January 21, 2017 | In The News | The National Interest
Russia’s Crazy Plan to Win World War III: Invade Iceland?
Iceland was an overlooked by highly strategic location in the Cold War. Were the Soviet Union’s attack submarines to break out into the Atlantic and threaten NATO shipping, neutralizing Iceland and penetrating the “GIUK gap” would be of vital importance. But that doesn’t mean the Soviets really could’ve invaded Iceland … right?
For a possible answer, let’s consult The Northwestern TVD in Soviet Operational-Strategic Planning, a 2014 report by Phillip Petersen — an expert on the Soviet and now Russian militaries for the Potomac Foundation.
In December, the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment made the report public and available on its website.
Petersen’s analysis is a revealing blueprint for how to defend Scandinavia from a Russian attack. Much of the report is comprised of military-oriented descriptions of remote rivers and sparsely-inhabited valleys — pictures included — which the word “obscure” can barely describe. Obscure, except in case of World War III.
“Faced with a predominantly sea-oriented NATO coalition dependent on control of the [sea lines of communication], there can be no question but that the Soviets would have liked to capture or at least neutralize Iceland,” Petersen wrote.
“Soviet operations against Iceland could have theoretically covered a wide spectrum of means, ranging from air and missile attacks to troop assaults.”
Supporting the theory that the USSR could have pulled off a Clancy-style surprise attack, the Soviet Union possessed the exact equipment in Red Storm Rising — reflecting Clancy’s attention to all-things hardware — suitable for landing troops in Iceland without the need for a major port.
In fact, the Soviets trained to use such repurposed “roll-on/roll-off” vessels like Yulius Fuchik for precisely those kinds of missions. Meanwhile, NATO kept its military presence in Iceland minimal because of the country’s heated political divisions over its participation in the alliance.
Iceland has not had a military since 1869.
Thus, in the event of a war breaking out, NATO would have to rush troops to the island and shore up its defenses to raise the costs of, and hopefully deter, a Soviet attack.