Chapter III - Theater Forces
Over the past two decades, Soviet forces for theater warfare have been
steadily expanded and upgraded in every category of weapons systems.
Soviet ground force divisions have been enlarged and equipped with the
most modern tanks, artillery and helicopters. Soviet naval forces
continue to receive larger and more lethal ships and submarines. Soviet
air forces are being modernized with high-performance aircraft while
theater missile forces receive more accurate systems with greater range
and throwweight. In addition to these force enhancements, Soviet
military planners adapt tactics to the capability of new systems and
changing political objectives.
The Soviets envision as many as three main theaters for the Eurasian
land mass: Western, Southern and Far Eastern, each with a set of
political objectives affecting military operations within the theater.
More importantly in planning for such military operations the Soviets
divide a theater, for operational-command and strategic planning
purposes, into theaters of military operations (TVDs). Soviet planning
for the Western theater, encompassing all of Europe, envisions three
continental TVDs - Northwestern, Western and Southwestern - and two
maritime, Arctic and Atlantic. This organizational concept enables
military planners to formulate military strategy and tactics to achieve
political objectives in the geographic region, taking into
consideration the capabilities of the missiles, aircraft,ships and
ground forces at their disposal. The same planning process occurs for
Soviet objectives in the Southern and Far Eastern Theaters.
In the Western TVD, Soviet war aims would be to defeat NATO and occupy
Western Europe before it could be reinforced. The Soviets plan for a
very rapid, combined arms operation to reach the Atlantic in the
shortest time possible. Soviet ground formations hope to achieve a rate
of advance of up to 100 kilometers per day. Formations that met stiff
resistance would be rapidly reinforced by sec.and echelon forces. The
Soviets plan to employ Operational Maneuver Groups (OMGs)in sharp
thrusts to destroy enemy forces in depth.
Soviet ground formations are provided with attack helicopters for close
air support to maintain rapid momentum. Additionally, transport
helicopters and aircraft are provided to inject airmobile and
air-assault units rapidly from 50 to 100 kilometers ahead of a main
attack to disrupt the enemy, seize key terrain and to support
operations by OMGs. Soviet special purpose forces, SPETSNAZ, would be
employed throughout Western Europe for reconnaissance, to disrupt
communications, destroy bridges, seize choke points and direct
attacking aircraft to prime targets. Soviet air, missile and naval
forces would all be
employed in support of these operations.
The Soviets recognize the importance of nuclear weapons, which can have
a direct influence on the course and outcome of a war. They also
recognize that the war aims can only be achieved by the combined
operations of all forces in a systematic fashion controlled by a
centralized strategic command authority. Planning is constantly revised
to reflect shifting political objectives as well as the introduction of
more capable weapons systems.
In considering the possibility that a conventional conflict in Europe
might escalate, the Soviets have developed extensive plans either to
preempt a NATO nuclear strike by launching a massive attack, or to
launch a massive first strike against prime NATO targets. Soviet
ballistic missiles, rockets, nuclear-capable aircraft and artillery
could all be employed in a massed strike against a set of targets
beginning at the battle line and extending to the depth of the theater.
Soviet ground forces have been trained and equipment developed for
sustained operations in a nuclear environment. Even after a nuclear
exchange, the Soviets expect they could continue their rapid combined
arms offensive against NATO.
the initial deployment of the SS-20 LRINF missile in 1977, the Soviets
launched a concerted effort to modernize and expand their
intermediate-range nuclear force. Each SS-20 carries three MIRVed
warheads, thereby providing a significant force expansion factor. To
date, 378 SS-20s have been deployed, of which some 243 are opposite
NATO. The mobility of the SS-20 system enables both on and off-road
operation. As a result, the survivability of the SS-20 is greatly
enhanced because detecting and targeting them is difficult when they
are field deployed. Further, the SS-20 launcher has the capability of
being reloaded and refired; the Soviets stockpile refire missiles. The
SS-20s also have very significant increases in accuracy and reaction
time over the older SS-4s and SS-5s.
Force expansion is continuing, and the number of deployed SS-20
launchers could increase by at least 50 percent by the late 1980s. In
addition to the SS-20 force, the Soviets still maintain some 224 SS-4
LRINF missiles. All of these older missiles are located in the western
USSR opposite NATO. By the end of 1983, all SS-5 LRINF missiles were
Soviet theater nuclear capability has undergone other
significant improvements, evident from the increased numbers, types,
sophistication, accuracy and yields of tactical missiles including the
SS-21, SS-22 and SS-23.The SS-21 is a division-level system that is
replacing the older FROG-7. It has a range of about 120 kilometers
compared to the FROG 7's range of about 70 kilometers, and is more
accurate and reliable, thus enabling greater
targeting flexibility and deeper strikes.
The SCUD, normally deployed in brigades at army and front level, is
expected to be replaced by the SS-23, a tactical surface-to-surface
missile with improved accuracy and a range of 500 kilometers, versus
the SCUD's 300 kilometers.
The SS-12/SCALEBOARD missile, with a range of about 900 kilometers, is
expected to be replaced by the SS-22 of similar range but greater
Even with the introduction of these new systems, Soviet efforts to
develop newer and more accurate and reliable missiles continue.
The Soviets are likely to improve the SS-20. They already have in
advanced testing, and nearing deployment, ground-, air- and
sea-launched long-range cruise missiles. There is evidence they are
developing a new Short Range Ballistic Missile, possibly for deployment
later this decade or in the early 1990s.
