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

The Soviet Ground Forces have grown to more than 180 divisions . . . have fielded 50,000 tanks and 20,000 artillery pieces, . . . more than 5,200 helicopters, . . . more than 3,500 Soviet and Warsaw Pact tactical bombers and fighter aircraft are located in Eastern Europe alone, . . . eight classes of major surface warships . . . [and] 10,000 surface-to-air missile launchers at 1,000 fixed missile sites across the Soviet Union.5

NATO Report on NATO/Warsaw Pact Comparison—1982. A detailed public NATO report on NATO and Warsaw Pact Force Comparisons—1982, published early in 1982, provides detailed updated data and charts on the forces confronting each other at the end of 1981. The report demonstrates the enormity of the Soviet and Pact development, production, and deployment of new weapons systems far in excess of comparable U.S./Allied systems and any conceivable defensive needs.

Soviet Military Power—1983. The second edition of Soviet Military Power—1983, published in September 1983, included not only “red” (i.e., Soviet and Warsaw Pact) data, but at NSC insistence and following NATO’s 1982 report, also included “blue” data for the U.S. and NATO. Such comparisons, most dramatically charted on the report’s pages 62–63, were useful in refuting the supporters of the INF Soviet and “nuclear freeze” movement’s assertions about superpower arms parity. New conventional forces capabilities reported since Soviet Military Power—1981 were: SU–24/Fencer ground-attack aircraft (nuclear-capable); the T–80 main battle tank fielded in the USSR and Eastern Europe; a third Kiev-class aircraft carrier operational, with a fourth launched; series production on four new classes of surface warships; increased Soviet combat operations in Afghanistan with 150,000 Soviet troops; and expansion of Soviet global military deployments with new Soviet weapon systems, including a Soviet Navy task force in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico from November 1982 to February 1983. GNP dedicated to the Soviet military buildup was estimated as increasing to 15%.

Updated NATO/Warsaw Pact Public Report—1984. NATO and the Warsaw Pact: Force Comparisons, published by NATO in April 1984, updates NATO’s 1983 report. It notes that both Soviet nuclear force deployments and the USSR/Warsaw Pact’s non-nuclear military programs were rapidly reaching technical equivalence or superiority vis-á-vis NATO systems and were moving to high ratios far beyond any conceivable defensive needs in their production and deployments—e.g., Pact to NATO production ratios of 6 to 1 for tanks and deployments ratios of 4 to 1 for main battle tanks; 5 to 1 for interceptor aircraft and reconnaissance aircraft; and over 2 to 1 in armored personnel carriers. The data evidences not only a mounting Soviet nuclear threat, but also a Soviet “first strike” strategy with overwhelming conventional forces that the U.S. and NATO could not begin to match. The document indicates requirements to significantly upgrade NATO’s conventional weapons and strategy against Soviet conventional force preponderance, and at the same time the necessity of a Western deterrence and defense strategy that ultimately included potential use of nuclear weapons (e.g., nuclear mines, artillery, and air-delivered weapons) as an indispensable factor in the military balance.

A Note on Soviet Reactions. Soviet propaganda rejected such U.S. and NATO reports as “imperialist” and simply denied that Soviet policy was militant, aggressive, or engaged in unilateral buildups and arms control cheating. Yet the Soviet regime had a difficult time confronting such reports that NATO nations distributed in tens of thousands of copies throughout the West. While some Soviet arms control officials protested the reports as revealing “secret” Soviet data, they hesitated to present their own “secret” data.

4. MBFR Arms Control: Early Reagan Directives and New U.S.-Western MBFR Proposals—1981 to 1983

Conventional Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR) arms control was a major focus of the Reagan Administration’s early defense, arms control, budgetary, and diplomatic considerations within the Western Alliance.

NSDD 5 on Conventional Arms Transfers to U.S. Allies—July 1981. NSDD 5—Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, issued on July 8, 1981, reflects Reagan’s policy of utilizing U.S. security assistance programs to strengthen the conventional force capabilities of friends and allies in countering a wide range of security threats. Thus:

The challenges and hostility toward fundamental United States interests, and the interests of its friends and allies, have grown significantly in recent years. These trends threaten stability in many regions and impede progress toward greater political and economic development.

[Book pg. 326]