Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1989


The Army and National Security Strategy


The national security strategy of the United States is global in dimension but regional in its priorities. It harnesses all elements of national power-economic, military, and diplomatic-to protect and advance enduring national interests. These interests are the survival of the United States as a free and independent nation with its fundamental values and institutions intact; the existence of a healthy and growing U.S. economy maintained and strengthened by a robust industrial, agricultural, and technological base and by access to foreign markets and resources; the preservation of a stable and secure world free of major threats to US interests and allies; the growth of human freedom, democratic institutions, and free market economies throughout the world linked by a fair and open international trading system; and the development and sustenance of healthy and vigorous alliances.

The fundamental elements of the United States' national military strategy, which define national security objectives and give direction to American defense policies, are derived from these broad objectives. The strategic concepts of deterrence and containment are the key elements of American national military strategy. This strategy entails the protection of our national security distant from North America by using forward-deployed US forces. The principal tenets of US military strategy in FY 1989 were: (1) to safeguard the United States and its armed forces, allies, and interests by deterring aggression and coercion and, should deterrence fail, to defeat armed aggression and terminate conflicts at the lowest possible level of hostilities on terms favorable to the United States and its allies; (2) to encourage and assist allies and friends, through collective defense arrangements, to defend themselves against aggression, coercion, subversion, insurgencies, and terrorism and to expand deterrence of aggression by the extension of American military power; (3) to reduce the Soviet presence throughout the world where possible by increasing the costs of Soviet use of subversive forces and to foster changes in the Soviet Bloc that will lead to a more peaceful world order; (4) to prevent the trans-

fer of militarily critical technology to the Soviet Bloc; and (5) to pursue equitable and verifiable arms reduction agreements.

Since the late 1940s, the goals and key principles of national security and military strategy, based on containment and deterrence, have been constant. They apply to conventional and nuclear threats to American security and interests. Deterrence, whether it addresses a nuclear or conventional threat, rests on the ability of the United States to make clear that it possesses both the ability and the will to respond effectively to any military aggression. Forward-deployed Army forces in critical areas such as Europe and South Korea are manifest evidence of American military resolve to deter aggression.

The Army has contended that conventional military power, and land combat power in particular, is an indispensable component of national military strategy. While vital in long-standing forward-deployed defensive positions in Germany and South Korea, conventional land forces also have provided American leaders the flexibility to meet diverse threats and aggression. Conventional and special operations forces offer national decision makers options for military responses that facilitate conflict management and the conduct of foreign policy. The measured use of land combat forces could help circumscribe the scope and intensity of war by confining it to a conventional mode, thus minimizing the risk of nuclear warfare. While the other US armed services can deny and destroy military objectives, ground forces alone can secure and control them, and thus render a unique strategic function with regard to conflict termination and the attainment of postwar political objectives. During FY 1989 the Army's mission continued to be organizing, training, and equipping forces prepared to conduct prompt and sustained land combat operations by availing such forces to the commanders in chief (CINCs) of the unified and specified commands (the warfighting CINCs) as called for in existing operations plans or as directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

While deterrence during the past several decades was closely associated with continental defense against the threat of nuclear attack by inter-continental missiles and the preservation of the status quo in Europe and the Korean peninsula, US national security has been historically linked to hemispheric security. Sensitive to foreign encroachments, American leaders have long sought to deter or cope with hemispheric threats both unilaterally and through collective security arrangements with Latin American nations. In the recent past, threats to hemispheric security have been more subtle than a potential enemy's nuclear prowess or massed ground forces. Political and military subversion, terrorism, insurgency, and illicit drug activities and narcoterrorism have been the concerns of American leaders. Using various forms of civil and military assistance as well as conventional military power, the United States has sought to pro-


mote political stability, to nurture democratic institutions, to foster economic and social betterment, and to help indigenous military forces to cope with destabilizing internal subversive and terrorist elements. The Army has participated in this strategy of nation building through security assistance programs and other low-intensity operations. Instead of heavy combat divisions and massed firepower, the Army has most often been represented by advisers, mobile training teams, civic action and civil affairs elements, and other light and special operations assets.

The Army as a Strategic Force in NATO

The perception of Soviet threats against Western Europe and North America led to establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the rearmament of former foes and allies in Europe, and the sustained commitment of American combat forces to Europe both to contain and to defend Western Europe against Soviet aggression. The overriding concern for the security of Western Europe molded the Army's strategy and doctrine, operational concepts and tactics, force structure and design, and equipment and weaponry — in fact, nearly every facet of the service. This concern has given impetus to the Army's definition and vision of itself as a strategic force. As a founder and member of the North Atlantic Alliance and NATO, the United States has been committed to the forward defense of Western Europe for the past forty years. The Army has shared this commitment.