In addition to the land-based theater missile forces, the Soviets still
maintain and operate 13 GOLF II and two HOTEL II-Class ballistic
missile submarines. Each submarine is equipped with three SS-N-5 SLBMs.
Six GOLF II units are based in the Baltic where they continue to pose
an effective threat to most of Europe, while the remaining seven
submarines patrol the Sea of Japan where they could be employed against
targets in the Far East.
US Non-Strategic Forces
In contrast to the Soviet modernization and build-up of its
non-strategic nuclear force posture in Europe, the United States and
its NATO Allies have exercised restraint.
In October 1983, NATO decided to withdraw 1,400 nuclear warheads from
Europe. This decision will bring to 2,400 the total number of warheads
to be removed from Europe since 1979. The earlier withdrawal of 1,000
warheads was mandated when NATO made its 1979 dual-track decision to
modernize longer range intermediate-range nuclear forces and to pursue
arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union. Moreover, the current
reduction will reduce NATO's nuclear stockpile to the lowest level in
over 20 years and will not be affected by deployment of new LRINF
missiles, because one warhead will be removed for each PERSHING II
missile or ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) warhead deployed.
The initial deployment of PERSHING II and ground-launched cruise
missiles began in Europe in late 1983. Deployment will continue until
1988 when 108 PERSHING II and 464 GLCMs will be in place, unless a
US-Soviet agreement that eliminates or limits the global number of
LRINF missiles on both sides is concluded. The deployment of US
PERSHING II and ground-launched cruise missiles responds to the Soviet
LRINF missile threat to Europe.
As the US PERSHING IIs replace the shorter-range PERSHING Is, and
Soviet SS-23s replace the SCUDs in Europe, the Soviet Union will at
least maintain its substantial numerical superiority in shorter-range
nonstrategic nuclear missiles while improving the qualitative
characteristics of its forces. The USSR also possesses a significant
numerical advantage in INF aircraft and is reducing the qualitative
advantage NATO has enjoyed, despite NATO's INF aircraft modernization
program, which consists of the replacement of older aircraft with the
F-16 and TORNADO.
Short-range nuclear forces (SNF) consist of tube artillery and missiles
of much shorter range than INF missiles. The balance in SNF artillery,
traditionally an area of NATO advantage, also has shifted dramatically
in favor of the Soviets in recent years. The Soviets have achieved
parity in overall numbers of SNF and continue to have a substantial
advantage in the category of short-range missiles, giving them more
flexibility in the employment of SNF.
Soviet Tactical Air Defense Missiles
The air defense of the Soviet forces has grown from earlier
generation antiaircraft gun
defenses to the modern antiaircraft guns and surface-to-air missile
systems of today. Since each unit must be able to defend itself, air
defense is the responsibility of all levels of command.
Soviet doctrine for air defense calls for the denial of the airspace
over and adjacent to the battle area. To satisfy this requirement, the
Soviets have developed a mixture of weapons that achieve coverage from
the surface to very high altitudes. Current tactical air defense
systems and their echelon assignments are:
|SA-7a AND 7b||Company/Battalion|
|SA-6a and 6b||Division|
|SA-8a and 8b|
|SA-4a and 4b||Front/Army|
In their modernization program, the Soviets are seeking to
improve surveillance, identification, target tracking, fire control,
firepower and the ability to operate in all environments. This effort
involves advances in such areas as radars, electro-optics,
laser/directed energy technology and Identification Friend or Foe(IFF}
The Soviets are also developing an advanced tactical air defense
system, SA-X-12, to
augment or replace the SA-4 in SAM brigades at the front level. This
system is capable of engaging high-performance aircraft and short range
ballistic missiles like the US LANCE. It may also be used to attempt to
intercept longer-range INF missiles. This system, like some other
systems assigned to Soviet theater forces, could be used for
US Tactical Air Defense Systems
US and Allied tactical air defenses include several new weapons. The
STINGER, with improved infrared-seeker guidance systems, a
man-portable, surface-to-air missile system developed to replace the
REDEYE. Two new systems, PATRIOT and the SGT YORK Division Air Defense
Gun, will increase the Army's air defense capabilities against a
variety of aircraft approaching at varying altitudes. PATRIOT will
replace NIKE-HERCULES and the Improved HAWK as the principal
theater-level SAM for defense against aircraft at high or medium
altitudes and will be deployed in Europe beginning in 1984. The ISGT
YORK will give the Army a longer-range, all-weather, higher
kill-probability weapon to protect armored and mechanized units.
Beginning in 1985, the SGT YORK will replace the VULCAN gun system.
Soviet Air Forces
The reorganization of the command and control structure for Soviet air
assets, which began in the late 1970s, is the most significant
event in the last two decades in the development of Soviet air power.
It occurred as part of the general reorganization of Soviet military
forces and is a result of the new emphasis on TVDs as the basic level
of military operations in a future war.
The reorganization resulted in a streamlined organization due to the
merger of strategic and tactical air and air defense assets in most
land border areas of the USSR. The air defense (APVO) interceptor
regiments in these areas were resubordinated from PVOStrany to the
Soviet Air Forces. They became part of a new structure, the "Air Forces
of the Military District," which also includes most of the assets of
the former tactical air armies. The Air Forces of an MD include all air
assets in their geographic area (excluding Strategic Aviation and
transport assets). These assets can be used either offensively or
defensively, as the situation requires. The new structure improves
defensive capabilities, but its most
significant impact is on the capability to conduct massed offensive air
operations in the various TVDs. The Soviets have probably been striving
toward such a structure since the 1960s, and technological advances in
weapon systems and in command, control and communications have finally
made its implementation possible.
