Jordan BAEV

The Organizational and Doctrinal Evolution of the Warsaw Pact (1955 – 1969)

The decade that has passed after the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty Organization /WTO/ marks two controversial tendencies and puts forward a number of unexpected questions. The snowball declassification of important archival collections in some of the Pact ex-members-countries has not been followed by adequate research efforts for a more complete disclosure of its history. Just the opposite, influenced by the demilitarized way of thinking in the transition to democracy, and following the new leading concepts of the “post-military society” and “post-modern military” in the first years after the end of the Cold War, the establishment of civil societies in Eastern Europe gave birth to definite neglect of the military issues. There has also been certain unwillingness for a thorough research into the development of the East-European armies under the communist rule and their subordination to Moscow within the Soviet Bloc confines. The first complex works on the history of one of the East-European postwar armies, however, have been published not accidentally in united Germany – “The National People’s Army of the GDR”, treated as a component of the all-German military historical legacy. The high-rank East-European militaries, on their part, are rather reluctant to share openly their genuine eyewitnesses’ experiences while the officer corps as a whole is traumatized by the accusations of close complicity with the communist regime.

As a matter of fact, the painless and quick de-politicization of the militaries and the extremely passive and neutral role they have adopted in the transition to democracy period (rather unexpected by some Western experts), confirms the supposition that in the course of the last two-three decades the new generations of officers had the self-image of military professionals, while more often than not they took their Communist Party membership as a formal requirement. Indeed, one can claim that bigger part of the senior officers deep in themselves does oppose psychologically the radical change of the previously established social order and status quo, which affected their own privileges and influence. From the civil-military relations theory’ point of view this is in general typical for the “conservative nature”1 of the military, though the interpretation of such definition in the East is antithetical to that of the West.

Among the unanticipated issues in regard of the establishment of the East-European military and political alliance some questions, “strange” at first glance, could be included: When was actually created that alliance?; Why was the Warsaw Treaty signed exactly in May 1955 and not at any other time?; Are we in a position to speak of a “normally functioning” military coalition before 1969?; Was there any generally accepted doctrine of the Pact in the early years of its existence?; Was the highest level decision making process regulated frequently beyond the official sessions of the organization?; What is the real periodization of the Warsaw Pact history?

Some of these issues were treated in synthesized form in the most recent publications of Vojtech Mastny2. The author of this paper has also deliberated, in a number of his previous publications, on some issues regarding the Warsaw Pact structural build-up and decision making process3. Unfortunately, some of the most controversial matters are still avoided or sidestepped in research discussions and memoirs of the participants in the events discussed4.

When we are trying to determine the different stages and periods within the Warsaw Pact history, we have to select which kind of approaches and methodology to apply – political, doctrinal, operative, technical ones, or to follow simply the more global developments of international politics and postwar international relations. One can argue that there are various stages established, depending mainly on Kremlin’s personal rule – “Stalin era”, “Khrushchev era”, “Brezhnev era”, or “Gorbachev era”. Another argument is the evolution of the military strategic views – post WWII art of war in the 50s, “nuclear-missile global war” thinking in the 60s, a new assumption for a “conventional warfare” at the “initial war period” in the 70s, and a “joint defensive doctrine” in the late 80s. Third reason could be the process of Armed Forces’ modernization with new weaponry and equipment, thus the boundary between the two different stages can be determined approximately in the late 50s and early 60s. From the structural point of view, the Soviet bloc history could be divided in four stages: Cohesive (1944 – 1954), when a force unification of the semi-democratic East European political systems was accomplished in order to strictly convert them to the Stalinist model; Formative (1955 – 1968), when the structures and decision making mechanisms were established; Functional (1969 – 1985), when all typical characteristics of the Pact management were manifested; and Reformist, when few of the allies showed an increasing ambition for more or less radical transformation within the alliance. Beyond the selected approaches, it is quite evident that the date of the signing of the Warsaw Treaty is rather a symbolical than substantial turning point in the East European political and military alliance’ creation.

When we are revealing and comparing the archival sources and other documentary or oral testimonies and evidences now available in former East European Warsaw Pact member – countries, there can be found similar information and explanations of the Pact goals, doctrines, armed forces structure and rearmament, training and force mobilization procedures and practice. It is obvious, however, that the main and most important facts regarding the Pact decision making process and the reasons for its foreign policy initiatives are still kept at the Russian archives in Moscow and Podolsk, with a very limited access to the postwar records. Thus, we are constrained to search for any indirect traces, which indicate Kremlin’s real motives and goals. Having in mind that exactly in late 50s and up to mid-80s the longest ever ruled East European communist leader Todor Zhivkov succeeded to establish “special relationship” with all Soviet leaders, from Nikita Khrushchev to Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov and Constantine Chernenko, in the following pages we are using predominantly some newly declassified documentary collections, taken from various Bulgarian political, diplomatic, and military archives.

. I .

Today we are more confident in answering the question concerning the pre-history of the Pact establishment. That answer does actually prove beyond any doubt that the signing of the Warsaw Treaty symbolizes the end and not the beginning of the initial process. The imposing of the Soviet political model and the Soviet type of Armed and Security Forces’ organization with a very strong subordination to Moscow leads to a more or less clear conclusion that the creation of the Warsaw Pact in May 1955 actually marks not the beginning, but the end of an initial process of Soviet bloc political, economic and military integration.

The first stage in taking over the army and elimination of the anti-communist officers was concluded sometime around 1948-1949. By that time the system of bilateral agreements, which created the political frame of the emerging Soviet Bloc had already been completed. An important, obligatory requirement, specified for the first time by Joseph Stalin at the notorious secret meeting with the Yugoslav and Bulgarian leaders on 10th February 1948, in Kremlin, was that the smaller partners should “consult” and coordinate their foreign policy with the USSR. Unlike the principles of collective defense, described later at the Warsaw Treaty, these first bilateral agreements for mutual assistance had such obscure definitions of the casus foederis that it was difficult to predict when and under what exact circumstances the Soviet and East European armies would begin military operations5. The Soviet system of bilateral treaties was extended by establishment of the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA or COMECON) in Moscow. Though at the COMECON constitutive meeting on 8 - 12 January 1949 Joseph Stalin did not mentioned especially the issues of mutual defense, according to the hand notes of the Bulgarian minister of the Interior, Anton Yugov, it was putted during the Kremlin’s discussion a question for “the organization of defense and coordination of intelligence and counter-intelligence activity” of the East European countries6.

The second stage was marked by a secret summit held on Stalin’s initiative on 9 – 12 January 1951 in Moscow. All East-European political and military leaders supported indisputably the idea of establishing a “Coordination Committee for build-up the Armed forces in the countries of people’s democracy”. A working group, chaired by the Soviet War Minister Marshal Alexander Vasilevski, offered concrete figures for increase in the wartime and peacetime combat strength of the East-European armies. A plan for their rearmament in the period 1951 – 1954 was adopted too. Marshal Nikolai Bulganin was appointed as a chairman of the Coordination Committee7.

The archival sources show that in the course of some years after that meeting, a lot of mechanized, tank, air-force and naval divisions and naval coastal batteries were intensively built up following the Soviet pattern. Some new field manuals and other directive documents were introduced as well. Many officers of different branches and services were trained in Soviet Military schools and academies. From 1951 on regular military exercises were carried out under the “consultative” participation of the Soviet advisers and in the presence of military delegations from other East-European countries. By the end of 1954 the East-European armies had already fully acquired all the Soviet World War II military art and combat experience and had adapted their own structures along the lines of the organizational, training and commandment principles, actual at the time in the Soviet Army.

The original idea to build up an East European collective defense system was declared in a most general way at the Moscow Conference of the Soviet Bloc government leaders (29th November – 2nd December 1954). A prelude to the Moscow Conference had been the famous “Molotov plan” of March 1954 for an European security system and a propaganda proposal for inclusion of the USSR into NATO, rejected by the Western governments in May of the same year8. If the first speeches, delivered at the Moscow conference, stressed the “threat” of the rearmament of West Germany, by the end of the conference the propaganda elements gave way to something essentially new: “Additional measures are to be taken in regard of the armed forces organization as well as for the purpose of creating a unified command for strengthening their defense capability, together with any other joint steps required for protecting the peace and securing the safety of our nations.” The debates within the national party and government bodies after the conclusion of the Moscow Conference showed that East-European local functionaries had yet not realized what exactly the future kept in store9.

