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~ - implications for Conventional Forces Paul M. Doty In my many excursions from the roles of chemist or biochemist, ~ have dealt mostly with nuclear problems, as has CTSAC itself; but with the advent of the possible elimination of long-range and shorter-range nuclear weapons in Europe, one must ask how this affects the conventional force situation in Europe. That question, in turn, causes one to ask what that situation is and how much it can be and should be changed in response to these changes in nuclear deployments. ~ wish the answer were simple so that I couicl be brief, but the situation is extremely complex, as Dr. Kelleher has pointed out. It is a much more complex situation than the strategic one because there are many more factors involved. The categories of conventional weapons, such as main battle tanks, do not have the same consistent meaning as do missiles of a given size ant! range. The interdependence of the factors the roles of lea(lership, readiness, location, and logistics; the maintenance of the equipment; the supply of ammunition; the motivation of the troops; the involvement with civilians; the state of communications, com- 46

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47 IMPLICATIONS FOR CONVENTIONAL FORCES mend, and control all of these form a complex, interacting scene that is unfathomable if one is looking for a simple answer. The problem that we really face, then, is to understand! the inexactitude of the conventional situation and ask whether that uncertainty is so great that the proposed changes on the nuclear deployments are small in comparison, or whether the opposite applies. Indeed, to speak of the balance of forces propels us into the sin that Winston Churchill caller! "terminological inexactitucles" because a balance of forces implies a rather simple weighing of objects on two pans of a balance. What we have instead is literally dozens of factors of different weight, the weight of each one depencling on how it interacts with the other. Difficult though it may be, such complexity must be addressecI. At this point, it may be wise to supplement somewhat Dr. Kelleher's discussion of the situation in Europe. We formed NATO in 1949; the Warsaw Pact organization was former! a year later. In the 1950s the decision was made to rearm West Germany but only with conventional arms West Germany was not to have nuclear weapons. In the early 1960s, under the influence of Charles de Gaulle, France withdrew from military coordination with NATO. an action that continues to be a loss to NATO's effectiveness. Indeed, in those early years many issues were decided that are still with us today. Perhaps the most important one was the fact of that time that nuclear weaponry was an easy and cheap substitute for manpower. Thus, with the introduction of tactical battlefield weapons in Europe in the late 1950s, there was a ready acceptance in all quarters of the proposition that one did not need the massive armies in the millions that had characterized World War lI. That proposition is now questioned in many ways, but it is still a historical fact that casts its shallow over all that we say. What are the goals of NATO? Very simply, its goals are to discourage a Warsaw Pact attack and to buy time after one occurs with which to wrestle with the nuclear clecision. We are happily aware that for more than 40 years war in Europe has been deterred. Most people think the existence of nuclear weapons has been the

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~8 REYKJA VIK AND BEYOND major deterrent to war, ant! that probably does rank first; but there are two other possibilities. One is that the conventional forces deterred attack, and the other is the related possibility that the Soviets die} not find it in their interest~to attack. The theology of deterrence has gone through many loops, and none is more clear than the one that faces us today with the possibility of the withdrawal of the 1,700 or so missiles in Europe of intermediate range. The arguments that went into the decision to deploy missiles on the NATO side in 1978 and 1979 were of two principal types. One stated that the missiles were the counter to the large number of SS- 20 missiles that the Soviets had been deploying during the 1970s; the other was that the missiles were needed for coupling the American strategic forces to the defense of the continent. This dilemma is with us today, ant! it is being argued in The O O Washington Post between Paul Nitze and Brent Scowcroft as well as in op-ed pieces and in many other arenas. The Soviet offer to accept the original U.S. proposal of 1981 to have zero missiles of this size on both sides has reinvigorated the arms control negotiations. To follow that offer with the proposal that they withdraw their 130 weapons of shorter rangy whereas we have none has compounded our surprise: The Soviet proposal was quite unexpected, and there has been a great nervousness in NATO circles as to how to respond to this seeming largess. The question seems to be this: Would "double zero," which is the code word for going to zero in both shorter- and intermediate-range missiles, mean changes in conventional forces, or do we need such changes anyway and does arms control have an important role to play here? Finally, T think we must always bear in mind in these considerations that nuclear weapons, of whatever size and number, are not the only deterrent against Soviet attack in Eurone. What is more important .. . . . .. - 1 1 ~ r ~ . 1 ~ ~ - 7 particularly in coupling the cletense ot Europe to tne Amencan strategic arsenal, is the presence of 330,000 American troops there. This is so well known, such a commonplace, that it is almost forgotten, but it is these U.S. troops that are the heart of the deterrent. One cannot imagine that a country would give up that many of its youth without a retaliatory act of some kind. 1