The Soviet Air Forces are currently adapting to their new
organizational structure and to new weapon systems. Over the next few
years, they will be settling more firmly into the reorganized structure
and streamlining command and control links. There will be continued
experimentation in tactics and training at all levels, as new roles and
missions are more clearly defined.
Tactical Aviation: As a result of the reorganization, Soviet Air
Forces of the Military Districts (MDs) now provide tactical air support
to frontal operations. The missions assigned to the Air Forces of the
remained essentially the same as those formerly performed by the
Tactical Air Armies, but incorporate the introduction of more modern
and capable aircraft and reflect changes in pilot training.
In addition to the increased emphasis on the achievement of air
superiority in any future war, and on the importance of air power in
general, the Soviets have increased their experimentation with new
tactics over the last 5 years. They are developing training for a
variety of new missions, including fighter escort, ECM escort,
maneuvering air combat, independent search missions and air
accompaniment of ground forces. They have increased the percentage of
"dissimilar" intercept training, and the number of multi-event training
As the new training becomes more widespread, it will greatly improve
Soviet capabilities to perform air missions under a variety of
conditions. Many of the new missions place a much greater demand on
pilot initiative and independence than was previously the case in the
Soviet Air Forces. The training not only increases capabilities, it
will also maximize the effective use of the new Soviet fighters,
allowing Soviet pilots to take better advantage of the increased range,
weapons and maneuvering capabilities of these aircraft.
Their new fighter aircraft, the MiG-29/
FULCRUM and the Su-27/FLANKER, are
supersonic, all-weather counter-air fighters
with look-down/shoot-down weapon systems
and beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles.
These aircraft may have a secondary ground
Su-27/FLANKER, bottom, and MiG-29/FULCRUM aircraft
attack role. The FULCRUM in particular may have a true dual-role capability similar to that of the US F-16 and F-18.
Soviet air forces in the Western TVD have by far the highest
percentage of modern aircraft - over 90 percent of their inventory -
because the Soviets perceive that this TVD faces the strongest enemy
and the most dense and complicated target array. The air assets in this
region number about 2,850 aircraft and include every operational Soviet
airframe except the FOXHOUND. Capabilities in this area are believed to
be very good and constantly improving.
US Tactical Air Forces
US tactical air forces retain a qualitative advantage over those of the
Soviet Union in aircraft and weapons, and, more importantly, in
personnel and training. Air combat in the Middle East demonstrated the
lethality of US built air-to-air missiles. US Air Force and Navy air
crews receive about twice as much flying time as do their Soviet
counterparts, and US training exercises are considered superior to
those of the Soviets. Non-US NATO countries generally provide about as
much flying time for their air crews as do the Soviets.
Air support to the Southwestern TVD is generally comparable to the
Western TVD. There are fewer aircraft in this area, however, because it
faces a numerically smaller NATO force. Soviet air forces in this
region total some 1,250 aircraft.
The Northwestern TVD has a very small number of air assets, reflecting
less emphasis on air support in this region. It has few long range
aircraft; there are no FENCERs in this region, although some could be
allocated from other areas. The Soviets continue to modernize their Air
Forces in the Far East with late model FLOGGER and FENCER aircraft.
Currently, 1,800 aircraft, over 90 percent of which are
third-generation, are in position for operations against China and
Japan. The Soviets also have about 170 long- and medium-range bombers
in the Far East. Of this number, some 40 BACKFIRE bombers are assigned
to the Soviet Air Forces in the region.
The US and NATO Allies have also been carrying out a force
modernization program over the last 5 years. The United States has
recently added the A-10, the F-15 and the F-16 aircraft. The NATO
Allies are also adding F-16 and TORNADO aircraft, and both the United
States and NATO are adding the E-3A AWACS.
The high-performance F-14 fighter, designed for fleet air defense and
air-to-air combat, is operating on more than 80 percent of the Navy's
aircraft carriers with additional procurement planned. The F/A-18,
which will replace the F-4 and A-7 in the Navy and Marine Corps, can
accomplish both air-to-air fighter and air-to-ground attack missions.
The Marine Corps' AV-8B HARRIER is scheduled to be operational by 1985,
and six active light attack squadrons will have received this new
version by FY 1988. To keep pace with the anticipated threat, both the
F-15 and F-16 aircraft are receiving radar modifications to enhance
air-to-air target detection ranges and will also be modified to carry
advanced medium range air-to-air missiles. Production of F15s and F-16s
will continue into the 1990s.
Soviet Ground Forces
Out of a total of 194 active tank, motorized rifle and airborne
divisions in the Soviet force, 65 are located in the western USSR, 30
in Eastern Europe and an additional 20 in the Transcaucasus and North
Caucasus Military Districts (MDs). All these divisions would likely be
committed to offensive operations against NATO. In addition to these
forces, 17 low-strength divisions, centrally located in the USSR,
constitute the Strategic Reserves. For operation in the Southern
Theater the Soviets have in place six divisions in the Turkestan MD and
four engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan. These forces would be
reinforced by the 20 divisions from the Caucasus MDs if they were not
engaged against NATO. Soviet forces for operations in the Far East are
composed of 52 tank and motorized rifle divisions. The six Warsaw Pact
Allies of the Soviet Union have a total of 55active divisions, which,
collectively with Soviet divisions, amount to 249 combat divisions.