The documents available offer the possibility to assume that till the middle of March 1955 the Soviets’ East-European partners had neither precise information of the nature of the alliance proposed nor even an idea of the approximate date of its constitution. An order by the Bulgarian Defense Minister, General Petar Panchevski of 8th March 1955 stated that an AF and anti-aircraft defense forces /AADF/ staff exercise was to take place from 9th to 13th May under his command10, That made clear that at the time it was not known yet that during the very same period an international conference was to be summoned. On 19th March, however, General Panchevski left urgently for Moscow. Three days later the Soviet Foreign Ministry officially informed about consultations in relation to the Moscow Conference decisions, held with the participation of delegations from Albania, Bulgaria, the GDR, Poland, Romania, the USSR, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Only on 1st April 1955, at a Soviet leadership meeting, the Minister of Defense Marshal Zhukov was charged with the task to prepare a draft of the joint military structure of the future alliance. Thus, the opening of the Warsaw Conference had been postponed from April 25nd to Mid-May 1955. And just on 2nd May the East-European leaders were informed that the constitutive meeting in process of preparation will take place from 11th to 14th May 1955 in Warsaw11.

Just before the opening of the meeting at final preliminary consultations the defense and foreign ministers agreed on the final contents of the draft-documents. The Bulgarian Defense Minister, General Panchevski, accompanied by the Head of the Operational Department of the General Staff, colonel Atanas Semerdjiev, left for Warsaw as early as 6th of May and stayed there another three days after the end of the meeting12. In his memoirs Semerdjiev* states: “In the course of the next few days because of the full lack of information regarding my duties I felt extremely uneasy… Especially, since the instructions given to me in Sofia were rather scanty”13

The leaders of all invited delegations adopted unanimously the draft-treaty introduced at the fourth session, held on 13th of May and chaired by the Soviet Prime Minister, Nicolai A. Bulganin. The session lasted precisely twenty-five minutes. According to the provisions of the Treaty, the supreme leading body of the WTO was the Political Consultative Committee /PCC/. At a separate confidential session Soviet General Alexei I. Antonov, delivered a formal report regarding the proposed creation of a Joint Armed Forces /JAF/ at the newly inaugurated Warsaw Pact. A special decision to create Unified Command of the Armed Forces was also adopted. Marshal Ivan G. Konev was appointed as the first Supreme Commander of the JAF. According to the agreement his deputies were the defense ministers (or “other military leaders”) of the Pact member states. There was a provision to create a Staff of the JAF /SJAF/ with headquarters in Moscow. General Antonov was appointed as the first Chief of Staff. At the constitutive meeting no other organizational structures were rendered in definite form but §6 of the Warsaw Treaty which provided that at the Political Consultative Committee “auxiliary bodies” were to be created later on.

. II .

At this initial stage no special representatives of the Supreme Commander of the Joint Armed Forces are appointed at each individual member-army but the Soviet chief military advisers to the defense ministers act in this capacity to a considerable extent. Similarly to the previous years the head of the military advisers’ group fulfills the most important connecting and coordinating functions with the Soviet Defense Minisrty. The military attaches at the Soviet Embassies in East-European capitals have more limited, representative functions. By early 1955 the number of the Soviet military advisers in Bulgaria is 65, and with coming of the Warsaw Treaty in force that number is cut by half (to 31-37 people).

The correspondence of the Bulgarian Defense Minister, General Petar Panchevski and those of his first deputy, Col.-Gen. Ivan Kinov and the Chief of the General Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ivan Buchvarov for the period 1955 - 1956 make clear that the contacts with Moscow more often than not are established through the mediation of the chief Soviet military adviser. Only in a number of particularly important cases the contact is made directly with the Soviet Defense Minister, Marshal Georgii K. Zhukov or the Supreme Commander of the JAF, Marshal Konev. The part assigned to the military attaché at the Soviet Embassy in Sofia is strictly technical and relates to supply of information. The summarized reports of the Bulgarian military attaché in Moscow make evident that his contacts with the Unified Command and the Staff of the JAF are limited to officially formal and technical tasks. The Institution of the Soviet military advisers at East-European Armies remains in existence till May 1958 by which time it is decided that it should be replaced with the less numerous staff of the representation of the Warsaw Pact Supreme Commander. According to some memoirs, till 1969 the everyday activity of the Unified Command and the Staff of the JAF are carried out by the especially created for the purpose 10th Department of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces.

The establishment of the Warsaw Treaty Organization in May 1955 does not cause any significant changes in the position of dependence of the smaller East-European allies set up during Stalin’s rule. At the very moment of its creation the organization assigns specific observation and analysis tasks to each of its member states in regard of the fighting capacity and military power of their neighboring member states of the adversary NATO bloc. Thus Bulgaria and Romania share the charge to study the NATO intentions and actions in South Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean and Middle East area.

The key issues for the East-European political and military leaders are the NATO policy and strategy, the dislocation of its nuclear and missile weapons and the stationing of the US troops in Europe, the interdependence and contradictions among the members of the North-Atlantic Alliance. With no fail a place of importance is always given to the condition of all armed forces’ branches and their participation in NATO joint maneuvers and exercises.

Under the decision of the Warsaw meeting to establish an Unified Command, the JAF have to be located in the member-countries on the ground of separate agreements. In July-August 1955 bilateral agreements for keeping Soviet troops on the territories of Romania and Hungary were signed, since at the signing of the peace treaty with Austria their stay in those countries has lost its legal base. As a matter of fact that was one of the first practical steps resulting from the Warsaw Treaty signing.

On 7th September 1955 Nikita Khrushchev sent his East-European colleagues the draft of “Statute of the Unified Command of the JAF”. In it the functions and the rights of the Supreme Commander of the JAF and his deputies, the Staff of the JAF and the relations between the Staff and the General Staffs of the Pact member states were described in a most general way. Though some of the allies rushed to answer in affirmative to the proposed draft, within the very same month14, the final adoption of this document was adjourned to the forthcoming first regular session of the superior political body of the Warsaw Pact.

The session of the Political Consultative Committee took place on 27th – 28th January 1956 in Prague. The membership of the each one of the delegations showed that the Prague Conference was meant to give particular attention to the military aspects of the WTO organizational structure. Prime ministers or deputy-prime-ministers headed the delegations and in them, as a rule, the defense ministers were included, and in some cases - the chiefs of General Staffs. The only delegations in which the ministers of Foreign affairs had also been included were the Hungarian and the Czechoslovak delegations. The Deputy-Chairman of the People’s Republic of China’s Defense State Committee, Marshal Nie Rongjen attended the meeting as an observer. The documents show that regardless of his “observer’s status” he had an equal participation in the debates, entering suggestions on the agenda as well as the nature of the documents, subject of discussion.

Just as at the constitutive Warsaw Conference, at the PCC session in Prague the documents to be discussed had been previously agreed and the speeches of the Heads of the individual delegations were just informative. On the first item of the agenda the Supreme Commander of the JAF, Marshal Konev presented the draft of “The Statute of the Unified Command”. An item of the agenda was also “Organizational matters”. Those were matters regarding the structure and the membership of the SJAF as well as some problems related to the cooperation among the allied armies. The latter were mainly issues related to the standardization of weapons, the provision of an ample supply of modern combat material to the armies in a medium term plan and versatile military training. Actual undertakings in the field of military cooperation in 1956 were subject of deliberations too.

General Antonov, elected at the constitutive meeting as a Chief of Staff, in the documents of the Prague conference figured also as a Secretary General of the PCC. In this capacity he reported on some “organizational matters” regarding the structure and the activities of the Political Consultative Committee. First of all, the report referred to the establishment of two new auxiliary bodies at the PCC: Permanent Commission for recommendations on foreign policy issues and Joint Secretariat. Permanent Commission’s main task was to prepare the most important political recommendations, which in the form of appeals, declarations and other official documents were meant to present the WTO standing point in regard of the most significant problems of the current international situation. Another organizational item discussed at the Prague summit was the determination of the PCC sessions’ frequency– “not less frequently than twice a year”, a requirement which had never been implemented. The languages of all the member-countries were considered official languages of the alliance. As working languages German, Polish, Russian and Czech were accepted.

In compliance with the PCC decisions a multilateral meeting took place in Moscow in March 1956, its purpose was to coordinate “the defense production and the deliveries of military supplies among the USSR and the states of people’s democracy”. At additional consultations with Marshal Konev problems related to the combat and operational training of the armies were discussed, arranging at the same time the delivery of new Soviet aircraft, building of new airfields and antinuclear facilities in the East-European countries15. In May and June 1956 the bilateral negotiations regarding the delivery of new armament and equipment for the needs of the individual East-European armies were continued. On 30th June 1956 a long-term agreement on the production and mutual deliveries of weapons in the period 1957-1965 was signed. In the general agreement frame, bilateral agreements between individual East-European countries were concluded (for instance, the Bulgarian-Polish Agreement for armament deliveries in the period 1957-1960)16.

