Created: 6/1/1973

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Scientific and Technical Intelligence Report

The Soviet Decisionmaking Process for the Selection of Weapon Systems


yj7.cnt contains information affecting the national security cf the Umtsd States within the meaning of the espionage laws U- S. Code Tide IS.. The law prohibits its trans:nission or dieof its contents in any manner to an unauthorized person,ell as its use in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States. It is to be seen only by personnel especially indortrinated and authorized to receive information in the designated contiol channels. Its security must be maintained in accordance with regulations pertaining to the TALENT-KEYHOLE and CommunicadOnj Intelligence Controls. No action is to be taken on any communications intelligence which may be contained herein, regardless of the advantage to be gained, if such action might have the effect of revealing the existence and nature of the source, unless such action is first approved by the appropriate authority.



Project Officer



process itself but also on the So*he course of Soviet strategic icgotiatiom. Tnetter on of the Soviet process, this mee such selections.!

A better understanding o: trie Soviet decisionmaking process in "capon selection is important because it can shed light not only on manyunresolved questions about strategic buildup cf theolicy in (elation to the corttinuim understanding of the structure and report analyzes the inlcmcl faeion lh

The principal internal factors comprise institutional arrangements, the interaction among party, government, and military establishments, the communication process in the bureaucracies, and the role of special interest groups.

The focus in this studs is on the operational aspects of the Sonet decisionmaking process. The report attempts to furnish some insight into hu'v the Soviet central leadership handles trade-offs among competing weapon systems andoherent hue of national policy in theector Because the information at hand is incomplete and became ambiguity is inherent in much of it the judgments herein must be regarded as tentative.

Theased in part on analysis done

bv the Office nf Scientific intelligence ai

coordinated within CIA. The Cutoff date for in for nut ion is'j.I






Summit of dccisiorL-natJng

Soviet science policy and military

Initiation ol weapons systems

Development and production of advanced military technology



The summit structure of Soviet 3

Probable interest group relationships 3'


Review process for weapons requirements






To characterize the decision miking process whereby the Soviet weapon systems are selected lor development


The inoit important national-lev*!

for development are the "defenw subgroup" *ihe Politburo, the Deferne Council, and the Militjn-lnduitrial Cumnimion.

2 Interaction between the Politburo defense subgroup and the Defenie Councilprecedes the lormulatinnolitburo subgroup petition on any decision. The Defenie Council's major (unction probably ilbtain lubttantive agreement'een the Politburo subgroup and the military leadership Such deciiiom are. therefore madelosed ititem operating within the flightK larger closed system u( puliticjl decisionmaking

1to thirty iey individuals probably escrcisc teal influence regularly upon important deciiiom nn weapon svstenii They ore to be found in the Politburo the Central Committee Secretariat the Council ol MlniltlrJ. the Minixry of Defenie. the

"TV* Itr^ivup o*

rnjilm Ihit (rim Jon roieVnoi*upif "WiIuliOAal <Mil>

DefentC Cmincil. the Miliiaiy-lncusirijl Commission, jiiii the defeme induitrici. asji in the economic planning, tciendfic. and intelligence bureaucracies.

4 The political leadership appears not to haveindependent of the militarya/ijlyre and to correlate militarv requirement!it ftjuhle technolu(lcally and economically.capabilities esitt only in (heit implies that the politicalplav more the roleediator than that ofin dealing with hsuei presentedintern; groups This method ofmay notailing in theThe syncm may ilatil decisions in favor nfbui the results seem to be such thatpolitical leaders, with lew ciceptiom.them

3 Soviet political leaden are under pressure to assure an equitable and politically congenial distribution of tlie armament businen. Imtitutional premireegional Interests, and the political lies of individual leaden lo party com!fluencies in


r... .

heI in puree!ling outiiilucnces may on occasion help In assure (lie i'diitiiiujtiori ni ^capons RiD programs beyond (In: pointotioiiai arid systematic jsscssncktdictate changes nr cancellations.

ie Ministry of Delen^e. (he majorntci ol :hf products <il advanced military technology,he sjrtie timeentral participant in the process that ^eneiatet such production. Too rninisHvulsorditutc agencies, dominate in the framing ufnd weapons to liO deployed, hul the political leadership cicrcjhs final authorili over all major

weapon decisions.

