THE POLITICAL AND MILITARY ALLIANCE of the Soviet Union and East European socialist states, known as the Warsaw Pact, was formed in 1955 as a counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), created in 1949. During much of its early existence, the Warsaw Pact essentially functioned as part of the Soviet Ministry of Defense. In fact, in the early years of its existence the Warsaw Pact served as one of the Soviet Union's primary mechanisms for keeping its East European allies under its political and military control. The Soviet Union used the Warsaw Pact to erect a facade of collective decisions and actions around the reality of its political domination and military intervention in the internal affairs of its allies. At the same time, the Soviet Union also used the Warsaw Pact to develop East European socialist armies and harness them to its military strategy and security policy.

Since its inception, the Warsaw Pact has reflected the changing pattern of Soviet-East European relations and manifested problems that affect all alliances. The Warsaw Pact evolved into something other than the mechanism of control the Soviet Union originally intended it to be and, since the 1960s, has become less dominated by the Soviet Union. Thus, in 1962 Albania stopped participating in Warsaw Pact activities and formally withdrew from the alliance in 1968. The organizational structure of the Warsaw Pact also has provided a forum for greater intra-alliance debate, bargaining, and conflict between the Soviet Union and its allies over the issues of national independence, policy autonomy, and East European participation in alliance decision making. At the same time that the Warsaw Pact has retained its internal function in Soviet-East European relations, its non-Soviet members have developed sufficient military capabilities to become useful adjuncts of Soviet power against NATO in Europe (see fig. A, this Appendix).

The Soviet Alliance System, 1943-55

Long before the establishment of the Warsaw Pact in 1955, the Soviet Union had molded the East European states into an alliance serving its security interests. While liberating Eastern Europe from Nazi Germany in World War II, the Red Army (see Glossary) established political and military control over that region. The Soviet Union intended to use Eastern Europe as a buffer zone for the forward defense of its western borders and to keep threatening ideological influences at bay. Continued control of Eastern Europe became second only to defense of the homeland in the hierarchy of Soviet security priorities.

The Red Army began to form, train, and arm Polish and Czechoslovak national units on Soviet territory in 1943. These units fought with the Red Army as it carried its offensive westward into German-occupied Poland and Czechoslovakia and then into Germany itself. By 1943 the Red Army had destroyed the Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Romanian forces fighting alongside the German armed forces. Shortly thereafter it began the process of transforming the remnants of their armies into allied units that could re-enter the war on the side of the Soviet Union. Red Army political officers (zampoliti--see Glossary) organized extensive indoctrination programs in the allied units under Soviet control and purged any politically suspect personnel. In all, the Soviet Union formed and armed more than twenty-nine divisions and thirty-seven brigades and regiments, which included more than 500,000 East European troops.

The allied national formations were directly subordinate to the headquarters of the Soviet Union's Supreme High Command and its executive body, the General Staff of the Armed Forces. Although the Soviet Union directly commanded all allied units, the Supreme High Command included one representative from each of the East European forces. Lacking authority, these representatives simply relayed directives from the Supreme High Command and General Staff to the commanders of East European units. While all national units had so-called Soviet advisers, some Red Army officers openly discharged command and staff responsibilities in the East European armies. Even when commanded by East European officers, non-Soviet contingents participated in operations against the German armed forces only as part of Soviet fronts.

By the end of World War II, the Red Army (renamed the Soviet army after the war) occupied Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland, significant portions of Czechoslovakia, and eastern Germany, and Soviet front commanders headed the Allied Control Commission in each of these occupied countries. The Soviet Union gave its most important occupation forces a garrison status when it established the Northern Group of Forces in 1947 and the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany in 1949. By 1949 the Soviet Union had concluded twenty-year bilateral treaties of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance with Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania, which granted the Soviet Union rights to a continued military presence on their territory. The continued presence of Soviet armed forces guaranteed Soviet control of these countries. The East European satellite regimes depended entirely on Soviet military power--and the continued deployment of 1 million Soviet soldiers--to stay in power. In return, the new East European political and military elites were obliged to respect Soviet political and security interests in the region. By contrast, the Soviet Union did not occupy either Albania or Yugoslavia during or after the war, and both countries remained outside direct Soviet control.

In the late 1940s and the 1950s, the Soviet Union was more concerned about cultivating and monitoring political loyalty in its East European military allies than increasing their utility as combat forces. The Soviet Union assigned trusted communist party leaders of the East European nations to the most important military command positions despite their lack of military qualifications. It forced its East European allies to emulate Soviet military ranks and uniforms and abandon all distinctive national military customs and practices; these allied armies used all Soviet-made weapons and equipment. The Soviet Union accepted many of the most promising and eager East European officers into Soviet mid-career military institutions and academies for the advanced study essential to their promotion within the national armed forces command structures. Furthermore, the East European ministries of defense established political departments on the model of the Soviet Union's Main Political Directorate of the Soviet Army and Navy.

