SOVIET AND OTHER REACTIONS TO VARIOUS COURSES OF ACTION REGARDING BERLIN

Created: 6/13/1961

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

'Chiefof Staffs for Intelligence, Department of the Army; the-Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (IntelligenceJ.Department of the Navy; the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, USAF; ihe'Director for Intelligence, Joint Staff; the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Special Operations; and the Director of :the National Security Agency.The Atomic Energy Commission Representative to the USIB and the Assistant Director,Bureau of Investigation, abstained, the subject beingof their jurisdiction.

*Th't$ estimate was approved by the USI8 on', subject to certain further action by USIB representatives, consulting aswith their principalshis latter action was completed on to'.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

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SUBJECT: l: SOVIET AND OTHER REACTIONS TO VARIOUS

COURSES OK ACTION REGARDING BERLIN

THE PROBLEM

To estimate Soviet and other reactions to four courses of Allied (US, UK, and Prance) action In the event of andegree of Soviet or East German interference with Western access to West Berlin. The courses of action are:ubstantial effort to maintain ground access to West Berlinimited military action; ubstantial effort to maintain air access; (c) other pressures and reprisals against the USSR and East Germany; andor general war.

SCOPS NOTE

This estimateevision of/ The courses of action considered ln that estimate have been altered and expanded in the present paper.

, THE ESTIMATE

It Is now two and one-half years since the USSRthe Berlin Issue into the forefront of East-West During this period the USSR has persisted with great seriousness ln its attempts to bringhange in the status of the city. At the same time, the intervening event3 have almost certainly caused the Soviet leaders to increase considerably their estimate of the importance attached by the US to the Western position In Berlin and of the lengths to which the US would go to defend it.

During this same period, attitudes in France, the UK, and West Germany have also undergone some change. On the one hand, the sense of vulnerability In these countries has grown with advances ln Soviet weaponry and corresponding increases in Soviet confidence and assertlveness. On the

1/ Soviet and Other Reactions to various Courses of Action in the BerlinOP SECRET, LIMITED DISTRIBUTION.

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other hand, these countries have drawn encouragement from the fact that the Soviets, at least to date, have been unwilling to Implement threats which initially seemed to foreshadow Immediate encroachments. There has also been time for the Western Powers to explore the Soviet position and toariety of possible concessions which might accommodate the USSR without Jeopardizing the essentials of the Western position. This process has ledide measure of agreement that the Soviet purpose is, ultimately, absorption of the city by the GDR rather than some lesser objective.

3. Nevertheless, while much has been clarified, much remains uncertain. In particular, each aide finds ittoonfident Judgment of the point at which the other would be willing to run substantial military risks over Berlin. In these circumstances, the USSR will almost certainly continue its efforts to induce the Allies to negotiate their own gradual departure from the city. Throughout thesehowever, the Soviet leaders will be continuallythe willingness of the three Western Powers to defend their interests with force. In this appraisal, they will consider the official positions and military dispositions of the Allied governments. But they will also have to make Judgments about

Intangibleshe willingness of each government toor be guided by the advice of its partners; the Idegrce to which each ls Influenced by domestic public opinion; the readinesa of each,oment of crisis, to assume risks which may run as high as general nuclear war.

In deciding when and how to move against Allied access to Berlin, the Soviet leaders will seek to turn these factors to their own advantage. They will precede any such move with diplomatic measures designed to demonstrate that they areto unilateral action only after all other alternatives have been exhausted. These measures may Include another round of negotiations and, almosteparate peace treaty with the GDR Intended to provide both another warning andoccasion for the Allies to reconsider their position.