Regardless of the explicit requirement that PCC should meet at least once a year, its next session took place only two years later. In that period the multilateral political consultations were executed at Communist leaders’ meetings, the military and economic cooperation – at the CMEA’s Commission of Defense Industry, the foreign policy consultation – at working meetings of deputy foreign ministers level. As far as the military cooperation was concerned, its most characteristic forms at the time were bilateral meetings, discussions during joint exercises, consultations among representatives of the different East-European Armies in Moscow.

The official public WTO documentation did not state even a single fact of disagreement among the delegations. The classified minutes of the conferences of the permanent bodies of the organization, however, often contained enough evidence of difference and, sometimes, even controversy in attitudes, views and evaluations regarding some important issues. And while the public was aware mainly of the different reactions to the internal crises in Hungary –1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the Soviet - Chinese split, the confidential reports showed to the participants in these events the varying points of view of other government leaders of the Pact: of the Polish leadership (1956-1959), the Albanian leadership (after 1960), the Romanian leadership (after 1963). Some inner bilateral controversies also remained out of the official news releases (for instance, the ethnic dispute between Romania and Hungary regarding Transylvania). There were cases of disagreement also between two different groups within the Pact. For example, in the mid 1960s the GDR and Poland strongly opposed the intentions of the “Southern Tier” countries (Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria) to maintain more intensive contacts with West Germany, availing of the change in the Soviet position after the Berlin Crisis regulation17. Owing to its important geographic position in the center of Europe and its precarious international status (as well as the problem with the West Berlin status), the GDR often adopted more active and harder attitudes. The documents confirmed the theses of many Western scholars that in certain cases Walter Ulbricht and other GDR leaders were initiators of hard-line general decisions and that they attempted to influence the USSR line toward its “hardening”. Among all East-European countries the Bulgarian government was almost always the most loyal Soviet ally. There were cases when the Bulgarian representatives had even withdrawn their own proposals so that a joint position could be reached.

The different approach of the Soviet leadership toward the Polish and Hungarian events was motivated mainly by their ambitions to preserve at all costs the military viability of the multilateral East European organization created only a year earlier. While at his talks with the Polish leaders in Warsaw on 21st –22nd October 1956 Nikita Khrushchev gave way, albeit unwillingly, to their requirements and pressure, the most important reason for launching the Soviet military operation “Storm” in November in Hungary was the official statement of the Imre Nagy’s government that they had took the decision to leave the Warsaw Pact. Wladyslaw Gomulka’s government not only achieved to have Marshal Rokosovski released from the post of Polish defense minister and many Soviet military advisers sent back. In the course of the next few months it also succeeded in getting away with the unthinkable in East Europe before that liberty to have its own, special attitudes on a number of issues, at variance with the Moscow line. However, differently from the Hungarian government, the Polish leadership never stopped claiming that it always remained a loyal ally and member of the Warsaw Pact18. The Hungarian events of 1956 were a typical example of the “limited sovereignty”, expressed even more drastically in the so-called “Brezhnev Doctrine” a decade later during the Czechoslovak crisis.

The Kremlin position was determined by other strategic motives as well. During the whole period of the WTO existence the Central and Western Europe formed the so-called “forward echelon” in the global confrontation between the two blocs. The Balkan strategic direction obviously occupied a secondary place in the Soviet war plans, by which reason the Albanian estrangement and the Romanian “dissidence” at later dates did not evoke any attempts for forceful counteractions by Kremlin, especially since they were both with anti-capitalist orientation.

In 1957 at the highest state and party levels several bilateral and multilateral meetings took place. Among other issues the problems of the “consolidation of the defense power of the Socialist Camp” were discussed19. In the period 1957 - 1961 in result of the qualitative changes in the armaments and the new expert evaluations, stating a change in the co-relation of the forces of the two military blocs, the most essential elements of the new Soviet foreign policy and military doctrine were formed. It was later adopted by the smaller Pact member states. Three complex conclusions (with appropriate ideological argumentation) were among the motives for the new line:

1. It was subsequently affirmed that the “war is not fatally unavoidable” owing to the strength of the socialist camp and the national liberation movements which had brought about the breakdown of the colonial system of the imperialism.

2. According to Nikita Khrushchev and the other Soviet leaders the Soviet Union was already “ahead” of the United States in the military field.

3. According to the Soviet experts, the qualitative change in the technology and the nature of the weapons had predetermined the categorical viewpoint that a future war would inevitably assume the character of a “nuclear-missile war”, though at its initial stages ordinary conventional weapons might be also used. From this point of view the Western theories of the “restricted” or “local” wars were totally rejected.

The general spirit of the already described trends was very much pronounced in a speech that Bulgarian Communist leader Todor Zhivkov delivers on 29th June 1957 at a meeting of the heads of the Bulgarian diplomatic missions abroad: “The Soviet Union is already ahead of the imperialists in the field of modern armament … As it is known, the Soviet Union was the first to experiment successfully with a hydrogen bomb explosion… Soviet Union is ahead of the imperialists in the field of fighter aviation … The American imperialists are lagging behind with the missile weapons as well…”20 The military-technological euphoria of the East and the psychological stress of the West are further boosted by the launch of the first Soviet cosmic satellite “Sputnik” in October 1957.

At the meeting of the Communist Party and government leaders of East European countries (excluding Poland) which was held in Moscow from 1st to 4th January 1957 there is exchange of views on military matters as well. A place of particular importance was given to the modernization and organization of the Air Forces and the Anti-aircraft Defense Forces. In May 1957 on behalf of the Unified Command of the JAF a draft of “Basic Principles of organization of united AAD system of the countries members of the Warsaw Treaty” was delivered to the East European allies. This document was based on the main leading principles of coordination, subordination and control within the WTO military structures: “1. The incorporation of the Anti-aircraft Defense forces and materials of each one of the countries of the WTO does impair their subordination to their national commands … 3. The Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet AAD Forces performs the coordination of all the issues related to the AAD within the command system of the JAF. 4. The measures required within the united AAD system are undertaken by the Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet AAD Forces directly through the commanders of the AAD forces of the allied countries. The matters of principle, referred to the interaction of the AAD forces and materials of these countries are decided with the knowledge of the Supreme Commander of the JAF and the approval by the defense ministers…” 21

On 24th May 1958 in Moscow a new PCC session was held. The previous day a conference under the CMEA had been concluded. At it there were animated debates on item 2 of the agenda: “In regard of the coordination of the plans of production and mutual deliveries of armament and equipment”. The decisions adopted on this item predetermined in many aspects the further specialization and development of the defense industries of the individual WTO member-countries. In his statement on this item the Bulgarian Prime-minister Anton Yugov warned that when “the volume of the military deliveries is fixed, the economic possibilities and resources of each country should be taken into consideration”. In regard to the matter of the specialization in the “special production” field nearly all of the participants accepted the Soviet suggestion that conventional weapons would be produced in all East-European countries but “modern more-complicated technical devices, air-missiles, rocketry, etc. shall be produced only in the USSR.” The Polish representatives attempted to promote the idea that some models of air-missiles and combat jets might be produced in their country but left in isolation, they were compelled to give way and accept the Soviet proposal22. In consequence to that debate in November 1958 at a conference regarding the unified conscription plans of the WTO countries additionally agreed decisions were taken. Following a proposal of Nikita Khrushchev made on 27th February 1959, at the joint conference in May 1959 the WTO Defense Industry Commission was finally formed. That Commission functioned, however, within the CM?? frames23.

On the PCC session of 24th May 1958 the Supreme Commander Marshal Konev suggested a reduction in the armed forces with further 419 000 servicemen (of which - 300 000 Soviet troops), reminding that within the period 1955 – 1957 all WTO members reduced unilaterally their armies with a total of 2 477 000 (of which – 2 140 000 – Soviet troops)24. Marshal Ivan Konev backed his proposal with these words: “Now the Socialist Camp has Armed Forces capable to strike the enemy down at any point of the globe.” The participants unilaterally voted for the proposal to withdraw all Soviet troops from the territory of Romania and one Soviet division – from the territory of Hungary.

