Created: 7/1/1983

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Employment of Warsaw Pact Forces Against NATO

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ThU Interagency Intelligence Memorandum wai commiuMiied by the Director of Central Intelligence. It was. drafted originallyhird volume toarsaw Pact Forces Opposite NATO, and was intended to elaborate on the assessment in volumef the estimate of Warsaw Pad theater operations against NATO. Because theincorporates new evidence and assessments of Soviet concepts for frontal operations,eing issued as an Interagency Intelligence Memorandum.

This Memorandumetailed discussion of generalfor front-level operations and Soviet planning foroperations. It also discusses Warsaw Pad options forNATO in the Western. Southwestern, and Northwesternof Military Operations and their associated navalpectrum of options for the siruduringof Pad

recognizes, however, that actual choices made would be governed largely by the circumstances leading to war. the condition and readiness of NATO and Pad theater forces, and other scenario-related factors.

ThU Memorandum was produced under the auspices of the National Intelligence Officer for General Purpose Forces. It wasirectorate of Intelligence. Central Tntelhgence Agency, and was coordinated within thc CentralAgency; the Defense Intelligence Agency; the National Security Agency; the Bureau of Intelligence Research. Department of State, and the intelligence components of the military services.



The USSR's geographic positionajor continental power in Europe and Asia and thc Soviet perception thai hostile neighbors confront thc USSR and its allies on virtually every side have led thc Warsaw Pact to develop contingency plans for military operations on all its land and maritime frontiers- Thc Soviets clearly expect Central Europe to be tbe decisive arenaar with NATO and assign it tbe highest priority in the allocation of military manpower and equipment.

The Soviets also have plans for offensive aciion in other NATO regions flanking Central Europe, but we have little direct evidence on the Pact's view of the timing of these flank offensives in relation to an offensive in Central Europe. Nonetheless, even if they did not begin major ground offensives immediately in some flank areas, the Pact would conduct secondary offensives to keep NATO from shifting forces to Central Europe, to compel commitment of NATO reserves, and to weaken NATO forces on the flanks in anticipation of further operations.

The Pact's success in achieving its wartime objectives would depend on the Soviets' ability to control and coordinate multinational, joint-service operations of great complexity. All Pact member nations have command and control elements intended to help extend the Sovicls' wartime control structure These organs could be integrated easilyact command structure.ATO-Warsaw Pact conflict,Soviel Supreme High Command (Vcrkhovnove Clavnoko-mandovaniye^VGK) would function, in effect, as thc Supreme High Command of the Combined Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact. This wartime command would provide lhe mililary-slratcgic leadership for all Pact military operations against NATO

We believe that,ar occur between lhe Warsaw Pact and NATO, intermediate commands would be established in Europethe Oneral Staff in Moscow and most operating forces (fronts and fleets) Those commands would exorcist! direct operational control


over Soviet and Non-Soviet Warsaw Pad (NSWP) forces and at least would coordinate the operations of those strategic assets allocated to support operationspecific area. The Soviets refer lo these headquarters a, High Commands of Forcesesignated area or strais. Two such commands, the High Command of Forces in

M,,itarV{teatT Wnnirfdi deustoiV-TVD) and the High Command of Forces in the Southwestern TVDf


We beheve that these high commands would be established in the eventATO-Warsaw Pact war.

Soviet strategists envision at least five European TVDs in which military operations against NATO would be undertaken:

The Western TVD. which would include Soviet and NSWP forces in East Cermany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia and Soviet forces in the western USSR as well as the Combined Baltic Fleet.

The Southwestern TVD, which would include Soviet forces in Hungary and the southwestern USSR; Bulgarian, Romanian, and Hunganan forces; and the Combined Black Sea Fled.

The Northwestern TVD, which would include Soviet forces in the Leningrad Military Distrid and elements of the Soviet Northern Fleet.

The Atlantic and Arctic TVDs, which would encompass lhe North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea and would include forces primarily from ihe Soviet Northern Fleet

Frontal Operations

and TVD, the largest field force wouldront Although not directly comparable to any Westernront would be similarATO army group and its associated air forcese, level of command, and function. There is no standard organizationront It usually is composed of Ihree io five ground armies, each including Ihree to five lank or motorized rifle divisions, and airh as many as several hundred tadicalroni openingaritime sector also might include those naval elements that were chiefly devoted to that fronis mission, that is. for protection of lhcea lines of communication and for amphibious landings

The front is the basic combal force and level of command below lhe commander of forcesVD. The fronl commander controls the ground armies and supporting air forces that will ficht the war. The main focus of the front is on the offensive; the defense is seen asemporary phase and not an end in itself.

