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Ch 6:The Hordes(The Threat: Inside Soviet Military Machine


Only in recent years has the U.S. national security establishment begun to express publicly a presumption that the Soviet Union either has or very soon will have the means to fight and win a nuclear war. Even so, despite the alarms sounded by the likes of Professor Richard Pipes and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, the conviction that a strategic nuclear ex-change would result in the mutual immolation of both victim and aggres­sor remains widespread. Even President Reagan felt obliged to defer to this sentiment when he declared that "It's difficult for me to think that there's a 'winnable nuclear war.' "

There are no such doubts when it comes to more traditional modes of warfare. For more than thirty years, Soviet conventional superiority has been accepted as a self-evident truth. Ever since the late 195os, it has been assumed that the only possible defense against an enormous Soviet superi­ority in men and equipment is nuclear weapons. "I must not conceal from you tonight the truth as I see it," Winston Churchill told an audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in March 1949. "It is certain that Europe would have been Communized like Czechoslovakia, and Lon-don under bombardment some time ago, but for the deterrent of the atomic bomb in the hands of the United States."

Thirty-three years later, American Secretary of State Alexander Haig, himself a former NATO supreme commander, rose to denounce a pro­posal by four distinguished former national security officials that the United States renounce the first use of nuclear weapons. "Those in the West who advocate the adoption of a 'no first use' policy," he declared, "seldom go on to propose that the United States reintroduce the draft, triple the size of its armed forces, and put its economy on a wartime footing. Yet, in the absence of such steps, a pledge of no first use effec­tively leaves the West nothing with which to counterbalance the Soviet conventional advantages and geopolitical position in Europe."

This kind of casual dismissal of the armies, air forces, and navies of the NATO alliance is common across the political spectrum, from hawks to moderates. Opponents of present NATO plans for reliance on tactical nuclear weapons like to suggest that Soviet conventional superiority can be offset by a sharply increased Western investment in nonnuclear forces. Western scholars inclined to view Soviet actions in a sympathetic light make the same automatic assumptions about the East-West balance. Writ­ing about the early Cold War period, for example, the historian Edgar Bottome has interpreted Soviet military policy thus: "In the case of the Soviet Union, this nation responded in the only manner possible in the face of the American atomic monopoly; it increased the size of the Red Army ... to a point where it could march across Europe in the event of an American attack on Soviet territory,"

Even if the locale of a possible Soviet invasion shifts away from Europe, the automatic presumptions do not change. When President Carter de­clared it to be a "doctrine" in 1980 that the United States would use force to repel any assault on the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon quickly leaked its conclusion that the only way to repel a conventional Soviet thrust south-ward through Iran would be to employ nuclear weapons.

Many factors are responsible for this ingrained attitude of mind, which has remained unaltered for more than a third of a century despite the numerous economic and political changes that have occurred in America, Russia, and Europe as a whole. One of them has undoubtedly been the determination of policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic to preserve an unbreakable link between Europe and the United States by means of the American nuclear deterrent. Such a link could only remain the linch­pin of the Atlantic alliance so long as nuclear weapons were portrayed as the sole means of keeping the Red Army at bay, the point emphasized by Churchill in his MIT speech. But the idea that the Red Army was unstop­pable by anything short of a nuclear blast was born in the war against the Germans. Most of the land fighting had after all taken place on the Eastern Front, and it was there that the Germans had deployed the bulk of their forces. Nevertheless, the Russians had succeeded in destroying the Wehr­macht in four years of bitter fighting. From the beginning of 1943 on-wards, they had advanced steadily and remorselessly, accepting terrible casualties and deploying enormous concentrations of men and equipment -a "steamroller" that crushed everything in its path. During the war, the Allied military leaders had been delighted to rely on the great mass and power of the Red Army; but despite the preeminent position it had occupied in their war plans, the American and British commanders had little opportunity to observe the Soviet army in battle. Allied liaison officers were almost always rigorously excluded from the battle zone by the Soviet authorities. Thus, when the Red Army changed from being an indispensable ally to a potential foe, the Western generals had to rely on the reports of the Germans about its fighting abilities and mode of opera­tion. Such reports stressed the part that sheer numbers had played in the Soviet victory, an advantage against which German superiority in tactical abilities and technical equipment had been to no avail.

