Coit D. Blacker
THIS CHAPTER, which is divided into four parts, seeks to answer the following sets of questions: (1) What are the major elements of Soviet military power? (2) What is the nature of the relationship between the Soviet military, as an institution, and the political, economic, and social system of which it is a part? How might these relationships change over the course of this decade? (3) How has Soviet military doctrine evolved since the early 1950s, and what has been the role of new weapons technologies in the development of Soviet military strategy? How do Soviet leaders view the problems of general and limited war in the nuclear age? (4) How is the growth of Soviet military power likely to affect both the character and the conduct of the country’s foreign policy in the 1980s? Will the Soviet Union become more assertive in pursuit of its foreign policy goals as a result of the military buildup, and if so, to what extent and in what areas of the world?
It is the central premise of this essay that the current leadership regards the country’s military power, and the further development of that power, as a prerequisite for the attainment of future foreign policy objectives. This conviction will have important implications for the conduct of Soviet foreign policy in the 1980s. Specifically, Soviet leaders appear to believe that the continuous expansion of military capabilities will enable them and their successors to improve Moscow’s international position, and that of the “socialist community” generally, with fewer risks and greater rewards than in the past. The Soviets seem notably sanguine about the political utility of military power in such proximate environments as Western Europe and Southwest Asia and about prospective gains in so-called third areas, including parts of the less developed world. Much of the Kremlin’s optimism derives from its estimate that the “worldwide correlation of forces” has shifted to the advantage of the socialist countries; this includes favorable trends in the overall balance of military power between the superpowers, although Moscow realizes that this particular relationship may not be a permanent condition of international politics.
There is little evidence to suggest, however, that Kremlin au-thorities will be significantly more inclined than in previous years to engage in “high-risk” diplomacy or foreign policy behavior that might precipitate serious military confrontations with the United States and its major allies, even as Soviet leaders seek to enhance their global position. The Soviets will continue to attach a high priority to avoidance of war with the West, especially general nuclear war; on the other hand, should a new world war become “inevitable” in the Kremlin’s view, the objective of Soviet leaders will be to prevail in such a conflict (whatever its intensity), a goal necessitating the early and effective use of nuclear weapons, among other military measures.
Finally, for reasons explored in the second part of this essay, it is unlikely that Moscow’s increasing reliance on military power as an instrument of foreign policy will result in an enlarged political role for the armed forces within the Soviet system, despite their critical contribution to regime authority, their professional competence, and their obvious and substantial material and economic resources.
Soviet Military Power: Capabilities, Command, and Prospects
The attentive public in the West has become accustomed to anal-yses of the Soviet Union that begin by describing the country’s formidable military strength. Observers usually describe the Soviet Union as a “superpower,” denoting military capabilities roughly equal to those of the United States. Less often but with increasing frequency, analysts employ the term “global superpower” to convey what they regard as the more precise image of the Soviet Union as a country with enormous military resources and the power to project those resources worldwide. Some describe the Soviet Union as the ascendant military power in the world, allegedly because it overtook the United States with respect to overall military capabilities at some point toward the end of the last decade. Others note its great strengths but indicate that Soviet forces suffer from significant shortcomings, that numbers alone are not an adequate measure of strength, and that their operational effectiveness may be much less impressive than their apparent capabilities.
Although important differences separate these Western analysts, all would agree that Kremlin leaders since the end of the Second World War have transformed the Soviet Union from essentially a regional or “continental” military actor to one of the two most powerful countries in the world, complete with global commitments, global responsibilities, and, in the opinion of some, a global appetite. Indeed, more so than at any time in the past, Soviet military forces are now able to perform their four principal and interrelated missions: deterrence against nuclear attack; defense of the homeland against conventional military assaults; protection of the “socialist commonwealth” in Eastern Europe; and the projection of military power, especially into areas contiguous to Soviet borders, such as Southwest Asia.
Much Western anxiety rests upon Soviet military capabilities and an awareness that the East-West balance of power has shifted in the last ten years in ways disadvantageous to the United States and its allies.1 This, in turn, has led to a kind of amorphous fear regarding Soviet “intentions.” For students of the Soviet military, however, the source of anxiety is more specific: for the first time in Soviet history, Kremlin leaders have at their disposal a modern and balanced military force for possible use across the full spectrum of conflict, from intercontinental nuclear war with the United States to limited inter-ventions in the Third World. Moreover, appreciation of this in the Western world has given the Kremlin a degree of political and psy-chological leverage, which it has used on occasion with considerable skill.
At 3.67 million, Soviet armed forces, the most basic component of the Kremlin’s military power, are more numerous than those of any other country except China, which maintains a total of 4.75 million men and women under arms. An additional 560,000 forces— border patrol, internal security, construction and railroad troops— bring the Soviet total to well over 4 million. U.S. armed forces, by contrast, number approximately 2 million.2
The Soviets have been able to achieve this modern and balanced military posture through a vigorous and sustained weapons procurement policy, extensive integration of their forces (especially at the theater level), and centralized command and control. With respect to the strategic mission, the Kremlin has created a large force of intercontinental-range, land-based missiles, equipped with highly accurate warheads for “counterforce” missions, as well as a strategic “reserve” of modern ballistic missile submarines and long-range bombers. Soviet strategic defensive programs include both “active” and “pas sive” measures. These and the preemptive use of the strategic offensive forces are designed to reduce the level of destruction that the USSR would suffer in the event of a nuclear war and enable the country to prevail in such a conflict.
To discharge the theater mission, Soviet strategy calls for the coordinated use of ground, air, and naval forces, utilizing conventional, chemical, and/or nuclear weapons across “theaters of military operations.” To implement this strategy in Europe, the Kremlin maintains approximately 500,000 troops in East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary (backed by additional divisions in the western military districts of the USSR) and exercises tight control over the armed forces of most of its Warsaw Pact allies through a command structure directly under the Soviet General Staff.3 Frequent Warsaw Pact field exercises provide Soviet commanders the opportunity to simulate (and evaluate) military operations at the theater level.
Trends in Soviet power projection capabilities suggest a willing-ness to extend greater protection to clients and friends in the Third World during the 1980s than in the past and to assume additional political and military obligations in distant areas. In this effort, the Soviets can expect to receive important assistance from several principal allies, including Cuba, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Vietnam, as they have since the mid-1970s. The Soviet Union’s higher profile in the less developed world will enlarge its political and military influence in areas once beyond its reach, thereby underscoring its status as the “other superpower” and diminishing U.S. power and influence in many parts of the world American policy makers deem important. Distinguishing current Soviet military activities in “third areas” from those of previous years is not simply the magnitude of these efforts but also the capability and the will to sustain them over time.
Soviet military capabilities, while impressive, are offset to a degree by a number of persistent problems, several of which deserve special mention. First, much of the Kremlin’s more advanced military equipment, such as tactical aircraft, sea-launched ballistic missiles, and ballistic missile submarines, tends to be inferior in quality and performance to the high technology systems produced by the United States. In such critical technologies as weapons miniaturization, very high speed integrated circuitry, and terminal guidance, all of which are essential, for example, to the production of American-type cruise missiles, the Soviets lag behind the United States by as much as 5 to 7 years, depending on the specific technology. There is little evidence to suggest that the Soviets have the capacity to close that gap entirely within the foreseeable future, although they may succeed in pulling abreast of the Americans in certain technologies.4 In addition, Soviet military equipment, with the notable exception of armored vehicles and artillery, is often less reliable and less capable than comparable U.S. weapons.
Second, not all Soviet forces receive the high level of combat training characteristic of elite Soviet or of American troops more generally. Soviet airmen, for example, on the average fly fewer hours per month and engage in fewer exercises than U.S. pilots. Third, Soviet air force and naval personnel lack extensive combat experience, which calls into question the ability of these forces to discharge their assigned missions in a hostile environment or against enemy forces (such as those of NATO countries) who specialize in air and naval military operations. The Soviets may in particular lack the equipment, bases, and experience to do more than attempt to deny the West control of sea lanes it considers essential. Doubts that Soviet leaders must have about the operational effectiveness of their commanders, troops, and weapons in combat situations constitute an important untested element of Soviet military capabilities. Finally, there is at least some reason to suspect that Soviet armed forces, specifically the army, may be less reliable than commonly assumed in the West.5
These shortcomings, all of which could have important implica-tions for the actual performance of the Soviet armed forces, are central when evaluating the Kremlin’s military potential.
The strategic rocket forces. Constituted as a separate military service by Nikita Khrushchev in 1959, the strategic rocket forces include all land-based, nuclear ballistic missiles with ranges greater than 1,000 kilometers. The inventory totals nearly 1,400 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), deployed across the Soviet Union in reinforced underground silos, and 700 intermediate-range systems (IRBMs), based in the western and central regions of the country and to the north of the Sino-Soviet frontier. Of the 1,400 ICBMs, roughly 750 are the so-called fourth generation systems, the SS17S, SS18s, and SS19s, first deployed in 1975. Most of these are equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (or MIRVs) of high accuracy and reliability. The remainder of the ICBM force comprises 640 older, single warhead SS11 and SS13 missiles. At least two new missiles are under development as possible replacements for the SS11; a storable liquid-fuel, medium-sized missile and a “lighter” solid-fuel system which could be deployed in a mobile mode; neither had yet been flight-tested in 1982. The total Soviet inventory of land- based, long-range ballistic missile warheads is approximately 5,500. By comparison, the United States maintains a force of 1,052 ICBMs, of which 550 are MIRVed. American ICBM warheads number approximately 2,150.
In addition to the intercontinental-range missile systems, the Soviets have deployed roughly 350 launchers for the intermediate- range SS20 missile, targeted against Western Europe and China. The road-mobile SS20, introduced in 1975, is a highly accurate system, equipped with three independently targetable warheads. Each SS20 launcher is also equipped with additional “refire” missiles. The 400 SS4 and SS5 missiles, deployed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, round out the Soviet IRBM force. The Soviets are gradually withdrawing these from service as the SS20S enter the inventory.
The fourth generation of Soviet ICBMs generate special alarm in the United States because of their potential capacity to destroy such “hardened” or protected military targets as ICBM installations through a combination of numbers, accuracy, and yield. The SS20 has the same capability against targets located in Europe and Asia. For example, the Soviets could devote 3,000 to 4,000 SS17, SS18, and SS19 warheads to a “counterforce” strike against U.S. strategic assets, including, most importantly, the 1,052 Minuteman and Titan missiles. By conservative estimates, such an attack could disable 90 percent of the American ICBM force (assuming the U.S. missiles were not launched on warning or under attack). The development of this Soviet option deeply disturbs some Western military and political leaders, because they believe it makes the prospect of a Soviet preemptive strike more likely. As such, they argue, it enhances the Kremlin’s ability to “intimidate” or to “coerce” the United States and its allies during times of severe tension or crisis.
The ground forces. The development of Soviet ground forces in the eighteen years since the ouster of Khrushchev has been less evident than that of the strategic rocket forces but no less thorough. The size of the Soviet army, at 1,800,000, has risen modestly since 1964, with the number of combat divisions increasing from 150 to approximately 180. The Soviets maintain slightly fewer than half the divisions at either full or three-quarter combat strength.
The Soviet Union currently deploys 31 divisions in Eastern Europe (a figure unchanged since the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia) under Marshal Viktor Kulikov, commander-in-chief of the United Forces of the Warsaw Pact. All are nearly full strength and equipped with the most modern armaments. Forty-six divisions are stationed in Soviet Asia, including 3 in Mongolia, with a concentration of 27 to 28 divisions in the vicinity of the Manchurian border. Kremlin forces in Afghanistan now total 6 divisions, and the number of Soviet troops and military advisers deployed abroad exceeds 100,000 (excluding Warsaw Pact forces). The balance of the Soviet army is based in the European and Central Asian military districts of the USSR. Perhaps one-quarter of these divisions are near combat-ready at any given time.
Soviet ground forces are extremely well armed. The total Soviet inventory of heavy and medium tanks exceeds 50,000, divided between 47 armored and 126 motorized rifle divisions. Approximately 62,000 armored fighting vehicles are deployed with the ground forces, including the BMP and BMD mechanized infantry combat vehicles, able to transport troops in nuclear and chemically contaminated environments. The Soviet army is equipped with more than 20,000 medium to heavy artillery pieces, ranging from 240-mm mortars to 122-mm self-propelled guns. Thirteen hundred nuclear- capable, surface-to-surface missile launchers of short to medium range (10 to 600 miles) are deployed with Soviet ground forces in both the USSR and Eastern Europe. The newest tactical and theater range systems, the SS21, SS22, and SS23, are just now entering production.
In recent years, the Soviets have emphasized the development of an airborne assault capability for the projection of power beyond their borders and to that end have earmarked 7 divisions, along with an appropriate number of aircraft and helicopters from military transport aviation. They used elements of an airborne division to seize critical facilities in and around Kabul in advance of regular Soviet forces during the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, as they had used such troops in seizing the airport in Prague in 1968.
No simple comparison between Soviet ground forces and the United States Army is possible. Comparisons that focus on such static indicators as troop strength and the number of tanks can be misleading; an evaluation that includes a mix of quantitative and qualitative factors is more useful but beyond the scope of this chapter. The numerical balance (or imbalance) is revealing nonetheless. For example, the size of the Soviet army is more than twice that of the American. The Kremlin produces and deploys at least three times as many tanks, armored fighting vehicles, and artillery pieces as the United States. In addition, the Pentagon must recruit and maintain the U.S. Army by offering financial and other material incentives, placing a heavy burden on limited defense resources. The Soviet army is largely a conscript force. An American enlisted man’s salary begins at $700 per month; his Soviet counterpart receives the equivalent of $6 per month.
The air forces. Soviet air forces consist of three elements: frontal aviation, long-range aviation (the assets of which are being transferred to “air armies”), and military transport aviation. Frontal aviation (comparable to the U.S. Tactical Air Force) has primary re-sponsibility for the ground attack, interdiction, and reconnaissance missions at the theater level. In the event of war, its operations would be closely coordinated with those of the ground forces. The Kremlin maintains 16 tactical air armies, 12 within the Soviet Union and 1 with each of the four Groups of Soviet Forces in Eastern Europe.
Frontal aviation controls roughly 4,800 fixed wing aircraft, as well as 2,000 armed helicopters. Within the last ten years, frontal aviation has been transformed from essentially a defensive-postured force to one with significant offensive capabilities for theater warfare, especially in Europe. One-third of Soviet tactical aircraft, including the MiG27 Flogger D, the SU17 Fitter, and the SU24 Fencer, are designed for ground attack and interdiction bombing, an important shift in mission emphasis from the late 1960s. The counter-air (or air superiority) mission is assigned to the 1,300 MiG23 Flogger B aircraft, introduced in the mid-1970s, which are replacing the older and less versatile force of MiG21S. Both the M1G23 Flogger B and the MiG21 Fishbed D have all-weather capabilities.
Long-range aviation, with approximately 800 strike and support aircraft, is responsible for nuclear and conventional bombing strikes against adversaries at intercontinental range (primarily as a “reserve” force) and within the theater. The 150 TU95 Bear and 45 Mya4 Bison long-range bombers are products of early postwar technology, travel at subsonic speeds, and are vulnerable to interception. No new aircraft of either type has entered the Soviet inventory since the mid- 1960s. Some evidence suggests, however, that Soviet leaders may be reassessing the utility of strategic bombers; a new aircraft, codenamed Ram-P, similar in many ways to the U.S. B1, is under development and may be ready for deployment during the second half of this decade. A small tanker force provides a limited in-flight refueling capability.
The Kremlin devotes considerable resources to the maintenance of a large theater-range bomber force. In addition to the 600 Tu16 Badger and Tu22 Blinder aircraft, the Soviets have also assigned 70 TU22M Backfire bombers to long-range aviation for use primarily against targets in NATO Europe, the Far East, and the Middle East/ Persian Gulf regions. The Backfire, with its large weapons load, high speed, and extended range (about 4,000 miles), represents a qualitative improvement in the Kremlin’s ability to deliver nuclear and conventional ordnance to areas deep behind enemy lines, including NATO countries from Norway to Spain, and all of China. Backfire production, which began in 1974, is currently estimated at 30 per year.