Since the founding of NATO the US Army and allied ground forces have faced the numerically superior conventional ground forces of the opposing Soviet and East European armies, who formed their own alliance, the Warsaw Pact, in 1955. During NATO's formative years, when the United States enjoyed nuclear superiority, NATO's military strategy centered on the threat of massive nuclear retaliation against aggression by the Soviet Union. The numerically inferior allied ground forces were relegated to a delaying force or a trip wire that would quickly summon massive nuclear retaliation. Once the two superpowers achieved nuclear parity, massive retaliation became a problematic strategy. In the late 1950s NATO introduced theater or tactical nuclear weapons as the US Army's first generation of atomic artillery, and tactical missiles were designed to compensate for shortcomings in conventional ground strength. These weapons also provided new military options short of the strategic nuclear threshold. The flexible response that they furnished was amplified by advances in air mobility and communications, which gave Army ground forces greater facility to contain or delay any trespass by Warsaw Pact forces. The ensuing buildup of American short- and intermediate- range nuclear missiles and artillery was eventually matched, and in some cate-


gories exceeded, by Warsaw Pact forces. Their use, some strategists contended, would lead inexorably to employment of strategic nuclear weapons, while others held that tactical nuclear parity created effective mutual deterrence.

After the end of the Vietnam War, the Army strengthened its forces in Europe. It modified its tactical doctrine, capitalized on technological advances to modernize its forces, and proceeded with force structure changes best suited to defeat quickly an initial ground attack in NATO's Central Front. The Army's adoption of AirLand Battle doctrine, its restructuring of forces under the Army of Excellence concept, and its studied modernization of major weapons are significant facets of this ongoing effort. At the start of FY 1989, 4.5 Army divisions were stationed in West Germany. Since FY 1983, however, American military forces in Europe have operated under a congressionally mandated strength ceiling of 326,400. The JCS approved the Army's share of this ceiling in FY 1989 at 216,779. Army plans envisioned the early reinforcement of NATO by as many as ten stateside divisions in as many days.

Appearing before Congress in February 1989, General John R. Galvin, the Commander in Chief of the European Command (CINCEUR), suggested how, within the context of AirLand Battle doctrine, the traditional strategies of forward defense and flexible response that applied to American ground forces in Europe might be accommodated to the prospects of declining US Army force levels. He envisioned a strategy that traded space for time by allowing assaulting enemy forces to attack deep and reveal their objectives. Highly mobile American forces would concentrate to contain the invading forces and frustrate the enemy's strategy. With the enemy's penetration forestalled, allied forces would mount counteroffensive operations that included operations in the enemy's rear, or the deep battle. Deep operations would seek to prevent the enemy from reinforcing his initial assault forces and to disrupt his command and control and logistical operations, thereby isolating the invasion forces and facilitating their destruction in the close battle. Success in the initial defense and counterattack, or the first battle, according to Galvin, was critical since Army forces depended on organic and theater sustainment during those initial engagements until reinforcements arrived.

Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in April 1989 questioned NATO's ability to mount and sustain an effective conventional defense against a determined Warsaw Pact campaign. NATO's Central Region, Admiral Crowe observed, lacked the number of troops and weapons and inventories of preferred and common munitions needed to prevail in a high-intensity conflict of several months or more with the Warsaw Pact. The most glaring weakness in our global posture, Crowe observed, was NATO's inadequate conventional defense of Western


Europe, particularly the military risks on NATO's Central Front, which were higher than the Joint Chiefs would prefer.

Other factors also impinged on American military strategy in NATO in FY 1989 and on the Army's strategic role in that theater. The most far-reaching factors were the two superpowers' conventional arms control and arms reduction initiatives. In response to Mikhail Gorbachev's announcement on 7 December 1988 that he planned to reduce Soviet forces in Eastern Europe by 500,000, the North Atlantic Council (NAC), NATO's political arm in the North Atlantic Alliance, on the following day called for force reductions that would eliminate asymmetries in tanks, field artillery, and armored troop carriers. The NAC also proposed the start of Conventional Stability Talks (CST) in early 1989.

