The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview
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DOCUMENT No. 84: Reports on Warsaw Pact Military
Communications Exercises and Marshal Grechko's Inspection Tours,
August 9–16,1968

Sources: Various Czechoslovak, Soviet, and Polish newspapers (noted after each dispatch).

The joint "Horizon "("Gorizont") military communications exercises began on August 11, a day after
the "Nemen "logistic maneuvers were completed. General Sergei Shtemenko, who only a week earlier (on
5 August) had been appointed chief of staff of the Warsaw Pact's Joint Command (replacing General Mikhail
Kazakov) commanded the "Horizon "exercises, which included units from the Soviet Union, East Germany,
and Poland. In addition, the Hungarian armed forces began bilateral maneuvers with the USSR's Southern
Group of Forces on August 15the first time since the crisis began that joint exercises with Soviet troops
were conducted on Hungarian territory. The two sets of maneuvers, which continued until the very start
of the invasion, enabled Shtemenko to establish and smooth out the complicated command, control, &
communications (C3) arrangements necessitated by Operation Danube's multinational invasion force.

As the news dispatches record, the "Horizon" and Soviet-Hungarian exercises were accompanied by
a flurry of high-level military contacts between the Soviet Union and its allies. In the ten days before the
invasion, Soviet Defense Minister Grechko traveled to each of the sites that would be crucial in
coordinating the military operation: Minsk, the GDR, and Poland. After completing his inspection tours,
Grechko returned to Moscow late on the 16th to take part in the decisive three-day meeting of the Soviet
Politburo, where the final decision to invade was approved. The Politburo, at Grechko's suggestion, also
decided to transfer all responsibilities from Marshal Yakubovskii and the Warsaw Pact's Joint Command
directly to the Soviet High Command. Under the new arrangements, Army-General Ivan Pavlovskii, the
commander-in-chief of Soviet Ground Forces, was designated the supreme commander of the whole
invasion, accountable directly to the Politburo's representative on the scene, Kirill Mazurov.

"At the Concluding Stage"

…. It is already possible to say with confidence that the aims set for the extended large-scale logistic exercises were achieved. Many important problems that had arisen regarding the rear services of the Armed Forces in connection with changes in the nature, means, and forms of modern combat were studied and resolved in practice.

The exercises once again confirmed that the rear services of the Armed Forces are able to perform any tasks demanded by the communist party and the Soviet government.

Today the USSR Defense Minister, Marshal of the Soviet Union A. A. Grechko, arrived in the region where the exercises were conducted. The minister paid close heed to a briefing given by the commander of the exercises, Army-General S. S. Maryakhin. He also carefully studied the operational-tactical situation and circumstances of the forces, units, and logistical entities, and transmitted a series of instructions….

Source: "Na zavershayushchem etape," Krasnaya zvezda (Moscow), 10 August 1968, p. 2.

"Meeting of Defense Ministers"

Berlin—The USSR Defense Minister, Marshal A. A. Grechko, who was visiting a formation of Soviet troops in the German Democratic Republic, met the GDR Defense Minister, ArmyGeneral Heinz Hoffmann on Wednesday. They exchanged views on general political matters and cooperation between the fraternal armies. They also exchanged experiences in combat training and political education and discussed the further improvement of cooperation among the leading organs of the troops in the continuing communications exercises.


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