memorandum for the united states intelligence board
subject*i* soviet and other reactions to various
courses of actionerlin
The attached draft estlraate haa been approved by the Board of National Estimates pursuantonsideration of it by tho USIB repreaeatetrves.
Thia estimate has been placed on the agenda of the USTB neotine scheduleduesday,uno.
WJLLARD C. MATTHIAS Acting Deputy Assistant Director National Estimates
SUBJECT: l: SOVIET AND OTHER REACTIONSRIOUS
COURSES OP ACVICN REGARDING BEREDI
To estioate Soviet and other reactions to four courses of Allied (US, UK, cod France) oction in the event of ondegree of Soviet or East Geraan interference with Western access to West Berlin. The courses of action ore:ubstantial effort toground access to West Berlinimited military oction; ubstantial effort to Maintain air access; (c) other pressures cod reprisals against tho USSR and East Gercany; andge-Bcalfi preparations for general war.
This estiuotcoviaion of^ The courses of action considered in that cstlnato have been altered and expanded in the present paper.
1. It is now two and one-hall* years since the IGSfl the Berlin loouu into the forefront of East-West contention. During this period the USSR has persisted with great oariousness in its attempts to bringhange in the status of the city. At tho sace tioe, tho Soviet leaders probably have coco torjoreoint which they my have uDdcrcstiuatec when they first put forth thoir deennds in that tbe US attaches great lcportar.ee to the Western position in Berlin ond will go to considerable lengths to oaintnlc
1/ Soviet ond Other Reactions to Various Courses of Action in the BerlinOP SECRET, LIMITED DI^TOIBUTION.
2/ The representative of the Assistant Chief ofeporteent of the Navy, reserves his position on this sentence.
2. During thisperiod, attitudes in Prance, the UK, and West Co many have nlao ucdergone sooe change. Cn the one hand, the sense of vulnerability la these countries has grown with advances in Soviet weaponry oud corresponding increases in Soviet confidence and assertiveness. Cn the other hard, these countries have drawn cncouragetieat froo tbe fact that tbe Soviets, at least to dote, have been unwilling to inplcuent threats which initially sceced to foreshadow irrjediate encroachments. There has also becc tine for the Western Powers to explore the Soviet position and toariety of possible concessions which night accoonodate the USSR without Jeopardizing the essentials f tbe Western position. This process has ledide uensure of ogreenant that the Soviet purpose is, ultimately, absorption of the city by the GDR rather than sceie lesser objective.
Nevertheless, while nuch has been clarified, truchuncertain. Ia particular, each side finds It difficult toonfident Judgonot of the point at which the other would be willing to run substontiol nilitnry risks over Berlin. In these circuantances, tho USSR will nlnost certainly continue its efforts to induce the Mlias to negotiate their own gradualfrca the city. Throughout those cancuvoro, however, the
Mi-ran* iBun on
Soviet leaders will be continually reassessing tho willingness of the three Western Powers to defend their interests with force. In this appraisal, thoy will consider the official positions and nllitary dispositions of the Allied goveranccta. But they will also have to coke Judsrscts about intangiblesheof each government to disregard or be guided by theor Its partners; the degree to which each is influenced by dcocstic public opinion; the readiness of each.cuerrt of crisis, to assure risks which tay run os high as general nuclear war.
In deciding when and how to rove against Allied access, to Berlin, tbe Soviet leaders will seek to turn these factors to tholr own advantage. They will precede any such uovc withcuasuxes designed to demonstrate that they are resorting to unilateral action only after all other alternatives hove been exhausted. These censures nay include another round ofand, alnosteparate peace treaty with tho GDR intended to provide both another warning and another occasion for the Allies to reconsider their position.
!i. Even after those steps have been ncccopilshod, the USSR and the GDR alnost certainly will not explicitly deny access to
Berlin. Instead, they will sinply cake Allied access subject to certain new conditions, beginning prosumbly with the replaco-oent of Soviet by East Gemon controllers in the access They will alnost certainly not atteu-pt at the sane ticc to close off Berlin free West Ocrcan civilian access, which io already under East Qemnn control. Thus tho USSR will hope to make it as difficult as possible for thevern-ucnts to conclude that tbe new situationlear-cut denial of access, to agree onong theuselves on strong countcrneasures, and to Justify these to their populations.