Many of these divisions, most notably those in the interior of the
USSR, are at low stages of readiness.
The Soviets also maintain 17 mobilization bases, predominantly in the
western USSR, that could form additional combat divisions. These bases
usually contain the combat equipment needed to form new divisions and
would require augmentation in manpower and a substantial amount of
training before they could be committed to combat operations.
While technological improvements to hardware continue
throughout the Soviet force, priority is given to the forces opposite
NATO, giving them the capability to conduct rapid offensive operations,
characterized by shock action, massive firepower and high mobility.
Surface-to-air, surface-to-surface missiles, air and air defense assets
have already been discussed. Additionally, the Soviets continue to
modernize and expand ground equipment such as tanks, artillery and
Tanks: The Soviet tank force has been undergoing a
major upgrade since the mid 1960s, when the first truly modern
post-World War II tank, the T-64, was introduced. The first model of
the T-64 was followed by at least one improved version, the T-64A, and
several variants of the T-72. The most modern Soviet tank, the T-80,
featuring nuclear, biological, and chemical protection and entranced
firepower and survivability, is in proportion of these modern tanks, as
part of the total Soviet inventory opposite NATO, has occurred. The
impact on the most critical area - the one opposite the NATO center -
is particularly significant. In this area, T-64, T-72, T-80 tanks
comprise about 50 percent of the total. Over 1,400 T-80 tanks have been
deployed opposite NATO.
Artillery: The Soviets are pursuing a comprehensive program of
upgrading and expanding the artillery fire support available to ground
forces. Several new artillery pieces, some of which are
nuclear-capable, and new multiple rocket launchers have been introduced
in the past few years. Simultaneously, an ongoing divisional
reorganization has resulted in increases in the towed and
self-propelled artillery assets. The addition of an artillery battalion
to tank regiments is intended to make tank and motorized rifle
divisions fully capable combined arms forces.
Several developments illustrate Soviet technological improvements to
the artillery force. Two new 152-mm guns, one self-propelled and one
towed, have been fielded since 1978, and both are deployed with Soviet
forces in Eastern Europe. They are nuclear-capable and replace pieces
that were not.
As an additional complement to surface-to-surface missiles, the Soviets
are continuing deployment of nuclear-capable heavy artillery brigades
armed with mobile 240-mm self-propelled mortars and the 203-mm
self-propelled guns. Deployment of the 203-mm gun outside the USSR in
1982, coupled with the appearance of the new 152-mm guns in the same
year, indicates the importance Soviet doctrine places on capability to
deliver low-yield nuclear strikes relatively close to Soviet forces.
A 220-mm multiple rocket launcher has been deployed opposite NATO since
1978. Each mobile launcher has 16 tubes and can fire chemical as well
as conventional high explosive munitions.
Helicopters: Soviet helicopter forces are receiving priority
attention with continuing upgrades in numbers, units and technology.
Divisional helicopter assets continue to increase in number and,
overall, the rotary wing force continues to figure prominently in
Soviet doctrine and tactics. All major training exercises routinely
feature large numbers of helicopters integrated into all facets of
combined arms operations. Soviet helicopter forces continue to lead new
advances in doctrinal developments, such as airmobile assault forces,
and provide major support to other forces, such as the Operational
Maneuver Groups. Tactically, they continue to provide significant
combat power to Soviet forces operating in Afghanistan.
Soviet combat helicopters are among the most heavily armed in the world
- the Mi-24/HIND E and MI-8/HIP E attack helicopters and the MI-8/HIP C
and Mi-17/HIP H assault helicopters offer Soviet commanders a
considerable degree of flexibility in the application of intense
firepower. The Soviets are testing operational concepts in Afghanistan,
modifying tactics as the war proceeds. These lessons, while not
directly applicable to a European war, would add to Soviet
effectiveness in general conflict.
The Soviets continue to develop new systems designed to take advantage
of increasingly sophisticated technology. New, more agile, powerful
helicopters, such as the HAVOC, with improved armament and
significantly improved performance and survivability will ensure the
Soviets field a combat effective helicopter force in the late 1980s and
US Ground Forces
US military strategy does not call for matching the size of the Soviet
ground forces,but instead emphasizes refining the US qualitative edge
in conjunction with moderate force increases.
The US Army and Marine Corps are developing organizational changes to
improve combat effectiveness. The Army is undertaking a program
entitled "Army 90" to implement its Air Land Battle doctrine. This
doctrine has been developed to synchronize the close in battle against
enemy lead forces with a longer-range battle against enemy follow-on
forces. Army light and heavy divisions are being rearmed and
restructured for sustained,continuous combat operations at any level of
conflict. The Army is seeking to increase the strategic mobility of its
light divisions while capitalizing on systems to increase overall
firepower and combat effectiveness.
The Marine Corps is restructuring infantry battalions to increase
firepower and tactical mobility. Introduction of more advanced weapons
will improve combat capabilities. A 25-percent increase in DRAGON
antitank missile teams in each battalion and an additional TOW antitank
missile platoon in each regiment will improve antiarmor capabilities.
The present generation of antiarmor weapons includes the long-range
TOW, medium range DRAGON and light antitank short-range missiles.
Improved warheads and guidance systems will increase the TOW's ability
to penetrate new Soviet armor.
