<In the Cold War, Able Archer 83 was the code name for a command post exercise carried out in November 1983 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Purpose of the exercise was to simulate a conflict escalation, reaching nuclear DEFCON 1 status, allowing “warm puppy” nuclear attack on large scale against the Enemy. It took 5 days of simulation but Russians thought that was not a simulation at all.
At 1983 from tactical military commands were introduced several brand new fighting and strategic elements, such as coded communication, file encryption, computer simulation programs. Furthermore the positioning of Pershing II nuclear missiles in Europe,
led some members of the Soviet Politburo, KGB and Stasi to believe that Able Archer 83 was a concrete first attack war then red alert was launched in several Soviet Military Bases and Compounds. This “military anxiety” made of Able Archer 83 one of the closest to nuclear war approaching since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
KGB launched some years before Operation RYaN. RYaN (РЯН) was a Russian acronym for “Nuclear Missile Attack” (Ракетное Ядерное Нападение); Operation RYaN was nothing less than a massive infiltration of Agents abroad, charged with monitoring the figures who would decide to launch a nuclear attack, the service and technical personnel who would implement the attack, and the facilities from which the attack would originate. Operation RYaN was up to discover the first intent of a nuclear attack and then preempt it.
Some month previous of the beginning of Able Archer, September 26, 1983, the Soviet orbital missile early warning system (SPRN), code-named Oko, reported a single intercontinental ballistic missile launch from the territory of the United States.However Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov correctly dismissed the warning as a computer error when ground early warning radars did not detect any launches. Part of his reasoning was that the system was new and known to have malfunctioned previously; also, a full-scale nuclear attack from the United States would involve thousands of simultaneous launches, not a single missile.
Later, the system reported four more ICBM launches headed to the Soviet Union, but Petrov again dismissed the reports as false. The investigation that followed revealed that the system indeed malfunctioned and false alarms were caused by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds underneath the satellites’ orbits.
Those weeks, and entire Operation Able Archer are told in a very neat and recent TV Series: Deutschland_83,
the nostalgic of 80’s and Cold War times won’t remain disappointed by it.