6. In spite of such Soviet efforts, however, there has been, according to the terns of our problem, an "unacceptable" decree cf interference with Western access to Berlin. It is assured that the US, UK, and France have therefore ocreed in undertaking one or core of the stated courses of action. Tbe subsequent course of the crisis would bo heavily influenced by the particular context of events at the tine when occosa was interfered with. Further, the exact nature of tactical coves, and the Conner in which they were node, would have lcportont effects on the way in which each side assessed the continuing resolution and intentions of the other. An added difficulty is
that wo necessarily treat each course first in isolation, although uo recognize that its effect eight be greater if it were contained with other actions. We have therefore attempted only to describe the basic factors underlying Soviet and other reactions to these courses, recognizing that these reactions will also bo influenced by specific elements of the situation which cannot now bo
COURSE a: ubstantial effort to reopen and oalntain ground accessnited ollitary actiondefined as the utilization of up to two reinforced divisions with tactical air aup-port in readiness if required. The force would proceed or. the autobahn toward Berlin. If its roveicnt was opposed, lt would attempt to over-cone resistance and to secure the road.
7> The Soviets would haveeaction on this scale as possible but unlikely; If they hod Judged it to bo probable, thoy alnost certainly would have avoided provoking it. They probably would not conclude frco this reaction alone that the Allies hadirn decision to press all the way
to general war if nocooeary; yet they could not be certain that they would not olacoleulate further Western steps as they had the first. They would wish to daidze the risks of general war, and they would bo gravely concerned lestfighting within East Cercony create an uncontrollable situation. Yet they would regard their prestige as being heavily engaged, and they would greatly four that failure to act would underrlco Cocnurist authority in East Gerracy, and perhaps lead to popular uprisings.
8. We believe it virtually certain that tho Soviets would not peroit Western forces to seize control of the entire autobahn and nnrch unopposed into Berlin. They would probably try first to block tbe Western forces at or near the zonal border, using forces coved into position as soon as Allied preparations were noted. If this failed,ubstantial penetration occurred, the Soviets would seekipleura to halt end neutralize tho Western forces and, probably, to force their withdrawal. In general, we think that they would undertake the tlnlrjuu response necessary to accomplish their objective, recognizing that, the larger the scale of any nllitary engageaent, the greater would bo the risksurther expansion of tho conflict.
tbe first stage, it Is probable that the USSREast Geronn troops. In order to be consistent with theGDR sovereignty and tooviet-Westernit became clear how far the West intended to go inlocal action. We believe, however, that the USSRlt3 own troops whenever it become clear that Eastcould not deal with the situation. The Soviats wouldother Satellite troops.
the Soviets would seek to keep theand to bring it quickly to on end,annerdeoonstrateestern resort to force was bound At the sane tine, they would count an Intense campaign
ln supportall for Immediate negotiations, calculating that this would redound to their credit, generate pressure on the Allies to desist, and perhaps contribute to an and to hostilities. They would probably refrain froa molesting West Berlin; ws do not believe, however, that they would inrndiotely offer to restore the formor conditions of access. Their political andactivities vould be employedupplecent to military action ratherubstitute far it.
U. The reinf orce'_cnt with West Germs forces would prc-sunably occur only after acce righting had already token place. Siuply because ltolnforcecent, the Soviets would probably Give increased woight to the possibility that the West was pro-pared to go very far and take very Great risk3 in defense of its position in Berlin. The fact that West Gercan forces were usod would probably cause the Soviets also to fear that the conflict alcht transforo Itselfiberation cacpaigo. Involving East Gercan Any defections and popular risings. The Soviets would therefore probably royird any failure to defectorce quickly as highly dangerous to their position in East Ccmany and iu Eastern Europehole.
12. The Soviots trtght decide to seize the iritlativoeneral nuclear attack on the West, oven though no riorc than
We do noto to whether or not the federal Republic would agree to this course of action.
toxical surprise would be possible at this point, but wc regard this as highly unlikely. Their oost probable response would bo an Intensification of political pressureajar military effort, although still noanucloar, to expel the Western farces. Wo believe that they would still wish to confine the encounter to East Geruaa territory, becauseear that to retaliate against or invade West Germny could lead rapidly to general war.
COURSE B: ubstantial effort to maintain air occossdefined as efforts to continue flights unilntorally following ntteopts by tho USSR and tbe CDR to alter existing flight procedures. If there were interference which endan^red tbe safety of oircraft in the corridors, Allied coobat aircraft would ceo* to their assistance.
