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National Foreign Assessment Center

The Development of Soviet Military Power: Trends5 and Prospects for

An Intelligence Assessment

Information available as of1 was used in the preparation of this repon.

This assessment was preparedof Strategic Research. Comments andwelcome and should be directed to theStrategic

This paper reflects contributions from the Olfices of Central Reference, Economic Research. Imagery Analysis. Political Analysis, and Scientific and Weapons Researcl

This paper has been reviewed by the National Intelligence Officers for General Purpose Forces. Strategic Programs, and the USSR and Eastern liuropc. and by the Anns Control Intelligence


April mi

The Development of Soviet Military Power: Trends5 and Prospects for

KeySoviet military buildup during the Brezhnev era has emphasized

balanced development of all forces and increased use of mililary instruments for political ends. Since thehe Soviets have:

the number of their intercontinental nuclear delivery vehicles nearly sixfold, overturning US quantitative superiority, improving their capabilities touclear war. and giving the USSR an assured nuclear retaliation capability. Their number and accuracy make theseajor threat to US land-based missiles.

- Maintained the world's largest forces for strategic defenseivil defense program to protect the political leaders and most of the essential work force. (Even so, ihey cannot prevent devastationS retaliatory strike.)

More than tripled the size of their battlefield nuclear fotccs, reducing the credibility of NATO's nuclear weaponsounterweight to the Warsaw Pact's larger conventional forces.

More than doubled the artillery firepower of their divisions, increased ninefold the weigh! of ordnance that tactical air forces can deliver deep in NATO territory, and reduced the West'squalilative lead in such key areas as tank armor. (Many Soviet units, however, and most of the Pact units, are still equipped with older and less capable weapons )

Introduced new, heavily armed surface ships, nuclear-poweredand naval aircraft and quadrupled the number or missileon ships and submarines. The Soviet Navyrowing constraint on Western abilityroject naval power, bul its forces arc still vulnciable to air and submarine attack.

Broadened military activities in the Third Worldfrom aid alone, through use of Soviel forces in defensive roles and support of Cuban forces in combat, to offensive operations by Soviet units in Afghanistan.

Supported their buildup by nearly doubling defense spending in real terms, more than doubling the size of thestablishment, and increasing by one-third their military manpower.


Duringhe Sovicls' options for further improvement of their military forces will be complicated by an uncertain internationalforeign military threats, an economic slowdown,eadership succession. The range of possible choices for weapon systems, however, is largely determined by development programs already in train. We have identified aboutercent of the new systems that could be introduced in, and on the basis of this knowledge we project thai:

improvements in the accuracy of Soviet ICBMs will further increase the vulnerability of US fixed, land-based missile launchers. The Soviets will preserve their strategic offensive forces* ability toS attack by increasing the capability of sea-based strategic weapons and developing land-mobile systems. (Deployment of mobile systems would complicate the US effort to monitor potential limitations on strategic forces.)

New strategic defense system* will increase the risk to bombersSoviet air space but will not be numerous or capable enough to counter large-scale attacks from missiles and aircraft. Civil defenses will improve marginally, increasing the leaders' protection and including more of the essential work force.

Expansion and modernization of theater nuclear forces will continue, with improvements in short- and medium-range systems based in Europe. Unless countered by the West, this will further reduce the deterrent value of NATO's nuclear forces.

Modernization of the Soviet's own theater air and ground forces (plus organizational changes that increase the units' firepower and flexibility) will keep pace with NATO's modernization efforts but outstripin the forces of the other Pact countries.

New naval weapons will reduce the vulnerability of Soviet ships and submarines and improve their capabilities to contest Western use of open-ocean areas. The USSR may deploy us Hist attack aircraft carrier.

Increases in airlift and sealifl potential could give theapability for long-range projection of military power inf the trend of increasing involvement in the Third World continues, the Soviets will use the capability more actively.

These future activities will not requite much expansion of the forces, but ifSoviets follow through with them (and current evidence suggcsls that they intendhey will have to increase defense spending in real terms through. Political strains resulting from growing economiccould lead them to moderate the growth of spending, particularly laic in the decade. They could curtail or stretch out some weapon programs and alter the support structure of some of their forces. (These steps would appear riskyoviet military planner, but would not necessarily have much effect on the trends outlined above or on the overall improvement in Soviet mililary capabilities that we project for the next decade.)