The military implications of the Soviet Union's unilateral force reductions were ambiguous, and verification was a vexing issue. The United States hoped to clarify Soviet intentions at the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) talks, which opened in Vienna in March 1989. The CFE talks succeeded the inconclusive Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) negotiations that had lingered inconclusively for sixteen years and formally ended on 2 February 1989. Near the end of May 1989, President George Bush and NATO allies proposed that NATO and the Warsaw Pact cooperate to achieve parity in conventional forces. NATO proposed reductions in armored forces that limited each side to 20,000 tanks. To achieve this goal, the Warsaw Pact would eliminate 5,000 more tanks than proposed by Gorbachev, while NATO would reduce its tank inventory by about 2,200. President Bush proposed a withdrawal from Central Europe of 30,000 American military personnel, nearly 26,000 of whom would be Army troops. Chief of Staff Vuono noted that the Army participated fully in developing the American initiative. What made the President's counterproposal possible, General Vuono suggested, was the Army's high state of readiness in Europe.

The proposals, however, introduced new factors for the Army's consideration regarding its strategic role in Europe. General Vuono advocated that the military objective of the CFE negotiations should be "parity of capabilities" rather than merely reduction of the number of tanks, artillery, and infantry fighting vehicles. Cuts in specific weapon systems, he felt, should go hand-in-hand with reducing manpower but should also allow for the modernization of remaining weapons, prenotification of major force adjustments, and verification. Underlying the notion of "parity of capabilities" was the assumption that reducing the numbers of weapons alone was not as significant for achievement of a balance of power as consideration for the placement and configuration of weapon systems.

The prospective talks and various proposals also raised a host of questions during FY 1989. The two sides, for instance, differed with regard to


the number of men and weapons in each other's armed forces. Differences also existed regarding the interpretation of the weapons to be included in each category. The Soviet Union, unlike NATO, considered mortars and antitank guns as artillery. Another problematic area was the status of reserve stocks. The Russians sought to include stored equipment in the overall totals, which would limit NATO's capacity for rapid reinforcement.

Reducing the American military contingent in Europe by 30,000, as the President proposed, raised the prospect of saving about $2.1 billion in annual costs, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The amount saved, however, could not be determined prior to decisions about the process of force reduction. The Army considered various options during FY 1989: Would entire units be withdrawn or personnel reduced by a specific total number? Would the reductions concentrate on combat power or support capacity? Would units withdrawn from Europe remain in the active component or be transferred to the reserves? What priority should be given to withdrawing the forward-deployed brigades of the two continental United States (CONUS) divisions, the 2d Armored Division and the 1st Infantry Division?

The elimination of intermediate-range ballistic missiles, such as the Army's Pershing missiles, agreed upon by the United States and the Soviet Union in FY 1987, was well under way by FY 1989. The elimination of an entire class of weapons affected Army doctrine and force structure and raised questions regarding the Army's strategic role in Europe, especially the deep battle. The elimination of Pershing missiles spurred efforts by the Army to extend the ranges of short-range missiles and artillery. It also stimulated pressures to reduce other categories of missiles and raised anew the role of tactical nuclear weapons. President Bush indicated that he would not enter arms control negotiations on theater nuclear weapons unless reductions were tied to conventional arms reductions.

Although they were apprehensive that parity between opposing conventional forces and the elimination of intermediate-range missiles might engender pressures to eliminate short-range tactical nuclear weapons, Army leaders staunchly defended the role of tactical nuclear weapons in NATO 's politico-military strategy. The Army subscribed to NATO 's Comprehensive Concept of Arms Control and Disarmament, adopted in May 1989, which stressed that the fundamental purpose of nuclear weapons in the alliance was political. Conventional and nuclear forces, according to NATO 's policy, performed different but complementary and necessary roles. Tactical nuclear forces had an essential political role as a deterrent, and they also furnished the link between conventional and strategic forces.

Another complication in the Army's strategic role in the defense of Europe was the politically charged issue of burden sharing. The question of the European allies' sharing a larger burden of the cost of maintaining


U.S. forces in NATO threatened to become a political flashpoint. Members of the Defense Burdensharing Panel of the House Armed Services Committee believed that the United States paid a disproportionate share of the cost to defend Western Europe. While burden sharing went to the heart of coalition warfare and collective defense as elements of American defense policy, it also generated congressional sentiment for some reduction of American forces in Europe. Burden sharing was especially important for the Army, which depended on the services and infrastructure provided by European allies for the reception and movement of reinforcing forces and for other types of host-nation support in peace and war. Growing frustration in Congress over burden sharing raised the possibility of further withdrawals of Army forces to reduce costs, a measure that could lessen NATO's military capacity, compromise the credibility of deterrence, and weaken the West's bargaining position in conventional force negotiations.

