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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 62: New Secret Statutes of the Warsaw Pact,
March 17, 1969
The March 1969 Political Consultative Committee meeting was a watershed for the Warsaw Pact. After years of trying, the Soviet Union finally managed to achieve agree- ment on the reorganization and consolidation of the alliance, which would have far- reaching consequences in coming years. The statutes of the new institutions approved at the session are reproduced here. The first item is the statute of the Committee of Defense Ministers, one of the new entities created at the meeting. The ministers had held meetings before but these were now to be regularized, following NATO practice.The second document aimed at responding to deficiencies in the assignment of author- ity to the Warsaw Pact supreme commander. Moscow's allies had repeatedly criticized the original formulation, in effect since 1955, for being too vague and delegating unwar- ranted power to the commander, who was always a Soviet officer. The new document was more detailed, specifically delineating the commander's authority in peace time. The document reproduced here still vested the commander with considerable powers but at the same time incorporated concessions to the East Europeans such as codifying certain rights of national governments, particularly with respect to deployments of troops on their territories. This was, of course, partly a result of the events in Czechoslovakia. An additional statute, spelling out his powers in war time, was planned but remained very controversial, and was not actually approved until 1980 (Document No. 86).a) Statute of the Committee of Ministers of Defense in Peace Time1. On the basis of Article 6 of the Warsaw Treaty the Committee of the Ministers of Defense will be constituted to elaborate agreed recommendations and suggestions on issues concerning the defensive capabilities of the member-states of the Warsaw Treaty, as well as on the creation and increase of the readiness for action of the unified forces and "it will be constituted" to prepare matters which have to be discussed in the Political Consultative Committee.The Committee of the Ministers of Defense is a military organ of the Treaty. Its members are the Ministers of Defense of the member-states, the Supreme Commander and the chief of staff of the Unified Armed Forces.2. It is the task of the Ministers of Defense
a. to examine the situation of the likely opponent, his strategic plans and the trends in his forces' development
b. to elaborate recommendations and suggestions for matters concerning the perfection of the defensive capabilities of the member-states

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