Red Storm Rising
Cover of 1986 first edition
|Genre||Techno-thriller, war novel|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Pages||656 p. (hardback edition)|
|ISBN||0-399-13149-3 (hardback edition)|
|LC Class||PS3553.L245 R4 1986|
Red Storm Rising is a 1986 technothriller novel by Tom Clancy about a Third World War in Europe between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Warsaw Pact forces, set around the mid-1980s. Though other novels deal with a fictional World War III, this one is notable for the way in which numerous settings for the action—from Atlantic convoy duty to shooting down reconnaissance satellites to tank battles in Germany—all have an integral part to play on the outcome. It was also unusual in its depiction of a World War III fought exclusively with conventional weapons, rather than escalating to nuclear warfare.
The novel eventually lent its name to a game development company called Red Storm Entertainment, which Clancy co-founded in 1997.
Islamic terrorists from Azerbaijan destroy a Soviet oil-production facility at Nizhnevartovsk, Russia, crippling the USSR's oil production and threatening to wreck the nation's economy. Contemplating concessions to the West to survive the crisis, the Politburo instead decides to seize the oil fields in the Persian Gulf by military force.
According to the Carter Doctrine, any attack on the Gulf is an attack on strategic interests to the United States, necessitating a military response. To prevent a combined reaction by NATO, the Soviets launch a KGB operation to carry out a false flag operation framing West Germany for an unprovoked attack on the USSR; afterwards, the Soviets plan to invade Western Europe in response to that “attack”. With West Germany occupied, and NATO defeated, the Soviets hope that the U.S. will not rescue the Arab oil states when it attacks them, as it can meet its oil needs with Western sources. The Politburo arranges a bomb blast in the Kremlin that kills some visiting schoolchildren, blaming a West German exile for the attack.
The KGB operation has limited success: the planned attack on West Germany is detected when a Spetsnaz infiltrator, Soviet-Afghan War veteran Major Andrei Illych Chernyavin, happens to be hit by a car in Aachen, is found to be carrying incriminating documents, and is questioned under narcoanalysis. This advance knowledge gives NATO time to mobilize its forces, destroy numerous Spetznaz direct action strike groups, and preserve the alliance. Mention is made of a completely successful Spetznaz sabotage mission against the Kiel Canal. The Soviet advance operations do achieve some success, since several governments—notably those of Greece and Japan—publicly claim that this “German-Russian dispute” does not warrant outside involvement. The Soviets face no opposition in either the Pacific theater or the Mediterranean region.
NATO aircraft manage to sharply reduce Soviet ground superiority on the first night of the war by using first-generation stealth planes and tactical fighter-bombers to eliminate Soviet Mainstay airborne early warning aircraft and tactical fighters. The NATO forces achieve air superiority and destroy many key bridges over which much of the Soviet Army had yet to cross. Soviet strategic assumptions have been severely skewed by politically motivated best-case projections from the KGB, and this has lulled their logisticians to fail to give sufficient attention to NATO's defensive firepower. Warsaw Pact forces advance at a tremendous cost. Germany becomes the epicentre of the conflict; here, NATO forces are slowly driven west while inflicting significant damage to the encroaching Soviet Army.
Simultaneously, the Soviets seize Iceland in a covert surprise attack with the Soviet merchant ship Julius Fucik disguised as a Lykes Lines American LASH ship, capturing the NATO air station at Keflavík and eliminating the GIUK-SOSUS line to allow the Soviet Navy to surge its submarines into the Atlantic Ocean without being detected. In addition, the Soviet Navy takes steps to protect its ballistic missile submarine fleet in coastal waters behind minefields and ASW assets, freeing up its attack submarines to engage and destroy NATO shipping. Thus, the Soviet Navy is able to act as an offensive weapon contrary to prewar NATO expectations, becoming a major strategic threat against resupply convoys coming from North America with both aircraft and submarines. This advantage is put to immediate use as a NATO carrier battle group, led by USS Nimitz, USS Saratoga and the French carrier Foch, is successfully attacked by Soviet Badger and Backfire bombers, the latter firing Kingfish missiles. The Soviet Badgers fire modified Kelt missiles as decoys whose radar transmitters make them appear to be Backfires on the predicted attack vector, far out from the main air fleet. The American carriers' F-14 interceptors are committed against the decoys, leaving an insufficient number of Crusaders from the Foch and the ships' surface-to-air missiles to defend against the 'real' Backfires approaching from another direction. A few of the Backfires and most of their Kingfish missiles are shot down by the F-8 Crusaders, the Aegis missile cruisers, the destroyers whose surface-to-air missiles can guide on the AEGIS radar signals, and the Phalanx antimissile gun systems, but some of the Kingfish get through. The Foch is sunk, the amphibious assault carrier Saipan explodes, taking 2,500 Marines with her, and the two American carriers are forced to spend several weeks under repair, Nimitz at Southampton, England and Saratoga at Norfolk, Virginia.
