History of the Global Civil War – 1979 to 1999

History of the Global Civil War – 1979 to 1999

by Tim Wing


The following is a reconstruction of the events leading up to and including the Global Civil War (GCW). The GCW has also been named, by some, World War III. The author believes the name Global Civil War more accurately describes the nature of these events. Though certainly it was the climax of the Cold War, it was not the full scale nuclear exchange that many were expecting it to be. Rather, it was the sum total of the various proxy wars being fought on the behalf of the two super-powers in the final years of the twentieth century. It was one of these wars that finally lead to armed confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, though not in central Europe as everyone expected.

One could start this time-line at the end of WWII, and be perfectly accurate in describing it as the lead up to the GCW. But, for the sake of brevity, I will instead start with the beginning of Soviet Involvement in Afghanistan.

(-Tim Wing)

The Global Civil War

(For a full list of sources, please see below.)

1979 October 31

  • KGB quietly “removes” President Hafizullah Amin from power in Afghanistan, amid concerns over his abuse of power and mishandling of the growing anti-government insurgency. The more reliable, former Deputy Prime Minister Babrak Karmal is installed in his place.

1979 November

  • At the request of President Babrak Karmal, the Soviet Union sends additional forces to help fight the anti-government insurgency.

1980 September

  • Beginning of the Iran-Iraq war.

January 1981

  • The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) begins to support anti-Sandinista Contras in Nicaragua.

1982 November 10

  • Death of Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev. He is succeeded by Yuri Andropov.

1983 AD

  • Soviet troop strength in Afghanistan reaches a wartime high of 42,000.

1983 February

  • General Secretary of the Soviet Union Yuri Andropov is hospitalized for renal failure. As a gesture of good-will and Cold-War reconciliation, Switzerland offers the General Secretary medical treatment in Geneva.

March 1983

  • US President proposes the Strategic Defense Initiative, an anti-ICBM defense network to protect America from nuclear attack. The proposal fails to gain funding from the House, due to the ongoing oil crises and resulting budget crunch.

October 1983

  • US forces invade the Caribbean island of Grenada, overthrowing the Marxist military government and expeling Cuban troops.

November 1983

  • Exercise Able Archer 83 – Soviet Intelligence Services misinterpret a test of NATO’s nuclear warfare procedures as a fake cover for an actual NATO attack; in response, Soviet nuclear forces are put on high alert and come perilously to launching a preemptive nuclear strike.
  • The misinterpretation of Western intent leads to significant changes in the institution Intelligence Reporting Cycle of the Committee for State Security (KGB) and Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU).

1985 November

  • US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Secretary General Yuri Andropov meet for the first time at a summit in Geneva, Switzerland.

1986 October

  • US-Soviet Reykjavik Summit. Minor progress made in nuclear arms control.

1986 November

  • Fall-out from the Iran-Contra scandal ends all funding and military aid for the “Contra” insurgents fighting against the Soviet backed Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

1987 AD

  • The Soviet Union’s bloody, but largely invisible war in Afghanistan grinds to a stale mate. Newly installed President Haji Mohammad Chamkani, a non-communist ideologue and well-connected tribal leader, forges a sustainable Islamic Communist (or Islammunist, a named coined by western observers) government. Mujahedeen rebels continue to strike from strongholds in Pakistan, but no longer present a credible threat to the Afghan Government.
  • Soviet Troop levels fall to around 15,000, a number that is maintained for the next ten years.

1987 September

  • The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, an important episode in the Angolan Civil War (1975 to 2002), begins.

1987 December

  • Contra insurgents suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of Sandinista Government troops (backed by thousands of Cuban and East Bloc military advisers), never again to pose a serious threat to the government of Nicaragua.

1988 May

  • Arms Control Summit takes place in Moscow. Though the atmosphere was amiable, no significant progress is made.

1988 August

  • Ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq War. By this time, Iraq is left bankrupt and owing a huge war debt to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

1988 December

  • South Africa troops withdraw from the Angolan Civil War.

