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Appendix C: THE WARSAW PACT -- Czechoslovakia

IN APRIL 1985, the general secretaries of the communist and workers' parties of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland, and Romania gathered in Warsaw to sign a protocol extending the effective term of the 1955 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, which originally established the Soviet-led political-military alliance in Eastern Europe. Their action ensured that the Warsaw Pact, as it is commonly known, will remain part of the international political and military landscape well into the future. The thirtieth anniversary of the Warsaw Pact and its renewal make a review of its origins and evolution particularly appropriate.

The Warsaw Pact alliance of the East European socialist states is the nominal counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on the European continent (see fig. A, this Appendix). Unlike NATO, founded in 1949, however, the Warsaw Pact does not have an independent organizational structure but functions as part of the Soviet Ministry of Defense. In fact, throughout the more than thirty years since it was founded, the Warsaw Pact has served as one of the Soviet Union's primary mechanisms for keeping its East European allies under its political and military control. The Soviet Union has used the Warsaw Pact to erect a facade of collective decision making and action around the reality of its political domination and military intervention in the internal affairs of its allies. At the same time, the Soviet Union also has used the Warsaw Pact to develop East European socialist armies and harness them to its military strategy.

Since its inception, the Warsaw Pact has reflected the changing pattern of Soviet-East European relations and manifested problems that affect all alliances. The Warsaw Pact has evolved into something other than the mechanism of control the Soviet Union originally intended it to be, and it has become increasingly less dominated by the Soviet Union since the 1960s. The organizational structure of the Warsaw Pact has grown and has provided a forum for greater intra-alliance debate, bargaining, and conflict between the Soviet Union and its allies over the issues of national independence, policy autonomy, and East European participation in alliance decision making. While the Warsaw Pact retains its internal function in Soviet-East European relations, its non-Soviet members have also developed sufficient military capabilities to become useful adjuncts of Soviet power against NATO in Europe.


Long before the establishment of the Warsaw Pact in 1955, the Soviet Union had molded the East European states into an alliance serving its security interests. While liberating Eastern Europe from Nazi Germany in World War II, the Red Army established political and military control over that region. The Soviet Union's size, economic weight, and sheer military power made its domination inevitable in this part of Europe, which historically had been dominated by great powers. The Soviet Union intended to use Eastern Europe as a buffer zone for the forward defense of its western borders and to keep threatening ideological influences at bay. Continued control of Eastern Europe became second only to defense of the homeland in the hierarchy of Soviet security priorities. The Soviet Union ensured its control of the region by turning the East European countries into subjugated allies.

The Organization of East European National Units, 1943- 45

During World War II, the Soviet Union began to build what Soviet sources refer to as history's first coalition of a progressive type when it organized or reorganized the armies of Eastern Europe to fight with the Red Army against the German Wehrmacht. The command and control procedures established in this military alliance would serve as the model on which the Soviet Union would build the Warsaw Pact after 1955. During the last years of the war, Soviet commanders and officers gained valuable experience in directing multinational forces that would later be put to use in the Warsaw Pact. The units formed between 1943 and 1945 also provided the foundation on which the Soviet Union could build postwar East European national armies.

The Red Army began to form, train, and arm Polish and Czechoslovak national units on Soviet territory in 1943. These units fought with the Red Army as it carried its offensive westward into German-occupied Poland and Czechoslovakia and then into Germany itself. By contrast, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania were wartime enemies of the Soviet Union. Although ruled by ostensibly fascist regimes, these countries allied with Nazi Germany mainly to recover territories lost through the peace settlements of World War I or seized by the Soviet Union under the terms of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. However, by 1943 the Red Army had destroyed the Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Romanian forces fighting alongside the Wehrmacht. In 1944 it occupied Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania, and shortly thereafter it began the process of transforming the remnants of their armies into allied units that could re-enter the war on the side of the Soviet Union. These allied units represented a mix of East European nationals fleeing Nazi occupation, deportees from Soviet-occupied areas, and enemy prisoners-of-war. Red Army political officers organized extensive indoctrination programs in the allied units under Soviet control and purged any politically suspect personnel. In all, the Soviet Union formed and armed more than 29 divisions and 37 brigades or regiments, which included more than 500,000 East European troops.

The allied national formations were directly subordinate to the headquarters of the Soviet Supreme High Command and its executive body, the Soviet General Staff. Although the Soviet Union directly commanded all allied units, the Supreme High Command included one representative from each of the East European forces. Lacking authority, these representatives simply relayed directives from the Supreme High Command and General Staff to the commanders of East European units. While all national units had so-called Soviet advisers, some Red Army officers openly discharged command and staff responsibilities in the East European armies. Even when commanded by East European officers, non-Soviet contingents participated in operations against the Wehrmacht only as part of Soviet fronts.

The Development of Socialist Armies in Eastern Europe, 1945- 55

At the end of World War II, the Red Army occupied Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland, and eastern Germany, and Soviet front commanders headed the Allied Control Commission in each of these occupied countries. The Soviet Union gave its most important occupation forces a garrison status when it established the Northern Group of Forces (NGF) in 1947 and the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) in 1949. By 1949 the Soviet Union had concluded twenty-year bilateral treaties of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance with Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. These treaties prohibited the East European regimes from entering into relations with states hostile to the Soviet Union, officially made these countries Soviet allies, and granted the Soviet Union rights to a continued military presence on their territory. The continued presence of Red Army forces guaranteed Soviet control of these countries. By contrast, the Soviet Union did not occupy either Albania or Yugoslavia during or after the war, and both countries remained outside direct Soviet control.

The circumstances of Soviet occupation facilitated the installation of communist-dominated governments called "people's democracies" in Eastern Europe. The indoctrinated East European troops that had fought with the Red Army to liberate their countries from Nazi occupation became politically useful to the Soviet Union as it established socialist states in Eastern Europe. The East European satellite regimes depended entirely on Soviet military power--and the continued deployment of 1 million Red Army soldiers--to stay in power. In return, the new East European political and military elites were obliged to respect Soviet political and security interests in the region.

While transforming the East European governments, the Soviet Union also continued the process of strengthening its political control over the East European armed forces and reshaping them along Soviet military lines after World War II. In Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union instituted a system of local communist party controls over the military based on the Soviet model. The East European communist parties thoroughly penetrated the East European military establishments to ensure their loyalty to the newly established political order. At the same time, the Soviet Union built these armies up to support local security and police forces against domestic disorder or other threats to communist party rule. Reliable East European military establishments could be counted on to support communist rule and, consequently, ensure continued Soviet control of Eastern Europe. In fact, in the late 1940s and the 1950s the Soviet Union was more concerned about cultivating and monitoring political loyalty in its East European military allies than increasing their utility as combat forces.

The postwar military establishments in Eastern Europe consisted of rival communist and noncommunist wartime antifascist resistance movements, national units established on Soviet territory during the war, prewar national military commands, and various other armed forces elements that spent the war years in exile or fighting in the West. Using the weight of the Red Army and its occupation authority, the Soviet Union purged or co-opted the noncommunist nationalists in the East European armies and thereby eliminated a group likely to oppose their restructuring along Soviet lines. In the case of communist forces, the Soviet Union trusted and promoted personnel who had served in the national units formed on its territory over native communists who had fought in the East European underground organizations independent of Soviet control.

After 1948 the East European armies adopted regular political education programs. This Soviet-style indoctrination was aimed primarily at raising communist party membership within the officer corps and building a military leadership cadre loyal to the socialist system and the national communist regime. Unquestionable political loyalty was more important than professional competence for advancement in the military hierarchy. Appropriate class origin became the principal criterion for admission to the East European officer corps and military schools. The Soviet Union and national communist party regimes transformed the East European military establishments into a vehicle of upward mobility for the working class and peasantry, who were unaccustomed to this kind of opportunity. Many of the officers in the new East European armed forces supported the new regimes because their newly acquired professional and social status hinged on the continuance of communist party rule.

The Soviet Union assigned trusted national communist party leaders to the most important East European military command positions despite their lack of military qualifications. The East European ministries of defense established political departments on the model of the Main Political Administration of the Soviet Army and Navy. Throughout the 1950s, prewar East European communists served as political officers, sharing command prerogatives with professional officers and evaluating their loyalty to the communist regime and compliance with its directives. Heavily armed paramilitary forces under the control of the East European internal security networks became powerful rivals for the national armies and checked their potentially great influence within the political system. The Soviet foreign intelligence apparatus also closely monitored the allied national military establishments.

Despite the great diversity of the new Soviet allies in terms of military history and traditions, the Sovietization of the East European national armies, which occurred between 1945 and the early 1950s, followed a consistent pattern in every case. The Soviet Union forced its East European allies to emulate Soviet Army ranks and uniforms and abandon all distinctive national military customs and practices; these allied armies used all Soviet-made weapons and equipment. The Soviet Union also insisted on the adoption of Soviet Army organization and tactics within the East European armies. Following the precedent established during World War II, the Soviet Union assigned Soviet officers to duty at all levels of the East European national command structures, from the general (main) staffs down to the regimental level, as its primary means of military control. Although officially termed advisers, these Soviet Army officers generally made the most important decisions within the East European armies. Direct Soviet control over the national military establishments was most complete in strategically important Poland. Soviet officers held approximately half the command positions in the postwar Polish Army despite the fact that few spoke Polish. Soviet officers and instructors staffed the national military academies, and the study of Russian became mandatory for East European army officers. The Soviet Union also accepted many of the most promising and eager East European officers into Soviet mid-career military institutions and academies for the advanced study essential to their promotion within the national armed forces command structures.

Despite Soviet efforts to develop political and military instruments of control and the continued presence of Soviet Army occupation forces, the Soviet Union still faced resistance to its domination of Eastern Europe. The Soviet troops in the GSFG acted unilaterally when the East German Garrisoned People's Police refused to crush the June 1953 workers' uprising in East Berlin. This action set a precedent for the Soviet use of force to retain control of its buffer zone in Eastern Europe.


East-West Diplomacy and the Formation of the Warsaw Pact

In May 1955, the Soviet Union institutionalized its East European alliance system when it gathered together representatives from Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania in Warsaw to sign the multilateral Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, which was identical to their existing bilateral treaties with the Soviet Union. Initially, the Soviets claimed that the Warsaw Pact was a direct response to the inclusion of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) in NATO in 1955. The formation of a legally defined, multilateral alliance organization also reinforced the Soviet Union's claim to power status as the leader of the world socialist system, enhanced its prestige, and legitimized its presence and influence in Eastern Europe. However, as events inside the Soviet alliance developed, this initial external impetus for the formation of the Warsaw Pact lost its importance, and the Soviet Union found a formal alliance useful for other purposes. The Soviet Union created a structure for dealing with its East European allies more efficiently when it superimposed the multilateral Warsaw Pact on their existing bilateral treaty ties.

