The speech by Soviet party general secretary Yuri V. Andropov at the closed session of the Warsaw Pact's Political Consultative Committee in Prague on May 4, 1983, was his first major policy statement after the death of his predecessor, Leonid I. Brezhnev. Because of Andropov's systematic and thoughtful, if ideologically distorted, overview of the international scene, the complete text of his speech is included here.
[Speech by Andropov, 4 January 1983, VA-01/40473, Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv, Freiburg; translated by Svetlana Savranskaya]
The strategic posture of the Warsaw Pact changed from defensive to offensive in 1961 in the course of the Berlin crisis 1958-61 as Khrushchev prepared to violate the Allied agreements on Germany by signing a separate peace treaty with East Germany. Although the treaty was never signed the change became permanent. A Czechoslovak Ministry of Defense document from 1966 retrospectively described its meaning:
"The former strategic concept, which gave our armed forces the task to `firmly cover the state border, not allow penetration of our territory by enemy forces and create conditions for active operations of other allied forces,' was changed in 1961, without discussion by the Political Consultative Committee, and the Czechoslovak People's Army was assigned an active task."
["Materiály k otázce Spojeného velení," undated [early 1966], GS-OS 0039042/1, Archives of the Ministry of Defense, Prague, translated by Vojtech Mastny]
The intended offensive was practiced every year in numerous exercises of the Warsaw Pact's "Western Army Group." The document entitled "The Basic Characteristics of the Army Group Operation at the Initial Stage of the War," prepared by the Czechoslovak general staff in mid-1963 according to Soviet guidelines, reads in part...
["Smernice velitele Západního frontu císlo 001 . . . ," MNO-1967, HSPV, sg. 4/4-21/21, Military Historical Archives, Prague, translated by Vojtech Mastny]
In anticipation of the advance into enemy territory, appeals were to be addressed to NATO soldiers to surrender. Leaflets were composed by the propaganda department of the Czechoslovak army in English and French and intended to be dropped behind the front lines:
[MNO 1964, kr. 101, 17/1/1,3, Military Historical Archives, Prague]
Soviet estimates of the morale of the enemy troops and West German population were supplied to Warsaw Pact member states and used in lectures for the benefit of their officer corps. One such lecture, prepared by the Czechoslovak general staff in 1963, included the following observations.
["Vojensko-politická charakteristika a stav operacne-takticke prípravy armád NATO," March 1963, MNO-1963, GS/VZV, sg. 17/1-1, pp. 21, 24, 33-34, Military Historical Archives, Prague]
Here are some of the Warsaw Pact assessments of individual Bundeswehr and U.S. Army formations:
["Informacní zpráva o vojscích neprítele," 2 July 1964, MNO 1964, kr. 101, 17/1/1,3, Military Historical Archives, Prague]
The scenario, which haunted particularly the East German leader Walter Ulbricht, was described in a paper prepared for the August 3, 1959, session of the Security Commission of the East German communist party central committee with the goal of increasing the combat readiness of the country's armed forces. In its first part, the paper quotes from a purported secret West German document, code-named DECO II, which East Germany's spy chief Markus Wolf maintains having obtained from his agents in 1955 (Markus Wolf, Spionagechef im geheimen Krieg: Erinnerungen, Munich: Econ, 1997, p. 118):
["Erhöhung der Gefechtsbereitschaft der Nationalen Volksarmee," 29 July 1959, prepared for Security Commission of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party, session of 3 August 1959, DVW1/39568, Bundesrachiv-Militärarchiv, Freiburg, translated by Vojtech Mastny]
Growing concern about advances in NATO's conventional forces is evident in Warsaw Pact evaluations of the annual Western military maneuvers since the late 1970s. It grew during the 1980s mainly because of rapid advances in high-technology weapons which the Warsaw Pact planners did not see themselves in a position to match.
Excerpts from some of the representative documents
In his rambling remarks at a closed meeting of officials of the Czechoslovak general staff on March 13, 1968, its chief, Gen. Otakar Rytír, grasped the heart of the problem that would eventually play a critical role in prompting the collapse of the Soviet system—its inability to keep up with its capitalist rival in economic and technological competition.
[Antonín Bencík, Jaromír Navrátil, and Jan Paulík, ed., Vojenské otázky ceskoslovenské reformy, 1967-1970: Vojenská varianta rešení cs. krize (1967- 1968) [Military Problems of the Czechoslovak Reform, 1967-1970: The Military Option in the Solution of the Czechoslovak Crisis], (Brno: Doplnek, 1996), pp. 78-80. Translated by Vojtech Mastny.]