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49 IMPLICATIONS FOR CONVENTIONAL FORCES Let us consider, then, the conventional force situation in Europe. One might call this exercise "bean counts and scenarios" because there are two general approaches to evaluating the effectiveness of conventional military forces. One is to count whatever there is to count and see how it adds up. The other is to say that, even if you do that well, it is not enough, by any means, because what really counts is how these forces would behave under typical, imaginable conditions of confrontation and war. In this latter case, one goes on to identify the most likely scenarios of conflict and how the forces on both sides would interact under those conditions. First, however, let us go back to the bean counting. The unit of conventional forces is divisions. Divisions are themselves quite inexact, but on the Western side they number about 15,000 troops plus some civilian support. On both sides they are in varying states of readiness, which are designatecl as category I, category 2, or category 3. Categories 2 and 3 are not filled out with respect to manpower. Most of their weapons are stored. These troops do not exercise very much, they often do other jobs, and they cannot be in any sense counted as category I, which means forces that are pretty well prepared to do battle. ("Pretty well prepared" can be defined as ready to move to a clesignated location following a very short period of mobilization and practice, maybe only a few days.) - Tf we look only at the category ~ divisions, then, on the Warsaw Pact side there are roughly 50, and on the NATO side there are roughly 36, including 10 French divisions, 7 of which are in territorial France. Thus, our numbers are 50 against 36. That seems a little uneven, but it becomes more balanced when one recognizes that divisions in the Warsaw Pact are considerably smaller than they are in the NATO countries and one is not far oh to assume that the NATO divisions are 50 percent larger. If one corrects for that, then the 36 becomes 52, and the numbers of equivalent category ~ divisions across the 500-mile inter-German border are about equal in size. Many people would argue that the quality, reliability, ant! state of readiness of the Allied divisions is greater and that the Warsaw Pact forces are ahead in numbers of weapons and ease of resupply. Other factors come in as well, but T think that that is a general judgment.

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50 REYKJA VIK AND BEYOND The category 2 and category 3 divisions, which are, for the most part, farther back (even as far as the continental United States and beyond the Urals in the USSR), are much more numerous on the Warsaw Pact side. If they were brought up to the strength, readiness, and equipment that category 1 divisions have, they would make the unevenness much greater. The ultimate deployment of all three of these types of divisions total about 110 in the Warsaw Pact and 49 for NATO. A consequence of this is that the balance is not bad for the first days or even weeks of a war; in the first few months after that, however, the more numerous category 2 and 3 divisions of the Warsaw Pact conic! be brought up to strength. The odds, then, are very much against the West in a conventional war. Many other factors enter into the evaluation of these numbers. I mention only one (perhaps the most important ant! the most neglected), and that is the long-held, traditional military judgment that defense requires less manpower than offense. The existence of prepared positions for defense, the knowledge of the territory, all of that introduces factors that are never known but are often judged collectively to favor the defense by as much as three to one, or at least two to one. In military terms this is a substantial factor that weighs quite favorably on the NATO side. If we turn now from manpower to equipment, the situation is more favorable in the bean count to the Warsaw Pact side. For main battle tanks, the most common element of military equipment, there are about 2.3 times as many on the Warsaw Pact side as in NATO; artillery, 2.7 times as many; armec! helicopters, 3 times as many; and antiaircraft guns, about even. Thus, if one goes through the equipment inventory, there is no doubt that, in terms of numbers, there is more on their side than on ours in most categories. However, the Warsaw Pact equipment is, on the whole, older, less well maintained, and less transportable, and gives rise to a lower rate of fire. The imbalance in military equipment, then, is a factor, but it may not be a decisive one. William Kaufmann, now at Harvard, has estimates! Warsaw Pact effectiveness, under various assumptions, in an engagement on the central front. Under a conservative set of assumptions, including current capabilities, he concluded that the probability of a break-

