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The Sandbag Times Issue No: 51

The Veterans Magazine


HISTORICAL TOMMY ATKINS A Month for Hope? By Pablo Snow January marks the anniversary of a monumental event in history. An event that would attempt to break a nuclear stalemate which would mark a significant step in finally ending the Cold War. On January 3, 1993, President George Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed the Start-II (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) Treaty, eliminating about two-thirds of each country's long range nuclear weapons. The very things that had brought the world to a fear of annihilation for over 30 years were finally being withdrawn. I can remember the sighs of relief as it sunk in to our minds that we were not going to suffer the horrors that nuclear war promised. For me personally, it had been something that had been in the forefront of my mind due to my service. At the end of 1983 until the beginning of 1986 my mob, the 1st Bn Royal Hampshire Regiment was sent out to Berlin where tensions still remained high between East and the West. Although we enjoyed the German culture on our time off, we were always at a state of high alert waiting for the moment that ‘the balloon would go up’ as we used to say. Between the British, French, the USA and the, then, USSR, duties were shared including the guarding of Hitlers henchman, Rudolf Hess, the only inmate of the notorious Spandau Prison. While he was alive the Russians had a foothold in West Berlin, but what would happen if he died? would we be looking at conflict, another Berlin Blockade, nobody really knew. History would sort this matter out just a year or two after we left when the Berlin Wall finally came down following the death of Hess. The Prison was flattened and all of a sudden, peace was on the horizon. On our return to the UK, we were still in the thick of it by being deployed to the UK missile sites, including Greenham Common which would always give us the chills. However, it wasn’t until 1993 when we would finally see the demise of these awful weapons. At least for a few years. The START II treaty was agreed on at two summit meetings between George H.W. Bush and Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin, the first in Washington, D.C., in June 1992 and the second in Moscow in January 1993. Under its terms, both sides would reduce their strategic warheads to 3,800–4,250 by 2000 and to 3,000–3,500 by 2003. They would also eliminate multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs) on their ICBMs—in effect eliminating two of the more controversial missiles of the Cold War, the U.S. Peacekeeper missile and the Russian SS-18. Later, in order to accommodate the delays in signing and ratifying START I, the deadlines were put back to 2004 and 2007, respectively. Unfortunately START II never actually came into force. The U.S. Senate did not ratify the treaty until 1996, largely because the parallel process was moving so slowly in the Russian Duma. But it did suceed in moving the realistic threat of Nuclear war to the back burner. As we start 2019, I can’t help but look at the position of the Global theatre and wonder will those ideas ever be realised? We can but hope. | 12

BRAND NEW Patron to The Tommy Atkins Centre

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