By the end of the decade, the Army is scheduled to have over 1,500
attack helicopters, two-thirds of which will be the AH-1 COBRATOW. The
Army's AH-64 APACHE helicopter, which entered production in 1982, is an
advanced, quick-reaction, antitank weapon. It is armed with 16 HELLFIRE
antiarmor missiles, a 30-mm automatic gun, and 2.75 inch rockets.
The M1 ABRAMS main battle tank has been deployed in Army field units
since 1981. The M1 provides US forces with improved mobility,
survivability and antiarmor firepower. The Army plans to replace the M1
main gun with the German-designed 120-mm main gun system, which would
be interoperable with the German LEOPARD II tank gun.
The Multiple-Launch Rocket System (MLRS), a cooperative program with
the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom,
was fielded with US forces in 1983. It is designed to give NATO ground
forces enhanced firepower to suppress enemy artillery and introduces a
new capability to interdict enemy operations beyond normal artillery
The BRADLEY Fighting Vehicle, introduced in 1981, is modernizing Army
mechanized forces. These vehicles are armed with 25-mm automatic
cannons, 7.62-mm coaxial machine guns, and TOW antitank weapons. They
give mechanized infantry a true mounted combat capability. Introduction
of a new Light Armored Vehicle will provide the Marine Corps units with
increased mobility and firepower.
Soviet Naval Forces
The Soviet Navy maintains a world naval presence. The Navy is composed
of four fleets - Northern, Baltic, Black, and Pacific - and the Caspian
Sea Flotilla. Each of the four fleets has submarine, surface, air,
naval infantry (marines) and coastal defense components as well as
large ashore support, training and administrative organizations. In
all, there are over 467,000 personnel in the Soviet Navy, about 186,000
of whom are aboard ship.
The years 1967-1968 were watershed years for the Soviet Navy; the
Soviets introduced lead units of their second generation missile
equipped submarines and surface ships. It was also the period when they
began in earnest to deploy combat forces away from home waters. Since
then, the Soviet Navy has developed into a globally deployed force
composed of an impressive array of ships, submarines and aircraft,
including the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser KIROV.
In the past year, there have been significant developments in
ship construction programs and deployment activities. In the
construction area, two new classes of nuclear-powered attack submarines
were launched - MIKE and SIERRA. Two other classes - the nuclear
powered high-speed ALFA-Class and the diesel-powered TANGO - may have
completed their production runs and their follow-on classes are
expected to appear soon. The Soviets have begun construction of a large
aircraft carrier, with an estimated displacement of some 60,000 tons.
The newer submarine classes introduced in the 1980s, as well as the
1979 VICTOR III SSN, have improved technologies and capabilities. They
are generally larger in size and have a greater weapons capacity. Prior
to 1978, the Soviets emphasized the construction of ballistic missile
submarines. Since then, however, production emphasis has shifted, and
about 75 percent are now torpedo or cruise missile attack submarines.
During the next 10 years, while there may be a slight decline in the
total number of attack submarines, there will be a significant growth
in the number of nuclear-powered units.
The MIKE-Class, at over 9,700 tons displacement, and the SIERRA-Class,
at about 8,000 tons, are indicative of the trend toward increasing the
size of Soviet submarines. The SIERRA is about 20 percent larger than
its immediate predecessor, the VICTOR III, which was introduced only 4
The Soviets are continuing to build high technology submarines that
have pressure hulls made of titanium. This development enables Soviet
submarines to operate at great depths in addition to being more
survivable as a result of greater hull strength.
Important force developments also have included the activation of the
second unit of the OSCAR-Class nuclear-powered cruise missile
submarine; the beginning of sea trials of the second KIROV-Class
nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser; the addition of five other
attack submarines; six major surface combatants; 46 fighter-bombers;
over 40 helicopters, mostly ASW versions; and one long-range ASW BEAR
F. Late in 1983, the third unit of the KIEV-Class carriers and the
second unit of the IVAN ROGOV-Class amphibious assault ships departed
for the Pacific Fleet via the Indian Ocean. Earlier, the SLAVA-Class
cruiser - provisionally identified last year as the KRASINA-Class -
made her maiden voyage out of area from the Black Sea to the Northern
Fleet and back again.
The aircraft carrier being built at Nikolayev Ion the Black
Sea is assessed to be nuclear powered, and it is expected to have a
full length flight deck. Because it is likely that this ship is being
designed to carry conventional take off and landing aircraft, instead
of the KIEV's vertical take off and landing type, it will probably be
fitted with arresting gear and steam catapults like those on US
aircraft carriers. This ship and her new aircraft will begin tests
before the end of the decade.
The new class of Soviet carriers will help to eliminate deficiencies in
two areas. The first is air defense of their naval forces beyond the
ranges of land-based fighter aircraft. Secondly, the Soviets have an
active interest in improving their distant area power projection
capabilities to become more influential in the Third World. To achieve
this goal, they need to be able to provide air protection for naval
forces as well as to protect and assist ground forces operating ashore.
Thus it is expected that the aircraft on the new carrier will have both
air-to-air and ground capabilities.
At Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam and in the Dahlak Archipelago off Ethiopia in
the southern Red Sea, the Soviets have achieved significant gains in
access to important naval support facilities. The most critical
operational developments have taken place at Cam Ranh Bay where the
Soviets have upgraded and increased the size of their forces. In 1982,
the Soviets had about 15 warships and auxiliaries operating in the
South China Sea. Since early 1983, the number has ranged from 20 to 25
ships. Naval long-range BEAR D reconnaissance and BEAR F antisubmarine
warfare(ASW) aircraft continue to operate in the area. In late 1983,
the Soviets began to augment this capability, and thus far, about 10
strike, tanker, and electronic combat variants of the medium-range
Tu-16 BADGER have deployed to Cam Ranh Bay.
