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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 10: Conclusions from the Operational Exercise
of the Czechoslovak Army, March 31–April 7, 1959

Command post exercises have always been an important part of military preparedness training. These drills were carried out on maps, mostly by officers, with the basic pur- pose of preparing the command structure for actual war. Maneuvers involving large numbers of troops were a different undertaking with their own specific objectives, for example training soldiers for combat conditions and gauging their performance, as well as impressing the putative enemy. While obviously important from a military point of view, these maneuvers are not as useful as command post exercises for understanding actual leadership plans and intentions.

This particular command exercise, run by Soviet Marshal Ivan S. Konev (see Doc- ument No. 9), is typical for this early period before the change to an offensive orien- tation later during the Berlin crisis. Some of the basic concepts of Warsaw Pact exer- cises are here—a surprise attack by NATO is assumed, and the goal is stated as preventing enemy entry into one's own territory as well as achieving air superiority. Although these operations are conceived as including other Warsaw Pact armies, those forces would not reach Czechoslovakia for 5–6 days, meaning the latter's army would have to fight alone for a significant period of time.


Conclusions from the Operational Exercise

The command post operational exercise was carried out at the Ministry of Defense from March 31–April 4, under the command of Unified Armed Forces Marshal of the USSR "Ivan S." Konev and his staff. "…"

The following conclusions resulted from the exercise, and Marshal of the USSR Konev made the following analysis:

"…" The time difference between the commencement of the enemy's attack and the execution of a retaliatory strike must be as short as possible. The retaliatory strike shall be executed as soon as the commencement of the enemy's attack shall be made known.

The struggle for air superiority shall be carried out from the very first moments after the beginning of the war. Its major aim should be the annihilation of the enemy's air forces and stocks of nuclear weapons, disruption of fuel supplies, and disorganization of operations in rear areas. Thus, advantageous conditions for the activities of armed forces on land, in the air and on the sea shall be guaranteed.

In the struggle for air supremacy, an active part shall be played by air defense troops, the tactical air force, the navy, airborne units, special forces and partisans, in addition to long-range air forces and missiles of all kinds.

In the coming war, the struggle for air supremacy shall be of strategic significance. Concentrated effort must be exerted by all Warsaw Treaty armed forces.

-100-

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