Soviet Union Table of Contents
The CPSU had three mechanisms of control over the country's armed forces. First, the top military leaders have been systematically integrated into the highest echelons of the CPSU and subjected to party discipline. Second, the CPSU has placed a network of political officers throughout the armed forces to influence the activities of the military. Third, the KGB, under the direction of the CPSU, has maintained a network of officers and informers in the armed forces.
Fearing the immense popularity of the armed forces after World War II, Stalin demoted war hero Marshal Georgii K. Zhukov and took personal credit for having saved the country. After Stalin's death in 1953, Zhukov reemerged as a strong supporter of Nikita S. Khrushchev. Khrushchev rewarded Zhukov by making him minister of defense and a full Politburo member. Concern that the Soviet army might become too powerful in politics, however, led to Zhukov's abrupt dismissal in the fall of 1957. But Khrushchev later alienated the armed forces by cutting defense expenditures on conventional forces in order to carry out his plans for economic reform. Leonid I. Brezhnev's years in power marked the height of party-military cooperation because he provided ample resources to the armed forces. In 1973 the minister of defense again became a full Politburo member for the first time since 1957. Yet Brezhnev evidently felt threatened by the professional military, and he sought to create an aura of military leadership around himself in an effort to establish his authority over the military.
In the early 1980s, party-military relations became strained over the issue of resource allocations to the armed forces. Despite a downturn in economic growth, the chief of the General Staff, Nikolai V. Ogarkov, argued for more resources to develop advanced conventional weapons. His outspoken stance led to his removal in September 1984. Ogarkov became commander in chief of the Western TVD, a crucial wartime command position that exists primarily on paper in peacetime. He was retired under Gorbachev and assumed a largely ceremonial post in the Main Inspectorate. His influence was considerably diminished, although he continued to publish in the military press.
Gorbachev, who became general secretary in March 1985, was a teenager during the Great Patriotic War and apparently never served in the armed forces. He has downgraded the role of the military in state ceremonies, including moving military representatives to the end of the leadership line-up atop the Lenin Mausoleum during the annual Red Square military parade on November 7. Gorbachev used the Rust incident in May 1987 as a convenient pretext for replacing Sergei Sokolov with Dmitrii T. Iazov as minister of defense (see Air Defense Forces , this ch.). Gorbachev has also emphasized civilian economic priorities and "reasonable sufficiency" in defense over the professional military's perceived requirements.
Data as of May 1989