In the early 1950s, the United States and its Western allies carried out an agreement to re-arm West Germany and integrate it into NATO. This development threatened a vital Soviet foreign policy objective: the Soviet Union was intent on preventing the resurgence of a powerful German nation and particularly one allied with the Western powers. In an effort to derail the admission of West Germany to NATO, the Soviet representative at the 1954 Four-Power Foreign Ministers Conference in Berlin, Viacheslav Molotov, went so far as to propose the possibility of holding simultaneous elections in both German states that might lead to a re-unified, though neutral and unarmed, Germany. At the same time, the Soviet Union also proposed to the Western powers a general treaty on collective security in Europe and the dismantling of existing military blocs (meaning NATO). When this tactic failed and West Germany joined NATO on May 5, 1955, the Soviet Union declared that West Germany's membership in the Western alliance created a special threat to Soviet interests. The Soviet Union also declared that this development made its existing network of bilateral treaties an inadequate security guarantee and forced the East European socialist countries to "combine efforts in a strong political and military alliance." On May 14, 1955, the Soviet Union and its East European allies signed the Warsaw Pact.

While the Soviets had avoided formalizing their alliance to keep the onus of dividing Europe into opposing blocs on the West, the admission into NATO of the European state with the greatest potential military power forced the Soviet Union to take NATO into account for the first time. The Soviet Union also used West Germany's membership in NATO for propaganda purposes. The Soviets evoked the threat of a re-armed, "revanchist" West Germany seeking to reverse its defeat in World War II to remind the East European countries of their debt to the Soviet Union for their liberation, their need for Soviet protection against a recent enemy, and their corresponding duty to respect Soviet security interests and join the Warsaw Pact.

The Soviet Union had important reasons for institutionalizing the informal alliance system established through its bilateral treaties with the East European countries, concluded before the 1949 formation of NATO. As a formal organization, the Warsaw Pact provided the Soviet Union an official counterweight to NATO in East-West diplomacy. The Warsaw Pact gave the Soviet Union an equal status with the United States as the leader of an alliance of ostensibly independent nations supporting its foreign policy initiatives in the international arena. The multilateral Warsaw Pact was an improvement over strictly bilateral ties as a mechanism for transmitting Soviet defense and foreign policy directives to the East European allies. The Warsaw Pact also helped to legitimize the presence of Soviet troop--and overwhelming Soviet influence--in Eastern Europe.

The 1955 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance between the Soviet Union and its East European allies, which established the Warsaw Pact, stated that relations among the signatories were based on total equality, mutual noninterference in internal affairs, and respect for national sovereignty and independence. It declared that the Warsaw Pact's function was collective self-defense of the member states against external aggression, as provided for in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The terms of the alliance specified the Political Consultative Committee (PCC) as the highest alliance organ. The founding document formed the Joint Command to organize the actual defense of the Warsaw Pact member states, declared that the national deputy ministers of defense would act as the deputies of the Warsaw Pact commander in chief, and established the Joint Staff, which included the representatives of the general (main) staffs of all its member states. The treaty set the Warsaw Pact's duration at twenty years with an automatic ten- year extension, provided that none of the member states renounced it before its expiration. The treaty also included a standing offer to disband simultaneously with other military alliances, i.e., NATO, contingent on East-West agreement about a general treaty on collective security in Europe. This provision indicated that the Soviet Union either did not expect that such an accord could be negotiated or did not consider its new multilateral alliance structure very important.

Early Organizational Structure and Activities

Until the early 1960s, the Soviet Union used the Warsaw Pact more as a tool in East-West diplomacy than as a functioning political-military alliance. Under the leadership of General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union sought to project a more flexible and less threatening image abroad and, toward this end, used the alliance's PCC to publicize its foreign policy initiatives and peace offensives, including frequent calls for the formation of an all-European collective security system to replace the continent's existing military alliances. The main result of Western acceptance of these disingenuous Soviet proposals would have been the removal of American troops from Europe, the weakening of ties among the Western states, and increasingly effective Soviet pressure on Western Europe. The Soviet Union also used the PCC to propose a nonaggression pact between NATO and the Warsaw Pact and the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe.

In the first few years after 1955, little of the Warsaw Pact's activity was directed at building a multilateral military alliance. The Soviet Union concentrated primarily on making the Warsaw Pact a reliable instrument for controlling the East European allies. In fact, the putatively supranational military agencies of the Warsaw Pact were completely subordinate to a national agency of the Soviet Union. The Soviet General Staff in Moscow housed the alliance's Joint Command and Joint Staff and, through these organs, controlled the entire military apparatus of the Warsaw Pact as well as the allied armies. Although the highest ranking officers of the alliance were supposed to be selected through the mutual agreement of its member states, the Soviets unilaterally appointed a first deputy Soviet minister of defense and first deputy chief of the Soviet General Staff to serve as Warsaw Pact commander in chief and chief of staff, respectively. While these two Soviet officers ranked below the Soviet minister of defense, they still outranked the ministers of defense in the non-Soviet Warsaw Pact (NSWP) countries. The Soviet General Staff also posted senior colonel generals as resident representatives of the Warsaw Pact commander in chief in all East European capitals. Serving with the "agreement of their host countries," these successors to the wartime and postwar Soviet advisers for the allied armies equaled the East European ministers of defense in rank and provided a point of contact for the commander in chief, Joint Command, and Soviet General Staff inside the national military establishments. They directed and monitored the military training and political indoctrination programs of the national armies to synchronize their development with the Soviet Army. The strict Soviet control of the Warsaw Pact's high military command positions, established at this early stage, clearly indicated the subordination of the East European allies to the Soviet Union.

In 1956 the Warsaw Pact member states admitted East Germany to the Joint Command and sanctioned the transformation of its Garrisoned People's Police into a full-fledged army. But the Soviet Union took no steps to integrate the allied armies into a multinational force. The Soviet Union organized only one joint Warsaw Pact military exercise and made no attempt to make the alliance functional before 1961 except through the incorporation of East European territory into the Soviet national air defense structure.

De-Stalinization and National Communism

In his 1956 secret speech at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, General Secretary Khrushchev denounced the arbitrariness, excesses, and terror of the Joseph Stalin era. Khrushchev sought to achieve greater legitimacy for communist party rule on the basis of the party's ability to meet the material needs of the Soviet population. His de-Stalinization campaign quickly influenced developments in Eastern Europe. Khrushchev accepted the replacement of Stalinist Polish and Hungarian leaders with newly rehabilitated communist party figures, who were able to generate genuine popular support for their regimes by molding the socialist system to the specific historical, political, and economic conditions in their countries. Pursuing his more sophisticated approach in international affairs, Khrushchev sought to turn Soviet- controlled East European satellites into at least semisovereign countries and to make Soviet domination of the Warsaw Pact less obvious. The Warsaw Pact's formal structure served Khrushchev's purpose well, providing a facade of genuine consultation and of joint defense and foreign-policy decision making by the Soviet Union and the East European countries.

De-Stalinization in the Soviet Union made a superficial renationalization of the East European military establishments possible. The Soviet Union allowed the East European armies to restore their distinctive national practices and to re-emphasize professional military opinions over political considerations in most areas. Military training supplanted political indoctrination as the primary task of the East European military establishments. Most important, the Soviet Ministry of Defense recalled many Soviet Army officers and advisers from their positions within the East European armies. Although the Soviet Union still remained in control of its alliance system, these changes in the Warsaw Pact and the NSWP armies removed some of the most objectionable features of Sovietization.

In October 1956, the Polish and Hungarian communist parties lost control of the de-Stalinization process in their countries. The ensuing crises threatened the integrity of the entire Soviet alliance system in Eastern Europe. Although Khrushchev reacted quickly to rein in the East European allies and thwart this challenge to Soviet interests, his response in these two cases led to a significant change in the role of the Warsaw Pact as an element of Soviet security.

The "Polish October"

The October 1956, workers' riots in Poland defined the boundaries of national communism acceptable to the Soviet Union. The Polish United Workers Party found that the grievances that inspired the riots could be ameliorated without presenting a challenge to its monopoly on political power or its strict adherence to Soviet foreign policy and security interests. At first, when the Polish Army and police forces refused to suppress rioting workers, the Soviet Union prepared its forces in East Germany and Poland for an intervention to restore order in the country. However, Poland's new communist party leader, Wladyslaw Gomulka, and the Polish Army's top commanders indicated to Khrushchev and the other Soviet leaders that any Soviet intervention in the internal affairs of Poland would meet united, massive resistance. While insisting on Poland's right to exercise greater autonomy in domestic matters, Gomulka also pointed out that the Polish United Workers Party remained in firm control of the country and expressed his intention to continue to accept Soviet direction in external affairs. Gomulka even denounced the simultaneous revolution in Hungary and Hungary's attempt to leave the Warsaw Pact, which nearly ruptured the Soviet alliance system in Eastern Europe. Gomulka's position protected the Soviet Union's most vital interests and enabled Poland to reach a compromise with the Soviet leadership to defuse the crisis. Faced with Polish resistance to a possible invasion, the Soviet Union established its minimum requirements for the East European allies: upholding the leading role of the communist party in society and remaining a member of the Warsaw Pact. These two conditions ensured that Eastern Europe would remain a buffer zone for the Soviet Union.

The Hungarian Revolution

By contrast, the full-scale revolution in Hungary, which began in late October with public demonstrations in support of the rioting Polish workers, openly flouted these Soviet stipulations. An initial domestic liberalization acceptable to the Soviet Union quickly focused on nonnegotiable issues like the communist party's exclusive hold on political power and genuine national independence. With overwhelming support from the Hungarian public, the new communist party leader, Imre Nagy, instituted multiparty elections. More important, Nagy withdrew Hungary from the Warsaw Pact and ended Hungary's alliance with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Army invaded with 200,000 troops, crushed the Hungarian Revolution, and brought Hungary back within limits tolerable to the Soviet Union. The five days of pitched battles left 25,000 Hungarians dead.

After 1956 the Soviet Union practically disbanded the Hungarian Army and reinstituted a program of political indoctrination in the units that remained. In May 1957, unable to rely on Hungarian forces to maintain order, the Soviet Union increased its troop level in Hungary from two to four divisions and forced Hungary to sign a status-of-forces agreement, placing the Soviet military presence on a solid and permanent legal basis. The Soviet Army forces stationed in Hungary officially became the Southern Group of Forces (SGF).

