have a Socialist government and the border dispute is real although has never became anything serious. Central America was envisioned as being engulfed in guerrilla wars which was where the region seemed headed. I like how it accurately portrays a U.S. government paralyzed politically from getting involved and the Byzantine machinations that Triad uses to accomplish it’s objectives. Another enjoyable book in this little known series.

COUNTDOWN WWIII: OPERATION BLACK SEA BY W.X. DAVIES WITH THE STRATEGIC OPERATIONS GROUP

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Copyright 1984.

In the near future of 1986 Turkey has had a military coup. The military government has not done a good job of running the economy so decides to start a war with Greece to distract peoples attention. They declare that disputed waters are now Turkish. To back it up they invade and occupy some islands off the coast. The Greeks respond and now two NATO allies are at war. The Soviets exploit this by backing Greece with arms shipments and sharing intelligence. At the same time Enver Hoxha the leader of Albania is dying. The Soviets see this as an opportunity to reclaim a former satellite nation and invade. The U.S. seems in a no win situation as events spiral out of control. Enter Triad the Global Crisis Task Force. They come up with a plan to parachute a squad of Green Berets into Greece and go over the border and attack invading Soviet forces. The plan is to provoke the Soviets into violating the Greek border and driving Greece back into the NATO fold.

The second book in the series deals with the tensions between Greece and Turkey. There have been numerous incidents between the two over the territorial waters of the Aegean. Several times this almost lead to a shooting war. Even now the countries don’t get along. So this scenario was a very real possibility. Throw into this a Soviet invasion of Albania and you have a nice little crisis that could spiral out into a much broader war. The author once again weaves an exciting tale of this conflict and the Triad response to contain it the best way possible.

COUNTDOWN WWIII: OPERATION NORTH AFRICA BY W.X. DAVIES WITH THE STRATEGIC OPERATIONS GROUP

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Copyright 1984.

It is the near future of 1986. A new President Creighton Turner has created a new team to combat the growing tension with the Soviet Union. The Global Crisis Task Force is to consist of four experts in political, economic, communications and intelligence affairs. They are to formulate contingency plans and prevent the crisis from occurring and to arrest the crisis if it does occur. Reporting directly to the President they are code named Triad.

Their first assignment is a crisis in North Africa. Libya with the backing of the Soviets are fomenting trouble in the two pro-western nations of Tunisia and Morocco. In Tunisia they are backing an Islamist leader and giving material support to an armed invasion of that country. In Morocco they are providing military aid to the Polisario insurgency in the Western Sahara. Both threaten to bring down these pro-western regimes and tip the balance of power in the Mediterranean. Triad must work at turning a corrupt Soviet agent codenamed Mr. Clean because of his bald head to gain valuable intelligence. They also have to lead a group of dissidents into Libya to destroy an anti-satellite installation.

So this is the first of a series from the eighties. I remember seeing it and thinking that it sounded interesting but never actually getting it. Well thanks to the internet I was able to acquire this series and see what its all about. I found it a very intelligent and interesting read. The group Triad was mainly about defusing the situation so it didn’t spin out of control. The geopolitics at the time are portrayed accurately. The only thing that bothered me was that they had an F-16 land and take off from a carrier. Otherwise everything in the book seems accurate and believable.

W.X. Davies is a pseudonym for a well known writer. I have never found out who this mysterious well known writer is. He states that the purpose of the series is to “entertain and argue for a more sophisticated espionage capability for the U.S.” I don’t know if he succeed in the second but the first was a success. Also the Strategic Operations Group was an informal advisory council whose military, intelligence and security experience provides much of the background for the stories.

I can’t find anything on this group so I don’t know if it still exists. They did a good job of providing the politics of the countries but could use a lesson in modern jet fighters.

VORTEX BY LARRY BOND

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Copyright 1991.

A commando raid by South African forces on an ANC safehouse in Zimbabwe uncover a plot to assassinate the top leadership of the government. Karl Vorster the minister of law and order is a hardline Afrikaner and opposed to the political reforms the current administration is pursuing. So he suppresses this information and actually helps it along by preventing the ANC from stopping the plot. The plot succeeds and kills the President and all his cabinet except Vorster. Vorster immediately forms a hardline government and returns to a policy of full Apartheid. He also launches an invasion of Namibia with the intent of reconquering it. Only the Cubans in Angola have not fully withdrawn and enter the conflict resulting in a stalemate.

As the war goes on Vorster’s repressive policies cause rebellions all over the country. The Cubans see an opportunity and launch a bold invasion from Zimbabwe and Mozambique with the goal of overthrowing the regime. Vorster uses a nuclear bomb to stop one of the invasion columns and the Cubans retaliate with chemical weapons. With world markets in turmoil over the growing chaos the US and Britain land troops to restore order and replace the Vorster regime. Now they have to seize the nuclear arsenal and race to beat the Cubans to the capital.

