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Chair Report

Historical Joint Crisis Committee

Committee: Historical Joint Crisis Committee
Issue: Able Archer Crisis 1983
Name: Kavya Nayak & Noa Rosenfeld
Position: Crisis Directors

Welcome to the Historical Joint Crisis Committee at IASAS 2017! The HJCC is unlike any other
MUN committee in that you will be resolving crises in a historical context. HJCC operates under
real political conditions where factors such as money, personnel, alliances and regions all play a
significant role. Therefore a thorough understanding of the topic is imperative to being able to
carry out your role effectively

For the duration of this conference, we will be looking into the Able Archer Crisis of 1983.
Though historical accuracy is important, we will be deviating from historical events in this
committee and it is up to you to respond to these events and crisis topics as realistically as
possible. Please take into account that while we will be adding fictitious events, they will all be
based on the proceedings of the Able Archer Crisis of 83. Furthermore, all of the Minister
Positions within the two alliances and hence the actions of the delegates all have to be based
on accurate historical information (EG. Budget, Military size, Shifting Alliances).

After World War II, the world was divided into the East and West. The West being mainly under
the influence of the democratic United States and the East being under the control of the
communist USSR. As the spheres of influence of these two superpowers began to grow, there
was increasing tension between these two nations and the ideologies they stood for. This period
after WWII is known as the Cold War and it was fought with technological advances, alliances
and information rather than with troops and weapons. To secure alliances and national defense,
the United States set up NATO, a military alliance in 1949. In response, the USSR set up their
own military alliance known as the Warsaw Pact in 1955. The world was divided into these two
pacts with all neutral countries joining the non-alignment movement established in 1961 as a
reaction to the friction and hostility between the two superpower nations. These alliances and
this period marked the closest time that the world has ever been to nuclear war.

Definition of Key Terms:

Term Definition

NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North
Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between
several North American and European states based on the North
Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949

Warsaw Pact The Warsaw Pact, formally the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation
and Mutual Assistance, was a collective defense treaty signed in
Warsaw among the Soviet Union and seven Soviet satellite states
of Central and Eastern Europe during the Cold War.

Nuclear weapons A bomb or missile that uses nuclear energy (Nuclear Fission) to
cause an explosion. These are the most powerful, destructive
explosives we have on Earth.

Intercontinental A ballistic missile with a range of over 5,500 km, that can be used
Ballistic Missile (ICBM) to hit long range targets.

The Truman Doctrine The principle that the US should give support to countries or
peoples threatened by Soviet forces or Communist insurrection.
The doctrine was seen by the Communists as an open declaration
of the Cold War.

Deterrence The action of discouraging an action or event through instilling

doubt or fear of the consequences. The strategy of deterrence was
used in a political context to prevent nuclear escalation with the
consequences of mutually assured destruction.
Mutually Assured A doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which
Destruction (MAD) a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides
would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the

DEFCON A code used to refer to the degree of crisis currently experienced.

Background Information
The Able Archer Crisis began with a major annual NATO war drill called the Able Archer
Operation. It was carried out to simulate potential nuclear escalation during the Cold War, in
order to practice NATO responses to Soviet aggression. The situation was scripted by NATO
and approved by each countrys government, held in the Supreme Headquarters for Allied
Powers in Europe (SHAPE) in Belgium. The aggressor state was called ORANGE with NATO
referred to as BLUE and allied powers as ACE. ORANGE escalated from chemical weapons
attacks, to military movements, to DEFCON 1. NATO commanders were asked to respond as
they would in a real life situation.
With an increase in hostility in 1983, the increase in realism of the Able Archer Operation lead to
Soviet misunderstanding. Unlike previous years, the Able Archer crisis involved more
communication, greater use of military bases (alternate headquarters), increased consultation
between government officials and the participation of Heads of State, a radio silent airlift of
18,000 troops, and nuclear weapons procedures. Due to the depth of the drill, Soviet officials
believed that the drill was a guise used by NATO to move troops in preparation for an actual

