New Evidence on Autumn Forge 83 from the Netherlands.
After reading the National Security Archive’s three part posting on the 1983 Able Archer 83 nuclear war scare, Hans Boersma who is a researcher of the Netherlands Armed Forces of the Mid 1980s, and is the editor of www.orbat85.nl, contacted me to add some more interesting evidence to the history of the war games.
He writes: “I’m thoroughly enjoying reading your most interesting articles on the 1983 War Scare and all the documents they contain. As I’ve been researching the Netherlands Armed Forces of the mid-1980s for several years now, it was of particular interest to me to find that Able Archer 83 was part of the Autumn Forge 83 exercises. This because Atlantic Lion, the 1 (NL) Corps Field Training Exercise (held every five years under different names) was also part of Autumn Forge 83.”
He also provided a Dutch military booklet summarizing Atlantic Lion which reported that 24,000 soldiers, 850 armored vehicles, and 6,000 other vehicles from the army of the Netherlands participated. The US army contributed 11,000 troops (drawn from its Reforger contingent), 1,000 armored and 1,100 other vehicles. The British army added 600 troops, 100 armored and 70 other vehicles. As such, Reforger was the largest American exercise in Autumn Forge 83, but that the Dutch Atlantic Lion was the larger than Reforger by an estimated 7,000 troops.
Mr. Boersma also alerted me to the fascinating English language website for the US 545th Military Police which served all over the world, including in Europe during Reforger 83, to which they have an extensive page dedicated. The site includes portions of a kind of “welcome guide” from the Dutch provided to the Allied Armed Forces that in Autumn Forge, Atlantic Lion and Reforger. The welcome guide begins: “Large-scale exercises known collectively as AUTUMN FORGE are held each autumn throughout the Alliance territory in Europe, from North Norway to East Turkey. These exercises are specifically intended to train, test and improve wherever possible the full range of military operations of an Alliance-wide basis.”
The webpage also has a fantastic photo album of the 545th during Reforger.
The kind response from Mr. Boersma was just the type of reaction I hoped the National Security Archive’s posting of more than 1,000 pages of declassified documents on Autumn Forge, Reforger, Able Archer, and Atlantic Lion 83 would generate.
Hopefully more accounts, remembrances, and documents will continue to come.