Poorer economic conditionsore volatile political environment inould increase the possibility of discontinuities in military policy. These could cause deviations on either side of our projection:

accelerated military effort couldharp deterioration in East-West relationsissolution of Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe and leadreater expansion of strategic or conventional forces than wc now eipect.

reduced military effort might result from internal political turmoileteriorating economic situation; it would probably affect conventional forces more heavily than strategic forces.


I ne Development of Soviet Military Power: Trends5 and Prospects for, (

Summary: The Past, The Soviet Military Effort Under Brethiiev

Present, and Future of For more than two decades, the USSR has been engagedajor buildup Soviet Military Power of its military forces. In the Khrushchev era the emphasis was on strategic nuclear programs, but since Brezhnev came to power4 there has been an across-the-board expansion and modernization of all the Soviet forces Among the many factors underlying this buildup, the most basic is the attitude of the Soviet leaders that military mightecessary and effective instrument of policy in an inherently unstable world. This attitude has been embodied in and reinforced by an ambitious military doctrine that calls for forces structured to fight and win future conflicts andolitical and economic system that gives priority to military requirements

Taken together, these conditions haveonsiderable momentum to the Soviet military effort. Thus, despite changes in the international environment. Brezhnev's detente policy, and Strategic Arms Limitation agreements, the overall pace of the Soviet military buildup has remained steady during the Brezhnev years. Annual Soviet military spending has nearly doubled in real terms and now consumes over one-eighth of GNP; military manpower has increased by one-third to moreefense research and development facilities have more than doubled in size; and weapon production facilities have expanded by nearlyercent

lhe number of Soviet strategic nuclear weapons delivery vehicles has increasedew hundred5 tooday, overturning the previous US quantitative superiority. (The United States has justeliveryhe accuracy or the newest Soviet weapons now exceeds that of US systems,ajor threat to US fixed, land-based missiles. These improvements have enhanced Ihe capability of Soviet forces touclear war. Moreover, by hardening their land-based missile launchers andreater number or ballistic missiles on submarines, the Soviets have made their strategic forces so survivable that even afterS attack they could destroy most of the US population and most US military and economic targetsetaliatory strike

' Thit figure includesillion men who fulfill roles ihat the United Slata would noi founder related to national scvunr ^

Sovici planners also emphasize defense against strategic weapons, but their defenses cannnot prevent similar devastation fromS retaliatory strike:

Soviets have introduced systemsetect and defend against ballistic missiles, but technical limitations and treaty constraints render them largely ineffectivearge-scale US missile attack.

have expanded and improved their air defense network (the world'sivingood capability against high-flying aircraft but only limited effectiveness against low-altitude penetration.

against missile-launching submarines is poor despite its high priority in naval planning, because the search and detection capabilities of Sovici forces are insufficient to locate submarines in the open ocean.

attention to civil defense has provided protection for virtually all political leaders, most key workers, and aboutercent of the urban residents: but the rest of the population would be dependent on evacuation, and economic and military facilities arc still vulnerable

The Soviets have eliminated the West's former edge in short- and medium-range nuclear delivery systems in Europe. The number of Soviet tactical surface-IC-surface missiles ihere has increasedhird, and ihc number of aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons in Central Europe has more than tripled. The Soviets have broken the monopoly held by NATO sincen nuclear artillery and have introduced other new tactical delivery systems with improved ranges, accuracy, readiness, and destructive power. They may also have nuclear landmines. With these improvements. Soviet theater forces are nowetter position to match any NATO escalationuropean conflict from one level of nuclear war to another, without using long-range theater nuclear systems based in thehose systems have also been improved by deployment of thentermediate-range ballistic missile with three independently largeiable warheads and of the Backfire bomber with improved payload and air defense penetration capabilities

To the client that Soviet intercontinental nuclear forces now check those of the United Slates and Soviet gains in theater nuclear forces have offset those of NATO, the balance of conventional forces in Europe has becomesignificant. In the conventional area, the Soviets expanded their

' The Soviet* wouM hopeATO-Warsaw Pact waruropean territory, avoidiilfi (be use of systems based in the Soviet Union was nol to inviteacks. Nevcrihelea. ihey doubl thai nuclear escala lion inai could be held within bounds.


already large ground and theater air forces duringeriod and introduced modern systems, some of them equal or superior to those of NATO:

Total ground forces manpower increased by nearly SO percent, while the number of major weaponsivision increased byhird and irlillcry firepower more than doubled.