13* This contingency Is noet likely to arise by way of Soviet withdrawal froa the Berlin Air Safety Center and Allied refusal to accept an East Gaman substitute. In takingtep, the USSR would probably have concluded ln advance that tho West would react Initially by continuing flights to Berlin without
TOP CD LIMITED jJJRlBUTiai
the usual guarantees of safety, and accordingly would have planned Its next step.
The Soviets and Eastould probably enploy oeans of interferonce short of fixing upon aircraft. If the Allies felt obliged to ouploy corcbat aircraft as oocorts, wo do not believe that the Soviets would even then actually fire upon plates which retained within the corridor, although theof their doing so would Increase. Actual firing would cause then to appear before the world as the Initiator of hostilities, and tbey would probably prefer to Unit therisolves to electronic counterceasuresnd otheriolent actions. If Allied aircraft opened fire, however. Bloc aircraft would probably return it.
15. Tho Soviet and East Gornan capability for electronic countcrneasurcs in the Berlin area and tbe air corridors is sufficient to licit Western air traffic to that which could be Maintained under visual flight conditions. Suchi tattoos would not be serious if ground access to West Dcrlin recoined open far West Currsm civilians and their goods. Evenoc-plete blockade of ground access were established, ECM alone would not succeed in preventing the noveoent of ooeer.tlol
they would probably have tbe effect of strengthening tbe Soviet Judgment that the Allies were unwilling Jo. risk the direct use of forco against any but tho most clear-cut challenge to their position in Berlin.
Tho Soviet response would probably be United largely to propaganda, to diplomatic and legal counteraction, and, in tho case of naval controls, to reprisals in the fern of detention of Allied shipping in areas of Coununiet control and closing of certain waters to Allied vessels. The USSR could circumventby recourse to ships of other flogs ond by overland shipments if it felt obliged to do so. It night use arced escorts for its shipping where feasible.
Allied naval measures and economic sanctions, even in cotibination, would have little effect on the Soviet ocoiiooy. The repercussions for East Germanyutoff of oil Western trade would be substantial, although current attempts to reorient GDR trade away free the West will reduce this vulnerability in the future. East Gcmany would probably respond with haxasscents of West German traffic to Berlin, but wo doubt that the Communists would wish In the first Instance to cut off this traffic entirely,
proferring not to raise this additional issueine vhen Allied access was in contention. The USSR would probablythat the Allies could not tnihtain cost of these policies effectivelyong period of tico. Wo do not think,that these courses of action, undertaken in thg_ absence of other coves, wouldignificant effect pn._the^Sovietregarding access. Taken in conjunction with other measures, they would probably reinforce in the Soviet nind tbe possibility that the Allies were prepared to run substantial risks over Berlin.
COUjiSK D; Large-scale preparations for general wardefined as widespread deployments,to bring tbe US to full military and civilian readiness, and corresponding official acts such as declarationtate of emergency, appropriate Congreasicnal resolutions, andwithin various alliances.
IS* We believe that US preparations for general war of this scope and nature probably would not convince tbe USSR that the US had firmly decided to proceed if necessary to that extreme, but
the Soviet leaders would certainly view the chances of general war as congorcusly increased. Particularly if the principal NATO allies of the LB appeared to be in agroaoent, we think that the Soviets would probably seek ways to reopen negotiations, hoping that they could in the subsequent bargaining achieve scoo chango in the status of Berlin favorable to then. It should bo observed, however, that the danger of ciscolculation in this situation would be great. If the NATO Allies clearly were not in step with tho US, we still think It likely that the Soviets would seek to open negotiations; in this case, however, they would probably expect tho divided policies of their opponents toavorable diplorctic outcore for thcnselvcs.
tep aobscouent to tbe above, the issurar.ee of an
20. It is difficult to iengine that tho Soviots, the three Western Powers, and tbe world at large would allow the Berlin situation to coneoint where the US and its allies Issued an ultitntunedress of grievances, say withinours, on pain of general war. But If that situation had in fact bacn reached, the Soviets would bo confrontedrave
threat to their security and to their prestigereat power. It is possible that they would not be fully convinced that tho US was in fact rosolvod to carry through with the ultimatum, and that they would conclude that superficial concessions would bringeturn to negotiations. Wo think lt nore likely that, by the tlrjc tbe ultimatum was Issued, both sides would have accepted the virtual inevitability of general war.*
. to the ; .