During the past year, the Soviets have become more heavily entrenched
at Dahlak. The Soviet Navy apparently has now achieved exclusive use of
the island, and Ethiopian nationals rarely visit. In addition, the
Soviets have begun to improve the island's defenses with antiaircraft
weapons and a contingent of their naval infantry.
Remote facilities provide the Soviets immediate access to the vital sea
lanes that link the natural resources of these regions to the
industries of the United States and its Allies.
In the fall of 1983, the Soviets conducted their first world-wide naval
exercise since 1975. The exercise was unique in at least two respects.
First, while the exercise did emphasize traditional homeland
protection, with anticarrier and antisubmarine activities, there was
also a focus on anti-sea lines of communication and convoy operations
in ocean areas including the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. The
Soviets even augmented their Indian Ocean deployed submarine forces
with units that had been operating off Vietnam. The exercise clearly
demonstrated the military availability of Soviet civilian maritime
assets, when a large number of merchant and fishing fleet ships were
integrated into naval operations, either as part of convoys or
simulating enemy forces.
The Soviet Navy has continued to focus developmental efforts on
incorporating increasing levels of advanced technology and
sophistication into all their ships. They continue to build even larger
ships with equally heightened levels of lethality in their weapons
systems and greater endurance to facilitate deployments to all seas and
US Naval Forces
Measured by numbers of ships, the United States and its Allies maintain
a favorable balance of maritime power. The United States and its NATO
Allies maintain about 1,500 ships, compared to a Warsaw Pact force of
about 1,400. The United States and its Allies hold a significant lead
in ships of over 1,000 tons displacement.
This aggregate comparison reflects several areas of Western advantage.
For example, the West has an advantage in carrier air power, an
advantage expected to grow during the 1980s as the United States builds
its force from the current level of 13 carriers to 15 by the end of the
decade. Upgrading and recommissioning of the battleship NEW JERSEY and
sister ships of the IOWA-Class are adding significant firepower to the
US fleet. The United States maintains a superior amphibious assault
force, with about four times the tonnage of its Soviet counterpart. The
United States and its Allies also have an important advantage in
underway replenishment ships and other naval support forces, enabling
Western forces to operate in distant waters with more endurance and
Qualitatively, Western maritime forces have an important edge in
antisubmarine warfare. Today, the United States also maintains
qualitative superiority in its submarine forces, especially in sound
quieting and detection capabilities.
The Soviet Navy has been a leader for many years in the development and
deployment of naval antiship cruise missiles. The United States is now
upgrading its own units through large-scale deployments of HARPOON and
TOMAHAWK cruise missiles.
The United States and its Allies are pursuing several programs designed
to strengthen NATO collective maritime defense capabilities. To improve
antisubmarine warfare forces, the United States is continuing
construction of the highly capable LOS ANGELES-Class attack submarine,
with production rates gradually being accelerated. The delivery of 34
new FFG-7 frigates since 1977 has added significantly to the ASW
capabilities of US surface forces. New towed-array sonar systems now
being deployed aboard increasing numbers of US surface warships,
coupled with the ongoing introduction of new LAMPSMK III helicopters,
will also substantially enhance the long-range ASW attack capabilities
of US surface combatants. The United States is also modernizing its
force of land-based, long-range P-3 maritime patrol aircraft in order
to improve fine capability to locate and destroy enemy submarines in
forward areas and barriers before they come within range of Allied
naval forces and convoys. Improved torpedoes and ASW rockets now in
production or under development will provide improvements needed to
counter Soviet submarines that are faster, dive deeper, and have
reduced acoustic target strength.
The United States is steadily improving its capability for anti-air
warfare with construction of additional CG-47 Aegis guided missile
cruisers and planned introduction of a new class of guided missile
destroyers in the latter half of the decade. In addition, significant
modernization is ongoing for existing guided missile cruisers and
current carrier based AEW aircraft and is planned for the F-14 force.
Finally, strong self-air-defense capabilities are being provided to all
maritime forces, commensurate with the threat they could face.
Special Purpose Forces (SPETSNAZ)
The USSR maintains a complement of special purpose forces, known by the
Soviet acronym SPETSNAZ. These special purpose forces are controlled by
the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Soviet General Staff and
are trained to conduct a variety of sensitive missions, including
covert action abroad. This latter mission was illustrated by their
covert role, under KGB direction, in the December 1979 assassination of
Afghan President Hafizullah Amin, which was performed by a joint
During peacetime the GRU carefully coordinates reconnaissance programs
that are geared to meet the intelligence requirements for Soviet forces
in war. In wartime, SPETSNAZ forces would operate far behind enemy
lines for extended periods of time. They would conduct sabotage,
reconnaissance and attacks on a wide variety of military and political
The KGB is assessed to have responsibility, under Central Committee
guidance, for operational planning, coordination and political control
of special purpose forces that operate abroad in peacetime. This was
the case in the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and of
Afghanistan in 1979. The KGB maintains its own special operations
capabilities in the form of clandestine assets dedicated to
assassination and wartime espionage.
Wartime missions of GRU special purpose troops are planned under the
direction of the General Staff and are integral to the Soviet combined
arms operations. Intended to support theater as well as front or
fleet-level operations, SPETSNAZ forces are capable of operating
throughout the enemy homeland.