A long-standing shortage of American strategic airlift and sealift was yet another impingement on the Army's ability to execute its strategic role in NATO. The disparity between existing lift capacity and projected requirements influenced the total strategic mobility system, a triad composed of airlift, sealift, and pre-positioned supplies and equipment. The mobility deficit affected both the Army's plans for a conventional defense of NATO and the service's ability to project credible military ground combat power into other regions. Admiral Crowe advised Congress in April 1989 that, in contrast with the advantages of distance and rail and road nets enjoyed by Soviet forces in Eastern Europe, the United States would have difficulty mustering the ships it needed to reinforce Western Europe. Maj. Gen. John R. Piatak, Director of Plans and Resources of the US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), echoed Crowe's views in testimony before Congress on 2 March 1989. TRANSCOM's activation in 1987, and its mandate to coordinate military air, land, and sea transport and especially to forge a satisfactory national sealift capability for a war in Europe, reflected this weakness. General Piatak was more optimistic about overcoming shortfalls in air than sealift. DOD planned to acquire ten new container ships for Army sealift, but the Army differed with the Navy as to the priority of fast sealift development. In FY 1989 Congress directed the Navy to proceed with research and development of fast sealift and authorized $5 million. Navy officials, contending that existing conventional thirty-knot monohull vessels were best for sealift, recommended sharp reductions in funds for fast sealift research and more money for other Navy programs. The Army, early in FY 1989, appealed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense to reconsider the Navy's proposal.

The Air Force was slated to receive its first C-17 airlift transports, which were specifically designed to carry Army personnel and weapons,


in 1991. Able to airdrop as many as 102 paratroopers or to carry 60,000 pounds of cargo, the C-17 was also designed to haul oversized equipment. Besides possessing an intercontinental range equal to that of the Air Force C-5A transport, the C-17 also had the capability to use small, unimproved airfields usually restricted to the C-130 tactical air transport. Even though the probability of war in Europe was decreasing, the C-17 was needed, in the Army's view, to carry out the Army's global strategic mission. Concerned that DOD had only somewhat more than 20 percent of the total planned airlift and sealift requirements, Army leaders gave their highest priority to keeping DOD and Congress apprised of this discrepancy. The Army also supported proposals to modify the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program and to expand ready reserve lift forces. By the end of FY 1989, however, prospects for early acquisition of the C-17 dimmed. Spiraling procurement costs required either reducing the number of aircraft that the Air Force would purchase or trimming the C-17's operational capabilities in order to reduce unit costs.

Lessened tensions between Eastern and Western Europe along with economic pressures and other factors in FY 1989 induced discussions concerning a possible restructuring of NATO and a consequent change in American military strategy. A reduced American military presence in Europe implied greater reliance on reinforcing and strategic lift capabilities in order for the United States to meet its NATO obligations. The imbalances between strategy and resources entailed higher levels of risk to national security and changes in strategic priorities.

As FY 1989 drew to a close, Army leaders were well aware of the prospects for change in NATO. General Vuono viewed the task facing the Army leadership as one of anticipating changes, rather than merely reacting to them. The Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) was reevaluating the Army's role in NATO's defense, and General John M. Foss, TRADOC Commander, foresaw the Army's adhering to its traditional strategic roles. As the centerpiece of NATO's conventional defense, it would continue to serve the American strategies of flexible response, forward defense, and coalition warfare. General Foss envisioned an expansion of the Army's role in addressing regional aggression outside NATO. He maintained that the Army's credibility as a strategic force required that it avoid reducing its force structure to a few large organizations but instead create more, smaller units that possessed inherently greater flexibility.

The Strategic Environment and the Soviet Threat

Army planners in FY 1989 highlighted several discernible long-term trends likely to influence the security environment in which the Army would operate in the future. Cautious about the seemingly favorable trends


in Soviet defense policy, Army planners believed that Soviet strategic forces would continue to constitute a serious strategic military threat to American security despite nuclear parity. Also, the Soviet Union was likely to expand its capabilities to project its military power and influence. The most volatile military problems, the Army Staff predicted, would occur in the Third World. Such conflicts had the potential of involving the United States directly in order to preserve regional stability, honor treaty obligations, or protect vital national interests. The diffusion of advanced and highly destructive weapons throughout the Third World suggested that even regional and local conflicts were likely to be highly lethal, while the use of American military resources to combat terrorism and illicit drug trafficking would likely increase.

