Cold War Mobilisation

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by copper_knobblet, Oct 25, 2009.

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  1. Im interested in how the British Army would have gone about mobilising in the Cold War any time after 1962 when conscription ended.

    Did the army plan for a short or long war? Would they have shut down training units to augment the fighting units or expanded them? What would have happened to the people under training?

    What would all the training and admin units do after mobilisation?

    I've read about General Composite Reserve companies being formed - who would they be formed from - regular reservists? Regulars? Any idea how many? I also know that the School of Infantry had to generate certain units for special duties - would it still have trained?

    What would have happened to TA permanent staff, I read somewhere that they had a shadow role?

    Any info appreciated. Its just an interest of mine.
  2. The regular army would have evacuated their barracks quickly and gone anywhere else, preferably somewhere where they could block the enemy, do demolitions or whatever. The TA would have headed for barracks, but there would have been some delay from rent-a-crowd anti war protesters, and perhaps some assassinations and attacks on key points by GRU and KGB sleeper cells. For those TA meant to deploy to Germany from the UK, if the fork lift was working in the shed to move the crates, and if the trucks could get onto the Townsend Thorensen ferries, the next hazards would be sea mines and submarines. Oh, and not forgetting the 4,100 sorties that the East German air force was reportedly capable of launching against the UK every 24 hours. But all this is academic. Basically we were told that we had to fight for at least two days and possibly a week to allow the politicians a chance to stop the war. But in reality they would have gone nuclear within minutes of an invasion of Germany.

    Hope this gives you a start. If you really want all the details for a book or article, I would try the Library of Congress in the good old U.S. of A. because you know what we are like with stuff like that.
  3. The Regs would have gone to their 'Active edge' hides, hopefully, they would have formed killing areas. IE slow the third shock army down. There would be massive TA call up. Then at some point, if we were loosing and the Diploshits had failed. We lob Nukes, tactical first then the BFOB...............................Then the end of days would have happened.

    Oh, and it would have been a very short war.
  4. The Army hoped that in the lead up to war that the units in BAOR would have been deployed, the families sent back to the UK and the TA deployed to prepared positions. After the war had started and the TA turned into a blob of Strawberry jam those regular units of BAOR still functioning after slowing the WARSAW Pact forces down.....
  5. The big plan we practiced for was to fly out and arrive at a large stores depot jam packed with vehicles, earmarked for us on the big day, also a complete engineer regts worth of stores all packed in boxes, so it was a case of somehow getting from A to B then collecting the vehicles and loading all the stores. Idea was, to be in a barracks about a day.

    Then off to a harbour area, sort out the stores (open boxes) and off to our pre designated targets - minefields, bridge dems etc.
  6. The plans were ever changing as more levels of Regular command were imposed.

    In the 70's the plan was for the TA to muster in the Drill Halls and move ASAP to hides between the halls and the air/sea heads. Crossings were planned to schedules using ships and aircraft taken up from trade. In effect we were looking at three to four days before we were in the RUMA (reinforcing units maint area).

    The plan was not dependant on hostilities starting though it was considered preferable that the Queens Order was signed as early as possible.

    When the Bdes came in in the early 80's we got all sorts of plans, usually along the lines of 'I want my Bde to have two weeks work up trg before going to BAOR. Sometimes egos got the better of some people who forgot that the timescale would be driven by by events rather than their wishes.
  7. msr

    msr LE

    Wasn't the first sign of the balloon going up the Mess silver getting shipped back to the UK?

  8. Not an expert on sortie generation rates, and my memories of the EG air force grow ever dimmer - but that sounds a might high.

  9. Pretty much how I recall it playing out during NATO CPXs in the late 70s (yes, old guy here).

    I was never convinced the Sovs were as ready to roll for Calais as some claimed, so the I&W to allow reinforcement might have been quite long (there was a fairly serious int effort in place to detect signs of GSFG et al spooling up) and the TA might have been present in some numbers. But once it started it was only ever going to finish one way - mushroom soup.

  10. Read "The Third World War " by Gen Sir John Hacket
  11. From recollection this would have been very much a come as you are party.