The Formation of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-70

On May 14, 1955, the Soviet Union institutionalized its East European alliance system, henceforth known as the Warsaw Pact, when it met with representatives from Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania in Warsaw to sign the multilateral Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, which was identical to their existing bilateral treaties with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union claimed that the creation of the Warsaw Pact was in direct response to the inclusion of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) in NATO in 1955. At the same time, the formation of a legally defined, multilateral alliance reinforced the Soviet Union's claim to be leader of the world socialist system (see Glossary), enhanced its prestige, and legitimized its presence and influence in Eastern Europe. The new alliance system also gave the Soviet Union a structure for dealing with its East European allies more efficiently when it superimposed the multilateral Warsaw Pact on their existing bilateral treaty ties. Finally, as a formal organization the Warsaw Pact provided the Soviet Union an official counterweight to NATO in East-West diplomacy.

The 1955 treaty establishing the Warsaw Pact stated that relations among the signatories were based on total equality, mutual noninterference in internal affairs, and respect for national sovereignty and independence. It declared that the Warsaw Pact's function was collective self-defense of the member states against external aggression, as provided for in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The terms of the alliance specified the Political Consultative Committee (PCC) as the highest alliance organ. The founding document formed the Joint Command to organize the actual defense of the Warsaw Pact member states, declared that the national deputy ministers of defense would act as the deputies of the Warsaw Pact commander in chief, and established the Joint Staff, which included the representatives of the general (main) staffs of all its member states. The treaty set the Warsaw Pact's duration at twenty years with an automatic ten-year extension, provided that none of the member states renounced it before its expiration. The treaty also included a standing offer to disband simultaneously with other military alliances, i.e., NATO, contingent on East-West agreement about a general treaty on collective security in Europe. This provision indicated that the Soviet Union either did not expect that such an accord could be negotiated or did not consider its new multilateral alliance structure very important.

Until the early 1960s, the Soviet Union used the Warsaw Pact more as a tool in East-West diplomacy than as a functioning political-military alliance. Under the leadership of Nikita S. Khrushchev, the Soviet Union sought to project a more flexible and less threatening image abroad and, toward this end, used the alliance's PCC to publicize its foreign policy initiatives and peace offensives, including frequent calls for the formation of an all-European collective security system to replace the continent's existing military alliances. In 1956 the Warsaw Pact member states admitted East Germany to the Joint Command and sanctioned the transformation of East Germany's Garrisoned People's Police into a full-fledged army. But the Soviet Union took no steps to integrate the allied armies into a multinational force.

In his 1956 "secret speech" at the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), Khrushchev denounced the arbitrariness, excesses, and terror of the Joseph K. Stalin era. Khrushchev sought to achieve greater legitimacy for communist party rule on the basis of the party's ability to meet the material needs of the Soviet population. His de- Stalinization campaign quickly influenced developments in Eastern Europe. Responding to East European demands for greater political autonomy, Khrushchev accepted the replacement of Stalinist Polish and Hungarian leaders with newly rehabilitated (see Glossary) communist party figures, who were able to generate genuine popular support for their regimes. He sought to turn Soviet- controlled East European satellites into at least semiautonomous countries and to make Soviet domination of the Warsaw Pact less obvious. He allowed the East European armies to restore their distinctive national practices and to reemphasize professional military opinions over political considerations in most areas. Military training supplanted political indoctrination as the primary task of the East European military establishments. Most important, the Soviet Ministry of Defense recalled many Soviet army officers and advisers from their positions within the East European armies.

In October 1956, the Polish and Hungarian communist parties lost control of the de-Stalinization process in their countries. The ensuing crises threatened the integrity of the entire Soviet alliance system in Eastern Europe and led to a significant change in the role of the Warsaw Pact as an element of Soviet security.

The Polish October

The Polish government's handling of the workers' riots in Poland in October 1956 defined the boundaries of national communism acceptable to the Soviet Union. The Polish United Workers' Party found that the grievances that inspired the riots could be ameliorated without presenting a challenge to its monopoly on political power or its strict adherence to Soviet foreign policy and security interests. Poland's new communist party leader, Wladyslaw Gomulka, and the Polish People's Army's top commanders indicated to Khrushchev and the other Soviet leaders that any Soviet intervention in the internal affairs of Poland would meet united, massive resistance. While insisting on Poland's right to exercise greater autonomy in domestic matters, Gomulka also pointed out that the Polish United Workers' Party remained in firm control of the country and expressed his intention to continue to accept Soviet direction in external affairs. Gomulka's position permitted the Soviet Union to redefine the minimum requirements for its East European allies: upholding the leading role of the communist party in society and remaining a member of the Warsaw Pact. These two conditions ensured that the Soviet Union's most vital interests would be protected and that Eastern Europe would remain a buffer zone for the Soviet Union.