1989 AD

  • Last of the oil embargoes comes to an end, as OPEC increases production caps and brings supply back in line with world demand.

1989 December

1990 January

  • Soviet Troops enter Romania to “restore order” and put down the anti-communist uprising. Peace is violently restored and a new “Pro-Russian” Communist Government is put in place.
  • Pundits in the West speculate that the uprising was allowed to happen in the first place so that the Soviet Union would have an excuse to intervene and bring Romania back into the fold of the Warsaw Pact.

1990 August

  • Iraqi Army invades Kuwait. Kuwait’s overproduction of oil was driving down oil prices and causing instability in oil stocks from the ny to nz stock market exchanges. Oil was Iraq’s only source of hard currency and Kuwaiti’s price driving and slant drilling into Iraqi oil fields is the reason for their attack. Of course, in those days, they didn’t have access to something like this commodity trading uk article to see how people could increase their own income through their oil prices – possibly making the situation worse.
  • Trade embargo of Iraq is vetoed by the Soviet Union in the UN Security Council.
  • United States deploys elements of the 82nd Airborne at the request of Saudi Arabia, to protect against a possible invasion.

1990 September

  • NATO begins troop build-up in northern Saudi Arabia.

1990 November

  • A condemnation of Iraq’s Invasion of Kuwait passes the UN Security Council with a 12-0 vote (Soviet Union, Cuba and Yemen abstaining).
  • A coalition of NATO and Saudi Arabian troops (as well as token troop commitments from most countries in the Arab World) is massed on the Kuwaiti border. By the end of December, their total number would exceed 750,000.

1990 December

  • The Soviets, whose economy was kept afloat throughout the eighties by petro-dollars, sees an opportunity to destabilize the world petroleum market and increase the price of crude oil. To that effect, they send a team of 650 “technical experts and advisors” to Kuwait City to act as a political trip wire.
  • Overthrow of the Costa-Rican government by Nicaraguan backed revolutionaries.

1991 January

  • The United States “advises” the Soviet Union to withdraw their personnel from Kuwait. The Soviets are unwilling, claiming that they cannot in good conscience “clear the way” for a NATO escalation in hostilities.
  • Soviets sponsor the first of many peace talks in Moscow, between US Secretary of State and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz.
  • Soviet Personnel continue to arrive in Kuwait to assist with reconstruction. By April of 1991, over three thousand Soviet Citizens are working in Kuwait.
  • Muslim “volunteers” start to arrive in mass from the USSR’s Central Asian Republics to aid their fellow Muslim-Socialist (i.e. Ba’athist) brothers.

1991 October

  • A negotiated settlement is finally brokered between the Iraqi Government, the NATO lead coalition and the exiled Kuwaiti Royal Family. Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait. In return, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia would forgive Iraq’s war debts and Kuwait would cease slant drilling into Iraqi oil fields. Behind the scenes, the Soviets sweeten the deal for the Iraqi regime by promising a generous arms transfer to replace the equipment lost fighting the Kuwaiti Defense Force.
  • Iraq becomes a d-facto Soviet Satellite State.

1991 November

  • All Iraqi forces have withdrawn from Kuwait. The Kuwaiti Royal Family returns to Kuwait City. Soviet technical experts stay on to help repair and rebuild infrastructure such as oil production capacity and port facilities.

1991 December

  • All NATO forces are withdrawn from Saudi Arabia.

1992 January

  • Chapultepec Peace Accords were signed in Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City, bringing an end to the Civil War in El Salvador. A power sharing agreement between the Salvadorian Government and the Communist rebel group FMLN is put into effect, with elections to be held the next year.

1992 April

  • A “spontaneous uprising by the people” removes the Kuwaiti Royal Family from power and establish a “Socialist Democratic Republic”.
  • The US criticizes the coupe as a cynical betrayal of world trust by the Soviet Union. This begins a steady decline in East-West relations.