Assessing the import of General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms on Soviet military policy and the capabilities of Soviet forces presented a problem to the strategic equation in FY 1989. Gorbachev seemed committed to rejuvenating and restructuring the Soviet economy. His eagerness to eliminate or reduce certain nuclear and conventional arms, his unilateral proposals to reduce Soviet conventional forces, and his encouragement of new thinking in military doctrine, strategy, and foreign affairs appeared to buttress his long-term social and economic reforms. On the other hand, while promising large increases in the production of civilian goods by 1995, Gorbachev continued to countenance large expenditures for defense and its modernization. Soviet conventional forces, which consisted of 200 active ground force divisions with 1.9 million soldiers, more than 53,000 tanks, an estimated 60,000 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, and 1,600 surface-to-air missiles, consumed the lion's share of Moscow's defense budget.

Throughout the post-World War II period, the concept of the offensive, which required attaining superiority through the massing of military forces, dominated Soviet military doctrine. In the view of American analysts, recent improvements in Soviet armored and artillery forces were intended to further Soviet capability to conduct fast-paced, large-scale conventional offensive operations. However, recent statements by Gorbachev and Soviet military leaders suggested that Soviet doctrine and strategy might be in a state of flux. Gorbachev's renunciation of the first use of nuclear weapons seemed to acknowledge openly that a condition of nuclear parity existed between the two superpowers and that neither could win a nuclear war. In other statements by Soviet military officials, Soviet doctrine appeared to be shifting to nonpreemptive strategies at all levels of conflict. Soviet officials, in addition, began to expound a defensive military doctrine based on the idea of nonprovocative defense and reasonable sufficiency. Other Soviet writings on the nature of future war that reflected the modernization of conventional arms continued to suggest that


Soviet doctrine and strategy were geared to fighting and winning a conventional war in Europe.

As a tangible initiative indicating a new direction in Soviet military policy, in a speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations on 7 December 1988, Gorbachev offered to reduce Soviet ground forces. From Soviet forces opposite NATO, Gorbachev planned to disband six tank divisions of 5,000 tanks and 50,000 men by 1991. The withdrawal would be accompanied by a reorganization into a defensive posture of Soviet divisions remaining in forward areas. Gorbachev planned additional reductions for Soviet forces to eliminate 5,000 tanks, 8,500 artillery pieces, an unspecified number of assault crossing units in forward areas, 800 combat aircraft, and about 450,000 troops. The force reduction would total 500,000, or about 10 percent of the Soviet combined active and reserve military strength of five million. The general secretary, however, did not specify the types of tanks or artillery that would be withdrawn, nor did he reveal their eventual disposition.

Gorbachev's initiative was followed by similar announcements by the other members of the Warsaw Pact, except Romania. Collectively, they planned to eliminate 1,900 tanks and 130 aircraft and downgrade seven divisions and numerous smaller units. The total Warsaw Pact decrease in forces in Eastern Europe constituted reductions of 29 percent in tanks and 20 percent in active divisions. By the summer of 1989 the Soviet Union began withdrawing some divisional forces from the Group of Soviet Forces, Germany (GSFG). Near the end of FY 1989 Soviet officials claimed that approximately 32,000 troops, 3,100 tanks, nearly 700 field artillery pieces, and 120 aircraft had been withdrawn. Some of the equipment was destined for destruction or placement in stockpiles. Forces remaining in East Germany slated for restructuring and upgrading received equipment left behind by the redeploying divisions and were also augmented with additional antitank, air defense, engineer, and attack helicopter capabilities. Soviet military leaders, however, also indicated that some of the Soviet divisions facing NATO would be reorganized to enhance their versatility for combined arms operations for deep operations against NATO defenses. According to Army intelligence analysts, the aim of Soviet force development and deployment was to enhance a theater strategic operation, which in Central Europe called for continuous offensive operations on several fronts to seize objectives up to 1,200 kilometers in less than thirty days without resorting to nuclear weapons.

