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Soviet Union

Military Policy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

In addition to developing military doctrine, the CPSU developed military policy, which was much broader than doctrine. Whereas doctrine contains the guiding principles on the essence of future wars and on the methods and weapons for fighting them, military policy guides the development and strengthening of the state's military might through improving the organization and armaments of the armed forces so that they can be used successfully to achieve the state's political goals. Military policy is closely linked to military strategy. Policy defines the objectives of war and focuses the attention of strategy on the tasks to be performed. Strategy's dependence on policy increased with the acquisition of nuclear weapons, the use of which was controlled by the political leadership. Like military doctrine, Soviet military policy had two components: military-political and military-technical. Soviet military theorists frequently refered to these components simply as military-political policy and military-technical policy.

According to the Soviet understanding of the term, militarypolitical policy defined the political aims of the state, evaluated the international environment and the military potentials of probable adversaries, and established guidelines for Soviet military involvement in the world. It both overlapped with and supported Soviet foreign policy. Military-political policy took into account the economic, social, scientific, and specifically military capabilities of the Soviet state and was used by the party to determine the optimal directions for structuring the armed forces and for strengthening the economic-technical base of the state's defense. Concerned about the integrity and security of the state, the party could modify its military policy as the interests of the state changed. Soviet spokesmen nevertheless stressed the continuity and consistency of the party's military policy and of the military-political course of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet military-industrial complex was run according to the military-technical component of the party's military policy, which determined the cycles of military modernization. According to Soviet sources, major weapons development programs were carried out every ten to twelve years. As in doctrine, military recommendations influenced policy, but the party retained complete control over the formulation of a uniform military-technical policy and over its implementation by government organizations.

Data as of May 1989