The story you are about to read is something that's been a long time coming. I was a child of the 1980s. And not just any child. I spent 1981-1983 as a service dependent at Naval Air Station Rota, Spain. It is something of a memory I cherish. But one I also realize made me in some very small way, a part of that 40 year long showdown between the superpowers. We expected the Russians to come. And we figured the first warning we'd get was when either a) Soviet Spetsnaz (Special Forces) hit various targets around the base or b) a Soviet SS-20 detonated its three warheads over the runway of the airfield.
As I grew older, I was in some ways, looking forward to "having my turn" at keeping the Russians on their side of the Inter German Border. I had decided on a career in the Army as a teenager, having been unduly influenced by Team Yankee and stories from my grandfather's war as a Cav scout driving across France, Germany and Czechoslovakia. But before I got "my turn"? The Soviets threw in the towel. We had simply spent them into the ground.
Is it a better world because we did? Yes. For forty years both sides were on high alert, probing each other on their frontiers, looking for signs that either was about to strike. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had been hit by surprise and suffered grievously for it in the past war. Neither was keen to let it happen again. In the nuclear age, whoever got off the first shot had a devastating advantage.
The Soviet Union was at a crossroads in the 1980s. She was in a ruinous war in Afghanistan. Her defense spending absorbed some 10-15% of her GDP and the weapons only got more expensive in an attempt to keep up with the technological superiority of the west. By 1983, a nuclear exercise by NATO, known as Able Archer had convinced the Soviets the west, was in fact, planning a nuclear war. Happily for all involved, one Mikhail S. Gorbachev came along, and he got along with Ronald and Margret and managed to help end the Cold War.
But what if it hadn't? It's a question that is asked often and now with the Soviet side declassified for the most part? One can ask these questions with some modicum of certainty. But not absolute. And for that, we can be thankful. We can be thankful to the military professionals on both sides for doing their job and preventing war. It was a credit to all of them that war did not occur.
But the question was asked during the Cold War. Movies like Red Dawn, Books like Third World War: August 1985, Team Yankee, and others and Games like Twilight 2000 and NATO all asked the question: What would it be like, and who would win?
Meanwhile, in the 1990s, MTV released a cartoon about a disaffected young high schooler named Daria. I related. High School had been an unmitigated hell for me. As I grew up, got married, got divorced and took stock, I found the rich Daria fanbase, and an idea grew in my head. My own way of telling the story of a Third World War between the superpowers and writing about a war that, thank god, never happened.
Be warned, this will be a rough ride. Some of the people Daria and Jane will meet will end up dying in ways that aren't pretty or pleasant. They will be in the world of military aviation, which is always been a dichotomy between disciplined action and "drink, eat, and be merry, for tomorrow, they may not be able to tell us from what's left of the aircraft."
I couldn't do this story without the help of Matt Wiser. He's a good friend, and a fellow Cold War Kid. He wanted to be an A-6 B/N but the Cold War's demise did in his plans too. His cousin and girlfriend are military aviators (No, I won't answer details) and have helped immensely with this manuscript. Their opinions are solely their own, and not the Department of Defense or any branches of the armed services.