The capabilities of Soviet ground forces, underscored by their restructuring and modernization, continued to pose a significant threat to NATO. Despite a proposed reduction of 500,000 men, the Soviet Union would still have 4.6 million men in its military forces and the world's largest inventory of military hardware. In Eastern Europe alone Soviet forces


would number 2.15 million. As a gauge of the comparative capabilities of Warsaw Pact and NATO forces, the JCS' 1989 Joint Military Net Assessment gave the former an advantage of 2.8:1 in tanks; 2.0:1 in armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; and 3.2:1 in artillery. For Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, the Warsaw Pact had a 15:1 advantage. Moreover, technological advances in Soviet weaponry steadily closed the gap that qualitatively superior Western weapons enjoyed in compensating for the quantitative superiority of the Warsaw Pact's armaments. Americans considered the Soviet forces to be equal qualitatively with those of the United States, particularly with respect to surface-to-air missiles, antitank guided missiles, tactical ballistic missiles, communications, and electronics countermeasures. In the areas of anti-satellite systems, chemical weapons and mines, and artillery, the Soviets were given the edge, with a major asymmetry favorable to them in existing short-range missiles in Europe.

Soviet modernization continued unabated in FY 1989 and improved both strategic and conventional forces. As the Soviets withdrew from East Germany in FY 1989, they kept obsolete armored and artillery weapons and left newer tanks like the T-64B, T-72M, and T-80 and a recently introduced self-propelled artillery system for the restructured Soviet divisions, a contradiction of Gorbachev's announced plans. Armor forces, nevertheless, remained the centerpiece of Soviet ground forces. Western analysts detected no decrease in tank production, and US Army analysts noted that the Soviet Union was modernizing its inventory of more than 50,000 tanks by upgrading and extending the useful life of the T-55 and T-62 tanks. In addition, the Soviet Union was fielding variants of newer tanks, the T-64, T-72, and T-80, equipped with more lethal guns, sophisticated antiarmor systems, and improved electronic systems.

The huge disparity in opposing artillery reflected the high value Soviet doctrine accorded this combat arm. Compared with nearly 13,700 artillery pieces in NATO, Warsaw Pact forces had 46,500, according to one 1988 estimate. The Soviet Union fielded new fire support systems at a rate five times that of the United States. Additionally, Soviet modernization efforts extended to the introduction of high-explosive artillery rounds, bomblets, and fuel-air munitions and more accurate guns. Soviet artillery relied increasingly on self-propelled models in place of towed guns, and they augmented conventional artillery with large- caliber multiple-rocket launchers, principally the BM-27 220-mm. system. The deep attack capabilities of Soviet forces facing NATO were also enhanced by the fielding of highly accurate short-range ballistic missiles such as the SS-21 with a range of about one hundred kilometers.

By the end of FY 1989 Gorbachev had charted a course that could lead to major changes in the Soviet Union's national security policy and


security relationships with NATO and the United States. The hallmarks of his new approach were greater emphasis on political solutions to conflicts, a more forthcoming attitude toward arms control and reduction, and cooperation with the West in the exchange and verification of military data. At best, however, the Secretary General's military reforms were only a beginning effort to alter Soviet military spending and to contribute to the promised restructuring of the Soviet economy. If for some analysts Gorbachev's espousal of perestroika in the military context suggested modernization rather than reform, the start of Moscow's disengagement from the insurgency in Afghanistan and its conciliatory stance toward the Socialist Republic of Vietnam's (SRV) withdrawal from Cambodia were regarded with some optimism. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union continued to transfer arms to the Third World. Testifying before Congress in April 1989, Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney believed Gorbachev 's promised reforms might yet lead to a less threatening Soviet Union, but he was skeptical whether Gorbachev would succeed or whether his reforms would outlast his tenure in office. The Soviet Union's enormous nuclear and conventional arsenals, Cheney noted, did not agree with the perception of a waning Soviet military threat.

Army Chief of Staff General Vuono shared this view when speaking at the annual division and corps commanders' conferences in early FY 1989. Noting that Gorbachev's initiatives might eventually reduce the threat, General Vuono stated his belief that the Soviet Union remained the Army's principal potential adversary. "We must deal," he said, "with its capabilities, not its rhetoric." Keeping abreast of changes in Soviet military policies and assessing their ramifications on the capabilities of Soviet ground forces had a high priority in the Army in FY 1989. Throughout FY 1989 Army leaders took a keen interest in devising ways to understand and evaluate more quickly the metamorphosis of Soviet doctrine, strategy, and capabilities under Gorbachev and its implications for the Army. While utilizing Soviet analysts in government and private circles, the Army maintained its own aggressive intelligence efforts. A three-man team dispatched to Afghanistan in January 1989 gleaned applicable lessons from the Soviet experience in that region.