In West Germany, the battle becomes a war of attrition that the Soviets expect to win through slow and sustained advances. A NATO air attack on the Soviet lines kills the Soviet CinC-West (a Moscow favorite); first Alekseyev's boss and then Alekseyev himself assume overall command. The second-in-command of the attacking Soviet army group, General-Colonel Pavel Leonidovich Alekseyev, temporarily takes over a decapitated tank division and leads a successful attack on the town of Alfeld, finally giving the Red Army the breakthrough it needs. As the Operational Manoeuvre Group forces start to deploy, NATO looks likely to lose all of Germany east of the Weser River.
When a brilliantly timed naval attack on Soviet bomber bases with submarine-launched cruise missiles cripples the Soviet bomber force, the Soviets lose their most effective convoy and fleet-killing weapon. The U.S. Marines take this opportunity to stage an amphibious assault on Iceland backed by the NATO navies, retaking the island and closing the Atlantic to Soviet forces. A failed bomber raid on the NATO naval forces attacking Iceland (in which the remaining Soviet naval cruise missile bomber fleets are nearly wiped out) essentially means victory in the Atlantic, opening the USSR to direct attacks from carrier strike groups against its northern strategic areas and the free flow of convoys across the Atlantic. Simultaneously with the reversal in the Atlantic, the SACEUR, a renowned poker player, makes an audacious gamble in the face of a final Soviet offensive that pushes NATO ground forces to the breaking point, launching an unexpected flanking manoeuvre that places heavy NATO forces in the rear of the Soviet spearhead, cutting their last Category A regular army units off behind two different rivers and interdicting their supplies. Intelligence gained from a prisoner on Iceland finally reveals the dire fuel situation in the USSR to NATO, which changes bombing priorities to wipe out the Red Army's forward fuel depots, essentially immobilizing the Soviet formations. With the Soviet advance decisively halted, NATO catches its breath and prepares to move into a general offensive against the increasingly ineffective Soviet Category C reserves now being moved forward.
With the conventional war situation in Europe turning against them and their strategic situation increasingly bleak due to the drawdown on national oil reserves resulting in a crippled economy, the Politburo are moved to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons at the front to regain the initiative. Alekseyev, realizing that a tactical nuclear exchange would almost certainly lead to a strategic nuclear exchange, seeks and obtains control of his theatre's nuclear weapons as part of their planning, ostensibly for practical matters of tactical targeting but in reality to ensure they are never used. In the face of this nightmare scenario, the general joins forces with Energy Minister Mikhail Eduardovich Sergetov and the KGB Chairman Boris Georgiyevich Kosov, in staging a coup d'état, replacing the Politburo with a troika consisting of Sergetov, Agriculture Minister Filip Moiseyevich Krylov, and longtime Politburo member Pyotr Bromkovskiy (an elderly and respected World War II veteran). KGB Chairman Kosov is summarily executed by Major Arkady Semyonovich Sorokin, Alekseyev's aide, whose daughter Svetlana was one of the children killed in the Kremlin bombing.
With the government back under control, Alekseyev flies back to Germany and personally negotiates with the SACEUR to bring an end to the war, forestalling the launching of NATO's counter-offensive with an agreement of a cease-fire and withdrawal to prewar lines. The aftermath of the conflict is left untold.
Characters in Red Storm Rising
- Colonel General Pavel Leonidovich Alekseyev, SA – first 2IC-Southwest and then Commander in Chief, Western Theater. Later made Deputy Minister of Defense and Chief of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces.