Military transport aviation includes 750 short-range An 12 Cub, 130 I176 Candid long-range jet transports, and 50 An22 Cock air-craft. The An22 is the only heavy lift aircraft in the Soviet inventory; its payload is 80 percent of the American C5A. The I176, though smaller than the An22, has greater range and is of advanced design. The I176 can lift twice the payload over five times the distance of the An 12s they are replacing. Since 1965, the Soviets have more than doubled their total lift capability, although the United States retains more than a two-to-one advantage. Aircraft from military transport aviation played prominent roles in four recent Soviet military operations: the 1973 Middle East conflict; the Angolan Civil War (1974— 75); the war between Ethiopia and Somalia (1977-78); and the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. In the course of the Ethiopian-Somali campaign, it has been estimated that up to 15 percent of the Soviet airtransport fleet—180 planes—flew resupply missions from the USSR to facilities in Ethiopia.
The air defense forces. Since 1948, the Soviet Union has maintained a separate service, the air defense forces (Voyska PVO; formerly PVO Strany) to protect the USSR from all air- and space-borne assaults. In addition to the antiaircraft mission, this includes defense against ballistic missile attack and against whatever weapons may be deployed in space. Voyska PVO are also responsible for operating the country’s early warning systems, both ground-based (radars) and exo-atmospheric (satellites).
The Soviets commit roughly 2,500 interceptor aircraft to the air defense mission, of which two-thirds are the latest generation MiG23 Flogger B, MiG25 Foxbat, and SU15 Flagon. They have also deployed over 10,000 low- to high-altitude surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in 1,200 fixed sites for long-range “strategic” interception, as well as a large complement of mobile SAM launchers for use against tactical and/or theater aircraft. Improvements in both fighter aircraft and SAM installations are continuous; for example, within the next several years, the Soviets are expected to introduce a sophisticated “look down, shoot down” radar for deployment with air defense interceptors to assist in detection and destruction of low-flying enemy aircraft and possibly cruise missiles.
Soviet anti—ballistic missile (ABM) efforts are currently limited in scope and effectiveness, in conformity with the restrictive provisions of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The “Galosh” system, deployed around Moscow, is fully operational with 32 interceptor missile launchers, as well as battle management and missile engagement radars. The Treaty prohibits the deployment of more than 100 launchers, although it permits modernization of the existing facility. The Department of Defense has expressed concern over the scope and intensity of the Soviet ABM research and development program, especially the concentration on more rapidly deployable and transportable launchers and radars which could be used to modernize the Moscow-based “Galosh” installations. The air defense forces have also tested in space a rudimentary antisatellite device, for possible attacks against low-orbiting American reconnaissance and communications satellites. To date, the results of the program have not been impressive. Testing continues, but at a slower pace than in previous years.
Clearly, the Kremlin seeks to limit damage to the Soviet home-land in the event of war, even strategic nuclear war, through the coordinated use of interceptor aircraft, anti—ballistic missiles, antisatellite weapons, and early warning facilities.* American policy makers, who concluded that defense against a determined adversary is not possible in the nuclear age, decided long ago to allocate minimal resources to the air defense mission. There is nothing to indicate that the Soviet leadership finds or will find the U.S. position worthy of emulation; it is more likely, in fact, that the Americans will reexamine their policies in this area.
The navy. Of all the Soviet military services, the navy, under the determined leadership of Admiral of the Fleet (and Commander-inChief) S. G. Gorshkov, has undergone the most extensive modernization in the last twenty years. From a glorified coastal patrol force under Stalin and Khrushchev, the navy has become an important vehicle for the worldwide display of Soviet military power and political purpose. The Soviets maintain more large surface combatants than the United States (294 to 201) and more attack submarines (190 to 84). Soviet combat ships are also newer on the average than those of the United States and more heavily armed. Over the last ten years, the rate of Soviet ship construction has been the highest in the world. To this point in time, Soviet naval strategy remains more defensive than offensive in character. However, the Soviets are enhancing their limited capabilities for underway replenishment and gaining access to an increasing number of distant ports, which will improve their ability to project naval power in the 1980s.
In conjunction with the strategic rocket forces and long-range aviation, the Soviet navy has important strategic nuclear responsibilities. Under navy command are 62 modern ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) of the Yankee and Delta classes (five variants in all), armed with 950 missiles. Roughly half the submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) are of the 4,000 mile range and, as of early 1982, approximately 200 are MIRVed. The Soviets have begun sea trials of a new missile-carrying submarine, the 25,000-ton Typhoon (larger than the American Trident), which is to be equipped with 20 extended-range SSN20 missiles. It, too, will be MIRVed, with as many as 12 independently targetable warheads.
The Soviets have the ability to increase significantly the number of warheads deployed on submarine-based missiles through extensive application of MIRV technologies. Soviet SLBM warheads are of a higher average yield than comparable American systems but relatively inaccurate. Moreover, for a number of complex technical reasons, Soviet SLBMs are assumed to be less reliable than their U.S. counterparts. As such, they do not pose the same “counterforce” threat to U.S. land-based missiles as the latest generation Soviet ICBMs. Only about 20 percent of the Soviet SSBN fleet—12 to 13 boats—is on station at any given time, compared to more than half the American force. There are 190 Soviet attack submarines of which 54 are nuclear-powered (SSN). Most are deployed to protect ballistic missile submarines and surface ships from potentially hostile forces, primarily U.S. attack submarines and carrier task forces. The remainder seek to track American ballistic missile submarines on patrol. The extremely fast and deep diving Alpha is the newest class Soviet SSN. One has been deployed and more are anticipated. The Kremlin has also constructed a sizable force of cruise missile submarines, including the new Oscar-class boat, which can fire its 24 long-range antiship cruise missiles while submerged.
The Soviet surface navy is made up largely of guided missile cruisers, destroyers, and frigates, many of which have been commissioned within the last decade. The 23,000-ton nuclear-powered Kirov cruiser, which joined the fleet in 1979, is the largest surface combatant constructed since 1945, excepting aircraft carriers. Since 1975, the Soviets have also commissioned two 40,000-ton Kiev-class carriers, equipped with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft and helicopters; two more are under construction. There are substantiated reports that the Kremlin is building at least one and perhaps several large carriers (60,000 tons), comparable in terms of size to the U.S. Midway-class, which will provide the Soviets their first sea-based platforms for tactical aircraft on the American model. The rate at which new ships join the Soviet navy is likely to remain constant or diminish slightly over the next ten years.
Attached to Soviet naval aviation are 70 Backfire B bombers, based mostly in the area of the Kola peninsula for deployment with the Northern Fleet, and 300 older Tu16 and Tu22 aircraft. The majority are antiship platforms, a role for which the fast and heavily armed Backfire is especially well suited. Antisubmarine warfare oper-ations are carried out by a large force of converted heavy bombers and several hundred helicopters. The utility of Soviet naval aviation against U.S. and allied navies remains limited at this stage, as all the above-mentioned aircraft must operate from air bases in Eastern Europe, European Russia, and the Soviet Far East. This will change within the coming decade, however, as the Soviet Union begins to procure large deck carriers, which will reduce the dependence of the navy on shore-based aircraft.
Civil defense. One of the most interesting and disturbing aspects of the Soviet military effort is the country’s civil defense program, headed by a deputy minister of defense, Army General A. T. Altunin, who oversees the expenditure of nearly $2 billion per year (were a comparable effort to be undertaken by the United States) and directs a peacetime force of 115,000.
The purpose of the civil defense program is to reduce the level of Soviet casualties in the event of nuclear war. The effort has two quite separate dimensions and is hierarchical: first, protection of essential cadres; second, provision for the general population. U.S. intelligence estimates that the civil defense program could adequately shelter up to 110,000 key Soviet personnel from the political, military, industrial, and scientific sectors should a nuclear war erupt between the superpowers. Thus, seventy-five command centers have been built in and around Moscow to increase the likelihood Soviet leaders would survive a nuclear attack and to provide them the physical infrastructure from which to direct Soviet wartime operations. Additionally, shelters at important economic installations could accommodate a small percentage of the total work force.
The government has made no significant efforts to shelter the population at large. Instead, Soviet civil defense plans call for evacuation of the country’s approximately 100 million urban dwellers to more sparsely populated outlying areas, where they would then construct makeshift shelters and await the outcome of the nuclear exchange. The obvious shortcomings of such a system—its dependence on timely warning, an orderly exodus, pre-positioned food stocks, adequate medical facilities, and rudimentary construction materials, to mention only a few—suggest that Soviet leaders do not believe it possible to hold civilian casualties to 5 to 10 percent of the population, as several Western analysts have claimed. Soviet authorities have never attempted a practice evacuation from any large urban area, nor have they directed the transport of food and medical supplies to so- called host areas. Moreover, Soviet leaders recognize that American nuclear weapons could be retargeted against the evacuated populations within a matter of days, if not hours, should the United States decide to maximize civilian casualties. The evacuation plans may simply reflect a perceived need on the part of the Kremlin to take some action to protect Soviet citizens from the most direct and immediate effects of nuclear weapons, such as blast and intense heat.
The utility of the Soviet civil defense program, therefore, is difficult to assess. It is of obvious importance to the 110,000 preselected Soviet elites, and suggests that Soviet leaders hope, perhaps even believe, the substance of a government would survive to carry on a general war. Its value to the average Soviet citizen is problematic. Its utility is further diminished by the failure of the leadership either to “harden” significantly the country’s industrial base against the effects of nuclear weapons or to disperse key installations and facilities.
Paramilitary forces and intelligence services. Two additional kinds of forces, KGB units and special security troops of the Ministry of the Interior (MVD), contribute in important ways to the Soviet military effort. These forces exercise critical control functions both within the USSR, monitoring dissident activities, for example, and along the entire Soviet frontier (preventing unauthorized entry and exit); active duty KGB and MVD border patrol forces number 460,000. In addition to their surveillance and patrol duties, these troops perform vital internal security functions, from guarding forced labor camps (MVD) to protecting nuclear weapons stockpiles and communications facilities (KGB). The Thirteenth Directorate of the KGB is charged with security control of the armed forces and military intelligence (GRU). KGB officers also oversee the political attitudes of the country’s militia and the MVD. In wartime, KGB and MVD units would supplement regular Soviet military forces, especially at the outset of hostilities in “forward areas.”6
The KGB’s security and intelligence activities extend far beyond the borders of the Soviet state.7 KGB units are deployed in every Warsaw Pact member country (except Romania), where they “cooperate” with local security forces and monitor the political and military reliability of the host regime. KGB personnel are also regularly as-signed to the Kremlin’s diplomatic missions abroad, from which they seek to gather sensitive information through electronic surveillance and human contact, engage in espionage, and occasionally undertake more direct forms of subversion. The number of Soviet “diplomats” who carry out security and intelligence duties in the major Western countries is especially high. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the KGB in assisting Soviet foreign and military policy objectives because of the range of its activities and the sophistication of its methods.
The Warsaw Pact. Finally, note must be taken of the role of allied forces in Soviet military strategy. Although the Soviet Union has acquired several allies in the Third World, the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO) or Warsaw Pact remains the Soviets’ most important military alliance. The Warsaw Pact dates from a 1955 agreement signed by the governments of the Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania (Albania withdrew from the alliance in 1968). In addition to its military importance, the Warsaw Pact, along with related economic and political organizations, fulfills important political roles in the maintenance of Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe, as Andrzej Korbonski explains in chapter 6. Indeed, the Soviets have called upon their allies to help enforce discipline within the bloc, as in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslavakia.
Eastern Europe provides a geographical buffer between the Soviet homeland and Western Europe and extends the Soviet air defense network. Equally important, non-Soviet Warsaw Pact forces contribute significantly to Soviet military strength in Europe. Of the 85 Warsaw Pact divisions in Europe, 54 are non-Soviet. A numerical count alone, however, does not directly measure the combat effectiveness of these forces. The quality of the East European military establishments varies widely from country to country, from the well trained and equipped East German forces to the less capable Czech military.
The reliability of non-Soviet Warsaw Pact forces depends to a large extent on specific scenarios. Soviet doctrine calls for a rapid advance into Western Europe along multiple axes with as little warning time for NATO as possible. This offensive would use combined conventional, chemical, and/or nuclear weapons. To be successful, such a strategy would require active contributions from all the Warsaw Pact military forces and assumes that the non-Soviet Warsaw Pact armies would be reliable and capable of discharging the missions they are assigned by their Soviet commanders. The Soviets have taken certain steps to ensure the loyalty of their allies in a military conflict. Soviet units, for example, would fight alongside and between East European units. Although a lightning offensive by Warsaw Pact forces depends heavily on East European participation, it is also the most likely scenario to ensure their cooperation. It is plausible that the East European armies would remain loyal in an attack against NATO as long as their side prevailed. In this sense, time would work against the Soviets in a military operation because it would give the Western allies a chance to break their momentum and to disrupt Eastern European morale.
In sum, the East European military establishments provide a greater adjunct to Soviet military power than at any time in the past, although the quality of East European troops varies greatly from country to country and their reliability in time of war cannot be predicted with certainty.
The Soviet Defense Budget
The modernization and expansion of Soviet military forces has placed a heavy demand on Soviet economic resources. Precisely how onerous a burden is a matter of some dispute. All Western analysts regard expenditures on defense as officially stated in the budget (17 billion rubles, or 2.8 percent of the Soviet gross national product) as absurdly low and conclude that it includes only the operating and some military construction costs of the armed forces. If expenditures for military R and D, procurement, stockpiling, and all support services are included, as they are in the United States, the cost to Soviet society of the total defense effort is far greater than the official figures indicate.8
The Central Intelligence Agency estimates that the Soviet Union spends 12 to 14 percent of its GNP on defense. This remains the most widely quoted and accepted estimate. U.S. intelligence also calculates a 4 percent annual growth rate for Soviet military expenditures for every year since 1970 (adjusted for inflation). Other estimates range as high as 7 to 8 percent per annum.
Whatever the exact level of spending, the evidence is overwhelm-ing that as a percentage of GNP, the Soviet Union (at 12 to 14 percent) consistently spends more on defense than the United States (at approximately 6 percent). From an economic base half the size of the American, the Kremlin maintains at least a quantitative edge in almost all indices of military power, from the number of men under arms to the number of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles.
Command of the Armed Forces
Soviet leaders have established a highly centralized system of military command and control, characterized by an extraordinary degree of coordinated effort between and among the political, military, and economic sectors of society. The extent of this centralization, which reflects Communist emphasis on control, sets the Soviet system apart from all others. From the Kremlin’s perspective, the system is necessary because of two related problems: the persistence of a powerful external threat in the form of U.S., allied, and Chinese military power; and the size, complexity, and resource demands of the Soviet armed forces.
Control and direction of the Soviet military are the explicit re-sponsibility of three institutions which together comprise the high command: the Politburo, the Defense Council, and the General Staff. Subordinate to the high command are the five combat services, the Warsaw Pact and Far Eastern military commands, the four Groups of Soviet Forces in Eastern Europe, the country’s 16 military districts, and all departments, bureaus, and special agencies of the Ministry of Defense. Because of the priority the government gives the military forces and the military’s demand for goods and services, the high command also plays a direct role in the allocation of resources, determination of economic priorities, and formulation of the Five-Year economic plans.