The events of 1956 in Poland and Hungary forced a Soviet re- evaluation of the reliability and roles of the NSWP countries in its alliance system. Before 1956 the Soviet leadership believed that the Stalinist policy of heavy political indoctrination and enforced Sovietization had transformed the national armies into reliable instruments of the Soviet Union. However, the East European armies were still likely to remain loyal to national causes. Only one Hungarian Army unit fought beside the Soviet troops that put down the 1956 revolution. In both the Polish and the Hungarian military establishments, a basic loyalty to the national communist party regime was mixed with a strong desire for greater national sovereignty. With East Germany still a recent enemy and Poland and Hungary now suspect allies, the Soviet Union turned to Czechoslovakia as its most reliable junior partner in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Czechoslovakia became the Soviet Union's first proxy in the Third World when its military pilots trained Egyptian personnel to fly Soviet-built MiG fighter aircraft. The Soviet Union thereby established a pattern of shifting the weight of its reliance from one East European country to another in response to various crises.

The Post 1956 Period

After the very foundation of the Soviet alliance system in Eastern Europe was shaken in 1956, Khrushchev sought to shore up the Soviet Union's position. Several developments made the task even more difficult. Between 1956 and 1962, the growing Soviet- Chinese dispute threatened to break up the Warsaw Pact. In 1962 Albania severed relations with the Soviet Union and terminated Soviet rights to the use of a valuable Mediterranean naval base on its Adriatic Sea coast. That same year, Albania ended its active participation in the Warsaw Pact and sided with the Chinese against the Soviets. Following the example of Yugoslavia in the late 1940s, Albania was able to resist Soviet pressures. Lacking a common border with Albania and having neither occupation troops nor overwhelming influence in that country, the Soviet Union was unable to use either persuasion or force to bring Albania back into the Warsaw Pact. Khrushchev used Warsaw Pact meetings to mobilize the political support of the Soviet Union's East European allies against China and Albania, as well as to reinforce its control of Eastern Europe and its claim to leadership of the communist world. More important, however, after Albania joined Yugoslavia and Hungary on the list of defections and near-defections from the Soviet alliance system in Eastern Europe, the Soviets began to turn the Warsaw Pact into a tool for militarily preventing defections in the future.

The Internal Function of the Warsaw Pact

Although Khrushchev invoked the terms of the Warsaw Pact as a justification for the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the action was in no sense a cooperative allied effort. In the early 1960s, however, the Soviets took steps to turn the alliance's Joint Armed Forces (JAF) into a multinational invasion force. In the future, an appeal to the Warsaw Pact's collective self-defense provisions and the participation of allied forces would put a multilateral cover over unilateral Soviet interventions to keep errant member states in the alliance and their communist parties in power. The Soviet Union sought to legitimize its future policing actions by presenting them as the product of joint Warsaw Pact decisions. In this way, the Soviets hoped to deflect the kind of direct international criticism they were subjected to after the invasion of Hungary. However, such internal deployments were clearly contrary to the Warsaw Pact's rule of mutual noninterference in domestic affairs and conflicted with the alliance's declared purpose of collective self-defense against external aggression. To circumvent this semantic difficulty, the Soviets merely redefined external aggression to include any spontaneous anti-Soviet, anticommunist uprising in an allied state. Discarding domestic grievances as a possible cause, the Soviet Union declared that such outbreaks were a result of imperialist provocations and thereby constituted external aggression.

In the 1960s, the Soviet Union began to prepare the Warsaw Pact for its internal function of keeping the NSWP member states within the alliance. The Soviet Union took a series of steps to transform the Warsaw Pact into its intra-alliance intervention force. Although it had previously worked with the East European military establishments on a bilateral basis, the Soviet Union started to integrate the national armies under the Warsaw Pact framework. Marshal of the Soviet Union Andrei Grechko, who became commander in chief of the alliance in 1960, was uniquely qualified to serve in his post. During World War II, he commanded a Soviet Army group that included significant Polish and Czechoslovak units. Beginning in 1961, Grechko made joint military exercises between Soviet forces and the allied national armies the primary focus of Warsaw Pact military activities.

The Soviet Union arranged these joint exercises to prevent any NSWP member state from fully controlling its national army and to reduce the possibility that an East European regime could successfully resist Soviet domination and pursue independent policies. The Soviet-organized series of joint Warsaw Pact exercises was intended to prevent other East European national command authorities from following the example of Yugoslavia and Albania and adopting a territorial defense strategy. Developed in the Yugoslav and Albanian partisan struggles of World War II, territorial defense entailed a mobilization of the entire population for a prolonged guerrilla war against an intervening power. Under this strategy, the national communist party leadership would maintain its integrity to direct the resistance, seek international support for the country's defense, and keep an invader from replacing it with a more compliant regime. Territorial defense deterred invasions by threatening considerable opposition and enabled Yugoslavia and Albania to assert their independence from the Soviet Union. By training and integrating the remaining allied armies in joint exercises for operations only within a multinational force, however, the Soviet Union reduced the ability of the other East European countries to conduct military actions independent of Soviet control or to hinder a Soviet invasion, as Poland and Hungary had done in October 1956.

Large-scale multilateral exercises provided opportunities for Soviet officers to command troops of different nationalities and trained East European national units to take orders from the Warsaw Pact or Soviet command structure. Including Soviet troops stationed in the NSWP countries and the western military districts of the Soviet Union, joint maneuvers drilled Soviet Army forces for rapid, massive invasions of allied countries with the symbolic participation of NSWP units. Besides turning the allied armies into a multinational invasion force for controlling Eastern Europe, joint exercises also gave the Warsaw Pact armies greater capabilities for a coalition war against NATO. In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union modernized the NSWP armies with T- 54 and T-55 tanks, self-propelled artillery, short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) equipped with conventional warheads, and MiG-21 and Su-7 ground attack fighter aircraft. The Soviet Union completed the mechanization of East European infantry divisions, and these new motorized rifle divisions trained with the Soviet Army for combined arms combat in a nuclear environment. These changes greatly increased the military value and effectiveness of the NSWP forces. In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union gave the East European armies their first real supporting role in its European theater operations.

Romania and the Warsaw Pact

Ironically, at the very time that the Soviet Union gave the Warsaw Pact more substance and modernized its force structure, resentment of Soviet political, organizational, and military domination of the Warsaw Pact and the NSWP armies increased. There was considerable East European dissatisfaction with a Warsaw Pact hierarchy that placed a subordinate of the Soviet minister of defense over the East European defense ministers. The Soviets considered the national ministers of defense, with the rank of colonel general, equivalent only to Soviet military district commanders. The strongest objections to the subordinate status of the NSWP countries inside the Warsaw Pact came from the Communist Party of Romanian (Partial Communist Roman) and military leadership under Nicolae Ceausescu.

The first indications of an independent Romanian course appeared while the Soviet Union was shoring up its hold on Eastern Europe through formal status-of-forces agreements with its allies. In 1958 Romania moved in the opposite direction by demanding the withdrawal from its territory of all Soviet troops, advisers, and the Soviet resident representative. To cover Soviet embarrassment, Khrushchev called this a unilateral troop reduction contributing to greater European security. Reducing its participation in Warsaw Pact activities considerably, Romania also refused to allow Soviet or NSWP forces, which could serve as Warsaw Pact intervention forces, to cross or conduct exercises on its territory.

In the 1960s Romania demanded basic changes in the Warsaw Pact structure to give the East European member states a greater role in alliance decision making. At several PCC meetings, Romania proposed that the leading Warsaw Pact command positions, including its commander in chief, rotate among the top military leaders of each country. In response, the Soviet Union tried again to mollify its allies and deemphasize its control of the alliance by moving the Warsaw Pact military organization out of the Soviet General Staff and making it a distinct entity, albeit still within the Soviet Ministry of Defense. The Soviet Union also placed some joint exercises held on NSWP territory under the nominal command of the host country's minister of defense. However, Soviet Army commanders still conducted almost two-thirds of all Warsaw Pact maneuvers, and these concessions proved too little and too late.

With the aim of ending Soviet domination and guarding against Soviet encroachments, Romania reasserted full national control over its armed forces and military policies in 1963 when, following the lead of Yugoslavia and Albania, it adopted a territorial defense strategy called "War of the Entire People." This nation-in-arms strategy entailed compulsory participation in civilian defense organizations, militias, and reserve and paramilitary forces, as well as rapid mobilization. The goal of Romania's strategy was to make any Soviet intervention prohibitively protracted and costly. Romania rejected any integration of Warsaw Pact forces that could undercut its ability to resist a Soviet invasion. For example, it ended its participation in Warsaw Pact joint exercises because multinational maneuvers required the Romanian Army to assign its forces to a non-Romanian command authority. Romania stopped sending its army officers to Soviet military schools for higher education. When the Romanian military establishment and its educational institutions assumed these functions, training focused strictly on Romania's independent military strategy. Romania also terminated its regular exchange of intelligence with the Soviet Union and directed counterintelligence efforts against possible Soviet penetration of the Romanian Army. These steps combined to make it a truly national military establishment responsive only to domestic political authorities and ensured that it would defend the country's sovereignty.

Romania's independent national defense policy helped to underwrite its assertion of greater policy autonomy. In the only Warsaw Pact body in which it continued to participate actively, the PCC, Romania found a forum to make its disagreements with the Soviet Union public, to frustrate Soviet plans, and to work to protect its new autonomy. The Soviet Union could not maintain the illusion of Warsaw Pact harmony when Romanian recalcitrance forced the PCC to adopt "coordinated" rather than unanimous decisions. Romania even held up PCC approval for several weeks of the appointment of Marshal of the Soviet Union Ivan Iakubovskii as Warsaw Pact commander in chief. However, Romania did not enjoy the relative geographical isolation from the Soviet Union that made Yugoslav and Albanian independence possible, and the Soviet Union would not tolerate another outright withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact.

The Prague Spring

In 1968 an acute crisis in the Soviet alliance system suddenly overwhelmed the slowly festering problem of Romania. The Prague Spring represented a more serious challenge than that posed by Romania because it occurred in an area more crucial to Soviet security. The domestic liberalization program of the Czechoslovak communist regime led by Alexander Dubcek threatened to generate popular demands for similar changes in the other East European countries and even parts of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union believed it necessary to forestall the spread of liberalization and to assert its right to enforce the boundaries of ideological permissibility in Eastern Europe. However, domestic change in Czechoslovakia also began to affect defense and foreign policy, just as it had in Hungary in 1956, despite Dubcek's declared intention to keep Czechoslovakia within the Warsaw Pact. This worrying development was an important factor in the Soviet decision to invade Czechoslovakia in 1968--one that Western analysts have generally overlooked.