The data at our disposal prove that the declared withdrawal of one Soviet division from Hungary was actually a repetition of the Soviet official declaration of January 1958 of the already performed reduction of the Soviet troops present in the GDR (with 41 000 servicemen) and Hungary (with 17 000). The question of the Soviet forces’ withdrawal from Romanian territory was decided in Moscow not earlier than January 195825. The newly declassified Romanian documents show that officially this Soviet initiative was exposed for the first time in a Khrushchev’s letter to the Communist leadership in Bucharest on 17 April 1957. The withdrawal of the Soviet troops located in Romania (5 divisions) was accomplished in the period 15th June – 15th August 1958. The main reasons for this decision were: the public initiatives of the Soviet Union for reduction of all foreign troops in Europe, aiming to induce a reduction of the US troops located in West Germany; the extremely high self-assurance of the Soviet leadership, boosted by the qualitative changes in the armament and the consequently changed military doctrine; the reorientation of Kremlin’s durable attention from the Balkans to Central Europe26. It was, however, a part of a broader trend, initiated with the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Austria and Finland (Porkkala base) in 1955.

At the PCC Moscow session in May 1958 a specially created commission of the foreign ministers, chaired by the Soviet foreign minister, Andrey Gromyko became functional for the first time. At the plenary session the Commission of the Foreign Ministers presented a draft of joint Declaration and a draft of Non-aggression Pact between the Warsaw Pact and NATO countries. In the final communiqué there was a formal statement that “full unanimity” had been achieved on the issues and documents discussed. Confidential information delivered at the CC BCP plenary session held after the return of the Bulgarian delegation from Moscow, however, mentioned certain arguments “mainly with the Polish comrades”27.

The forming of the Commission of the Foreign Ministers during the PCC session in May 1958 marked, though in a rudimentary form, the onset of the creation of specialized committees, independently of the preparation for the PCC sessions themselves. The final institutionalization of such bodies took a whole decade but in the period 1959-1969 the so-called Conferences of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Defense were convened periodically as well.

The next PCC session, held on 4th February 1960, was called mainly in response to the aggravation of the “German issue”. For the first time in Pact’s five-year history at a conference of its highest ruling body representatives of North Korea, Mongolia, and North Vietnam took part as observers. (In the official releases in its regard the name of North Vietnam was not included so that the Ho Chi Min government could not be blamed for “breaking the provisions of the Geneva Agreements”). The Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev gave place also to the modernization of the Soviet Armed Forces by equipping them with the newest most technically advanced weaponry, particularly underlining the importance of the missiles’ use in a contemporary warfare. In his speech Khrushchev also mentioned that the military superiority of the USSR allowed the consideration for the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Poland and Hungary in the near future. However, this issue never found any further development in the years to come.

The Supreme Commander of the JAF, Marshal Konev reported on item 2 of the agenda. According to him in 1959 the Joint Armed Forces implemented an “improvement in the quality of the WP troops, in regard of their supply with new combat materials and most modern weapons”. The conclusion made was that the “Warsaw Pact Joint Armed Forces were in a position to give a crushing retaliation in response to the imperialists”28.

In the joint declaration of the PCC summit of 4th February 1960 together with the “German problem” the issue of the disarmament was accentuated as a problem holding a close second place of importance. The decision of the Soviet government to undertake unilateral reduction of its Armed Forces with 1 200 000 people, i.e. – 1/3 of its military personnel was stated. A month after the PCC meeting, during the visit of a Bulgarian military delegation in Moscow the Bulgarian “friends” were offered an explanation by Soviet General Staff commanders that: “We are in a special situation – the decision to reduce our troops … We do not reduce our combat readiness but we are in process of a large scale reorganization and will make clear that when the number of the troops is reduced, special measures should be taken and the fighting value and the fighting capacity of our Army must be improved tremendously …”29

. III .

In 1958 - 1960 a new military doctrine was formulated in the USSR. Although previous regulation and normative documents since early 50's had also included as a primary task the preparedness of the Armed Forces to fight in terms of a nuclear strike, the new military doctrine determined the inevitability of a general "rocket-nuclear war". The Soviet leaders' views were well manifested at a top secret Warsaw Pact Unified Military Command meeting in October 1960 in Moscow. The Chief of Staff, Gen. Antonov underlined in his basic report the perspectives for battle actions with the use of nuclear and missile weapons. The Supreme Commander of Warsaw Pact Armed Forces Marshall Andrey Grechko argued in his own report that future wars would begin by using missile-nuclear weapon within the full enemy's territory and not only against selected tactical targets. Of great importance was also the statement of the Soviet Defense Minister Marshall Rodion Malinovski: "Speaking that we cannot strike first does not mean that we shall wait to be struck first. This means exactly that our work should be maintained in such a way that if we receive immediate information about enemy’s intentions to deliver a blow against us we shall be ready at that very moment to get ahead of them, and our rocket-nuclear strikes shall immediately find the enemy's targets." Further on Marshall Malinovski assured its East European partners: "In case of emergency you will receive the necessary rocket-nuclear weapons and you will use them as you wish. Hence, you have to be trained to use such rocket-nuclear weapons"30. Following those instructions the local military commanders planned adequate measures. A Bulgarian Minister of Defense' directive defined as a main task the ability to discovery enemy’s missile sites and to be prepared for a surprise nuclear attack by the NATO countries31.

From 1960 on conferences of the commanders or of the senior personnel representatives of the Warsaw Pact armies of this kind were held once a year and as a matter of fact they played the part of the future Military Council. From the next year, 1961, on regular conferences of the defense ministers were also held. They actually had the functions of a specialized Committee of the Defense Ministers. Another form of mutual consultations and exchange of experience were the organized from the 1960s on command assemblies at which usually all ministers of defense and chiefs of General Staffs were present.

At the PCC regular session in Moscow, taking place from 28th to 29th March 1961 new steps for “further consolidation of the defense capability” of the WTO were discussed. On 29th March with a special decision the Statute of the Supreme Commander’s Special Representatives Institution at the allied armies was approved. In addition to the chief Unified Command’ representative who coordinated the activities of the armed forces and was attached directly to the local defense minister with a limited group of officers and technical assistants at his disposal, the Representation included also senior officers attached to the General Staffs of the Army, Air Forces, and the Navy.

On 8th – 9th September 1961 in Warsaw for the fist time a separate meeting of the Warsaw Pact defense ministers was held. The Supreme Commander of the JAF, Marshal Andrey Grechko delivered a report, and “practical matters related to the improvement of the combat readiness of the troops comprising the Joint Armed Forces” were discussed. Immediately after the delegation had come back from Moscow, the Bulgarian Minister of Defense, General Ivan Mihailov in a report of his dated 15th September and addressed to the Communist leadership of the country suggested a number of measures for “improving the combat readiness of the Bulgarian People’s Army”. At a meeting, held on 20th September the CC BCP Politburo adopted a special resolution No. 230 “On the consolidation of the defense capabilities of the country”32. This is a typical example for the way in which the decision making process on military issues was functioning within the East European countries - the Soviet military “recommendations” were adopted immediately by the political leadership and addressed further as directives or resolutions to the local Armed Forces commandment.

Soon after the first conference of the defense ministers a second one was called in Prague on 30th January – 1st February 1962. The “matters of consolidation of the JAF” were further discussed there. At the next meeting of the defense ministers, held in Warsaw in February 1963 a subject of discussion was the securing of the defense of the allied countries from an anti-nuclear attack. From 1964 on conferences of the General Staffs chiefs were also independently held.

The main principles of the new Soviet military doctrine were made public by some publications and speeches of the Soviet military commanders and formed the ground for the first Soviet “Military Strategy”, edit?d by Marshal Vasilii S. Sokolovski in 1962. It was published subsequently in other East-European countries, too. As early as 1963 during the training-methodical assemblies of the commanding personnel the main postulates of the new Soviet doctrinal concepts were explained. Later on they were adopted as leading defense principles for all Warsaw Pact member-countries, and new “Field Manuals” and “Instructions” destined for the different branches were predefined and introduced in mid-60s.