The Hungarian Revolution

By contrast, the full-scale revolution in Hungary, which began in late October with public demonstrations in support of the rioting Polish workers, openly flouted these Soviet stipulations. Initial domestic liberalization acceptable to the Soviet Union quickly escalated to nonnegotiable issues like challenging the communist party's exclusive hold on political power and establishing genuine national independence. Imre Nagy, the new communist party leader, withdrew Hungary from the Warsaw Pact and ended Hungary's alliance with the Soviet Union. The Soviet army invaded with 200,000 troops, crushed the Hungarian Revolution, and brought Hungary back within limits tolerable to the Soviet Union. The five days of pitched battles left 25,000 Hungarians dead.

After 1956 the Soviet Union practically disbanded the Hungarian People's Army and reinstituted a program of political indoctrination in the units that remained. In May 1957, unable to rely on Hungarian forces to maintain order, the Soviet Union increased its troop level in Hungary from two to four divisions and forced Hungary to sign a status-of-forces agreement, placing the Soviet military presence on a solid and permanent legal basis. The Soviet forces stationed in Hungary officially became the Southern Group of Forces.

The events of 1956 in Poland and Hungary forced a Soviet reevaluation of the reliability and roles of the Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact (NSWP) countries in its alliance system. Before 1956 the Soviet leadership believed that the Stalinist policy of heavy political indoctrination and enforced Sovietization had transformed the national armies into reliable instruments of the Soviet Union. After 1956 the Soviet Union increasingly suspected that the East European armies were likely to remain loyal to national causes.

A Shift Toward Greater Cohesion

After the very foundation of the Soviet alliance system in Eastern Europe was shaken in 1956, Khrushchev sought to shore up the Soviet Union's position. Although Khrushchev had invoked the terms of the Warsaw Pact as a justification for the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the action was in no sense a cooperative allied effort. In the early 1960s, however, the Soviet Union took steps to turn the alliance's armed forces into a multinational intervention force. In the future, an appeal to the Warsaw Pact's collective self-defense provisions and the participation of allied forces would put a multilateral cover over unilateral Soviet interventions to keep errant member states in the alliance and their communist parties in power. By presenting future policing actions as the product of joint Warsaw Pact decisions, the Soviet Union hoped to deflect the kind of direct international criticism the Soviet Union was subjected to after the invasion of Hungary. Such internal deployments, however, were clearly contrary to the Warsaw Pact's rule of mutual noninterference in domestic affairs and conflicted with the alliance's declared purpose of collective self-defense against external aggression. To circumvent this semantic difficulty, the Soviet Union merely redefined external aggression to include any spontaneous anti-Soviet, anticommunist uprising in an allied state.

In the late 1950s, the Soviet Union began to take a series of steps to transform the Warsaw Pact into its intra-alliance intervention force. Although it had previously worked with the East European military establishments on a bilateral basis, the Soviet Union started to integrate the national armies under the Warsaw Pact framework. Military exercises with Soviet forces and the allied national armies became the primary focus of Warsaw Pact military activities.

The Soviet Union planned these joint exercises to prevent any NSWP member state from fully controlling its national army and to reduce the possibility that an East European regime could successfully resist Soviet domination and pursue independent policies. A series of joint Warsaw Pact exercises, organized and controlled by the Soviet Union, was intended to prevent other East European national command authorities from following the example of Yugoslavia and Albania and adopting a territorial defense strategy.

The Prague Spring

In 1968 an acute crisis in the Soviet alliance system suddenly occurred. The domestic liberalization program of the Czechoslovak communist regime led by Alexander Dubcek threatened to generate popular demands for similar changes in the other East European countries and even parts of the Soviet Union. Domestic change in Czechoslovakia also began to affect defense and foreign policy, just as it had in Hungary in 1956, despite Dubcek's declared intention to keep Czechoslovakia within the Warsaw Pact. Once again, the Soviet Union felt it necessary to forestall the spread of liberalization and to assert its right to enforce the boundaries of ideological permissibility in Eastern Europe. This concern was the major factor in the Soviet Union's decision to invade Czechoslovakia in 1968. The Soviet decision in favor of intervention focused, in large measure, on ensuring its ability to maintain physical control of its wayward ally in the future.