In 1945 the American General George Patton was removed from his position as military governor of Bavaria for stating that "we are going to have to fight [the Russians] sooner or later; within the next generation. Why not do it now while our Army is intact and the damn Russians can have their hind end kicked back into Russia in three months?" But within a short space of time, the United States demobilized its armies and disman­tled most of its war machine to the point where not even the most bellicose and anti-Soviet elements in the U.S. military could have repeated Patton's boast of kicking the Russians back to Russia in three months. In 1947 a professional U.S. military journal published an example of what was to become the orthodox inferiority complex. "It has been estimated recently by reliable authorities," wrote the editor of the U.S. military publication Armored Cavalry Journal, "that Russia could probably invade and occupy the whole of Western Europe against resistance from present American, British and French troops in a matter of 48 hours."

If the battle had been between the forces of the United States and its allies of 1947, on the one hand, and the Soviet army that took Berlin in 1945, on the other, then this kind of wild statement might have had some, but not much, merit. The U.S. forces had shrunk from a total of 12 million men under arms in 1945 to just over 2 million in 1948. The U.S. Army alone, which had numbered more than 5 million at war's end, was reduced to a comparative rump of 690,000 men. The defense budget had gone down from $43 billion to $12 billion.

This rapid dissolution of wartime military might was well known to all in the West. What attracted less notice, although military leaders were aware of it, was that the Soviet Union had also demobilized. At the end of the war, the Soviet armed forces combined had almost the same number of men as the American forces. Although the official Soviet figure was 11.365 million, this cannot have been more than an estimate, since the Red Army kept no accurate record of precise numbers of lower-ranking personnel. During the war, Communist Party membership had shot up in the ranks, partly because that was the only way for a soldier to ensure that his family would be informed if he became a casualty.

By 1948 the Soviet forces had been reduced to a total of 2.8 million, including the large but militarily irrelevant forces devoted to maintaining order among the civilian population. This might have been quite sufficient for the subjugation of Western Europe, except that only a portion of the total force was available for the task, and the Western forces, although depleted, were by no means insignificant.

For a blitzkrieg-style attack westward, the Soviets would, then and now, have to rely on the forces already in place in Eastern Europe, backed up by reserves in the western Soviet Union. At the time that "reliable authori­ties" were postulating a Soviet occupation of Western Europe in 48 hours, the Russians had, at most, just over half a million troops in their occupa• tion zones in Germany and Austria. They had none in Czechoslovakia (nor did they station any in that country until 1968) and a relatively small force in Poland. In the western districts of the Soviet Union, there were an additional half a million troops.

The force the Soviet generals faced on the other side of the line that was congealing down the length of Europe was actually almost exactly the same in numbers. In their occupation zones, the Americans, British, and French had half a million troops, a further 375,000 in France, Holland, and Belgium, and many more in Britain and the United States itself. The Russians, therefore, possessed no overwhelming superiority in simple numbers. Simple numbers, however, do not necessarily mean very much on their own in war.

In Threats Misperceived, an examination of the real military balance in Europe between 1945 and 1955, the defense scholar Matthew A. Evan­gelista has pointed out that the Western and Soviet forces in Central Europe during this period were very differently employed. The Western powers had speedily turned over most of the civil administration of the territories they occupied to local civilians, leaving their own resident armies to fulfill in the main purely military functions.

The Russians ran things very differently, retaining control of almost all civil administration in the hands of the Red Army. Above and beyond these duties, the troops were heavily engaged in extracting reparations, to which they felt legally entitled, for German war damage, reparations in the form of factories, railway lines, and even plumbing fixtures and baths. The forces in western Russia were also heavily engaged in nonmili­tary activities. That part of the USSR had been almost completely devas­tated by four years of war, and the troops were needed to restore the transport system and other key services. To a certain extent, the domestic forces were also engaged in occupation duties, since the local population in many cases comprised newly assimilated and reluctant Soviet citizens. Large numbers of Poles had been incorporated into the USSR, the previ­ously independent Baltic republics had been swallowed up, and nationalist partisans in the Ukraine carried on a guerrilla war until the early 1950s.