The new political climate of the Prague Spring and the lifting of press censorship brought into the open a longstanding debate within the Czechoslovak military establishment over the nature of the Warsaw Pact and Czechoslovakia's membership in it. In the mid-1960s, this debate centered on Soviet domination of the NSWP countries and of the Warsaw Pact and its command structure. Czechoslovakia had supported Romania in its opposition to Soviet calls for greater military integration and backed its demands for a genuine East European role in alliance decision making at PCC meetings.

In 1968 high-ranking Czechoslovak officers and staff members at the Klement Gottwald Military Academy began to discuss the need for a truly independent national defense strategy based on Czechoslovakia's national interests rather than the Soviet security interests that always prevailed in the Warsaw Pact. The fundamental premise of such an independent military policy was that an all-European collective security system, mutual nonaggression agreements among European states, the withdrawal of all troops from foreign countries, and a Central European nuclear-free zone could guarantee the country's security against outside aggression better than its membership in the Warsaw Pact. Although the Soviet Union had advocated these same arrangements in the 1950s, Czechoslovakia was clearly out of step with the Soviet line in 1968. Czechoslovakia threatened to complicate Soviet military strategy in Central Europe by becoming a neutral country dividing the Warsaw Pact into two parts along its front with NATO.

The concepts underpinning this developing Czechoslovak national defense strategy were formalized in the Gottwald Academy Memorandum circulated to the general (main) staffs of the other Warsaw Pact armies. The Gottwald Memorandum received a favorable response from Poland, Hungary, and Romania. In a televised news conference, at the height of the 1968 crisis, the chief of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia's military department, Lieutenant General Vaclav Prchlik, denounced the Warsaw Pact as an unequal alliance and declared that the Czechoslovak Army was prepared to defend the country's sovereignty by force, if necessary. In the end, the Soviet Union intervened to prevent the Czechoslovak Army from fully developing the military capabilities to implement its newly announced independent defense strategy, which could have guaranteed national independence in the political and economic spheres. The August 1968 invasion preempted the possibility of the Czechoslovak Army's mounting a credible deterrent against future Soviet interventions. The Soviet decision in favor of intervention focused, in large measure, on ensuring its ability to maintain physical control of its wayward ally in the future.

In contrast to its rapid, bloody suppression of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the Soviet Union engaged in a lengthy campaign of military coercion against Czechoslovakia. In 1968 the Soviet Union conducted more joint Warsaw Pact exercises than in any other year since the maneuvers began in the early 1960s. The Soviet Union used these exercises to mask preparations for, and threaten, a Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia that would occur unless Dubcek complied with Soviet demands and abandoned his political liberalization program. Massive Warsaw Pact rear services and communications exercises in July and August enabled the Soviet General Staff to execute its plan for the invasion without alerting Western governments. Under the pretext of exercises, Soviet and NSWP divisions were brought up to full strength, reservists were called up, and civilian transportation resources were requisitioned. The cover that these exercises provided allowed the Soviet Union to deploy forces along Czechoslovakia's borders in Poland and East Germany and to demonstrate to the Czechoslovak leadership its readiness to intervene.

On August 20, a force consisting of twenty-three Soviet Army divisions invaded Czechoslovakia. Token NSWP contingents, including one Hungarian, two East German, and two Polish divisions, along with one Bulgarian brigade, also took part in the invasion. In the wake of its invasion, the Soviet Union installed a more compliant communist party leadership and concluded a status-of-forces agreement with Czechoslovakia, which established a permanent Soviet presence in that country for the first time. Five Soviet Army divisions remained in Czechoslovakia to protect the country from future "imperialist threats." These troops became the Central Group of Forces (CGF) and added to Soviet strength directly bordering NATO. The Czechoslovak Army, having failed to oppose the Soviet intervention and defend the country's sovereignty, suffered a tremendous loss of prestige after 1968. At Soviet direction, reliable Czechoslovak authorities conducted a purge and political re-education campaign in the Czechoslovak Army and cut its size. After 1968 the Soviet Union closed and reorganized the Klement Gottwald Military Academy. With its one-time junior partner now proven unreliable, the Soviet Union turned to Poland as its principal East European ally.

The Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia showed the hollowness of the Soviet alliance system in Eastern Europe in both its political and its military aspects. The Soviet Union did not convene the PCC to invoke the Warsaw Pact during the 1968 crisis because a formal PCC session would have revealed a deep rift in the Soviet alliance and given Czechoslovakia an international platform from which it could have defended its reform program. The Soviet Union did not allow NSWP officers to direct the Warsaw Pact exercises that preceded the intervention in Czechoslovakia, and Soviet Army officers commanded all multinational exercises during the crisis. While the intervention force was mobilized and deployed under the Warsaw Pact's commander in chief, the Soviet General Staff transferred full operational command of the invasion to the commander in chief of the Soviet ground forces, Army General I. G. Pavlovskii. Despite the participation of numerous East European army units, the invasion of Czechoslovakia was not in any sense a multilateral action. The Soviet invasion force carried out all important operations on Czechoslovakia's territory. Moreover, the Soviet Union quickly withdrew all NSWP troops from Czechoslovakia to forestall the possibility of their ideological contamination. NSWP participation served primarily to make the invasion appear to be a multinational operation and to deflect direct international criticism of the Soviet Union.

While the participation of four NSWP armies in the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia demonstrated considerable Warsaw Pact cohesion, the invasion also served to erode it. The invasion of Czechoslovakia proved that the Warsaw Pact's internal mission of keeping orthodox East European communist party regimes in power-- and less orthodox ones in line--was more important than the external mission of defending its member states against external aggression. The Soviet Union was unable to conceal the fact that the alliance served as the ultimate mechanism for its control of Eastern Europe. Formulated in response to the crisis in Czechoslovakia, the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine declared that the East European countries had "limited" sovereignty to be exercised only as long as it did not damage the interests of the "socialist commonwealth" as a whole. Since the Soviet Union defined the interests of the "socialist commonwealth," it could force its NSWP allies to respect its overwhelming security interest in keeping Eastern Europe as its buffer zone.

The Romanian leader, Ceausescu, after refusing to contribute troops to the Soviet intervention force as the other East European countries had done, denounced the invasion of Czechoslovakia as a violation of international law and the Warsaw Pact's cardinal principle of mutual noninterference in internal affairs. Ceausescu insisted that collective self-defense against external aggression was the only valid mission of the Warsaw Pact. Albania also objected to the Soviet invasion and indicated its disapproval by withdrawing formally from the Warsaw Pact after six years of inactive membership.


The Warsaw Pact administers both the political and the military activities of the Soviet alliance system in Eastern Europe. A series of changes beginning in 1969 gave the Warsaw Pact the structure it retained through the mid-1980s.

Political Organization

The general (first) secretaries of the communist and workers' parties and heads of state of the Warsaw Pact member states meet in the PCC (see table A, this Appendix). The PCC provides a formal point of contact for the Soviet and East European leaders in addition to less formal bilateral meetings and visits. As the highest decision-making body of the Warsaw Pact, the PCC is charged with assessing international developments that could affect the security of the allied states and warrant the execution of the Warsaw Pact's collective self-defense provisions. In practice, however, the Soviet Union has been unwilling to rely on the PCC to perform this function, fearing that Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Romania could use PCC meetings to oppose Soviet plans and policies. The PCC is also the main center for coordinating the foreign policy activities of the Warsaw Pact countries. Since the late 1960s, when several member states began to use the alliance structure to confront the Soviets and assert more independent foreign policies, the Soviet Union has had to bargain and negotiate to gain support for its foreign policy within Warsaw Pact councils.

In 1976 the PCC established the permanent Committee of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (CMFA) to regularize the previously ad hoc meetings of Soviet and East European representatives to the Warsaw Pact. Given the official task of preparing recommendations for and executing the decisions of the PCC, the CMFA and its permanent Joint Secretariat have provided the Soviet Union an additional point of contact to establish a consensus among its allies on contentious issues. Less formal meetings of the deputy ministers of foreign affairs of the Warsaw Pact member states represent another layer of alliance coordination. If alliance problems can be resolved at these working levels, they will not erupt into embarrassing disputes between the Soviet and East European leaders at PCC meetings.

Military Organization

The Warsaw Pact's military organization is larger and more active than the alliance's political bodies. Several different organizations are responsible for implementing PCC directives on defense matters and developing the capabilities of the national armies that constitute the JAF. However, the principal task of the military organizations is to link the East European armies to the Soviet armed forces. The alliance's military agencies coordinate the training and mobilization of East European national forces assigned to the Warsaw Pact. In turn, these forces can be deployed in accordance with Soviet military strategy against an NSWP country or NATO.

Soviet control of the Warsaw Pact as a military alliance is scarcely veiled. The Warsaw Pact's JAF has no command structure, logistics network, air defense system, or operations directorate separate from the Soviet Ministry of Defense. The 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia demonstrated how easily control of the JAF could be transferred in wartime to the Soviet General Staff and Soviet field commanders. The dual roles of the Warsaw Pact commander in chief, who is a first deputy Soviet minister of defense, and the Warsaw Pact chief of staff, who is a first deputy chief of the Soviet General Staff, facilitate the transfer of Warsaw Pact forces to Soviet control. The subordination of the Warsaw Pact to the Soviet General Staff is also shown clearly in the Soviet military hierarchy. The chief of the Soviet General Staff is listed above the Warsaw Pact commander in chief in the Soviet order of precedence, even though both positions are filled by first deputy Soviet ministers of defense.

Ironically, the first innovations in the Warsaw Pact's structure since 1955 came after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, which had clearly underlined Soviet control of the alliance. At the 1969 PCC session in Budapest, the Soviet Union agreed to cosmetic alterations in the Warsaw Pact designed to address East European complaints about Soviet domination of the alliance. These changes included the establishment of the formal Committee of Ministers of Defense (CMD) and the Military Council as well as the addition of more non-Soviet officers to the Joint Command and the Joint Staff (see fig. B, this Appendix).

The CMD is the leading military body of the Warsaw Pact. In addition to the ministers of defense of the Warsaw Pact member states, the commander in chief and the chief of staff of the JAF are statutory members of the CMD. With its three seats on the CMD, the Soviet Union can exercise a working majority in the nine-member body with the votes of only two of its more loyal East European allies. The chairmanship of the CMD supposedly rotates among the ministers of defense. In any event, the brief annual meetings of the CMD severely limit its work to pro forma pronouncements or narrow guidelines for the Joint Command, Military Council, and Joint Staff to follow.