In contrast to its rapid, bloody suppression of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the Soviet Union engaged in a lengthy campaign of military coercion against Czechoslovakia. In 1968 the Soviet Union conducted more joint Warsaw Pact exercises than in any other year since the maneuvers began in the early 1960s. The Soviet Union used these exercises to mask preparations for, and threaten, a Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia that would occur unless Dubcek complied with Soviet demands and abandoned his political liberalization program. Massive Warsaw Pact rear services and communications exercises in July and August enabled the Soviet Union's General Staff to execute its plan for the invasion without alerting Western governments. Under the pretext of conducting exercises, Soviet and NSWP divisions were brought up to full strength, reservists were called up, and civilian transportation resources were requisitioned. The cover that these exercises provided allowed the Soviet Union to deploy forces along Czechoslovakia's borders with Poland and East Germany and to demonstrate to the Czechoslovak leadership its readiness to intervene.

On August 20, a force consisting of twenty-three Soviet divisions invaded Czechoslovakia. Token NSWP contingents, including one Hungarian, two East German, and two Polish divisions, along with one Bulgarian brigade, also took part in the invasion. In the wake of the invasion, the Soviet Union installed a more compliant communist party leadership and concluded a status-of-forces agreement with Czechoslovakia, which established a permanent Soviet presence in that country for the first time. Five Soviet divisions remained in Czechoslovakia to protect the country from future "imperialist threats." These troops became the Central Group of Forces and added to Soviet strength directly bordering NATO member states. The Czechoslovak People's Army, having failed to oppose the Soviet intervention and defend the country's sovereignty, suffered a tremendous loss of prestige after 1968. At Soviet direction, reliable Czechoslovak authorities conducted a purge and political reeducation campaign in the Czechoslovak People's Army and cut its size. With its one-time closest partner now proven unreliable, the Soviet Union turned to Poland as its principal East European ally.

The Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia showed the hollowness of the Soviet alliance system in Eastern Europe in both its political and its military aspects. The Soviet Union did not convene the PCC to invoke Warsaw Pact action during the 1968 crisis because a formal session would have revealed a deep rift in the Warsaw Pact alliance and given Czechoslovakia an international platform from which it could have defended its reform program.

While the participation of four NSWP armies in the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia ostensibly demonstrated considerable Warsaw Pact cohesion, the invasion also served to erode it. The invasion of Czechoslovakia proved that the Warsaw Pact's mission of keeping orthodox East European communist party regimes in power--and less orthodox ones in line--was more important than the mission of defending its member states against external aggression. The Soviet Union was unable to conceal the fact that the alliance served as the ultimate mechanism for its control of Eastern Europe. Formulated in response to the crisis in Czechoslovakia, the Brezhnev Doctrine (see Glossary) declared that the East European countries had "limited" sovereignty, to be exercised only as long as it did not damage the interests of the "socialist commonwealth" as a whole.

The Romanian leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, after refusing to contribute troops to the Soviet intervention force as the other East European countries had done, denounced the invasion of Czechoslovakia as a violation of international law and the Warsaw Pact's cardinal principle of mutual noninterference in internal affairs. Ceausescu insisted that collective self-defense against external aggression was the only valid mission of the Warsaw Pact. Albania also objected to the Soviet invasion and indicated its disapproval by withdrawing formally from the Warsaw Pact after six years of inactive membership.

In 1968, following the Warsaw Pact's invasion of Czechoslovakia, Romania demanded the withdrawal from its territory of all Soviet troops, advisers, and the Soviet resident representative. Reducing its participation in Warsaw Pact activities considerably, Romania also refused to allow Soviet or NSWP forces, which could serve as Warsaw Pact intervention forces, to cross or conduct exercises on its territory. Following the lead of Yugoslavia and Albania, Romania reasserted full national control over its armed forces and military policies by adopting a territorial defense strategy called "War of the Entire People," whose aim was to end Soviet domination and to guard against Soviet encroachments.

Organization and Strategy of the Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw Pact administered both the political and the military activities of the Soviet alliance system in Eastern Europe. A series of changes that began in 1969 gave the Warsaw Pact the structure it retained through the late 1980s.