Had the Soviet forces not been thus distracted by these duties, they were still hardly fit for the kind of military gamble that the Western military were predicting. According to one contemporary observation, the troops were "of poor quality, indifferently clothed, and, as regards trans-port at any rate, ill found in equipment." During the war, the Soviets had relied on American lend-lease supplies for most of their trucks, and deliv­eries had abruptly ceased after the German surrender. Domestic Soviet defense production, including the manufacture of tanks, had been sharply cut back at the end of the war. Morale among the troops stationed in the occupation zones was bad, so bad, in fact, that huge numbers of them-possibly as many as 775,ooo--including many officers, deserted to the areas under Western control.

This is not to say that the Western forces were exemplars of military proficiency. One former officer who served at U.S. headquarters recalls the American occupation troops as being "useless or worse than useless. Right after the war the good combat troops left, and what we got instead were the sweepings of the jailhouses, and officers who had managed to evade combat service. We sort of automatically assumed the Soviets had kept some of their World War Two combat capabilities." With the wis­dom of hindsight, it is clear that the armies on both sides were exhausted, very different from the forces that had advanced across Germany in 1945 and totally incapable of launching any kind of blitzkrieg on each other. Even at the time, information was available that indicated something of the true state of the Russian forces. Hanson Baldwin, the military corre­spondent of the New York Times, was able to give a reasonably accurate list of how many troops were stationed in different parts of Europe in 1947. General Omar Bradley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly numbered the Soviet Army at 2.8 million men in 1948, as did Emmanuel Shinwell, the British Minister of Defense, in 1950.

Such accurate assessments were ignored in favor of more lurid compari­sons. Churchill, in his MIT speech, invoked the specter of the "Mongol hordes" that had briefly menaced Europe 700 years before, only to with-draw when their Great Khan died; "they never returned," he observed dramatically, "until now."

In the face of these imagined hordes, the Western European countries joined together in the North Atlantic alliance in 1949. It may be that the important reasons for the formation of the alliance were the undeclared ones-the establishment of West Germany as an independent state, the necessity of an institutional bond between the United States and Europe, or even the hope of rolling back Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. But these were not the stated reasons for the rearmament program that contin­ues to this day. NATO was and is presented as a defensive alliance, a perennial military underdog. As the former senior Pentagon official Alain C. Enthoven has written: "NATO was born with a psychological 'com­plex' about conventional forces. The allies could never hope to match the Soviet hordes. Any attempt to do so would be enormously expensive."

Once it had taken root, this complex became totally resistant to any dose of reality. Enthoven and K. Wayne Smith, in their book How Much Is Enough?, recount both the conclusions and the fate of a high-level study of the NATO-Warsaw Pact balance commissioned from the Pentagon Office of Systems Analysis by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in 1961.

Official military estimates then, as in the late 1940s and today, held that the Soviets had a force of 175 divisions of troops to face a far smaller (25 divisions in the early 1960s) number of ill-equipped, ill-trained and un­ready NATO divisions in the "center region"-Europe between Switzer-land and the North Sea. The systems analysts, who were civilians rather than career military officers and derisively referred to by the latter as "whiz kids," set to work to examine the basic premises of this gloomy and unvarying conclusion. They drew attention to the fact that the total popu­lation of the NATO countries was far larger than those of the Warsaw Pact. They realized that the United States alone could potentially field far greater hordes of soldiers than the Soviet Union, since half the Soviet population was engaged in agriculture, presumably producing the food to feed the entire population, whereas no more than io percent of the U.S. population was fulfilling the same task. Further reexamining the obvious, they wondered how it was that the Soviets could have an army of 175 divisions and the United States a mere 16 when the Soviet army was only twice as large in terms of manpower (2 million to 1 million). Closer examination of those Soviet divisions revealed that at least half of them were essentially paper units, with little equipment and even fewer men. If these were to be counted in the force balances, then so should the U.S. reserve units, which numbered about 5o.

