Armed Forces and Political Power in Eastern Europe: The Soviet/Communist Control System

By Bradley R. Gitz | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 6 The Collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet/Communist Control System

INTRODUCTION

As weakened as the Warsaw Pact had become by the early months of 1989, the basic structures of Soviet/Communist control nonetheless remained essentially intact. Bloc cohesion may have been shattered by the different responses to reform, and the ability to conduct coalition warfare operations may have been undercut by weapons obsolescence and doctrinal innovations, but those institutional features of the Soviet/Communist control system discussed in chapters 3 and 4 continued to operate largely as before. The Communist regimes of the region continued to use ideological criteria in selecting officer candidates and to indoctrinate prospective military elites with the approved ideology. The Party apparatus in the military had been left basically undisturbed as a mechanism of socialization and supervision. On a different level, East European officers still made pilgrimages to Soviet military academies, the USSR continued to produce the alliance's major weapons systems, and Soviet troops maintained their presence on the soil of their fraternal allies. Morever, although WTO doctrine and force postures were in the process of changing, it was clearly the USSR that dictated the nature of those changes in accord with its domestic and foreign policy requirements.

These last remaining elements of continuity were, however, swept away by the series of revolutions that shook the Soviet bloc in the last months of 1989. The abrupt collapse of Communist Party authority throughout the region brought a de facto end to close Soviet-East

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