The ongoing Soviet Artillery Effects Project continued to assess the offensive and defensive capabilities of Soviet artillery and its effectiveness against US Army personnel and equipment. Firing tests conducted during the summer of 1989 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, indicated that the lethality of modern Soviet armor against selected Army artillery pieces and vehicles was higher than anticipated. The information gathered through these and other assessments of changing Soviet doctrine and capabilities was also assimilated into Army training programs and was reflected in the operational concepts used by opposing forces at the Army's national train-


ing centers. It was also disseminated throughout the Army by the pamphlet How They Fight, published quarterly by the US Army Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center.

Regional Threats

While regional conflicts outside of Europe did not involve direct confrontation between the two superpowers, the Army had to possess the capability to respond to a broad range of regional and low-intensity conflicts. Such conflicts often involve surrogates closely associated with one of the superpowers through security assistance programs or formal alliances. The Soviet Union, for example, furnished military assistance, technical advice, and in some cases direct operational support to forty-two Third World countries. These efforts afforded the Soviet Union access to military facilities in such countries as Cuba, Vietnam, and Ethiopia, which increased its force projection capabilities and heightened the possibility of direct confrontation between American and Soviet or Soviet-sponsored forces.

The world map in FY 1989 was replete with hostilities and simmering conflicts that illustrated the pervasive use of military force in the Third World to achieve political, economic, and social change. Severe socio-economic problems, political instability, radical secular and religious movements, ethnic discontent, and a continuing buildup of arms sharpened the possibility of threats to American interests and armed forces in those areas. Many regional powers had amassed substantial stockpiles of sophisticated arms that included chemical weapons, ballistic missiles, and potent air defense systems in addition to large standing armies. While the nature of the threat varied within and between regions — from terrorism, subversion, and insurgency to mid-intensity combat — the threats overwhelmingly involved land warfare. The acquisition by more than a dozen developing nations of a thousand or more main battle tanks underscored this prospect. American involvement and concern ranged from a long-standing commitment to defend the Republic of Korea to sponsoring security assistance to friendly Latin American nations besieged by destabilizing insurgency and subversion.

The presence of the Army's 2d Infantry Division in forward defensive positions in South Korea near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was tangible evidence of the potential involvement of American ground forces in another regional conflict during FY 1989. Although a quiescent military situation, occasionally punctuated by North Korean incursions into the DMZ, prevailed between North and South Korea, North Korean ground forces enjoyed a 3:2 numerical superiority over South Korean and American ground forces. Opposing the North's 930,000-man army were


550,000 South Korean and 31,600 American ground troops. North Korea, assisted by the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, evinced a steady improvement of its offensive capabilities. Although small in comparison to its commitment to NATO, the presence of American ground forces in South Korea was a powerful deterrent to a renewal of hostilities by Communist forces across the DMZ.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Soviet-supported Vietnamese regime, with the third largest army in the world, posed a threat to Thailand, which had close ties with the United States. The Soviet naval presence at Cam Ranh Bay, formerly part of South Vietnam, enabled Moscow to project its military strength into the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the western Pacific. The United States had major air and naval bases in the Philippines, and a virulent Communist-inspired insurgency fomented political instability and acts of terrorism against US Army and other American military personnel and facilities there.

The Persian Gulf and the Middle East were strategically important to the industrialized nations of the West and to Japan because of their large oil reserves. For the same reasons, but to a lesser extent, the Soviet Union also was interested in the region. Geographical proximity, however, was the basis for the Soviet strategic concern. Many nations of the Middle East were susceptible to Moscow's influence, reinforced by their extensive purchase of Soviet arms. Conversely, the Soviet Union was wary of the influence of its Muslim neighbors because of the threat of latent nationalism that existed in the Muslim-dominated Soviet states. Throughout the region, revolutionary Islamic fundamentalism, ethnic discord, and strained interstate relations, exemplified in FY 1989 by the Iran-Iraq conflict, had the potential to spark military confrontation. The protracted Iran-Iraq war, although it ended in a cease-fire in FY 1989, reflected the rampant proliferation of weapons in this volatile region. Each side resorted to ballistic missiles and chemical warfare, and Iraq's claim of victory was tempered by its large loss of combatants and civilians. The war also heightened American concern regarding access to Persian Gulf oil. This concern prompted an American military presence both to protect international shipping and to convey US interest in containing the conflict. The emergence of Iraq as the dominant power in the Persian Gulf, according to Army analysts, raised the likelihood that it might become more assertive toward smaller neighbors to its south.