This was the second book that Larry Bond and his uncredited partner Patick Larkin wrote. This time set in the Apartheid era South Africa. Nowadays it is a bit dated with its Apartheid government and Cuban troops in Africa. Indeed the Apartheid government would soon cease to exist in a year and I think that by the time the book came out the Cubans had already withdrawn from Africa. Still while a bit far fetched the story was plausible at the time. Bond writes a sweeping tale that encompasses a wide range of characters American, Cuban and South African both black and white. It rolls forward with non stop excitement to a satisfying conclusion. Larry Bond was my favorite of the military genre at the time and this is one of his best works.

38 NORTH YANKEE BY ED RUGGERO

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Copyright 1990.

In this near future North Korea decides to invade the south. Transporting the heavy divisions will take time so light infantry divisions are send over. Captain Mark Isen is the leader of Charlie Company of the 25th Infantry Division. There job is to slow down the advancing North Korean forces long enough for the heavy divisions to be transported over. They manage to stop an armored force from advancing after it defeats a South Korean force in it’s first baptism of fire. Then they have to save a joy riding Colonel who gets trapped in a school. Then its on to Seoul to set up defenses. Things look grim as they are told to counterattack armored forces. Then the attack collapses and the division is airlifted north to block the retreating North Koreans from crossing the border. Here they have an epic final battle.

This was another book in the popular military books at the time. North Korea was a credible military threat when this came out so this was plausible scenario at the time. Ruggero a former captain in the Army knows his stuff. He has a real feel for the organization of an infantry company. The various people that compose it. The problems such as an epidemic of diarrhea after a logistics foul up loses the iodine tablets to purify water. The unreliability of some of the high tech gadgets. The battles are small affairs between men and tanks. Death comes at any moment such as a lieutenant who was a major character dying in an artillery barrage at the end of a chapter. He also shows us the homefront with scenes of Isen’s wife to show how a deployment would affect the family. There are also scenes from the enemies point of view. Still its mainly from the men in the divisions point of view the story is told.

This was his first book. He was teaching English at West Point where he met Tom Clancy who was visiting. He sent him the manuscript and Clancy liked it and sent to his publisher. Ruggero went on to write a handfull of books before moving on to something else. I have read another and feel that there will be future entries on this blog from this talented author.

RED PHOENIX BURNING BY LARRY BOND AND CHRIS CARLSON

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Copyright 2016.

It is July 2015 in this alternate world where a second Korean war was fought in 1989 as chronicled in Red Phoenix. That war saw an end where the Chinese brokered a ceasefire and Kim Jong-il was executed by the military. Under the Chinese his son Kim Jong-um was designated the successor. His regency would be under his aunt and uncle until he reached the age of 28. So basically this world is not much different then our own. North Korea is still a basket case of a nation under the pudgy man-child with a bad haircut. There are many factions in North Korea that are always vying for control. An appointment to a head of the Department of the Economy of a powerful individual threatens the balance of power. So a military coup is initiated by a faction in the military. An explosion kills most of Kim Jong-un’s backers at a state dinner but he manages to survive. A bloodbath is in the making as he takes revenge but while addressing the nation from his underground bunker the conspirators succeed in releasing a VX nerve gas on him. So his nation and all the world watches as he dies in a gruesome manner on TV. Now all the factions are vying for power and a bloody civil war breaks out. Add to this the South Koreans entering to unite the country and the Chinese also getting involved under the pretext to find the north’s WMDs. The world stands on the brink of a wider war as the dying regime threatens to strike out with its Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Larry Bond actually wrote a sequel to his enjoyable Korean War novel. Basically the world and situation in Korea is unchanged in spite of this war. It was an excuse to put the characters from the original novel into this book. The three main ones are Tony Christopher the F-16 pilot who is now a brigadier general. Kevin Little the young lieutenant who is now a colonel and Lt.Rhee who is also a colonel in charge of the Ghost Brigade a special forces unit. There are some children of the characters. Chee Ho-jin the son of the North Korean general who was made a scapegoat for the wars failure. His family were all declared traitors and now he works for the Russians as a spy to get back at the regime. Kary Fowler who is the daughter of the national security adviser from the first book. She works as a Christian missionary in the north. The idea of this fictional war surprisingly fits well into the narrative of the story. While it doesn’t really do anything for the story it also doesn’t distract and you can read this book without reading the first one.

So the authors portray a North Korea were the monolithic rule of one man is a facade. That there are actually many factions constantly vying for influence. A country that is rife with corruption as the ordinary people must resort to bribes as a daily routine of life just to survive. Where the elite live in extravagance financed by criminal activity such as drugs to finance their lifestyles. This was a very insightful book in showing the functioning of the North Korean society. It is also a timely one as once again North Korea is in the news. Threatening Guam which was actually attacked with nerve gas missiles in the book. There was a happy ending to this book which we can only hope is the same in the real world.