In theory, ultimate authority in military matters rests with the party Politburo. In actuality, the Defense Council, a subgroup of the Politburo, determines military policy and commands the armed forces. The Defense Council, whose existence the Kremlin acknowledged only in 1976, is presumably chaired by Yuri Andropov in his capacity as general secretary of the Communist party. The Council’s permanent members after the death of Brezhnev in 1982 probably include Prime Minister N. A. Tikhonov, Defense Minister D. F. Us tinov, Chief of the General Staff N. V. Ogarkov, and Chairman of the State Planning Commission (Gosplan) N. K. Baibakov. It is the highest source of authority on “Soviet military doctrine,” which one Western analyst has described as the intellectual and policy framework which informs war planning and guides force acquisition.9 The De-fense Council makes most important military policy decisions, such as the size of the armed forces, the development and deployment of weapon systems, and the determination of the defense budget. Participation of the prime minister and the chairman of Gosplan suggests that the Council may also play a role in Soviet economic planning; for example, it may have the authority to review and revise the assignment of resources to Group A (Heavy Industry) and Group B (Consumer Goods) industries. Finally, it monitors plans for economic mobilization in the event of war.
The largest and most professionally competent institution of the Soviet high command is the General Staff, under the direction of General Ogarkov. According to U.S. government sources, the General Staff functions as the executive arm of the Defense Council, coordinating the activities of the five services, the Groups of Soviet Forces, the Rear Services, and Civil Defense. Unlike the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Ogarkov and his deputies enjoy considerable administrative as well as operational control over most Soviet armed forces.
In addition to its command authority, the General Staff is re-sponsible for the development and formulation of Soviet “military science,” defined as “the system of knowledge concerning the nature, essence and content of armed conflict….”10 Officers assigned to the General Staff also study “military art,” the principal component of military science, under whose heading fall such recognizable terms as military strategy, operations, and tactics. In short, the General Staff has the duty to define and then to provide, in an operational sense, the means to achieve in war the political-military objectives outlined by the Politburo and the Defense Council.
The General Staff’s Military Science Directorate oversees the de-velopment of military strategy. For example, it played an important part in the decade-long debate (1954—64) within the military on the significance of nuclear weapons in war, and it has published the most important statements concerning strategy. It also produces the classified monthly journal, Military Thought, a vehicle for the country’s military theorists to present new and sometimes controversial ideas for discussion and peer review.
Responsible to the General Staff are the eight commanders-in- chief of the Soviet armed forces: the chiefs of the five Soviet combat services and the commanders-in-chief of the Warsaw Pact, the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, and Soviet forces in the East. None of the eight, however, is assigned directly to the General Staff, given their extensive functional and operational responsibilities.
Administratively, the Soviet military is divided into 20 geographic commands: 16 military districts and the four Groups of Soviet Forces in Eastern Europe (Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary). Each military district is under the effective command of a single senior officer, a ground forces general, who also controls regionally deployed units of frontal aviation, but not local elements of the air defense and strategic rocket forces, which report directly to their respective service chiefs. Soviet authorities believe that the infrastructure of the military district facilitates rapid mobilization of both human and material resources and ensures a high degree of combat readiness. The Groups of Soviet Forces are organized along similar lines, with the exception that the GSF commanders report directly to the General Staff.
During wartime, what the Soviets term “theaters of military oper-ations” or TVDs would eclipse the military districts in importance. The Soviets have divided the world into 13 TVDs, of which 5 would be along the borders of the USSR: Northwestern, Western, and Southwestern Europe, Central Asia, and the Far East (in addition to 4 intercontinental and 4 maritime TVDs). Forces deployed in each military district would be subsumed within the appropriate TVD, as the General Staff decides. The High Command would also appoint a theater commander-in-chief, who would be granted extensive authority to direct military operations throughout the region and within its “strategic sectors.” Only within the last several years have senior Soviet military theorists begun to discuss the TVD concept, and public discussions have been cursory, at best. As a result, Western analysts have only begun to understand the precise meaning of the term and its full implications.
The designation of Generals M. M. Zaytsev (GSF Germany) and V. L. Govorov (Soviet Far East) as commanders-in-chief indicates that Soviet leaders anticipate the need for large theater commands in both regions at the outset of hostilities with NATO countries and/or China. The lack of a comparable command structure for Soviet forces deployed in Central Asia and in Southwestern and Northwestern Europe suggests that the Kremlin regards conflict in these three areas as both less probable and likely less intense than in the center of Europe and along the Chinese frontier.
Future Development of Soviet Military Power
Within whatever economic and budgetary constraints may exist during the 1980s—and they are likely to be considerable—and with or without arms limitation agreements, the Soviet leadership will almost certainly continue to expand its military forces and to improve their performance characteristics, with particular reference to strategic capabilities and forces for the projection of power. The reasons for this are numerous and compelling. Reducing military forces even in open societies where large numbers seek this goal is difficult. Even the most wise and sensitive policies on the part of the United States, China, and other powers and the most benign developments in international relations throughout the world during the 1980s would not be likely to reduce tensions sufficiently that the Soviet rulers, whoever they may be, could feel secure with reduced armaments. In addition, the Soviet Union faces a difficult territorial problem because of its size and location, particularly as it now faces hostile Communist states on its periphery. The fear that the United States will again widen the technological imbalance enlivens a pervasive historical concern for security, even survival. Soviet pathological fear of China will remain strong, even should Soviet-Chinese relations become cordial, and will escalate irrationally if the Chinese should attain a rapid rate of economic growth and develop increasingly close ties with Japan and/or the United States. Russian and Soviet history, the role Soviet military forces have played in making the Soviet Union such a respected power, and the Soviet political system add to these barriers.
With regard to strategic capabilities, by the middle of this decade the Kremlin will no doubt deploy a replacement system for the aging SS11 ICBM, most probably a “medium” weight missile, armed with a single warhead and deployed in a mobile mode. By the end of the 1980s, a larger, multiple warhead system could begin to replace the 150 SS17 missiles. Should the Kremlin decide to exceed the warhead “fractionation” (or MIRV) limits contained in the SALT II Treaty, the total number of Soviet ICBM warheads could double within five to seven years, from approximately 5,500 to over 10,000. The accuracy and reliability of Soviet strategic weapons, both land- and sea-based, will continue to improve. Toward the end of this decade, the Soviets may also begin to produce advanced air-, sea-, and ground-launched cruise missiles, comparable in terms of sophistication to the current generation of American systems, for possible use in both strategic and theater missions. It is extremely unlikely, however, that the Kremlin will be able to match, much less surpass, U.S. achievements in this critical area of weaponry before the mid-1990s at the earliest, given the extent of the American technological lead. In addition, the leadership will accelerate the development of antisatellite capabilities for use against American space-based communications and early warning facilities, with the objective of reducing the U.S. capacity to detect and to respond to a nuclear attack. It will maintain Moscow’s ABM and ballistic missile defense efforts, both as a hedge against American technological breakthroughs and to enable rapid expansion of the existing network should either side abrogate the 1972 ABM Treaty. It appears that the Soviets will continue to emphasize nuclear and conventional means of ballistic missile interception, although the development of more exotic techniques (such as directed energy weapons) is feasible.
The Soviet Union will also attempt to enhance its ability to intervene quickly in regional crises at such a level as to deter Western, especially American, military action. This suggests special Soviet attention to airborne and perhaps amphibious assault forces, through the procurement of additional military transport aircraft and naval assault vessels. It could also enlarge its naval infantry, the Kremlin’s equivalent of the U.S. Marine Corps, from its current strength of 12,000. As noted, Moscow will enhance its sea-based tactical airpower during the 1980s by construction of at least several large-deck aircraft carriers.
The direction of Soviet theater military developments is more difficult to anticipate. Presumably the Soviets will continue to focus on the development of more capable tactical aircraft, especially for the ground attack and close air support missions, on improvements in theater nuclear forces, and on better antiarmor capabilities. A new Soviet tank, the T80 (essentially an advanced version of the T72), is expected to enter serial production within the next several years.
Given the projected decline of the service-age population, how-ever, Soviet leaders may find it necessary to reduce the size of the army at some point during this decade. Should they take such a decision, they will attempt to maintain the military’s combat readiness through introducing new and more capable weapons systems. However, such a substitution of technology for people is expensive, as American experience has demonstrated, and would place additional strains on an already overburdened economy. Nonetheless, demographic realities and the Soviet government’s determination to increase its military power could dictate this action, despite the cost. Alternatively, Soviet authorities could sanction a gradual reduction in army manpower over a number of years without undertaking extensive new investments in weaponry. The state of the economy and Soviet perceptions of the future international political environment will heavily influence this decision.
The Military in the Soviet System
Any treatment of the Soviet military must analyze the position of the armed forces in the system of which they are a part. The purpose of this section is to investigate how the military, as an institution, connects to the Soviet system at three critical junctures: its relationship to the political structure, its effect on the economy, and its social or sociopolitical role. All three sets of relationships have obvious implications for the ability of the armed forces to discharge their principal mission, to defend the country against potential adversaries. This discussion also suggests under what conditions and in what directions the existing pattern of relations might evolve during the remainder of this decade.
The enormous weight of the military within Soviet society has led to considerable debate in the West about the ability of the country’s political leaders to exercise effective control over their subordinates in the armed forces. For the most part, the conclusions of those who study Soviet civil-military relations are remarkably similar: the military has never seriously challenged the party’s “leading role,” its capacity to dictate policy on all important issues and at all levels, nor is there reason to suspect that such a challenge will occur. The reasons for party hegemony are several: party policy, Russian and Soviet traditions, institutional features of the system, the organizational and managerial skills of the party, and the compatibility of political and military interests.
The tradition of civilian control over the military predates the October Revolution. William Odom, for example, has described the tsarist armies as “executants” rather than initiators of policy.11 Throughout its history, the Soviet military has fulfilled essentially the same function, under vigilant party supervision. The principal Bolshevik innovation was to formalize and extend tsarist practice through the introduction of political commissars it attached to military units, from the company to the divisional level, from the outset of the new regime. With certain modifications and adjustments, Soviet authorities have retained that system.
Political stewardship of the armed forces is the direct responsibil-ity of the Main Political Administration (MPA), whose chief since 1962, General A. A. Yepishev, ranks fourth in the Soviet military hierarchy, behind the defense minister and the three first deputy ministers. Yepishev and his deputies occupy unique positions within the Soviet military establishment, as they are directly accountable to both the party Central Committee, to whom they owe their appointments, and to the Defense Ministry. The MPA’s dual allegiance may be more apparent than real, however. While the political nature of the MPA’s role within the military requires that it maintain a direct connection to the Central Committee apparatus, its intimate involve ment in the ministry’s daily affairs demands close and continuous interaction with senior military officials. A number of Western analysts contend, in fact, that the relationship between the MPA and the Defense Ministry, despite the potential for conflict, is essentially cooperative and supportive in nature rather than antagonistic.
The two major functions of the MPA are to provide ideological guidance and instruction to the armed forces and to ensure the military’s loyalty to the regime. To discharge its second responsibility, political oversight, the MPA has created a command structure which essentially parallels that of the regular military. MPA officers serve in all five services and in every principal command. Officers of the Main Political Administration receive the same training, commissions, and privileges as their colleagues in the army, the air forces, and the navy. This system affords the MPA a degree of institutionalized access to all levels of the Soviet military hierarchy which the party regards as indispensable to maintenance of its preeminent position within society. The MPA’s educational responsibilities are straightforward. Political officers teach compulsory courses in Marxism-Leninism to all military personnel, commissioned officers as well as enlisted men and women, and control the development and content of curricular materials for use throughout the military’s educational system.
In contrast to the Stalinist period, the contemporary MPA seems to operate within comparatively narrow jurisdictional parameters laid out by the party in consultation with the armed forces. The relatively limited power of today’s MPA may explain the generally cooperative tenor of its relationship with the military. It is unlikely, for example, that the MPA interferes directly in military decision making of an operational or expert character, although it exercises important powers in such personnel-related matters as promotions and assignments.
A second mechanism through which the Soviet party exercises control over the armed forces is military membership in the Communist party and the Young Communist League (Komsomol). Eighty percent of enlisted personnel and an even higher percentage of commissioned officers belong to one or both organizations. Party units function at the regimental level, Komsomol groups within companies. The party formally empowers the MPA to direct all party work within the armed forces, although the Central Committee and the Secretariat maintain several independent channels for supervision and development of party military relations. The fact that virtually all Soviet officers above the rank of lieutenant are either candidate or full members of the CPSU suggests the nature of the relationship. This reflects the reality that membership in the CPSU is a requirement for career advancement in the services and an explicit recognition of the party’s supremacy.
To enhance its capacity to oversee the activities and ensure the loyalty of the military bureaucracy, the party also promotes within rather rigid limits participation of selected members of the armed forces in governmental and political affairs. Defense Minister Ustinov, for example, is a voting member of the Politburo, as was his predecessor, Marshal Andrei Grechko, a career military officer. Ustinov and his senior deputies from the ministry are also full members of the Central Committee. The number of uniformed military personnel elected to the Central Committee has remained relatively constant over the last twenty-five years (about thirty), although as a percentage of the total membership, its representation has declined from a high of 9 percent in 1961 to 7 percent in 1981. However, the most striking feature of the military’s formal role within party and government institutions is its peripheral character. At all key levels of the national political apparatus, the Politburo, the Central Committee, the party Secretariat and the Council of Ministers, the profes-sional Soviet military is either underrepresented or denied all but cosmetic access to principal decision makers.
Much early Western scholarship on Soviet civil-military relations focused on the roles of such institutions as the MPA and the Central Committee in explaining the party’s predominant position. These and other organizations, it was alleged, maintained effective control over the military bureaucracy through coercion, both actual and implied. The relationship between party officials and military commanders was believed tense, characterized by frequent and profound conflict and pervasive mutual distrust.12
More recent work has revised this assessment, suggesting that the apolitical character of the Soviet military is less a function of coercion than of cooption. In addition, this research indicates that the party and the military leaders are in fundamental agreement on the nature of the system and on Soviet policies, more generally, and share a number of critical sociopolitical values, such as the utility of compulsory military service, the importance of nationwide defense preparedness and the need for public discipline and social regimentation.
In addition to the party’s conscious attempt to inculcate a system of popular values which the military endorses and supports, the Politburo’s routine allocation of 12 to 14 percent of the country’s GNP to defense purposes also helps ensure the political passivity of the armed forces. The determination of the Soviet military budget reflects carefully calibrated judgments about the nature of the external threat and the forces required to defend against it. Nonetheless, the party cannot be insensitive to the fact that providing the military bureaucracy with ample resources helps retain its confidence and goodwill. The political leadership understands, in other words, the importance of satisfy ing the material requirements as well as the social and psychological needs of those within society pledged to defend it.
Relations between party and military authority in the Soviet Un-ion are multidimensional. Doubtless conflicts, both personal and in-stitutional, do arise. The critical point to bear in mind, however, is that the competition takes place among party members and within limits set by the party, which defines the rules, monitors compliance, adjudicates differences, and enforces outcomes. No evidence indicates that the military has ever challenged the authority of the political leadership to direct the affairs of state or that the military, as an institution, has ever taken a position opposed to that of the party on any critical policy issue. The existing pattern of relations seems destined to continue, at least throughout the course of this decade, barring a sudden and dramatic shift in policy, such as a leadership decision to reduce significantly the allocation of resources to the defense sector.13
The Military and the Economy
The Politburo, of course, determines Soviet economic policy, in-cluding the level of defense spending. Economic management, on the other hand, is the responsibility of government ministries and ultimately of the Council of Ministers. The government’s Military- Industrial Commission coordinates the activities of the Defense Industry Ministry with those of the eight other ministries directly involved in the manufacture of defense-related equipment. The Central Committee’s Defense Industry Department ensures compliance with party directives and monitors both the quality and output of the production ministries. The Defense Ministry and the General Staff outline the military requirements of the services and specify weapons characteristics and capabilities. They, along with the Defense Industry Department, also exercise critical supervisory functions at the production stage, with special authority in the areas of quality control and testing.
The most distinct features of the Soviet defense sector are its priority claim to national economic resources and the caliber of its managerial, technical, and skilled personnel, both of which presumably make that sector more rational and efficient than other parts of the Soviet economy. The magnitude of Soviet defense production has demanded of the political leadership an unambiguous decision to commit the requisite material and human resources over the long term. Without question the party has made that commitment: the economy gives the highest priority to the efficient production of large numbers of military goods. The benefits of such favored status and higher standards are apparent and concrete: high-quality equipment, consistency of effort, a willingness to innovate, and a well-motivated and well-compensated work force. The consequences for the other sectors of the economy are adverse, however. Nondefense enterprises receive those resources, goods, and services for which the defense industries have no use. As a result, the craftmanship of consumer items is usually shabby, production inefficient, and the rate of output uneven.