The Joint Command develops the overall training plan for joint Warsaw Pact exercises and for the national armies to promote the assimilation of Soviet equipment and tactics. Headed by the Warsaw Pact's commander in chief, the Joint Command is divided into distinct Soviet and East European tiers. The deputy commanders in chief include Soviet and East European officers. The Soviet officers serving as deputy commanders in chief are specifically responsible for coordinating the East European navies and air forces with the corresponding Soviet service branches. The East European deputy commanders in chief are the deputy ministers of defense of the NSWP countries. While providing formal NSWP representation in the Joint Command, the East European deputies also assist in the coordination of Soviet and non-Soviet forces. The commander in chief, deputy commanders in chief, and chief of staff of the JAF gather in the Military Council on a semiannual basis to plan and evaluate operational and combat training. With the Warsaw Pact's commander in chief acting as chairman, the sessions of the Military Council rotate among the capitals of the Warsaw Pact countries.

The Joint Staff is the only standing Warsaw Pact military body and the official executive organ of the CMD, commander in chief, and Military Council. As such, it performs the bulk of the Warsaw Pact's work in the military realm. Like the Joint Command, the Joint Staff has both Soviet and East European officers. These non-Soviet officers also serve as the principal link between the Soviet and East European armed forces. The Joint Staff organizes all joint exercises and arranges multilateral meetings and contacts of Warsaw Pact military personnel at all levels.

The PCC's establishment of official CMD meetings, the Military Council, and the bifurcation of the Joint Command and Joint Staff allowed for greater formal East European representation, as well as more working-level positions for senior non-Soviet officers, in the alliance. Increased NSWP input into the alliance decision-making process ameliorated East European dissatisfaction with continued Soviet dominance of the Warsaw Pact and even facilitated the work of the JAF. However, a larger NSWP role in the alliance did not reduce actual Soviet control of the Warsaw Pact command structure.

The 1969 PCC meeting also approved the formation of two more Warsaw Pact military bodies, the Military Scientific-Technical Council and the Technical Committee. These innovations in the Warsaw Pact structure represented a Soviet attempt to harness NSWP weapons and military equipment production, which had greatly increased during the 1960s. The Military Scientific-Technical Council assumed responsibility for directing armaments research and development within the Warsaw Pact, while the Technical Committee coordinated standardization. Comecon's Military- Industrial Commission supervised NSWP military production facilities (see Appendix B).

After 1969 the Soviet Union insisted on tighter Warsaw Pact military integration as the price for greater NSWP participation in alliance decision making. Under the pretext of directing Warsaw Pact programs and activities aimed at integration, officers from the Soviet Ministry of Defense penetrated the East European armed forces. Meetings between senior officers from the Soviet and East European main political administrations allowed the Soviets to monitor the loyalty of the national military establishments. Joint Warsaw Pact exercises afforded ample opportunity for the evaluation and selection of reliable East European officers for promotion to command positions in the field, the national military hierarchies, and the Joint Staff. Warsaw Pact military science conferences, including representatives from each NSWP general (main) staff, enabled the Soviets to check for signs that an East European ally was formulating a national strategy or developing military capabilities beyond Soviet control. In 1973 the deputy ministers of foreign affairs signed the "Convention on the Capacities, Privileges, and Immunities of the Staff and Other Administrative Organs of the Joint Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact Member States," which established the principle of extraterritoriality for alliance agencies, legally sanctioned the efforts of these Soviet officers to penetrate the East European military establishments, and prevented any host government interference in their work. Moreover, the Warsaw Pact commander in chief still retained his resident representatives in the national ministries of defense as direct sources of information on the situation inside the allied armies.


The crisis in Czechoslovakia and Romania's recalcitrance gave a new dimension to the challenge facing the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. The Soviet Union's East European allies had learned that withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact and achieving independence from Soviet control were unrealistic goals, and they aimed instead at establishing a greater measure of autonomy within the alliance. Romania had successfully carved out a more independent position within the bounds of the Warsaw Pact. In doing so, it provided an example to the other East European countries of how to use the Warsaw Pact councils and committees to articulate positions contrary to Soviet interests. Beginning in the early 1970s, the East European allies formed intra- alliance coalitions in Warsaw Pact meetings to oppose the Soviet Union, defuse its pressure on any one NSWP member state, and delay or obstruct Soviet policies. The Soviets could no longer use the alliance to transmit their positions to, and receive an automatic endorsement from, the subordinate NSWP countries. While still far from genuine consultation, Warsaw Pact policy coordination between the Soviet Union and the East European countries in the 1970s was a step away from the blatant Soviet control of the alliance that had characterized the 1950s. East European opposition forced the Soviet Union to treat the Warsaw Pact as a forum for managing relations with its allies and bidding for their support on issues like détente, the Third World, the Solidarity crisis in Poland, alliance burden-sharing, and relations with NATO.


In the late 1960s, the Soviet Union abandoned its earlier efforts to achieve the simultaneous dissolution of the two European military blocs and concentrated instead on legitimizing the territorial status quo in Europe. The Soviets asserted that the official East-West agreements reached during the détente era "legally secured the most important political-territorial results of World War II." Under these arrangements, the Soviet Union allowed its East European allies to recognize West Germany's existence as a separate state. In return the West, and West Germany in particular, explicitly accepted the inviolability of all postwar borders in Eastern Europe and tacitly recognized Soviet control of the eastern half of both Germany and Europe. The Soviets claim the 1975 Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), which ratified the existing political division of Europe, as a major victory for Soviet diplomacy and the realization of longstanding Soviet calls, issued through the PCC, for a general European conference on collective security.

The consequences of détente, however, also posed a significant challenge to Soviet control of Eastern Europe. First, détente caused a crisis in Soviet-East German relations. East Germany's leader, Walter Ulbricht, opposed improved relations with West Germany and, following Ceausescu's tactics, used Warsaw Pact councils to attack the Soviet détente policy openly. In the end, the Soviet Union removed Ulbricht from power, in 1971, and proceeded unhindered into détente with the West. Second, détente blurred the strict bipolarity of the cold war era, opened Eastern Europe to greater Western influence, and loosened Soviet control over its allies. The relaxation of East-West tensions in the 1970s reduced the level of threat perceived by the NSWP countries, along with their perceived need for Soviet protection, and eroded Warsaw Pact alliance cohesion. After the West formally accepted the territorial status quo in Europe, the Soviet Union was unable to point to the danger of "imperialist" attempts to overturn East European communist party regimes to justify its demand for strict Warsaw Pact unity behind its leadership, as it had in earlier years. The Soviets resorted to occasional propaganda offensives, accusing West Germany of revanchism and aggressive intentions in Eastern Europe, to remind its allies of their ultimate dependence on Soviet protection and to reinforce the Warsaw Pact's cohesion against the attraction of good relations with the West.

Despite these problems, the détente period witnessed relatively stable Soviet-East European relations within the Warsaw Pact. In the early 1970s, the Soviet Union greatly expanded military cooperation with the NSWP countries. The joint Warsaw Pact exercises, conducted in the 1970s, gave the Soviet allies their first real capability for offensive operations other than intra-bloc policing actions. The East European countries also began to take an active part in Soviet strategy in the Third World.

The Role of the Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact Countries in the Third World

With Eastern Europe in a relatively quiescent phase, the Soviet Union began to build an informal alliance system in the Third World during the 1970s. In this undertaking the Soviets drew on their experiences in developing allies in Eastern Europe after 1945. Reflecting this continuity, the Soviet Union called its new Third World allies "people's democracies" and their armed forces "national liberation armies." The Soviets also drew on their East European resources directly by enlisting the Warsaw Pact allies as proxies to "enhance the role of socialism in world affairs," that is, to support Soviet interests in the Middle East and Africa. Since the late 1970s, the NSWP countries have been active mainly in Soviet-allied Angola, Congo, Ethiopia, Libya, Mozambique, the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen), and Syria.

The Soviet Union employed its Warsaw Pact allies as surrogates primarily because their activities would minimize the need for direct Soviet involvement and obviate possible international criticism of Soviet actions in the Third World. Avowedly independent East European actions would be unlikely to precipitate or justify a response by the United States. The Soviet Union also counted on closer East European economic ties with Third World countries to alleviate some of Eastern Europe's financial problems. From the East European perspective, involvement in the Third World offered an opportunity for reduced reliance on the Soviet Union and for semiautonomous relations with other countries.

In the 1970s, the East European allies followed the lead of Soviet diplomacy and signed treaties of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance with most of the important Soviet Third World allies. These treaties established a "socialist division of labor" among the East European countries, in which each specialized in the provision of certain aspects of military or economic assistance to different Soviet Third World allies. The most important part of the treaties concerned military cooperation; the Soviets have openly acknowledged the important role of the East European allies in providing weapons to the "national armies of countries with socialist orientation."

In the 1970s and 1980s, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany were the principal Soviet proxies for arms transfers to the Third World. These NSWP countries supplied Soviet- manufactured equipment, spare parts, and training personnel to various Third World armies. The Soviet Union used these countries to transship weapons to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) in the early 1970s, Soviet-backed forces in the 1975 Angolan civil war, and Nicaragua in the 1980s. The Soviet Union also relied on East German advisers to set up armed militias, paramilitary police forces, and internal security and intelligence organizations for selected Third World allies. The Soviets considered this task especially important because an efficient security apparatus would be essential for suppressing opposition forces and keeping a ruling regime, allied to the Soviet Union, in power. In addition to on-site activities, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and particularly East Germany trained Third World military and security personnel in Eastern Europe during the 1980s. During this period, the Soviet Union also relied on its East European allies to provide the bulk of Soviet bloc economic aid and credits to the countries of the Third World. Perhaps revealing their hesitancy about military activities outside the Warsaw Pact's European operational area, Hungary and Poland have confined their Third World involvement to commercial assistance. Both countries sent economic and administrative advisers to assist in the management of state- directed industrial enterprises in the Third World as part of a Soviet campaign to demonstrate the advantages of the "socialist path of development" to potential Third World allies.

The Warsaw Pact has added no new member states in the more than thirty years of its existence. Even at the height of its Third World activities in the mid- to late 1970s, the Soviet Union did not offer Warsaw Pact membership to any of its important Third World allies. In 1986, after the United States bombed Libya in retaliation for its support of international terrorism, the Soviet Union was reported to have strongly discouraged Libyan interest in Warsaw Pact membership, expressed through one or more NSWP countries, and limited its support of Libya to bilateral consultations after the raid. Having continually accused the United States of attempting to extend NATO's sphere of activity beyond Europe, the Soviets did not want to open themselves to charges of broadening the Warsaw Pact. In any event, the Soviet Union would be unlikely to accept a noncommunist, non-European state into the Warsaw Pact. Moreover, the Soviets have already had considerable success in establishing strong allies throughout the world, outside their formal military alliance.

