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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 43: East German Analysis of the
NATO "Fallex 66" Exercise, 1967

Each autumn, NATO held a major command post exercise known as "Fallex." This East German analysis of Fallex 66, carried out on West German territory, provides an interesting perspective of NATO capabilities from the point of view of the adversary. One of its main conclusions is that the Western alliance showed an impressive ability to defend the Federal Republic. According to the scenario of the exercise, Warsaw Pact forces would be able to penetrate up to 110 kilometers inside the country before being forced to retreat and deal with a counter-offensive on East German and Czechoslovak territory. The study found that the West's use of tactical nuclear weapons would be particularly effective, especially in destroying enemy aircraft before they could take off. Interestingly, some Western records of Fallex 66 were only recently published by a German Social Democratic parliamentarian who wanted to expose NATO's plans for extensive use of nuclear weapons, which he argued underlined the impossibility of defending West Germany by conventional means.9Clearly, the East Germans were less skeptical. The level of detail in their analysis, furthermore, shows that they had access to very sensitive military information. This is supported by the testimony of a former Stasi analyst who has written that East German intelligence was receiving infor- mation directly from its agents on the spot.10Unfortunately, this kind of detail is usu- ally unavailable from official Western sources.

The exercise "Fallex 66" is divided into the preliminary and the main exercise; the main exercise consisted of three independent parts.

The 5-day preliminary exercise was carried out with reduced numbers at the locations and was essentially meant to prepare for the main exercise. During its course the first phase of the NATO states' transition from peace time to war time was developed by the staffs in their areas of exercise.

The first part of the "main" exercise, called "Top Gear," followed the pre-exercise and included the immediate preparation and conduct of a limited war, including the limited deployment of nuclear weapons. (Duration of this stage of the exercise: 5 days.)

During the second part of the "main" exercise, called "Jolly Roger," the organization, maintenance and conduct of operations of NATO troops was practiced under the condition of the initial phase of a general nuclear war.

This exercise started from the same initial position as the previous partial exercise. The participants were supposed to proceed from the previously practiced assum

9 Wolfram Dorn, So heiss war der Kalte Krieg: Fallex 66, "[This Hot Was the Cold War: Fallex 66]" (Cologne: Dittrich, 2002).

10 The analyst, Heinz Busch, worked in the office of Markus Wolf. Unpublished manuscript provided to Bernd Schaefer.

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