A number of U.S. analysts allege that the Defense Ministry’s “penetration” of the economy is virtually complete, that the entire system of production has been mobilized and that the country has been placed on what amounts to a “war footing.” Others disagree, citing the relatively gradual growth of Soviet military capabilities and the regime’s identification of and support for other, nonmilitary economic priorities. All are in accord, however, that the defense sector enjoys a privileged status within the system, relative to the other sectors. The size of the Soviet military and the quantity and sophistication of its equipment and weaponry have placed and will continue to place severe demands on the country’s economic infrastructure. Millions are engaged in production; thousands more manage the effort. Both the party and state bureaucracies assign significant numbers of officials to oversee the performance of the relevant ministries and bureaus.
The most accurate image of the Soviet economy is that of two parallel systems, military and civilian, connected at certain key junctures, but essentially separate in form and function. Moreover, little indicates that Soviet authorities have sought or are seeking to reform the structure in the direction of greater integration. They are unwilling, it seems, to run the risk that extensive penetration of the military industries by their “civilian” counterparts might compromise the standards and performance of the defense sector; for this reason, the latter’s “privileged” status within the economy seems assured for the foreseeable future.
From the perspective of Soviet decision makers, the economy performs well enough to satisfy one of the regime’s most important objectives: the steady development of the country’s military capabilities. According to David Holloway, the Soviet economic system, despite its obvious and serious shortcomings, “… remains a relatively effective mechanism for extracting resources from the economy and directing them to goals set by the political leaders and one of the most important of these goals has been the creation of military power.”14
The Military and Society
In addition to the military’s relationship to the political structure and its impact on the economy, Soviet armed forces also fulfill a number of crucial social functions. They provide a convenient if not irreplaceable mechanism for the inculcation of important national and patriotic values, helping to foster identification with and loyalty to the regime. At least in theory, the military is a “Soviet” rather than a Russian (or a Lithuanian or a Kirgiz) institution, in which the individual national identities of the conscripts assume secondary importance. Thus, the armed forces play a critical and necessary integrative function, bringing together for a time the highly heterogeneous populations of the multinational Soviet state. No other institution within the system fulfills this role to the same degree.
The reality, however, falls considerably short of the ideal. Perhaps the most serious social problem within the armed forces is the persistence of strong racial, ethnic, and religious tensions, both among enlisted personnel and between the officer corps (which is overwhelmingly Slavic) and the non-Russian soldiers who make up an increasing proportion of total military manpower. The problem seems certain to become more acute over time, as the share of nonSlavic groups in the draft-age cohort rises all through the 1980s.
This shift in the racial and ethnic composition of the armed forces raises important questions about the reliability of the army under certain conditions, such as possible combat operations against neighboring Moslem and Asian countries or the use of military force to suppress ethnic-based domestic unrest. As the authors of a recent Rand Corporation study on this subject note, “We can envisage combat-related scenarios in which ethnic or racial riots, minority conflicts with local populations or even military mutiny based on ethnic grievances could become real possibilities.”15
To compound the problem, non-Slav recruits tend to be less educated than their Russian colleagues and to enter military service with fewer technical and/or professional skills. Moreover, many Moslem and Central Asian conscripts either cannot speak Russian or are barely fluent in it, posing potentially serious difficulties of communication and command. It seems reasonable to assume that these educational and linguistic deficiencies will continue to have negative implications for the effectiveness of Soviet armed forces.
It is difficult to know how extensive or profound these problems are or will become or the extent to which they might undermine the leadership’s confidence in the loyalty of the armed forces. On balance, it appears that Soviet authorities do not consider the problem unman-ageable. The government routinely assigns non-Slavic military personnel to areas within the Soviet Union far from their ethnic homelands. It details Moslem and Central Asian soldiers to support and nonessential operations to the fullest extent possible. These and other solutions provide short-term answers to what promises to become an issue of much greater salience to the leadership in the com ing decades, as the number of national “minorities” serving in the Soviet military continues to increase and as the rate of Russian entry declines.16 In response to this problem, the armed forces could intensify remedial efforts, such as special language and technical training programs for non-Slavs. They could also implement more radical measures, including the imposition of ethnic quotas or a policy of selective induction, but probably not without a modest reduction in military manpower, a step the regime may, or may not, be prepared to entertain.
The Development of Soviet Doctrineand Military Capabilities: 1953-82
In the attempt to understand the connection in Soviet thinking between military capabilities and how and under what conditions those forces would be put to use in the event of war, Western observers have studied the Kremlin’s extensive pronouncements on military doctrine and, to a lesser extent, military science. Most of these analyses reflect careful reading of the same source materials, but in many cases the conclusions differ significantly.
Some experts argue, for example, that contemporary Soviet doc-trine is essentially a blueprint for military “victory” over the United States and the West, to be achieved through a combination of crippling offensive nuclear strikes against U.S. and allied military installations and passive and active defensive measures to limit damage to the Soviet homeland. Others contend that Soviet leaders recognize the futility of such a “war-winning” strategy in light of the manifest ability of the United States to absorb such a preemptive strike against its nuclear retaliatory forces and to respond with devastating counterblows against Soviet military, industrial, and urban targets. These analysts assert that Soviet views on nuclear war approximate traditional Western thinking on the subject, which tends to dismiss the idea of victory as absurd. They acknowledge, however, that Soviet and American planners define their strategic military requirements in different ways, which has not only produced dissimilar forces, but also given rise to considerable anxiety in the West over Soviet military “intentions.”17
In fact, the evidence is ambiguous. It is impossible to resolve the dispute by reference to what Soviet authorities have said and written on the subject of war in the nuclear age. To illustrate the problem, senior party leaders since the mid- 1970s have repeatedly dismissed the notion of victory in nuclear war as an illusion, a dangerous fantasy of the West, while representatives of the military high command emphasize the premium of a well-orchestrated surprise attack against the “nuclear means” of the adversary, in order to destroy his military capacity and thus defeat him at the very outset of conflict.
By strict definition, it is not the purpose of Soviet military doc-trine to set the mission requirements of the armed forces. As defined in 1975 by the late Soviet minister of defense, Andrei Grechko, military doctrine “is a system of views on the nature of war and methods of waging it, and on the preparation of the country and army for war, officially adopted in a given state and its armed forces.”18 Once the architects of doctrine have established both the probable character of a future world war and the types of weapons likely to dominate its conduct, military science has the responsibility to determine how best to achieve the designated political-military objectives. Therefore, the interaction between military doctrine and the “science of war” is of critical importance in assessing Soviet intentions.
It is a central premise of this chapter that senior Soviet leaders, political as well as military, have sought to develop a strategic military posture that would allow the USSR to prevail over the United States in the event of a general nuclear war, in conformity with doctrinal precepts first formulated in the mid to late 1950s. This analysis traces the evolution of Soviet military doctrine and development of the country’s military capabilities over a thirty-year period, from the death of Stalin in 1953 to the present.
The Revolution in Doctrine, 1953—59
Within months of Stalin’s death in March 1953, Soviet military theorists began a comprehensive review of military doctrine, largely unchanged since the conclusion of the Second World War. At issue was the continuing validity of Stalin’s “five permanently operating principles” of modern war, defined as the stability of the rear; the morale of the army; the quantity and quality of divisions; the level of armaments; and the organizing ability of the military commanders.
In the opinion of some prominent military theorists, including General N. A. Talensky, editor of the General Staff’s Military Thought, the introduction of nuclear weapons constituted a virtual revolution in the art and science of war, in effect rendering Stalin’s five precepts obsolete. Publication of Talensky’s views in late 1953 provoked an intense and acrimonious debate within Soviet military circles, which eventually led to the general’s dismissal as editor of the journal. Con-servative factions within the armed forces, especially disgruntled ground forces commanders, sought to reaffirm the primacy of the Red Army and to defend the need for large conventional forces-in- being in the wake of Talensky’s removal.
Several of Stalin’s would-be successors seized on Talensky’s cri-tique to distinguish themselves from their political rivals and to garner the support of elements within the military who sought change. Prime Minister Georgi Malenkov, for example, declared in August 1954 that nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States would be an unparalleled disaster for mankind that could spell the end of civilization. Malenkov’s pronouncements proved too “defeatist” for many of his more orthodox colleagues on the Politburo and contributed to his downfall six months later. Party Secretary Khrushchev led the attack against Malenkov, citing the incompatibility of Malenkov’s views on nuclear war with the tenets of Marxism- Leninism, which held that in the inevitable global military confrontation between the world’s two leading social systems, socialism would emerge victorious over capitalism.
One year after the removal of Malenkov, at the Twentieth CPSU Congress in February 1956, Khrushchev essentially renounced his earlier position on the relationship between nuclear weapons and Marxist-Leninist ideology by calling for a vigorous reexamination of military science. Khrushchev went on to imply the revolutionary nature of nuclear weaponry when he declared that a future world war was no longer “fatalistically inevitable” but could be postponed indefinitely through adequate defense preparedness by the socialist countries. Khrushchev’s formulation, with its accent on the “positive” value of nuclear weapons as a deterrent to war, differed from the earlier statement of Malenkov, but only in degree; both recognized the implications of a U.S.-Soviet military relationship based on the reciprocal ability to inflict intolerable levels of death and destruction on the adversary.
In May 1957, a conference convened by the General Staff and restricted to senior officers of the armed forces began a comprehensive review of military strategy. In 1958, a series of seminars followed the conference to consider, in operational terms, the implications of a major interstate or intersystemic conflict conducted largely with nuclear weapons. By the end of the year Soviet military theorists had reached a consensus that the development of fission and especially fusion devices, along with the advent of long-range ballistic missiles as their primary means of delivery, had altered fundamentally the nature of modern war. This, in turn, required thorough and immediate revision of doctrine and strategy. In accordance with this conclusion, Khrushchev authorized the creation in 1959 of strategic rocket forces, a new and separate military command for the intercontinental (and theater) delivery of ballistic missiles. Reflecting an important shift in emphasis, authoritative Soviet sources began to describe strategic rocket forces as the “leading branch” of the armed forces, in effect displacing the ground forces command from its traditional dominant position in the military.
By 1960, the first phase of the debate over a new military doctrine had come to an end, with the elements seeking change scoring an impressive victory. As Khrushchev revealed in a January 1960 speech to the Supreme Soviet, the substance of which other high- ranking political and military leaders of the time reiterated, seven central precepts characterized the revised doctrine: first, a new world war, while likely, was no longer inevitable; second, if world war should occur, it would “inevitably” take the form of a nuclear rocket war, “that is, the kind of war in which the main means of striking will be nuclear weapons and the basic means of delivering it to the target will be the rocket”; third, the use of strategic nuclear weapons will produce “decisive military results” in the opening phase of the conflict; fourth, Soviet nuclear forces must have the capacity to “repulse an enemy surprise attack” and “to frustrate his criminal plans,” presumably by preemptive strikes; fifth, war involving the Soviet Union and the United States will “inevitably” escalate to general nuclear war; sixth, while the initial phase of the conflict may prove decisive, final victory can be secured only through joint actions of all military services;* and seventh, while a world nuclear war will result in extensive physical destruction and massive civilian casualties, socialism’s superior political, social, and economic system will ensure its eventual triumph over capitalism.19
The new doctrine left unresolved a number of important issues. For example, Soviet theorists seemed uncertain about the truly “decisive” character of nuclear weapons in war and left open the possibility that conventional military power would be required to guarantee a favorable outcome after the initial nuclear exchange. They reserved judgment whether a global conflict would be a relatively brief engagement or a protracted struggle, and they failed to articulate precisely how the Soviet Union could ensure victory in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. In some cases, Soviet analysts did not address these and other troublesome questions until the mid- to late 1970s, following maturation of the country’s strategic capabilities. It is striking, nonetheless, that with several important modifications the essentials of Soviet military doctrine formulated under Khrushchev have remained unchanged since their promulgation in the early 1960s.
Changes in Force Structure, 1960-64
As early as 1956-57, changes in military doctrine began to affect the character and composition of Soviet military forces. Deployment of first generation medium-range ballistic missiles, targeted against Western Europe, began in the months preceding the October- November 1956 crises in Hungary and the Middle East. The launch of Sputnik I in October 1957 signaled attainment of a long-range missile capability, provoking widespread anxiety in the United States. In retrospect, the alarm proved somewhat premature, as the Soviets never deployed more than a handful of these crude systems, preferring to concentrate upon development of a less vulnerable and more reliable “second generation” of missiles.
It was only after Khrushchev’s address to the Supreme Soviet in January 1960, however, that Soviet planners began in a consistent way to restructure the armed forces in line with revisions in doctrine. In that speech, Khrushchev underscored the primacy of nuclear-armed ballistic missiles as the foundation of Soviet military power and claimed that the Kremlin’s lead over the West in ICBM technology was both real and destined to continue. He argued that development of Soviet nuclear weapons capabilities effectively deterred imperialist aggression; at the same time, he promised to use Moscow’s nuclear arsenal should the United States and its allies seem poised to unleash a new world war. Khrushchev announced that Moscow’s spectacular achievements in ballistic missile technology (both theater and long- range) enabled a one-third reduction in the size of the Soviet army, to be implemented over the following several years.
Khrushchev’s ambitious plans to reconstitute Soviet armed forces, outlined in 1960 and again at the Twenty-first CPSU Congress in 1961, were never realized in their entirety. The poor performance of the economy, resistance from within the military, and the general “deterioration” of the international political environment made extensive reform difficult and prevented the kind of shift in resources to the strategic rocket forces that the first secretary had anticipated. The large-scale reduction in Soviet army strength did not occur, although the Kremlin did curtail expenditures for the air forces, PVO Strany, and the navy to provide additional funding for the ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. As a result, by the time of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, Soviet intercontinental nuclear capabilities were inferior to those of the United States and only marginally better than they had been in the late 1950s.20 That Khrushchev was aware of the true nature of the strategic balance in 1962 is beyond doubt; the installation of Soviet intermediate-range missiles in Cuba was, in part, designed to provide nuclear equality with the United States. The failure of the Cuban adventure demolished Khrushchev’s claim to military superiority over the West and contributed directly to his ouster in October 1964.
Throughout the early 1960s, a discontinuity existed between the military doctrine to which the Soviet Union allegedly subscribed and the forces-in-being necessary to implement it, a problem the country’s senior political leadership understood. On the one hand, the evolution and refinement of doctrine continued under the auspices of the General Staff. In 1962, the first edition of Military Strategy, a lengthy study prepared by the prominent military theoretician Marshal V. D. Sokolovsky and several of his colleagues appeared. The analysis dis-cussed in considerable detail both the development of doctrine in the postwar period and the profound changes in Soviet military art and science the advent of nuclear weapons had caused. Most of Sokolovsky’s conclusions faithfully reflected the convictions of Khrushchev and the military “modernists”; a second edition, released shortly after the Cuban missile crisis, struck a more cautious note, endorsing a number of precepts long associated with the “traditionalist” wing of the armed forces, such as the continuing importance of the ground forces and the overarching need for a diversified and well-balanced military posture.21
On the other hand, Soviet long-range missile deployments, made up almost exclusively of the highly vulnerable SS7 and SS8 ICBMs, numbered perhaps 200 in 1964 and, from the Kremlin’s standpoint, must have seemed barely adequate for purposes of minimum deterrence. Most of these systems could be destroyed by a determined American preemptive attack, at least in theory, severely limiting the Kremlin’s ability to deliver “crushing nuclear strikes” against “groupings of the enemy’s armed forces, industrial and vital centers [and] communications junctions,” as Defense Minister R. Y. Malinovsky stipulated in 1961.22 In addition, Soviet leaders had decided not to build a large force of intercontinental bombers on the American model to compensate for the slow rate of ICBM production. At the time of Khrushchev’s fall, the total inventory of TU95 Bear and Mya4 Bison bombers probably did not exceed 150. The first Soviet ballistic missile submarines, the Hotel-class SSBN, armed with several 600- mile-range SSN5 systems, did not enter service until late 1964, by which time the United States had commissioned over 26 Polaris boats, each equipped with 16 SLBMs. It now appears that as late as 1965, the United States enjoyed as much as a 4 to 1 advantage over the Soviet Union in numbers of intercontinental-range nuclear delivery vehicles, including ICBMs, SLBMs, and bombers. The American lead in strategic nuclear weapons (bombs and warheads) was even greater.