Organized into brigades, these forces will infiltrate and fight as
small teams. In a war, each of these brigades can be expected to field
approximately 100 SPETSNAZ teams. A typical team would be composed of
an officer as leader with a warrant officer or senior sergeant as
second in command. Other members of the group are trained as radio
operators and weapons and demolition experts. In addition to the normal
military training, all are trained in:
- sabotage methods using explosives, incendiaries, acids, and abrasives.
- parachute training,
- hand-to-hand combat and silent killing techniques.
- language/customs of target country.
- survival behind enemy lines and
- reconnaissance and target location.
To make training as realistic as possible, SPETSNAZ brigades
have facilities equipped with accurate full-scale models of key targets
such as enemy installations and weapon systems. The brigades intended
for operations against NATO share similar demolition training and
equipment familiarization. Training facilities are equipped with
mockups of NATO nuclear systems including Pershing, Lance, and GLCM, as
well as airfields, nuclear storage sites, and communications
facilities. The missions of SPETSNAZ make a significant addition to
Soviet combat forces.
In both peace and war, these SPETSNAZ forces represent an important
threat. In peacetime, they are a formidable instrument with which the
Soviets can project limited, but decisive, force abroad, especially
into the Third World. In war, major facilities and important weapons
systems are the object of their attacks.
US Special Operations Forces
US special operations forces are valuable elements available to field
commanders. The potential benefits of such forces justify the high
priority given to the revitalization of their capabilities. Special
operations forces are particularly well qualified to counter threats to
US interests that result from low-intensity conflict. In this regard,
special operations forces have accounted for one-quarter of the mobile
training teams deployed in support of US security assistance programs
Special operations forces are also capable of direct action in response
to crises for which the use of other US forces might be inappropriate.
Such crises might include threats of hostile acts against US citizens
or facilities abroad by terrorists, dissidents, foreign governments or
other sources. Special operations forces are especially useful in
resolving crises and terminating conflicts that are still at relatively
low levels of violence and to which the nations involved have not made
major resource commitments.
Special operations forces must also be capable of supporting
conventional forces in the event of large-scale Soviet aggression
against the United States and its Allies. To this end special
operations forces can provide invaluable intelligence to conventional
field commanders and may conduct psychological, civil affairs and
unconventional warfare operations. Unconventional warfare missions
would include the interrelated fields of guerrilla warfare, direct
action and evasion and escape operations.
Accelerated action is under way to improve special operations capabilities to meet national and theater requirements in peace,
crisis and war.
Soviet Chemical Warfare
The Soviet Union has the world's largest, best equipped and best
trained military force for waging chemical warfare. The extensive
modernization and growth of the Armed Forces include a dynamic and
viable program to strengthen the USSR's chemical warfare capabilities.
The Soviet Union continues to test, produce and stockpile chemical
weapons. Moreover, the Soviets have developed the doctrine, plans,
personnel and equipment to support their use of chemical weapons. They
believe that the user of chemical weapons would gain a significant
military advantage in a conventional conflict. Their continued testing
of chemical weapons, the enlarged storage capacity of chemical agents
and weapons and the existence of active production facilities are among
the indicators of a serious chemical weapons program. These indications
and strong evidence of the actual use of chemical and toxin weapons by
the Soviet Union and its client forces in Afghanistan, Laos and
Kampuchea reflect their drive to strengthen and improve their
capability to wage chemical warfare and their willingness to employ
such weapons in battlefield situations. Soviet research and development
of military useful chemical warfare agents covers a wide range of
applications. New chemical agents and combinations of agents, including
ways to render the protective masks and filtration systems of potential
enemies ineffective, are being investigated. One group of agents, known
as mycotoxins, has been identified in the laboratory from samples
collected in Afghanistan.
Almost all Soviet conventional land, sea and air weapon systems,
from mortars to long-range tactical missiles, are capable of firing
chemical ammunition or warheads. The Soviets have developed the data
required to use these chemical weapons in battle situations, which
includes the types and numbers of weapons required to attack various
targets under a variety of weather and combat conditions. Currently
they are exploring and testing systems with larger payload, increased
range, and better accuracy for greater target flexibility and a deeper
strike capability. They have developed two types of chemical weapons
for their tactical missiles, bulk agents for a single large warhead and
bomblets that can be dispersed over the target.
In accordance with their doctrine, once release authority has been
granted for employment of chemical weapons, the appropriate commander
may be ordered to conduct strikes against any or all identified
targets. He may use persistent agents or non-persistent agents as well
as a variety of delivery systems, and will know the level of
contamination to place on the target. Should his own forces have to
cross a contaminated area, the filtration system on all combat vehicles
will help allow his troops to continue to maneuver and fight, and he
will have specially trained troops available for consultation,
reconnaissance and decontamination.
The Shikhany Chemical Warfare Proving Ground is one of the primary
Soviet chemical weapons test areas. Since the late 1920s, it has grown
in size and sophistication and today is an expanding and highly active
chemical weapons testing facility. Since the late 1970s,the Soviets
have constructed several new chemical weapon test facilities and
further construction continues. At these facilities, sampling devices
used to determine the efficiency of chemical weapons are arranged in
grids that have a circular or rectangular pattern. These distinctive
grids measure the agent concentration and how well it was dispersed.
The shape of the grid and complexity of its pattern depend on the kind
of weapon - bomb, artillery or rocket - and the type of agent being
Chemical agents produced over the past five decades believed to be are
stored in a network of military depots located across the Soviet Union.