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51 IMPLICATIONS FOR CONVENTIONAL FORCES through after a Pact attack is about 50 percent in the first 10 days and rises to 75 percent in subsequent weeks and months. This case, however, includes the assumption that the non-Soviet Pact forces, which make up about one-third of the Warsaw Pact forces, operate at peak effectiveness. If the opposite assumption is made, that they contribute only negligibly, then the probability of a breakthrough diminishes to about 22 percent in the first 10 days but rises to 53 percent in 2 weeks and to 65 percent in 3 months. Again, if there is time for the entire Soviet military to concentrate and move against Western Europe, the chance of a breakthrough increases above 50 percent. Although such estimates are sensitive to many assumptions, they do convey the central point: the present balance is such that the Warsaw Pact could not realistically plan on success at least in a few weeks if it initiated war. Finally, if we consider what NATO needs to be more effective militarily, there is a well-examined list of items, none of which involve adding more divisions. For example, "tactical air" is the term used to define the close air support to ground troops. Many people argue that our air superiority is canceled by the dense air defenses in the Warsaw Pact countries and the large number of Soviet interceptors. Others would argue, however, that the superi- ority of our individual planes and the better readiness of our pilots would more than compensate for this and that, indeed, one can expect, in an engagement, air superiority to belong to the West. The problem is that perhaps too many of the NATO aircraft are devotee! to Tong-distance interdiction and fighting over the skies of Eastern Europe and not enough to helping the troops on the ground. One rather common proposal to improve NATO effectiveness is to provide more air support- planes that are coupled to the combat on the ground. An equally large item is "smart munitions," which are entering into their second generation now and are increasingly spectacular in their demonstrations. The large numbers of tanks that we have so feared are becoming increasingly vulnerable to antitank weapons of growing sophistication. Our command and control has also improved greatly, but it would always be highly vulnerable if the war turned nuclear. Other high-tech systems are on the verge of being deployed

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52 REYKJA VIK AND BEYOND that is, if we wish to pay the bill. Perhaps the most spectacular is called J-STARS, in which planes of the 707 type, carrying enormous amounts of racier, fly north anc! south some miles inside West Germany, from which one can "see" 200 miles into East Germany and even the edges of Poland. From there, the system can detect, for example, the difference between a tank and a truck, follow their movements, predict their speecI, choose what system should attack them, give the orders, and guide them there. There are more items on this NATO improvement list, but I will mention only one more, an item whose time may come although it has been intensely resisted by the West Germans. This plan is simply to erect an effective barrier (which could be forests, ravines, or other places for the ready emplacement of mines) against tanks and other conventional forces along the western side of the inter-German border. One could, at relatively small expense, create an extremely efficient barrier there, greatly improving the effectiveness of all of the other parts of the forces at very low cost and with nrnctirall~r no affect manpower. ~ present these options in this much detail merely to pose the notion that if one wishes to invest further in NATO forces, it is not obvious that arching divisions (in order to correct the numerical balance among the forces) is the right thing to do. There are many quite intelligent chances to he marl`> that Burp not AWAY ~~ ^1~;~ . . . c .lvlslons. V ~ ~~ ~ $~ ~ IAll L ~11 tilt What, then, are the conclusions on the conventional military balance? These are mostly a matter of judgment, and other people will probably give other answers than mine. Nevertheless, I would list them as the fact that the unfavorable ratios on equipment may not be decisive and that our ability to go the high-tech route earlier, faster, anc! more effectively than the Warsaw Pact decreases the need for aciclitional weaponry. On the average, a smart weapon is 20 times as efficient as a "dumb" one an-, therefore, the counting in the future has to take that into account. More divisions for NATO, then, are not necessarily its greatest neecI. There is another general conclusion that ~ hope is implicit in what have presented; that is, the uncertainties in estimating NATO capabilities are far greater than the effects, for example, of changing the total of Soviet nuclear weapons that coulcI be targeted on Western