In an irony that could not have escaped Soviet military planners, ten years after the first doctrinal stirrings, the Kremlin’s basic ability to deter general war with the United States continued to reside in its capacity to destroy Western Europe, albeit with nuclear weapons. In reality, since the mid-1950s the mere possibility that a fraction of the Soviet ICBM and long-range bomber force might survive a first strike had been sufficient to forestall any American resort to nuclear weapons against the USSR, except in retaliation to direct attack against the United States or its principal allies. From the Soviet perspective, however, a surprise American attack must have seemed at times more than an abstract possibility. Whatever the reality, the obvious inability of Soviet strategic forces to accomplish many of the military missions Marshal Sokolovsky and others of the General Staff deemed essential, as well as the failure of Moscow’s nuclear weapons program to reap the significant international political benefits Khrushchev had promised, precipitated a thorough reassessment of the country’s military programs.
The Early Brezhnev Era: 1965—72
Shortly after their assumption to power in 1964, the new collec-tive leadership moved to improve Soviet military capabilities across a broad spectrum, largely within the doctrinal framework first elaborated in 1960. They sanctioned several interesting modifications and refinements, however, which were to prove of lasting significance. First, the country’s military theorists began to argue, tentatively at first, that conflict involving the armed forces of the two superpowers need not escalate immediately to general nuclear war, although pressures to do so would remain enormous. Second, while underscoring that the use of nuclear weapons would almost certainly characterize any major war, they held out the possibility that such a conflict might begin with conventional weapons. Third, they emphasized the utility of large, modern, and well-equipped ground, air, and naval forces to increase the number of options available to and the flexibility of Soviet military commanders. This new accent on theater capabilities, nuclear as well as conventional, was designed to supplement the regime’s heavy investment in ICBMs and SLBMs; it did not mean that the Soviet Union should in any way diminish its commitment of resources to the strategic rocket forces.
To obtain larger and more capable theater and strategic nuclear forces, the new leadership increased the level of defense spending by a steady 4 to 5 percent every year after 1964.23 This decision constituted a clear rejection of Khrushchev’s policies which, his successors concluded, had enabled the United States to maintain measurable military superiority with respect to strategic weapons. They considered this American advantage both dangerous to the Soviet Union and a powerful impediment to realization of important foreign policy goals. To enhance the country’s international political position relative to that of the West, Soviet leaders sanctioned a comprehensive buildup in military power, focusing in particular on expansion of the strategic nuclear arsenal, improvements in theater warfare capabil ities, and the development of naval as well as sea- and air-lift forces. The Soviets also began during this period to reinforce their military position along the Chinese frontier.
The Kremlin’s primary military objective in the immediate post- Khrushchev period was the rapid growth of strategic offensive forces to attain approximate nuclear equality with the United States. To this end, the Soviets constructed over 1,300 new ICBM launchers between 1966 and the signing of the first SALT agreements in May 1972. Almost 1,000 SS11 missiles were deployed, as well as 300 large SS9 systems, many equipped with warheads of enormous yields. Total Soviet ICBM deployments numbered 1,527 by mid-1972. By contrast, the U.S. land-based missile force had remained constant at 1,054 since 1967. The new Soviet ICBMs were also housed in “hardened” underground silos, making them substantially more “survivable” against preemptive attack than the SS7 and SS8 systems built under Khrushchev. The Soviet SLBM program advanced more slowly. Construction of the Yankee-class ballistic missile submarine did not begin until 1965; seven years later only 28 Yankees with 448 launch tubes were operational. Eventually, the Soviets would deploy 62 modern SSBNs with 950 missiles, the number permitted under the 1972 Interim Agreement on Offensive Forces, although they were not to reach that figure until 1981. No effort was made to expand the size of the strategic bomber force, which had leveled off at roughly 190 by 1968.
In addition, Soviet authorities devoted considerable resources in the mid- and late 1960s to development of an anti-ballistic missile system for the defense of Moscow. The ABM Treaty, the most important of the SALT I agreements, prevented the United States and the Soviet Union from constructing a nationwide anti—ballistic missile network. Under the terms of that treaty, however, the Soviets were permitted to retain and improve the Moscow-based “Galosh” system. The leadership also authorized an expanded civil defense effort, centered upon plans to shelter government elites and to evacuate the urban population to less heavily targeted areas outside the cities, as a way to enhance the country’s ability to withstand the effects of nuclear war.
As a result of these several and related steps, Brezhnev and his Politburo colleagues had attained by the early 1970s their initial military objective: rough equality with the United States in strategic nuclear forces. Moreover, the United States formally recognized and confirmed this new relationship through signing the SALT I accords.
By the early 1970s, the Soviets had achieved, in operational terms, the ability to inflict catastrophic destruction on their principal adversary, even after absorbing an American first strike. Through the agreement to ban nationwide ABM deployments, SALT I essentially guaranteed the Kremlin’s nuclear deterrent for the foreseeable future. The second part of SALT I, the Interim Agreement on Offensive Forces, ensured a relationship of rough equality in strategic forces between the two superpowers. From the Kremlin’s perspective, this meant that Washington was no longer in a position to resort to “nuclear blackmail” as it had allegedly done in previous years, most graphically during the Cuban missile crisis. For obvious reasons, Soviet leaders regarded this as a major achievement.
With the expansion and modernization of their strategic nuclear forces well underway by 1966—67, Soviet leaders turned their attention to the special problems associated with theater warfare, first in Europe and later in the Far East. Beginning in 1967—68, they made extensive improvements in Soviet ground force divisions and tactical air armies deployed in Eastern Europe. They outfitted Soviet forces in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia (after 1968) with advanced versions of the T-64 and T-72 (from 1974) medium tanks; deployed new and more effective mobile surface-to-air missile systems to upgrade Warsaw Pact air defenses; and also increased the frequency of training exercise and combat maneuvers. During 1970— 71, they assigned the first units of MiG21 Fishbed J/K, MiG23 Flog- ger B, and MiG27 Flogger D tactical aircraft to the Soviet air forces (frontal aviation and PVO Strany) in Warsaw Pact countries. They also made significant attempts to improve the reliability and endurance of the Kremlin’s command, control, and communications facilities in the European theater.24
In the 1965—70 period, Soviet planners sought to provide their forces deployed in Eastern Europe with better all-around military capabilities. Increasingly, however, the introduction of new “dual capable” weapons, especially aircraft, became Moscow’s principal military focus in that theater, in part because the Soviets hoped to forestall the early use of nuclear weapons in any military confrontation with the NATO countries and to prolong the conventional phase of conflict. While continuing to modernize their already robust theater nuclear forces in the event their use became unavoidable, the Soviets attempted as a matter of policy to keep the nuclear threshold in Europe as high as possible. This new accent on conventional military operations between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, within the context of parity at the strategic level, also served to undercut the American pledge to defend its Atlantic allies with tactical and theater nuclear weapons. In essence, the Soviet ambition throughout this period, and beyond, was to achieve effective nullification of Washington’s commitment to regard the security of NATO Europe as indistinguishable from that of the United States by making the cost of such a commitment too high to bear.
In the Far East, the Kremlin’s military strategy in the first seven years after Khrushchev was to intimidate the Chinese through deployment of 46 divisions within striking distance of the Sino-Soviet frontier. Between 1964 and 1970, total Soviet ground force manpower in the Siberian, Transbaikal, and Far Eastern military districts increased fourfold; “dual capable” aircraft and theater-range nuclear missile systems also increased significantly, with additional deployments to follow in the mid-1970s.25 As in Europe, the Soviets sought to acquire a conventional military option should large-scale hostilities erupt with the Chinese, although it is doubtful that they had much confidence, either then or later, that a war in the Far East could remain nonnuclear for long.
In sum, Soviet capabilities for the conduct of theater military operations in both Europe and Asia improved so substantially between 1965 and 1972 as to assure the country’s political leaders and military commanders greater operational flexibility than ever before. The Kremlin’s investment in new weapons technologies, conventional and nuclear, specifically designed to meet the special requirements of theater warfare, not only continued after 1972 but in fact accelerated.
The development of Soviet naval power lagged behind expansion of strategic nuclear and theater forces. From 1965 to 1972, the number of major Soviet surface combatants increased only marginally. The rate of ship construction, on the other hand, more than doubled, with heavy emphasis on antisubmarine warfare platforms, such as the VTOL aircraft and helicopter carriers Moskva and Leningrad, guided missile cruisers and destroyers, and nuclear- powered attack submarines.* Most of the new vessels had greater firepower and “sustainability” than their predecessors. During this period, units from the four Soviet fleets began regular courtesy visits to friendly regimes in Africa and Asia, and a large Soviet naval squad-ron first entered the Mediterranean, a presence that has endured.
In the late 1960s, future Soviet maritime strategy became a topic of intense debate within senior military circles. Despite initial misgivings on the part of the political leadership, Admiral Gorshkov’s forceful arguments in favor of a large, ocean-going Soviet navy as an essential prerequisite for global military reach proved persuasive. By 1972, however, the exact content of the Kremlin’s maritime strategy and the full dimensions of the Soviet naval buildup remained somewhat of a mystery to Western analysts and policy makers. Gorshkov’s writings notwithstanding, the largely defensive character of the Soviet navy persisted.
As with the Kremlin’s naval forces, the expansion of Soviet sea- and air-lift capabilities proceeded slowly during the first seven years of Brezhnev’s tenure. While some modest improvements occurred, the ability of the Soviet Union to ferry large numbers of men and significant quantities of materiel across great distances remained quite limited well into the 1970s. Serial production of the An22 “Cock” heavy transport aircraft, for example, began only in mid-1967, while the smaller and more versatile I176 Candid did not enter regular production until several years later.
The development of Soviet military power in the years 1965—72 was well-conceived, comprehensive, and continual. Directed in the first instance at erasing the American strategic advantage, the buildup was also intended to liberate Soviet leaders from the heavy reliance on nuclear weapons that had marked Khrushchev’s defense policies. While not losing sight of the importance of nuclear weapons in establishing and enforcing their claim to superpower status, Soviet policy makers also sought to focus on the development of nonnuclear theater military capabilities, which they perceived as important as strategic forces in influencing the behavior of neighboring as well as more distant countries. After all, conventional forces could actually be used to resolve international political differences in a way nuclear weapons could not, except at great risk. This capacity to impose through the use of limited force favorable outcomes at the regional and subregional levels of conflict while at the same time deterring nuclear war with the United States constituted the essence of Soviet military strategy from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s.
Contemporary Doctrine and Strategy
The major propositions of Soviet military doctrine have remained largely unchanged since the revisions of the early Brezhnev era. Soviet theorists continue to argue that nuclear weapons will probably be used from the very outset of hostilities in any future world war involving the United States and the Soviet Union. As before, the side that strikes first with the appropriate kind and number of nuclear weapons will achieve “decisive” military advantage. The war will be global in character and enormously destructive to all belligerents. Worldwide conflict is not inevitable, but the imperialists may unleash it at any time. Vigilance and defense preparedness are the best guarantees of peace and as necessary as at any point in the past. What has changed, in the view of Soviet leaders, is the aggregate balance of military power between East and West, which over the last ten years has moved in a direction favorable to the socialist countries. From Moscow’s perspective, this shift in the military relationship is the direct result of the sustained investment in all five Soviet combat ser vices, although the single most important development has been the attainment of a strategic nuclear arsenal numerically superior to that of the United States.
The development of Soviet power since the mid-1970s has had a pronounced impact on the country’s military strategy, however. The revisions are critical, as they represent important modifications of previous Soviet thought on the probable conduct of general and theater warfare.
For much of the postwar period, the principal purpose of Soviet nuclear forces was simply to deter war with the United States. Any more ambitious objectives, such as “disarming” the United States in a surprise attack or limiting damage to the Soviet homeland, were effectively ruled out by the limited number and technical crudity of the Kremlin’s offensive systems, as well as inability to defend against an American retaliatory strike. In practical terms, Soviet leaders, military and political, accepted the logic of what American analysts termed “mutual assured destruction.”
Unlike their counterparts in the United States, however, the Soviet leadership has never embraced the notion of mutual societal vulnerability as a viable strategic doctrine. In the Kremlin’s view, de-terrence based on the ability to inflict “unacceptable” retaliatory damage on one’s opponent constitutes a formula for defeat rather than a strategy for conflict resolution. Deterrence has been and remains an objective condition of international politics and not a doctrine for war or for the design of military forces. Implicit rejection of the assured destruction model, evident in Soviet military writings as early as the 1950s, does not constitute renunciation of deterrence per se. Cognizant of the profound destructive capacity of nuclear weapons, the Soviets have consistently underscored the need, by political as well as military means, to prevent general war with the United States and its allies. That emphasis continues.
Since the middle of the 1970s, however, important advances in-strategic nuclear weaponry have permitted Soviet authorities to imagine conditions under which the USSR could avoid defeat, should a nuclear war erupt between the superpowers despite their best efforts. Two developments, significant improvements in the accuracy of land- based missiles and the application of MIRV technologies to the fourth generation of Soviet ICBMs, have made it theoretically possible for the first time to mount a successful attack against high-value American military assets, including “hardened” underground ICBM silos and critical command, control, and communications facilities. Such a preemptive strike could seriously weaken the ability of the United States to respond in a timely and proportionate manner. Attacks against American early warning, damage assessment, and communi cations satellites could further reduce U.S. capabilities. Less accurate Soviet land- and sea-based missiles could destroy “softer” and less time-urgent targets, such as ballistic missile submarines not on patrol, bombers on nonalert status, key industrial installations, and important political centers. The Soviets harbor no illusions that an attack of this kind would eliminate all American strategic nuclear systems; much of the U.S. submarine force would survive intact, with the capacity to inflict large-scale devastation on the Soviet urban-industrial base. Because of their relative inaccuracy, however, SLBMs would be of limited use against secure military targets.
Moreover, Soviet military planners apparently believe that the effects of an American retaliatory attack could be mitigated, at least in part, by various damage limitation measures already in place. They conclude that protection of more than 100,000 leaders, plans to shelter at least a portion of the industrial work force, and limited “hardening” of certain key Soviet industries could reduce the extent of economic destruction to a level not inconsistent with the goal of recovery.
As a consequence of these related developments, Soviet military rhetoric on nuclear war, which has long identified “victory” as both desirable and achievable, has assumed greater relevance in recent years. Increasingly, the architects of the Kremlin’s military strategy have apparently reached the conclusion that in the event deterrence fails, the Soviet Union can survive as a coherent political-economic entity through a combination of crippling “counterforce” nuclear strikes against the United States and its allies, the thorough reduction of American, West European, and even Chinese military potential, and a large-scale civil and industrial defense program. At the same time, the Soviets have the capability to shatter for decades, and perhaps longer, the foundations of American power, political, economic, and military, which sustain the anti-Soviet coalition. What makes these military objectives noteworthy is not their identification by Soviet theorists, which predates the contemporary period, but the Kremlin’s potential capacity to realize them.