The number, variety, and capability of air defense systems available to tactical commanders increased rapidly, with deployment of all-weather missile-equipped interceptor aircraft and mobile air defense missiles and guns.

The latest Soviet tanks {now common to most first-line Soviet units in eastern Europe, but not yet widely deployed among units in the USSR) have armor that provides good protection against the most advanced antitank weapons.

New tactical aircraft deployed inave increased ninefold the weight of ordnance that Soviet theater air forces could deliver against targets in NATO's rear areas (the Benelux countries and parts of France, forore accurate bombing systems (radars, laser rangefindcrs. and computers) and precision munitions have improved Soviet capabilities against point targets and largely eliminated NATO's rear areas asin conventional wai

On the other hand, the Warsaw Pact's military potential is affected by its political cohesion and its will to use force. Pact performance on the field of battle would be heavily influenced by the altitudes and effectiveness of the non Soviet armies, which have been assigned major roles in both combat and support These armies are less modern than that of the USSR. More important, the solidarity and enthusiasm (hat they would exhibit in combat against NATO are open to serious question >

The Soviets also maintain large forces opposite China Since the, the number or Ground Forces divisions along ihe Sino-Soviet border has doubled and their total manpower has more than tripled. Expansion of Soviet tactical aviation forces since theas also been directed primarily at Chin: )


In the, the Soviet Navyoastal defense force with limited capabilities for operations in the open ocean, but it is being transformed into an outward-looking force deploying heavily armed surface ships, high-speed submarines, and advanced aircraft. The number of ships has changed little, but the proportion of large surface combatants and nuclear-poweredis growing. Qualitatively, Soviet naval forces remain vulnerable to air and submarine attack; nuclear-powered submarines arc noisier (and thus easier to delect) than their Western counterparts; and capabilities for distant combatas the landing of troops and provision of carrier-based airextremely limited. Bui their numerous missile-equipped surface ships, submarines, and aircraft enable the Soviets to control their own coastal waters and to contest the use of open-ocean areas by the West

To support ihe expanded combat capabilities of their forces, the Soviets have introduced space systems for communications, intelligence collection,and other military functions. They now have an average of aboutatellites operational at any given time, of which aboutercent arc mililary and anotherercent have both mililary and civilian uses. The Soviets have also introduced new procedures and systems for controlling military operations. These include an increase in the operational authority of the General Staff, creation of new intermediate levels of command,of mobile and hardened command posts, and deployment of new communications systems. These measures have improved the flexibility, reliability, security, and survivability of command

As their military power has grown at the intercomincniaI, theater nuclear, and conventional levels, the Soviets have increasingly used mililaryto achieve political gains, especially in the Third World. Sovici exports of mililary equipment lo the Third World have increased rapidly since their beginning in the.illion worth of hardware was sold to Ihe Third World, and90 Soviet advisers were in Third Worldthan four times as many asperations of naval ships outside home waters increased sixfold5luctuated for several years, and increased sharply again9oviet naval ships now make several hundred visits to Third World ports each ycai *

Military involvement in Third World conflicts has become more active and direct:

In thend. Soviet air and air defense forces were used in defensive roles in the Middle Bast.

In the. Soviet logistic support transported Cubanforces to Angola and Ethiopia and sustained them there.

oviet combat ground and air units invadedfirst direct involvement of Soviet ground forces outside the Soviet Bloc

To support their growing military involvement overseas, the Soviets have improved the ability of their forces to project power:

lift capability of primary Soviet amphibious ships has more than tripledhese ships can transport00 men (but they arc spread out among four fleeterchant ships, some of which have been specifically designed to support naval operations, are also available.

" The firepower, mobility, and air defense capabilities of the six combat-strength airborne divisions have improved with the deployment of more modern weapons.

introducing heavy transport aircraft, the Soviets have doubled their airlift capacity (but their capabilities remain inferior lo those of the United States;

The Soviets have not developed many forces specifically for overseasThey rely instead on general purpose forces designed principally for use in Europe but also suitable for operations in more distant areas to which they can deploy without opposition. Most areas of vital interest to them arc close to the USSR, however, and thus Soviet requirements for long-distance intervention forces are less demanding than those of the United State:

Factors Affecting Future Military Programs

As (he Soviet leaders formulate their defense plans for the future, they face major external and domestic uncertainties:

fluid international situationrudent defense posture,ie Soviets' perceptions of emerging military threats argue especially tor continued qualitative improvement in forces.