Flashpoints with the potential of igniting into larger conflicts existed throughout the Middle East and Persian Gulf, from Libya to Iran. The endemic strained relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, internecine fighting in Lebanon, and tensions between Arab factions and states had some potential of implicating the United States. Under the auspices of the United Nations, US Army forces served with a peacekeeping


force between Israel and Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula. Terrorist organizations in the Middle East periodically attacked American military personnel and civilians, which sometimes invited military retaliation. Regional arms buildups, in the meantime, exacerbated the more fundamental causes of instability and raised the military, economic, and political costs of American deterrence.

In the Caribbean and Central and South America, the United States faced a multitude of threats. These included destabilizing political dissidence, Communist-supported insurgencies, terrorism, and illicit drug trafficking. While none posed a direct military threat to the United States, they impinged on the larger American objectives of fostering hemispheric security, progressive democratic reforms, and social and economic development in the entire region. Illicit drug trafficking was often inextricably tied to subversive insurgency and terrorism, and ultimately had deleterious social and economic repercussions in American society. President Manuel Noriega's disregard for the democratic electoral process in Panama emerged as a major threat to the political system in that country, endangered the security of American personnel and installations, and threatened to disrupt operations of the Panama Canal, a responsibility of the US Army.

Communist-inspired insurgent threats in Latin America could be viewed as a Soviet effort to divert American attention to its southern flank, which would give the Soviets an advantage in the confrontational areas of Western Europe and the Middle and Far East. Through financial, materiel, and moral support to its surrogates in Cuba and Nicaragua, Moscow abetted insurgencies elsewhere in the region. Cuba furnished arms, technical advisers, and trained guerrillas in the Americas and played a significant ground and air role in Angola. With a population of only 3.54 million and an active force of more than 80,000, Nicaragua's army dwarfed those of its neighbors. Hemispheric threats fell under the rubrics of low-intensity and unconventional contingencies. The US Army's capacity to respond to them included the rapid deployment of light conventional and special operations forces and the commitment of advisers and specialized teams to assist friendly armed forces.

International Terrorism and Espionage

International terrorism was a multifaceted threat during FY 1989. Terrorists varied from those who confined their activities to a single country to those who operated internationally. Terrorist groups based in the Middle East, for example, frequently operated throughout the world. Iran, Libya, and North Korea had sponsored transnational terrorism. In other areas, the Philippines and Central and South America, for example, insur-


gents had employed terrorist tactics. In South Korea and other countries, political factions had conducted terrorist actions against American soldiers and bases. Terrorist activity associated with narcotics trafficking — narcoterrorism — was prevalent in several areas of Latin America and now extended to the United States.

Although it did not seriously threaten the United States or American military capabilities, terrorism was a significant national security issue. Members of the Army and their dependents stationed abroad, because of their high visibility and symbolic representation of American policy or involvement in assisting local governments to combat terrorism, were among the terrorists' favored targets. Army personnel and installations in the United States, moreover, were not immune to this threat. The Army, during the decade preceding FY 1989, had improved its ability to combat terrorism by enhancing its intelligence capabilities and by developing resources to respond quickly and successfully to terrorist threats. By FY 1989 the full panoply of deterrent, protective, and active countermeasures to cope with terrorism was being codified into a new Force Protection Doctrine.

In contrast to successful acts of terrorism whose perpetrators thrived in the publicity that resulted from their actions, espionage agents thrived on anonymity and secrecy. Unlike terrorism, espionage directed against the US Army, if successful, could jeopardize national security and the Army's combat capabilities. Despite the atmosphere of detente between the superpowers, the threat of espionage remained high. Under its Subversion and Espionage Directed Against the US Army (SAEDA) program, the service received approximately four hundred reports annually, of which about 10 percent had genuine espionage implications.


The most palpable and direct threat to American security interests in FY 1989 continued to be the Soviet military forces. The most probable threats that could result in the commitment of American military forces, however, were regional and lower intensity conflicts. If carried out, the force reductions and reorientation of Soviet forces that Gorbachev announced had the potential of decreasing the Warsaw Pact's ability to mount an unreinforced, short-warning attack against NATO in the Central Region. The regional threats for which the Army had to prepare were likely to grow. The elimination and reduction of strategic weapons suggested that the burden of deterrence would also shift from strategic to conventional forces in general and to land forces in particular. As a strategic force, the Army had to prepare to operate across the entire range of conflict in regions as diverse as the Arctic or the Sahara Desert and against


potential adversaries that varied from the sophisticated ground forces of the Soviet Union to the indigenous guerrillas of an impoverished underdeveloped nation.


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