Beyond this new and tentative conclusion that the USSR, given adequate preparation and warning, may be in a better position than the United States to wage a nuclear conflict, Soviet military strategy has changed in other important ways. In contrast to the ambiguity of the earlier years, the Soviets now anticipate that general war could be a protracted affair, involving extensive use of conventional and naval forces, in addition to nuclear weapons. They anticipate complex and multifaceted military campaigns, described as “combined arms operations” and have sought to provide their theater commanders with the full range of military resources necessary to wage war on this scale. War between the superpowers would probably begin (following a period of extreme tension) with intercontinental and theater-range nuclear strikes; eventually, however, it would expand to include the simultaneous conduct of military operations in a number of geographic areas, including Europe, the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and adjacent oceans. Under such conditions, a Sino-Soviet conflict would be unavoidable. Regional wars, in which Soviet and American forces are directly engaged, could remain limited in scope, however, as long as nuclear weapons were not employed by either side.
For the political leadership, of course, the technical or theoretical capacity of the Soviet Union to disable a significant number of American strategic nuclear systems and to shelter a fraction of the population does not constitute a convincing rationale to initiate nuclear war. The possibility, indeed, the virtual certainty that a surprise attack would not proceed as intended, that industrial “hardening” would prove ineffective, and that plans to evacuate cities would be more difficult to implement than expected, deters Soviet policy makers from the unprovoked use of nuclear weapons. Western analysts who contend that Soviet leaders believe it possible to fight and win a general nuclear war have, at best, a partial understanding of what the Soviets have said and written on the subject. They seem to confuse at times the Kremlin’s determination to acquire the means to wage a nuclear war with the intention to start one. On this point, the Soviets can be taken at their word: the essential function of nuclear weapons is to prevent their use by the other side. A viable “war-fighting” strategy, the Soviets seem to believe, is the most effective way to guarantee this central objective.
The proponents of the “fight and win” school are correct, how-ever, in pointing out that the Soviet Union and the United States differ in their assessments of the purpose of these weapons once war begins and the nuclear threshold has been crossed. Although important changes have taken place recently in American strategic thought, traditional U.S. doctrine has tended to underplay their utility except as agents of revenge; American strategic planning until quite recently focused rather narrowly on the initial stages of conflict, paying relatively less attention to the probable character of the political and military environment following the first exchange of nuclear weapons. The Soviets view the role of nuclear weapons from what has been described as a “Clausewitzean” perspective, focusing on the political as well as the military implications of their use. For Moscow, the purpose of nuclear weapons, from the point at which general war erupts, is to conclude the conflict, regardless of its intensity or duration, on terms favorable to the Soviet Union.
The evolution of Soviet military doctrine between 1953 and the present represents an organized attempt to understand the effect of nuclear weapons on both the art and the science of modern warfare. On balance, those responsible for the formulation of Soviet military strategy have apparently concluded that nuclear weapons, despite their immense destructiveness, have not invalidated the historic justification for armed conflict between sovereign states, the resolution through violent means of intractable political differences. Soviet civilian leaders, in their public statements at least, seem less confident on this point.
It is difficult to determine which of these two assessments is more representative of Soviet elite thinking. Given the extraordinary risks that would attend any use of nuclear weapons, however, it is likely that the more cautious position associated with the political authorities will dominate in the Soviet decision-making process over the course of this decade.
Military Power and Foreign Policy
If it is a central concern of those who study Soviet military affairs that the Kremlin aspires to the capability to wage and prevail in a nuclear war, these analysts are only slightly less preoccupied with the way in which Soviet leaders envision the relationship between military power and the conduct of foreign policy. In its most abbreviated form, the question most often posed relates to future Soviet behavior: how will the relative and absolute growth of Soviet military power affect both the character and the conduct of the country’s foreign policy in the 1980s and beyond? More precisely framed, the issue has to do with the intentions of the Soviet leadership: is the Kremlin likely to become more assertive in pursuit of its foreign policy objectives as a result of the dramatic increase in Soviet military capability and if so, to what extent and in what areas of the world?
As the debate over the significance of Soviet military power has intensified, many Western observers have attempted to divine Soviet thinking by reference to such factors as the role of Russian history, the importance of geography, the impact of ideology, the character of Soviet culture and society, and the influence of domestic politics. They have also examined instances in which Soviet leaders have resorted to the use of force in order to achieve their foreign policy objectives. As might be anticipated, this methodology has given rise to a number of competing interpretations. Among American and other noncommunist analysts there is not, nor has there ever been, anything approaching an agreed interpretation of the connection in Soviet thinking between military power and political purpose.
Soviet scholars are of little assistance to their Western colleagues, as their analyses tend to be intellectually sterile and rigidly selfserving. Kremlin sources seldom advance beyond the simple assertion that the sole purpose of Soviet armed forces is to defend the territorial and political integrity of the USSR against all adversaries and to protect the entire “socialist camp” from imperialist aggression, regardless of the form in which it appears. Only occasionally do Soviet commentators write analytically about the political utility of military power; when they do, it is most often to criticize American concepts and policies.
A useful way to underscore the intensity of the Western debate on this issue is to compare the major contentions of the two most distinct and opposed schools of thought, recognizing in advance that few observers would identify completely with either position. At one end of the spectrum are those who argue that the principal goals of Soviet foreign policy are to increase the number of areas under direct Soviet control, to extend the Kremlin’s political, military, and economic influence to all regions of the world, and to compel the retreat of American power to the Western hemisphere, implying military force in pursuit of these objectives, if necessary.26 In seeking to extend the frontiers of the state and to eliminate all potential rivals for hegemony, they see Soviet leaders acting in a manner consistent with Russian historical tradition. Just as Peter the Great sought to “militarize” Russian society in order to realize his imperial aspirations, so have his Communist heirs continued that process. From Stalin’s absorption of the Baltic republics in 1940 to Brezhnev’s invasion of Afghanistan forty years later, this analysis holds, the dominant thrust of Soviet foreign policy has been expansion through military means. They interpret the Kremlin’s more recent assistance to various leftleaning Asian, African, and Latin American regimes, as well as its support for national liberation movements on a worldwide scale, as a logical and predictable extension of Moscow’s international political ambitions, merely denoting a shift in emphasis, away from continental expansion and toward acquisition of a global empire.
These analysts ascribe the Kremlin’s “expansionist” tendencies to the fundamental internal weaknesses of the Soviet system, which compel the leadership to confirm its legitimacy and to justify its existence by demonstrating the regime’s military prowess. They argue that, in much the same way as several of the tsar’s advisers urged initiation of a limited war with Japan in 1904 to distract the Russian people from their misery, the current leadership seeks to compensate for the system’s failures by creating military capabilities greater than those of its nearest rival and by using those resources in the interests of the “international class struggle.” As a consequence, therefore, of Russian historical tradition, more recent Soviet practices, and the domestic shortcomings of the regime, they consider the Kremlin’s “expansion-ist” activities a function of the system and as such, resistant to anything other than the most profound internal and external developments.
The second school also looks to Russian history to explain the regime’s heavy reliance on coercion in the conduct of foreign policy but contends that the dependence derives less from aggressive intent or the dynamics of the political system than from the leadership’s pervasive sense of vulnerability and insecurity.27 From the invasion of the Mongols to the Napoleonic assault in 1812, from the Allied intervention against the Bolsheviks in 1919-20 to Hitler’s Operation Bar- barossa, they see the Russian and Soviet national experience as one of war and attempted subjugation. According to this interpretation, much of the Kremlin’s diplomacy after 1945, beginning with Stalin’s installation of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, was designed to reverse this pattern and ensure the country’s security through the creation of a system of dominated states along its borders. The essential character of Soviet foreign policy, especially in the first twenty years after the Second World War, was thus defensive: to safeguard the “gains of socialism,” if necessary by recourse to force. They explain the rapid increase of Soviet military power in the period following the ouster of Khrushchev in much the same way, as a response in part to the continuing threat to Soviet security that the United States and its NATO allies pose.
Analysts drawn to this view of Soviet behavior also tend to ascribe different motives to the Kremlin’s assumption of more global political and military responsibilities than those identified with the “expansionist” school.28 While not denying that this phase of Soviet policy represents a clear break with past practice, they tend to explain its emergence not by reference to long-standing imperial Soviet ambitions but to extensive changes in the international political environment, such as the explosion of nationalist and anticolonialist sentiment in the Third World, which have presented Kremlin policy makers with an abundance of low-cost and relatively low-risk opportunities to expand Soviet influence at the expense of the West. Moreover, they believe that the Soviets avoid serious military involvements in those areas deemed “immature” in revolutionary terms, areas in which political and economic conditions are not sufficiently advanced to guarantee Soviet success. Consistent with this analysis, they see the conditions that give rise to turmoil and instability in Third World regions, rather than Soviet activities per se, as the principal threat to Western security.
Those who subscribe to this interpretation often characterize Soviet policy in such “third areas” as cautious, prudent, and re strained. Likewise, they consider Soviet objectives relatively modest in scope: to preserve the “gains of socialism” in those countries already embarked on the Marxist-Leninist path of development; to assist such progressive forces as may exist; and, in pursuing these goals, to avoid direct military confrontation with the United States.
As most Western analysts will readily admit, neither the “expan-sionist” nor the “defensive” model provides an adequate framework within which to assess Soviet attitudes toward the use of military power in foreign policy. Both interpretations capture elements of reality and identify important aspects of Soviet behavior. Ultimately, however, their attempt at universality and their failure to recognize that both tendencies can and do exist simultaneously in Soviet policy limit their analytical utility. Moreover, it is extremely unlikely that those responsible for the conduct of the Kremlin’s foreign policy view the connection between force and diplomacy in such simple and unambiguous terms.
The willingness of Soviet leaders to consider the use of military power to achieve desired political outcomes probably turns less on preconceived notions regarding expansion or defense than on a com-plicated set of ever-changing variables, such as the salience of the issue (political and economic), the utility of a military response, perceptions of risk, political and military, and the possible implications of a decision not to act. It seems reasonable to assume that such pragmatic considerations rather than more abstract concepts of historical experience, national character, and ideology condition Soviet attitudes, although these factors provide a frame of reference or a context within which Kremlin leaders consider their options. With the steady growth in Soviet military capabilities, the critical issue then becomes how the Kremlin’s assessment of these variables is likely to change over time and in what direction and thus affect the Soviet definition of “pragmatic.”
While it is not possible to determine the precise degree to which Soviet leaders may rely more heavily in future years than in the past on military power as an instrument of foreign policy, one can make a number of appropriately tentative observations and predictions based on an analysis of the growth of Soviet power and of recent Soviet behavior in three quite different contexts: actions taken in defense of the “socialist commonwealth”; relations with the West; and policies in the Third World.
In reference to the first dimension, the Kremlin’s relations with proximate Communist allies, Soviet leaders will continue to rely on their enormous and usable military power both to prevent the erosion of Communist Party control and to preserve within these countries their special and privileged position as security guarantor. In the second dimension, relations with the West, Soviet attitudes and policies seem likely to retain much of their present form and content. The Soviets do not anticipate that the prospective strategic nuclear balance of power will afford them the opportunity for dramatic gains at the expense of their principal adversary. However, the leadership does seem to expect a further, albeit gradual and uneven, decline in Western Europe’s commitment to the Atlantic Alliance and a concomitant reduction in American influence on the continent, as a result of the Soviet military buildup. With respect to the third dimension, Soviet policies in so-called third areas, the growth of Soviet military power, specifically the expansion of the country’s power projection capabilities, is almost certain to result in more assertive Soviet behavior in many areas of the less developed world, including a greater willingness than in the past to lend military assistance to “revolutionary” and “progressive” forces and to protect, again through military means, these newly won “gains of socialism.”
“In Defense of Socialism”
Maintenance of political control over the Eastern European re-gimes remains an essential prerequisite of the Kremlin’s security, second in importance only to defense of the Soviet homeland itself. Soviet efforts to forge more “organic” links with Eastern Europe notwithstanding, the ultimate source of Soviet authority in the region is the leadership’s actual and perceived willingness to maintain political and social discipline, if necessary by force. The Kremlin has made it abundantly clear that it is prepared to take whatever steps may be necessary, including the use of military power, to guarantee orthodox Communist Party rule in Warsaw Pact member countries. On this critical issue, Soviet thinking has not changed since the establishment of these regimes.
In the immediate aftermath of the Polish military coup in 1981, some Western observers speculated that Soviet failure to employ overt military force to restore the authority of the Polish Workers’ Party and to eliminate the challenge posed by Solidarity signaled an important shift in Kremlin policy toward its Eastern European glacis. 29 They concluded that Soviet leaders found it difficult to resort to explicit forms of coercion against Warsaw because of their desire to preserve the detente relationship with Western Europe, to avoid the deleterious consequences of open Soviet repression, and to escape the profound effect Soviet invasion would have produced everywhere in the world. In this sense, detente probably helped postpone more direct Soviet action. It would be misleading, however, to extrapolate from this very special case. Had there been no General Jaruzelski or had Polish security forces proved unable to arrest what the Kremlin regarded as Poland’s slide toward “anarchy,” the Soviet Union would have intervened directly.
Precisely how direct Soviet intervention would have been accom-plished, had the Jaruzelski coup failed to achieve its objectives, is difficult to judge. It is probable that the first Soviet step would have been to dispatch specially trained army and KGB units to Poland to seize control of key political, economic, military, and communications centers, either alone, with Polish security forces, or in anticipation of the arrival of regular Soviet armed forces. Given the sensitivity of Poland’s relations with its East European neighbors, especially East Germany and Czechoslovakia, I conclude that the least likely form of military coercion would have been a multinational Warsaw Pact invasion, on the model of the 1968 Czech occupation.
The Polish case has demonstrated both the disinclination of Soviet leaders to rely exclusively, or in the first instance, on overt military instrumentalities when more subtle forms of persuasion are available, and the skill with which they and their Polish executants can act. In part, however, the availability of these other instruments, such as political pressure and “native forces” loyal to the Soviet Union, is an outgrowth of the overwhelming military power which the Kremlin can bring to bear against recalcitrant allies, should the situation warrant. The expansion and modernization of Soviet armed forces, especially the development of such readily usable capabilities as airborne assault and improved communications, serve to underscore the credibility of that threat and the utility of Moscow’s military option.
If the situation in Poland provoked some discussion in the West about the relative “restraint,” patience, and skill the Soviet Union had demonstrated, the Kremlin’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan had exactly the opposite effect. For the Soviets, however, the two crises had much in common; in both countries, “counter-revolutionary forces” were threatening to topple Marxist-Leninist governments with strong links to Moscow. A principal difference between the crises in Poland and Afghanistan was that in the latter case the Kremlin’s reliance on nonmilitary forms of pressure had proved ineffective, necessitating more overt action. In justifying the invasion, Kremlin sources stressed Soviet security interests, the impermissibility of political chaos in proximate areas, and the irreversibility of Communist revolutions, three arguments that were also used to warn Poland of its extreme danger barely one year later. From the Soviet perspective, developments in the two countries were linked in a conceptual sense as different manifestations of the same process, the potential collapse of Communist regimes in areas the Kremlin defined as critical to its own security.
This is not to suggest that the crises were of equal magnitude or importance from the Soviet perspective. Clearly, the threat to Soviet security from events in Poland was far greater than the danger the collapse of Communist authority in Afghanistan posed. Ironically, Afghanistan’s remoteness from the central axes of world politics made the Soviet decision to intervene less difficult. The situation in Poland, on the other hand, required particularly deft handling on the Kremlin’s part, precisely because of Poland’s political centrality and the probable impact of developments in that country on Soviet relations with the outside world, especially the countries of Western Europe.
It is extremely unlikely that in defense of their position in Eastern Europe, and in Afghanistan and Mongolia, as well, Soviet leaders will be any less willing to employ military power in future years than they have been in the past. It is rather more likely, in fact, that they would use coercive methods with even less hesitation than previously, should additional crises develop, as the leadership seeks to convey an image of strength and solidarity to the outside world during what promises to be a long struggle over political succession.
