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 'Battlefield Alaska' by Guest Historian Chris Oakley
Guest Historian Guest Historian Chris Oakley says, If you're interested in viewing samples of my other work why not visit the Changing the Times web site.

May 14

Red Army

In 1984, Soviet diplomatic personnel began hastily evacuating East Germany as that country's anti-Communist rebellion started targeting Soviet nationals in what some Western intelligence analyst considered delayed retribution for the Red Army's role in suppressing the anti-Marxist uprising of June 1953.

Red Army - Logo

May 3

In 1984, Alaska National Guard units and US Marine Corps regular troops started eliminating the last remaining Soviet beachhead on the Alaskan coastline.


Alaskan  - National Guard
National Guard

May 5
Red Army

In 1984, the last remnants of the Red Army's Alaska invasion force pulled out of U.S. territory in grave disarray; halfway around the world, Chinese forces captured the Siberian industrial center Magadan and bombed the Soviet Pacific naval fleet headquarters at Vladivostok.

Red Army - Logo

May 8
Flag of

In 1984, U.S. ground forces in Cuba began advancing on Havana.

Flag of - Cuba

May 12

In 1984, the official Cuban government newspaper Granma announced the death of Fidel Castro in a U.S. air strike on Havana the previous night.                                


May 13

In 1984, several divisions of the East German army mutined against the Communist regime in Berlin in the first such armed rebellion to happen in a Warsaw Pact country since the ill-fated Hungarian revolt of 1956.


May 15
Flag of

In 1984, U.S. combat troops in Cuba accepted the surrender of Havana.

Flag of - Cuba

May 17

In 1984, West German army units began crossing the inter-German border to support the anti-Marxist uprising in East Germany.                                                                                    


May 19
Coat of Arms

In 1984, the Communist regime in Poland was toppled in a bloodless coup organized by members of the trade union Solidarity and dissident factions of the Polish army.

Coat of Arms - Poland

May 20

In 1984, on this day Yuri Andropov was hospitalized after suffering a stroke; he would die just twelve days later.

 - Yuri Andropov
Yuri Andropov

May 14

In 1984, Soviet diplomatic personnel began hastily evacuating East Germany as that country's anti-Communist rebellion started targeting Soviet nationals in what some Western intelligence analyst considered delayed retribution for the Red Army's role in suppressing the anti-Marxist uprising of June 1953.

Red Army
Red Army - Logo

June 1

In 1984, Yuri Andropov died of complications from the stroke he had suffered twelve days earlier. His passing would touch off a political crisis which rocked the Soviet Union to its core and fatally undermined the Red Army's ability to prosecute the war with the United States and China.

 - Yuri Andropov
Yuri Andropov

June 6

In 1984, at ceremonies marking the 40th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy during World War II, President Ronald Reagan called on the Soviet government to end hostilities with the United States.

 - Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan

But with the Kremlin in political chaos following Yuri Andropov's death, the Soviet Union was in no shape to even maintain tranquility within its own borders, let alone open cease-fire negotiations with the West.

June 16

In 1984, on this day the anti-Marxist rebellion in East Germany ended with the surrender of the last remaining pro-Marxist army units in East Berlin.


Within a year of the surrender, Germany would be reunified under the Helmut Kohl administration that had taken office in Bonn in the last West German parliamentary election before World War III began; within six months after the reunification was finalized Kohl would move his headquarters to Berlin.

One of the first people Kohl recruited to his post-unification transition team was a University of Leipzig graduate named Angela Merkel who had been one of the top civilian leaders of the anti-Marxist uprising; during the mid-1990s Merkel would go on to succeed Kohl as chancellor of the reunified Germany, in which capacity she would oversee the late stages of the country's post-World War III reconstruction programs.

June 27

In 1984, U.S. and South Korean fighter jets began bombing strategic targets in and around North Korea's capital city Pyongyang.                                                                            


June 29

In 1984, Muammar Khadafy was indicted in the Hague before a UN war crimes tribunal; it marked the first time in thirty-eight years a senior official from a dictatorship had been so charged.


It wouldn't be the last, however, as Khadafy would be joined in the dock before the end of the year by fellow Middle East tyrant Saddam Hussein.

July 1

In 1984, on this day U.S. and ROK advance troops entered North Korea's capital Pyongyang amid heavy NKPA resistance.                                                                                                  


The North Korean embassy in Moscow pleaded with the Soviets to send troops to relieve Pyongyang's beleaguered defenders, but with the Kremlin's own military position in the Far East becoming more precarious every day there was little that could be done, and within 48 hours after the first shots were fired most of Pyongyang was under U.S.-South Korean control.