On ihe other hand, to maintainodest rate of economic growth, those leaders must allocate more resources to capital investment and must improve labor productivity, in part byising standard of


This dilemma could cause political tension, particularlyime oftransition

These uncertainties make it particularly difficult to forecast Soviet policies. We have sufficient information on each of the factors involved, however, to make fairly informed judgmentsabout their probable impact on theof Soviet military power inand to examine the possible effects of discontinuities in policy jj '

In the international arena, the Soviets are concerned by the prospect that the United Stales will augment its defense effort, by China's opening to the West, and by Ihe possibility that US opposition to Soviet global aspirations will increase. They are troubled by instability on theirin Afghanistan that they have been unable to suppress, anregime in Iran whose fundamentalist Islamic ideology could spread to Muslim minorities in the USSR,ajor threat to Communist Party control in Poland. They probably viewecade of heightened competition, in which they willreater risk of military confrontation with the United States and of actual combat with major power: *

While they see increasing tension, the leaders and planners also see foreign nations making military efforts that threaten to undercut Ihe strengths of Soviet forces and exacerbate their weaknesses These threats, as well as deficiencies that the Soviets currently perceive in their own militarymake continued pursuit of new weapon programs essential from the perspective of the Soviet planners They see the possible US deployment ofissile, for example,ual threat:

* Its survivability (fiom deployment on mobile launchers or in multiple shelters) could force the Soviets to expend all of their ICBM weapons againstlone, were they toassive counterforce strike.

Its accuracy increases the risk thai the United States could neutralize the Soviets* land-based iCBMs. which provide nearlyercent of the weapons and warheads on their intercontinental nuclear delivery vehicles.

The Soviet! alio consider NATO's plan to deploy advanced ballistic and cruise missiles in Europe as panS strategy to threaten Soviet ICBMs and lo reduce Soviet capabilities for theater war in Europe

Many other military developmentsause of concern lo Soviet planners

They foresee (hat new Western ballistic missile submarines, with their greatly enlarged patrol areas, will further lax their inadequate antisubmarine capabilities.

They are watching China's lengthening nuclear reach and the upgrading of French and British strategic forces.

They regard NATO's programs for armor and intiarmor systems,munitions, and nuclear weapons as substantial and technologically challenging.

They believe they must accelerate their efforts to compete with NATO in tactical aircraft and air defenses.

They arc worried about the antisubmarine capabilities of the West and the vulnerability of their ships to air and submarine attack.

They sec the widespread deployment of cruise missiles on US ships as reducing their capabilities in ship-to-ship warfarethe long-range Tomahawk cruise missileew strategic threat to Soviet territory.

Finally, instability on their borders and US plans loapidforce have increased Soviet concern about military developmenis in areas near the USSR

As they attempt lo react lo the wide array of situations they perceive as cither promising or threatening, Soviet policymakers willar more constrained resources picture than in:

Sovici economic growih. which has been declining since, has slowedrawl in the past several years The real average annual growth in GNP90ittle over Iworst in any two-year period since World War II.

In, developing energy and demographic problems probably will hold GNP growth to an averageercent or less only half the rate at which defense expenditures have been growing.

If mililary spending is allowed lo follow its pasl irend. its share of economic output could increase from about one-eighth now to over one-sixth

More importantly, this increased military burden would reducethe share of the annual increment to GNP that can be distributed among civilian claimants to ease the political tensions that arise from competition for resources. Militarythose for nonstrategickey resources from the production of critically needed equipment for agriculture, industry, and transportation *'

The problems of Soviet leaders in allocating resources could be further complicatedolitical succession. Soviet President Brezhnev isnd in poor health, and most "Of his colleagues are also in their seventies, many of them also ailing. The departure of these men could affect military policy, but probably not immediately. The process of Soviet national security planning and decisionmaking is highly centralized, secretive, and resistant to fundamental change. It is strongly influenced by military and defense-industrial organizations, represented by men who have held their positions for many years,ontinuity of plans and progra ms. Because of this momentum, and the political clout of the men and institutionsupport defense programs, we doubt that Soviet emphasis on military power would decrease in the early stageseadership succession