By 1965, the "whiz kids" had reached a startling conclusion, one that was most unwelcome to the military: "NATO and the Warsaw Pact had approximate equality on the ground." The reaction of the Pentagon gen­erals to this news was to call for reinforcements.

"Threat assessments" up to this point had tended to discount the poten­tial contribution to enemy strength of Russia's satellite armies. When these forces were considered at all, they were thought of as a marginal asset at best and possibly a liability in view of their uncertain loyalty.

"As the perceived size of the Soviet force began to shrink under closer analysis," Enthoven and Smith recount, "it became apparent that the Soviet forces alone were substantially outnumbered by the NATO forces, even after mobilization. Suddenly, despite the increasing independence of the East European countries from the Soviet Union, intelligence reports and service staff estimates began to count the satellite divisions as nearly equivalent to Soviet divisions. Indeed, it appeared that whatever headway the Systems Analysis Office made in reducing the number of Soviet divi­sions was offset by an equivalent number of newly found satellite divi­sions. One way or another, the number of well-equipped, well-trained, combat-ready Pact divisions stayed at 175 in military threat estimates."

By the middle of 1968 Enthoven and his staff had finished their work. Their conclusions had been convincing enough for McNamara and his successor, Clark Clifford. They had, however, no impact at all on policy. NATO, it is true, did adopt the strategy of "flexible response," which meant tarrying awhile before introducing nuclear weapons into a Euro­pean conflict, but at a meeting of the alliance's Defense Ministers in 1969, it was agreed by all that because NATO forces were outnumbered 2 to 1 on the crucial central front and would quickly be overrun in the event of an all-out ground attack, it was necessary to adopt new guidelines that provided for quicker use of tactical nuclear weapons.

Having survived that high-level assault, the presumption of Soviet invincibility on land and in the air remains as strong as ever today. In the spring of 1982, NATO headquarters in Brussels published a booklet called NATO and the Warsaw Pact: Force Comparisons. It lacked the attrac­tive artwork and photographs of the Pentagon publication Soviet Military Power, but it strove for an air of objectivity by listing both Warsaw Pact and NATO strengths. Once again, the Soviet Union, aided by its allies, appears to possess forces of overwhelming strength, trained and equipped to smash through the comparatively puny forces of the North Atlantic allies in Europe. NATO is now accorded a total of 84 divisions, while the Warsaw Pact has remained close to the traditional number, with 173. The Pact is depicted as having three times as many tanks, six times as many antitank guided weapons launchers, three times as many artillery guns, and more than twice as many combat aircraft.

The study is introduced by the NATO secretary-general, Dr. Joseph Luns, who notes with practiced gloom that "the numerical balance of forces has moved slowly but steadily in favour of the Warsaw Pact over the past two decades. During this period the members of the North Atlantic Alliance have lost much of the technological advantage which permitted NATO to rely on the view that quality could compensate for quantity." In case anyone should miss the dangerous implications of this trend, the introduction also points out that "Warsaw Pact military doctrine as shown by its literature and military exercises calls for large-scale pene­tration into enemy territory in order to secure strategic objectives... . Warsaw Pact forces are therefore organized and equipped in accordance with the fundamental principle that they must be able to take the offensive in any conflict."

Despite Dr. Luns's declaration in his introduction that his publication is "factual, objective, and unbiased" in presentation, such assessments can never be objective, since they are built up of facts, bolstered by prejudices, assembled toward a particular end. The minimizing of one's own forces and the maximizing of those of the enemy are standard gambits in "bean counting," practiced with varying disregard for veracity by all partici­pants. Thus, in a particularly egregious example, Force Comparisons blandly omits all mention of the very considerable French armed forces in West Germany and France itself on the grounds that "although France is a member of the North Atlantic Alliance it does not participate in its inte­grated military structure." While this explanation may be technically cor­rect, it also provides a handy way to eliminate nine fully manned and equipped divisions from the Western side of the East-West balance.