Political Organization

The general (or first) secretaries of the communist and workers' parties and heads of state of the Warsaw Pact member states met in the PCC. The PCC provided a formal point of contact for the Soviet and East European leaders in addition to less formal bilateral meetings and visits. As the highest decision- making body of the Warsaw Pact, the PCC was charged with assessing international developments that affected the security of the allied states and warranted the execution of the Warsaw Pact's collective self-defense provisions. In practice, however, the Soviet Union was unwilling to rely on the PCC to perform this function, fearing that Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Romania would use PCC meetings to oppose Soviet plans and policies. The PCC was also the main center for coordinating the foreign policy activities of the Warsaw Pact countries. Since the late 1960s, when several member states began to use the alliance structure to confront Soviet domination and assert more independent foreign policies, the Soviet Union has had to negotiate to gain support for its foreign policy within Warsaw Pact councils.

In 1976 the PCC established the permanent Committee of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (CMFA) to regularize the previously ad hoc meetings of Soviet and East European representatives to the Warsaw Pact. Given the official task of preparing recommendations for and executing the decisions of the PCC, the CMFA and its permanent Joint Secretariat provided the Soviet Union an additional point of contact to establish a consensus among its allies on contentious issues. Less formal meetings of the deputy ministers of foreign affairs of the Warsaw Pact member states represented another layer of alliance coordination. The ministers were tasked with resolving alliance problems at these working levels so that they would not erupt into embarrassing disputes between the Soviet and East European leaders at PCC meetings.

Military Organization

The Warsaw Pact's military organization was larger and more active than the alliance's political bodies. Several different organizations were responsible for implementing PCC directives on defense matters and developing the capabilities of the national armies that constituted the Warsaw Pact's armed forces. The principal task, however, of the military organizations was to link the East European armies to the Soviet armed forces. The alliance's military agencies coordinated the training and mobilization of the East European national forces assigned to the Warsaw Pact. In turn, these forces could be deployed in accordance with Soviet military strategy against an NSWP country or NATO.

Soviet control of the Warsaw Pact as a military alliance was scarcely veiled. The Warsaw Pact's armed forces had no command structure, logistics network, air defense system, or operations directorate separate from the Soviet Ministry of Defense. The 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia demonstrated how easily control of the Warsaw Pact's armed forces could be transferred in wartime to the Soviet General Staff and to Soviet field commanders. The dual roles of the Warsaw Pact commander in chief, who was a first deputy Soviet minister of defense, and the Warsaw Pact chief of staff, who was a first deputy chief of the Soviet General Staff, facilitated the transfer of Warsaw Pact forces to Soviet control. The subordination of the Warsaw Pact to the Soviet General Staff was also shown clearly in the Soviet military hierarchy. In the Soviet order of precedence, the chief of the Soviet General Staff was listed above the Warsaw Pact commander in chief even though both positions also were designated first deputy ministers of defense.

Ironically, the first innovations in the Warsaw Pact's structure since 1955 came after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, which had clearly underlined Soviet control of the alliance. At the 1969 PCC session in Budapest, the Soviet Union agreed to cosmetic alterations in the Warsaw Pact designed to address East European complaints that the Soviet Union dominated the alliance. These changes included the establishment of the formal Committee of Ministers of Defense (CMD) and the Military Council, as well as the addition of more non-Soviet officers to the Joint Command and the Joint Staff.

Headed by the Warsaw Pact's commander in chief, the Joint Command was divided into distinct Soviet and East European tiers. The deputy commanders in chief included Soviet and East European officers. The Soviet officers serving as deputy commanders in chief were specifically responsible for coordinating the East European navies and air forces with the corresponding Soviet service branches. The East European deputy commanders in chief were the deputy ministers of defense of the NSWP countries. While providing formal NSWP representation in the Joint Command, the East European deputies also assisted in the coordination of Soviet and non-Soviet forces. The commander in chief, deputy commanders in chief, and chief of staff of the Warsaw Pact's armed forces gathered in the Military Council on a semiannual basis to plan and evaluate operational and combat training. With the Warsaw Pact's commander in chief acting as chairman, the sessions of the Military Council rotated among the capitals of the Warsaw Pact countries.

The Joint Staff was the only standing Warsaw Pact military body and the official executive organ of the CMD, commander in chief, and Military Council. As such, it performed the bulk of the Warsaw Pact's work in the military realm. Like the Joint Command, the Joint Staff had both Soviet and East European officers. The non-Soviet officers also served as the principal link between the Soviet and East European armed forces. The Joint Staff organized all joint exercises and arranged multilateral meetings and contacts of Warsaw Pact military personnel at all levels.

The 1969 PCC meeting also approved the formation of two more Warsaw Pact military bodies, the Military Scientific-Technical Council and the Technical Committee. These innovations in the Warsaw Pact structure represented a Soviet attempt to harness NSWP weapons and military equipment production, which had greatly increased during the 1960s. After 1969 the Soviet Union insisted on tighter Warsaw Pact military integration as the price for greater NSWP participation in alliance decision making.