1993 November

  • FMLN wins the national election in El Salvador, bringing the country into the Soviet’s sphere of influence.


  • Fighting between FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the Colombian Government escalate, with major attacks on military and government targets throughout the year.

1994 January

  • Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) issues a declaration of war on the Mexican Government. This is followed by attacks on Federal Troops and Police throughout southern Mexico.

1994 February

  • The Soviet Union begins sending massive amounts of money and equipment to the EZLN, through their Central American proxies in Cuba and Nicaragua. The Soviet Government see’s Mexico as its biggest opportunity yet to secure it’s foothold in the Western Hemisphere.

1994 April

  • In addition to the Special Forces units already training the Colombian Army, the United States commits elements of the 75th Ranger Battalion to the war in Columbia.


  • Generally accepted start date for the Global Civil War.
  • Economic conditions continue to decline in the Soviet Union. Though high oil prices have allowed the Communist Party to keep the system afloat, many of the Politburo’s inner circle are beginning to question for how much longer. Some are beginning to talk of drastic measures to “speed up the Worker’s Revolution”.

1995 March

  • EZLN wins a major victory over Mexican Federal Troops, becoming the operating government in the southern state of Chiapas.

1995 April

  • Soviet and Afghan Troops cross the border into Pakistan to root out Mujahedin fighters that have been striking from across the border at Government Troops for the last ten years. The US condemns these actions, stating that it is a clear attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan. The US immediately approves the emergency sale of arms to the Pakistani Government.
  • The initial fighting is limited to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, where Mujahedin fighters were primarily grouped. The Soviets warn the Pakistani Government not to interfere, as this is a purely punitive operation against rebel groups.

1995 May

  • Soviet Troops are “attacked” by Pakistani border units, and are forced to defend themselves. This brings a series of retaliatory attacks, expanding the scope of Soviet Military operations in Pakistan.

1995 June

  • Space Station New Frontier completed by United States and the European Space Agency, and placed in geosynchronous orbit.2, 4 The Soviet Union immediately protests, stating the space station is a thinly disguised anti-ballistic missile system. In truth, the space station is an early warning sensor system, meant to detect and track nuclear missile launches from the Soviet Union. Though not armed at the time, it was designed to accommodate ICBM interception weapons (both conventional and nuclear). Though technically not a breach of Arms Control Treaties, the Soviet Union treats it as such, and formally pulls out of the SALT II agreement.
  • Nuclear tensions are at the highest they have been since the early eighties.
  • A new arms race begins as both side race to rebuild depleted Nuclear capabilities and field new anti-ballistic missile defense systems.

1995 September

  • Soviet Forces push into Balochistan (South-West Pakistan) and capture the port city of Gwadar. This is a major victory for the Soviet Union, as it finally provides them with a warm water port on the Arabian Sea.

1995 October

  • Soviet Union concludes the war in Pakistan with a treaty ceding the western half of Balochistan Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to Afghanistan.


  • By summer of 1996, over 30,000 US Troops are committed to the war in Columbia. The Soviet Union is sending millions in aid, as well as covert military advisers to train and lead FARC rebel groups.

1997 April

  • The EZLN, with the help of Cuban and Nicaraguan advisers, capture Veracruz and Oaxaca in southern Mexico.
  • The Mexican Government, who up to this time had been trying to downplay the seriousness of the situation, asks the US for help. The US agrees to help with training and equipment, but is not yet willing to send troops due to commitments in Columbia and rising tensions in Europe.

1997 July

  • Joint raid on FARC bases on the other side of the Peruvian by US and Colombian Forces brings widespread condemnation from the Eastern Block. Soviet Union steps up its support for FARC, going so far as to threaten to send troops.

1998 July

  • EZLN forces capture Heroica Puebla de Zaragoza, just 100 km south-east of Mexico City.

