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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union

Offensive and Defensive Strategic Missions

Traditionally, the overall mission of the Soviet armed forces has been to deter war in peacetime and to defend the Soviet Union and the socialist states allied to it in wartime. Should war break out, the Soviet armed forces were expected to fight decisively and to achieve victory. Soviet unified military strategy, common to all services, was primarily offensive, and defense was only a temporary expedient. The primacy of strategic offense over strategic defense appeared indisputable. Since the advent of nuclear weapons, however, strategic offense and defense have become intertwined, and offensive and defensive strategic missions frequently coalesced. The combined arms concept was expressed in this growing interdependence between offense and defense in Soviet unified strategy because many strategic missions involved overlap and cooperation and would be performed by more than one service (see Military Art , this ch.). The Soviet military envisaged most strategic operations, both offensive and defensive, as mutually reinforcing components of a single strategic plan. In the 1980s, Soviet strategists believed that the synergistic effect of combined arms would maximize the armed forces' potential to achieve unambiguous victory.

To reinforce the combined arms concept on a strategic level, the Soviet military reorganized the Soviet armed forces. It centralized command and control, established theater commands in TVDs directly responsible to the Supreme High Command, and improved early warning systems (see Main Military Council , ch. 18). The new Soviet command infrastructure would enable the Soviet military to change speedily from a peacetime to a wartime footing.

Data as of May 1989