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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 136: Summary of Discussion among
Defense Ministers at the Political Consultative Committee
Meeting in Warsaw, July 15, 1988

As part of this discussion among Warsaw Pact defense ministers, the issue of sharing military data with NATO receives further attention. By this time, the internal debate has changed significantly (see Document No. 130, for example). Soviet Defense Minister Iazov specifically declares that the East must be truthful in its reporting because the enemy knows the real figures, down to the order of tens of thousands of men and thou- sands of tanks. If less or more were published, he argues, the Warsaw Pact would be open to accusations of lying before all humankind. One cannot keep anything secret anymore, he opines. He also admits that the Soviet Union maintained 2 percent of its population under arms, whereas other countries had only 1 percent. On the subject of existing international military structures, he reminds his colleagues that they date back to the 1950s on the Warsaw Pact side. This prompts a debate between various allied representatives present over the proper pace of changing those structures.

"…"

The first speaker, Comrade Minister "Dmitrii" Iazov, explained that the forces of NATO and the Warsaw Pact are more or less evenly balanced. The number of persons is approximately equal. The Warsaw Pact has about 30,000 more tanks, but the NATO tanks are of better quality. The Warsaw Pact has more launch pads for nonnuclear tactical missiles. Also, as regards artillery, the relation is about 1.2:1. But the USA has more aircraft. Their superiority in helicopters and anti-tank weapons balances out our superiority in tanks and artillery. However, the Americans put quantity first.

Neither side is in a position to begin an attack without major regrouping.

The USA claims, however, that our formations are attack formations. They point to the equipment of our pioneer troops with bridges and our superiority in tanks and artillery as proof.

They demand a unilateral correction of the asymmetries in land forces.

They are unwilling to negotiate the inequalities in attack aircraft, helicopters and naval fleets.

"…"

An inadequately prepared publication of the figures would be considered by the West Germans and Americans as a victory for their side. For this reason, it must be thoroughly prepared politically, so that we do not suffer a loss in prestige.

"…"

The publicized data must be objective, since the opponent knows our figures down to the level of c. 10,000 men and 1,000 tanks.

If we publicize less, their intelligence will notice it and accuse us of lying before the entire world.

-615-

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