he military services pla- rlie leading role in rhc initiation of weaponrograms iwcauw


nrgunixationol continuity, and dose jndwnh the designers and producer ofThe initiative in weapons RAD, (op-levcl Ministry ofCencral Stall personnel or hy weaponstheir staffs. The close link between (hen[ the deierive industry sector and (hoalmost certainly 1ijS Jed l0 tgroups comprised uf weapon* designnrnaniulions in industry jnd

prut'am. which further tho: irulitutiofial iiif-rc.ti

uilding approach whichthe decisionmaking process on weapon selection at the Soviet summit is not likely to chan-je significantly ai long .is ihc present composition of the political leadership continue* to operate on the basis of the principle of collectivity. The tendency of the political leaden, in depend on the advice of the milifan leaders prohahlvcontinue under the cvistiri-; regime. though (he political leaders undoubtedly will retain full authority fnr makingfinal decisions. Any significant future reduction of rCtOurcc. allocated to the defense sectoresult of SALT as well as any increase in civilian goods at the expensee defense sector would probably Intensify, competition for resource* within the defeme sector jnd increase tension at all levels nf the Soviet decision ma kins hierarchy


Themies at the summit ol the Soviet dccbiuiimaking system is accomplished more through uilornul procedures and predecision con;cnsu>

building tl Most decis formal slain

The mas weapons11i'ilodifOTiivv. Cocieriodically

o assemblage nl hi eh. ran king defense uidnvtrv am! Minntr- of Uelcuse ofliciab presided over by LA'. Smirmiv but responsible tomiUce Secretary Dl' L'tti.iov. L'itinov. overseer of military RiO and production activities.U> Party Secretary Brezhnev, probably is the most important civilian hanne to dn with decisions on weapons development and procurement (sec11

It is probable that only IS to -SO men rejulatlj exercise real influence upon importanl Soviet vvcaOOnS wstem decistnns and. with the exception ol the Politburo de'ensethese top men are representative) of the defense industrial establishment or arc miliUrv professional. The final decision, however, ii in the hands of Brezhnev and his fellow Politburo members

The various lunctionjl departments of the Central Committee Secretariat, over which Brezhnev prcsido may furnish stall support to the Politburo defense voheronp and the Defense Council on weapon polio isrsiics. The Defense Industries Department, in

top secm^suff




dp. ustinov party overseer





which it headed by ID Serbiri but which al>0L'ttino*upport Staff no defenie-industnal matte.i. proodei luppot for> ii alall for ripen countel on jrange of weapon* de*elupmcut and procurement rxuei. although in xictv n( his Inng and intimate invohementthe militarv-industnal establishment.dvice in this lield may not be altogethera proarmsmenti hot

Tnc Polilbuio defense subgroup probably meets whenever Brezhnevin members identify problem! requiring attention. After appropriate stalling and Irarr.tng ol voluiioni the members ieeL tooncensus to be presented to the full Politburoormal dccinon Slosl iiiucs are probabU seldom debated at length by the "hole Politburo, hut laid before it as staffcd-Out propositionsengthy agenda ot aveor-nav items. Howa proposed eVciwon ol the defense subgroup mar meet objection and what techniques of pervuauon may he employed toa substantial ennsemus among the toting members of (lie Politburo, are noi knouts. It is probjblc that uhai rnoit frequently happens it that explicitare avoided by pnor informal coordination between the detente subgroup and atoting majonty of the full Politburo One of tlie chief practical consequences of this aspect of the decision ma ling processseem to be that, once agreement has been reached within the defenie subgroup, major alternative* at the full Politburo level are probably effectively forecloied.

The Defenie Council may meet periodically atfor broad-range poiicy review Moil ofhowever are probably Inegular.and attended on ans It is

unclear whether theto issues talen up in the Defente Council reflecthe views and outlook ol the mihlarv and the defense-industrial eilabliihment repreientativei. or whether proposal advocated bv them are customanly challenged and diluted by Politburo subgroup mcmbeu. The Politburo subgroup has tie* and reipiirsiibiiitif

eilend-rig into uriDuif the national hie jnd ateosition to express the countering voice ofinstitutional forces il diet so choose. This coufic ol .iction.robably extraordinarilyvc to Brezhnev's persona! power Jnda> the key figure in the defense subgroup If he itj> theto jwai his subgroupd (he inclination to tjwcir policy position slanted toward miLljfv-mdiiitujl priorities, then it would seem likely thai the ucreements ,tnd "ecorimenc'alions vvmch are produced by the Oefcte Council tend to lean in this Ci;ect:oi- Tne general tn*(id ol Soviet polio* li"cc the IJrczhrtev-hosygirv regime cameffice does not seen; '9 contradict this proposition.

