For the Soviet Romanian War in All Union, since World War III 1987 is doing aircraft losses, I figured I might as well too. (Also, enjoy the Sovereign Union’s flag in picture detail!)
22 aircraft lost in the war to hostile fire. Of those, three were lost in aerial combat, two to radar SAMs, and the remaining seventeen to AAA/MANPADS.
Around 10 more lost to friendly fire and accidents (the former being folded into the latter for obvious reasons)
30 helicopters lost in the war to all causes.
19 aircraft lost in the war to hostile fire. Two in aerial combat, the rest to AAA/MANPADS. Worse equipment, training, and heavy intense support of the Danube forcing contributed to the lopsided ratio.
8 more to friendly fire and accidents.
16 helicopters lost in the war to all causes.
The Romanian air force of around six hundred prewar aircraft was completely destroyed, save for thirteen confirmed escapes to Hungary and U̴̪͇̺͒̽̚ṅ̴̬͖å̶͇̦͚̈́u̷̧͓̞̿t̸̬͛͒̌h̴̳͆o̴̤̍̐͝r̶͈͑̊͘ĭ̶̡̈ͅz̸̜̗̤͒̾̇è̷̡͙̊̿d̶͍̖̄͗̑ ̷̡̩͋͆̊ͅC̴̨͂͗͜l̷̰̤͎̊͝͠ẽ̷͈̟̅̍a̸̱͑r̵̨̯̽̆ä̴̞̠́n̷͉̘͊c̸͓͇̪̍͆e̷͕̾̀͆ ̶̫͔͔͑D̵̢̻̊̽E̸͍̗͆͝T̵̘̽͆̚E̶̞͐̓͝Ċ̵̟́T̶̢̖̔Ę̸̋Ḋ̵̯̒.
Over four fifths of the Romanian Air Force was destroyed on the ground in the initial fire strike. Of the remaining not overrun/eliminated in the same way later, sixty one were downed in aerial combat, thirteen escaped to Hungary, thirteen more were lost to friendly fire, and only eight were taken out by the vaunted air defenses. (SAMs were on a tight leash as the planners knew there’d be a lot more friendly ones in the sky).
After months of work and preparation, I’m delighted to say that All Union is now out in both electronic and paperback versions. It’s an alternate history novel about a world where the Soviet-ahem, Sovereign (totally not Communist or anti-Western, we swear!) Union remains a superpower and the dawn of high-tech war was in Romania and not Kuwait. It’s, as the subtitle says, a novel of love (seriously and unironically), war, and mystery, as everyone from a “Generallismus” to a New Jersey clerk to a Kyrgyz nurse makes their way through this different but similar world.
It and particularly the style in the second half is the kind of book I’ve wanted to write ever since I’ve started Fuldapocalypse. And now I’ve done it. Writing this was incredibly joyful and satisfying, and I hope reading it is as well.
All Union, my alternate history novel project, is coming along very, very nicely. The first volume (yes, it’s grown big and ambitious enough to require multiple volumes) should hopefully release sometime in the spring. I’m very excited.
I’ve long since wanted to write a book like the one I’m making now, and I’m finally doing so. And yes, I’m doing things that the snarker me would have slammed several years ago. Oh well.
The GENFORCE-Mobile organizational chart got the then-still-in-development BTR-90‘s stats wrong. It’s both too light (at 17 metric tons compared to the 21 of the real one), and more importantly has too many dismounts (ten as opposed to seven I’ve seen in every real source). The real BTR-90 was cursed by coming right as the USSR fell, but in many ways it was also just a wheeled BMP-2, so its lack of entry into service is understandable.
But I thought (both for the All Union story and for my own fun) “Well, what if you could get a vehicle with ten dismounts?” The squad would grow to USMC size (two or three in the vehicle plus ten dismounts), and it presents a very tricky puzzle: Get a vehicle that is fit for a mobile corps (so it has to be viable in direct combat, both offensively and defensively), can carry ten dismounted troops as standard, and can’t be too big or heavy. If you want heavier weapons, it basically needs a remote uncrewed turret to not tip the scales. It’s not technologically impossible by a long short, but tradeoffs will have to be made.