Numbers may look simple and straightforward, but they never tell quite the whole story. The United States has 2.2 million men in its armed forces, while the Russians have 5.8 million. How ominous that equation can be made to sound!

But who are these 5.8 million Soviet servicemen?

Nine hundred and twenty thousand of them are construction and railroad troops, the conscripts considered politically too unreliable or other-wise unusable as combat troops who serve their time swinging a pick and shovel on construction sites or working on the BAM railroad, an extension of the Trans-Siberian; 650,000 are occupied with the important but spe­cialized tasks of internal security and guarding the borders and are irrele­vant to any East-West confrontation; and 100,000 are civil defense troops, readying themselves to deal with the aftermath of a nuclear war. The last are also assigned to fight American paratroop landings inside the USSR, and as long as the United States continues to reject the possibility of doing that, these troops will not enter into combat.

Unless one includes the personnel of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who carry out public works, and the few active-duty Pentagon officers assigned to civil defense, it must be concluded that the United States has no equivalent of these 1.7 million Soviet troops, since their tasks are considered militarily irrelevant.

That leaves 4.1 million Soviet troops assigned to combat functions confronting 2.14 million U.S. servicemen, still an unequal balance. But again, the simple numbers conceal much.

The Soviet troops of national air defense number 56o,ooo soldiers, who man the enormous antibomber network of radars, missiles, and intercep­tors. The U.S. Air Force has only 8,000 men assigned to this function.

A Soviet force of 4495,000 men guards the long border with China. The United States has no comparable second front, although it does keep 125,000 men on the coasts of Asia and the Eastern Pacific. The Soviets also use 30,000 to occupy Poland and 70,000 to occupy Czechoslovakia. It is assumed that these will augment an offensive against Western Europe. In practice, they would probably be needed to guard Soviet supply lines across these countries.

The Soviets often use many more troops to provide the same or smaller capabilities than the United Stares. Soviet strategic offensive forces are roughly equal in capability to their U.S. counterparts. But the Soviets use 472,000 men to operate their ICBMs, missile submarines, and bombers. In contrast, the United States requires only 71,000 for its Strategic Air Command and Fleet Ballistic Missile Force.

All professionals employed by the Soviet Ministry of Defense at head-quarters level are military officers. These number approximately 250,000-The equivalent figure for the Americans is 60,000, which is the number of military personnel at headquarters level in the Washington area. While this still betokens an inflated and inefficient U.S. military bureaucracy, it is still far lower than the number of Soviets required to do the same job.

Soviet military air transport cannot transport as much or as far as the U.S. Military Airlift Command, and yet while the United States does the job with 37,000 active-duty personnel, the Soviets need 100,000.

Long ago the United Stares abandoned the idea of defending its coasts
with short-range rockers and artillery. The Soviet navy, however, keeps 10,000 coastal rocket artillery troops in service.

The list of men taken up with duties that the United States and its allies do not consider necessary for a fighting force goes on and on. Thus, the Soviets have 70,000 political officers, unmatched by anything on the U.S. side, unless one counts the 3,290 chaplains. The Soviet military commis­sariats (draft boards) employ 40,000 military personnel. Soviet military academies are at any one time educating 160,000 cadets, while the U.S. equivalents hold 13,000.

Discarding the kinds of troops that the United States does not have because it does not think it needs them, as well as the excess numbers required to perform functions that the U.S. services can manage to do with fewer men, the net is about 2 million on either side.

This kind of exercise is important because the arguments over the military potential of the superpowers and their allies have become so sterile. Because the notion of the Soviet hordes has been so successfully implanted in Western consciousness, it is necessary to use common sense and simple arithmetic to dispel it, although it should be remembered that numbers alone are of little help in assessing a nation's real military effec­tiveness. If they were, Israel would not be the dominant superpower in the Middle East, Germany would not have thrashed the combined armies of France and Great Britain in 1940, and Britain could not have hoped to have retaken the Falkland Islands from the Argentines in 1982. Man-power numbers on their own tell us little.

