Warsaw pact military doctrines in the 1970s and 1980s: Findings in the East German archives

Heuser, B. (1993) Warsaw pact military doctrines in the 1970s and 1980s: Findings in the East German archives. Comparative Strategy, 12(4), pp. 437-457. (doi:10.1080/01495939308402943)

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Abstract

Drawing on recently opened East German military archives, this article traces the evolution of Soviet military doctrine through Warsaw Pact training and maneuver documentation. Paradoxically, while the USSR was deploying more usable and survivable nuclear weapons (the SS‐20), it was developing a strategy which attempted to win a limited war in Europe with conventional weapons only. Pact records do show planning for preemptive nuclear strikes in response to observations of NATO preparations for nuclear launches. Great care was taken not to proceed to a nuclearization of the conflict unless the enemy was about to do so. These planning documents also reveal that the Pact was not expecting to launch all the nuclear weapons at its disposal. The article also describes Soviet discussions in the 1980s on the blurring of distinctions between conventional and nuclear weapons systems and the ensuing “offense‐defense” debate.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Heuser, Professor Donata Beatrice
Authors: Heuser, B.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:Comparative Strategy
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0149-5933
ISSN (Online):1521-0448

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