Even after these steps have been accomplished, the USSR and the GDR almost certainly will not explicitly deny access to Berlin. InBtead, they will simply make Allied access subject to certain new conditions, beginning presumably with the replacement of Soviet by East German controllers In the access procedures. They will almost certainly not attempt

at the same time to close off Berlin from West German civilian access, which is already under East German control. Thus the

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USSR will hope to make lt as difficult as possible for the Allied governments to conclude that the new situationlear-cut denial of access, to agree among themselves on strong countermeasurea, and to Justify these to their

6. In Bpitc of such Soviet efforts, however, there has been, according to the terms of our problem, an'"unacceptable" degree of Interference with Western access to Berlin. It ls assumed that the US, UK, and Prance have therefore agreed ln undertaking one or more of the stated courses ofhe subsequent course of the crisis would be heavilyby the particular context of events at the time when access was interfered with. Further, the exact nature of tactical moves, and the manner in which they were made, would have Important effects on the way ln which each side assessed the continuing resolution and intentions of the other. An added difficulty ls that we necessarily treat each course first ln isolation, although we recognize that its effect might be greater if it were combined with other actions. We have therefore attempted only to describe the basic factors

t should be stressed that this assumption ls by no means an estimate of British and French willingness to agree to all of these courses of action.

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underlying Soviet and other reactions to these courses,that these reactions will also be Influenced by specific elements of the situation which cannot now be foreseen.

COURSE A: ubstantial effort to reopen and maintain ground accessimited military actionefined as the utilization of up to two reinforced divisions with tacticalin readiness if required. The forceroceed on the autobahn toward Berlin. If ItB movement was opposed, It would attempt toresistance and to secure the road.

7. In their advance planning for their introduction of new access procedures, the Soviets would haveeaction on this scale as possible but unlikely; If they had Judged it to be probable, they almost certainly would have avoided provoking it. They probably would not conclude from this reaction alone that the Allies hadirm decision to press all the way to general war if necessary; yet they could not be certain that they would not miscalculate further Western steps as they had the first. They would wish to minimize the risks of general war, and they would be gravely concerned lest large-scale fighting within East Germany create

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an uncontrollable situation. Yet they would regard their prestige as being heavily engaged, and they would greatly Tear that failure to act would undermine Communist authority in East Germany, and perhaps lead to popular uprisings.

We believe it virtually certain that the Soviets would not permit Western forces to seize control of the entire autobahn and march unopposed into Berlin. They would probably try first to block the Western forces at or near the zonal border, using forces moved into position as soon as Allied preparations were noted. If this failed,ubstantial penetration occurred, the Soviets would seekinimum to halt and neutralize the Western forces and, probably, to force their withdrawal. In general, we think that they wouldthe minimum response necessary to accomplish theirrecognizing that, the larger the scale of any military engagement, the greater would be the risksurtherof the conflict.

In the first stage, It is probable that the USSR would use East German troops, in order to be consistent with the claim of GDR sovereignty and tooviet-Western confrontation until lt became clear how far the West intended to go in its initial local action. We believe, however, that the USSR would commit its own troops whenever it became clear

that East German forces could not deal with the situation. The Soviets would not use other Satellite troops.

the Soviets would seek to keeplimited and to bring it quickly to an end, inwhich would demonstrateestern resort tobound to fail. At the same time, they would mount ancampaign in supportall for immediatethat this would redound to their credit,on the Allies to desist, and perhaps contribute to

an end to hostilities. They would probably refrain from molesting West Berlin; we do not believe, however, that they would Immediately offer to restore the former conditions of accesB. Their political and psychological activities would be employedupplement to military action ratherubstitute for it.

tep subsequent to the above, theof West German troops as reinforcements."^

reinforcement with West German forces wouldoccur only after some fighting had already takenbecause iteinforcement, the Soviets wouldgive increased weight to the possibility that the West

3/ We db'not'-here estimate whether or-'riot- t'he;Federal epublic would agree to this course of action. -

was prepared to go very far and take very great riaks inof Its position in Berlin. The fact that Went German forces were used would probably cause the Soviets also to fear that the conflict might transform Itself into acampaign, involving East German Army defections andrisings. The Soviets would therefore probably regard

any failure to defeatorce quickly as highly .dangerous to their position In East Germany in Eastern Europehole.

