NaNoWriMo Progress Report

I have excellent news regarding my NaNoWriMo project. Writing it has been fun and progress on it has been successful and smooth. I still don’t know if I’ll be able to meet the technical deadline, but I’d rather write at a comfortable pace and miss the arbitrary endpoint than push myself too far.

I feel like I should also (further) reveal what this is: An alternate history pop epic/mystery set in a timeline where the USSR endured in a reformed form (while a lot of stories understandably have the August Coup succeeding, in this it never happened), and the hypothetical Soviet-Romanian War I’ve mused about on this blog plays a huge role in the plot.

Of course, the unfortunate tradeoff is that by writing, I’m admittedly having less energy to read and review on Fuldapocalypse. But rest assured, my creative engine is still running.

Soviet-Romanian War: The Chronology

I finally have a set chronology for the course of the Soviet/Romanian alternate history war I keep posting about. And yes, I’m now running three WIP books simultaneously.

Using the classical best-case 60km a day (on average) rate of advance, the Soviets would cross Romania in a little more than a week. Under their 70-100km guidelines for weaker opponents (which it’d definitely qualify as), it would fall in 5 days (too optimistic)[1] However, the same sources drop their rate to 30 km in mountainous terrain, found in central Romania.

The Bulgarians take an outsize share of the casualties. In part, this is because of the difference in both skill and equipment (in 1989, the Bulgarians historically still had T-34s equipping their reserve formations!). It’s also because of them having to cross the Danube opposed, never an easy task.

Bucharest, with its population of 2 million people, is not initially stormed in full. Instead it’s surrounded, left for the Bulgarians to keep encircled, and squeezed while the rest of the country is overrun. In around two weeks at absolute most, it is.

In a nod to the Gulf War, BARCAPS are placed to keep the doomed RoAF from escaping to Yugoslavia…. but the majority of planes that make it across due so to Hungary, the longtime rival, instead.

The stumbling block I had because of how much it depends on the story is what would happen to Ceausescu. Whether he successfully escapes, tries and fails to escape, gets couped, or killed/captured by the Soviets (keeping in mind he’d be very old and was in terrible health already in 1989). Of course, now I’ve found a solution that I can work into the plot…

Regardless, it ends in considerably less time than the current Russo-Ukrainian War has already been going on for (which is why I feel comfortable posting this now.) Using MCOAT with variables and unit sizes that I feel are close enough, casualties amount to:

  • Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics: Circa 3,500 killed, 14,000 wounded to varying degrees.
  • Bulgaria: Circa 6,500 killed, 26,000 wounded
  • Afghanistan: Circa 640 killed, 2,900 wounded
  • Romania: Circa 47,000 killed, 131,000 wounded [around a quarter of forces deployed at least hurt!]

These calculations assume nine days of high-intensity combat. Bulgarians and the Basic Forces divisions would take a large share compared to Mobile Corps with better armor, equipment, and medicine.

The result is a regime installed made up of local collaborators and those with some ties to Romania. Occupation duty is largely left to the Bulgarians and Afghans. Although prewar Romanian doctrine called for guerilla fighting, there isn’t terribly much stomach for it from the apathetic, shell-shocked population. Much of Romania’s population flees during and after the war, primarily to Hungary and beyond.

And out of it emerges, among other things… a mystery. Or several mysteries….

[1]The coalition managed a rough 45 km a day in the Gulf War, against a weak opponent in open terrain, and 30 km in the conventional phase of the Iraq War, with a pause and while facing the rougher areas of Iraq itself.

The Differences

Just as how Hector Bywater’s The Great Pacific War got a lot of specifics from the later conflict off but the general feel of a Japanese-American war completely right, I figured I’d look at my Soviet/Romanian War (which I’ve outlined) and see the differences.

  • First, the absolute biggest. Instead of being against an elected government and earning massive condemnation, this is against the odious regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. The prevailing outside sentiment would be sympathy for Romania’s people, but very little for their government.
  • Second, the force structure of the invaders is different and both stronger and weaker. Belarus has been replaced with Bulgaria, which has mobilized a gargantuan army in and of itself-albeit an army that still uses T-34s (really, there were units with those, as in Romania, up until the very end). Whereas the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics, for the most part (especially in its Mobile Force units), is a lot deeper than what I’ve seen from the Russians IRL in terms of substantive modernization (where a lot of old equipment, and, more importantly, stuff like few night vision devices and still using unsecure commercial radios beneath their shiny digi-flora uniforms)
  • Third, the invasion is a lot smoother out of the gate (note that I’m not speculating on the ultimate outcome in real life as of now). This is because, if nothing else, Romania is a lot smaller, less populous, and the invasion force is a lot bigger. Oh, and said horrendous Romanian government leading to apathy rather than near-unified disdain.

However, one thing that did appear in fiction and fact is the use of high-risk to the point of questionable VDV (Airborne Forces) operations. Of course, given their prominence, this is of little real surprise. Also, writing this post was tough, as is anything in a fluid, confusing situation.

