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

The United States cannot defend the free world’s interests alone. The United States must, in today’s world, not only strengthen its own military capabilities, but be prepared to help its friends and allies to strengthen theirs through the transfer of conventional arms and other forms of security assistance. . . . Applied judiciously, arms transfers can:

  • help deter aggression . . . ;
  • increase our own armed forces’ effectiveness by improving the ability of the United States, in concert with its friends and allies, to project power in response to threats posed by mutual adversaries;
  • support efforts to foster the ability of our forces to deploy and operate with those of our friends and allies, thereby strengthening and revitalizing our mutual security relationships;
  • demonstrate that the United States has an enduring interest in the security of its friends and partners, and that it will not allow them to be at a military disadvantage.6

NSDD 31 on MBFR Arms Control—April 1982. Following substantial MBFR Interdepartmental Group work during the preceding months, NSDD 31—U.S. Policy on MBFR, issued on April 16, 1982, outlines a new U.S. proposal:

The United States will propose a single comprehensive MBFR agreement to include a binding commitment by the participants of the North Atlantic Alliance and the Warsaw Pact to achieve equality of conventional forces in Europe at lower levels through substantial, militarily significant and verifiable reductions of forces. This proposal will contain the following elements:

[Seven Elements] [1] A single agreement binding all participants to reductions in stages to a common collective ceiling for each side of about 700,000 ground force personnel and about 900,000 ground and air force personnel combined; [2] Separate sub-ceilings for United States and Soviet ground force personnel only within the combined collective ceiling; [3] First stage reductions by the United States and the Soviet Union of 13,000 and 30,000 ground force personnel, respectively; [4] United States reductions in the first stage occurring two-thirds in units and sub-units and one-third in individuals and Soviet reductions in the first stage occurring in divisions; [5] Verification of reductions and residual ceilings at each stage of reductions; [6] Associated stabilization and verification measures applying to all participants prior to or at the time of the first United States and Soviet reductions as an integral part of the agreement; and [7] Agreement on current data and counting criteria for the forces of both sides prior to signature of the agreement.

[Alliance Consultations] In support of United States policy on mutual and balanced force reductions the Government is directed to: [1] Seek the concurrence of the North Atlantic Alliance to the new approach; [2] Submit recommendations on the timing of the presentation of the new approach at the MBFR talks in Vienna. (headings added)7

The U.S.-Allied MBFR Proposal in Context—April 1982. Further context on Reagan’s proposal and subsequent U.S./NATO tabling of a draft MBFR treaty is provided in the public report Security and Arms Control: The Search for a More Stable Peace, issued in June 1983. Interdepartmentally coordinated by the NSC, published by the Department of State, and distributed globally, it summarized MBFR developments as:

In June 1982, President Reagan, speaking to the West German parliament, reaffirmed that an MBFR agreement remained an important objective of his Administration. A month later [on July 8, 1982] the West tabled a new draft treaty that represented another major effort to address Eastern concerns while preserving the Western requirements for parity and adequate associated measures.

[The Western Draft Treaty] The 1982 draft treaty was in some respects a significant departure from previous Western approaches, although the fundamental principle of reductions to equal ceilings of 700,000 ground force personnel and 900,000 ground and air force personnel combined—remained unchanged.

The major innovation of the Western draft is that it would bind all direct participants in one agreement to undertake the reductions required to reach the ceiling. This provision seeks to address the frequently expressed Soviet concern that initial Soviet reductions might not be followed by reductions in the forces of the United States’ NATO allies.

[Associated Confidence Building Measures] Consistent with previous Western approaches, the draft treaty calls for associated measures intended to give each side confidence in the other’s compliance. These measures provide for:

  • Prenotification of activity by one or more division formations outside its garrison area;
  • Provisions to permit observers at such activities;

[Book pg. 327]