Beginning in the late 1970s, mounting economic problems sharply curtailed the contribution of the East European allies to Soviet Third World activities. In the early 1980s, when turmoil in Poland reminded the Soviet Union that Eastern Europe remained its most valuable asset, the Third World became a somewhat less important object of Soviet attention.

The Solidarity Crisis

The rise of the independent trade union Solidarity shook the foundation of communist party rule in Poland and, consequently, Soviet control of a country the Soviet Union considers critical to its security and alliance system. Given Poland's central geographic position, this unrest threatened to isolate East Germany, sever vital lines of communication to Soviet forces deployed against NATO, and disrupt Soviet control in the rest of Eastern Europe.

As in Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Soviet Union used the Warsaw Pact to carry out a campaign of military coercion against the Polish leadership. In 1980 and 1981, the Soviet Union conducted joint Warsaw Pact exercises with a higher frequency than at any time since 1968 to exert pressure on the Polish regime to solve the Solidarity problem. Under the cover that the exercises afforded, the Soviet Union mobilized and deployed its reserve and regular troops in the Byelorussian Military District as a potential invasion force. In the West-81 and Union-81 exercises, Soviet forces practiced amphibious and airborne assault landings on the Baltic Sea coast of Poland. These maneuvers demonstrated a ready Soviet capability for intervention in Poland.

In the midst of the Polish crisis, Warsaw Pact commander in chief Viktor Kulikov played a crucial role in intra-alliance diplomacy on behalf of the Soviet leadership. Kulikov maintained almost constant contact with the Polish leadership and conferred with the leaders of Bulgaria, East Germany, and Romania about a possible multilateral Warsaw Pact military action against Poland. In December 1981, Kulikov pressed Polish United Workers Party first secretary Wojciech Jaruzelski to activate his contingency plan for declaring martial law with the warning that the Soviet Union was ready to intervene in the absence of quick action by Polish authorities. As it turned out, the Polish government instituted martial law and suppressed Solidarity just as the Soviet press was reporting that these steps were necessary to ensure that Poland could meet its Warsaw Pact commitment to the security of the other member states.

From the Soviet perspective, the imposition of martial law by Polish internal security forces was the best possible outcome. Martial law made the suppression of Solidarity a strictly domestic affair and spared the Soviet Union the international criticism that an invasion would have generated. However, the use of the extensive Polish paramilitary police and riot troops suggested that the Soviet Union could not count on the Polish Army to put down Polish workers. Moreover, while the Brezhnev Doctrine of using force to maintain the leading role of the communist party in society was upheld in Poland, it was not the Soviet Union that enforced it.

Some question remains as to whether the Soviet Union could have used force successfully against Poland. An invasion would have damaged the Soviet Union's beneficial détente relationship with Western Europe. Intervention would also have added to the evidence that the internal police function of the Warsaw Pact was more important than the putative external collective self-defense mission it had never exercised. Moreover, Romania, and conceivably Hungary, would have refused to contribute contingents to a multinational Warsaw Pact force intended to camouflage a Soviet invasion. Failure to gain the support of its allies would have represented a substantial embarrassment to the Soviet Union. In stark contrast to the unopposed intervention in Czechoslovakia, the Soviets probably also anticipated tenacious resistance from the general population and the Polish Army to any move against Poland. Finally, an invasion would have placed a weighty economic and military burden on the Soviet Union; the occupation and administration of Poland would have tied down at least ten Soviet Army divisions for an extended period of time. Nevertheless, had there been no other option, the Soviet Union would certainly have invaded Poland to eliminate Solidarity's challenge to communist party rule in that country.

Although the Polish Army had previously played an important role in Soviet strategy for a coalition war against NATO, the Soviet Union had to revise its plans and estimates of Poland's reliability after 1981, and it turned to East Germany as its most reliable ally. In the early 1980s, because of its eager promotion of Soviet interests in the Third World and its importance in Soviet military strategy, East Germany completed its transformation from defeated enemy and dependent ally into the premier junior partner of the Soviet Union. Ironically, East Germany's efficiency and loyalty have made the Soviet Union uncomfortable. Encroaching somewhat on the leading role of the Soviet Union in the Warsaw Pact, East Germany has been the only NSWP country to institute the rank of marshal, matching the highest Soviet Army rank and implying its equality with the Soviet Union.

The End of Détente

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the West grew disenchanted with détente, which had failed to prevent Soviet advances in the Third World, the deployment of SS-20 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) aimed at West European targets, the invasion of Afghanistan, or the suppression of Solidarity. The Soviet Union used the renewal of East-West conflict as a justification for forcing its allies to close ranks within the Warsaw Pact. But restoring the alliance's cohesion and renewing its confrontation with Western Europe proved difficult after several years of good East-West relations. The East European countries had acquired a stake in maintaining détente for various reasons. In the early 1980s, internal Warsaw Pact disputes centered on relations with the West after détente, NSWP contributions to alliance defense spending, and the alliance's reaction to IRBM deployments in NATO. The resolution of these disputes produced significant changes in the Warsaw Pact as, for the first time, two or more NSWP countries simultaneously challenged Soviet military and foreign policy preferences within the alliance.

In the PCC meetings of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Soviet and East European leaders of the Warsaw Pact debated about the threat emanating from NATO. When the Soviet Union argued that a new cold war loomed over Europe, the East European countries insisted that the improved European political climate of détente still prevailed. On several occasions, the Soviets had to compromise on the relative weight of these two alternatives in the language of PCC declarations. Although the Soviet Union succeeded in officially ending détente for the Warsaw Pact, it was unable to achieve significantly greater alliance cohesion or integration.

Discussions of the "NATO threat" also played a large part in Warsaw Pact debates about an appropriate level of NSWP military expenditure. The Soviet Union used the 1978 PCC meeting to try to force its allies to match a scheduled 3-percent, long-term increase in the military budgets of the NATO countries. Although the East European countries initially balked at this Soviet demand, they eventually agreed to the increase. However, only East Germany actually honored its pledge, and the Soviet Union failed to achieve its goal of increased NSWP military spending.

The debate on alliance burden-sharing did not end in 1978. Beginning in the late 1970s, the Soviets carefully noted that one of the Warsaw Pact's most important functions was monitoring the "fraternal countries and the fulfillment of their duties in the joint defense of socialism." In 1983 Romania adopted a unilateral three-year freeze on its military budget at its 1982 level. In 1985 Ceausescu frustrated the Soviet Union by calling for a unilateral Warsaw Pact reduction in arms expenditures, ostensibly to put pressure on NATO to follow its example. At the same time, Hungary opposed Soviet demands for increased spending, arguing instead for more rational use of existing resources. In the mid- 1980s, East Germany was the only Soviet ally that continued to expand its military spending.

The refusal of the NSWP countries to meet their Warsaw Pact financial obligations in the 1980s clearly indicated diminished alliance cohesion. The East European leaders argued that the costs of joint exercises, their support for Soviet Army garrisons, and the drain of conscription represented sufficient contributions to the alliance at a time of hardship in their domestic economies. In addition to providing access to bases and facilities opposite NATO, the East European communist regimes were also obligated to abide by Soviet foreign policy and security interests to earn a Soviet guarantee against domestic challenges to their continued rule. For its part, the Soviet Union paid a stiff price in terms of economic aid and subsidized trade with the NSWP countries to maintain its buffer zone in Eastern Europe.

The issue of an appropriate Warsaw Pact response to NATO's 1983 deployment of American Pershing II and cruise missiles, matching the Soviet SS-20s, proved to be the most divisive one for the Soviet Union and its East European allies in the early and mid-1980s. After joining in a vociferous Soviet propaganda campaign against the deployment, the East European countries split with the Soviet Union over how to react when their "peace offensive" failed to forestall it.

In 1983 East Germany, Hungary, and Romania indicated their intention to "limit the damage" to East-West ties that could have resulted from the deployment of NATO's new missiles. In doing so, these countries raised the possibility of an independent role for the smaller countries of both alliances in reducing conflicts between the two superpowers. In particular, East Germany sought to insulate its profitable economic ties with West Germany, established through détente, against the general deterioration in East-West political relations. While East Germany had always been the foremost proponent of "socialist internationalism," that is, strict adherence to Soviet foreign policy interests, its position on this issue caused a rift in the Warsaw Pact. In effect, East Germany asserted that the national interests of the East European countries did not coincide exactly with those of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia attacked the East German stand, accusing the improbable intra-bloc alliance of East Germany, Hungary, and Romania of undermining the class basis of Warsaw Pact foreign policy. The Soviet Union indicated that it would not permit its allies to become mediators between East and West. The Soviet Union forced East Germany to accept its "counterdeployments" of SS-21 and SS-23 SRBMs and compelled SED general secretary Erich Honecker to cancel his impending visit to West Germany. The Soviets thereby reaffirmed their right to determine the conditions under which the Warsaw Pact member states would conduct relations with the NATO countries. However, the Soviet Union also had to forego any meeting of the PCC in 1984 that might have allowed its recalcitrant allies to publicize their differences on this issue.

As late as 1985, Soviet leaders still had not completely resolved the question of the proper connection between the national and international interests of the socialist countries. Some Soviet commentators adopted a conciliatory approach toward the East European position by stating that membership in the Warsaw Pact did not erase a country's specific national interests, which could be combined harmoniously with the common international interests of all the member states. Others, however, simply repeated the Brezhnev Doctrine and its stricture that a socialist state's sovereignty involves not only the right to independence but also a responsibility to the "socialist commonwealth" as a whole.

The Problem of Romania in the 1970s and 1980s

The 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was, tangentially, a warning to Romania about its attempts to pursue genuine national independence. But Ceausescu, in addition to refusing to contribute Romanian troops to the Warsaw Pact invasion force, openly declared that Romania would resist any similar Soviet intervention on its territory. Romania pronounced that henceforth the Soviet Union represented its most likely national security threat. After 1968 the Romanian Army accelerated its efforts to make its independent defense strategy a credible deterrent to a possible Soviet invasion of the country. In the 1970s Romania also established stronger ties to the West, China, and the Third World. These diplomatic, economic, and military relations were intended to increase Romania's independence from the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, while guaranteeing broad international support for Romania in the event of a Soviet invasion.