Comparing the numbers of divisions is even less profitable. A division is not a fixed number of men; rather, it is a unit of military administration, used in different armies in different ways at different times. The U.S. Army currently has about 17,000 men in an armored division, that is, a division which is predominantly equipped with tanks; the West Germans have 15,000; and the Soviets have perhaps 11,000. During World War II, both German and Russian divisions fought on, although they had sometimes been reduced to 5,000 men or less. The size of the U.S. Marine Corps is fixed by a law at three divisions of ground troops (the result of a fierce fight over the very existence of the corps after the war), so each division has expanded to 35,000 men.

The strength of individual Soviet divisions can also vary. Most officers and men of the Soviet army (ground forces) serve either in rank divisions or motor-rifle divisions. As the name suggests, the 38 tank divisions in the ground forces consist primarily of tanks. At full strength, each division should contain 325 tanks and about 1 11,000 officers and men, some of whom make up a supporting infantry detachment. The 117 motor-rifle divisions also contain a contingent of tanks, numbering 288, but the bulk of the divisions' 13,000 men are foot soldiers, although they are called motor-rifle troops because they are supposed to be carried into and even
during battle in armored vehicles. In addition, there are artillery divisions, independent units of big guns and short-range rockets (the limit is boo miles), as well as an elite force of eight airborne divisions, lightly equipped and reserved under the direct control of the Ministry of Defense for rapid offensive operations. Until 198o, there was also a subdivision of the troops of the air defense of the ground forces, but in that year they were absorbed by the separate air defense service, the PVO.

None of this neat tabulation of functions and strengths should be taken to mean that Marshal Petrov, commander in chief of the ground forces since his predecessor, Marshal Pavlovsky, was fired in 1980 for political insubordination, is in control of 177 or more divisions (although the eight airborne divisions are outside his direct command), all equally and fully "organized and equipped in accordance with the fundamental principle that they must be able to take the offensive in a conflict."

The force that Petrov commands from his headquarters in Moscow, nicknamed the Pentagon by Muscovites, is paradoxically the largest and politically most powerful of the five Soviet services, while at the same time it is inferior to some of the others in prestige and the quality of the people in it. Each of the individual U.S. services could and did claim an indispens­able contribution to victory after the last world war: the Navy had played the major part in the war against Japan, the Army fought across France and into Germany, and the Air Force gained its independence from the Army by successfully spreading the notion that strategic bombing had helped bring the Axis powers to their knees.

As far as the Russians were concerned, it was the ground forces, aided by the tactical support of the air force on the battlefield, which had de­feated Germany. The navy had played little part in the fighting, there was next to no strategic bombing force, and the strategic rocket forces and the troops of national air defense were not even created until some years after the war.

Despite the prestige of the wartime triumphs, the ground forces were to suffer many political reversals in the ensuing years. The troops of national air defense were created as a separate force in 1948, which meant that there was now a separate bureaucracy competing for resources. The navy also underwent a resurgence, receiving enormous funds for a major shipbuilding program between 1948 and 1955, after which it suffered a political eclipse for some years, until the admirals once again successfully garnered the political support for further expansion.

Most seriously, the ground forces lost control of the strategic rocket program, as did the U.S. Army, in the late 19505. While the air force emerged as the victor in the United States, Khrushchev decided that the new weapons called for a new service, the strategic rocket forces, which he proposed to pay for by trimming the ground forces budget. Khru­shchev further made it clear that he considered much of the ground forces equipment and thinking to be obsolete in the face of the new weapons. On one occasion, he went so far as to publicly deride the army's favored weapon: "When I went out into the training field," he told Pravda, and saw the tanks attacking and how the anti-tank artillery hit those tanks, I became ill. After all, we are spending a lot of money to build tanks. And if-God forbid, as they say-a war breaks out, these tanks will burn before they reach the line indicated by the command."

