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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 82: Report by Marshal Kulikov on the
State of the Unified Armed Forces, January 30, 1978

In 1977, Marshal Viktor Kulikov had taken over as Warsaw Pact supreme commander. Here he reports on the condition of the Pact during a period when the alliance was tak- ing steps to counter what it perceived to be a shift in the military balance in NATO's favor. He places particular emphasis on combat readiness and modernization of arma- ments of all kinds. By 1978, détente had already begun to deteriorate over a variety of issues from the SALT process to conflicts in the Third World, notwithstanding the inter- est of both superpowers in reducing tensions.49The Kremlin's main response was to increase military preparedness and intensify planning for the possibility of war in Europe. This record is one indication that those preparations had begun as early as January 1978.

The activities of the Unified Armed Forces of the member-states of the Warsaw Pact and their administrative organs in 1977 took place under conditions of continuous growth of the might and international authority of the countries of the socialist commonwealth.

"…"

The decisions made by the member-states of the Warsaw Pact at the Political Consultative Committee meeting in November 1976 had important meaning for the further improvement of the Unified Armed Forces. These decisions concerned the creation of separate units (subdivisions) in each allied army, equipped with the most advanced types of weaponry and "other" military hardware; the further strengthening of the common air defense system; and improvement of the activities and organizational structure of the administrative organs of the Unified Armed Forces. These decisions are being implemented. "…"

Work has continued in the Unified Armed Forces to implement the bilateral Protocols on the development of ground and naval forces in 1976–1980. Some strengthening of the military composition of all types of military forces took place, the organizational structure and the bringing to full strength of groupings and units improved, and their battle readiness and battle capabilities increased. Plans for the mutual supply of hardware and weaponry and equipping of ground troops and fleets in the past year have mainly been implemented.

49 Much new material on the collapse of détente emerged in the 1990s, largely through a multinational collaborative research undertaking known as the Carter–Brezhnev Project, organized by James G. Blight and janet Lang of the Thomas J. Watson Institute at Brown University. The documentary record, including many declassified Soviet, East European and U.S. documents, and transcripts of oral history conferences involving former policy-makers from the U.S. and USSR is available at the National Security Archive, one of the contributors to the project. Documents and analyses have appeared in print in the Cold War International History Project Bulletin and in a volume edited by Odd Arne Westad, The Fall of Détente: Soviet–American Relations during the Carter Years (Oslo: Scandinavian University Press, 1997).

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