Index Soviet Military Power

Chapter III - Theater Forces

Over the past two decades, Soviet forces for theater warfare have been steadily expanded and upgraded in every category of weapons systems. Soviet ground force divisions have been enlarged and equipped with the most modern tanks, artillery and helicopters. Soviet naval forces continue to receive larger and more lethal ships and submarines. Soviet air forces are being modernized with high-performance aircraft while theater missile forces receive more accurate systems with greater range and throwweight. In addition to these force enhancements, Soviet military planners adapt tactics to the capability of new systems and changing political objectives.

The Soviets envision as many as three main theaters for the Eurasian land mass: Western, Southern and Far Eastern, each with a set of political objectives affecting military operations within the theater. More importantly in planning for such military operations the Soviets divide a theater, for operational-command and strategic planning purposes, into theaters of military operations (TVDs). Soviet planning for the Western theater, encompassing all of Europe, envisions three continental TVDs - Northwestern, Western and Southwestern - and two maritime, Arctic and Atlantic. This organizational concept enables military planners to formulate military strategy and tactics to achieve political objectives in the geographic region, taking into consideration the capabilities of the missiles, aircraft,ships and ground forces at their disposal. The same planning process occurs for Soviet objectives in the Southern and Far Eastern Theaters.

In the Western TVD, Soviet war aims would be to defeat NATO and occupy Western Europe before it could be reinforced. The Soviets plan for a very rapid, combined arms operation to reach the Atlantic in the shortest time possible. Soviet ground formations hope to achieve a rate of advance of up to 100 kilometers per day. Formations that met stiff resistance would be rapidly reinforced by sec.and echelon forces. The Soviets plan to employ Operational Maneuver Groups (OMGs)in sharp thrusts to destroy enemy forces in depth.

Soviet ground formations are provided with attack helicopters for close air support to maintain rapid momentum. Additionally, transport helicopters and aircraft are provided to inject airmobile and air-assault units rapidly from 50 to 100 kilometers ahead of a main attack to disrupt the enemy, seize key terrain and to support operations by OMGs. Soviet special purpose forces, SPETSNAZ, would be employed throughout Western Europe for reconnaissance, to disrupt communications, destroy bridges, seize choke points and direct attacking aircraft to prime targets. Soviet air, missile and naval forces would all be employed in support of these operations.

The Soviets recognize the importance of nuclear weapons, which can have a direct influence on the course and outcome of a war. They also recognize that the war aims can only be achieved by the combined operations of all forces in a systematic fashion controlled by a centralized strategic command authority. Planning is constantly revised to reflect shifting political objectives as well as the introduction of more capable weapons systems.

In considering the possibility that a conventional conflict in Europe might escalate, the Soviets have developed extensive plans either to preempt a NATO nuclear strike by launching a massive attack, or to launch a massive first strike against prime NATO targets. Soviet ballistic missiles, rockets, nuclear-capable aircraft and artillery could all be employed in a massed strike against a set of targets beginning at the battle line and extending to the depth of the theater. Soviet ground forces have been trained and equipment developed for sustained operations in a nuclear environment. Even after a nuclear exchange, the Soviets expect they could continue their rapid combined arms offensive against NATO.

Soviet Missiles

With the initial deployment of the SS-20 LRINF missile in 1977, the Soviets launched a concerted effort to modernize and expand their intermediate-range nuclear force. Each SS-20 carries three MIRVed warheads, thereby providing a significant force expansion factor. To date, 378 SS-20s have been deployed, of which some 243 are opposite NATO. The mobility of the SS-20 system enables both on and off-road operation. As a result, the survivability of the SS-20 is greatly enhanced because detecting and targeting them is difficult when they are field deployed. Further, the SS-20 launcher has the capability of being reloaded and refired; the Soviets stockpile refire missiles. The SS-20s also have very significant increases in accuracy and reaction time over the older SS-4s and SS-5s.

Force expansion is continuing, and the number of deployed SS-20 launchers could increase by at least 50 percent by the late 1980s. In addition to the SS-20 force, the Soviets still maintain some 224 SS-4 LRINF missiles. All of these older missiles are located in the western USSR opposite NATO. By the end of 1983, all SS-5 LRINF missiles were being retired.

Soviet theater nuclear capability has undergone other significant improvements, evident from the increased numbers, types, sophistication, accuracy and yields of tactical missiles including the SS-21, SS-22 and SS-23.The SS-21 is a division-level system that is replacing the older FROG-7. It has a range of about 120 kilometers compared to the FROG 7's range of about 70 kilometers, and is more accurate and reliable, thus enabling greater targeting flexibility and deeper strikes.

The SCUD, normally deployed in brigades at army and front level, is expected to be replaced by the SS-23, a tactical surface-to-surface missile with improved accuracy and a range of 500 kilometers, versus the SCUD's 300 kilometers.

The SS-12/SCALEBOARD missile, with a range of about 900 kilometers, is expected to be replaced by the SS-22 of similar range but greater accuracy.

Even with the introduction of these new systems, Soviet efforts to develop newer and more accurate and reliable missiles continue. The Soviets are likely to improve the SS-20. They already have in advanced testing, and nearing deployment, ground-, air- and sea-launched long-range cruise missiles. There is evidence they are developing a new Short Range Ballistic Missile, possibly for deployment later this decade or in the early 1990s.