Finally, the big squad means I can finally introduce my “eastern fireteam” concept I rejected for the next-gen BMP. Which makes more tactical sense, since doctrinally they’ll be fighting away from their vehicle more often, especially in rough terrain or as part of a tactical heliborne operation. So they need to be (theoretically) better in terms of both equipment and skill.
As for how it works, well, I’m writing right now a chapter where such a motorized rifle unit storms a Romanian town…
So first I must say that I owe a lot to the Battle Order website and channel for inspiring me. Go check it out. Anyway, the GENFORCE-Mobile document, while a tour de force overall, has surprisingly little on the absolute smallest unit tactics. It does say that the basic and mobile forces do use very similar tactics (it’s just the latter have more training on them). Anyway, there isn’t much to say for the high-intensity doctrine. Primarily use lines, squads are unitary without teams, the vehicle commander doubles as squad leader, and that’s that.
The table of orders and equipment does (by virtue of looking at quantities of in a platoon), have one RPK variant and one RPG variant (marked as an RPG-29 in that example) per squad in the mobile forces, similar to historical practice. The company weapons platoon has an array of light ATGMs (marked as Metis, but those would probably be superseded) and PKM belt-fed machine guns.
(Strangely, the early 199X OPFOR squad is actually weaker on paper dismounted than its predecessors, with only one magazine machine gun instead of two belt-fed ones).
The legacy regular army, basic forces, or whatever you call them uses this doctrine relatively unchanged. But what about the new ones?
I had the Sovereign Union’s mobile corps using tank-based IFVs. There have been similar attempts in actual history, yet I figured these would be the more interesting. Basically the priorities shift a lot here. The historical BMP-3 is skewed in exactly the wrong direction. Instead of a glass cannon packed with all kinds of boom-makers, the focus is on shielding the newly-important resource with tank-level armor.
So in this timeline the BMP-3 is one of those things that only sees small amounts of use in its home country, but nonetheless achieves success on the export market. The Mobile Corps in All Union primarily rode into Romania with either BMP-2s or IFVs based on existing tank platforms. Whereas the historical T-64 APC proposals were an act of desperation, these have a deliberate goal of more protection and mass production ability, similar to the Israeli tank-APCs of real life.
Two real Soviet surplus IFV proposals are two from Ukraine, the circa 36 ton “Vavilon” on the T-64 chassis and the 46 ton “Berserk” on the T-84 (upgraded T-80) one. Apart from trading protection (the Vavilon was advertised as having STANAG 6 30mm AP protection and being able to withstand a 125mm round from 500 meters, likely against the front) for weight and logistical issues, the armament is pretty standard IFV fare: A 30mm autocannon, various machine guns and grenade launchers, and ATGMs. Crew of both is three for the vehicle itself and up to eight dismounts.
Now for the fun part.
Option A: 7+3 Unitary
Composition: Squad leader/vehicle commander (rifle/PDW), vehicle driver (PDW), vehicle gunner (PDW), 1-2x machine gunner (LMG), 1x rocket launcher (RPG), 1x assistant (rifle+RPG ammo), 1x rifle grenadier (self explanatory), 2-3x riflemen (rifle). One of the riflemen could be a “deputy leader” who commands dismounts when the commander stays with the vehicle.
This is the smallest and most conservative organization. It’s designed to duplicate the BMP procedure of having one empty paper-strength seat so that platoon/company troops can ride along. It fights like a standard unitary squad.
This also fights as a unitary squad, although a marksman is moved to squad level and the deputy commander who controls the dismounts is a permanent table position. Still fights as a simple unitary squad. Marksman is optional
Option C: 4-4-3 Fireteam
Composition: Squad leader/vehicle commander (rifle/PDW), vehicle driver (PDW), vehicle gunner (PDW). Fireteam A: Team leader (rifle), team machine gunner (LMG), team launcher (RPG), rifleman (rifle, ammo for MG/RPG). Fireteam B: Team Leader (rifle), team machine gunner (LMG), team launcher (RPG), rifleman (rifle, ammo)
This is a massive divergence and features the dawn of the fireteam, with two four-man elements and two RPG launchers (with one of the riflemen possibly a marksman). Naturally, more advanced formations and dismounted maneuvers are used.