Despite such barbs, the ground forces generals and marshals were able to preserve their position. They strove to make the case for adapting traditional instruments of land warfare, such as the tank, for use on a nuclear battlefield. At the same time, they sought to prove that future wars would not necessarily be dominated by the nuclear missiles of the strategic rocket forces. These efforts gradually bore fruit. The important theoretical textbook Marxism-Leninism on War and the Army contained this passage in its 1965 edition: "Our military doctrine gives the main role in defeating an aggressor to the nuclear rocket weapon. Ar the same time it does not deny the important significance of other kinds of weapons and means of fighting." Three years later, in a new edition of the same book, the concluding sentiment about "other kinds of weapons and means of fighting" had been stiffened up with an added statement: "... and the possibility in certain circumstances of conducting combat actions without the use of nuclear weapons."

In 1967, for the first time since the 19505, the Warsaw Pact carried out exercises that did not involve the simulated use of nuclear weapons. At the same time, according to Pentagon figures, tank production was rising sharply, from about 2,500 a year in 1967 to 4,500 in 1970. The ground forces had made a big comeback.

Politically, of course, they had never been eclipsed but had merely suffered setbacks. Despite the indignity of the strategic rocket forces being named the primary service, the chiefs of the General Staff continued to be selected from the ranks of ground forces generals. The army has the major role in maintaining Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe, both through its control of the Warsaw Pact apparatus, again, always com­manded by an army man, and the recurring necessity of reinforcing satel­lite discipline with tanks and live bullets. It appears that it was the ground forces high command that pressed for action in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968. It was the senior officers of the ground forces who pressed for intervention in Poland in the winter of 198o-81 and who were fired or transferred by Brezhnev in his political countercoup. Almost all the Soviet forces in action in Afghanistan are from the army, aided by helicopters and light bombers of the air force's frontal aviation branch.

The other side of the paradox is that the ground forces are the "back-ward service." A retired Soviet naval captain, sipping Guinness in a Man­hattan Irish bar, dismisses the army as "intellectually inferior-an army colonel is the equal of a naval lieutenant." A lot of this kind of sentiment could be written off as arrogance common and traditional in all navies, except that the Soviet army generals seem to acknowledge it too. Lozansky remembers how defensive the immensely powerful military chiefs on the Crimean beach were about their colleagues from the other services. "They disliked them, but they were envious at the same time, they seemed to feel they were smarter."

The army gets the last pick of the conscripts. The navy, air force, and strategic rocket forces are, for example, far more exclusively manned by reliable, Russian-speaking, and well-educated Slavs than the ground forces, which must make up its numbers with less desirable racial minori­ties.

This kind of division is not unique to the Soviet system. Studies during World War II discovered that the most effective type of combat soldier was a man of average or higher intelligence, with good mechanical skills. But these are just the attributes that are absolutely vital for the operation and maintenance of a jet fighter, a ship's radar system, or the fuel system of an ICBM. Before the United States abolished the draft, the conscription system applied only to the Army, while the other services were able to fill their ranks with volunteers.

The threat of the hordes as postulated by Churchill and other cold warriors of the late 1940s has endured despite a constant stream of infor­mation to the contrary. When facts about the Soviet army as it really is are substituted for legend, it turns out that it is not a giant confronting a Western pigmy but a force of roughly equal size to its adversaries. Such facts, as we have seen, have been readily available to policymakers throughout the Cold War but have been customarily ignored. "Comfort­ing old myths" as Enthoven and Smith point out, "do, indeed, die hard."

I am sure the Russian military machine is a fascinating subject, for those who take an interest, many an hour spent alone in one's bedsit or mansion, as it may be, are idled away without the onset of boredom or loneliness.

But, if I may ask, why is this a 'sticky' thread? S1
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
Btw, is there a link to the source of this essential "resource"? :roll:
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
stroll Wrote:Btw, is there a link to the source of this essential "resource"? :roll:

No. I retreived it from a book, which I own. I scanned it, using OCR, to use it as information about Russian/Soviet military systems. That is why it is in this section.

But thank you for your concern and consideration anyway Komrade.

I know you think you understand what you thought I said,
but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!

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