As early as the beginning of the 1960s differences of approach toward cardinal international issues and security policy were clearly observed among the various circles existing in the international communist movement. The main controversy was between Moscow and Beijing but in fact it was the leadership of the small Balkan state of Albania that adopted the firmest position of a hard-liner’s non-compromise during the initial sharp dispute in 1960. In turn, that affected also the activities of the Warsaw Treaty Organization. The last time in the history of the Warsaw Pact an Albanian Delegation was present at a session of the Pact’s Political Consultative Committee was in March 1961. The delegation’s attitude was defiant and provocative, and later on Albania refused invitations to participate in whatsoever joint sessions of the organization’s bodies.33 With such a situation on hand, it was Todor Zhivkov who actually took the initiative to have Albania expelled from the Warsaw Pact. A special letter addressed to Nikita Khrushchev had been prepared, suggesting, “to refer the matter concerning the behavior and actions of the Albanian leaders to the PCC for consideration and relevant conclusions” 34. At that time, however, the Albanian leaders themselves declined any further participation in the organization though the country continued to be formally considered its member till as late as September 1968.

At the next meeting of the East European Party leaders in early June 1962 it was decided in principle that such summits should be held at least once a year35. That decision in practice pre-decided the frequency of the PCC sessions as the meetings of the Party leaders usually extended into sessions of the Political Consultative Committee. When there were international conflicts or inner political crises in the Pact countries some extraordinary meetings of the senior Party and state leaders were called up as well. For instance, in relation to the Berlin crisis on 7th August 1961 an emergency meeting was held in East Berlin, on 9th June 1967 an urgent meeting was called in connection with the Middle East war, and in the next year, 1968 the “Prague Spring” induced several discussions (in which Romania did not take part) - in Bratislava, in Warsaw, and in Moscow. From as early as Khrushchev’s time the informal multilateral meetings played an important part, too. Khrushchev’s successor, Leonid Brezhnev, tried to turn these meetings into an annual event (the so-called Crimean meetings of the 1970s).

The main topic of the PCC session, held in Warsaw on 19th - 20th January 1965, was “Points of view of the Warsaw Pact member-countries in regard of the NATO plans for establishing multinational nuclear forces”. It was decided at the preliminary ministerial meeting in December 1964 that no joint report would be prepared and each delegation would individually make clear its own views. It was agreed as well, differently from the previous years, that no observers from China, Mongolia, North Korea, and North Vietnam would be invited, regardless of the fact that the Vietnam War was tactile in all discussions at the meeting. At a proposal from Romania a special invitation was sent also to the government of Albania. In its detailed answer (22 pages) the Albanian leadership in rather blunt and explicit terms presented several preliminary conditions – denouncement of the Moscow Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which according to them was ”in the interest of the American imperialists - warmongers”, and “material compensation to Albania for the damages caused by the USSR ”. In the same time the Albanian leadership required that in response to the disposition of nuclear weapons in the West Germany “all socialist countries should be armed with nuclear weapons”. At the receipt of such a message the PCC of the WTO unanimously decided that any “further participation of Albania in the Warsaw Pact activity depends on the decision of the Albanian leadership itself”36.

At the PCC Warsaw meeting in January 1965 following the tradition and in the spirit of the previous years the main speech was delivered by the new Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, who had replaced Nikita Khrushchev three months earlier. He put the accent on the necessity of adequate counter-action to the program of NATO nuclear armament and informed the other delegations of what the USSR was undertaking “for the improvement of the newest types of weapons”. Together with that in view of the US and NATO concept about “local wars”, Brezhnev drew the attention to the “improvement of the conventional weapons as well”. This first indication of change in the Moscow views regarding the possibility of “local wars” during the nuclear era was caused to a considerable extent by the development of the Vietnam war and it evoloved further on, influnced by the develompment of the Middle East conflict.

The East-European leaders in their speeches accentuated the topics of their own interest – Walter Ulbricht spoke about the militarization of the West Germany, Wladyslaw Gomulka – of the futher development of the Polish initiative for creating a collective security system in Europe, Gheorghe Gheorghiu - Dej appealed for a policy leading to “gradual dissolution of military blocs”, and Todor Zhivkov insisted on improving the economic cooperation among the socialist countries. In his report, the JAF Supreme Commander, Marshal Grechko offered a review of the corelation between the NATO and Warsaw Pact forces and put forward the matter of “introducing new weapons and military equipment in the Warsaw Pact armies.”

By the end of the 1960s following the experience resulting from of the Middle East and Indochina wars, the Unified Command of the Joint Armed Forces changed their previous strategic concepts in regard of the inevitability of a “nuclear missile war”. In exercises and maneuvers, carried out from that time on, a participation in “local wars” with of conventional armament was foreseen. Thus, for instance, the Directive for the Training of the Warsaw Pact Joint Armed Forces of 1969 pointed out as an important weakness in the military training before that time the fact that ”… the possibilities of conducting continuous fight without the use of nuclear weapon are not considered…37

. IV .

The PCC Warsaw Session in January 1965 put a special accent on the “improvement in the structure of the WTO General Headquarters’ commanding bodies”. In the course of the discussions held on this matter convincing arguments based on the much better commanding structure and methods of the NATO Headquarters and its regional military staffs were put forward to prove that in consequence the organizational structure of the commanding bodies at the PCC and the WP’ Headquarters had to be improved. During these discussions, however, the Romanian delegation opposed the establishment of a “permanent consultative committee of the foreign ministers” and a Unified Command of the Armed Forces’ General Staffs. Owing to the opposition of the Romanian representatives, the matter regarding the structural changes in the commanding bodies of the Warsaw Pact was postponed till an agreement on it was reached in a special working group38.

Even before the death of the Romanian Party leader Gheorghiu-Dej, tension in the relations between Romania and its neighboring WP member countries was observed but it became even more pronounced when Dej’s successor Nicolae Ceausescu came to power in April 1965. After his meeting with Ceausescu in the summer of 1965, for instance, Todor Zhivkov shared with Bulgarian Politburo members his impression that there was “coolness and tension” in the Bulgarian - Romanian relations (for example, in regard of the use of the River Danube). He added also that “certain demonstration of Romanian nationalism” should not be dramatized since the whole exchange of goods and energy resources as well as all links of communication between Bulgaria and the USSR passed through the territory of Romania39. That was the main reason to establish a direct Black Sea ferryboat line ten years later securing additional means of communication between Bulgaria and the USSR, not going through Romanian territory.

The essential improvement of the Warsaw Pact command military bodies turned into an issue of growing weight at the bi-lateral meetings consequently held during the next few months. In February 1966 a special discussion of the WP deputy foreign ministers was held in Berlin. At the same time another meeting of the chiefs of staff of the allied armed forces was organized in Moscow. On it a packet of proposals for changes in the structure of the military commanding bodies was delivered. The acceptance of these proposals was blocked by the Romanian delegation’s irrevocably adverse attitude on practically all points. Their main objection was directed against the general idea of the proposed structural changes - the Romanian side seconded limitation of the General Staff’s role and functions instead of building up effective coalition commanding military bodies which, according to the Romanians, would bring about “violation of the national high commands’ sovereignty”. The Romanians categorically rejected the eventual establishment of a Military Council at the PCC consisting of the member states’ defense ministers. Instead, they suggested creating a Military Council at the General Staff at deputy-ministerial level whose resolution should be adopted “with absolute majority only” but which nevertheless should come into force only after being ratified by the allied governments. As far as the improvements of the functions and structure of the WTO’ Unified Command was concerned, the Romanians insisted on having its activities reduced to “exchange of military information”. There was also a proposal to appoint military commanders from all WP member countries at the posts of Supreme Commander and Chief of Staff and to liquidate the Institute of the Soviet Permanent Representatives at the General Staff of each member-country.

Indeed, in view of such serious and essential objections on the part of Romania, it was impossible to accept those proposals with due consensus. Part of the observations proposed were taken into consideration and in May 1966 at a conference of the defense ministers of the WP member-states a new Soviet proposal regarding “The statute of the Unified Armed Forces and WP Military Bodies Structure” was accepted. Since the new proposals had been nearly unanimously approved, the Romanian Minister of Defense also signed the documents, with reserve only in regard of the functions, subordination and name of the Military Council40.

Similar discussions sprang up at the preparatory consultations of the deputy-foreign ministers on 3rd – 4th June 1966 as well as at those of the foreign ministers on 7th –15th June 1966. At the discussions on the draft of the decision “for the improvement of the Warsaw Pact activities” entered by the GDR delegation the main objections were voiced again by the Romanian representatives. The Romanian foreign minister, Mania Manescu declared: “It is not feasible to regulate the activity of the PCC …To limit the consultations within the frames of set rules would mean to rob the cooperation among the countries of its flexibility and efficiency…” The Soviet foreign minister, Andrey Gromyko fended off: “We are placed in a most awkward position … A whole lot of the PCC activities is not regulated … It is to the PCC’s own interest to be able to take decisions. If it is limited to consultations only, the Warsaw Treaty Organization will not function efficiently. We must reach agreement. Look at the West – at the NATO bloc – everything undertaken organizationally functions with perfect precision. Their organizational system acts nearly automatically … Indeed, the Western countries would not do something that would harm them, and if this is not in their best interests they would not have followed this method…” Because of the Romanian position no joint stand-point was reached on that item of the agenda. The Bulgarian foreign minister even decided not to deliver a Bulgarian draft of “The Statute of the PCC” for discussion at the conference41.