21. In tho KATO countries, nuch would depend or. tho tanner in whichue was posed. In general, the postulated courses of action would excita widespread public olarm and dismay ln varying degree as they appeared to threaten general war. To bo sure, by the terns of our problou the British and Frenchwould have agreed in advance to the stated courses of action, and presumably they would have cere something to prepare their peoplns for the crisis. It goes without saying that the other members of KATO would expect to have been consulted. Yet
* Thef the Director of Intelligence and Research Department of Stato, tho Assistant Chief of Staff forDepartment of tho Amy, the Assistant Chief of Naval Operationsepartment of the Navy, and the Director of Intelligence, Joint Staff, reserve their positions on this paragraph.
vc believe there would be little public support for the oore drastic allied responses unless the earlier Soviet (or East Geruan) action could be convlnciCGly portrayed as on attempt to seize control of Berlin rather than ccroly to introduce chances in access procedures. Even in this case, conywould balk at taking such risks for the sake of Berlin, and public support free sone NATO gcvernacnts would begiven.*
22. In East Gerainy, there wouldossibility,In connection with Course A, of popular risings, but we think it core likely that tbe population would not expose itself to retaliation so long as the outcoca re coined uncortolo. The longer the fighting under Course A, the higher the chances of scattered antiregloe deoonstrations end violence. Both bopoo and fears would be aroused acong tho populations of East Europe, but these would hove no great political effect in tbe short tern.
* The representative of the Director for Ii.telligeoce, Joint Staff, reserves Ms position on talc paragraph.
23* Ia cost non-European countries, attention would be focused prlcorily upon the possibility of general war, and this
consl-ercticn would probably override views about the rtjits and wrongs of the access Issue. Pew countries would cooi-crate in multilateral indirect reprisals of the type envisaged in Course C. It is alnost certain that the situation would be brought to the
UN, and that cany countries would exert pressure on both the US
and the USSR to resume negotiations and ease the crisis.
Gene ml Considerations
2*t. It is Important to emphasizehat the courses of action postulated in this estimate have beea considered mainly In lsolntior. froa each other and from other events, and thatreatment isarge degree artificial. Just as the initial Soviet action would have teen booed on an assessment of numerous Indications, tangible and intangible, of probable Westernso the Soviet reaction in the second round would be basedimilarly brood ossesscent of the West's next stop, drawn from the entire range of political aad military activity. Central to this assessment vould be the Sovietmpression of the will and determination of Western leadership to persistirmd tbe ability of that leadership to carry the
The representative of the Director for Intelligence, Joint Staff, reserves his position on this porngraph.
- IB -
TOP SECRET LIMITED OpTRmmCW
We5ten; peoples with thou. Tbe Soviet Judjnerit would be tokenontext of severe international crisis, with cony countries nosing their weight felt in diplomtic exchanges and, probably, in UN debate. As tensions rose, worldwide demode that the partiea to the dispute take no precipitate action and return to negotiation would grow in intensity, toegree that both sides uight feel obliged to weigh seriously the reactions of world opinion to any further steps.
Soviets would probably consider that theforcing their policy on Berlin under conditions of intenseprolonged crisis could be daooglng to the furtherof their policy. They eight hesitate to persist inif they believed that tho result would bo greatlyord an otcosyhero of such hostility that iiothir^ could
be negotiatedong tlce to cote. On the other hand, they would also consider tbe dosage to Weston:l unity, and the advantages to their own cause, that would resultileor victory on Berlin.
are confident that the Soviet leaders do notwage (general war in order to change the status of Berlin. At
the sane tine, however, the Soviet lenders are almost certainly confident that neither the US nor its major allies will go to General war in order tohange in that status. We doubt that they con be fully convinced to the contrary, but we believe that one or core of the postulated courses of action, taken together with supporting political and diplomatic action by the US and Its allies, night reduce the Soviet leaders'in this Judgment and persuade them that the West was willing to take actions of such high risk that toe situation would soon get out Df control. Thus the Soviets night beto believe that the crisis could eventuate in general war even though neither side originally had intended to go that far. They certainly desire to avoid such uncontrollable situations,
but It Is impossible to esticote ot Just what point theye willing to codify their Berlin policy in order to retrieve the situation, or whether they would consider that the stakes were already so high that they could not afford to conpronlse.
TOP SfipTOTOriginal document.