In addition to the land-based theater missile forces, the Soviets still maintain and operate 13 GOLF II and two HOTEL II-Class ballistic missile submarines. Each submarine is equipped with three SS-N-5 SLBMs. Six GOLF II units are based in the Baltic where they continue to pose an effective threat to most of Europe, while the remaining seven submarines patrol the Sea of Japan where they could be employed against targets in the Far East.

US Non-Strategic Forces

In contrast to the Soviet modernization and build-up of its non-strategic nuclear force posture in Europe, the United States and its NATO Allies have exercised restraint.

In October 1983, NATO decided to withdraw 1,400 nuclear warheads from Europe. This decision will bring to 2,400 the total number of warheads to be removed from Europe since 1979. The earlier withdrawal of 1,000 warheads was mandated when NATO made its 1979 dual-track decision to modernize longer range intermediate-range nuclear forces and to pursue arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union. Moreover, the current reduction will reduce NATO's nuclear stockpile to the lowest level in over 20 years and will not be affected by deployment of new LRINF missiles, because one warhead will be removed for each PERSHING II missile or ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) warhead deployed.

The initial deployment of PERSHING II and ground-launched cruise missiles began in Europe in late 1983. Deployment will continue until 1988 when 108 PERSHING II and 464 GLCMs will be in place, unless a US-Soviet agreement that eliminates or limits the global number of LRINF missiles on both sides is concluded. The deployment of US PERSHING II and ground-launched cruise missiles responds to the Soviet LRINF missile threat to Europe.

As the US PERSHING IIs replace the shorter-range PERSHING Is, and Soviet SS-23s replace the SCUDs in Europe, the Soviet Union will at least maintain its substantial numerical superiority in shorter-range nonstrategic nuclear missiles while improving the qualitative characteristics of its forces. The USSR also possesses a significant numerical advantage in INF aircraft and is reducing the qualitative advantage NATO has enjoyed, despite NATO's INF aircraft modernization program, which consists of the replacement of older aircraft with the F-16 and TORNADO.

Short-range nuclear forces (SNF) consist of tube artillery and missiles of much shorter range than INF missiles. The balance in SNF artillery, traditionally an area of NATO advantage, also has shifted dramatically in favor of the Soviets in recent years. The Soviets have achieved parity in overall numbers of SNF and continue to have a substantial advantage in the category of short-range missiles, giving them more flexibility in the employment of SNF.

Soviet Tactical Air Defense Missiles

The air defense of the Soviet forces has grown from earlier generation antiaircraft gun defenses to the modern antiaircraft guns and surface-to-air missile systems of today. Since each unit must be able to defend itself, air defense is the responsibility of all levels of command.

Soviet doctrine for air defense calls for the denial of the airspace over and adjacent to the battle area. To satisfy this requirement, the Soviets have developed a mixture of weapons that achieve coverage from the surface to very high altitudes. Current tactical air defense systems and their echelon assignments are:
SA-7a AND 7bCompany/Battalion
SA-6a and 6bDivision
SA-8a and 8b
SA-4a and 4bFront/Army

In their modernization program, the Soviets are seeking to improve surveillance, identification, target tracking, fire control, firepower and the ability to operate in all environments. This effort involves advances in such areas as radars, electro-optics, laser/directed energy technology and Identification Friend or Foe(IFF} systems.

The Soviets are also developing an advanced tactical air defense system, SA-X-12, to augment or replace the SA-4 in SAM brigades at the front level. This system is capable of engaging high-performance aircraft and short range ballistic missiles like the US LANCE. It may also be used to attempt to intercept longer-range INF missiles. This system, like some other systems assigned to Soviet theater forces, could be used for territorial defense.

US Tactical Air Defense Systems

US and Allied tactical air defenses include several new weapons. The STINGER, with improved infrared-seeker guidance systems, a man-portable, surface-to-air missile system developed to replace the REDEYE. Two new systems, PATRIOT and the SGT YORK Division Air Defense Gun, will increase the Army's air defense capabilities against a variety of aircraft approaching at varying altitudes. PATRIOT will replace NIKE-HERCULES and the Improved HAWK as the principal theater-level SAM for defense against aircraft at high or medium altitudes and will be deployed in Europe beginning in 1984. The ISGT YORK will give the Army a longer-range, all-weather, higher kill-probability weapon to protect armored and mechanized units. Beginning in 1985, the SGT YORK will replace the VULCAN gun system.

Soviet Air Forces

The reorganization of the command and control structure for Soviet air assets, which began in the late 1970s, is the most significant event in the last two decades in the development of Soviet air power. It occurred as part of the general reorganization of Soviet military forces and is a result of the new emphasis on TVDs as the basic level of military operations in a future war.

The reorganization resulted in a streamlined organization due to the merger of strategic and tactical air and air defense assets in most land border areas of the USSR. The air defense (APVO) interceptor regiments in these areas were resubordinated from PVOStrany to the Soviet Air Forces. They became part of a new structure, the "Air Forces of the Military District," which also includes most of the assets of the former tactical air armies. The Air Forces of an MD include all air assets in their geographic area (excluding Strategic Aviation and transport assets). These assets can be used either offensively or defensively, as the situation requires. The new structure improves defensive capabilities, but its most significant impact is on the capability to conduct massed offensive air operations in the various TVDs. The Soviets have probably been striving toward such a structure since the 1960s, and technological advances in weapon systems and in command, control and communications have finally made its implementation possible.

