A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 9: Marshal Ivan Konev Analysis of a Czechoslovak
Army Operational Exercise, March 31–April 7, 1959

This speech by Warsaw Pact Supreme Commander Ivan S. Konev analyzes a bilat- eral exercise with the Czechoslovak army. It is included here because it provides insights into how Soviet military leaders viewed—and rationalized—NATO's plans. Konev asserts that NATO exercises are based on a false scenario—an attack from the East requiring defensive operations. He rejects the implication that the East would be the aggressor, and declares that any war would actually begin with an attack from the West. This line of argument illustrates the kind of approach the Soviet military used to try to reconcile its conception of an aggressive West with evidence that NATO's plans were actually defensive.

Comrades!

"…"

The scope of the operational game covered the central part of the Western military theater including as important an operational direction as Prague–Saarland.

The terrain of this region is well known to all of you.

We know from intelligence information that during many exercises involving the U.S. Army and NATO's unified forces, in order to study the early period of the war, they stage a situation where the "East" attacks and NATO's armies hold them back, and as reinforcements arrive they launch an all-out counter-attack. Such a situation applied, for instance, in the NATO command-staff exercises in March 1957, under the code name "Black Lion", in 1958 "Blue Lion," etc.

Our exercise was conducted under conditions, which accurately reflect the truly aggressive plans of the probable enemy. As you know, the war was started by the "Western" side, which began it with a sudden air raid and the subsequent advance of land forces.

To conduct this military game the following start position was created:

"…"

In connection with the deterioration of political conditions, the "West" began covert preparations for war.

"…"

The "East," having established that the "West" was preparing for war, brought their military forces to combat readiness in order to counteract a possible enemy attack and took measures to strengthen the defense of the state borders.

In case the "West" started a war, the "East" planned to deliver an immediate counter-strike in order to destroy the enemy's main forces in a battle near the border before the arrival of his strategic reinforcements. The counter-strike, according to the Unified Command plan, was delivered by long-range and battlefront air forces

-97-

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