1998 August

  • The US finally commits troops to the conflict in Mexico, sending three US Army divisions and a Marine Amphibious Task Force. Federal government activates Reserve and National Guard units.
  • Battle of Mexico City begins.
  • Soviet Union condemns US participation in the Mexican Civil War, stating that the United States is supporting a corrupt regime and trying to stamp out the will of the proletariat.
  • US and Soviet Forces go to a higher state of alert in Central Europe.

1998 September

  • Cuba commits four divisions to the war in Mexico, clandestinely landing them at in Cancun, which is controlled by the EZLN. Nicaragua also commits troops, but is unable to get them to the theater of operations, being intercepted by the US Naval blockade. They later sneak them in through Guatemala.

1998 November

  • Major victory for joint US-Colombian Forces over the FARC in the city of Mitu, in southern Columbia.

1999 January

  • Joint US-Mexican Forces retake Veracruz and Oaxaca, pushing the EZLN and Cuban Regular Army units south into the jungles. Over the course of the next three months, joint Mexican-US Forces slowly push EZLN and Cuban forces South.
  • The Soviet Union starts to make contingency plans to more directly support the Communist Revolution in Mexico.

1999 April

  • Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and el Salvador commit every soldier available to the War in Mexico. This constitutes an increase of over 200,000 Latin American Communist Troops in the Mexican Theater of Operations.
  • The Soviet Army drops two Spetznaz (Special Purpose) Regiments into Southern Mexico. The Russian Army also makes ready six Air Borne Divisions and stations their Pacific Fleet off 300 km off the coast, in international waters. This fleet can bring another 50,000 Naval Infantry to the fight.
  • The US, which already has 140,000 troops committed to the fight, prepares to send four additional Mechanized Infantry and Armor Divisions to the Mexico Theater.

1999 May

  • US Forces engage EZLN and Cuban units reinforced by Spetznaz troops. First direct confrontation between US and Soviet troops.
  • Soviet Naval Infantry make landfall Acapulco, after running the US Naval Blockade. Soviet Forces are also are landed in Cancun from the island of Cuba. Air Borne Regiments drop into the fight the next day.
  • US and Mexican Forces withdraw from southern Mexico, forming a defensive line south of Mexico City.

1999 June

  • After a six week stand-off, US and Mexican units engage the Soviet Army in actual combat.
  • The US and Soviet Fleets, meanwhile, are involved in a virtual stand-off, with no shots yet being fired.
  • US is at DEFCON 2.
  • NATO initiates Operation Return of Forces to Germany (Reforger), fearing a possible escalation in Europe.
  • Warsaw Pact troops move to the West German border, ready to either attack or repel a NATO invasion.

1999 July

  • More extreme elements of the Politburo argue for n escalation, reasoning that a move to annex West Germany could be made with no fear of US reinforcements, since they are already overextended in Mexico and Columbia. In other words, it is “now or never”.
  • Likewise, Washington is weighing the option of a possible first strike.

1999 July 17

  • Space Station New Frontier, located 36000 km above the Phoenix Islands, detects an intense radioactive phenomenon, followed by an appearance of an object of great mass. 6
  • The object is a large alien spacecraft exiting from hyperspace. After approximately eighteen hours, the spacecraft falls to the Earth’s surface.1

1999 August

  • Precise, accurate, minute investigation of the derelict alien spacecraft begins. The crash site on South Ataria Island is designated a UN sphere of jurisdiction.1
  • The Global Civil War officially ends, though the terms are not satisfactory to all parties.1


