Dit vertaalde ‘egodocument’ uit het Russisch vertelt het verhaal van Kolonel Vladimir Aleksandrov die betrokken is geweest in 1961 bij de voorbereiding van de stationering van SS-4 raketten met kernbewapening in de DDR. Aan het einde van het artikel blijkt dat de voorbereidingen (o.a. bouw van lanceerplatformen in Brandenburg die er tot op de dag vandaag, vergeten door iedereen, nog steeds liggen) voor niets zijn geweest, door de invoering van het nieuwe SS-5 raketsysteem met zijn veel grotere reikwijdte werd het niet meer nodig geacht SS-4 bewapening in vooruitgeschoven posities te stationeren buiten de Sovjet-Unie.
The Order That Never Came
Not very long ago, our newspaper recorded that in early 1959 (on the eve on the creation of the Strategic Rocket Forces [December 1959]) a special-purpose brigade under the command of Colonel A. Kholopov [Aleksandr Ivanovich Kholopov] was secretly deployed along with its equipment and weaponry – warheads for R-5M (=SS-3, AP) missiles – to what was then GDR. Now, however, we are able to shed light on the details of another little-known story on the same topic, i.e. Operation Tuman [Fog] as told by retired Colonel Vladimir Aleksandrov from Smolensk.
It is the summer of 1961. In Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic in the Western Soviet Union the 50th and 43rd Rocket Armies – now no longer part of the SRF –- continued to mass medium-range ballistic missiles. One after another, missile regiments entered into combat service. However, with a range of 2.000 kilometers, the R-12 missiles (=SS-4, AP) comprising their arsenal did not provide coverage over all of Western Europe. An missile systems using the R-14 (=SS-5, AP) that had a range of 4.500 kilometers were still in the construction stage.
Under the current circumstances, it was decided to deploy a number of missile assets to the GDR in the forward area of the Western Theater of Operations. To this end, under orders from the General Staff, an independent missile regiment began to take shape out of our unit. I was appointed its commander. Thus, began the preparations for Operation Tuman.
My Regiment, armed with R-12 missiles (=SS-4, AP), was ordered to report for combat duty in the GDR and be ready for “direct launch”. I left for Berlin along with S. Karpenko, chief of the repair and maintenance unit. That was the 17th of September.
Over the following days and weeks, our group, which included my deputy Lieutenant Colonel B. Vinogradov, the regiment’s chief engineer Major A. Metelnikov, the Chief of Food Services Captain N. Zykov, and the chiefs of staff of the 1’st and 2’nd missile battalions Major V. Trofimov and V. Nesterov, coordinated directly with Colonel K. Molonenkov, a senior staff officer from the operations directorate, on accomplishing the important task of becoming familiar with the area. We familiarized ourselves with the roads, the forests, and the locations of reservoirs, as well as the condition of the troop billeting facilities and combat installations at the Fürstenberg and Vögelsang [Vogelsang] military bases located 20 to 25 km west of Lychen, where the headquarters of the 5th Guards Tank Army was deployed. It was there tat we set ourselves up in a hotel.
A field combat launch site designated BSP-1 was constructed in a forest 8 km west of Fürstenberg. Nor far from Vögelsang was BSP-2. These positions were 10 to 12 km from each other.
We saw that he deployment areas had everything we needed: high-quality barracks, headquarters buildings with a club, a boiler room, covered paring areas and garages for special transport vehicles, plus buildings suitable for missile deployment and storage.
At Vögelsang there was also a repair shop for vehicles and special weapons, as well as supply warehouses. The following wok was done at BSP-1 and BSP-2: the perimeter was cordoned off with a barbed wire fence on two reinforced concrete pickets; brick guard buildings with two rooms for the regimental and battalion CPs were built at the entrances to the BSP’s; concrete slabs for command vehicles, telephone, telegraph and radio communications gear were placed in the immediate vicinity of these buildings. The N1 installations (launch platforms) had concrete reinforced foundations for the launch pads and launchers. Next to these were wooden and earthen revetments for diesel generators and the electrical transformer unit, as well as a pillbox with a gun port for use as the battery commanders CP. Additionally, there were concrete slabs for the special vehicles belonging to the launch and technical batteries. Gravel access roads linked the launch platform components.
The battery positions contained no storage facility for rocket fuel components. Hence, a storage facility was built for this purpose at the 5th Guards Army fuel depot. We also examined the train loading ramps located along the railways transiting the military bases. We anticipated using the existing network of roads paved with hard-packed gravel for transporting personnel and combat equipment to the BSP’s. Te network was inspected carefully, road signs were put up, repairs were made to the road bed and bridges were reinforced. Work was performed to camouflage both BSP’s to include transplanting trees removed roots and all from the forest.
We left for the Soviet Union on the “Wünsdrof-Moscow” train on the evening of October 11, 1961. We traveled feeling tat we had accomplished our duty and with a sense of satisfaction with the preliminary work we had done. But very important tasks still lied ahead of us: completing the formation of an independent missile regiment and mobile maintenance unit, and preparing for them to be deployed to the GDR later.
Complying with my orders, I arrived at Vlasikha and reported to General M. Nikolsky on the tasks we had completed. I compiled the necessary documents and then returned to my regiment.
By then, at the Zhitovichi regiments, a commission chaired by General-Lieutenant I. Shmelev the Deputy Commanding General of the 50th Rocket Army was already at work setting up the independent missile regiment.
Comprehensive training and evaluation exercises held during November and December 1961 completed the formation of the unit. Orders for the regiment’s elements to be transported by rail were even prepared in advance. Training and exhibition exercises were conducted on loading and unloading personnel and equipment for transport.
The location of the regiment’s impending deployment was not disclosed. Officers and career servicemen for a long time had no clue that the road ahead of them crosses the western border of the USSR and transited the GDR. Many officers sent their families away from the garrison to stay with relatives, although living quarters were retained for them. For a month, the combat and rear supply element, and the regimental headquarters staff remained ready to load up at a moments notice at the reserve tracks of the railroad station in Zhitovichi.
Everyone agonized from the suspense. But the command to load up never came. On several occasions I reported to division command, army command and the SRF Main Staff that we were ready for redeployment. But each time I got the same answer “Wait. Increase the regiment’s training and combat readiness.”
And this is how the year 1962 began. I now realize that the delivery of te R-14 (8K65) missile (=SS-5, AP) for military service, with it’s greater range than our R-12’s (=SS-4, AP), eliminated the need to deploy the regiment to the GDR. Or independent missile regiment was disbanded under an order from CinC SRF dated 12 July 1962 and it’s elements were reassigned to the 369th [Zhitkovichi] and the 396th [Petrikov] regiments.