Created: 4/1/1970

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CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Directorate of Intelligence0


Recent Soviet Military Activity on the Sino-Soviet Border


The9 saw the firstprobably theclashes between the Soviet Union and Communist China. Tensionseak last summer, prompting reportsariety of sources that the Soviets were increasing the pace of their buildup of forces along the border and woreilitary attack on China.

In an effort to temper the dispute, the two countries agreed to open talks in Peking in The talks are apparently deadlocked and their eventual outcome is uncertain. Whatever the outcome, last year's border clashes and the beginning of the border talks will stand as landmarks in the course of the Sino-Soviet confrontation.

This memorandum reviews the progress of the Soviet military buildup along the border,since the clashesummary begins on

* * *

ttote: Thin memorandum vae produced tolely by CIA. It vae prepared by the Office of Strategic Reeearoh and coordinated tilth the Officee of Current Economic Reeearoh, and National Estimates,



Tho Soviet Buildup Through

Activity Since

The Area Opposite Sinkiang

Theongolia Region

Tho Soviet Fax

Hew Techniques and Equipment

Rate of


Soviet Forces on the Chinese Border (map)

New Military Equipment on the Sino-Sovict

Buildup of Soviet Divisions Opposite China 13

The Soviet Buildup Through

Soviet rolationa with China began deteriorating in the late Fifties, but it was notl the middle Sixties that the Soviets began to view Chinaostile power. 5 tho ideological anddisputes batwoon the two countries had grown increasingly bitter. It was apparently about then that the Soviets decided toignificant buildup of their forces along the Chinese bordor.

theivisions along tho Sino-Soviet frontier. f these were combat ready. Byank, ifle, and 2been identified in positions near the bordor. About half of them were at combat strength."

Tactical air forces along the borderimilar buildup. Priorne tactical air army withombat aircraft andelicopters was located near China in Primorskiy Kray, the southern part of the Far East Military District. Byegiment had oeen added co this air armyew ait army had boon formed in theongolia area. This brought tactical air strength along tho bordorombat aircraft andelicopters. Nearly all the new units wore based at airfields built or renovated since

enough to envna to maite them readily available for net against that country are coneidered. There are aleo about a- dozen lov etrength dioioione in the Turkestan Military District and in more remote parte of Siberia and the Soviet Far Eaet that would be available ae reinforaemente over the longer term. They haoe undergone little ohange during the border buildup, kuvever, and apparently do not figurein Soviet planning againet China.

Soviet Forces on Ihe Chinese Border

u. s.

ic Army

fy O'lttitt

ir Army, forming


I'" >




ivisions jSKSi


^ J t


he Sovietsl them combat ready-and oneir army deployed along the Chinese border. A* tf-iown on the map.iviiions- aboul hall ol them combat ready-have now been identifiedlement* which could form the baseote have been deiecttd.

The tactical Mr armythe Far tail Milr. tary District was reinforced during (he buildupew tactical air army has been formed inTrans-BaikalMongolia,hirdalt army Is now forming tn the Central Asian Militaryew district created aboutmprove control of ground and air forces being deployed opposite

The initial stages of the border buildup were concentrated in the two military districts opoosite Manchuria. Beginning abouthe Soviets paid increasing attention to the western portion of me border, and have added more new units opposite Sinkiang and tn Mongolia.

con cent rat ion

Several of the new airfields had not been occupied, but those appeared to be dispersal or deployment airfields not Intended to have permanent complements.

Tho greatest buildup in strength occurredManchuria, the area in which the Chineao are strongest. The Trans-Baikal and For East military districts, which border Manchuria, are the farthest from the Sovloto' industrial and population baso and would be tho most difficult to reinforce in tho event of hostilities. Priority apparently was given to the buildup of forces in these two districts.

The Soviets probably did not judge the Chinese threat in the Sinkiang-Xazakhstan border aroa to bo as scrloua aa that opposite Manchuria, nor that the stakes would be as high in tho eventhinese Incursion. Few Chinese troops are stationed in Sinkiang, and that area would be one of tho most difficult for the Chinese to resupply. The Sinkiang border is closer to the Soviets' European power base than tho Far East and would be easier to reinforce. When the border buildup was planned in tho mid-Sixties, the western border apparently received less attention than the aroa facing Manchuria.