12. The possibility that the Soviets might decide to seize the Initiativeeneral nuclear attack on the West would rise with the commitment of West German troops, even though no more than minimal surprise would be possible at this point. However, we regard thla as very unlikely. Their most probable response would be an intensification of political pressureajor military effort, although atill nonnuclear, to expel the Western forces. We believe that they would still wish to confine the encounter to East German territory, becauseear that to retaliate against or Invade West Germany could lead rapidly to general war.

COURSE B: ubstantial effort to maintain air access defined as efforts to continue

flights unilaterally following attempts by the USSR and the GDR to alter existing flight If there were interference whichthe safety of aircraft ln the corridors, Allied combat aircraft would come to their.

13. This contingency is most likely to arise byway of Soviet withdrawal from the Berlin Air Safety Center and Allied refusal to accept an East German substitute. In takingtep, the USSR would probably have concluded in advance that the West would react initially by continuing flights to Berlin without the usual guarantees of safety, and accordingly would have planned its next step.

The Soviets and East Germans would probably employ means of Interference short of firing upon aircraft. If the Allies felt obliged to employ combat aircraft as escorts, we do not believe that the Soviets would even then actually fire upon planes which remained within the corridor, although the likelihood of their doing so would increase. Actual firing would cause them to appear before the world as the initiator of hostilities, and they would probably prefer to limitto electronic countermeaouresnd

other nonviolent actions. If Allied aircraft opened-fire, however, Bloc aircraft would probably return lt.

15- The Soviet and East German capability for electronic countermeasures ln the Berlin area and the air corridors la sufficient to limit Western air traffic to that which could be maintained under visual flight conditions. Suchwould not be serious if ground access to West Berlinopen for West German civilians and their goods. Evenomplete blockade of ground access were established, ECM alone would not succeed in preventing the movement of essential supplies to the city by visual flights, although Berlin'swould be seriously disrupted. The use of ECM together with other forms of harassment short of actual combat would reduce the volume of flight traffic still further, but the effectiveness of these tactics would depend on the degree of deprivation which West Berlin was willing to bear; stockpiles ln the city are sufficientonsiderable period of

COURSE C: Other pressures andripartite Interference with Soviet and East German merchant shipping. Allied and

4/ These stockpiles Include basic foods sufficient for atmonth supply of hard coal,ix-month supply of brown coal briquettes, dry milk, dehydrated vegetables, clothing, and medical supplies. West'Berlln has its own utilities, with the exception of sewage.

measures.

16. We believe that such measures are among those that the Soviet leaders would expect in the way of* Allied reactions to altered conditions of access to Berlin. Taken by"themselves, they would probably have the effect of strengthening the Soviet Judgment that the AllleB were unwilling to risk the direct use of force against any but the most clear-cut challenge to their position ln Berlin.

17- The Soviet response would probably be limited largely to propaganda, to diplomatic and legal counteraction, and, in the case of naval controls, to reprisals ln the form ofof Allied shipping ln areas of Communist control and closing of certain waters to Allied vessels. The USSR could circumvent controls by recourse to ships of other flags and by overland shipments if it felt obliged to do so. It might use armed escorts for its shipping where feasible.

lti. Allied naval measures and economic sanctions, even in combination, would have little effect on the Soviet economy. The repercussions for East Germanyutoff of all Western

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trade would be substantial, although current attempts to reorient GDR trade away from the West will reduce thisin the future. East Germany would probablywith harassments of West German traffic to Berlin, but we doubt that the Communists would wish ln the first Instance to cut off this traffic entirely, preferring not to raise this additional issueime when Allied access was in The USSR would probably calculate that the Allies could not maintain most of these policies effectivelyong period of time. Wc do not think, therefore, that these courses of action, undertaken ln the absence of other moves, wouldignificant eTfect on the Soviet positionaccess. Taken in conjunction with other measures, they would probably reinforce ln the Soviet mind thethat the Allies were prepared to run substantial risks over Berlin.

COURSE D: Large-scale preparations for general warefined as widespread deployments,to brlng_thc US to full military andreadiness, and corresponding official acts such as declarationtate of emergency, appropriate Congressional resolutions, and con-sultations within various alliances.