My personal choice for the sake of the All Union story would be Option B. It’s still similar enough to be comfortable, informal task-organized teams can still easily be formed if need be, but is also more advanced. Not just having a squad marksman but in having a specific dismount commander, which makes it easier for the APC to act as part of a separate “armored group“.
I’ve decided to kick off the new year on Fuldapocalypse with my current “I justify it by claiming it’s for book research, but really it’s mostly for its own fun sake” obsession. This is the way special forces teams are infiltrated (moved in to their target, almost always with the intention of stealth).
Granted, there are elite teams moving about in All Union (without spoiling any specific element), and the Soviet-Romanian War saw the biggest deployment of special forces in modern history. But it’s still a fascinating topic. So in rough order from least to most complicated…
On Foot. This is the most basic type, with very obvious limitations. In this case the borders are already packed with conventional troops (including recon ones), so very few to no SPF teams would go in that way.
Helicopter/VTOL. This needs little explanation. Both its strengths and weaknesses are pretty obvious to those with basic military knowledge.
Boat. This also doesn’t need much explanation. In this specific case, it’s hindered by Romania having only a small amount of coastline suitable for amphibious landings. One 1970 CIA analysis put it at only nine miles (page 10), but this admittedly would be far less a problem for small SOF craft as opposed to large landers.
Ground Vehicle. AKA the Desert Rats. This gives the force a lot more mobility once in the target area, but it also makes it more noticeable and adds to their logistical areas. And especially for the more prosaic role of most spetsnaz, this also overlaps to a large extent with the horde of BRDMs and long-range patrols in “conventional” units.
Static Line Parachute. This is less precise than helicopters but can take advantage of (often) longer range or higher-performing aircraft. The type of aircraft also differs-I have a soft spot for planes like the An-2 and C-145 Skytrucks that are small for mass paradrops but quite able to release small teams.
Infiltration in Peacetime. This uses secret agents and other “peaceful” means to help bring the SPF in before the fighting starts. The problem is that you need a good network of secret agents to succeed this way.
These are the mundane, usual, “boring” techniques. Now for the “interesting” ones.
Free fall parachute jumps. Requiring more skill and risk, this is further divided into the “easier” HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) and “harder” (High Altitude High Opening) jumps. The former is mostly intended for unconventional war to keep the drop plane hidden (in a visual and sound sense) and less vulnerable, while the latter is an extreme jump that involves the parachutists gliding a considerable distance.
Ultralight aircraft and paramotors. Mentioned in both the GENFORCE-Mobile and TC 7-100.2 manuals for special forces insertion, these seemingly silly devices have been considered a serious way of moving in. The performance of motorized paragliders and ultralight planes varies, but can be “increased” if only a one way trip in is needed.
Wingsuits. The most exotic yet, these are mentioned in TC 7-100.2 and the various Worldwide Equipment Guides. Still conceptual as of this writing and the absolute hardest to use, these squirrel-gliders are nonetheless, well, awesome. Especially the powered ones.
It’s important to note that the majority of historical spetsnaz from the 1950s to 1991 were still two-year draftees. The best and most motivated two-year draftees, but still two-year draftees. Infiltrators in the second category in a Soviet-style military would have to be officers or professional volunteers with longer-term contracts to get the time to master such exotic techniques.
A massive number of Soviet, Bulgarian, and Afghan special purpose forces participated in the invasion of Romania. The very first substantial Soviet casualties in the war came when a Romanian MiG-23 shot down a transport carrying SPF for a parachute insertion, killing all eighteen people on board. While those three nations are well known, there have also been rumors of other SPF as well as western mercenaries disguised as employees for humanitarian NGOs.
So my book project now has a name: All Union. To celebrate this milestone and excellent progress on it, I figured I should share the rivet-counting infodump of very little actual relevance to the plot (or is it…) but which is fun to do: An Order of Battle chart of the Mobile Corps (of GENFORCE-Mobile inspiration) of the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics, most famous for their actions in the invasion of Romania.