The Soviet Air Forces are currently adapting to their new organizational structure and to new weapon systems. Over the next few years, they will be settling more firmly into the reorganized structure and streamlining command and control links. There will be continued experimentation in tactics and training at all levels, as new roles and missions are more clearly defined.

Tactical Aviation: As a result of the reorganization, Soviet Air Forces of the Military Districts (MDs) now provide tactical air support to frontal operations. The missions assigned to the Air Forces of the MDs have remained essentially the same as those formerly performed by the Tactical Air Armies, but incorporate the introduction of more modern and capable aircraft and reflect changes in pilot training.

In addition to the increased emphasis on the achievement of air superiority in any future war, and on the importance of air power in general, the Soviets have increased their experimentation with new tactics over the last 5 years. They are developing training for a variety of new missions, including fighter escort, ECM escort, maneuvering air combat, independent search missions and air accompaniment of ground forces. They have increased the percentage of "dissimilar" intercept training, and the number of multi-event training sorties.

As the new training becomes more widespread, it will greatly improve Soviet capabilities to perform air missions under a variety of conditions. Many of the new missions place a much greater demand on pilot initiative and independence than was previously the case in the Soviet Air Forces. The training not only increases capabilities, it will also maximize the effective use of the new Soviet fighters, allowing Soviet pilots to take better advantage of the increased range, weapons and maneuvering capabilities of these aircraft.

Their new fighter aircraft, the MiG-29/ FULCRUM and the Su-27/FLANKER, are supersonic, all-weather counter-air fighters with look-down/shoot-down weapon systems and beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles. These aircraft may have a secondary ground Su-27/FLANKER, bottom, and MiG-29/FULCRUM aircraft attack role. The FULCRUM in particular may have a true dual-role capability similar to that of the US F-16 and F-18.

Soviet air forces in the Western TVD have by far the highest percentage of modern aircraft - over 90 percent of their inventory - because the Soviets perceive that this TVD faces the strongest enemy and the most dense and complicated target array. The air assets in this region number about 2,850 aircraft and include every operational Soviet airframe except the FOXHOUND. Capabilities in this area are believed to be very good and constantly improving.

US Tactical Air Forces

US tactical air forces retain a qualitative advantage over those of the Soviet Union in aircraft and weapons, and, more importantly, in personnel and training. Air combat in the Middle East demonstrated the lethality of US built air-to-air missiles. US Air Force and Navy air crews receive about twice as much flying time as do their Soviet counterparts, and US training exercises are considered superior to those of the Soviets. Non-US NATO countries generally provide about as much flying time for their air crews as do the Soviets.

Air support to the Southwestern TVD is generally comparable to the Western TVD. There are fewer aircraft in this area, however, because it faces a numerically smaller NATO force. Soviet air forces in this region total some 1,250 aircraft.

The Northwestern TVD has a very small number of air assets, reflecting less emphasis on air support in this region. It has few long range aircraft; there are no FENCERs in this region, although some could be allocated from other areas. The Soviets continue to modernize their Air Forces in the Far East with late model FLOGGER and FENCER aircraft. Currently, 1,800 aircraft, over 90 percent of which are third-generation, are in position for operations against China and Japan. The Soviets also have about 170 long- and medium-range bombers in the Far East. Of this number, some 40 BACKFIRE bombers are assigned to the Soviet Air Forces in the region.

The US and NATO Allies have also been carrying out a force modernization program over the last 5 years. The United States has recently added the A-10, the F-15 and the F-16 aircraft. The NATO Allies are also adding F-16 and TORNADO aircraft, and both the United States and NATO are adding the E-3A AWACS.

The high-performance F-14 fighter, designed for fleet air defense and air-to-air combat, is operating on more than 80 percent of the Navy's aircraft carriers with additional procurement planned. The F/A-18, which will replace the F-4 and A-7 in the Navy and Marine Corps, can accomplish both air-to-air fighter and air-to-ground attack missions. The Marine Corps' AV-8B HARRIER is scheduled to be operational by 1985, and six active light attack squadrons will have received this new version by FY 1988. To keep pace with the anticipated threat, both the F-15 and F-16 aircraft are receiving radar modifications to enhance air-to-air target detection ranges and will also be modified to carry advanced medium range air-to-air missiles. Production of F15s and F-16s will continue into the 1990s.

Soviet Ground Forces

Out of a total of 194 active tank, motorized rifle and airborne divisions in the Soviet force, 65 are located in the western USSR, 30 in Eastern Europe and an additional 20 in the Transcaucasus and North Caucasus Military Districts (MDs). All these divisions would likely be committed to offensive operations against NATO. In addition to these forces, 17 low-strength divisions, centrally located in the USSR, constitute the Strategic Reserves. For operation in the Southern Theater the Soviets have in place six divisions in the Turkestan MD and four engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan. These forces would be reinforced by the 20 divisions from the Caucasus MDs if they were not engaged against NATO. Soviet forces for operations in the Far East are composed of 52 tank and motorized rifle divisions. The six Warsaw Pact Allies of the Soviet Union have a total of 55active divisions, which, collectively with Soviet divisions, amount to 249 combat divisions. Many of these divisions, most notably those in the interior of the USSR, are at low stages of readiness.

