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The Strangest Analysis

By Colin Salt

Photo of Dr. Richard Kugler. Taken by wikimedia user 'Vilke' and shared under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

That the US was in a hesitant period in terms of defence planning in the 1990s is not a surprise. But one particular example strikes me as taking this to extremes. A 1992 piece by renowned and legitimately sharp analyst Richard Kugler called The Future U.S. Military Presence In Europe examined various scenarios.

Kugler's paper looked at the classic Russo-American confrontation, showing that the former USSR could still muster sixty division-equivalents of soldiers west of the Urals. (One portion that didn't age well but was understandable at the time was treating every non-Baltic former SSR, including Ukraine, as docile servants of Moscow). It also looked at Gulf-style middle east wars. But there was another contingency that made me smile.

This was a "Radical Arab Attack on Turkey", consisting of a Syrian-Iraqi alliance invading that country. Never mind the longtime strength of the Turkish Army or the fact that Iraq's military had just been destroyed in the Gulf War while Syria's was hit hard by the fall of the Soviet Union, its chief patron. Or, for that matter, the fact that neither country really enjoyed a substantial reputation as the most skillful soldiers.

Kugler, clearly no fool, intended for this to be the "assume a spherical cow" answer to a logistical question. It really was just going "Ok, if a big OPFOR [Opposing Force] attacked Turkey from the south and was capable of fighting past the local forces, what size intervention would be necessary to push it back." The enemy could belong to the Krasnovian/Donovian Circle Trigon Party. It was just one point, and was never considered the most likely threat.

The paper itself is a fascinating, well-organized look at force structure and an excellent resource for those considering hypothetical conflicts in that time and/or place. So naturally I ran with the goofiest proposal. A 1990s technothriller could be made about this League of Evil invading Turkey and the Americans fighting it off. But why the motivation? Well, one of the cities the enemy moved towards was Iskenderun, or Turkish Alexandria. And the mammoth Seleucid Empire covered modern-day Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. So take the two countries uniting under a supervillain who wished to restore Alexander's empire and set the stage for a Mary Renault meets Larry Bond showdown.

As far as post-USSR action novel setups go, you could do worse.


Colin Salt reviews other genres at his blog: Fuldapocalypse Fiction and has written The Smithtown Unit and its sequel for Sea Lion Press


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