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East Germany Table of Contents

East Germany

Missions and Roles

Official literature stresses that the reliable protector of the East German state is the Soviet Union and that the NVA contributes to the Soviet effort. Article 6 of the Constitution states that the "German Democratic Republic is forever and irrevocably allied with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." In referring to the NVA, Article 7 states that "the National People's Army and other national defense bodies protect the socialist achievements of the people against all external attacks. In the interest of the preservation of the peace and security of the socialist state, the National People's Army cultivates close comradeship-in-arms with the armies of the Soviet Union and other socialist states." Thus the NVA is constitutionally bound to the armed forces of another state.

The mission of the NVA is defined in terms of reinforcing the Warsaw Pact. Specifically, the ground forces of the NVA are trained and organized to fight separately as a national army or as part of a Soviet front (army group). The NVA's People's Navy, even in peacetime, operates in close coordination with the Soviet Baltic Fleet and the Polish navy. In wartime it probably would be absorbed completely into the Soviet Baltic Fleet. The primary role of the NVA's air force is air defense, and in this function the force is completely integrated into the Soviet air defense network. To a limited extent, it could supply close air support to NVA ground and naval forces.

Historically, the NVA has played a limited role in internal security in comparison with other security services. Naval units in their routine coastal patrol activities have cooperated closely with units of Border Troops and the Ministry of the Interior. In 1987 the Border Troops, which were separated from the NVA in 1974 although they remained subordinate to the Ministry of Defense, had a major role in preventing illegal emigration, but primary responsibility for internal security lay with forces of the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of the Interior. The NVA, however, because it is subject to direct party control through the Central Committee of the SED, could and would be used if the situation demanded.

Data as of July 1987