The Soviets also maintain 17 mobilization bases, predominantly in the western USSR, that could form additional combat divisions. These bases usually contain the combat equipment needed to form new divisions and would require augmentation in manpower and a substantial amount of training before they could be committed to combat operations.

While technological improvements to hardware continue throughout the Soviet force, priority is given to the forces opposite NATO, giving them the capability to conduct rapid offensive operations, characterized by shock action, massive firepower and high mobility. Surface-to-air, surface-to-surface missiles, air and air defense assets have already been discussed. Additionally, the Soviets continue to modernize and expand ground equipment such as tanks, artillery and helicopters.

Tanks: The Soviet tank force has been undergoing a major upgrade since the mid 1960s, when the first truly modern post-World War II tank, the T-64, was introduced. The first model of the T-64 was followed by at least one improved version, the T-64A, and several variants of the T-72. The most modern Soviet tank, the T-80, featuring nuclear, biological, and chemical protection and entranced firepower and survivability, is in proportion of these modern tanks, as part of the total Soviet inventory opposite NATO, has occurred. The impact on the most critical area - the one opposite the NATO center - is particularly significant. In this area, T-64, T-72, T-80 tanks comprise about 50 percent of the total. Over 1,400 T-80 tanks have been deployed opposite NATO.

Artillery: The Soviets are pursuing a comprehensive program of upgrading and expanding the artillery fire support available to ground forces. Several new artillery pieces, some of which are nuclear-capable, and new multiple rocket launchers have been introduced in the past few years. Simultaneously, an ongoing divisional reorganization has resulted in increases in the towed and self-propelled artillery assets. The addition of an artillery battalion to tank regiments is intended to make tank and motorized rifle divisions fully capable combined arms forces.

Several developments illustrate Soviet technological improvements to the artillery force. Two new 152-mm guns, one self-propelled and one towed, have been fielded since 1978, and both are deployed with Soviet forces in Eastern Europe. They are nuclear-capable and replace pieces that were not.

As an additional complement to surface-to-surface missiles, the Soviets are continuing deployment of nuclear-capable heavy artillery brigades armed with mobile 240-mm self-propelled mortars and the 203-mm self-propelled guns. Deployment of the 203-mm gun outside the USSR in 1982, coupled with the appearance of the new 152-mm guns in the same year, indicates the importance Soviet doctrine places on capability to deliver low-yield nuclear strikes relatively close to Soviet forces.

A 220-mm multiple rocket launcher has been deployed opposite NATO since 1978. Each mobile launcher has 16 tubes and can fire chemical as well as conventional high explosive munitions.

Helicopters: Soviet helicopter forces are receiving priority attention with continuing upgrades in numbers, units and technology. Divisional helicopter assets continue to increase in number and, overall, the rotary wing force continues to figure prominently in Soviet doctrine and tactics. All major training exercises routinely feature large numbers of helicopters integrated into all facets of combined arms operations. Soviet helicopter forces continue to lead new advances in doctrinal developments, such as airmobile assault forces, and provide major support to other forces, such as the Operational Maneuver Groups. Tactically, they continue to provide significant combat power to Soviet forces operating in Afghanistan.

Soviet combat helicopters are among the most heavily armed in the world - the Mi-24/HIND E and MI-8/HIP E attack helicopters and the MI-8/HIP C and Mi-17/HIP H assault helicopters offer Soviet commanders a considerable degree of flexibility in the application of intense firepower. The Soviets are testing operational concepts in Afghanistan, modifying tactics as the war proceeds. These lessons, while not directly applicable to a European war, would add to Soviet effectiveness in general conflict.

The Soviets continue to develop new systems designed to take advantage of increasingly sophisticated technology. New, more agile, powerful helicopters, such as the HAVOC, with improved armament and significantly improved performance and survivability will ensure the Soviets field a combat effective helicopter force in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

US Ground Forces

US military strategy does not call for matching the size of the Soviet ground forces,but instead emphasizes refining the US qualitative edge in conjunction with moderate force increases.

The US Army and Marine Corps are developing organizational changes to improve combat effectiveness. The Army is undertaking a program entitled "Army 90" to implement its Air Land Battle doctrine. This doctrine has been developed to synchronize the close in battle against enemy lead forces with a longer-range battle against enemy follow-on forces. Army light and heavy divisions are being rearmed and restructured for sustained,continuous combat operations at any level of conflict. The Army is seeking to increase the strategic mobility of its light divisions while capitalizing on systems to increase overall firepower and combat effectiveness.

The Marine Corps is restructuring infantry battalions to increase firepower and tactical mobility. Introduction of more advanced weapons will improve combat capabilities. A 25-percent increase in DRAGON antitank missile teams in each battalion and an additional TOW antitank missile platoon in each regiment will improve antiarmor capabilities.

The present generation of antiarmor weapons includes the long-range TOW, medium range DRAGON and light antitank short-range missiles. Improved warheads and guidance systems will increase the TOW's ability to penetrate new Soviet armor.