Soviet Military Strategy and the Warsaw Pact

The Soviet armed forces constituted the bulk of the Warsaw Pact's military manpower. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union provided 73 of the 126 Warsaw Pact tank and motorized rifle divisions. Located in the groups of Soviet forces and four westernmost military districts of the Soviet Union, these divisions comprised the majority of the Warsaw Pact's combat-ready, full-strength units. Looking at the numbers of Soviet troops stationed in or near Eastern Europe, and the historical record, one could conclude that the Warsaw Pact was only a Soviet mechanism for organizing intra-alliance interventions or maintaining control of Eastern Europe and did not significantly augment Soviet offensive power vis-ŕ-vis NATO. Essentially a peacetime structure for NSWP training and mobilization, the Warsaw Pact had no independent role in wartime nor a military strategy distinct from Soviet military strategy. The individual NSWP armies, however, played important roles in the Soviet strategy for war outside the formal context of the Warsaw Pact.

The goal of Soviet military strategy in Europe was a quick victory over NATO in a nonnuclear war. Soviet miliary strategists planned to defeat NATO decisively before its political and military command structure could consult and decide how to respond to an attack. Under this strategy, success would hinge on inflicting a rapid succession of defeats on NATO to break its will to fight, knock some of its member states out of the war, and cause the collapse of the Western alliance. In this plan, the Warsaw Pact countries would provide forward bases, staging areas, and interior lines of communication for the Soviet Union against NATO. A quick victory would be needed to keep the United States from escalating the conflict to the nuclear level by making retaliation against the Soviet Union futile. A rapid defeat of NATO would preempt the mobilization of the West's superior industrial and economic resources, as well as reinforcement from the United States, which would enable NATO to prevail in a longer war. Most significant, in a strictly conventional war the Soviet Union could have conceivably captured its objective, the economic potential of Western Europe, relatively intact. This plan for winning a conventional war quickly to preclude the possibility of a nuclear response by NATO and the United States was based on the deep offensive operation concept that Soviet military theoreticians first proposed in the 1930s.

Continuing Soviet concern over the combat reliability of its East European allies influenced, to a great extent, the deployment of NSWP forces under the Soviet military strategy. Soviet leaders believed that the Warsaw Pact allies would be most likely to remain loyal if the Soviet armed forces engaged in a short, successful offensive operation against NATO while deploying NSWP forces defensively. Soviet concern over the reliability of its Warsaw Pact allies was reflected in the alliance's military-technical policy, which was under Soviet control. The Soviet Union gave the East European allies less modern, though still effective, weapons and equipment to keep their armies less capable than the Soviet armed forces. Thus the Soviet Union could keep the East European armies somewhat modernized while not substantially increasing their capability to resist Soviet intervention.

The Weakening of the Alliance's Cohesion, 1970-85

Beginning in the early 1970s, the East European allies formed intra-alliance coalitions in Warsaw Pact meetings to oppose the Soviet Union, defuse its pressure on any one NSWP member state, and delay or obstruct Soviet policies. The Soviet Union could no longer use the alliance to transmit its positions to, and receive automatic endorsements from, the subordinate NSWP countries. While still far from genuine consultation, Warsaw Pact policy coordination between the Soviet Union and the East European countries in the 1970s was a step away from the blatant Soviet control of the alliance that had characterized the 1950s. East European opposition forced the Soviet Union to treat the Warsaw Pact as a forum for managing relations with its allies and bidding for their support on issues like détente, the Third World, the Solidarity movement in Poland, alliance burden- sharing, and relations with NATO.


In the late 1960s, the Soviet Union abandoned its earlier efforts to achieve the simultaneous dissolution of NATO and the Warsaw Pact and concentrated instead on legitimating the territorial status quo in Europe. The Soviet Union asserted that the official East-West agreements reached during the détente era "legally secured the most important political-territorial results of World War II." Under these arrangements, the Soviet Union allowed its East European allies to recognize West Germany's existence as a separate state. In return the West, and West Germany in particular, explicitly accepted the inviolability of postwar borders in Eastern Europe and tacitly recognized Soviet control of the eastern portion of both Germany and Europe. The Soviet Union claimed the 1975 Helsinki Accords (see Glossary), which ratified the existing political division of Europe, as a major victory for Soviet diplomacy and the realization of long- standing Soviet calls, issued through the PCC, for a general European conference on collective security.