These depots are believed to contain agents in bulk containers and
agent-filled munitions, as well as gas masks, protective suits,
decontamination solutions and decontamination vehicles. The depots are
highly secure military installations, and many have rail lines allowing
for the rapid mobilization of chemical warfare materials. The amount of
agents, weapons and material in storage at these depots has increased
significantly since the late 1960s.
The Soviets have more than 80,000 officers and enlisted specialists
trained in chemical warfare, a force that will double in wartime.They
have about 30,000 special vehicles for reconnaissance and
decontamination. The Soviets have established chemical military
academies and more than 200 sites for teaching and training Soviet
troops on how to protect and decontaminate themselves following combat.
The chemical troops are responsible for the development, testing and
evaluation of new chemical agents, weapon systems, antidotes, suits,
gas masks, protective and decontaminating systems. In addition, they
are responsible for the production and storage of chemical weapons and
also serve as advisers to commanders for chemical weapons and the
tactics for their use.
US Chemical Weapons
The United States is actively working in the multilateral Conference on
Disarmament for a complete and verifiable ban on the development,
production, stockpiling, possession, transfer and use of chemical
weapons. Even in the absence of such a ban, the United States will
never initiate the use of chemical weapons in a conflict. But we must
maintain a credible deterrent against chemical attack that includes
both protective and retaliatory capabilities. To do so, we must redress
the - severe imbalances that have developed as a consequence of
long-term US restraint and continued Soviet expansion and modernization
in the chemical weapons area.
The United States has not produced any chemical weapons for 15 years,
and most of our chemical munitions could no longer be delivered
effectively on the battlefield. The most critical deficiency is the
lack of a capability to target enemy forces effectively with chemical
agents beyond artillery range. Further, our chemical weapon and agent
production facilities have deteriorated and are unusable without
extensive renovation or replacement.
To have an effective deterrent, the United States need not, and will
not attempt to, match the Soviets in quantities and types of chemical
weapons. Instead, our aim is to have the smallest, safest stockpile
that would convince the USSR it could gain no significant military
advantage from the use of chemical weapons against us or our Allies.
Even with their formidable protective capabilities, Soviet forces would
face severe difficulties in sustaining combat operations if they faced
counterattack with chemicals. We are improving the utility of our
current stockpile through maintenance, planning and training. However,
these activities cannot redress the most critical stockpile
deficiencies, and, thus, we are also seeking to reestablish a
capability to produce chemical weapons, and to overcome these critical
stockpile deficiencies by acquiring an effective deep-strike chemical
weapon and a modern artillery projectile.
In addition, US forces must be able to defend against chemical attack.
We have recently made considerable progress in this regard.
Chemical-related training has increased in all services. Individual
protective equipment is available to Army, Air Force and Marine units,
and the Navy is in the process of equipping its personnel.
Additionally, new ship construction programs will include degrees of
collective protective systems to improve staying power in a chemical
warfare environment. We have also fielded improved detection equipment.
Nevertheless, US chemical protective
capability still needs improvement in such areas as protective
clothing, collective protection systems, detection, warning and
monitoring devices, decontamination equipment and agents and the
ability to treat casualties in a chemical warfare environment. We have
research and development programs in all these areas. Despite the
necessity for improved defenses against chemical attack, we must also
recognize that the effectiveness of troops is significantly diminished
if they are required to operate in a chemical protective posture.
Deterrence of chemical attack remain
Soviet Biological Warfare
The Soviet Union has an active R&D program to investigate and
evaluate the utility of biological weapons and their impact on the
combat environment. The Soviet effort in biological warfare violates
the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1972, which was ratified
by the USSR. The convention bans the research, development, production
and possession of biological agents and toxins for warfare purposes.
There are at least seven biological warfare centers in the USSR that
have the highest security and are under the strictest military control.
One of these is located in the city of Sverdlovsk. In the spring of
1979, an accidental release of an anthrax agent occurred there, either
as a result of a leakage in a containment system or an explosion. A
large quantity of anthrax traveled at least four kilometers downwind
from the facility and caused a significant number of casualties and
deaths. More than 3,000 Soviet citizens may have been infected. As a
result of the accident, large sections of Sverdlovsk were placed under
quarantine and military control. Strenuous efforts were made by Soviet
doctors to treat victims, and a large-scale effort to decontaminate the
area was undertaken. The Soviet Government has claimed that the anthrax
problem was caused by the illegal sale of contaminated meat on the
black market. The evidence indicates instead that the victims suffered
from pulmonary anthrax caused by the inhalation of an anthrax agent,
which could only have escaped from the military facility.
Soviet research efforts in the area of genetic engineering may also
have, a connection with their biological warfare program. There is an
apparent effort on the part of the Soviets to transfer selected aspects
of genetic engineering research to their biological warfare centers.
For biological warfare purposes, genetic engineering could open a large
number of possibilities. Normally harmless, non-disease producing
organisms could be modified to become highly toxic or produce diseases
for which an opponent has no known treatment or cure. Other agents, now
considered too unstable for storage or biological warfare applications,
could be changed sufficiently to be an effective agent.
In Soviet doctrine, the biological weapon is seen as a strategic weapon
for the spread of infectious disease. Many of the Soviet long- and
intermediate-range missile systems are technically capable of
disseminating large quantities of disease agents over large areas.
The United States, in contrast, not only ratified the Biological and
Toxic Weapons Convention of 1972, but also continues to adhere fully to