By the end of the decade, the Army is scheduled to have over 1,500 attack helicopters, two-thirds of which will be the AH-1 COBRATOW. The Army's AH-64 APACHE helicopter, which entered production in 1982, is an advanced, quick-reaction, antitank weapon. It is armed with 16 HELLFIRE antiarmor missiles, a 30-mm automatic gun, and 2.75 inch rockets.

The M1 ABRAMS main battle tank has been deployed in Army field units since 1981. The M1 provides US forces with improved mobility, survivability and antiarmor firepower. The Army plans to replace the M1 main gun with the German-designed 120-mm main gun system, which would be interoperable with the German LEOPARD II tank gun.

The Multiple-Launch Rocket System (MLRS), a cooperative program with the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom, was fielded with US forces in 1983. It is designed to give NATO ground forces enhanced firepower to suppress enemy artillery and introduces a new capability to interdict enemy operations beyond normal artillery range.

The BRADLEY Fighting Vehicle, introduced in 1981, is modernizing Army mechanized forces. These vehicles are armed with 25-mm automatic cannons, 7.62-mm coaxial machine guns, and TOW antitank weapons. They give mechanized infantry a true mounted combat capability. Introduction of a new Light Armored Vehicle will provide the Marine Corps units with increased mobility and firepower.

Soviet Naval Forces

The Soviet Navy maintains a world naval presence. The Navy is composed of four fleets - Northern, Baltic, Black, and Pacific - and the Caspian Sea Flotilla. Each of the four fleets has submarine, surface, air, naval infantry (marines) and coastal defense components as well as large ashore support, training and administrative organizations. In all, there are over 467,000 personnel in the Soviet Navy, about 186,000 of whom are aboard ship.

The years 1967-1968 were watershed years for the Soviet Navy; the Soviets introduced lead units of their second generation missile equipped submarines and surface ships. It was also the period when they began in earnest to deploy combat forces away from home waters. Since then, the Soviet Navy has developed into a globally deployed force composed of an impressive array of ships, submarines and aircraft, including the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser KIROV.

In the past year, there have been significant developments in ship construction programs and deployment activities. In the construction area, two new classes of nuclear-powered attack submarines were launched - MIKE and SIERRA. Two other classes - the nuclear powered high-speed ALFA-Class and the diesel-powered TANGO - may have completed their production runs and their follow-on classes are expected to appear soon. The Soviets have begun construction of a large aircraft carrier, with an estimated displacement of some 60,000 tons.

The newer submarine classes introduced in the 1980s, as well as the 1979 VICTOR III SSN, have improved technologies and capabilities. They are generally larger in size and have a greater weapons capacity. Prior to 1978, the Soviets emphasized the construction of ballistic missile submarines. Since then, however, production emphasis has shifted, and about 75 percent are now torpedo or cruise missile attack submarines. During the next 10 years, while there may be a slight decline in the total number of attack submarines, there will be a significant growth in the number of nuclear-powered units.

The MIKE-Class, at over 9,700 tons displacement, and the SIERRA-Class, at about 8,000 tons, are indicative of the trend toward increasing the size of Soviet submarines. The SIERRA is about 20 percent larger than its immediate predecessor, the VICTOR III, which was introduced only 4 years earlier.

The Soviets are continuing to build high technology submarines that have pressure hulls made of titanium. This development enables Soviet submarines to operate at great depths in addition to being more survivable as a result of greater hull strength.

Important force developments also have included the activation of the second unit of the OSCAR-Class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine; the beginning of sea trials of the second KIROV-Class nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser; the addition of five other attack submarines; six major surface combatants; 46 fighter-bombers; over 40 helicopters, mostly ASW versions; and one long-range ASW BEAR F. Late in 1983, the third unit of the KIEV-Class carriers and the second unit of the IVAN ROGOV-Class amphibious assault ships departed for the Pacific Fleet via the Indian Ocean. Earlier, the SLAVA-Class cruiser - provisionally identified last year as the KRASINA-Class - made her maiden voyage out of area from the Black Sea to the Northern Fleet and back again.

The aircraft carrier being built at Nikolayev Ion the Black Sea is assessed to be nuclear powered, and it is expected to have a full length flight deck. Because it is likely that this ship is being designed to carry conventional take off and landing aircraft, instead of the KIEV's vertical take off and landing type, it will probably be fitted with arresting gear and steam catapults like those on US aircraft carriers. This ship and her new aircraft will begin tests before the end of the decade.

The new class of Soviet carriers will help to eliminate deficiencies in two areas. The first is air defense of their naval forces beyond the ranges of land-based fighter aircraft. Secondly, the Soviets have an active interest in improving their distant area power projection capabilities to become more influential in the Third World. To achieve this goal, they need to be able to provide air protection for naval forces as well as to protect and assist ground forces operating ashore. Thus it is expected that the aircraft on the new carrier will have both air-to-air and ground capabilities.

At Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam and in the Dahlak Archipelago off Ethiopia in the southern Red Sea, the Soviets have achieved significant gains in access to important naval support facilities. The most critical operational developments have taken place at Cam Ranh Bay where the Soviets have upgraded and increased the size of their forces. In 1982, the Soviets had about 15 warships and auxiliaries operating in the South China Sea. Since early 1983, the number has ranged from 20 to 25 ships. Naval long-range BEAR D reconnaissance and BEAR F antisubmarine warfare(ASW) aircraft continue to operate in the area. In late 1983, the Soviets began to augment this capability, and thus far, about 10 strike, tanker, and electronic combat variants of the medium-range Tu-16 BADGER have deployed to Cam Ranh Bay.