Regardless of all the preparatory work carried out, the PCC summit held on July 4th-6th 1966 in Bucharest was marked with serious discord on many points. On the eve of the meeting the Romanian Defense Minister suddenly declared that he was canceling his signing the agreement regarding structure changes in the alliance military bodies reached in May, last. Consequently, the PCC faced a situation when it was impossible to reach unanimous decision and that point of the Agenda was never entered for discussion at a plenary session. In that respect a resolution of a most general character was passed, i.e. - “Consultations on this topic are to be continued for the sake of improving the organization of the Joint Armed Forces (JAF)”.

The issue concerning the structural changes was on the Agenda of the next regular PCC session held on March 6 - 7 1968 in Sofia. The formal motion for calling up the summit had come from Nicolae Ceausescu who put forward a Romanian initiative for a declaration regarding “the issue of nuclear weapons restriction”, discussed in the UN Committee of the 18th. After preliminary consultations with Moscow, the Bulgarian leadership accepted in its capacity of host to the next PCC conference the proposal to fix its date for the beginning of March. The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through its Embassy in Hanoi agreed with the North Vietnamese government the main accents of the PCC Declaration, in process of preparation, regarding the Vietnam war.

The main bone of contention at the Sofia summit continued to be the problem of the necessary organizational changes in the WTO structure. In February 1968 in Prague a preliminary meeting of the chiefs of the allied General Staffs takes place. On it draft documents were discussed and adopted in regard of the status of a future Military Council with consultative functions, creating expanded Unified Command and a Technical Committee to be comprised of generals and officers of the allied armies proportionally represented. At the insistence of the bigger part of the delegations the matter of the dissolution of the Supreme Commander’s permanent representatives Institution was not put forward. Instead a compromise was reached, ruling that its practical involvement should be matter of “mutual bilateral agreements”.

With the very first item of the agenda, which was the Romanian proposal referred to the declaration for “nuclear weapons restriction”, a lively discussion began. According to Alexander Dubcek, Wladyslaw Gomulka, Willy Stoff and Alexei Kosigin entering such proposals would delay and sabotage the final adoption of the draft treaty, while Janos Kadar characterized them as “unrealizable”. The most important debate, however, was on item three of the agenda. In his report the Supreme Commander of the JAF, Marshal Ivan I.Yakubovski stated that the organizational and structural changes were exigent, owing mainly to the revolutionary changes in the military science, NATO achievements with the improvement of its military bodies as well as the quick, full capacity rearmament of the WTO armies with new modern weapons and military equipment. It was concluded that “the existing military command structures proved to have neither the legal base nor the composition adequate to decide in full the matters related to securing the defense capability of the countries of the socialist alliance. Particularly alarming is the lag in creating new bodies for coalition command in wartime… It is well known that the lack of allied command was one of the main reason for the defeat of the Arab countries in the war of June 1967”.

Principle agreement was reached on the documents on the statute of the Military Council, Unified Command, and Technical Committee but Nicolae Ceausescu objected to the adoption of these documents before the final “Statute of the WTO functions” had been entered. Following the Romanian motion, the PCC for a second time decided to postpone the acceptance of the documents about the structure changes, charging the defense ministers to enter the finally agreed proposals within a term of 6 months42.

Indeed, in the course of the next few months for the purpose of reaching a favorable decision on the long postponed problem of structural reforms in the JAF bodies of the WP, active consultations, both - bi-laterally and multilaterally, were being carried out at different levels. Thus, for instance, on April 23rd 1968 during his talks with Alexander Dubcek in Prague Todor Zhivkov, did not miss the chance to point out among other things: “Ripe is the necessity to give a more prominent role of the Unified Command of the WP Joint Forces. Obviously, we cannot calmly accept the fact that NATO has created a well regulated organization of its Allied Forces while we keep on arguing on certain points for years and are not in a position to reach a decision on them43.” In compliance with the adopted at the Sofia summit decision, in April - May 1968 Marshal Yakubovski held a series of consultations with the East European defense ministers and the state and Party leaders of Romania. Regardless of the extremely complicated situation in connection of the events in Czechoslovakia and the invasion of Warsaw Pact forces in its territory, further consultations at deputy-chiefs’ of General Staffs and deputy-defense ministers’ levels were held in September 1968.

At a meeting of the defense ministers on October 29 - 30 1968 in Moscow the documents under the following titles were approved: “Statute of the Joint Armed Forces”, “Statute of the Defense Ministers’ Committee”, “Statute of the JAF’ Unified Command”, “Statute of the Military Council”, “Statute of the Technical Committee” as well as “Statute of the Allied System of Air-defense”. That time the Romanian representatives signed the draft documents with one reserve only in regard of a point in the draft-proposal about the JAF (the one about the “war-time right of the JAF Staff to place armed forces on the territory of a respective country in accordance with the operational plans and with the agreement of the government of the country in question”)44 .

The very PCC session at which the structural changes in the joint commanding bodies of the WP’ JAF, postponed for several years, were at last approved took place on March 17th 1969 in Budapest. Just before the opening of the conference a half an hour meeting of the Party and state leaders of the Pact member-countries took place. On it the agenda was finally agreed. Leonid Brezhnev informed that the text of an appeal for the preparation and holding of a Conference for Securiy and Cooperation in Europe has been agreed without any differences. Therefore, the main item in the agenda of the Budapest Conference remained the issue of the structural changes in the military bodies of the organization. The Supreme Commander of the JAF, Marshal Yakubovski reported on this topic. He reminded of the consultations and working meetings in the period following the Sofia Conference of March 1968 and announced the decisions of the defense ministers meeting of the end of October 1968. According to the proposed Statutes of the Committee of the Defense Ministers, it was stipulated that the same would be a military body of the JAF, the main functions of which would be “working out agreed recommendations and proposals for consolidation of the defense capability” and “improvement of the combat readiness of the Joint Armed Forces” of the alliance. In the new “Statutes of the JAF and the Unified Command” the “targets and the organizational principles of the Armed Forces, the Unified Command’s structure and control bodies” were specified. A separate proposal is made for establishing a Military Council as a main body of the JAF with consultative functions. The proposed document in regard of the Military Council functions explicitly specifies that it should consider “the matters concerning the state and development of the JAF”, i.e. – having in mind the previous Romanian attitude, it is obvious that after discussing the different standing points a certain compromise was reached. Normative documents providing the establishment of Joint AAD system and a Technical Committee were also presented. To the documents introducing the Military Council and the Technical Committee diagrams about the size, composition and structure of these new JAF bodies were enclosed.

There were no objections in principle to the presented documents in the speeches following Marshal Yakubovski’s report. Leonid Brezhnev, Janos Kadar, Walter Ulbricht, Wladyslaw Gomulka, Todor Zhivkov and the Chairman of the Meeting, Alexander Dubcek expressed their unconditional agreement to have those documents entered for the approbation of the Political Consultative Committee. The following arguments were expressed in the speech of the leader of the Bulgarian delegation: “The consolidation of the military command of the Warsaw Pact is made imperative also by the fact that our probable opponents – the NATO countries - despite their differences succeeded to create an integral system of military control … The establishment of the Committee of the Defense Ministers regulates factually an already existing practice … The creation of Staff of the JAF’ Unified Command will introduce a better correlation in the activities of the national armies …”

That time Nicolae Ceausescu also accepted the texts of the presented statutory documents and made only one formal alteration - instead of “Resolution of the PCC” he required the statement that the documents were accepted with a “Resolution of the delegations or the government of the countries-members of the Warsaw Pact.45 This insignificant formal requirement was accepted and included in the final official statement of the conference46.