The consequences of détente, however, also posed a significant challenge to Soviet control of Eastern Europe. First, détente caused a crisis in Soviet-East German relations. East Germany's leader, Walter Ulbricht, opposed improved relations with West Germany and, following Ceausescu's tactics, used Warsaw Pact councils to attack the Soviet détente policy openly. In the end, the Soviet Union removed Ulbricht from power in 1971 and proceeded unhindered into détente with the West. Second, détente blurred the strict bipolarity of the Cold War era, opened Eastern Europe to greater Western influence, and loosened Soviet control over its allies. The relaxation of East-West tensions in the 1970s reduced the level of threat perceived by the NSWP countries, along with their perceived need for Soviet protection, and eroded Warsaw Pact alliance cohesion. After the West formally accepted the territorial status quo in Europe, the Soviet Union was unable to point to the danger of "imperialist" attempts to overturn East European communist party regimes to justify its demand for strict Warsaw Pact unity behind its leadership, as it had in earlier years. The Soviet Union resorted to occasional propaganda offensives, accusing West Germany of revanchism and aggressive intentions in Eastern Europe, to remind its allies of their ultimate dependence on Soviet protection and to reinforce the Warsaw Pact's cohesion against the attraction of good relations with the West.

Despite these problems, the détente period witnessed relatively stable Soviet-East European relations within the Warsaw Pact. In the early 1970s, the Soviet Union greatly expanded military cooperation with the NSWP countries. Joint Warsaw Pact exercises conducted in the 1970s gave the Soviet allies their first real capability for offensive operations other than policing actions within the alliance. The East European countries also began to take an active part in Soviet strategy in the Third World.

With Eastern Europe in a relatively quiescent phase, the Soviet Union began to build an informal alliance system in the Third World during the 1970s. It employed its Warsaw Pact allies as surrogates primarily because their activities minimized the need for direct Soviet involvement and obviated possible international criticism of Soviet actions in the Third World. East European allies followed the lead of Soviet diplomacy and signed treaties of friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance with most of the important Soviet Third World allies. These treaties established a "socialist division of labor" among the East European countries in which each specialized in the provision of certain aspects of military or economic assistance to different Soviet Third World allies.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany were the principal Soviet proxies for arms transfers to the Third World. These NSWP countries supplied Soviet- manufactured equipment, spare parts, and training personnel to various Third World armies. During this period, the Soviet Union also relied on its East European allies to provide the bulk of the economic aid and credits given by the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to the countries of the Third World. Beginning in the late 1970s, mounting economic problems sharply curtailed the contribution of the East European allies to the Soviet Union's Third World activities. In the early 1980s, when turmoil in Poland reminded the Soviet Union that Eastern Europe remained its most valuable asset, the Third World became a somewhat less important object of Soviet attention.

The rise of the independent trade union movement Solidarity shook the foundation of communist party rule in Poland and, consequently, Soviet control of a country the Soviet Union considered critical to its security and alliance system. Given Poland's central geographic position, this unrest threatened to isolate East Germany, sever vital lines of communication to Soviet forces deployed against NATO, and disrupt Soviet control in the rest of Eastern Europe.

As it did in Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Soviet Union used the Warsaw Pact to carry out a campaign of military coercion against the Polish leadership. In 1980 and 1981, the Soviet Union conducted joint Warsaw Pact exercises with a higher frequency than at any time since 1968 to exert pressure on the Polish regime to solve the Solidarity problem. Under the cover that the exercises afforded, the Soviet Union mobilized and deployed its reserve and regular troops in the Belorussian Military District as a potential invasion force (see fig. 30). Faced with the threat of Soviet military intervention, the Polish government instituted martial law and suppressed Solidarity. From the Soviet perspective, the imposition of martial law by Polish internal security forces was the best possible outcome. Martial law made the suppression of Solidarity a strictly domestic affair and spared the Soviet Union the international criticism that an invasion would have generated.

Although the Polish People's Army had previously played an important role in Soviet strategy for a coalition war against NATO, the Soviet Union had to revise its plans and estimates of Poland's reliability after 1981, and it turned to East Germany as its most reliable ally. In the early 1980s, because of its eager promotion of Soviet interests in the Third World and its importance in Soviet military strategy, East Germany completed its transformation from defeated enemy and dependent ally into the principal junior partner of the Soviet Union.

The End of Détente

In the late 1970s, the West grew disenchanted with détente, which had failed to prevent Soviet advances in the Third World, the deployment of SS-20 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) aimed at West European targets, the invasion of Afghanistan, or the suppression of Solidarity. The Soviet Union used the renewal of East-West tension as a justification for forcing its allies to close ranks within the Warsaw Pact. But restoring the alliance's cohesion and renewing its confrontation with Western Europe proved difficult after several years of good East-West relations. In the early 1980s, internal Warsaw Pact disputes centered on relations with the West after détente, NSWP contributions to alliance defense spending, and the alliance's reaction to IRBM deployments in NATO. The resolution of these disputes produced significant changes in the Warsaw Pact as, for the first time, two or more NSWP countries simultaneously challenged Soviet military and foreign policy preferences within the alliance.