obci at the Soviet summit, it isos>:l> involved in anv matters related to major decisions on weapon systems as earls astage and certainly Jt the stage when large procurement and deployment decisions (all due

articular category of issues which may occasionally rise to (he summit concerns disputes that ate internal to the military csla'sliihmeiil. centering ontracers as doctrinal etiacges. com the services for resources iinular tv pes of isiue the militaryempt home, but oixasio'ijlly dispi

., <

ine to skip 'half of thei'

ikingonducive rcssarcs anddeleme

ministerial It Central jtal shouldMtion to ifowerful p<hannels am particular on

The sum ni hjt the chanverruling

ug net national Stamp ont it comprisedmall group of p( senior political and military official, froml if u: ions involved in defense matters. I: communication onssues appears to he ir and very good among the officials invoked decisionmaking process

It has not been possible to ascertain the trtettf to which the Soviet polics summitational and integratedpolicy The eitent to which it fail* in this respect may stem from its apparent dependence forfrom the bureaucracies whose imtitutsonal interests are most at stake. Despite the small and close-knit character of the pohev summit, there is. for example no evidence of tlieetiitericcofan organization which is independent of the military and which is staffed to appraise routinely andthe worth nfapom ptogiamsanner tha! functionally coordinates needs with means The kind of cost-effectiveness ana.vvit of new weapons that ishe United Stales by suchupra-military organs as OaSD Systems Analyst. DDP.AE. and the NSC Program Analysis Staff appears to be done in the USSR either by mllilarv professionals or in the mmdiew key leaders like Brezhnev kvoiygin. and Ustinov While thereossibility that luch work it conducted by the Defense Industries Department,o evidence of it.

Over the past decade there has been ananalysis discipline in the Soviet Union thatcapable of providing an integrativeappraisal of weapons programs torleadership Up In the present, however, 1_

political icaoers are proclaim strongly inclined lu accept weapons programs that the military professionals say they need and that arc considered feasible.

As long as the top leaders perceive no overriding economic pressures toward restraint in militaiv programs, the built-in bias ol the decision ma ki in* system appears to be conducive to the determined cvpin.ion oflong lines which satisfy all or most military advocates of new pro?rami If thtv is the case, then the summit may heedium in which unitary, purposive direction byop leadership produces optimum integrated policy choicesorum for arbitrating among polio initiatives presented bv contending bureaucracies.

y'iewed in the contest of results achieved, what hj> been identifiedrobablev notailing ates of the Soviet leaders. The operation uf the> tilt decisionsefense direction, but the results seem such that

th* Sonet leaders, is nh aexceptions, probably do not view them at 'in. in Indeed, the leadership may be sufficiently imprened with the record !hat thc> do not see any need to

change M


The soviet oWtuonmakinit process (or the selectioneapon systems (or de'eloprnerit appears tohreeatr-eonet ol policy,ecisions on science and lech-iot-ugy: decision) on specificdevelopmeni programs; and deciiioni on production, forceng. and deployment. These three of decision) are related but are probabl* distinguishable in term* ui participants and procedures.

The decisions on science and technology for military purposes probably Involve a broad array of participanti The> include the defense-astociated scientific research institutes and their parent minlKrles. the Ministry of and ten ice dtenii. the Military-Industrial Commitnon. I'stino* and the Seereurtat. Cusplan. the State Committee for Science and Technology, and the Academy of Sciences I'Iti- mq-aeifiomtrategy andihes; jg? regate resource impiicatsoni probabK come before the Politburo The comparative weight of the professional military in (his area of policy ma Lint probably n conndetably than in weapon* development decision) if unlv because nf the size of the poiicy area. The milifan is. *ie*crthcle>s. influential j( thii irate through Ik ioice ui higli-ic*cl policy councils and Hi Scientific-TechnicalThe military alto everts it( influenceearch initiates, the institutes of the Academy of Sciences, and the higher educational institutes that are engaged in the preliminary staget of.