During the past year, the Soviets have become more heavily entrenched at Dahlak. The Soviet Navy apparently has now achieved exclusive use of the island, and Ethiopian nationals rarely visit. In addition, the Soviets have begun to improve the island's defenses with antiaircraft weapons and a contingent of their naval infantry.

Remote facilities provide the Soviets immediate access to the vital sea lanes that link the natural resources of these regions to the industries of the United States and its Allies.

In the fall of 1983, the Soviets conducted their first world-wide naval exercise since 1975. The exercise was unique in at least two respects. First, while the exercise did emphasize traditional homeland protection, with anticarrier and antisubmarine activities, there was also a focus on anti-sea lines of communication and convoy operations in ocean areas including the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. The Soviets even augmented their Indian Ocean deployed submarine forces with units that had been operating off Vietnam. The exercise clearly demonstrated the military availability of Soviet civilian maritime assets, when a large number of merchant and fishing fleet ships were integrated into naval operations, either as part of convoys or simulating enemy forces.

The Soviet Navy has continued to focus developmental efforts on incorporating increasing levels of advanced technology and sophistication into all their ships. They continue to build even larger ships with equally heightened levels of lethality in their weapons systems and greater endurance to facilitate deployments to all seas and oceans.

US Naval Forces

Measured by numbers of ships, the United States and its Allies maintain a favorable balance of maritime power. The United States and its NATO Allies maintain about 1,500 ships, compared to a Warsaw Pact force of about 1,400. The United States and its Allies hold a significant lead in ships of over 1,000 tons displacement.

This aggregate comparison reflects several areas of Western advantage. For example, the West has an advantage in carrier air power, an advantage expected to grow during the 1980s as the United States builds its force from the current level of 13 carriers to 15 by the end of the decade. Upgrading and recommissioning of the battleship NEW JERSEY and sister ships of the IOWA-Class are adding significant firepower to the US fleet. The United States maintains a superior amphibious assault force, with about four times the tonnage of its Soviet counterpart. The United States and its Allies also have an important advantage in underway replenishment ships and other naval support forces, enabling Western forces to operate in distant waters with more endurance and self sufficiency.

Qualitatively, Western maritime forces have an important edge in antisubmarine warfare. Today, the United States also maintains qualitative superiority in its submarine forces, especially in sound quieting and detection capabilities.

The Soviet Navy has been a leader for many years in the development and deployment of naval antiship cruise missiles. The United States is now upgrading its own units through large-scale deployments of HARPOON and TOMAHAWK cruise missiles.

The United States and its Allies are pursuing several programs designed to strengthen NATO collective maritime defense capabilities. To improve antisubmarine warfare forces, the United States is continuing construction of the highly capable LOS ANGELES-Class attack submarine, with production rates gradually being accelerated. The delivery of 34 new FFG-7 frigates since 1977 has added significantly to the ASW capabilities of US surface forces. New towed-array sonar systems now being deployed aboard increasing numbers of US surface warships, coupled with the ongoing introduction of new LAMPSMK III helicopters, will also substantially enhance the long-range ASW attack capabilities of US surface combatants. The United States is also modernizing its force of land-based, long-range P-3 maritime patrol aircraft in order to improve fine capability to locate and destroy enemy submarines in forward areas and barriers before they come within range of Allied naval forces and convoys. Improved torpedoes and ASW rockets now in production or under development will provide improvements needed to counter Soviet submarines that are faster, dive deeper, and have reduced acoustic target strength.

The United States is steadily improving its capability for anti-air warfare with construction of additional CG-47 Aegis guided missile cruisers and planned introduction of a new class of guided missile destroyers in the latter half of the decade. In addition, significant modernization is ongoing for existing guided missile cruisers and current carrier based AEW aircraft and is planned for the F-14 force. Finally, strong self-air-defense capabilities are being provided to all maritime forces, commensurate with the threat they could face.

Special Purpose Forces (SPETSNAZ)

The USSR maintains a complement of special purpose forces, known by the Soviet acronym SPETSNAZ. These special purpose forces are controlled by the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Soviet General Staff and are trained to conduct a variety of sensitive missions, including covert action abroad. This latter mission was illustrated by their covert role, under KGB direction, in the December 1979 assassination of Afghan President Hafizullah Amin, which was performed by a joint KGB/SPETSNAZ force.

During peacetime the GRU carefully coordinates reconnaissance programs that are geared to meet the intelligence requirements for Soviet forces in war. In wartime, SPETSNAZ forces would operate far behind enemy lines for extended periods of time. They would conduct sabotage, reconnaissance and attacks on a wide variety of military and political targets.

The KGB is assessed to have responsibility, under Central Committee guidance, for operational planning, coordination and political control of special purpose forces that operate abroad in peacetime. This was the case in the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and of Afghanistan in 1979. The KGB maintains its own special operations capabilities in the form of clandestine assets dedicated to assassination and wartime espionage.

Wartime missions of GRU special purpose troops are planned under the direction of the General Staff and are integral to the Soviet combined arms operations. Intended to support theater as well as front or fleet-level operations, SPETSNAZ forces are capable of operating throughout the enemy homeland.

