Remember the Cold War Terror of the Fulda Gap? Defense Intellectuals Do.

tags: Cold War, Fula Gap, Redeye Fulda Cold

Bill Fortin served in the United States Army, 3rd Armor Division, from April 1968 to April 1970. Retired from Bell Labs in 2001, he is currently the CEO of IBS, Inc., an international marketing and systems engineering company. He holds a Master’s Degree in Management Sciences from the University of Baltimore. He is the author of the novel, Redeye Fulda Cold (2015).

Putting a chink in communist doctrine may not have been the primary motive of the reform movement called Prague Spring. However, it did provide the people of Czechoslovakia with a brief view of the concept of western capitalism -- and its potential value. Czechoslovakia's newly elected First Secretary of the Communist Party would introduce some radically new ideas to his people and his party. Reformist Alexander Dubček, on January 5, 1968, released his vision of what he considered to be the future success for his country.

However, this breath of spring, and his dream, came to a screeching halt on August 21 of that same year when the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact invaded his country and halted any and all reforms that were thought to be detrimental to Mother Russia and the communist party. Romania and Albania were the only Pact countries that did not participate.

History would record that the Czechs attributed the invasion to the “Brezhnev Doctrine,” which specified that the U.S.S.R. had the right to intervene in any country in the Eastern Bloc that performed a shift toward capitalism. In fact, Brezhnev’s Soviet foreign policy specifically announced that “[w]hen forces are hostile to socialism, and attempt to turn existing socialist countries toward capitalism, it will become a concern for everyone indoctrinated in the family."

Two months prior to the invasion, several members of the Dubček Cabinet defected to the West. They took with them several interesting documents from the safe in the palace in which the president of Czechoslovakia resided. These official papers were never made public but supposedly clearly outlined a Soviet war plan with intent to fake a NATO first strike invasion of the Eastern bloc countries.

According to some this really surprised the NATO intelligence officers, and caused major fallout within the intelligence communities in Europe. The plan specified the immediate use of a nuclear weapons attack. This fact alone caused just about everyone in NATO to discount what they had been handed.

The Langley interrogators, however, took exception to this stance and requested an additional analysis be conducted by an outside intelligence contractor. What caused the CIA great concern was the level of detail used to describe the nuclear first strike option. And, even more interesting was the list of the countries that were not to be harmed in the proposed missile barrage. These named countries were the nations of Great Britain, Spain, Norway, and France, with a special notation for the protection of the city of Paris.

The result was a CIA recommendation to the U.S. President to immediately respond to this clear and present danger. The highest levels of the U.S. and West German governments were summoned to meet and discuss a complete re-write of the NATO response to invasion, titled MC 14/3 C.

The term MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, was always considered to be the most distinguishing of all factors blocking a Russian invasion. But by mid-1968, it seemed that was no longer the case. The alerting term, created in the early 1950s, was called DEFCON, which stood for Defense Readiness Condition.

The rumored enhancements to the NATO war plan, MC 14/3 C, would mandate an instant escalation to the second highest level, DEFCON-2, for any invasion attempt. This would be followed by an immediate call for a DEFCON-1. The key word in this new policy was “immediate,” with an absolute no-pause-for-diplomacy mandate. Not since the end of WW II in the Pacific has this God-like power been authorized.

This theoretical resolve was never made public. The general consensus in the CIA would be to buy as much time as possible so that the second part of the new NATO war plan could be made ready and implemented when necessary. A complex set of military exercises would be hatched and submitted for approval to the highest levels of government.

These carefully crafted series of maneuvers would be specifically designed to influence the Russian military mindset. My novel Redeye Fulda Cold projects what would happen if plans were implemented to delay the Russians from coming across the border. Although the final proposed strategy would deliberately draw the Russians to a predetermined point well inside the Fulda Gap, the boldness of the plan would be enough to save us all.

The world was about to be changed forever, and its entire future would rest in a new defensive posture known as Fulda Cold. And this, of course, was just one of the many situations facing the free world in 1969.

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