Blueprints for Battle: Planning for War in Central Europe, 1948-1968

Blueprints for Battle: Planning for War in Central Europe, 1948-1968

Blueprints for Battle: Planning for War in Central Europe, 1948-1968

Blueprints for Battle: Planning for War in Central Europe, 1948-1968

Synopsis

While scholarship abounds on the diplomatic and security aspects of the Cold War, very little attention has been paid to military planning at the operational level. In Blueprints for Battle, experts from Russia, the United States, and Europe address this dearth by closely examining the military planning of NATO and Warsaw Pact member nations from the end of World War II to the beginning of détente. Informed by material from recently opened archives, this collection investigates the perceptions and actions of the rival coalitions, exploring the challenges presented by nuclear technology, examining how military commanders' perceptions changed from the 1950s to the 1960s, and discussing logistical coordination among allied states. The result is a detailed study that offers much-needed new perspectives on the military aspects of the early Cold War.

Excerpt

In November 1986 I was working at the Ruppertsweiler Underground Facility during a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exercise. Affectionately known as “RUF,” the huge subterranean complex in the German state of Rhineland-Pfalz near the French border was the wartime command post of NATO’s Central Army Group (CENTAG). At the time, centag consisted of two U.S. Army corps, two Bundeswehr corps, and a Canadian brigade. I was working in the Intelligence (G-2) Cell, which was in a large, rectangular room deep in the bowels of the earth. One of the long walls of the room was covered by a 1:250,000 scale map of Central and Eastern Europe, depicting CENTAG’s area of operations, area of responsibility, and area of interest. the map itself was covered with Plexiglas, on which the relevant tactical information could be written as the exercise unfolded. Computers had not yet taken over such functions.

The day before the exercise was scheduled to start, several of us were setting up the G-2 room, checking communications, and making sure all the necessary log books and reference files were in order. the Bundeswehr Feldwebel (staff sergeant) who was in charge of the map-posting detail walked up to the eastern half of the map with a grease pencil in his hand. in the sector of what was then East Germany he crossed out the name of Karl-Marx-Stadt and wrote in “Chemnitz.” Moving into Poland, he crossed out Wroclaw and wrote in “Breslau.” and then he crossed out Gdansk and wrote in “Danzig.” Finally he turned around and looked at the rest of us and said, “Now we’re ready to start.”

That German noncommissioned officer’s actions, of course, were in no way representative of the policy of nato, or of the Federal Republic of Germany. Rather, it was a typical example of grim soldier humor. Soldiers tend to be pessimistic, and what strikes them as funny runs toward the black. It is an occupational hazard. That Feldwebel’s attempt at a joke really expressed the broad frustration over what seemed to be the practical impossibility of ever . . .

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