Throughout the 1970s, Romania continued to reject military integration within the Warsaw Pact framework and military intervention against other member states, while insisting on the right of the East European countries to resolve their internal problems without Soviet interference. Romanian objections to the Soviet line within the Warsaw Pact forced the Soviet Union to acknowledge the "possibility of differences arising in the views of the ruling communist parties on the assessment of some international developments." To obtain Romanian assent on several questions, the Soviet Union also had to substitute the milder formulation "international solidarity" for "socialist internationalism"--the code phrase for the subordination of East European national interests to Soviet interests--in PCC declarations. Pursuing a policy opposed to close alliance integration, Romania resisted Soviet domination of Warsaw Pact weapons production as a threat to its autonomy and refused to participate in the work of the Military Scientific-Technical Council and Technical Committee (see The Military Organization of the Warsaw Pact, this Appendix). Nevertheless, the Soviets have insisted that a Romanian Army officer holds a position on the Technical Committee; his rank, however, is not appropriate to that level of responsibility. The Soviet claims are probably intended to obscure the fact that Romania does not actually engage in joint Warsaw Pact weapons production efforts.

Despite continued Romanian defiance of Soviet policies in the Warsaw Pact during the 1980s, the Soviet Union successfully exploited Romania's severe economic problems and bribed Romania with energy supplies on several occasions to gain its assent, or at least silence, in the Warsaw Pact. Although Romania raised the price the Soviet Union had to pay to bring it into line, Romanian dependence on Soviet economic support may foreshadow Romania's transformation into a more cooperative Warsaw Pact ally. Moreover, in 1985 Ceausescu dismissed Minister of Foreign Affairs Stefan Andrei and Minister of Defense Constantin Olteanu, who helped establish the country's independent policies and would have opposed closer Romanian involvement with the Warsaw Pact.

The Renewal of the Alliance

In his first important task after becoming general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in March 1985, Mikhail S. Gorbachev organized a meeting of the East European leaders to renew the Warsaw Pact, which was due to expire that May after thirty years. There was little doubt that the Warsaw Pact member states would renew the alliance. However, there was some speculation that the Soviet Union might unilaterally dismantle its formal alliance structure to improve the Soviet image in the West and put pressure on NATO to disband. The Soviets could still have relied on the network of bilateral treaties in Eastern Europe, which predated the formation of the Warsaw Pact and had been renewed regularly. Combined with later status-of-forces agreements, these treaties ensured that the essence of the Soviet alliance system and buffer zone in Eastern Europe would remain intact, regardless of the Warsaw Pact's status. But despite their utility, the bilateral treaties could never substitute for the Warsaw Pact. Without a formal alliance, the Soviet Union would have to coordinate foreign policy and military integration with its East European allies through cumbersome bilateral arrangements. Without the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union would have no political equivalent of NATO for international negotiations like the CSCE and Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction talks, or for issuing its arms control pronouncements. The Soviet Union would also have to give up its equal status with the United States as an alliance leader.

Although the Soviet and East European leaders debated the terms of the Warsaw Pact's renewal at their April 1985 meeting-- Ceausescu reportedly proposed that it be renewed for a shorter period--they did not change the original 1955 document, or the alliance's structure, in any way. The Soviets concluded that this outcome proved that the Warsaw Pact truly embodied the "fundamental long-term interests of the fraternal countries." The decision to leave the Warsaw Pact unamended was probably the easiest alternative for the Soviet Union and its allies; the alliance was renewed for another twenty-year term with an automatic ten-year extension.

In the mid- to late 1980s, the future of the Warsaw Pact hinged on Gorbachev's developing policy toward Eastern Europe. At the Twenty-seventh Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1986, Gorbachev acknowledged that differences existed among the Soviet allies and that it would be unrealistic to expect them to have identical views on all issues. There has been no firm indication, as yet, of whether Gorbachev would be willing to grant the Soviet allies more policy latitude or insist on tighter coordination with the Soviet Union. However, demonstrating a greater sensitivity to East European concerns than previous Soviet leaders, Gorbachev briefed the NSWP leaders in their own capitals after the 1985 Geneva and 1986 Reykjavik superpower summit meetings.

According to many Western analysts, mounting economic difficulties in the late 1980s and the advanced age of trusted, long-time communist party leaders, like Gustav Husak in Czechoslovakia, Todor Zhivkov in Bulgaria, and Janos Kadar in Hungary, presented the danger of domestic turmoil and internal power struggles in the NSWP countries. These problems had the potential to monopolize Soviet attention and constrain Soviet global activities. But the Soviet Union could turn these potential crises into opportunities, using its economic leverage to pressure its East European allies to adhere more closely to Soviet positions or to influence the political succession process to ensure that a new generation of leaders in Eastern Europe would respect Soviet interests. Soviet insistence on greater NSWP military spending could fuel further economic deterioration, leading to political unrest and even threats to the integrity of the Soviet alliance system in several countries simultaneously. Conversely, limited, Soviet-sanctioned deviation from orthodox socialism could make the East European regimes more secure and reduce the Soviet burden of policing the Warsaw Pact.


The Soviet ground forces constitute the bulk of the Warsaw Pact's military power. In 1987 the Soviet Union provided 73 of the 126 Warsaw Pact tank and motorized rifle divisions. Located in the Soviet Groups of Forces (SGFs) and four westernmost military districts of the Soviet Union, these Soviet Army divisions comprise the majority of the Warsaw Pact's combat- ready, full-strength units. Looking at the numbers of Soviet troops stationed in or near Eastern Europe, and the historical record, one could conclude that the Warsaw Pact is only a Soviet mechanism for organizing intra-alliance interventions or maintaining control of Eastern Europe and does not significantly augment Soviet offensive power vis-ŕ-vis NATO. Essentially a peacetime structure for NSWP training and mobilization, the Warsaw Pact has no independent role in wartime nor a military strategy distinct from Soviet military strategy. However, the individual NSWP armies play important parts in Soviet strategy for war, outside the formal context of the Warsaw Pact.

Soviet Military Strategy

The goal of Soviet military strategy in Europe is a quick victory over NATO in a nonnuclear war. The Soviet Union would attempt to defeat NATO decisively before its political and military command structure could consult and decide how to respond to an attack. Under this strategy, success would hinge on inflicting a rapid succession of defeats on NATO to break its will to fight, knock some of its member states out of the war, and cause the collapse of the Western alliance. A quick victory would also keep the United States from escalating the conflict to the nuclear level by making retaliation against the Soviet Union futile. A rapid defeat of NATO would preempt the mobilization of its superior industrial and economic resources, as well as reinforcement from the United States, which would enable NATO to prevail in a longer war. Most significant, in a strictly conventional war the Soviet Union could conceivably capture its objective, the economic potential of Western Europe, relatively intact.

In the 1970s, Soviet nuclear force developments increased the likelihood that a European war would remain on the conventional level. By matching the United States in intercontinental ballistic missiles and adding intermediate-range SS-20s to its nuclear forces, the Soviet Union undercut NATO's option to employ nuclear weapons to avoid defeat in a conventional war. After the United States neutralized the Soviet SS-20 IRBM advantage by deploying Pershing II and cruise missiles, the Soviet Union tried to use its so-called "counterdeployments" of SS-21 and SS-23 SRBMs to gain a nuclear-war fighting edge in the European theater. At the same time, the Soviet Union made NATO's dependence on nuclear weapons less tenable by issuing Warsaw Pact proposals for mutual no-first-use pledges and the establishment of nuclear-free zones.

The Soviet plan for winning a conventional war quickly to preclude the possibility of a nuclear response by NATO and the United States was based on the deep-strike concept Soviet military theoreticians first proposed in the 1930s. After 1972 the Soviet Army put deep strike into practice in annual joint Warsaw Pact exercises, including "Brotherhood-in-Arms," "Union," "Friendship," "West," and "Shield." Deep strike would carry an attack behind the front lines of battle, far into NATO's rear areas. The Soviet Union would launch simultaneous missile and air strikes against vital NATO installations to disrupt or destroy the Western alliance's early warning surveillance systems, command and communications network, and nuclear delivery systems. Following this initial strike, the modern-day successor of the World War II-era Soviet mobile group formations, generated out of the SGFs in Eastern Europe, would break through and encircle NATO's prepared defenses in order to isolate its forward forces from reinforcement. Consisting of two or more tank and motorized rifle divisions, army-level mobile groups would also overrun important NATO objectives behind the front lines to facilitate the advance of Soviet follow-on forces, which would cross NSWP territory from the westernmost Soviet military districts.

The Warsaw Pact countries provide forward bases, staging areas, and interior lines of communication for the Soviet Union against NATO. Peacetime access to East European territory under the Warsaw Pact framework has enabled the Soviet military to pre- position troops, equipment, and supplies and to make reinforcement plans for wartime. In the 1970s, the Soviet Union increased road and rail capacity and built new airfields and pipelines in Eastern Europe. However, a quick Soviet victory through deep strike could be complicated by the fact that the attacking forces would have to achieve almost total surprise. Past Soviet mobilizations for relatively small actions in Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, and Poland took an average of ninety days, while United States satellites observed the entire process. Moreover, the advance notification of large-scale troop movements, required under agreements made at the CSCE, would also complicate the concealment of mobilization. Yet the Soviet Union could disguise its offensive deployments against NATO as semi annual troop rotations in the GSFG, field exercises, or preparations for intervention against an ally.

The Role of the Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact Countries in Soviet Military Strategy

The Warsaw Pact has no multilateral command or decision- making structure independent of the Soviet Army. NSWP forces would fight in Soviet, rather than joint Warsaw Pact, military operations. Soviet military writings about the alliances of World War I and World War II, as well as numerous recent works marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Warsaw Pact in 1985, reveal the current Soviet view of coalition warfare. The Warsaw Pact's chief of staff, A. I. Gribkov, has written that centralized strategic control, like that the Red Army exercised over the allied East European national units between 1943 and 1945 is valid today for the Warsaw Pact's JAF (see The Organization of East European National Units, 1943-45, this Appendix).

Soviet military historians indicate that the East European allies did not establish or direct operations on independent national fronts during World War II. The East European forces fought in units, at and below the army level, on Soviet fronts and under the Soviet command structure. The headquarters of the Soviet Supreme High Command exercised control over all allied units through the Soviet General Staff. At the same time, the commanders in chief of the allied countries were attached to and "advised" the Soviet Supreme High Command. There were no special coalition bodies to make joint decisions on operational problems. A chart adapted from a Soviet journal indicates that the Soviet- directed alliance in World War II lacked a multilateral command structure independent of the Red Army's chain of command, an arrangement that also reflects the current situation in the Warsaw Pact (see fig. C, this Appendix). The Warsaw Pact's lack of a wartime command structure independent of the Soviet command structure is clear evidence of the subordination of the NSWP armies to the Soviet Army.