The Pact's main attackswould be directed into sectors where NATO was perceived to be relatively weak and extended. The Pact would prefer to attack on several axes rather thanroadto penetrate through gaps, weak points, and opento rely on speed and maneuver. In areas where the Pact was confronted by strong, continuous NATO defenses, however, ft would attempt toreakthrough.


as been the operational maneuver group: an armor-heavy combined-armscorps (two divisions) to army (three to four divisions)would operate separately from the main force. Its mission would be to advance rapidly into the NATO rear area-avoiding combat with mainseize or destroy key military-geographic objectives such as airfields, river crossings, nuclear depots, and nuclear delivery units and possibly to disrupt command and control and lines of communication and to interfere with mobilization and the movement of reserves.

The Soviets are paying increasing attentionenhancing their capability forairmobile and air assault operations in support of the ground campaign Airborne, airmobile, and air assault operations of varying scale would have an important role in Soviet efforts to disrupt Ihe operations ol NATO formal ions and to seize river-crossing sites and other targets deeper in the theater in the later stages of the offensive

Another unique force operating in support of the front would be Soviet SPETSNAZ or special purpose forces, whichehind-the-linrs mission of reconnoitcring and reporting on NATO nuclear storage sites, nuclear weapons delivery locations, airbases housing nuclear-capable aircraft, and command and control facilities. The Intelligence Community is divided over the question of whether these forces alsoirect combatasthese targets.

Theater Nuclear Operations

The Soviets clearlyar with NATO eventuallyto nuclear war,generally

NATO.I wWnBC recipitated by

a move toward more flexible,

selective nuclearays

Ja massed nuclear exchange at some point, regardless of how the use oi nuclear weapons is initiated.

A priority mission of Pact nuclear-capable forces (the bulk of which are W) would be to destroy NATO nuclear assets in order to gam and hold nuclear superiority. The following points highlight key factors in Pact frontal nuclear operations:

- Nuclear targets generally would be dividedine of demarcation between those to be struck by strategic assets and those by front-level

fronl-level nuclear strike plans, based at least initially on peacetime NATO force deployments, almost certainly have been prepared and could be ready for execution with minimal preparation.

energetic nuclear target reconnaissance effort would be initiatederiod of tension and would be continued or interfiledonnuclear combat phase to provide continual updaling of the nuclear strike plans. Once nuclear weapons employment had begun, follow-on strikes would be made as suitable targets were located.

two days' preparation, probably taking placeuclear strike assets couldof readiness that would permit the launching ofnumber of strikesaamount of ^after(hfi

NATO's nuclear delivery systems would have first pnorily. Other targets of high value, for example, maneuver divisions, also would be struckajor scale

and execution of the fire plan would stress destruction ot targets of military significance, with little apparent concern tor collateral damage. Important West European cities,probably also would be struck.

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High priority would be placed on resuming ihc offensive rapidly following the initial massive nuclear strikes.

Initial Campaign in the Western TVD

Soviet planning callsassive and coordinated effort by air, ground, and naval forces to seize the initiative in Central Europe. Ita rapid ground offensive intoarge-scale air operation to destroy NATO's air forces and nuclear deliverydefeat NATO nuclear and conventional forces, disrupt mobilization, seize or destroy ports and airfields, prevent reinforcement, androlonged positional war. First-echelon forces would be organized into three fronts, made up of forces stationed in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Poland and, time permitting, reinforced by fronts or elements of fronts stationed in the western USSR. About half of the first echelon would be composed of East European forces:

The Soviet-East German Fronl would be the largest and would carry out the main effort. It would have the task of attacking NATO forces in central Westas many as six of NATO's eight corpsHannover in the north and Mannheim in the south. Il could be made up of five to six armies formed from Soviel forces in East Germany and Poland and two armies formed from East Germany's ground force divisions. Major reinforcements would be provid-

ed by the Soviel Belorussian Front

have been used as exploitation forces in the central part of West Cermany. In ils more common role, this fronl most likely would consist at least of two-and piobablyarmies plus an Easi German army It would be responsible for moving along the northern coast, up ihc Julland Peninsula, and west toward the Netherlands. This front most likely would be reinforced by the Soviel Baltic Front.

The Czechoslovak-Soviet Front would conduct operations on the southern flank of the Soviet-East German Front and would

have Ihc mission of attacking NATO forces in thc southern part of West Germany. It would consist at least of an army nude up of the five Soviet divisions in Oechoslovakia and twoarmies (eight divisions) The Soviet-Carpathian Front would reinforce this front for operations in West Germanv and then into southern France.

The Air Operation in Central Europe

Pact planners regard NATO's tactical air forces in Central Europeormidable threat. They believe that ilrpowef would be NATO's principal means for delivering nuclear strikes. Thus, they consider air superiority critical to the success of their European campaign. The Pact plans to achieve air superiority and neutralize much of NATO's nuclear delivery capability byarge-scale, theaterwido nonnuclear air operation during the first several days of hostilities. This air offensive would be characterizederies of massed airstrikes, designed to achieve tactical surprise, penetrating through corridors in Western air defenses.