The Soviet Operation RYaN was created to gather information about the potential for the a first
strike from the US. Operation RYaN was a full scale investigation into US actions on behalf of
the Society Union, organized by Yuri Andropov. RYaN was an acronym in Russian for Nuclear
Missile Attack (how subtle). Soviet intelligence strongly believed that this first strike would occur
and were paranoid in preventing it. They were especially fearful of Pershing II missiles they
believed the US was sending to Europe, which had the capability to reach Russia quickly
Therefore, the Able Archer Operation greatly roused suspicions of US initiated attack and lead
to Soviet troops being mobilized in the Baltic and near Czechoslovakia. Historians further
believe that Soviet ICBMs were prepared for launch, though is not known.

Upon hearing this information, US Lieutenant General Perroots decided not to prepare
countermeasures, thus preventing further US response and escalation. Soviet fears halted on
November 11 as the exercise concluded. Much of the information we currently have comes from
double agent Oleg Gordievsky, who reported Soviet response and detailed information from
Operation RYaN. Much of the tension arose from miscommunications: lots of the
communication between the UK and US had to do with American occupation of Grenada, lots of
moves within the simulation were misinterpreted, and these actions added up to create the
possibility of nuclear war.

From 1981 to 1983, the United States held intermittent psychological operations with the aim
to demonstrate how close NATO ships and military could get to critical Soviet Military bases.
NATO performed a series of covert naval operations that attempted to access waters near the
Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom gap and the Barents, Norwegian, Black, and Baltic seas. To
further patronize the USSR, NATO would make American bomber planes fly directly towards
Soviet airspace before turning around at the last second. These flight operations where
sometimes down several times per week with the objective to test the susceptibility of Soviet
radars as well as to demonstrate US and NATO power and capability. These psychological
exercises increased hostility between the US and the USSR and made both nations focus
tremendous efforts on advances in defense and assault technology.

The largest psychological and fleet exercise ever held was in 1983 when the United States
Navy conducted FleetEx 83-1 in the North Pacific. Approximately 40 ships with 23,000
crewmembers and 300 airplanes with immense military and destructive power, attempted to
provoke the Soviet Union into a reaction so that the U.S Office of Naval Intelligence would be
able to study Soviet radar capabilities, airplane characteristics and certain tactical maneuvers.
In response to this provocation, the USSR formally protested against the Unites States
continued breaching of Soviet Airspace.

The Able Archer Crisis, while lasting only 5 days, was one of the closest points in time the world
has come to Nuclear War. The accumulation of increasing weapons build up and demonstration
between the two nations and provocation between the alliances led to a deep mistrust and lack
of communication that many people feared could easily lead to Nuclear War and hence every
move that the alliances made was analyzed and scrutinized for purpose.

Current Situation (1983):

We will be simulating the Able Archer Operation and subsequent crisis from November 1, 1983.
Over the days of the conference we will be going through a host of situations from the
perspective of the Warsaw and NATO pacts. During this time there will be limited
communications, with the committee being largely divided upon pact lines. These simulate the
actual events of the Able Archer Crisis. While the events of the real crisis will be discussed,
representatives will have the opportunity to deviate from real life events. Maybe this time NATO
will really use Able Archer as a ruse for further military action? Or does the real fear lie within a
Soviet first strike?
Resources for further reading:
We highly encourage you to explore the resources, historical and otherwise, to get a greater
idea of the Able Archer Crisis from the perspective of both sides. Understanding the crisis will
enable you to make informed decisions and directives. We recommend the following documents
in order of importance and usefulness:

1. A Brief 10-minute video summary of the crisis

2. A Slate article covering the crisis in its historical and political context
3. A commentary detailing the Soviet perspective
4. A declassified US document detailing the Able Archer Operation and subsequent

-monographs/a-cold-war-conundrum/source.htm#HEADING1-13 (Declassified Documents Able Archer)