decisions on buuctrategy and funding in the Soviet Lmon appear to be muchsoseh lied to specific weapons programs than is usually rfce Case in the lulled States Corstde.-ahle RiD activilv appean lo be directed toward advancing the general itate ot ihr-art in certain (miliary tr;iareas rather than bendertaken in lupport of speciticlyvKna developments. *Vhate*frmentsay of accomplishing military ll&D. this Soviet jiylc hj> several itemficaiil iinplieatiuni for decision ma km* Soviet decision* nund technology aw nut

easily named to answer spend Ori uiiat This son ro much of military Ril open-ended growth in cm she Soviet leaders mas-

quest ion ofmuch to liat open-ended approachendency to genera:*

i o curb, ludgmg from recent expressions of concern about the etc-alaiingf. and warnings that steady expansion of resource inputs cannot go on forever. On the Other hand, the Soviet style ofas certain advantages which thosemanage it tr.a> notto torego It permits them, for example, to dela> decissonstpecific weapon* doelopenenintil lai.-ly lale in the evolution of new tcchnologv This, in effect, reduces planning uncertainty. In turn this would seem to place Soviet decinonmalenavorable position lo make force sizing and deployment plans at the onset of specific weapons development program)

At ihe second majoi oVeiuoamalang stage, onespecific weapons development program, (he Circle of participants tends lo narrow, and the relationship between the defense industrial bureauc* racy and the military establishment becomes more pronounced Besides participation of higher political juihonties at two major decisionor program initiation and approval of senesis very probable thai the summit machine! exercises fairly date monitoringrogram throughout ill course by key Politburo members, hrough Central Committee

The So* iet leaden appear to be under someo atture an equitable and politicalls congenial distribution o( the armament business Institutional pressure groups, regional interests the political lies of individual hraden to party const-tumors alllay tome pan in the shaping of decisions and in the parcelling out of resources. With regard lo (CUM pruftamt in particular distributing the buluieti jmong Jiffvrcnt design teams and development centen max have influenced the ICBM mis and posiure thated

Related to the phenomenon of distributing llie armament business it the -apparent tendency wiilim the intern for an institutional ebimiven shavit resources once established, to perpetuate dot been determined bow much weight lo give ihn !actor at an importani internal determinant ut iitiiiijneve it he! cm. when itic interestt ui vunuui powerful bureaucracict collide


iOTIC lai'li simple ureaucratic rivalries

mav he impoicd'. peace within the iWtm


Theol Defense and its .iHn: 'i dominate ir thef the choices a> to which technologies will he pursued jnd which wejpom deposed, but the top political leaden curat* linal authontvall maior weapon, decision!

To (heixties, responsibility for managing ad>aneed military technology was apparently dispelled jnvon* the technical directorates of the services and various special com missions outside (he military establish men! itiell In the eatlyen tie* of both the Ministry ol Defense and Genera! Staff levels too* over Increased responsibility for advanced weapons policy and (he intcrservice coordination of RiO This function from the mid-sivtics on (ended to center largely in the General Staff under the lorceful leadership a: Marshal ZaLharov0 another shift giving the ministetialtronger hold on the coordinating function appears to have befun Meanwhile, the technical directorates of the military vertices has* displayed cornide'jbl* continmti. and their dene ties with the defense-industnal organizations in *hich the actual conduct or most mililars RiD talcs place >ecm to have continued undisturbed. Aeainst this background, several points stand out

The settling down of the Sovietystem after its orgaratational paim in the early ii sties and its subsequent coninbutions to the successful strategic buildup under the nrezhnev-tvosygin regime have probably enhanced the prestige and influence ol the military establishment. This in turn could have fortified the tendency of the present regime to "lease things in the hands ol the marshals" so far as the routine management ol thedevelopment process is concerned

Though most of the matur weaponi development and deployment decisions under the Biexhno-kmvgm regime can perhaps be creditedoherent policy' pursuedtrong General Staff, itno means clear how militan servicehave been brought in hear at the ministerial levels. It is very pmbdhlc. however, thai much of the initiation ol new weaponies with the military services They has* ihe institutionalhe special expertise, organizational continuity,loie and continuing relationship with the designers and producers of new wcaponnurisdictional conflictbetween the Ceneral Staff and tbe ministerial level a* masbe the case, ihu CuulJ portend an oen more npen field for service initiatives The power lo initiaterograms, however, as well as to settle intersenice competition, certainly resides atrral Staff and ministerial levels

The Minister of Deftns* is peooabtt the chief representative of the Soviet military- in dealings with the political leadership.the Chief of Staff runs the armed forces. However, there isore subtle set of relationships in which interaction with the political leadership is conditioned both by (he personal staturehe institutional weight of (he two top spokesmen of the miliary establish merit. It is possible thateplacement as Chiel of Staffuch less prestigious officer may give the Minuter of Defense more room to press hisn views onssues at the summit.

typical led to

The best development programs Soviet aircraft systemsircraft development in pa' miisiie developmentmi)sile development has not all the routines and procedure* fallowed in aircraft development. It appears, fur example, that (he Soviets have reduced to snmethe competitive prototype approach lo ballistic missile development that the< still find Suitable for aircraft development Earlier commitment tu production for at least some minile systems, such as3 and SS-II. also appears toaken place, in contrast with the Customary practice of deferring production decisions on aircraft until the completion of successful testing Essentially the same practices appear to appli in (he case of both aircraft and missile wstems in (he requirement and program approval phase of the weapons developmentfirst and mos; critical phase.