The attitudes of the senior leaders arc another buffer against any quick change of direction. If Brezhnev leaves the scene soon, the chances are that he would be replaced by one of the current group, most of whom share his general policy views. The two most likely candidates are parly secretaries Kirilcnko (who has expressed views somewhat more conservative than Brezhnev's on national security policy) and Cherncnko (who has always been very close toventually, of course, the interim leader will be replacedounger man; but among the younger Politburo members who appear to be candidates, most also seem toontinued high priority on defense. The effectolitical transition is inherently unpredictable, however, and we cannot exclude the possibility that major policy changes could result 'i

In contrast to the imponderables of the economic and political environments, wcood capability to identify most future Soviet weapon systems. The forces ofill be equipped primarily with systems already in the field and secondarily with those now entering production or in late stages of development. (Because itecade or more to develop and test modern weapon systems, few of those now in early stages of development could be introduced in significant numbers ine believe that wc have identified aboutercent of the new systems likely to be introduced

in this decade. Knowing Soviet military requirements and the amount of available development and production resources, wc can postulate others. These identified and postulated systems, plus ousting systems, will make up well overercent of the weapons in the field0

Sonet Mililary Power in

Taking these factors into account, we can project in broad outline the prospects for further development of Soviet mililary power in. Wc have made several projections. The most detailed (our baseline projection) is the one most consistent with currently available evidence. It assumes that pressures in favor of continuing the current policies pressures fromchallenges, from the Soviets' ambitious military doctrine, and from the powerful institutions that suppon defense programs-will offsetrge extent any inclination toward change that might arise from the leaders' growing economic concerns. The baseline projection allows for adjustments to defense expenditures -provided they do not significantly alTecl military capabilities *

Because changes in political and economic conditions could lead lo discontinuities in policy, wc present three alternative projections: two that require an acceleration in the growth of military spending and one that requires an absolute reduction. We consider all of these to be less likely than the baseline projection butiscussion of them intended to suggest reasonable limits lo the options open to Soviet policymakers g

Baseline Projection. For our baseline projection wcthe basis of the weapon production and development programs we havethe Soviets will continue their policy of balanced force development. Within the outlines of this continuity, however, wc expect them to increase their emphasis on strategic forces that canS allack, on strategic defense, andesser extent) on forces for the projection of Soviet power lodistanl areas. Manpower constraints will limil increases in the size of forces, but improvements will continue rapidly as new weapons become available. Improvements in Soviet military forces will lead lo growing capabilities in manyDeluding some areas of traditional Western strength '

Wc expect Ihe Soviets lo carry out programs aimed at maintaining or increasing Ihcir lead over ihe United Slates in most measures ofnuclear atlack capability and at upgrading their nuclear war-fighting capabilities. They will continue lo improve the accuracy of their ICBMs and

will develops variety of payload options for responding to US deploymentlCBMs.esult, the Soviet ICBMor without11have the theoretical potential to destroy most ofon US land-based missiles throughout the decade. Thisbe greatest in the, before the United States can deploy aBut even in that early period. US forces could conduct a

To maintain survivablc strategic forces in the faceotential threatown fixed, land-based missiles, we expect the Soviets to increaseof their submarine-launched ballistic missiles and possiblyin the absence of SALT constraints) to deploy land-mobilemayew strategic bomber or an aircraft to carrycruise missiles, and they may already be testing acruise-

Should strategic arms control negotiations be resumed, these weaponcould complicatealready difficult US intelligence task. Land-mobile strategic weapons and cruise missiles cannot be counted with high confidence.esult, monitoringrms controlwill be much more difficult inhan it was in

Air defense improvements have been identified at Soviet lest ranges, and some are now entering deployment. These include new surface-to-airand interceptor aircraft with radars that enable them to detect and engage low-flying targets. These defenses could make penetration of Soviet airspace much more difficult for large manned bombers of current types. The small size and low flight altitudes of modern cruise missilesore complicated problem, however, and we project that Soviet defenses will be less effective against these new systems during