In the PCC meetings of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Soviet and East European leaders of the Warsaw Pact debated the threat that they perceived emanated from NATO. Discussions of the "NATO threat" also played a large part in Warsaw Pact debates about an appropriate level of NSWP military expenditure. The issue of an appropriate Warsaw Pact response to NATO's 1983 deployment of American Pershing II and cruise missiles, matching the Soviet SS- 20s, proved to be the most divisive one for the Soviet Union and its East European allies in the early and mid-1980s. After joining in a vociferous Soviet propaganda campaign against the deployment, the East European countries split with the Soviet Union over how to react when their "peace offensive" failed to forestall it. The refusal of the NSWP countries to meet their Warsaw Pact financial obligations in the 1980s further indicated diminished alliance cohesion.

The Renewal of the Alliance, 1985-89

After becoming general secretary of the CPSU in March 1985, Mikhail S. Gorbachev organized a meeting of the East European leaders to renew the Warsaw Pact, which was due to expire that May. Few people doubted that the Warsaw Pact member states would renew the alliance. Some Western analysts speculated, however, that the Soviet Union might unilaterally dismantle its formal alliance structure to improve the Soviet image and to put pressure on the West to disband NATO. The Soviet Union could still have relied on the network of bilateral treaties in Eastern Europe, which predated the formation of the Warsaw Pact and had been renewed regularly. Combined with later status-of-forces agreements, these treaties assured the Soviet Union that the essence of its alliance system and buffer zone in Eastern Europe would remain intact, regardless of the Warsaw Pact's status. But despite their utility, the bilateral treaties could not fully substitute for the Warsaw Pact. Without a formal alliance, the Soviet Union would have to coordinate foreign policy and military integration with its East European allies through cumbersome bilateral arrangements. Although the Soviet and East European leaders debated the terms of the Warsaw Pact's renewal at their April 1985 meeting, they did not change the original 1955 treaty, nor the alliance's structure, in any way.

In the mid- to late 1980s, the future of the Warsaw Pact hinged on Gorbachev's developing policy toward Eastern Europe. At the Twenty-Seventh Party Congress in 1986, Gorbachev acknowledged that differences existed among the Soviet allies and that it would be unrealistic to expect them to have identical views on all issues. He demonstrated a greater sensitivity to East European concerns than previous Soviet leaders by briefing the NSWP leaders in their own capitals after the 1985 Geneva and 1986 Reykjavik superpower summit meetings. In 1987 the Warsaw Pact, under Soviet tutelage, adopted a defense-oriented military doctrine. And, following Gorbachev's announced unilateral reduction in the Soviet armed forces, the NSWP countries also announced unilateral military reduction during 1988 and 1989. In the late 1980s, however, mounting economic difficulties and the advanced age of trusted, long-time communist party leaders, like Gustáv Husák in Czechoslovakia, Todor Zhivkov in Bulgaria, and János Kádár in Hungary, intensified the danger of domestic turmoil and internal power struggles in the NSWP countries and threatened the alliance's cohesion.

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The 1980s have witnessed a dramatic increase in the amount of secondary source material published about the Warsaw Pact. The works of Alex Alexiev, Andrzej Korbonski, and Condoleezza Rice, as well as those of various Soviet writers, provide a complete picture of the Soviet alliance system and the East European military establishments before the formation of the Warsaw Pact. William J. Lewis's The Warsaw Pact is a very useful reference work with considerable information on the establishment of the Warsaw Pact and the armies of its member states. The works of Malcolm Mackintosh, a long-time observer of the Warsaw Pact, cover the changes in the Warsaw Pact's organizational structure and functions through the years. Christopher D. Jones's Soviet Influence in Eastern Europe and subsequent articles provide a coherent interpretation of the Soviet Union's use of the Warsaw Pact to control its East European allies. In "The Warsaw Pact at 25," Dale R. Herspring examines intra- alliance politics in the PCC and East European attempts to reduce Soviet domination of the Warsaw Pact. Soviet military journals are the best source for insights into the East European role in Soviet military strategy. Daniel N. Nelson and Ivan Volgyes analyze East European reliability in the Warsaw Pact. Nelson takes a quantitative approach to this perennial topic. By contrast, Volgyes uses a historical and political framework to draw his conclusions on the reliability issue. The works of Richard C. Martin and Daniel S. Papp present thorough discussions of Soviet policies on arming and equipping the NSWP allies. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)