By the evidence available suggested that tho increase In the number of Soviet divisions on tho bordor was nearing completion. Of theew divisions identified by that time, formation ofad begun before the end7 and thoore startod by The increase In now facilition and equipment holdings continuedtoedy pace thereafter, but apparently involved tho filling out of existing units rather than the creation of now divisions. The rate of construction of now hard-surface airfields declined.

Activity Since

Sincehe picture has changed (see map, facing). uildup has been identified opposlto Sinkiang and additional divisions have been detected in Mongolia. Although some of tho units identified aa divisions byave not developed as

expected, other, more likely candidates for buildup to division strength have appeared along the bordor. And the filling out of understrcngth divisions has continued.

The Area Opposite Sinkia-.q

Only one division had been stationed in the area opposite Sinkiang prior Although two more divisions wore addedhe initial stages of the border buildup were concentrated opposite Manchuria, and not untilr so did the Soviets really scorn to turn their attention to the western portions of tho border.

Since two additional divisions have been identified opposite Sinkiang. Elements of both these divisions may have been present as long ago as Another new division may now be forming. In addition, an existing division near the Afghanistan border probably has been resubordinated from the Turkestan Military District to the new Central Asian Military District opposite Sinkiang. This brings the total number of divisions in the new districtrnd additional military installations are under construction.

Tho new district, first identified in9 but probably established in midyear, probably includes the throe republics in Soviet Central Asia closest to China. These republics used to be part of the Turkestan Military District but apparently were separated from it In an effort to provide more effective control of the increasing number ofopposite Sinkiang. General of the Army N. G. Lyashchenko, the former commandor of the Turkestan Military District, heads the new district.

A buildup of tactical air forces also appears to be under way in the new district. The Soviets

are transferring control of part of the 6th Tactical Air Army from the Turkestan Military District to the now Central Asian district, and the present division of tactical air authority between the two districts indicateseparate air army isestablished in each. Two of the six combat units formerly assigned to the 6th Air


will provide the nucleus for air pporx or cne gtound forces there. These two units, with aboucombat aircraft, probably will bo augmented by additional units, either newly created or transferred from other air armies.

The runways of several natural-surface airfields in the new district have been paved during the past year and new natural-surface dispersal or utility airfields have been built. Continuing construction at some of the natural-surface fields suggests that they will be hardtep which often cedes permanent deployment of aircraft.

Tho border area for which the new militaryis responsible was the scene of several clashes with the Chinese last summer. One of these incidents in the Dzungarian Gate area onas the last reported clash before the Sino-Soviet talks got under way in Peking in October.


ojss witn which thft Soviets viewedalong the western border. ovietregiment at Druzhba, astride thewas withdrawn from its oalient positionmore easily defended and supplied base somefrom the

tin1 'ii1 r

Theongolia Region

Considerable Soviet military activity has also taken place in Mongolia during the past year. continued at ground force installations at Sayn Shanda and Choybalsan,ew installation was identified at Sumber Suma. oviet division has been stationed at Ulan Batornd there are elements of one or two more divisions at the other installations in Mongolia.

Tho new construction

jsuggest that

tne Soviets intend toorps or armyin that country, with three or fourto it. "'

No new divisions were positively identified tn the Trans-Baikal Military District during the past year, and the status of one of the previouslydivisions is now uncertain. The recentin the Trans-Baikal Militaryin the Farhas beon concentrated on filling out existing units and on improving support elements.

In tactical aviation, one new air unit was added in the Trans-Baikal last year. The increase in tactical air strength east of Lake Baikal was much lower thanhen seven new air units reached operational status. The total number of combat aircraft in theongolian air army now stands at, somef them in Mongolia,

The Soviet Far East

No new divisions were identified in

-]the Far East Military District


sonttl apparently are concentrating on filling out the divisions already there rather than on establishing new ones. Tactical air strength stands atombat aircraft.

Hew Techniques and Equipment

In addition to deploying new divisions along the border, the Soviets have takan other steps during the past year to strengthen tho forces there. In two new ground force units equipped with helicopters were identified opposite the Manchurian border. These battalion-size units have air-transportable combat oquipnent and vehiclesotal of aboutelicopters. Ko jump training equipment typical of standard airborne units or the heavy combat equipment of conventional ground force units has been soon with these units.

