PART III -- THE REAGAN REVOLUTION IN DEFENSE AND ARMS CONTROL

Chapter 14 - NATO-Warsaw Pact Conventional and CBW Forces and Arms Control

  • Attempt to seize northern Norway and the Turkish Straits to attack NATO forces in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean.
  • Protect their ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and to attempt to destroy NATO SSBNs. . . .

We believe that the threat to the West will grow because the Soviets will make progress in gaining the more sophisticated weaponry and more flexible approaches to command and control that heretofore the NATO nations have regarded as their special province and the equalizing factor for the Pact’s numerical advantages in men and equipment. (headings added)3

[Soviet Ground, Air, and Naval Forces data are provided in sections of the NIE, cited below:]

The ground forces of the Warsaw Pact have grown substantially in size and capability since Brezhnev came to power. Their combined strength opposite NATO stands at about 1.9 million of whom just over a million are Soviet. About half of these Soviet troops are stationed in Eastern Europe and the remainder in the western military districts of the USSR. In wartime, these forces would be organized into fronts and armies with a full range of combat, combat support, and service support formations. Within this structure, tank and motorized rifle divisions are the basic tactical units. Currently, the Pact maintains 163 active divisions at varying levels of strength arrayed against NATO. In a war, 13 additional divisions could be drawn from the active forces in the western USSR and 27 reserve divisions—16 Soviet and 11 NSWP [Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact]—could be mobilized. . . .

[Tanks] Because Soviet doctrine commits the Pact to offensive warfare, the tank remains the centerpiece of their modernization effort. . . . Changes include an improved 125-mm smoothbore gun, automatic ammunition loaders, laser rangefinders, and advanced armor. The Pact has about 39,000 tanks in units available for use against NATO but only about a quarter are the more modern T–64s and T–72s.

A new tank—possibly designated the T–80—is expected to be introduced . . . sometime this year. . . .

Other major trends . . . include increases in the number of artillery pieces and improvements their range, mobility, tube life, and target acquisition capabilities. In particular, [they are pursuing] the transition from towed to self-propelled (SP) artillery and the introduction of guns and mortars capable of firing nuclear rounds, . . . a new family of four antitank guided missiles, . . . [and] new surface-to-air missile (SAM) and antiaircraft artillery. . . .

[The Pact Air Forces] . . . Currently, they have a combined strength opposite NATO of about a half million men, 4,400 fixed-wing aircraft and 2,800 tactical helicopters. . . . Growth in capabilities constitutes the most important trend . . . [including] the introduction of two new aircraft intended to compete with the US F–15 and F–16 fighters . . . [are] the SU–27 and MIG–29 . . . [and] improvement also is expected in . . . the SU–25 “assault aircraft.” . . .

[Naval Forces] The Pact’s naval assets opposite NATO are primarily Soviet and assigned to three fleets. The Northern Fleet, . . . the Baltic Sea Fleet, . . . [and] the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. . . . Leaving aside the ballistic missile submarines committed to strategic missions, the Soviets have about 45 cruise missile submarines and some 145 torpedo attack submarines for use against NATO in Europe and adjacent waters. The cruise missile submarine threat is of particular importance because of the ongoing introduction of more sophisticated missiles, all of which are capable of carrying either conventional or nuclear warheads. . . . The Soviets have assigned over 200 bombers to the antiship mission, including about 150 Badgers and some 55 Backfires. . . . A new class of nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines, the Oscar, was launched in April 1980. Twice as large as earlier Soviet SSGNs, it also has three times as many launchers. Moreover, it is equipped with a new anti-ship cruise missile with a range of about 500 kilometers. More recently, the Soviets launched a new diesel-powered attack submarine, the Kilo. (headings added)4

Note on Soviet “Tactical” and “Theater” Nuclear Forces. The NIE details Soviet “tactical” and “theater” nuclear forces and asymmetries as adding to the existing Soviet advantages in conventional (and chemical) forces. NIE excerpts on these Soviet nuclear forces are provided in Chapter 11 of this book on Intermediate Nuclear Forces.

Soviet Military Power—1981. The first report in what became an annual unclassified series, Soviet Military Power—1981 was published in September 1981 by the Department of Defense after coordination by the NSC through the Interdepartmental system. As a key instrument of Reagan’s public information and public diplomacy programs on the Soviet threat, the chart-filled, nearly 90-page report clearly benefits from recently redacted NIE data. It assesses the composition, organization, and doctrine of the Soviet forces and their ideological underpinning, industrial base, resource allocations, and reflection of the Soviet quest for military/technological superiority. Secretary of Defense Weinberger’s preface includes conventional force data as follows:

[Book pg. 325]

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