Thus the process of elaboration of the coalition control of the Joint Armed Forces which took 14 years found its successful conclusion. At the Budapest PCC summit the statute of one of the two main auxiliary bodies at the PCC – The Committee of the Defense Ministers was finally validated too47. In the course of the next few years the complete WTO structure was finally built up through the normative regulation of the “legal rights, privileges and immunity” of the members of the command, control & coordination bodies (1974); the composition of the Committee of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Unified Secretariat (1976), and the Statute of the Unified Command in war time period (1980). As the table below shows, the representation of the members in the military command bodies of the JAF was determined mainly by the respective relative share of the individual national army in the joint defense force of the alliance48. According to General Wojciech Jaruzelski memoir, however, after the JAF’s Staff had been formed, of the 523 people comprising it only 173 were representatives of the East-European countries (43 of them from the Polish Army) while the remaining 350 were military personnel of the Soviet Army49.



Country Army Divisions Air Forces Aircrafts Navy Vessels Totals WP Staff
Hungary 95 000 6 7 000 140 - - 102 000 6.0%
GDR 85 000 6 25 000 270 16 000 184 136 000 6.0%
Bulgaria 125 000 12 22 000 250 6 000 31 153 000 7.0%
Romania 150 000 9 15 000 240 8 000 63 173 000 10.0%
Czechoslovakia 175 000 14 50 000 600 - - 225 000 13.0%
Poland 185 000 15 70 000 750 19 000 134 274 000 13.5%
USSR 2 000 000 140 305 000 10 000 465 000 2 000 2 770 000 44.5%
TOTAL 2 815 000 202 494 000 12 250 514 000 2 412 3 833 000 100%


. V .

It would be symptomatic to reveal as well the NATO attitudes and evaluations toward its adversary bloc’s structural and doctrinal evolution. The Western experts did not paid much formal attention to the announcements of the Warsaw Treaty organization during its initial years of existence, commenting only the fact that they were definitely Soviet initiatives, distributed to the smaller East European governments just for immediate implementation. Until mid-60s a typical definition for the Pact countries was just “Soviet satellites”, and only in late 60s and early 70s (i. e. after the introduction of more effective organizational structure and more dynamic relationship) different expressions like “Soviet allies” and “Warsaw Pact countries” started to circulate within the NATO circles. However, until the early 80s the North Atlantic Alliance leaders rejected to consider the Warsaw Pact as an independent and purely legitimate regional defense organization.

Quite a reliable source for such attitude were the US Central Intelligence Agency special National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) on Soviet bloc political and military capabilities and policy, which had been made available a decade ago50. Until early 60s the CIA NIEs were describing the Warsaw Pact structure and activity as an “empty of real contents” Soviet creature under “full Soviet control”. However, after the peak of the new global confrontation – the Berlin and Cuban missiles crises in 1961 – 1962, the US and NATO commentary became more serious. Thus, a NIE-11-14-62 of 5 December 1962, and another NIE-11-14-63 of 8 January 1964, underlined: “In addition to its obvious role as a political counter to NATO and a symbol of Bloc solidarity, the Warsaw Pact military command has served as a convenient instrument for the further standardization of satellite doctrine and procedures along Soviet lines. A relatively large amount of combined training of Soviet and satellite units has been held under its auspices…”

The disagreement within the WTO in regard of the alliance’s military structure reforms did not remain a secret to the USA and NATO experts, and it resulted in several confidential commentary reports. Thus, in the CIA SNIE 11-15-66 of 4 August 1966, and the CIA NIE 11-14-66 of 8 November 1966 it was pointed out: “In recent years the East European members of the Warsaw Pact, especially Romania, have shown an increasing tendency to assert their own national interests and to resist Soviet dictation. Nevertheless, these Communist regimes value the Pact as a Soviet quarantee of their survival and territorial integrity. Their object is not to dissolve the Pact, but to gain a greater voice in its decisions… In parallel with this political development, however, the USSR has been seeking to strenghten the military command structure of the Pact and to improve the military effectiveness of the East European armed forces… If present trends toward autonomy continue, the Pact will evolve toward a conventional military alliance and the range of contingencies in which the USSR can rely on effective support from its East European allies will narrow.”

After the Warsaw Pact forces invasion in Czechoslovakia the Western experts discussed in particular the reliability of the East European armies. In another CIA NIE 11-17-68 of 8 October 1968 there were addressed the effects of the intervention in Czechoslovakia on the disposition and capabilities of the Warsaw Pact forces opposing NATO in the Central Region. One of the conclusions within the Estimate underlined the probable decrease of the smaller allied armies reliability in the Kremlin’s war planes: “Recent events may have made the Soviet leaders less disposed than in the past to rely on East European armies, and this could result in broad changes in the future posture and disposition of Warsaw Pact forces… The Czechoslovak situation is but the latest in a series of developments putting in question the reliability of East European forces – Romanian insubordination, the abortive Bulgarian military coup, and Polish military disgruntlement at involvement in the Middle East crisis in 1967… Soviet concern on this account may result in broad changes in Warsaw Pact organization and troop disposition…”51 The real organizational changes in the Warsaw Pact military and political structures at the Budapest PCC summit in March 1969 was subject of animated discussion in NATO headquarters. In a US State Department’s Intelligence Note of 18 March 1969 the Budapest meeting results were described as a “closer integration with variation.”52

The evolution process of the Warsaw Pact organizational structure demonstrated several main features and specifics in the character of this East-European military and political alliance. They could be made even more discernible if outlined against the background of the parallel process of re-structuring of the commanding bodies of NATO. While during the initial period of the NATO history particular accent was put on the military character of the alliance, and by 1955 the harmonious structure of the coalition command bodies and specialized committees had been completed53, the civil-and-political and information-and-technological structures were developed and elaborated in the second half the 1950s and the 1960s

Contrary to NATO, the original orientation in the activities of the WTO Political Consultative Committee was toward the development of coordinative-consultative and political functions at senior representatives of the executive authority level. The East-European communist leaders who as a matter of fact were the real bearers of undisputable personal authority had formal and effective participation in the PCC work only from the early 1960s on. That was the time, at which the voids and shortcomings of the functioning mechanisms of the organization from the point of view of its coalition nature were perceived.

For many years the Warsaw Pact structure remained generally outlined and rudimentary which was caused mainly by the absolute subordination to the Soviet military command in Moscow from as early as Stalin’s times. Till the early 1960s all most important directives, decisions and recommendation of military nature were taken by the Soviet Ministry of Armed Forces and the Soviet High Command and more often than not were transferred “down” to the lesser partners through the Soviet military representatives in the East-European capitals. The objective qualitative changes in the military science and art made imperative the reconsideration of this practice and stimulated the interest in improvement of the coalition command bodies of the JAF. The main purpose of that was to secure a legal base and reliable enough military commanding structures for effective interaction and coordination among the allied armies both - in times of peace and war. That purpose was not achieved to the last day of the Pact’s functioning regardless of the new regulating documents adopted in March 1980 and the quite delayed attempts for more radical reforms in the organization at the end of the 1980s


This Paper has been presented at an International Conference in June 2003 in Spitzbergen Island, Norway, and was published in an abridged version in Bulgarian in 125 godini ot osvobojdavaneto na Bulgaria i vuzstanoviavaneto na bulgarska armiia [125 years since the liberation of Bulgaria and reestablishment of Bulgarian Armed Forces], Sofia 2003, p. 62-75.

[1] Peter Feaver & Richard Kohn /Eds./, Soldiers and civilians: the civil-military gap and American national security, (Harvard University, 2001), p. 2-3, 249-250, 255-257.

[2] For instance: Vojtech Mstny, Learning from the Enemy. NATO as a Model for the Warsaw Pact (Zurich 2001); “The New History of Cold War Alliances”, Journal of Cold War History, No. 2, Spring 2002, pp. 55-84

[3] Jordan Baev, “Bulgaria I suzdavaneto na Varshavskija dogovor” [Bulgaria and the creation of the Warsaw Pact] –, Voennoistoricheski sbornik [Military History Journal] (Sofia, 1995), No. 4, p. 39-61; “Izgrazhdane na voennite strukturi na Varshavskija dogovor. 1955-1969” [Building of the Warsaw Pact’ Military Structures.1955-1969] – Voennoistoricheski sbornik [Military History Journal], (Sofia, 1997), No. 5, p. 56-77; “Suvetskijat suyuz I izgrazhdaneto na Bulgarskite vuorazheni sili. 1956-1964]” [The Soviet Union and the Building of the Bulgarian Armed Forces. 1956-1964. In: Bulgaria v sverata na suvetskite interesi [Bulgaria in the Soviet sphere of interests], (Sofia, 1998), p. 104-117; “Bulgaria and the political crises in Czechoslovakia - 1968 and Poland - 1980/1981” – Cold War International History Project Bulletin, (Washington, 1998), Issue 11, p. 96-101; “Die Politischen Krisen in Osteuropa in der Mitte der funfziger Jahre und die bulgarische Staatsfuhrung” In: Das Internationale Krisenjahr 1956, (Munchen, 1999), p. 297-313; Bulgaria in the Warsaw Pact. A CD ROM Documentary Volume, (Sofia, 2000); “The Irresistible Collapse of the Warsaw Pact: Documents from Bulgarian Archives, 1985-1991”. PHP on NATO and the Warsaw Pact website, (Zurich, 2000), etc.