The Soviets almost certainly established these highly mobile units to be able to react quickly to incidents in that rugged section of the borderhaving to station large forces along its entire length. imilar hollcopter-llftod unit apparently is being established in southern Primorskiy Kray.

Over the past few years, Soviot forces along the border have received Shaddock and Scaleboard missiles, wheeled Scud missile launchers, 2 tanks prior to or simultaneously with Soviet forces facing NATO (see photos on next page). This priority in new equipment apparently continued


large-scale, aepioyiaenr:iancgy corabat vehicle, first shown in tho7 parade in


Moscow. These vehicles, whichm gun and an antitank guided missile/-

la motorized rifle rudiment in cne far

The yu vehicles seen had replaced almost all of tha other troopand armored personneltho unit.

In some cases, however, new units on the border have received older equipment and weapons. Obsolete tanks and assault guns have been observed with some of tho now ground force units along the border, and some tactical air units have been equipped with agingt the same time that' units in the western USSR were receiving now. The oldor equipment would bo good enough for use against the Chinese, however, and in several instances the obsoleto tanks and assault guns have now been put into storage, suggesting that they are being replaced by newer equipment.


Divisions .






Combat ready divisioris

5 6 7 9

the Soviet buildup ol force* opposite China has proceededteady and deliberate rate, and new divisions have been Wentillcd each year. In addition, units which could form the base for other divisions have beenas shownhaded areas at tho lop. Not all Olhave yet developed far enough to Be firmly Mentilicd as new divisions.

Tho number ol new divisions klentilied In9 was less than in the two preceding years, but lilllng out divisions already deployed probably kopt the llow ol men and equipment as high asprevious years.

The number ol divisions estimated to be combat ready-that H. with their complement of subordinate units, men, and equipment-Is also shown.


The decisions leading to the deployment of the new units identified on tho border last year probably were made before tho series of border clashes which began in Probably not enough time has passed for any of tho now units identified so far to have been deployed as partoviet plan to

increase force goalaesult of the border

fighting. Nor is thereidencef"

Ban to tlia border because of the fighting there. And the rate of deployment of aircraft does not seem to have changed significantly.

The Trans-Siberian Railroad, the main Soviet artery to the Far East, has been closed to Western diplomats since the beginning?

is consistent witn wnat would be tfeqUaVAd liy" HUTKaT economic activity, by tho continuing buildup on tha border, and by the logistical support of the units already deployed there. Tha capacity of theis such that it probably would not be taxed by even larger military requirements.

- -


There is as yet no evidence that the steady pace of the Soviet military buildup along the China border has changedesult of the series of bloody clashes which began there last March or because of the opening of the talks in Peking last October. It does appear, however, that the ground forces buildup will exceed thoivisions which seemed to be the Soviet goal as of

At4 of which are combatalready deployed along the border, and elements which could form the baseore have been identified. Soviet ground forces in the area and their combat support units probably now numberen. Tactical air units bring this totalen. orce ofivisions, their front and army support elements, and the tactical air units identified along the border would totalen at combat ready levels. This does not include0 KGB border guards stationed in small detachments along the border itself.

* The front iaiete1 highest wartime field organization for the joint operational control of general purpose forcee. No fronts exist aa Bitch in peacetime.

The Soviets apparently are forming three front-level groupings opposite China, each with several ground armies and its own tactical air army.* The grouping in the Far East Military District already isront-in-being. Soviet forces in Mongolia and the Trans-Baikal Military Districtwould form another front in the event of large-scale hostilities with China. The formationew military district and the buildup of ground and tactical air forces opposite Sinkiang indicate that another front-level force probably is being established there.

Although the size of Soviet forces along the border apparently will exceed previous expectations, there is no conclusive evidence that the Soviets have changed what appears to have been their original objective: the establishmentorce capable of repelling any Chinese military initiatives or of conducting limited military operations across the Chinese border.

Without the use of strategic strikes, Soviet forces presently deployed along the border would not be strong onough, even when brought up to full strength, to occupy industrialized and populated regions of China. Before undertaking any large-scale ground operations against china, the Soviets almost certainly would want substantially more combat and service support forces than those which are now being deployed along the border.

Original document.

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