- Commander Edward Morris, USN – Commanding officer, USS Pharris, later USS Reuben James. A sub-hunter of renown, a dangerous and clever tactical innovator.
- Lieutenant Commander Jerry O'Malley, USN – helicopter pilot, USS Reuben James. Past master sub-hunter and anti-submarine warfare tactician. Goes by the code name "Hammer" when he is flying. Incredibly skilled with the dipping sonar of his Seahawk helicopter.
- Commander Daniel X. McCafferty, USN – Commanding officer, USS Chicago, a Los Angeles class attack submarine.
- Sergeant First Class Terry Mackall, US Army – M1 Abrams tank commander, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment on the German front. Receives a battlefield promotion to 2LT and become executive officer of his tank company.
- Mikhail Eduardovich Sergetov – Candidate (nonvoting) Member of the Soviet Politburo and Energy Minister, later General Secretary of the Soviet Union.
- Lieutenant Commander Robert A. Toland III, USNR – NSA analyst. Promoted to commander just prior to the outbreak of war. He is the officer who makes the intelligence discovery about the Soviet oil shortage.
- First Lieutenant Michael D. Edwards, USAF – Meteorological officer, Keflavík Air Base, American evader on Iceland. Leads intelligence gathering and guerrilla group in Iceland. His code name is Beagle, and he receives a Navy Cross from a USMC general for his brilliant conduct of a mission for which he wasn't trained.
- Sergeant James Smith, USMC – Company Clerk, Keflavík Air Base, American evader on Iceland. Second in command of Edwards' group.
- Private Garcia, USMC – Infantryman, Keflavík Air Base, American evader on Iceland
- Private Rodgers, USMC – Infantryman, Keflavík Air Base, American evader on Iceland
- Vigdis Agustdottir – Icelandic civilian rescued by Beagle Edwards and his American intelligence-gatherers from Russian rapists.
- Captain Ivan Mikhailovich Sergetov, SA – Alekseyev's aide-de-camp and Sergetov's son. Promoted to major during the war.
- Major Amelia "Buns" Nakamura, USAF – An F-15C pilot who becomes the first American female fighter ace (and third female ace overall, after two Soviet World War II pilots) by shooting down three Tu-16 Badger bombers while on ferry duty and later using ASM-135 anti-satellite missiles to destroy at least two Soviet naval radar reconnaissance satellites. She also becomes the first Space Ace because of her satellite shoot-downs.
In 1987, it was published in French as Tempête Rouge, translated by France-Marie Watkins, with the collaboration of Jean Sabbagh.
Clancy and Larry Bond, designer of the Harpoon (series) modern naval warfare game, used the second edition miniatures rules to test key battle sequences, notably the Soviet operation to seize Iceland and the attack on the carrier battle group in the "Dance of the Vampires" chapter. Bond refereed the game sessions, which typically involved several players on each side (Clancy among them) acting in various roles.
In December 1988 MicroProse released a Red Storm Rising computer game, in which the player commanded an American submarine against Soviet forces. The player had the option of choosing between both single missions or campaign and which era to play in; modern missions offered the player more advanced submarines and weapons, but also a more technologically advanced adversary as well.
The information that "[the year] 1998 represents the situation at the time of the action in the novel Red Storm Rising" appears on page 6 of the computer game manual. During his initial briefing by Chief of the General Staff Marshall Shavirin, he informs General Yuri Rozhkov—who is in charge of all Soviet ground forces—that "hostilities will commence on the fifteenth of June" after "four months of preparation." However, the initial radio message shown in the computer game gives a different month and day for the outbreak of war.
In 1989, TSR, Inc. released a board game designed by Douglas Niles, based on the book. The game won the Origins Award for Best Modern-Day Boardgame of 1989 and Best Graphic Presentation of a Boardgame of 1989.
In December 2015, a document released by the UK National Archives revealed that, shortly after the October 1986 Reykjavík Summit between Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan, the latter had advised UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to read the novel in order to gain an understanding of the Soviet Union's intentions and strategy.
- "Choreographing the Dance of the Vampires".
- "Origins Award Winners (1989)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2007-11-05. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
- Edwards, Valerie (30 December 2015). "How Ronald Reagan based his foreign policy on Tom Clancy books: President told Margaret Thatcher to read Red Storm Rising thriller to understand Russia". The Daily Mail.