Organized into brigades, these forces will infiltrate and fight as small teams. In a war, each of these brigades can be expected to field approximately 100 SPETSNAZ teams. A typical team would be composed of an officer as leader with a warrant officer or senior sergeant as second in command. Other members of the group are trained as radio operators and weapons and demolition experts. In addition to the normal military training, all are trained in:

-infiltration tactics

- sabotage methods using explosives, incendiaries, acids, and abrasives.

- parachute training,

-clandestine communications

- hand-to-hand combat and silent killing techniques.

- language/customs of target country.

- survival behind enemy lines and

- reconnaissance and target location.

To make training as realistic as possible, SPETSNAZ brigades have facilities equipped with accurate full-scale models of key targets such as enemy installations and weapon systems. The brigades intended for operations against NATO share similar demolition training and equipment familiarization. Training facilities are equipped with mockups of NATO nuclear systems including Pershing, Lance, and GLCM, as well as airfields, nuclear storage sites, and communications facilities. The missions of SPETSNAZ make a significant addition to Soviet combat forces.

In both peace and war, these SPETSNAZ forces represent an important threat. In peacetime, they are a formidable instrument with which the Soviets can project limited, but decisive, force abroad, especially into the Third World. In war, major facilities and important weapons systems are the object of their attacks.

US Special Operations Forces

US special operations forces are valuable elements available to field commanders. The potential benefits of such forces justify the high priority given to the revitalization of their capabilities. Special operations forces are particularly well qualified to counter threats to US interests that result from low-intensity conflict. In this regard, special operations forces have accounted for one-quarter of the mobile training teams deployed in support of US security assistance programs since 1979.

Special operations forces are also capable of direct action in response to crises for which the use of other US forces might be inappropriate. Such crises might include threats of hostile acts against US citizens or facilities abroad by terrorists, dissidents, foreign governments or other sources. Special operations forces are especially useful in resolving crises and terminating conflicts that are still at relatively low levels of violence and to which the nations involved have not made major resource commitments.

Special operations forces must also be capable of supporting conventional forces in the event of large-scale Soviet aggression against the United States and its Allies. To this end special operations forces can provide invaluable intelligence to conventional field commanders and may conduct psychological, civil affairs and unconventional warfare operations. Unconventional warfare missions would include the interrelated fields of guerrilla warfare, direct action and evasion and escape operations.

Accelerated action is under way to improve special operations capabilities to meet national and theater requirements in peace, crisis and war.

Soviet Chemical Warfare

The Soviet Union has the world's largest, best equipped and best trained military force for waging chemical warfare. The extensive modernization and growth of the Armed Forces include a dynamic and viable program to strengthen the USSR's chemical warfare capabilities. The Soviet Union continues to test, produce and stockpile chemical weapons. Moreover, the Soviets have developed the doctrine, plans, personnel and equipment to support their use of chemical weapons. They believe that the user of chemical weapons would gain a significant military advantage in a conventional conflict. Their continued testing of chemical weapons, the enlarged storage capacity of chemical agents and weapons and the existence of active production facilities are among the indicators of a serious chemical weapons program. These indications and strong evidence of the actual use of chemical and toxin weapons by the Soviet Union and its client forces in Afghanistan, Laos and Kampuchea reflect their drive to strengthen and improve their capability to wage chemical warfare and their willingness to employ such weapons in battlefield situations. Soviet research and development of military useful chemical warfare agents covers a wide range of applications. New chemical agents and combinations of agents, including ways to render the protective masks and filtration systems of potential enemies ineffective, are being investigated. One group of agents, known as mycotoxins, has been identified in the laboratory from samples collected in Afghanistan.

Almost all Soviet conventional land, sea and air weapon systems, from mortars to long-range tactical missiles, are capable of firing chemical ammunition or warheads. The Soviets have developed the data required to use these chemical weapons in battle situations, which includes the types and numbers of weapons required to attack various targets under a variety of weather and combat conditions. Currently they are exploring and testing systems with larger payload, increased range, and better accuracy for greater target flexibility and a deeper strike capability. They have developed two types of chemical weapons for their tactical missiles, bulk agents for a single large warhead and bomblets that can be dispersed over the target.

In accordance with their doctrine, once release authority has been granted for employment of chemical weapons, the appropriate commander may be ordered to conduct strikes against any or all identified targets. He may use persistent agents or non-persistent agents as well as a variety of delivery systems, and will know the level of contamination to place on the target. Should his own forces have to cross a contaminated area, the filtration system on all combat vehicles will help allow his troops to continue to maneuver and fight, and he will have specially trained troops available for consultation, reconnaissance and decontamination.

The Shikhany Chemical Warfare Proving Ground is one of the primary Soviet chemical weapons test areas. Since the late 1920s, it has grown in size and sophistication and today is an expanding and highly active chemical weapons testing facility. Since the late 1970s,the Soviets have constructed several new chemical weapon test facilities and further construction continues. At these facilities, sampling devices used to determine the efficiency of chemical weapons are arranged in grids that have a circular or rectangular pattern. These distinctive grids measure the agent concentration and how well it was dispersed. The shape of the grid and complexity of its pattern depend on the kind of weapon - bomb, artillery or rocket - and the type of agent being tested.