The methodology is simple: For the number of corps and locations, I went with this analysis, which predicted eight total by the turn of the millennium and theorized their number by district. In actual history, only one was created, the 5th Guards Army Corps stationed in Belarus. For their numbering, I went with the invaluable ww2.dk and looked for defunct/easily disbandable corps HQs in the general area (HQ cities here NOT always correspond to historical bases). So on with the fun exercise/sneak preview-oops, did I say too much??
Mobile Corps have adopted a degree of heraldry beyond previous divisions. All save one have a geographic semi-nickname, and all have a “mascot” creature displayed prominently on all unit patches and symbols. The “Sovereign Guards” honorific was made to reward units for the Romanian war without worrying about legacy “guards” titles from long ago.
5th Guards Mobile Combined Arms Corps “Neman” (bison): First (and in actual history only) mobile corps created. Peacetime garrison Minsk, Belarusian SSR, served in Romanian invasion under Dniester Front.
7th Sovereign Guards Mobile Combined Arms “Vena” (elk): Peacetime garrison Vitebsk, Belarusian SSR. Served in Romanian invasion under Dniester Front, given sovereign guards status postwar.
28th Mobile Combined Arms Corps “Buh” (medieval lion): Peacetime garrison Lviv, Ukrainian SSR. Served in Romanian invasion under Dniester Front. Considered one of the primary frontline units against independent, hostile Poland.
26th Mobile Combined Arms Corps “Lagoda” (Karelian Bear Dog): Peacetime garrison Petrozavodsk, Russian SSR. Did not participate in Romanian invasion but was on high alert and was earmarked for a proposed second large offensive operation that never had to be conducted.
17th Sovereign Guards Mobile Combined Arms Corps “Fergana” (Huma bird): Peacetime garrison Tashkent, Uzbek SSR. Participated in Romanian invasion under Dniester Front. Given sovereign guards status postwar. Its base in the otherwise remote area makes it the closest thing to a strategic reserve mobile corps, and it is poised to always go either west, east, or south. One of the main characters in All Union, Cholpon Murad-Kyzy, served in the 17th Corps during the war in a forward medical station.
64th Sovereign Guards Mobile Combined Arms Corps “Donets” (nightingale): Peacetime garrison Luhansk, Ukrainian SSR. Participated in Romanian invasion under Dniester Front. Given sovereign guards status postwar. Its base in the birthplace of All-Union president and legendary leader Anton Yatchenko is widely believed to not exactly be the most coincidential, as is it receiving sovereign guards status and massive accolades.
32nd Mobile Combined Arms Corps “Roman-Kosh” (mythical hippocampus mermaid-horse): Peacetime garrison Sevastopol, Russian SSR [not a typo]. Participated in Romanian invasion under Danube Front, the only mobile corps to do so. Is believed to be the mobile corps with the most focus on amphibious invasions and operations in extreme terrain. There are even rumors that detachments from it are earmarked for the seizure of Iceland should it come to that.
Far Eastern TVD
57th Mobile Combined Arms Corps “Kisilyakh” (lynx): Peacetime garrison Ulan-Ude, Russian SSR. Did not participate in the Romanian invasion but was earmarked and prepared as part of the ultimately unnecessary second offensive operation.
43rd Mobile Combined Arms Corps “Amur” (mosquito): Peacetime garrison Khabarovsk, Russian SSR. High-priority unit for potential war with China. Because of this and its distance did not participate in the Romanian invasion and was never considered for doing so, even as part of the hypothetical second wave.
“VNG Elite Corps”/”Efir Group Corps”/”Phantom Corps” (ghost): Peacetime garrison Gorky, Russian SSR. Formed after the Romanian invasion, exact strength still unclear. Under the control of KGB successor VNG (based on an acronym that can translate to “All Union Monitoring Group”). Part of the mysterious and nominally private “Efir [Aether] Group, which officially is nothing but a small real estate firm registered in Pune, India. It is said that the corps is haunted and anyone who gazes at its facilities without approval is immediately flung out of a tall window by poltergeists.