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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 120: Outline of a Czechoslovak
Command Post Exercise, January 27–28, 1987

This command post exercise appears to mark a transitional phase in Warsaw Pact strate- gic planning. The scenario consists of an act of aggression by NATO, together with Austria, whose forces would advance 100 km into Czechoslovakia while Turkish and Greek troops would enter Bulgaria and Italian units would go into Hungary. French, Spanish and other NATO forces would also take part. The emphasis of this battle plan is to pursue the defense of Warsaw Pact territory only by conventional means. Even after 15 days of hostilities, the enemy is presumed to still be using conventional forces as it attempts to hold onto occupied territory while also moving toward the capture of Prague. For its part, once its counter-offensive begins, the Warsaw Pact is slated to use only tactical nuclear weapons to destroy NATO's nuclear bases in order to prevent their use. There is no provision for deep penetration into West Germany as there had been in the 1960s and 1970s. This maneuver takes place before the alliance's adoption of a new "nonoffensive defense" doctrine in May 1987, but as this document shows, a seri- ous reconsideration of strategy was already underway.

The "West" has been conducting combat operations in the European theater for 15 days without using nuclear weapons. Even though the second echelons of field armies and army groups have been deployed, the "West" has achieved only partial successes along individual axes of advance, where its forces have penetrated to a depth of 100 to 150 kilometers. Its further advance has been slowed considerably.

The West's Order of Battle in the Central European theater comprises the Northern, Central and part of the Southern Army Groups, the 2nd and 4th Allied Tactical Air Force Central Europe and part of the 5th Allied Tactical Air Force Southern Europe, and the 1st French Tactical Air Force, altogether 73 divisions and 44 brigades in the first echelon and 2,100 combat aircraft, including 700 nuclear carriers.

Poised against Czechoslovakia are elements of the Central and Southern Army Groups, the 4th and 5th Allied Tactical Air Force Central Europe and the 1st French Tactical Air Force, altogether comprising 19 divisions, 12 brigades and 600 combat aircraft. Attacking along an axis of advance towards Prague are the 7th Field Army and 2nd Army Corps of Germany and the 1st and 2nd French Army Corps in the first echelon. Their reserve is the 66th Infantry Division. It is the 2nd French Army Corps that has achieved the greatest success, advancing to a depth of 120 kilometers along the Klatovy—Prague axis. The West has deployed the 9th Airborne Division east of Prague. Elements of the Southern Army Group, 5th German Army Corps and 1st and 2nd Austrian Army Corps are attacking toward Ostrava. The greatest success has been achieved by the 5th Army Corps, which has advanced to a depth of 80 kilometers. The force covering the gap between the Prague and Ostrava axes of advance comprises 15 mobilized regiments of the Austrian Army. "…"

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