Chemical agents produced over the past five decades believed to be are stored in a network of military depots located across the Soviet Union. These depots are believed to contain agents in bulk containers and agent-filled munitions, as well as gas masks, protective suits, decontamination solutions and decontamination vehicles. The depots are highly secure military installations, and many have rail lines allowing for the rapid mobilization of chemical warfare materials. The amount of agents, weapons and material in storage at these depots has increased significantly since the late 1960s.

The Soviets have more than 80,000 officers and enlisted specialists trained in chemical warfare, a force that will double in wartime.They have about 30,000 special vehicles for reconnaissance and decontamination. The Soviets have established chemical military academies and more than 200 sites for teaching and training Soviet troops on how to protect and decontaminate themselves following combat. The chemical troops are responsible for the development, testing and evaluation of new chemical agents, weapon systems, antidotes, suits, gas masks, protective and decontaminating systems. In addition, they are responsible for the production and storage of chemical weapons and also serve as advisers to commanders for chemical weapons and the tactics for their use.

US Chemical Weapons

The United States is actively working in the multilateral Conference on Disarmament for a complete and verifiable ban on the development, production, stockpiling, possession, transfer and use of chemical weapons. Even in the absence of such a ban, the United States will never initiate the use of chemical weapons in a conflict. But we must maintain a credible deterrent against chemical attack that includes both protective and retaliatory capabilities. To do so, we must redress the - severe imbalances that have developed as a consequence of long-term US restraint and continued Soviet expansion and modernization in the chemical weapons area.

The United States has not produced any chemical weapons for 15 years, and most of our chemical munitions could no longer be delivered effectively on the battlefield. The most critical deficiency is the lack of a capability to target enemy forces effectively with chemical agents beyond artillery range. Further, our chemical weapon and agent production facilities have deteriorated and are unusable without extensive renovation or replacement.

To have an effective deterrent, the United States need not, and will not attempt to, match the Soviets in quantities and types of chemical weapons. Instead, our aim is to have the smallest, safest stockpile that would convince the USSR it could gain no significant military advantage from the use of chemical weapons against us or our Allies. Even with their formidable protective capabilities, Soviet forces would face severe difficulties in sustaining combat operations if they faced counterattack with chemicals. We are improving the utility of our current stockpile through maintenance, planning and training. However, these activities cannot redress the most critical stockpile deficiencies, and, thus, we are also seeking to reestablish a capability to produce chemical weapons, and to overcome these critical stockpile deficiencies by acquiring an effective deep-strike chemical weapon and a modern artillery projectile.

In addition, US forces must be able to defend against chemical attack. We have recently made considerable progress in this regard. Chemical-related training has increased in all services. Individual protective equipment is available to Army, Air Force and Marine units, and the Navy is in the process of equipping its personnel. Additionally, new ship construction programs will include degrees of collective protective systems to improve staying power in a chemical warfare environment. We have also fielded improved detection equipment. Nevertheless, US chemical protective capability still needs improvement in such areas as protective clothing, collective protection systems, detection, warning and monitoring devices, decontamination equipment and agents and the ability to treat casualties in a chemical warfare environment. We have research and development programs in all these areas. Despite the necessity for improved defenses against chemical attack, we must also recognize that the effectiveness of troops is significantly diminished if they are required to operate in a chemical protective posture. Deterrence of chemical attack remain

Soviet Biological Warfare

The Soviet Union has an active R&D program to investigate and evaluate the utility of biological weapons and their impact on the combat environment. The Soviet effort in biological warfare violates the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1972, which was ratified by the USSR. The convention bans the research, development, production and possession of biological agents and toxins for warfare purposes.

There are at least seven biological warfare centers in the USSR that have the highest security and are under the strictest military control. One of these is located in the city of Sverdlovsk. In the spring of 1979, an accidental release of an anthrax agent occurred there, either as a result of a leakage in a containment system or an explosion. A large quantity of anthrax traveled at least four kilometers downwind from the facility and caused a significant number of casualties and deaths. More than 3,000 Soviet citizens may have been infected. As a result of the accident, large sections of Sverdlovsk were placed under quarantine and military control. Strenuous efforts were made by Soviet doctors to treat victims, and a large-scale effort to decontaminate the area was undertaken. The Soviet Government has claimed that the anthrax problem was caused by the illegal sale of contaminated meat on the black market. The evidence indicates instead that the victims suffered from pulmonary anthrax caused by the inhalation of an anthrax agent, which could only have escaped from the military facility.

Soviet research efforts in the area of genetic engineering may also have, a connection with their biological warfare program. There is an apparent effort on the part of the Soviets to transfer selected aspects of genetic engineering research to their biological warfare centers. For biological warfare purposes, genetic engineering could open a large number of possibilities. Normally harmless, non-disease producing organisms could be modified to become highly toxic or produce diseases for which an opponent has no known treatment or cure. Other agents, now considered too unstable for storage or biological warfare applications, could be changed sufficiently to be an effective agent.

In Soviet doctrine, the biological weapon is seen as a strategic weapon for the spread of infectious disease. Many of the Soviet long- and intermediate-range missile systems are technically capable of disseminating large quantities of disease agents over large areas.

The United States, in contrast, not only ratified the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention of 1972, but also continues to adhere fully to that ban.