Hungary Table of Contents
In the late 1980s, Soviet influence on Hungary's HPA was exercised in two ways. Numerous organizational ties linked the Soviet military with Hungary's armed forces. An equally important influence was the fact that a major component of the Warsaw Pact's military forces--the Southern Group of Forces--was stationed in Hungary.
Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev (1953-64) once said that the Soviet government had never trusted the Hungarian army. Despite the training that Hungarian officers had received from the Soviet military since 1948 and the Soviet infiltration of the HPA's top command structure, the Revolution of 1956 confirmed Moscow's apprehensions. The events of 1956 threw the loyalty of even the top Hungarian military elite into question.
In the 1980s, Soviet influence on Hungarian military officers was much greater among the upper-level officers than among lowerlevel officers, regimental sergeants major, or NCOs (see Uniforms and Rank Insignia , this ch.). The higher-ranking officers saw their careers tied to Hungary's association with the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, while those of lesser ranks saw Soviet troops in Hungary as an army of occupation.
The Soviet Union exerted its military influence within Hungary in a variety of ways. The obvious means were official ministry-to-ministry contacts and the presence of Soviet troops in the country. In addition, the chief Soviet representative of the Warsaw Treaty Organization in Hungary exercised day-to-day control of both the Soviet army and the Hungarian People's Army. Also, the Soviet military attache and staff in the Soviet embassy maintained a liaison office with the HSWP Central Committee's Government Administration and Administration Department, the Ministry of National Defense's Main Political Administration, and the Central Committee of the HPA's party organization. And, finally, the representative and staff of Soviet military intelligence met frequently with various military and political authorities.
Nevertheless, the HPA was hardly a pawn of the Soviet military establishment. During the 1980-81 crisis in Poland, the Hungarian military leadership received instructions from the HSWP not to intervene in Poland without orders from the party. This order emanated not only from a purportedly sovereign government's desire to retain control over its own military but also from a determination to maintain civilian control over the military.
In the late 1980s, the HPA also pressed for "more democracy" in Warsaw Pact decision making. This term justified requests for giving Hungary and other non-Soviet members a greater voice in decision making within the pact and for rotating the command of the Warsaw Pact forces among all the military leaders of the nonSoviet Warsaw Pact (NSWP) countries.
Data as of September 1989