Ofactical aircraftedium bombers available for use in Central Europe, the Pact would commitactical aircraft andombers for the air option. The remaining aircraft would be used, along with the interceptor forces, to defend Pact territory and to provide direct support to the ground forces.

Operations in thc North Sea and Baltic

Operations in the North Sea and Baltic would be designed to destroy NATO naval and maritime targets, especially carrier and amphibious forces. Principal objectives would be to deny the areaaunch point for carrier aircraft against the Soviet-East German Front, to prevent naval reinforcements front entering the Baltic, and to sever lines of communication through the North Sea to the European Continent. The Combined Baltic Fleet also would support amphibious assault operations in support of ground force operations againstand West Germany.

Initio! Campaign in the Southwestern TVD

The Southwestern TVD would include Pact forces in Hungary. Romania, and Bulgaria; the Odessa Military District (MD) in tbc USSR;


and naval forces in (he Black and MediterraneanSoviet forces from thc North Caucasus and Traiiscaucasiis also operate in this TVD. although some forces from those districts would he likely to support thrustsajor axis in the Southeastern or Southern TVDagainst Iran and thc Persian Gulf if operations were undertaken in that TVD

A Warsaw Pact campaign in the Southwestern TVD would be secondary to an offensive against Central Europe and would focus primarily on securing the Turkish straits and blocking NATO access to the Black Sea. Forces also would operate in Austria and northern Italy to secure the southern flank of the forces in Central Europe and topressure by Italian forces on Pact flanks in Austria. Movement of forces into Crecce and western Turkey would give the Pact access lo ports on the northern Aegean Sea. An offensive against eastern Turkey would prevent Turkish forces from being shifted to the strails and could open thc way to movement by Soviet forces to the easternthrough Syria or to the Persian Gulf throughove into Iran in the contextATO-Pact war would be possible but couldresources needed to combat NATO forces. We do not believe the Soviets would have the resources toajor campaign into eastern Turkey and into Syria, Iraq, or Iran at thc same time the Pact was engaged against NATO in Europe.

It is not clear what role Romanian forces would have in wartime. Generally, thc Romanians have balked at anylher lhan homeland defense. {

role depicted for Romanianthat of a

second-echelon front responsible for rear area security behind the Soviet and Bulgarian fronts that would prosecute the major offensive.

Naval Operations

The Soviets probably would view American carrier battle groups In the Mediterranean as the primary naval threat to the southwestern USSB, and anticarrier warfare probably would be highest priority mission for the Black Sea Fleet. Thc nature of any surface ship augmentation from tlie Black Sea into thc Mediterranean would depend on such factors as: the size of the Soviet Mediterranean Squadron when tension began to build, the nature of the Western navalparticularly earlier battle groups -and (lie degree of emphasis placed by ibe Sovietsovert transitionar fooling.

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Initial Cctmpoign in thc Northwestern TVD

This TVD would encompass the Scandinavian Peninsula and immediately adjacent waters. Forces in this TVD would come primarily from the Leningrad MD in thc USSH. with reinforcements likely to be drawn from the Moscow, Ural, or, possibly. Balticrincipal ground objective would be to protect tlie flanks of the Soviet Northern Fleet while it was attempting to achieve control over the Norwegian and Barents Seas. These forces also would have the mission of denying NATO use of its bases in northern Norway. To accomplish these missions. Soviet forces could be expected to attempt to seize the bases along thc northern coast of Norway cither by direct assault across the Soviet-Norwegian border or through Finland. Amphibious or airborne landings also could be anticipated. In thc southern part of thc TVD, the Soviets would defend thc Leningrad and Vyborg areas Attacks into southern Finland toward Helsinki would be conducted if necessary to meet or preclude NATO advances in this region. Air operations would consist primarily of flights in support of ground operations in northern Norway or Finland and in southern Finland. Counterair flights,over Soviet territory, would be flown by air defense interceptor


Initial Operations in ihe North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans

The Soviet Northern Fleet is the most powerful of the Soviet fleets and would carry out the major part of combat operations against NATO naval forces. Its initial tasks would be to achieve control in the Barents, Kara, and northern Greenland and Norwegian Seas in order to protect .ihc Soviel SSBN force and to prevent NATO from staging attacks against the Soviet homeland from those areas The Soviets probably would establish successive lines of defense in this region with the inlention of destroying NATO forces before they approached SSBN operating areas and were within range of Soviet territory. The main functions of Northern Fleet forces in their operating areas would be antisubmarine and antiship warfare as well as amphibious warfare, mine warfare, and coastal defense.


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