The Soviets continue their antiballistic missile (ABM) programs, but the technical difficulties of detecting, identifying, and intereepiing ballistic missiles have kept progress slow. Moreover, the deployment constraints of2 ABM Treaty severely limit the effectiveness of defenses against missiles. (Should the Soviets abrogate the treaty, they could deploy ABMcly in the latter half of thee expect continuing Soviet interest in aniisalcllile defenses and in high-technology systems for strategic defense Possible developments in Iheouldpace-based antisatcltilc laser systemew laser air defense weapons. Continuing

civil defense efforts wilt improve prelection for the leaders and essential work force, but not for the general population or for military or economic facilities. Soviet capabilities against ballistic missile-launching submarines will remain poor

Wc project that, despite the widespread Western deployment of counterforcc weapons in, the Soviets will maintain the capability to destroy most of the US population and industryetaliatory strike. Conversely, despite their own growing counterforcc and defensivethey will not ine able toevastating retaliatory strike by remaining Western ICBMs and air- and submarine-launched weapon?

Programs for theater nuclear weaponry will further erode NATO's nuclear advantage in Europe unless NATO takes action to offset them. The Soviets have programs under way to improve the accuracy and flexibility of nuclear delivery systems at all ranges. These include the introduction'of new tactical aircraft and short-range ballistic missiles, the continuing deployment of nuclear-capable artillery, and further improvements in the number and quality of weapons on long-ranee theater nuclear delivery vehicles (missile launchers and aircraft) based inSSI

Our baseline projection includes improvements in Soviet Ground Forces. They will continue to emphasize the central role of armor; by the end of the decade most major Soviet units (and some units of their allies) will have tanks with advanced armor that provides good protection against current NATO weapons. The introduction of new artillery and air defense systems, as well as organizational changes that involve the addition of combat units and weapons, will increase the capabilities of Soviet divisions to respond to rapidly changing battlefield conditions. New fixed-wing ground attack aircraft and helicopters, with increased ranges and payloads and improved munitions, will increase the vulnerability of NATO's installations and forces and improve Soviet capabilities for close support of giound operation! f

With these new systems, we expect Soviet theater forces to keep pace with NATO's modernization programs. The East European forces of the Warsaw Pact will improve less rapidly, however, because economic constraints will limit the amount of modern Soviet equipment they can afford to acquire and maiutair

Soviet naval programs will continue to emphasize open-ocean forces and the deployment of air power to sea. These programs will improve the Navy's capabilities to contest areas of the open ocean with Ihe West. Ships and submarinesew. long-range cruise missile arc being introduced to offset Western gains in shipborne defenses. The Soviets arc producing ouclear-powcrcd attack submarines at an increasing rate, and theintroduced in this decade probably will be quieter (and harder to detect and track) than current model' J

Another naval development has important implications for Soviet militaryhave evidence of activities that probably are related toew aircraft carrier. It could be introduced in thend probably would carry standard fighter or attack aircraft and be nuclear-powered. (The Soviets have helicopter carriers and ships that carry short-range, vertical and short takeoff and landing aircraft, but this could be their first attack aircraftt would improve the Navy's air defensescouldapability for projection of air power in distant areas. The USSR could notarge-scale capability inone or two carriers could be available- but this could emergeajor theme innd later

We expect other improvements in Soviet forces for power projection, besides the aircraft carrier. Introductionew class of landingit occurs in thewould increase the troop-lift capability of the Navy. The Soviets are reportedly workingarge transport aircraft, similar in size to the US CSA. If they produce such an aircraft, their airlift capabilities0 could be substantially improved

In, the Soviets will continue to improve their military space and command and control systems. Wc expect them to place in orbit new military space stations, to be used for intelligence purposes, and new unmanned satellites for real-time photographic reconnaissance and Ihe detection of missile launches. Wc also expect further improvements in command and control, with emphasis on mobile systems and on the use of computer:

With these new forces and capabilities, wc expect the Sovietsigh level of activity in Ihe Third World to achieve both military and political goals. They may be willing to use their own forces more actively in the Third World, even if the activityreater risk of confrontation with Western powers

If the Soviets carry out the programs that wc have identified, their defense expenditures will continue to increase in real terms throughout. The precise rate of increase is difficult to predict. It could be as highear, if no constraints are imposed by arms control agreements and if the Soviets do not alter thesupport structure of their armedateercent would increase the military drain on the economy and the potential for internal political problems .)

In an attempt to address these problems, the Soviets might try to reduce the growth of their defense spending to,ercent or less. To accomplish this they could:

Cut back the current production of some systems while continuingof follow-ons.