July 5

In 1984, the last pockets of NKPA resistance in Pyongyang surrendered to U.S. and South Korean troops, effectively marking the end of the DPRK as a state.


July 7

In 1984, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown in a popular uprising mounted by dissident army officers and religious clerics upset at the Baathist regime's vicious suppression of their faith.


In response to requests by the new government in Baghdad for U.S. assistance in restoring order, a Marine Corps task force was dispatched to Iraq within 48 hours of the coup. Saddam's capture made him the second Middle Eastern head of state to be arrested and prosecuted for war crimes, the first being ex-Libyan ruler Muammar Khadafy.

The Saddam regime's collapse also deprived the Soviet Union of its most important Persian Gulf ally and a key oil source; plans for an invasion of Saudi Arabia had to be scrapped, while civilians on the Soviet homefront would endure crippling fuel shortages during the coming winter. Mass outrage over these shortages would later play a critical role in the protests which eventually toppled the Soviet Communist Party from power in Moscow.

June 9

In 1984, the Third World War expanded to the Korean Peninsula as U.S. and South Korean ground forces launched a pre-emptive attack across the 38th parallel to forestall an expected North Korean invasion of the South.

Battlefield AlaskaNeither of the North's longtime allies intervened to halt the attack; the Soviets were hopelesssly on the defensive by this time in Siberia and central Europe, and the Chinese were focused on eliminating what was left of Soviet military strength along the Siberian border. Furthermore, China had previously given the Reagan Administration its assurances it would not interfere in any hostilities between the United States and North Korea.

In these circumstances, it was almost inevitable that the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang would collapse within weeks of the initial U.S.-ROK thrust.

April 27

In 1984, a Soviet expeditionary force crossed the Bering Strait and landed on the shores of Alaska in the first phase of a bold military campaign aimed at conquering the United States and Canada; the Red Army high command expected to accomplish their objectives in Alaska with little resistance and establish control over all of North America within 45 days at most.

Battlefield Alaska by Chris OakleyInstead, however, the Soviet invasion ran into trouble almost immediately -- KGB estimates of US troop strength in the immediate vicinity of the beachheads would prove in many cases to be wildly inaccurate, and to complicate things even further Canadian ground forces were deployed to Alaska to back up the US defenders.

Within 48 hours half the initial Soviet landing force had been killed in action and President Ronald Reagan had retaliated by ordering US Marines at Guantanamo Bay to attack Soviet military outposts in Cuba. The Soviet assault on Alaska would later be recalled as the start of World War III and become a major catalyst in hastening the downfall of the Communist bloc as world opinion turned sharply against the Soviet Union in the wake of its unprovoked aggression against America. Soon the Kremlin would also face strong internal opposition as thousands of Russian citizens took to the streets of Moscow and Leningrad (later St. Petersburg to protest the massive casualties resulting from the Alaska invasion. In the months that followed the failed offensive, the USSR's longtime Warsaw Pact allies would desert it one by one; within a year after the war started the USSR itself would be racked with civil unrest and poised on the brink of collapse.

May 1

In 1984, Soviet ruler Yuri Andropov marked the May Day holiday in Moscow with a speech justifying the ill-fated Soviet assault on the Alaskan coastline as -- in his words -- "a necessary response to the imperialistic agenda of the capitalist powers". He also claimed, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, that the Alaska operation had been a success. But in reality, most of the Soviet beachheads had long since been wiped out and the few that remained were under punishing US air and naval bombardment. Battlefield Alaska by Chris OakleyFew people, even among Andropov's closest advisors, had any idea that Andropov was in the midst of a psyhchological breakdown or that this breakdown, combined with general distrust of the West and lingering anger over the "Able Archer" incident of 1983, had been one of the primary motivations for Andropov's misguided decision to go to war with the United States. Papers recovered from the Russian defense archives after the Soviet Union collapses would later reveal that Andropov had been convinced the United States was about to attack Siberia and this delusion had provoked him to order the landings in Alaska.

Within hours of Andropov's speech, his already severe problems would get exponentially worse; China, seeing an opportunity to readjust the Sino-Soviet border to its own advantage and strengthen ties with the Untied States, declared war on the Soviet Union and sent several of the PLA's top divisions into Siberia.

June 11

In 1984, on this day Raul Castro, brother of the late Fidel Castro, was captured by U.S. Marines in southern Cuba while attempting to escape to sanctuary abroad.

Capture of Raul CastroRaul's fate was sealed when an SR-71 reconnaissance plane spotted his personal vehicle traveling near the city of Santiago de Cuba; it only took slightly over 90 minutes after the sighting for U.S ground forces to home in on his position and arrest him.

