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CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE AS SANITIZED
-TP SECRETiaai n
SUBJECT: SOVIET MILITARY OPTIONS IN THE HIDDLE EAST
r! i ?DDUaltnient t0 theceuw IS baaed or, both th. vanregional inteceetsroader concern to demonstrate thc global nature of Soviet power. It hopes for an outcome that not only enhance it. regional position, but allows detente to go forward.
The" aSoviet military involvement.
The salient moveseavy augmentation of thc USSR'snaval force and the confirmed shipment of SCUDs to
im?Imostspect of ^
bjUbl. for possible later us.
Should the cease-fire break downr threaten to dooviet military options would carry varying degrees of risk.
The USSR could dsploy naval unitsore threatening
It could send conbaz air units to the Huddle East. This kind of intervention wouldtrong political impact but would notecisive early effect on the ground fighting.
iewed tha USIB Agencies at the oorkin. ini'ei. it has not been reviewed by the USIB itself.
Ic could deploy airborne forces. This would have even sharper deterrent effect. In actual fighting these uniu could be used co screen Cairo or Datuscus, but could not stand upetermined Israel offensive in the desert.
It coulduclear dimension into play, cither by overt or private threats. SCUDs with high-explosive warheads night be fired to give weight to these|_
Soviet use of nuclear weapons is extremely unTXfiely.
Ic could introduce,onger time period, ground combat unite. These might be sent to Syria, where their appearance or use would reduce Israeli nilitaryin tha Egyptian sector.
If Che present stalemate continues unchanged for several weeks, thereanger that the Soviets will introduce mora forces.
TOP SECRET RUf
I. SOVIET POLICY CONSIDERATIONS
n our judgment, Soviet conduct prior to thc Middle Eaat war was mainly reactive to events and they had little or no control over the Arabs' decision to go to war. They have sought advantages for themselves from the war, however, and have shown clearly chat they are not ready to let their interest in detente totally override their objectives In the Middle East. Furthermore, the Kremlin's behavior in the latest Middle East crisis suggests that its motivation is no longer merely an effort to maintain Its influence and physical presence there. Important chough chat remains. Rather, thc Soviet leadership probably ices the crisisey tost of the credibility of its world-wide (mageuperpower equal to chat of thc US.
n the present circumstances, the Soviets probably see their incercsts bese served by preservation of the cease-fire and progress on che political front, lut che Soviets recognize the fragility of theend the likelihood that, if It breaks down, che ensuing hostilities could again quickly turn against the Arabs. This pi.ices them underto consider mllicary options designed toreakdown and Co beosition co act effecclvely if fighting does resume.
TOP- SSGftgF HUM'-
II. SOVIET MILITARY CAPABILITIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST
he Soviets have assembled in the Mediterranean end tmvc available In thetrong and nobl le force that could be brought directly to bear ln tho Middle East should they decide to do so.
he Soviet naval force In the Mediterranean has almost doubled to aroundnits and now includes overurface warships and overubmarines. These ships have both surfacc-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles. The force alsomphibious ships, some of which are known to have naval infantry troops on board. The Soviets also hava one or two naval lnfantty regimentsupenin the Black Sea Fleet.
his foice Is capable ofumber of roles:
Interposition against potential US intervention.
landing of naval infantry.
hefore the outbreak ostilities
oviet advisors and technicians in Egypt. These advisors were located
with various air and air defense units, ground forces and various aimed force academies. During this same period there wereoviet advisors and technicians fn Syriaattached to the same types of units. Hi-ports indicate additional advisorsprobably numbering In the hundreds
ave arrived in ccth cuunttiat since tlx war begun. Some Soviet advisors participatedar least indirectlyin the hostilities.
Soviets haveubstantial air- andlanes and overargo ships carrying armssincebegan. Nevertheless, this falls short of their full capabilities.
from transport aircraft, there is no evidence thatForce unit* have been employed In the Middle East fighting.