Stretch out new production programs and postpone the target dates for force modernization.

Attempt to improve efficiency in the military and the defense industries.

They could even take advantage of the limited financial savings that arms control agreements would permit by deploying fewertheir past actions suggest that they would procure forces to the limits of any such agreements? -f

If the Soviets chose to make adjustments, they could spread them out among all of the military services, minimizing the impact on Ihe rate ofof the forceshole. These changes could be risky from the point of view of the military, but might be attractive to political leadersroader perspective. Wc believe adjustments sufficient to hold the growth in spending downercent would not significantly alter the majorof our baseline projeclion

Alternative Projections. More radical changes in Soviet military policy arc possible. Currently available evidence provides no clear indications that they are in the offing, but the interaction of political, economic, and technological forces inould conceivably lead to major discontinuities.'

' Arms control agreemcnti could also reduce uncertainly about Western military programs thus enable the Soviets to avoid some of the cent* of hedging against uncertainly ,


One possibility is thai the Soviets will reduce the level of military expend-jlures absolutely (rather than merely reducing the rate ofc believe this to be unlikely in the near term. Their dim view of theenvironment would argue against such cuts, and the guidelines they have published for their next Five-Year Plan imply continued growth in defense spending. We have not detected any evidence that the Soviets arc considering reductions

Nevertheless, reductions cannot be excludedong-run possibility; and. as one alternative projection, we have examined the consequencesut in defense We believe that to reduce expenditure levels in real terms the Soviets would have to alter the roles and missions of someer armed forces They probably would spread the cuts among all the military services-making them somewhat deeper in general purpose forces,ground forces. General purpose forces arc larger than strategic forces and they take up more of the defense budget and use more of the energy manpower, and key material resources needed by the civilianroduction of general purpose weapon systems competes directly with production of equipment for transporialion. agriculture, and(The resources devoted to production of strategic weapons, on the other

hand are more specialized and less readily transferable to importanl civilian uses. .1

Another alternative projection considers the possibility that the Soviets will increase defense spending more rapidly than in the past, totepped-up military competition. This effort (focused on either strategic or

T rrCCS> MUd CXPandCCS and in,provc abilities more rapidly thanforecast in our baseline projection. The range of program

ZZT^n T''?cna*in capacity is large enough to sustain it. Such an

increase would affect the distribution of economic resources significantly.

nowevcr (especiallyere in conventionalnd its poliiical

consequences could be extremely serious:

The Soviets' ability to increase investment resources critical to long-lerm economic growth would be reduced substantially.

Per capita consumption might decline in real terms late in Ihe decade

Key sectors of the economy would be disrupted

We do not know at what poinl the Soviets would find an increased defense burden to be unacceptable This would depend On the international environ ment and iheoutlook oflhc leaders in powe, Judging by iheir past behavior

we believe thai they would prefer, if possible, to keep defense expenditures within their current growth rale, while still pursuing their mililary goals.

The Soviets probably will seek lo constrain US programs andeduce their uncertainly about future US capabilities by urging further arms control negotiations.

They will also attempt, through propaganda and diplomacy, to undermine Wesiern cohesiveness on security issues and lo slow the pace of West European defense programs.

Soviets' incentives for such actions will increase as their economic growth slows in. Bui Soviet leadersigh premium on mililary power and will not, for economic reasons alone, accept constraints on defense programs that they consider vital to iheir interest

Background and Structure of This Report

ilical Analysis, Scientific and Weapons Research, and

This report is basedajor interdisciplinary research effort carried out by the National Foreign Assessment Center duringperiod. Il surveys the development of Soviet military power in the Brezhnevperiod of relalivc economic prosperity and polilicaloutlines its probable evolution in. when declining economiceadership succession,omplex international environment will pose difficult choices for Soviet political and mililary leaders. To improve our understanding of these choices, more thanndividual research projects were undertaken by the Offices of Central Reference. Economic Research,

Beginningiscussion of the Soviet mililary buildup under Brezhnev and of the factors underlying ii. ihe paper then discusses the forces thai will affeel Soviet power and policies in. These ideas underlie our baseline projection Tor ihe period0. Finally, several alternative courses of action thai the Soviets could follow arc outlined, as well as ihe conditions and constraints that bear on Soviet behavior and the clues that could alert us to changes in Soviet military policy


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