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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 86: Statute of the Unified
Command in War Time, March 18, 1980

The statute of the Unified Command in war time finally won approval by the Warsaw Pact members after nearly a decade. In part, the delay grew out of its members' con- cerns that any steps that might be taken to prepare for war could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. By late 1978, however, the international situation had deteriorated, détente was foundering, and the West appeared to be taking a more aggressive stance, mainly through its conventional rearmament program. Even then, Romania continued to oppose the statute, and never actually signed it, the main objection being that it gave the supreme commander too much discretion over use of the resources of member-states. Interestingly, according to Polish General Antoni Jasiński, the statute was never really put into effect.1 Obviously war never broke out, but there were also problems within the Soviet mili- tary command. Chief among them were ambiguities over divisions of responsibility and authority, particularly between the supreme commander (who of course was a Soviet officer), and the chief of the Soviet General Staff. Normally, the former would be sub- ordinated to the latter. But Marshal Kulikov and Marshal Ogarkov were not on good terms, and many details of how to function in an emergency remained unresolved. Thus, while the supreme commander may have enjoyed enormous authority with respect to Eastern Europe, in Moscow he was a secondary figure.

"…"


GENERAL RULES

Theater of Operations

"…"

3. The present Statute defines the composition, the purpose and rules of functioning of the UAF and their administrative bodies (the Highest Supreme Command, the UAF Supreme Commands in the Western and Southwestern theaters of war and the Commands of the Unified Baltic Fleet and the Unified Black Sea Fleet), the rules of commanding air defense, the organization of political work, logistics and engineering–technical supply for the UAF in the theater of war, mutual relations between administrative bodies of the UAF and the national military–political leadership of the Warsaw Pact member-states, and also the provision of financial means.

"…"

1 See the section "The Chain of Command: The Soviet General Staff and the Warsaw Pact" in the collection of interviews with Polish generals on the PHP website, http://www.isn.ethz.ch/php/documents/collection_9/texts/Chain_Command.htm.

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