US preparations for general war of thlanature probably would not convince the USSR that thefirmly decided to proceed If necessary to thatSoviet leaders would certainly view the chanceB ofas dangerously Increased, particularly if theAllies of the US appeared to be In agreement. Weunder these conditions, the Soviets would probablyto reopen negotiations ln order to ease the crisis,they could ln the subsequent bargaining achieve somethe status of Berlin favorable to them. It Bhould behowever, that the danger of miscalculation lnwould be great. If the NATO Allies clearly worestep with the US, we still think it likely that theseek to open negotiations; in this case, however,probably expect the divided policies of their opponents

toavorable diplomatic outcome for themselves.

Reactions to the postulated courses ln other areas

the NATO countries, much would depend onln which the iosue was posed. In general, thecourses of action would excite widespread publicdismay in varying degree aa they appeared towar. To be sure, according to the problem asln this estimate, the British and French Governments

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would have agreed In advance to the stated courses of action, and presumably they would have done something to prepare their peoples for the crisis. It goes without saying that the other members of NATO would expect to have been consulted. Yet we believe there would be little public support for the moredrastic allied responses unleeB the earlier Soviet (or East German) action could be convincingly portrayed as an-attempt to seize control of Berlin rather than merely to Introduce changes ln access procedures. Even in this case, many Europeans would balk at taking such risks for the sake of Berlin, and public support from some NATO governments would be reluctantly given.

21. In East Germany, there wouldossibility,ln connection with Course A, of popular risings, but we think it more likely that the population would not expose itself to retaliation so long as the outcome The longer the fighting under Course A, the higher the chances of scattered antiregime demonstrations and violence. Both hopes and fears would be aroused among the populations of East Europe, but these would have no great political effect ln the short term.

most non-European countries, attention-wouldprimarily upon the possibility of general war,consideration would probably override vlewo aboutand wrongs of the access issue. Pew countriesin multilateral indirect reprisals of tho typein Course C. It is almost certain that thebe brought to the UN, and that many countries wouldon both the US and the USSR to resumeease the crisis.

General Considerations

is important to emphasize again that theaction postulated in this estimate have beenla isolation from each other and from otherthatreatment learge degreeas the initial Soviet action would have been based onof numerous indications, tangible andprobable Western responses, so the Soviet reaction lnround would be basedimilarly broadthe West's next step, drawn from the entire range ofand military activity. Central to thisbe the Soviet leaders' impression of the will andof Western leadership to persistirm course,

and the ability of that leadership to carry the Western peoples with them. The Soviet Judgment would be takenontext of severe international crisis, with many countries making their weight felt ln diplomatic exchanges and, probably. In UN As tensions rose, worldwide demands that the parties to the dispute take no precipitate action and return towould grow In intensity, toegree that both sides might feel obliged to weigh seriously the reactions of world opinion to any further steps.

The Soviets would probably consider that theof forcing their policy on Berlin under conditions of intense and possibly prolonged crisis could be damaging to the further perspectives of their policy. They might hesitate to persist in their demands if they believed that the result would be greatly heightened tensions and an atmosphere of suchthat nothing could be negotiatedong time to come. On the other hand, they would also consider the damage to Western confidence and unity, and the advantages to their own cause, that would resultlear victory on Berlin.

We are confident that the Soviet leaders do not intend to wage general war ln order to change the status of Berlin. At the same tine, however, the Soviet leaders have

not yet been persuaded that the US will go to general war ln order tohange ln that status. If they we're to become convinced that the US will actually do so, we believe that they would back off and seek negotiations, providing the US had left them this recourse. We doubt that they can be fully convinced that the US will do so, but even If they are not fully convinced, we believe that one or more of thecourses of action, taken together with supportingand diplomatic action by the US and its allies, might make the Soviet leaders uncertain of ultimate US intentions, and persuade them that the West was willing to take actions of such high risk that the situation would soonout of control. Thus the Soviets might be prepared to 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 estimate at Just what point they might-be willing to modify their Berlin policy in order to retrieve the situation, or when they would consider that the stakes were already so high that they could not afford to.

Original document.

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