I’m writing this in a British Airways lounge in London, on my way to a quick stop in Poland. Trips like these remind me of the Cold War, but with U.S.-Russia relations being what they are these days, reminders of the Cold War abound. That the United States will soon participate in military exercises in Norway makes the mood all the more familiar.
Norway would have been a major front if NATO and the Soviet Union had ever come to blows. The American strategy was to leave supplies and a sufficient force, allied with the West German army, to slow the Soviets. Reinforcements would be rushed to Europe using commercial aircraft, while trucks, armor, munitions and all the rest would be sent by ship. For the Soviets, as for the Germans before them, the key to victory was attacking and destroying U.S. convoys to European ports.
To that end, the Soviets had two options. The first was to flood the Atlantic with hunter-killer submarines. But that would have required passage through the GIUK