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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No 35: Czechoslovak Proposal for
Reform of the Warsaw Pact, February 1966

This Czechoslovak document offers another East European perspective on the sub- ject of Warsaw Pact reorganization. While still fairly accommodating of the Soviet position, the Czechoslovaks by now were already experiencing a liberalizing trend that would shortly lead to the Prague Spring, and their views here are not as submissive and pliable as they once were. The general staff officers who composed the document propose allowing national armies to be directed without the intercession of the Warsaw Pact command. They also complain that the Soviets are being excessively secretive about important matters such as the supreme commander's exact role and the scope of his authority during a war. More generally, they point out that Moscow has not been consulting with its allies about its plans to make use of Warsaw Pact forces, an approach the Czechoslovaks argue hampers effective preparations for war. Still, the tone of the document is somewhat muted, which suggests that some dissension existed within the ranks of the Czechoslovak military.

"…"

Comrade Brezhnev's letter implies that specific measures to improve the structure and mechanisms of the Treaty and its military bodies in particular must be taken

"…"

The fundamental problem to be resolved first: "…" "How to ensure the full responsibility of all Treaty members for the comprehensive defense of the entire bloc that gives them the right jointly to decide the main issues concerning the preparation of our states for war."

As the following lines suggest, this is not the case today. We are convinced that without a major change, no proposed re-shuffling of the UAF Staff would achieve the goals desired in the reorganization of the Unified Command.

Every member of the PCC should be reassured that his country's share within the Unified Armed Forces truly safeguards the inviolability of state frontiers, and must have the opportunity to assess realistically the measures through which this is safeguarded. Since the very existence and future of the nation are at stake, the responsibility of each of our parties and governments for the final success in a possible war requires certitude about the correctness of the measures being taken in peace time.

"…" Individual states build their armed forces and make other war preparations, not only without any possibility of cooperating in the elaboration of the general concept, or of evaluating it, but without even any knowledge of the particular measures adopted by all the other participants. This makes it impossible for them to be certain about their respective contributions to the common cause and about all that has been done to ensure its success.

We believe that, for instance, the cooperation of states concerned with formulating the strategic concept for the conduct of war in the European theater is indis

-208-

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