Th* first Step in the process otrogram require men! is probably the emergenceivenperhaps in the Cenetala comparativeb unrefined perception of the needew weapon si stem Isee table) This perception could develop out nf Specific operational problems or a


to. II.


Review Process for Weapons Requirements

Identify Sen Weapon System Seed

Expfoce Technical Method forMeeting Seed

Determine Technical Featiblltiij

MitUcru Service Sounds Out MOO. Cene-cl Staff

Top Level Military Authorities Consult Ustinoc. 8'tzhnev

Weapons Requirement Draft Prepared

Military Serclce Command Reiicu.

General Staff and MOO Recfew

Smirnov. Ustinov Recicia

Rectew Bu Appropriate Defense industry Ministries VPK Review

Ustinov Consulti Cotplan on Resources Defense Council Review

The willingness of the services loequirementesigner's requestrobably enhanced if. as il appears, all weapons development programs are funded directly through the state budge! to the industrial ministries, not via the Ministry of Defense budget With regard to design practice, probably the designers arc more conservative than the military services in generating design concepts which carry high risks Because the designers mayigher penalty for technological gambles that are not successful and because the military has occasionally bemoaned the conservatism of Soviet design traditions, the military probably is more prone to Seek substantial technological advances in new weaponry.

It is probable lhat special interest ties have developed between the various militarv services and those organizations in the defense industry sector which develop and produce wear

general appraisal of future weapons requirement, as well as ou: of perceived weapons development in

other countries, or the detirearticulurscrvice to

augment its institutional stature by acquisition of new

hardware Before formal actionood deal of

informal lateral and vertical consultation probably

occurs at various levels within the military

cstablishmer.ts. In the caseajor program

proposal, efforts arc probably made to sound out the

f political authorities, at least j> high as

Ustinov.he environment is found reasonably

favorable, formal action then beginsa ft

statement of tactical-technicalain technical directorate with advice from the main service staff. Thereafter, the proposal moves upward for general Staff or ministry approval. If the proposal is endorsed there, then it probably enters the Ustinov-VPK-Cosplan nexus for appraisal as to and economic feasibility before formal tactical technical task approval clean the way for actual development to begin.


Weapons designers and their staffs Program initiation decisions arc probabK- the most

respond argelv to the.equ.rements developed bvones inapons development process but

service Cents, but the. mav also play adoes not flowhereafter

rotethe initiation of new weaponsprograms must pass numerous decision

poind ji any one olrogram can heerminated. Tin apparent tendency of thetnit to Icon nrt professional military advice at the inception o( highpnnrih <lc>eIopment programs does not appear in practice to dimtniih appreciably ji the development cycle proceedi In fact, the Soviets usuallyiven program through to deployab'e hardware and then modifv later, rather than alter designs early in the development phase

All Soviet weapons development programs do not gnnd forward inexorably to loreordained deploytome successful developments have not been ceployed The Soviet planning intern max be one in which the force tiling implications of weapons programs are faced to some degree at the outset of development The mixed history of vanoui protects in the ICBM. ABM and aircraft fields, however, suggests lhat early Consideration ol foice requirements does not necessanlv dtive the planning and decision process thcrcaflcr. Rather, it appears that some procurement and deplosmcnt decisions have heen strung outonsiderable period after RAO completion, dependingariety of internal and external conditions affecting ihe decisionmaking envrionmenj Moreover, just as certain institutional factors may increase pressures on the leadership for early and fitiil commitment lo production and deployment, others tend to lighten such pressures Since the maintenanceargend producti'in base, for example, is an explicit priority of So-iet national planning, decisions to defer or even cancel major projects do not tend lo spread organization disruption through the middle and lower echelons n! the system. However, the particular military service whose favorite interests have bee" negatively affectedd it less easy to take the situation in stride

Com part mentation in the Soviet system appears on occasion toegative effect on the quality of decisions on wejpon selection. At the topof ihe Soviet

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