By the end of the day he was incarcerated in the brig at the U.S. Navy Atlantic fleet base in Norfolk, Virginia awaiting transfer to Fort Leavenworth and then trial before a military court on charges of perpetrating or at least sanctioning crimes against humanity during the era of Communist rule in Cuba. The Raul Castro tribunal would later be regarded as one of the most significant events of the Reagan era, signaling the end of Communism in Cuba once and for all and setting a precedent for future prosecutions of accused war criminals.

June 13

In 1984, a joint U.S.-Egyptian assault force crossed the Libyan border to aid rebels fighting to topple the dictatorship of Muammar Khadafy, the former army colonel who had overthrown Libya's monarchy nearly fifteen years earlier.

Colonel Khadafy's "Line of Death"Among the U.S.-Egyptian contingent's immediate objectives was assisting the rebel forces in retaining control of Benghazi, a major seaport and oil production center and the heart of the rebel movement; their primary longtime goal was to deny the use of Libya to the Soviets as a staging area for attacking Egypt.

A Battlefield Alaska Installment from Chris OakleyAlthough Khadafy had bragged of establishing a "line of death" on the ground similar to the one he'd declared in the Gulf of Sidra three years earlier, in reality U.S. and Egyptian troops were able to enter Libya with only minimal opposition -- in some cases Libyan regular army units actually defected en masse to the U.S.- Egyptian side.

June 25

In 1984, U.S. and Egyptian ground forces in Libya, aided by local insurgents and disaffected elements of the Libyan regular army, captured Muammar Khadafy just as the dictator was getting ready to flee Tripoli; also seized where documents linking the Khadafy regime to dozens if not hundreds of terrorist acts worldwide, a vast quantity of weapons and ammunition, millions of dollars in foreign currency, and -- to the surprise of many U.S. Soldiers - a collection of X-rated videotapes compiled on his behalf by Libyan diplomats stationed in the West.

Khadafy CapturedKhadafy was subsequently extradited to the Netherlands to stand trial in the Hague at the U.N.'s International Criminal Court.

In Korea on this same day, U.S. and South Korean marines landed at the North Korean port of Wonsan.

July 4

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan visited Anchorage to deliver an Independence Day speech honoring the Alaska National Guard troops who had turned back the Soviet attempt to invade Alaska in the first days of World War III.

Valiant GuardsmenIn his remarks to the crowd, Reagan said: "The valiant Guardsmen and soldiers who risked, and in some cases gave, their lives to defend this country from Soviet aggression are the newest heirs to the ideals established two hundred and eight years ago by our founding fathers".

The president also took time to pay tribute to the servicemen fighting in the Middle East and Korea and the troops who'd died during the fighting in Cuba; at the conclusion of his speech he presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Canadian Defense Forces general Romeo Dallaire in recognition of Dallaire's role as commander of the CDF contingent which had supported U.S. troops during their fight against the Soviet invasion force.

"Battlefield Alaska" post by Chris OakleyOne woman's life would be dramatically changed by Reagan's Anchorage visit; 20-year-old Wasilla resident Sarah Louise Heath, who had previously been attending the University of Idaho before the war began, was inspired by the speech to leave school and enlist in the U.S. Army Reserve, where she served for over six years before returning home to tie the knot with fiance Todd Palin. Following her discharge from the reserves in 1991, Sarah would embark on a career as an intelligence analyst at the Pentagon, in which capacity she would have the responsibility for archiving hundreds of previously classified documents recovered from Russian defense ministry files after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This post is an installment of Chris Oakley's Battlefield Alaska thread.

June 21

In 1984, Czechoslovakia's so-called "Velvet Revolution" swept the Communist regime in Prague out of power as a coalition of students, intellectuals, journalists, clergy, and dissident lawmakers occupied key government buildings in the Czech capital and proclaimed the establishment of a new Czech Republic.

Velvet RevolutionAlthough at first there were some fears the Soviet Union might try to halt the Velvet Revolution by force just as they had crushed the "Prague Spring" experiment sixteen years earlier, those fears gradually subsided as it became clear Soviet military forces were too preoccupied elsewhere to offer more than token opposition to the bloodless coup.

One of the leading figures of the Velvet Revolution was a playwright and ex-political prisoner named Vaclav Havel (pictured); in the aftermath of World War III Havel became prime minister of Czechoslovakia's first democratically elected government since 1948 and served two six-year terms in that office before retiring from the political arena in the mid-1990s. In an ironic reversal of the German reunification, the later years of Havel's second term as PM would see Czechoslovakia split into separate Czech and Slovak states.

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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.