Since the early 1960s, the Soviet Union has used the Warsaw Pact to prepare non-Soviet forces to take part in Soviet Army operations in the European theater of war. In wartime the Warsaw Pact commander in chief and chief of staff would transfer NSWP forces, mobilized and deployed under the Warsaw Pact aegis, to the operational control of the Soviet ground forces. After deployment the Soviet Union could employ NSWP armies, comprised of various East European divisions, on its fronts (see Glossary). In joint Warsaw Pact exercises, the Soviet Union has detached carefully selected, highly reliable East European units, at and below the division-level, from their national command structures. These specific contingents are trained for offensive operations within Soviet ground forces divisions. NSWP units, integrated in this manner, would fight as component parts of Soviet armies on Soviet fronts.

The East European countries play specific roles in Soviet strategy against NATO based on their particular military capabilities. Poland has the largest and best NSWP air force that the Soviet Union could employ in a theater air offensive. Both Poland and East Germany have substantial naval forces that, in wartime, would revert to the command of the Soviet Baltic Fleet to render fire support for Soviet ground operations. These two Soviet allies also have amphibious forces that could carry out assault landings along the Baltic Sea coast into NATO's rear areas. While its mobile groups would penetrate deep into NATO territory, the Soviet Union would entrust the less reliable or capable East European armies, like those of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria, with a basically defensive mission. The East European countries are responsible for securing their territory, Soviet rear areas, and lines of communication. The air defense systems of all NSWP countries are linked directly into the Soviet Air Defense Forces command. This gives the Soviet Union an impressive early warning network against NATO air attacks.

The Reliability of the Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact Armies

The Soviet Union counts on greater cooperation from its Warsaw Pact allies in a full-scale war with NATO than in intra- alliance policing actions. Nevertheless, the Soviets expect that a protracted war in Europe would strain the cohesion of the Warsaw Pact. This view may derive from the experience of World War II, in which Nazi Germany's weak alliance partners, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria, left the war early and eventually joined the Soviet side. A stalemate in a protracted European war could lead to unrest, endanger communist party control in Eastern Europe, and fracture the entire Soviet alliance system. NSWP reliability would also decline, requiring the Soviet Army to reassign its own forces to carry out unfulfilled NSWP functions or even to occupy a noncompliant ally's territory.

Continuing Soviet concern over the combat reliability of its East European allies influences, to a great extent, the employment of NSWP forces under Soviet strategy. Soviet military leaders believe that the Warsaw Pact allies would be most likely to remain loyal if the Soviet Army engaged in a short, successful offensive against NATO, while deploying NSWP forces defensively. Under this scenario, the NSWP allies would absorb the brunt of NATO attacks against Soviet forces on East European territory. Fighting in Eastern Europe would reinforce the impression among the NSWP countries that their actions constituted a legitimate defense against outside attack. The Soviet Union would still have to be selective in deploying the allied armies offensively. For example, the Soviet Union would probably elect to pit East German forces against non-German NATO troops along the central front. Other NSWP forces that the Soviet Union employed offensively would probably be interspersed with Soviet units on Soviet fronts to increase their reliability. The Soviet Union would not establish separate East European national fronts against NATO. Independent NSWP fronts would force the Soviet Union to rely too heavily on its allies to perform well in wartime. Moreover, independent East European fronts could serve as the basis for a territorial defense strategy and successful resistance to future Soviet policing actions in Eastern Europe.

Soviet concern over the reliability of its Warsaw Pact allies is also reflected in the alliance's military-technical policy, which is controlled by the Soviets. The Soviet Union has given the East European allies less modern, though still effective, weapons and equipment to keep their armies several steps behind the Soviet Army. The Soviets cannot modernize the East European armies without concomitantly improving their capability to resist Soviet intervention.


As a result of its preponderance in the alliance, the Soviet Union has imposed a level of standardization in the Warsaw Pact that NATO cannot match. Standardization in NATO focuses primarily on the compatibility of ammunition and communications equipment among national armies. By contrast, the Soviet concept of standardization involves a broad complex of measures aimed at achieving "unified strategic views on the general character of a future war and the capabilities for conducting it." The Soviet Union uses the Warsaw Pact framework to bring its allies into line with its view of strategy, operations, tactics, organizational structure, service regulations, field manuals, documents, staff procedures, and maintenance and supply activities.

The Weapons and Equipment of the Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact Armies

By the 1980s, the Soviet Union had achieved a degree of technical interoperability among the allied armies that some observers would consider to be a significant military advantage over NATO. However, the Soviet allies had weapons and equipment that were both outdated and insufficient in number. As one Western analyst has pointed out, the NSWP armies remain fully one generation behind the Soviet Union in their inventories of modern equipment and weapons systems and well below Soviet norms in force structure quantities. Although T-64 and T-72 tanks had become standard and modern infantry combat vehicles, including the BMP-1, comprised two-thirds of the armored infantry vehicles in Soviet Army units deployed in Eastern Europe, the NSWP armies still relied primarily on older T-54 and T-55 tanks and domestically produced versions of Soviet BTR-50 and BTR-60 armored personnel carriers. The East European air forces did not receive the MiG-23, first built in 1971, until the late 1970s, and they still did not have the most modern Soviet ground attack fighter-bombers, like the MiG-25, MiG-27, and Su-24, in the mid- to late 1980s. These deficiencies called into question NSWP capabilities for joining in Soviet offensive operations against NATO and indicated primarily a rear-area role for the NSWP armies in Soviet strategy.

Within the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union decides which of the allies receive the most up-to-date weapons. Beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Soviet Union provided the strategically located Northern Tier countries, East Germany and Poland especially, with greater quantities of advanced armaments. By contrast, the less important Southern Tier, consisting of Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, received used equipment that was being replaced in Soviet or Northern Tier forces. In the mid- 1970s, overall NSWP force development slowed suddenly as the Soviet Union became more interested in selling arms to earn hard currency and gain greater influence in the Third World, particularly in the oil-rich Arab states of the Middle East. At the same time, growing economic problems in Eastern Europe made many Third World countries look like better customers for Soviet arms sales. Between 1974 and 1978, the Soviet Union sent the equivalent of US$18.5 million of a total US$27 million in arms transfers outside the Warsaw Pact. Moreover, massive Soviet efforts to replace heavy Arab equipment losses in the 1973 war against Israel and the 1982 Syrian-Israeli air war over Lebanon came largely at the expense of modernization for the East European allies. In the late 1980s, the NSWP countries clearly resented the fact that some Soviet Third World allies, including Algeria, Libya, and Syria, had taken delivery of the newest Soviet weapons systems, such as the MiG-25, not yet in their own inventories. The Soviet Union probably looked at a complete modernization program for the NSWP armies as unnecessary and prohibitively costly for either it or its allies to undertake.

Coordination of Arms Production

The Soviet Union claims the right to play the leading role in the Warsaw Pact on the basis of its scientific, technical, and economic preponderance in the alliance. The Soviet Union also acknowledges its duty to cooperate with the NSWP countries by sharing military-technical information and developing their local defense industries. This cooperation, however, amounts to Soviet control over the supply of major weapons systems and is an important aspect of Soviet domination of the Warsaw Pact allies. Warsaw Pact military-technical cooperation prevents the NSWP countries from adopting autonomous policies or otherwise defying Soviet interests through a national defense capability based on domestic arms production. In discussions of the United States and NATO, the Soviets acknowledge that standardization and control of arms purchases are effective in increasing the influence of the leading member of an alliance over its smaller partners. In the same way, Soviet arms supplies to Eastern Europe have made the NSWP military establishments more dependent on the Soviet Union. To deny its allies the military capability to successfully resist a Soviet invasion, the Soviet Union does not allow the NSWP countries to produce sufficient quantities or more than a few kinds of weapons for their national armies.

Romania is the only Warsaw Pact country that has escaped Soviet military-technical domination. In the late 1960s, Romania recognized the danger of depending on the Soviet Union as its sole source of military equipment and weapons. As a result, Romania initiated heavy domestic production of relatively low- technology infantry weapons and began to seek non-Soviet sources for more advanced armaments. Romania has produced British transport aircraft, Chinese fast-attack boats, and French helicopters under various coproduction and licensing arrangements. Romania has also produced a fighter-bomber jointly with Yugoslavia. However, Romania still remains backward in its military technology because both the Soviet Union and Western countries are reluctant to transfer their most modern weapons to it. Each side must assume that any technology given to Romania could end up in enemy hands.

Apart from Romania, the Soviet Union benefits from the limited military production of its East European allies. It has organized an efficient division of labor among the NSWP countries in this area. Czechoslovakia and East Germany, in particular, are heavily industrialized and probably surpass the Soviet Union in their high-technology capabilities. The Northern Tier countries produce some Soviet heavy weapons, including older tanks, artillery, and infantry combat vehicles on license. However, the Soviet Union generally restricts its allies to the production of a relatively narrow range of military equipment, including small arms, munitions, communications, radar, optical, and other precision instruments and various components and parts for larger Soviet-designed weapons systems.

* * *

The 1980s have witnessed a dramatic increase in the amount of secondary source material published about the Warsaw Pact. The works of Alex Alexiev, Andrzej Korbonski, and Condoleezza Rice, as well as various Soviet writers, provide a complete picture of the Soviet alliance system and the East European military establishments before the formation of the Warsaw Pact. William J. Lewis's The Warsaw Pact: Arms, Doctrine, and Strategy is a very useful reference work with considerable information on the establishment of the Warsaw Pact and the armies of its member states. The works of Malcolm Mackintosh, a long-time observer of the Warsaw Pact, cover the changes in the Warsaw Pact's organizational structure and functions through the years. Christopher D. Jones's Soviet Influence in Eastern Europe: Political Autonomy and the Warsaw Pact and subsequent articles provide a coherent interpretation of the Soviet Union's use of the Warsaw Pact to control its East European allies. In "The Warsaw Pact at 25," Dale R. Herspring examines intra- alliance politics in the PCC and East European attempts to reduce Soviet domination of the Warsaw Pact. Soviet military journals are the best source for insights into the East European role in Soviet military strategy. Daniel N. Nelson and Ivan Volgyes analyze East European reliability in the Warsaw Pact. Nelson takes a quantitative approach to this ephemeral topic. By contrast, Volgyes uses a historical and political framework to draw his conclusions on the reliability issue. The works of Richard C. Martin and Daniel S. Papp present thorough discussions of Soviet policies on arming and equipping the NSWP allies. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

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