    There were two mobilisation stages: one for enablers, which included the likes of the Home Defence Signals brigade (where I was), and then one for the rest.

    As I understand it the CGR companies were to be formed of whatever was left over once gaps in orbats had been filled. Certainly the briefs I had were much on the lines of "we've x thousand ex regulars with a reserve liability but heavens alone knows where they are or how we'll kit them out if they show up." One rumour even went to giving them the CCF/ACFs' No4 rifles and 37 pattern webbing. Nor would most of them have been even vaguely current on basic skills. I still had RARO reservists pitching up for camp with us in the late 1990s in puttees and DMS boots with no idea what an L85 was so this would have been a 'mare, especially without a 'phoney war' to work up skills. We had a fair few regular reservists serving in TA units and were told in no uncertain terms that their 'parent' units wanted them back if it turned nasty while they still had a call up liability. This was a pain, not least as we couldn't put them into key roles or promote them because of this.

    I'm not sure would have happened to the TA's own recruits and NFQs. I suspect that if they had kit we'd have taken them as there wouldn't have been time to send them to depots and everybody with working limbs would have been welcome. We were war roled in UK so this might have made things easier.

    PSIs might have had a notional regeneration roll but I hope we'd have taken ours: also our CO/Training Major/ Adjutant/ RSM/ RQMS/ YOS/ FOS/ ORQMS were all regulars and vital to the orbat. Regeneration would have been an ideal role - and would have been a way of soaking up surplus officers and seniors, if any. The TF establishment in 1908 made allowance for about a troop's worth from each regiment to go to depots as a training cadre but I can't see that this would have worked in the 1980s.

    That aside it'd have been a case of getting into our holes, disconnecting all the electronics, wrapping them in as much tinfoil as we could find, locking the door, putting the kettle on and waiting for armageddon. :(
  12. In the late 80's I went from a pretty serious BAOR tasked RA (V) unit to the OTC. In the OTC we had a call up liability if things really kicked off (rumour was O/cdts would be used to administer the evacuation of service dependents at UK ports and the contingent itself would become re-rolled as an OCTU with us as its first students if we were still alive the following week and not guarding bridges against spetsnaz attack) .

    Anyone got any "now it can be told" type info on that? Personally I thought I would turn up at my original unit and beg to be taken along.

  13. In the days/weeks before the balloon went up elements would be deployed as 'eyes on'.
  14. Perhaps my memory is dim as well. I have just done a web search, and found a site called "" which offers a free download of a report on the East German military in 1989 - link to site On page 38 it says the East Germans only had 400 aircraft, so they would have had to fly pretty hard to meet a total of 4,100. I do remember being impressed by the figure, whatever it was. At the time I reckoned they would have run out of worthwhile targets by day 3.

    Edited to remove unuseable link to document. But you can get it through the link that says "Free downloadable pdf file".
  15. Hi thanks for the replies so far.

    I've read Hacketts book, owned it for years, and the sequel. There's nothing new in there.

    What I wonder is, as the 80s went on and thinking switched to fighting a more conventional war, did the Army plan to mobilise as a one shot weapon or mobilise ala WWI and WWII for the long haul expanding training etc at the expense of being able to transfer the training admin units to the front line for the short nasty little war before it all went mushroomy?

    I understand that there were 12 or so mobilisation centres around the UK for the Regular Reservists - does anyone know where they were? I imagine they'd be based in training establishments (set up to receive and kit out people) but I don't know that for fact. Would the GCR companies be composed of downgraded guys? Does anyone know how they planned to sort out the guys able to go straight into the ORBAT or those that needed more time to train and get fit? I can't imagine that the army didnt have detailed plans for this, even if they were just a paper exercise.

    What do you mean by regeneration?

    With reards to UK regular and TA units moving to Germany, did they take all their vehicles with them or were they to meet up at stores ala POMCUS?

    As for getting work up time - I can't see how that could work. Surely, you'd be unsure of when the balloon would go up and want to get the units in position ASAP before the mines were laid and nuclear missiles burst over the ferries?

    Thanks again, all interesting stuff.