The more interesting issue is the extent to which Soviet au-thorities may be prepared in the future to adopt a similar policy with respect to “new” Communist regimes in areas more distant from the borders of the USSR. In other words, will the Kremlin seek to enforce the doctrine of the irreversibility of socialist revolutions in such volatile client states as Ethiopia and South Yemen? In light of the importance that the Kremlin attaches to the creation of a worldwide “socialist community,” and its increasing capacity to provide significant levels of military support to friendly Third World regimes, we must assume that Soviet leaders will be more concerned than in the past to protect their hard-won gains outside the Eurasian “heartland.” In practical terms, of course, those countries located within easy reach of Soviet military power will be more likely to enjoy the Kremlin’s “protection” than those not so well situated. This suggests special Soviet attention in the 1980s to at least four “progressive” Asian and African countries with which the Kremlin has concluded treaties of friendship: Ethiopia, Iraq, Syria, and South Yemen. Iran, too, could qualify for such special Soviet treatment, in the event a leftist regime should emerge in that country. Cuba and Vietnam, although hardly “new” Communist states, already enjoy favored status, despite their more distant location.
The Political Uses of Military Power:
In the East-West dimension, the most important implications of the Soviet military buildup are more political than military in nature. A direct military engagement between the superpowers or between NATO and Warsaw Pact countries remains a remote possibility, given the enormous risks that would attend such conflict and the potential for escalation. Soviet policy makers are unlikely deliberately to provoke a confrontation with the United States or its major allies that they believe might precipitate a nuclear exchange, despite their increasing confidence that they could bring a general war to an end on terms favorable to the USSR. The Soviets do not rule out the possibility, however, that a nuclear exchange might erupt, brought on by political miscalculation or an accidental launch of nuclear weapons. In short, Kremlin leaders appear to accept the fact that for the foreseeable future mutual deterrence will continue to define the strategic military relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The Soviets do anticipate, however, that their success in pulling abreast of the United States in strategic nuclear forces and in some forms of general military power is a continuing base for tangible political benefits. As early as 1972, senior Soviet analysts cited the growth in the country’s military strength, specifically the buildup in strategic forces, as the principal reason for the advent of a more “realistic” and accommodating United States foreign policy. They argued that detente was an outgrowth of the realization, especially in Washington, that “objective conditions” governing relations between the two sides had changed in fundamental ways because of the historic shift in the worldwide “correlation of forces.” The Soviets believe this new and more equal relationship of forces not only serves to inhibit the “aggressive” instincts of imperialism, but also wins the respect of states throughout the world, especially near neighbors, and enables the Soviet Union to chart a more assertive course in foreign policy and in international diplomacy more generally.
In essence, Soviet leaders assume, as they have since the early 1970s, that attainment of parity at the strategic military level will compel Washington to acknowledge the essential political as well as military equality of the Soviet Union, guaranteeing Moscow the same superpower rights and privileges long accorded its principal rival, and enabling Soviet leaders to make politically effective use of their military power beyond “the socialist world,” while denying outside forces any role in areas under Moscow’s control.
For Moscow, this new relationship of strategic forces has a kind of paralytic effect on American diplomacy, making it much more difficult for the United States to influence the character and conduct of Soviet foreign policy through the largely implicit threat to invoke nuclear weapons in a crisis or to engage in what Soviet analysts once referred to as “nuclear blackmail.” The attainment of strategic equality, the Soviets believe, deprives Washington of the ability to intimi date the USSR, as the United States no longer enjoys demonstrable military superiority or the capability to dominate the ladder of military escalation. Equality at the strategic level thus enables the Soviet Union to assert truly global political and military aspirations. In the Soviet calculus, parity has especially important consequences for the superpower competition in western Europe and in “third areas”; its impact on Japan and the People’s Republic of China is more problematic. The pattern of political outcomes over the last decade has largely confirmed Soviet suspicions that the most effective way to advance the Kremlin’s diplomatic fortunes is through expansion of its armed forces.
Their success notwithstanding, the Soviets have also found it in their interest to underplay the military significance of changes in the balance of power and, in their public statements, to characterize the strategic relationship as one of essential equality or equilibrium. To assert Soviet military superiority, they fear, would only encourage a new round in the superpower arms competition; given American industrial and technological resources, such a prospect can hardly appeal to Kremlin policy makers. Thus, Soviet observers argue that it was the American inability to accept the loss of its preeminent military position, and its “frenzied” attempts to regain that status, rather than any Soviet quest for “strategic superiority,” that precipitated the collapse of detente. Later, high-ranking Soviet authorities sought to reassure Western governments by renouncing any ambition to obtain measurable military advantage. In a 1977 address, for example, Brezhnev declared that the USSR “will not seek military superiority over the other side. We do not want to upset the approximate equilibrium of military strength that now exists … between the USSR and the U.S.” Ten months after the Reagan administration’s assumption to office, the Soviet president returned to this theme in a carefully worded statement, asserting that it would be “dangerous madness” for either superpower to count on victory in a nuclear war. He dismissed the concept of a first strike by arguing that anyone starting such a war “has thereby decided to commit suicide.”30 The dilemma for the Soviet leaders is that while a strategic nuclear relationship with the United States based on rough equality may not provide spectacular political gains at Washington’s expense, neither will a clear-cut bid for superiority if such an effort serves to activate a determined American response.
The Soviets recognize that the existing balance is not immutable; it could shift to their disadvantage. Moreover, they sense that the Reagan administration is determined to erase any real or perceived strategic advantage that the Kremlin currently enjoys. As a consequence, one of Moscow’s central objectives in the coming decade must be to maintain whatever margin of superiority has been achieved, while denying its existence, at least in public fora. A more explicit claim to superiority might yield substantial short-term benefits; over a longer time frame, however, it could erode the relationship they seek to preserve. The Kremlin, therefore, frames its pronouncements on the military balance with considerable precision. To friends and allies it boasts that the growth of Soviet military power has brought about a virtual revolution in international relations; to its principal opponent, it claims that the military equation remains as before. For this reason, in part, Soviet spokesmen tend to avoid the fine points of the military relationship between the two sides, preferring to discuss the broader trends in the global “correlation of forces.”
This desire to preserve the existing military relationship suggests a continuing Soviet interest in strategic arms control negotiations with the United States through the 1980s. For the Kremlin, arms control agreements, such as the 1972 SALT I accords and the 1979 SALT II Treaty, signed but not ratified by either country, have proved a useful way to reduce the danger of war, stabilize and regulate the strategic arms competition, improve or at least maintain its relative military position, and limit development of new American nuclear weapons systems. In addition, arms control agreements have served to underscore Moscow’s claim to political equality with the United States.
Soviet statements in the early 1980s reveal an increasing level of concern about the dimensions of the American military buildup and prospects for a new strategic arms control agreement. Senior Soviet authorities, including General Ogarkov and Defense Minister Ustinov, warn that the USSR will take whatever steps may be necessary to maintain essential military equality and to frustrate any American bid for “strategic superiority.” The Soviets seem to anticipate a difficult and threatening period ahead, marked by renewed and perhaps intense competition between the two countries. To compound the problem, Soviet leaders detect a greater American willingness than in the recent past to rely on military power as a central instrument of foreign policy; this, they write, only serves to increase the probability of general war.
For both political and economic reasons, therefore, the Soviets are likely to persist in their advocacy of negotiated arms control agreements, whatever the political climate, even as they continue to build new and more capable strategic nuclear weapons systems and to improve the overall strength of their armed forces.
The Soviets also believe that strategic equality with the United States facilitates a larger and more effective Soviet political role in Western Europe, where the Kremlin already enjoys a degree of con-ventional military and theater nuclear superiority. Throughout the last decade, Soviet authorities have consistently linked the emergence and durability of detente on the continent to the more equal relationship of strategic nuclear forces between the superpowers. For the Kremlin, the declining credibility of the American commitment to defend NATO Europe with nuclear weapons, brought about through strategic parity and Soviet theater nuclear superiority, compels the West Europeans to conduct their relations with the USSR from a position of relative weakness, thereby helping to produce policies often consistent with Soviet political and economic interests.
This change in the military relationship between the Soviet Un-ion and Western Europe has permitted the Kremlin to realize a number of important objectives in the region unimaginable twenty years earlier. In essence, the growth of Soviet military capabilities and NATO’s failure to keep pace with that buildup have enabled Moscow to transform the character of its relations with Western Europe, particularly by playing upon the fear of war and using this stimulated fear to increase West European suspicion of the United States.
The Kremlin’s arms control policies have been especially impor-tant in this regard. The fact that the United States and the Western European countries view arms control negotiations as necessary affirms in a subtle way the objective character of the Soviet military threat. At the same time, Moscow’s participation in both the Central European force reduction negotiations between NATO and the Warsaw Pact and the intermediate-range nuclear forces talks serves to enhance its political status in Europe by permitting the Soviets to pose as the leading advocates of the “relaxation of international tensions” and “military detente.” This ability to play on the political, military, and moral vulnerability of Europe while holding out the prospect of reduction in tensions has been a source of Soviet diplomatic strength and a hallmark of the Kremlin’s European security policy since the early 1970s. The collapse of detente with the United States and the particular sensitivity of the Western Europeans to the growth of Soviet military capabilities strongly suggests that Moscow’s two-track approach toward NATO Europe, perhaps the best contemporary example of “carrot-and-stick” diplomacy, will become even more than today a centerpiece of Soviet foreign policy in the 1980s. Soviet skill in playing upon Western European hopes and anxieties constitutes a most important element of Soviet conduct.
The Soviets have also sought, with considerably less success, to achieve a similar relationship with Japan, Washington’s principal Pacific ally. However, in this case the steady expansion of Soviet military forces in the Far East has strengthened rather than undermined U.S.-Japanese cooperation on security issues, in part because of Moscow’s heavy-handed policies toward Tokyo, which have intensified the level of anti-Soviet sentiment among Japanese elites and the popula-tion at large. Moscow’s assignment of ground and air units to the southernmost Kurile Islands, which it acquired in 1945 and which the Japanese seek to regain, is perhaps the best known example of the Kremlin’s tendency to rely on military instruments rather than diplomacy to accomplish its political objectives vis-à-vis Japan.
Soviet leaders seem of two minds with respect to Japan. On the one hand, they are determined to retain territories acquired in 1945 and to preserve their regional military preeminence. On the other hand, they recognize that their extensive reliance on military power has had profoundly negative implications, preventing the development of more cordial political and economic ties. They seem unable to fashion policies which would permit them to retain their military position and pursue detente with Tokyo. Moreover, given the historical record, it is unlikely that the Kremlin will be able at any point during this decade to attain with Japan anything like the relationship it enjoys with Western Europe.
Soviet difficulties with Japan notwithstanding, it is the political significance of changes in the military balance to which the Kremlin assigns special importance in its relations with Western countries. Through their military power, the Soviets expect to preserve what they describe as the “essential achievements of detente,” such as greater Western sensitivity to Moscow’s security interests and economic preferences, if not for the time being with Washington, then with the major capitalist countries of Europe; Japan, for the reasons indicated, represents a paradox for Soviet policy makers. Given the new strategic relationship and the Kremlin’s theater military capabilities, Soviet analysts argue that detente, or some amended version of that concept, must ultimately prevail as the sole model for East-West relations.
Within this context, it is unlikely that coercion, per se, will play any direct part in East-West relations. It is virtually inconceivable, for example, that at any point during this decade the Soviet Union will resort to the explicit use of military force against Western countries for any reason, short of a deliberate decision to go to war or in response to an attack on its vital interests. In all probability, the Kremlin will be content to allow the reality of its military power to shape Western policies in more subtle ways and to advance whatever foreign policy and security goals it defines as appropriate.
The Third World
Doubtless, the most interesting shift in recent Soviet security policy has been the Kremlin’s more extensive and visible involvement in a number of Third World conflicts, most notably in Africa and parts of Southwest Asia, where Soviet policy has entered a new and more active phase. Representatives of the Soviet military, both combat forces and advisers, are currently deployed in fourteen Asian and African countries. Small contingents of Soviet military advisers serve in Angola, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, the Seychelles, and Kampuchea; more substantial forces are present in Ethiopia, North and South Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Vietnam. The number of Soviet troops stationed outside Warsaw Pact countries totaled 17,000 in 1982, excluding Afghanistan.31 Military and paramilitary personnel from Cuba, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia have also been deployed abroad. The provision of Soviet and East European military equipment, from small arms and artillery to armored infantry vehicles and tanks, made possible the victory of pro-Communist forces in Angola (1975) and the Ethiopian defeat of the Somalis (1978).
The recent success of the Soviet Union in establishing a military presence in the Third World and in providing valuable military assistance to both revolutionary regimes and national liberation movements stands in marked contrast to the Kremlin’s policies of the early 1960s, which not only failed to produce long-term gains but served to emphasize the relative weakness of Soviet power-projection capabilities. Perhaps the best known, although hardly the only, Soviet failure during this period was the defeat of pro-Moscow forces in the Congo by the better-equipped faction supported by the United States and other Western countries. Until the early 1970s, the Soviet Union was simply not in a position to compete militarily with the United States on global terms. The twin effort to obtain a more equal relationship of strategic forces and to improve its relative position in the European theater consumed most of its military resources.
Several developments within the last decade have enabled Soviet leaders to adopt a much higher military profile in distant areas. The first has been the marked rise of political and economic instability throughout the Third World, which has created for Moscow a greater number of opportunities for both political and military penetration. The second was Moscow’s achievement of essential nuclear equivalence. By helping to induce a degree of paralysis at the strategic level, and thereby make less credible an escalatory American response to any Soviet use of force in third areas, parity has allowed Soviet policy makers to intensify the level of their military activities in those regions the United States did not identify as critical to its national security. In other words, parity has enabled Moscow to compete with the United States for access and influence in the Third World on more equal terms and, in the view of Soviet leaders, with substantially fewer risks. In the Soviet view, among its other consequences parity in strategic nuclear forces has compelled American policy makers to abandon their “diplomacy of force,” through which Washington had prevented unwelcome change in many areas of the world by the threat or the actual use of force.32
The third development has been the Kremlin’s acquisition of substantial air- and sea-lift capabilities for the transport of military equipment and personnel to any country with port facilities and/or an airstrip of requisite length. Over the past decade, the military utility of these forces has been demonstrated repeatedly. In addition to such well-known instances as the Soviet resupply effort to the Arab countries during and after the October 1973 war in the Middle East and the assistance to Angola’s MPLA and Ethiopia’s Dergue, the Kremlin has also supported and financed Libya’s bid for regional military hegemony and South Yemen’s attempt to subjugate its western neighbor by force. This capacity to lend substantial military assistance to Third World governments and to “progressive” forces sympathetic to Soviet interests has provided the Kremlin a new and invaluable mechanism for enhancing its influence and diminishing that of the West. The Soviets have also demonstrated, in contrast to the situation that prevailed twenty years ago, that they have the ability as well as the intention to sustain their military presence over time.
It is in these third areas, the less developed countries of Asia and Africa, that the growth of Soviet power has created resources for profoundly different Soviet policies. The application of limited military power can produce spectacular gains in such regions, the Soviets appear to believe, given a favorable “correlation of forces” at the local level, good prospects for military victory and an American decision not to oppose directly Kremlin policy in the region. Obviously, the Soviet incentive to become heavily involved in regional military conflicts weakens considerably when any of these three conditions, especially the last, does not obtain.
Two factors are likely to be especially influential in any Soviet decision to assume additional political and military responsibilities in the less developed world during the 1980s. The first is the attitude and behavior of the United States. American passivity during the Soviet and Cuban interventions in Angola and Ethiopia essentially assured the Kremlin military carte blanche in these conflicts. In light of the Kremlin’s weak political claims in the region, it is unlikely Soviet leaders would have been prepared to run the risk of a major military confrontation with the United States in an area so far removed from their central interests, whatever the probable outcome of an actual military engagement. Had the United States provided substantial military assistance to the forces opposing Moscow’s clients, UNITĄ in the former case, the Somalis in the latter, Soviet-supported factions could have secured victory only at great cost, if at all. How the Americans will behave in some future crisis will, therefore, have an important bearing on Soviet policy. While a greater American willingness to commit military forces in defense of its interests in such contested “third areas” would not under all conditions deter Soviet involvement, it would compel the Kremlin to assess the potential costs of involvement with considerably greater care than has been evident in recent years.
