The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 40: "Status of the Šumava Allied Exercise," Report to
Alexander Dubček by ČSSR Defense Minister Martin Dzúr, June 17,1968

Source: VHA, F. MNO, Gen. štáb, Sv. Šumava.

National Defense Minister Martin Dzúr's report on the Šumava exercises describes them as "strate-
gic-operational command-staff exercises," a designation that implied a much larger role for combat forces
than the original plan for the exercises in 1967.

The maneuvers were originally scheduled to begin in late 1968 or early 1969. In response to the Prague
Spring, the Soviets decided to bring the date forward to mid-June, and expand the number of Warsaw Pact
forces participating to 30–40,000 men. Dzúr informs Dubček that "the number of combat units taking part
is unusually high for an exercise of this kind." Unbeknownst to Czechoslovak leaders, the Soviets designed
the maneuvers as a "dress rehearsal" for the August intervention.


INFORMATION REPORT
TO: First Secretary of the CPCz Central Committee, Cde. Alexander DubčekFROM: ČSSR Minister of National Defense SUBJECT: Status of the Šumava allied exerciseUnder the terms of an agreement between the ČSSR government and the commander-in-chief of the Joint Armed Forces, the Šumava allied strategic operational command staff exercises will be held on the territory of the ČSSR on 19–26 June 1968.On the basis of information provided by the chief of staff of the Joint Armed Forces, General Kazakov, the following staffs and troops will participate in the exercise on ČSSR territory:
two army staffs of the CzPA, each with one division staff, and each division with one regiment staff and one battalion of troops;
one staff of the Soviet army from the Transcarpathian Military District, and two division staffs, each with one regiment staff and one motorized rifle battalion, with total personnel numbering 4,000, of which 1,000 are in combat units;
one staff of the Soviet army from the Northern Group of Soviet Forces deployed on the territory of the Polish People's Republic, with two division staffs, each with one regiment staff and one motorized rifle battalion, with total personnel numbering 4,000, of which 1,000 are in combat units;
one army staff and one division of the Hungarian People's Army with reduced numbers and total personnel of approximately 750;
the air force of the Soviet army with 48–60 combat aircraft and ground-based logistical forces, with total personnel of about 1,900;
the directorate of the exercise from the command staffs of the Joint Armed Forces and the General Staff of the Soviet army, with logistical and communications formations;
a front staff from the Northern Group of Soviet Forces deployed on the territory of the Polish People's Republic.73

73 In Soviet military parlance, a "front" was defined as "an operational-strategic formation of the armed forces
which is designated to carry out operational-strategic missions along a single strategic line or along several operational
lines in a continental theater of military operations." See S. F. Akhromeev, ed., Voennyi entsiklopedicheskii slovar', 2nd
ed. (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1986), p. 787. The size of a front would vary considerably depending on its specific mission,
but it could include as many as 200,000–300,000 troops.

-160-

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