  • 1 Robotech.com – Timeline
    • 1A Robotech: Original TV Series
    • 1B Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles
  • 2 The Art of Robotech: the Shadow Chronicles
  • Robotech Comics (Wildstorm)
    • 2ARobotech From The Stars
    • 2BRobotech Invasion
    • 2CRobotech Love and War
    • 2DRobotech Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles
    • 2ERobotech Sourcebook
    • 2FRobotech The Macross Saga
  • 3 Robotech: the Movie
  • 4 The Unofficial Robotech Reference Guide
  • 5 Palladium Robotech Role Playing Game, 2nd Addition
  • 6 Macross Compendium – The Super Dimension Fortress Macross
  • 7 Robotech – Timeline (Reprint of the uRRG 2060 ed. Chronology)
  • Robotech Comics (Eternity)
    • 8ARobotech II: The Sentinels
    • 8BRobotech: Malcontent Uprisings
    • 8CRobotech: Firewalkers
    • 8DRobotech Genesis
    • 8ERobotech Cyber Pirates
    • 8FRobotech Invid War
    • 8GRobotech II The Sentinels – Carpenter’s Story
    • 8HRobotech Return to Macross
  • 9 Palladium Robotech Role Playing Game, 1st Addition
  • Robotech Comics
    • 10AWorlds of Robotech (Academy Press)
    • 10BRobotech (Antarctic Press)
    • 10CRobotech The Movie (Academy Press)
    • 10DRobotech Academy Blues (Academy Press)
    • 10ERobotech Covert Ops (Antarctic Press)
    • 10FRobotech Macross Missions: Destroid (Academy Press)
    • 10GRobotech Mechangel (Academy Press)
    • 10HRobotech Vermilion (Antarctic Press)
    • 10IRobotech War of the Believers (Academy Press)
    • 10JRobotech Warriors (Academy Press)
    • 10KRobotech Wings of Gibraltar (Antarctic Press)
    • 10LRobotech Rubicon (Antarctic Press)
    • 10MRobotech Annual (Antarctic Press)
    • 10NRobotech – Booby Trap (Academy Press)
    • 10ORobotech Breaking Point (Academy Press)
    • 10PRobotech Civil War Stories (Academy Press)
    • 10QRobotech Class Reunion (Antarctic Press)
    • 10RRobotech Crystal Dreams (Gametek)
    • 10SRobotech Escape (Antarctic Press)
    • 10TRobotech Final Fire (Antarctic Press)
    • 10URobotech II The Sentinels – Halloween Special (Eternity)
    • 10VRobotech Macross Tempest (Academy Press)
    • 10WRobotech Metal Swarm (Academy Press)
    • 10XRobotech Romance (Academy Press)
    • 10YRobotech The Misfits (Academy Press)
    • 10ZRobotech Zero (Academy Press)
  • 11 Macross Mecha Manual – Macrosspedia
  • Robotech Comics (Off-Timeline)
    • 12ARobotech Clone (Academy Press)
    • 12BRobotech Invid War: Aftermath (Eternity)
    • 12CRobotech Megastorm (Antarctic Press)
    • 12DHohsq’s Story (Academy Press)
    • 12ERobotech Mordecai (Academy Press)
    • 12FRobotech The Threadbare Heart Collection (Academy Press)
  • 13 IronMike’s Timeline on Robotech.com
  • 14 Sketchley’s Stats
  • 15 Warp Zone

Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (R) is the property of Big West Advertising and Studio Nue. Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (R) is the property of Big West Advertising, Tatsunoko Studio and Ammonite studio. Megazone 23 (R) is the property of A.D. Vision and studios AIC, Artland & Tatsunoko. Genesis Climber MOSPEADA (R) is the property of Fuji Television, Artmic Studio and Tatsunoko Production. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.

Acknowledgement is extended to the work of Egan Loo and the Macross Compendium. Egan Loo is given all credit for all quotes and paraphrasing of the Macross Compendium that has been utilized on Robotech Illustrated.

Images Courtesy of Chad Wilson (Marchly) and the Macross Mecha Manual. Chad Wilson is given all credit for all images from the Macross Mecha Manual that have been utilized on Robotech Illustrated.

Acknowledgement is also extended to Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide. Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern are given credit for all quotes and paraphrasing of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide that has been utilized on Robotech Illustrated.

Content by Tim Wing


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