Soviet fighter units at* sent to Egypt and Syria, thewould he disassembled and transported aboard cargo aircraftAegioent ofighters would require sou SS It would takeeek to get the aircraft to thennd ready for combat.
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All borne Forces
oviet airborne forceswhich apparently were in an advanced alert Meatus during the lightingprobably are nowrecautionary alert. Hovea.cnC of one o( (he seven Soviet airborne divisions to the Middle East wouldizeable airliftatheir equipnenc has been sent by sea, however, the number of flights could be reduced substantially.
SCUD Missile Force
Jalthough thc system may have been deployed before the war. We do not know how many SCUDs have been delivered to Egypt, nor do we know whether the missiles are to be sunned by Egyptian or Soviet crews.
have been unconfirmedf Soviet armoredin Syria.
pattern of activity suggests either the Sovietb haveof their armored units to provide rapid resupply to the Arabs,Soviet units are being shipped to the Middle East. Ue cannotof these lsotalmphibious ships are estlaated
to have called at Latakia, Syria since the outbreak of hostilities, while somether arms carriers are believed to have put into eastern Mediterranean ports during the same time period. The possibility exists, therefore, that portions of Soviet armored units hava already disembarked in Egypt or Syria, but we have no firm lndlcacloa of this.
III. SOME Ml LI TAXY OPTIONS OPEN TO MOSCOW
oscow is probably giving first consideration to chose oeasures thac could be carried out priorreakdown in the coast-fire. The Soviets would hope not only to bc better prepared for large-scaleshould Ito that, but also to have impressed tha US and
TOP fflCCRET RUFF
Ii.icl withseilousness they attach to any failure to aove ahead with theire/withdrawal process. There are already signa that the Soviets aie nei.UliJ this optionthe buildup of cheSquadron, the addition of tore amphibious ships and naval Infante to it, thefoviet military personnel In both Syria and Egypt and the poisiblc pie-positlonlng of military equipment. At the same time, we believe ihat the Soviets have not discounted UScapabilities or its willingness to employ them, andoncern co limit the damage to detente still affects their calculations.
ne Soviet option would be to introduce combat air support and air defense units. Such actions woulderious commitment of Soviet support if che cease-fire were threatened and would bolster tho Arahsesumption cf the war involve deep penetration air operations by che Israelis. Tactical air units by themselves would have marginal allltary Impact if the Arab millcary poslclon on Che ground were deteriorating rapidly.
f che Sovlecs decide co introduce troops during the cease-fire, Soviet airborne divisions probably would be the most readily available. The political effecc of chls move would be far stronger than in the case of air defense units and would significantly raise the risk in Soviet eyes of confroiiiaclon with the US. If the cease-fire breaks down, che
airborne units would have only marginal military capabilities against Israel armor ln the desert but they would be core effective inCairo or Damascus.
f the Soviets have placed nuclear weapons in the Middle East, these could provide backlog for their ground forces. It is, however,
dilflcult to conceive of circumstances in which thc Soviets would choose to initiate the use of nuclear weapons. It is certain, in our view, that
they would not put such weapons in the hands of Arab forces.
deployment could also be intended to rescue the Arabsuturecollapse. Tliey couldange of actionshints, private
warnings, SCUD firings with high-explosiveublic statement
touclear threat into political play.
ithin two to three weeks ofecision, the Soviet! could introduce their first tank or motorized divisions.tep would add to Arab strength along th* cease-fire lines and Increase the threat of nn Arab resumption of hostilities if negotiations on political questions did not progress favorably.
llhough Che Egyptian front appears less stable, the Soviets might calculate that It would be more advantageous to place combat forces in Syria. Given the disposition of Israelioviet commltnent of araored and motorized rifle divisions to the Syrian front would lorce Tel Aviv to draw substantial forces out of Egypt and the Sinai. Once the Soviets began to place coabat units Into the Kiddle East, they probably would not halt at several divisions, but would proceed to buildorce capable of doninating the front in question.