Weird Wargaming: The Soviet-Romanian War

If you want to use small-unit wargames in my never-was draft percolating of a futuristic USSR deciding to finish off a surviving Ceausescu, some basic guidelines. Obviously, it’ll depend on the exact ruleset, but here’s the basics:

Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics

The USSR, under a Sovereign Union that in real life got scuttled by the August Coup, follows the 1990s GENFORCE “Mobile Forces” concept. Which is to say a multi-tier force. The “Basic Forces” divisions resemble slightly better late Cold War ones. The Mobile Forces ones have more futuristic equipment, better body armor/night vision, and substantially better training.

Mobile Forces battalions are organically combined arms mixed. APCs/IFVs are three to a platoon with each squad having a magazine LMG and rocket launcher. Company weapons platoons have lighter ATGMs and belt/tripod GPMGs. All Mobile Forces mechanized battalions have a large number of organic 2S31s (or Nonas for less-equipped formations).

Given the terrain, mountain formations have been plucked and sent in. GENFORCE mountain brigades are a four-infantry-one-tank battalion setup with supporting equipment suited for high altitudes (ie, lighter and higher-angle artillery). They also have a separate APC battalion that can be used to motorize if the terrain is appropriate. The one historical Soviet mountain brigade was inherited by Kyrgyzstan and consisted of two BMP and two soft-skin battalions with some attached cavalry and pack animal units.

Soviet Allies

The main contributors to the Soviet effort are Bulgaria and the stabilized Afghanistan. The former mobilizes to its full ability, which means it runs the gauntlet from “1980s NSWP” to “T-34s and World War I heavy artillery” (hey, if it can shoot and make a big explosion, it’s still worth something). The latter contribute a fairly standard BTR-equipped motor rifle division and numerous commando units.

Romania

Romania has a regular army with a degree of military modernization that it lacked. While select units have SRBMs based on foreign civilian sounding rockets, bespoke grenade launchers, and more (comparably) advanced tanks like the bizarrely shaped TAA, others are bottom of the barrel. All units should be mostly low quality, but some (particularly Securitat irregulars) will have better morale than others if applicable.

Organizationally, most should resemble lower-tier eastern forces.

Soviet-Romanian War: Background

I’ve talked before about a Soviet-Romanian War that’s a kind of “Soviet Gulf War“. There have been many obstacles to me actually writing such a thing, ranging from “what do I do with it” to “it’s a little eerie seeing Russia’s OTL buildup and interventions, including currently off Ukraine…”. But I figure I might as well get the rivet-counting parts of it down now while they’re fresh in my mind.

The Setting

It is the year 199X. The USSR is still intact. The reason isn’t because, as in Northern Fury, the August Coup succeeded. Here, it never happened, and the result is a “Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics” ( Союз Советских Суверенных Республик ), which allows for the continued use of the “USSR”, “Soviet Union”, and “CCCP” abreviations. The resulting semi-decommunized USSR has varying degrees of freedom and business openness, and is best symbolized by a flag: Still red, but with the hammer and sickle replaced with a light green vertical stripe on the left and a darker blue one on the right (to symbolize Central Asia and the Western Slavic republics).

Its economy has also been better improved from the historical collapse, but it retains its gigantic spending on the military. Having a bigger pie and more access to the Asian tech industry helps a lot. The result is that one of my favorite OPFOR models, the “Mobile Forces“, can finally be put into practice.

Meanwhile, to its west, the renegade Romania has clung on. But the time has finally come to eliminate it…

(Yes, I haven’t thought of the casus belli yet. Oh well.)

The Combatants

The USSR is able to deploy the Dniester and Danube Fronts. The Dniester Front is to the north and is composed mainly of national-level deployment forces and local ones in the Ukrainian and Moldovan military areas. The Danube Front stages out of Bulgaria (the most docile Warsaw Pact ally), and consists mainly of Bulgarian units with a smattering of Soviet ones, often in support roles. The only other foreign ally participating in a major role is a by-now-fairly-stabilized Afghanistan, contributing a motor rifle division and various mountain/commando units to the Dniester Front.

Investment has paid off, as the new pride and joy of the Red Army, its “mobile corps” are ready and set to participate in the invasion. A new generation of equipment has entered service. Many of the local participants are less well-equipped (in Bulgaria’s case, sometimes severely less so). The force contains thousands of tanks, artillery pieces, and aircraft, many of them new.

Opposing it is a force long considered the bottom of the Warsaw Pact barrel. Romania has had time to introduce some external and indigenous weapons systems. It has also semi-openly planned for a conventional delaying action followed by irregular resistance since the Ceausescu/Soviet split. But it remains hopelessly outclassed.

The Plan

The Dniester Front will do the bulk of the heavy lifting, sweeping through Romania. The Danube Front’s main goal is to cut off Bucharest and the Yugoslav border to head off reinforcement or escape in that direction. The biggest airborne and special operations since World War II will be conducted to aid the advance, secure the western side of the Carpathian Mountains, and interfere with the Yugoslav crossing.

Romania’s plan is to simply hold off long enough to set up a guerilla oppositions. In addition to all their other problems, an insistence on holding down the more Hungarian northwest, if only with security troops, lingers. (Hungary proper cares little for either side and has almost no intervention ability).

The Outcome and the Story

Ah, now that’s what I want to write about. I have many vignettes in my mind as of now but less of a coherent narrative. Still, I think I’ll have fun trying.