A second factor that will condition Soviet behavior is geography. Clearly, Moscow will be more tempted to take advantage of these opportunities that lie within easy reach of its armed forces than it will those less conveniently located. Increasingly, for example, the Soviets contend that they cannot remain “indifferent” to political and military developments in areas near their southern borders, implying a willingness to use military power first to create and then to maintain what they regard as a consonant regional environment. As in the past, however, the leadership will distinguish sharply between turmoil in adjacent areas, such as Iran, where the full weight of their military power could be brought to bear in a crisis, and conflict in other, more distant areas, where the odds favoring the success of such an operation would be less attractive. This suggests that a Soviet-American military confrontation is far more likely as a result of events in and around the Persian Gulf than in any other part of the world, given the West’s enormous economic stake in the area and the proximity of sizable Soviet ground and air forces.
In sum, Soviet attitudes toward the utility of force are complex, reflecting the diversity of the Kremlin’s political, military, and economic interests in different parts of the world. Moreover, Moscow’s attitudes have changed over time and will continue to change as a result of developments both within and beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. Ultimately, the readiness of the leadership either to threaten the use of or to commit its military power in pursuit of Soviet foreign policy interests will be determined by two factors: the ability of the armed forces to accomplish the assigned mission in operational terms and the perceived costs of such operations, measured against probable gains. How Soviet leaders define what constitutes acceptable risk will depend heavily on the context and/or the environment in which it will use its military forces; this must include estimates of such abstract concepts as the political will of the adversary, as well as more easily quantifiable indicators, such as the military balance of power.
In the first of the three dimensions discussed above, Soviet rela-tions with proximate Communist allies, the Warsaw Pact states, Af-ghanistan, and Mongolia, Moscow will continue to rely heavily on coercion (either explicit or implied) to maintain its privileged position and to prevent unwelcome change. Given the importance the Soviets attach to the maintenance of these “friendly” regimes, they will be prepared to bear whatever costs may arise in connection with the exercise of their imperial prerogative. In addition, the Kremlin’s military capabilities are more than adequate to defeat any conceivable challenge to Soviet authority that may develop in these areas, now and for the foreseeable future. As indicated, the Soviets may also seek to extend their “protection” to a number of nonadjacent client states bound to Moscow through bilateral political and military agreements, depending on the level of effort necessary to safeguard the local leadership and the perceived importance of the investment.
In the second dimension, Soviet relations with Western countries, Kremlin policies are likely to retain much of their existing character. There is little to suggest, for example, that Soviet leaders anticipate a significant change in the pattern of superpower relations that has prevailed since the early 1970s, as a consequence of projected de-velopments in the strategic military balance. They do not, in other words, seem to have much faith that they can translate their “advantages” at the strategic level into direct political gains at Washington’s expense. They do expect, however, that Soviet military power will continue to erode the resolution of the Western alliance and to impose rather severe constraints on American policy, depriving the United States of the flexibility that characterized its behavior before the advent of parity.
From the Soviet perspective, this development has had and will continue to have especially important implications for U.S. alliance relations in Europe and Asia, undercutting the credibility of Washington’s military guarantees and exacerbating the already intense differences over security related issues that separate the Americans from their European allies. Moreover, the Soviets seem increasingly confident that they can exploit these differences through maintenance of theater military superiority and the use of differentiated diplomacy. At a minimum, the leadership foresees a continuation of NATO Europe’s sensitivity to Moscow’s political and economic preferences in the region, commensurate with the growth of Soviet power. In their more optimistic moments, they probably believe that they can eventually transform Western Europe’s current “sensitivity” to Soviet interests into a form of outright deference, leading to what some analysts have called “Finlandization.” At the same time, the Kremlin recognizes that such an evolution is by no means inevitable and will come about, if at all, only as the result of a gradual, uneven, and lengthy process over which the Soviet Union will exercise only limited influence. This would seem to indicate that Soviet leaders will refrain from any direct use of force against Western Europe in the 1980s, lest it endanger what has already been achieved and undermine future prospects.
It is in the third dimension, in “third areas,” that the shift in the strategic and conventional military balances (including the ability to project power across great distances) will have the most discernible impact on the foreign policy behavior of the Soviet Union in coming years. The expansion of Soviet capabilities virtually assures a more active and assertive Kremlin posture in many less developed regions of the world, including several areas, such as Southwest Asia, in which the United States has evident and long-standing security and economic interests. This combination of greater Soviet military power, willingness to employ those resources under favorable conditions, and established American interests suggests that the management of East-West relations in connection with conflict in “third areas” will become a permanent and potentially explosive item on the superpower agenda, even if, as seems probable, the essential character of the central strategic balance does not change in future years except in cosmetic ways. How to regulate this competition is perhaps the most difficult challenge awaiting Soviet and American policy makers.
The purpose of this essay has been to examine contemporary and probable future Soviet military forces, focusing in particular on the growth and character of the Kremlin’s military capabilities and the connection in Soviet thinking between military power and the conduct of foreign policy. Four major conclusions emerge from this analysis.
First, for the first time in Soviet history, Kremlin leaders have at their disposal a modern and balanced military force for possible use across a large spectrum of conflict, from intercontinental nuclear war with the United States to limited interventions in the Third World. Moreover, the current leadership regards further development of Soviet military power as a necessary precondition for the attainment of future foreign policy objectives. Military power has become the main Soviet instrument in the long-term political struggle they foresee with the West and with China.
Second, the role of the military within the Soviet system is un-likely to change significantly during the 1980s, given the party’s deter-mination to retain its preeminent political position and the pattern of party-military relations. The military will continue to enjoy a privileged status within the economy, despite the anticipated downturn in economic performance, and to perform a number of critically important sociopolitical functions.
Third, the architects of Soviet military strategy appear to believe that in the event deterrence fails and a nuclear war erupts between the superpowers, the survival of the Soviet Union as a coherent polit ical-military entity can best be ensured through a combination of counterforce nuclear strikes against the United States, the thorough reduction of American, West European, and even Chinese military potential, and civil defense measures. Soviet civilian leaders seem less confident than their military counterparts that the Soviet Union could achieve such an outcome.
Fourth, Soviet attitudes toward the political utility of military power have undergone an important change in recent years, which will have significant implications for the country’s foreign policy in the 1980s. In particular, as a consequence of the apparent shift in the East-West balance of military power, Soviet leaders anticipate the “in-stitutionalization” of detente with Western Europe and increasing sensitivity to Soviet policy preferences on the part of noncommunist countries near or adjacent to the borders of the USSR, especially in Southwest Asia. In addition, the Kremlin now has the resources to intensify its efforts to enlarge the international “socialist community” of states through the provision of economic and military assistance to selected Third World revolutionary groups and regimes in which they believe investments are likely to produce long-term gains. In this connection, Moscow will probably strengthen its existing security commitments to some Third World governments and undertake such new commitments as it feels consistent with Soviet interests and resources. At the same time, Kremlin leaders will seek, as in the past, to avoid direct military confrontations with the United States, although in light of greater Soviet activism the likelihood of such confrontations will increase in coming years.
1. All factual data on Soviet military capabilities are drawn from recent, unclassified Western sources. See especially The Military Balance 1981—82 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1981), pp. 10-15, 12 1— 29; and U.S. Department of Defense, Soviet Military Power (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1981).
2. The Military Balance 1981-82, pp. 5, 10, 73.
3. The relationship between the Soviet and Eastern European militaries is the subject of a number of excellent recent studies. Among the most detailed and informative are Robert W. Clawson and Lawrence S. Kaplan, eds., The Warsaw Pact: Political Purpose and Military Means (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1982); A. Ross Johnson, Robert W. Dean, and Alexander Alexiev, East European Military Establishments: The Warsaw Pact Northern Tier (New York: Crane, Russak, 1982); and Christopher Jones, Soviet Influence in Eastern Europe (New York: Praeger, 1981). See also Lawrence T. Caldwell, “The Warsaw Pact: Directions of Change,” Problems of Communism, Septem- ber-October 1975, pp. 1-19.
4. See William Perry, “The Nature of the Defense Problem in the 1980s and the Role of Defense Technologies in Meeting the Challenge,” The Role of Technology in Meeting the Defense Challenges of the 1980s, A Special Report of the Arms Control and Disarmament Program (Stanford, Calif.: Arms Control and Disarmament Program, 1981), pp. 1-18.
5. See pp. 41-43, below.
6. John M. Collins, U.S.-Soviet Military Balance (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981), p. 214; and Defense Intelligence Agency, Handbook of the Soviet Armed Forces (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1978), pp. 13-2 to 13-5.
7. For a concise discussion of Soviet intelligence-related activities abroad, see Soviet Military Power, p. 90. Also see Harry Rositzke, The KGB: The Eyes of Russia (Garden City, N.J.: Doubleday, 1981).
8. See the chapter by Robert W. Campbell in this book for a more detailed analysis of the economics of Soviet defense spending.
9. John J. Dziak, Soviet Perceptions of Military Power: The Interaction of Theory and Practice (New York: Crane, Russak, 1981), p. 23.
10. Dictionary of Basic Military Terms (A Soviet View), U.S. Air Force translation (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1976), p. 38.
11. William E. Odom, “The Party Connection,” Problems of Communism, September-October 1973, p. 25; idem, “Who Controls Whom in Moscow,” Foreign Policy, Summer 1975, pp. 109-23.
12. See for example Roman Kolkowicz, The Soviet Military and the Communist Party, (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967); and idem, “Interest Groups in Soviet Politics: The Case of the Military,” in Dale R. Herspring and Ivan Volgyes, eds., Civil-Military Relations in Communist Systems (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1978), pp. 9-25.
13. Timothy Colton has written that for the immediate future “no major change in civil-military relations in the Soviet Union is to be anticipated. The determinants of military quiescence are deeply rooted and not susceptible to disturbance in the short run…. In comparative perspective, the party-army relationship has been remarkably free of direct conflict, and the safest predic-tion is that such confrontation will be avoided in the future. The relationship presumably has enough resilience and slack to withstand even quite substantial shocks.” From Timothy Colton, Commissars, Commanders and Civilian Au-thority: The Structure of Soviet Military Politics (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979), p. 285.
14. David Holloway, War, Militarism and the Soviet State, Working Paper Number 17, World Order Models Project (New York: World Order Inc., 1981), p. 19.
15. As quoted in the Washington Post, July 18, 1982.
16. See ch. 4 for a more thorough discussion of Soviet demographic trends.
17. Richard Pipes is perhaps the most forceful and articulate exponent of the view that despite the advent of nuclear weapons, the principal objective of the Soviet Union, in the event of general war, is military “victory” over the United States. See his “Why the Soviet Union Thinks It Can Fight and Win a Nuclear War,” Commentary, July 1977, pp. 21—34; see also Joseph D. Douglass and Amoretta M. Hoeber, Soviet Strategy for Nuclear War (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1979). For a competing interpretation, see Raymond L. Garthoff, “Mutual Deterrence and Strategic Arms Limitation in Soviet Policy,” International Security, III, no. 1 (Summer 1978), pp. 112—47; and Robert L. Arnett, “Soviet Attitudes Toward Nuclear War: Do They Really Think They Can Win?” Journal of Strategic Studies, September 1979, pp. 172-91.
18. A. A. Grechko, Vooruzhennye sily sovetskogo gosudarstva [Armed Forces of the Soviet State] (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1975), p. 340.
19. Harriet Fast Scott and William F. Scott, The Armed Forces of the USSR (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1979), pp. 41-44.
20. Raymond L. Garthoff, “The Meaning of the Missiles,” Washington Quarterly, Fall 1982, p. 77.
21. Harriet Fast Scott analyses the differences among the three editions of Sokolovsky, in Harriet Fast Scott, ed., Soviet Military Strategy, third edition (New York: Crane, Russak, 1975).
22. R. Y. Malinovsky, “Report to the Twenty-second Congress of the CPSU,” as quoted in Scott and Scott, The Armed Forces of the USSR, p. 43.
23. Central Intelligence Agency, Soviet and U.S. Defense Activities, 1970—79 (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1980). W. T. Lee, “Soviet Defense Expenditures,” in William Schneider and Francis P. Hoeber, eds., Arms, Men, and Military Budgets: Issues for Fiscal Year 1977 (New York: Crane, Russak, 1976), advances a figure of 8 to 10 percent for the annual growth of Soviet defense spending for the years 1970-76.
24. Thomas W. Wolfe, Soviet Power and Europe, 1945-1970 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970), pp. 460-76; and The Military Balance 1971—72 and 1972—73 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1971, 1972).
25. See especially Defense of Japan 1978 (Tokyo: Defense Agency, Japan; translated by Mainichi Daily News, 1978), pp. 31-34; Defense of Japan 1980 (Tokyo: Defense Agency, Japan; translated by Japan Times, 1980), pp. 4960; Asian Security 1979 (Tokyo: Research Institute for Peace and Security, 1979), PP- 45-48; and Asian Security 1980 (Tokyo: Research Institute for Peace and Security, 1980), pp. 29-38.
26. Elements of this interpretation are contained in Richard Pipes, “Militarism and the Soviet State,” Daedalus, Fall 1980, pp. 1-12; and Colin S. Gray and Rebecca Strode, “The Imperial Dimension of Soviet Military Power ’’ Problems of Communism, November-December 1981, pp. 1—15.
27. A number of “revisionist” and “post-revisionist” Western scholars have been drawn to this view of Soviet foreign policy, including Gabriel Kolko, The Politics of War (New York: Random House, 1968); Walter Lafeber, America, Russia and the Cold War 1945-1980 (New York: Wiley, 1980); and John Lewis Gaddis, The United States and the Origins of the Cold War (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972). See also Marshall Shulman, Stalin’s Foreign Policy Reappraised (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1963); and Shulman, Beyond the Cold War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966).
28. Several contemporary analysts of Soviet affairs have argued in ways that are generally supportive of this hypothesis. See, for example, Marshall Shulman’s testimony in Hearings before the House International Relations Committee of the 95th Congress, First Session, October 26, 1977, “Soviet Union: Internal Dynamics of Foreign Policy, Present and Future” (Washington, USGPO, 1978); Robert Legvold, “The Nature of Soviet Power,” Foreign Affairs, Fall 1977, pp. 49—71; and idem, “The Concept of Power and Security in Soviet History,” in Christoph Bertram, ed., The Prospects of Soviet Power in the 1980s (London: Archon Books, 1980), pp. 5-12.
29. Many Western and especially American foreign affairs journalists seemed drawn to this interpretation of Soviet behavior during the initial fifteen months of the Polish crisis, from August 1980 to November 1981. See especially the New York Times coverage throughout this period.
30. Leonid I. Brezhnev, “Great October and the Progress of Mankind,” Pravda, November 3, 1977, pp. 2—3 (quoted in Current Digest of the Soviet Press, XXIX, no. 44, November 30, 1977, p. 11) and “L. I. Brezhnev Answers a Question from a Pravda Correspondent,” Pravda, October 21, 1981, p. 1 (quoted in Current Digest of the Soviet Press, XXXIII, no. 42, November 18, 1981, p. 13).
31. The Military Balance 1981—82, p. 14.
32. See especially Georgy Arbatov, “Soviet-American Relations at a New Stage,” Pravda, July 22, 1973.
I should like to express my appreciation to Fritz Ermarth, David Holloway, Arnold Horelick, and Lt. General Brent Scowcroft (Ret.) for the information and critical com-ments they provided.
*I discuss later in this chapter other means available to the Soviets to limit the extent of damage during wartime, such as surprise attack against the offensive forces of the adversary and civil defense measures.
*This caveat to the revised doctrine probably reflected a compromise between the Khrushchev-led faction and more traditional elements within the Soviet military estab-lishment. It also suggested a Soviet conviction that large conventional forces would be required to exploit the initial military gains obtained through the use of nuclear weapons, especially in the European theater.
*This was in addition to the construction of 3 to 4 ballistic missile submarines every year between 1967 and 1980.