[4] For instance: Anatolii Gribkov, Sudba Varshavskogo dogovora: Vospominaniya, dokumenty, fakty [The fate of the Warsaw Treaty: Recollections, documents, and facts], (Moscow 1998); Atanas Semerdjiev, Prezhivyanoto ne podlezhi na obzhalvane [There is no appeal for the survived years], (Sofia, 1999); Stroitelstvoto na Bulgarskite vuorazheni sili. Istoria I politika [The Building of the Bulgarian Armed Forces. History and Policy], (Sofia 2002), etc.

[5] K. J. Holsti, International Politics. A Framework for Analysis, (Prentice Hall, N. J., 1983), p. 109 – 110.

[6] Central State Archive [CDA], Sofia, Fond 147-B, Record 2, File 67, p. 1-8; Fond 317-B – Hand notes about meetings with Stalin.

[7] Central State Archive [CDA], Sofia, Fond 1-B, Record 64, File. 124; C. Cristescu, “Ianuarie 1951: Stalin decide Inarmarea Romaniei [January 1951: Stalin decided to rearm Romania], Magazin Istorie, Bucharest, No. 10, 1995, pp. 15-23.

[8] Novoe Vremja [New Time], Moscow, 1954, No. 4, p. 1-4; Collective Security, Miscellaneous No. 13, (HMSO, London, May 7, 1954), Cmd. 9146; Le Monde, Paris, 10 mai 1954.

[9]  CDA, Fond 1-B, Record 5, File 159, pp. 4-8.

[10]  Central Military Archive [CVA], Veliko Tarnovo, Fond 1, Record 3, File 17, p. 8

[11] Vojtech Mastny, “We Are in a Bind. Polish and Czechoslovak Attemts at reforming the Warsaw Pact, 1956-1969”, CWIHP Bulletin, (Washington 1998), Issue 11, p. 230.

[12] CVA,  Fond 1, Record 3, File 17, p. 154

[13] Atanas Semerdjiev, Op. Cit., p. 171.

[14] Todor Zhivkov’s affirmative response was sent on 29 September 1955 – CDA, Fond 1-B, Record 64, File 218.

[15] CDA, Fond 1-B, Record 64, File 226.

[16]  CVA, Fond 1, Record 3, File 44, p. 52; Fond 22, Record 1, File 359, p. 143-146.

[17] Douglas Selvage, “The Warsaw Pact is Dissolving: Poland, the GDR and Bonn’s Ostpolitik, 1966-1967” – NATO, the Warsaw Pact and the Rise of Détente, 1965-1972, (Dobbiaco, Italy, 27 September 2002).

[18]  The fate of the Soviet armies located at Polish territory was regulated with a bilateral agreement of 17th December 1956. The government of the Soviet Union concluded similar agreements with GDR (12th March 1957), Romania (15th April 1957) and Hungary (27th May 1957).

[19]  CDA, Fond 1 B, Record 5, File 270, p. 240.

[20]  Ibid, p. 235 - 236.

[21] remained a subject of discussion in the course of the next few years as well.

CDA, Fond 1-B, Record 64, File 293.

[22]  Ibid, p. 224-226. The matter concerning the establishment of united system and command of the anti-aircraft defense CDA, Fond 1 B, Record 5, File 339, p. 86-96.

[23] Ibid., Record 64, File 257, 258.

[24] See: Matthew Evangelista, “Why Keep Such an Army? Khrushchev’s Troop Reductions”, CWIHP Working Paper, No. 19 (Washington, 1997).

[25]  In the plan of the 1958 activities of the Ministry of Defense and GS of the BPA, sent to the allied command of the JAF in December 1957, a conference with the participation of the command of the Soviet forces in Romania was fixed for May 1958 CVA, Fond 22, Record 1, File 362, p. 5.

[26]  See: Sergiu Verona, Military Occupation and Diplomacy. Soviet Troops in Romania. 1944-1958. (Duke Univ. Press 1992); Ioan Scurtu, Romania. Retragerea trupelor sovietice. 1958 (Bucharest, 1996); Dennis Deletant & Mihail Ionescu /Eds./ Romania within the Warsaw Pact. 1955-1981. A CDROM Documentary Volume (Bucharest, 2002).

[27]  CDA, Fond 1 B, Record 5, File 339, p. 100-101.

[28]  Ibid., File 415, p. 3-16.

[29]  CVA, Fond 1, Record 2, File 74, p. 187. Due to the sharpening of the international situation in connection with the Berlin and the Cuban crises, planned reduction of the armed forces of that kind was canceled in the late 1961.

[30] CVA, Fond 1, Record 2, File 75, p. 155, 171, 176-177.

[31] Ibid., File 74, p. 213.

[32]  CDA, Fond 1 B, Record 6, File 4581, p. 1-31.

[33]  Apart of purely conceptual differences, the Albanian leadership refused to share information with the WP member states. In his report delivered at a conference of Bulgarian diplomats in the beginning of June 1961 the Bulgarian Foreign Minister, Karlo Lukanov, informed that the Albanian leaders had failed to inform the Allied Armed Forces’ Unified Command of very important matters of military political nature, though according to the provisions of the Warsaw Treaty the other members of the organization were obliged to provide military support to Albania in case of aggression against itCDA, Fond 1-B, Record 33, File 662, p. 63.

[34]   Ibid., Record 6, File 4490, p. 1-3

[35]  Ibid., Record 5, File 525, p. 207.

[36] Diplomatic Archive [DA], Sofia, Record 32-P, File 7, pp. 47-68.

[37] CVA, Fond 1027, Record 13, File 7, p. 72.

[38]   CDA, Fond 1-B, Record 34, File 1.

[39]  Ibid., Fond 378-B, File 152.

[40] DA, Record 20p, File 804, p. 163-171. The Western News Agencies immediately informed of the Romanian objections, while on May 19th and 20th  Borba and Politika newspapers in Belgrade released special commentaries on “The Discussion over the New Structures of the Warsaw Pact”.

[41] DA, Record 32-P, File 12, 17, 20.

[42] CDA, Fond 1 ?, Record 35, File 109, p. 1-2;  Record 58, File 2, p. 63-101; DA, Record 32-P, File 30, 31.

[43]   CDA, Fond 1-B, Record 60, File 7, p. 19.

[44] DA, Record 20p, File 804, p. 163-171.

[45]  Ibid., p. 127-162.

[46] Organizacijata na Varshavskija dogovor. Dokumenti. 1955-1985. [Warsaw Treaty Organization. Documents. 1955-1985.] (Sofia, 1985), p. 114. Analogical documentary edition were published also in other Warsaw Pact countries: Die Organisation des Warschauer Vertrages. Dok. Und Mat.1955-1985, (Berlin 1985).

[47]   The Staff and the Technical Committee began their work in late November 1969. The first session of the Military Council (composed by 11 high rank allied officers, 5 of them Soviet generals) was held on 9th-10th December, and the first session of the Committee of Defense Ministers – on 22nd–23rd December 1969 in Moscow.

[48]  The data is taken from: London IISS’ The Military Balance, Gen. Gribkov’s book, Sudba Varshavskogo dogovora, p. 39, and Gen. Vladimir Zolotarev’s paper, “The Mechanism of Command and Control of the Joint Armed Forces of the Warsaw Treaty Organization member-states” In: Peacekeeping 1815 to Today, (Quebec, 1995), p. 251.

[49] “Oral History Interviews with Polish Generals, September 2002 –

[50] By the way, an academic polemic regarding the reliability and the methodology of these estimates still continues – for instance, see: David Brooks, “The Elephantiasis of Reason”, Atlantic Monthly, (January/February 2003).

[51]  The National Security Archive /NSA/, Washington, The Soviet Estimate: U. S. Analysis of the Soviet Union, 1947 - 1991. A microfiche collection.

[52] National Archives & Record Administration [NARA], Washington, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1967-1969, Box 1716 [Defense-Warsaw Pact].

[53] Gregory Pedlow /Ed./, NATO Strategy Documents. 1949 – 1969, (Brussels, 1999).