Soviet Union Table of Contents
In 1989 the Soviet Union had six major groups of forces stationed abroad. The groups of Soviet forces in Eastern Europe included thirty Ground Forces divisions and four air armies in the (East Germany) German Democratic Republic, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary (see Appendix C). These groups of forces been in Eastern Europe since 1945 and have been used on several occasions to suppress anticommunist uprisings in those countries and keep them within the Soviet alliance system. They have also been the main concentration of Soviet forces against NATO. They were continuously manned and equipped at wartime levels. The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany was the most important Soviet territorial command. In 1989 it had 400,000 troops organized into nineteen divisions and five armies. Its importance was underscored by the fact that it was commanded by a commander in chief, like the five armed services.
When the cuts announced by Gorbachev in December 1988 are completed in 1991, 50,000 Soviet troops and six Soviet tank divisions will have been withdrawn from East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary (see Conventional Arms Control, ch. 17).
In addition to its forces stationed in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union continued to maintain a large troop presence in Afghanistan throughout most of 1988. The Soviet 40th Army's four divisions and other forces--116,000 troops in all--had been fighting in Afghanistan for nearly ten years by late 1988. In mid1988 the Soviet Union began a full-scale withdrawal from Afghanistan. The withdrawal was completed by early 1989. The Soviet Union has also had forces stationed in Mongolia since that country became an ally in 1921. Under a plan articulated in a 1986 Vladivostok speech, Gorbachev withdrew one Soviet division, leaving four in Mongolia.
Data as of May 1989