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53 IMPLICATIONS FOR CONVENTIONAL FORCES Europe by less than 10 percent, which is what would be done under an TNF treaty. T think the same follows for the 50 percent cuts in strategic forces. Thus we have a situation here that, as Dr. Kelleher pointed out, is not at all satisfactory from many points of view but is almost invariant to changes of the kind that are being discussed in nuclear arms control. The Institute for Strategic Studies in London has the longest history of consistent examination of this problem, and its most recent conclusion is that the balance is still such as to make general military aggression a highly risky undertaking for either side. The initial advantage to an attacker is not sufficient to guarantee victory; also the consequences for an attacker would still be quite unpredict- able, and the risks, particularly of nuclear escalation, remain incal- culable. If this could be put in quasi-percentage numbers, we might say that the Europeans would like to have at least a 90 percent certainty that the United States would use nuclear weapons in their defense. They feel that the likelihood is much less than that, maybe actually around 40 or 50 percent. Yet T believe the Soviets would not dare risk testing this situation, even if the likelihood were as low as 5 percent. Against this admittedly selective examination of conventional forces, what is the outlook and possible role of arms control? There have been under way, unknown to most people, ~ think, two substantial attempts at arms control in the conventional force area. The first might be called a structural approach because it deals with the structure of the forces (manpower, units, and equipment). The prime example of this approach has been the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR) negotiations in Vienna that have been going on since 1973 without a product. The aim in this case has been to use manpower as the important variable and to find ways of reducing that. It has failed largely because it has not been possible for the two sides, the two blocs, to agree on the existing manpower count, and the difference is a large number more than 100,000 troops. Part of this problem is due to the fact that troops are defined differently on the two sides. For example, there are construction crews associated with the Soviet armed forces that mostly do

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54 REYKJA VIK AND BEYOND construction and work of that kind, but it has prover! to be an insoluble problem with respect to a common definition. One may think of these 15 years as being wasted, but in point of fact, many subsidiary and important problems have been worker! out during this period. Nevertheless, the negotiations have no product, and interest in this area was revived only by a speech of General Secretary Gorbachev's a year ago, in which he called for substantial reductions in all components of land forces and tactical air forces from the AtIantic to the Urals. Such a proposal certainly woke everyone up because if he meant what he said, substantial reductions, much greater than the numbers being bandied about in Vienna, are negotiable. In a(lclition, enlarging the area affected from the Atlantic to the Urals brought in the whole western Soviet Union, thereby reducing the logistical advantage of the Warsaw Pact. General Secretary Gorbachev added that tactical nuclear weapons should be removed at the same rate as conventional weapons ant! that onsite inspection should be allowed where it was needed. Two months later, in Budapest, the Warsaw Pact group met and refined these proposals; they further proposed that the initial reductions be 150,000 personnel and that these reductions be followed with others to a total of a half-million on each side. This would mean a reduction of a million troops at the end of 5 years. NATO was given these proposals 10 months ago and is still working on them. How the work is going, I do not know. If there is a future for this particular kind of arms control, I think that it cannot depend entirely on manpower counts because of (differences over counting rules. Perhaps a more promising path would be to use divisions and to work out rules by which a division can be given a certain weight, taking into account all the factors that give it its strength or lack of strength (not only manpower but equipment, location, readiness, fraction of slots fi~lecI, and so forth.) Another possibility, although perhaps not as attractive, would be to admit at the outset that each country views its own land forces in such a way that there will never be any common feeling developed between them, and, therefore, all that could be done would be that

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55 IMPLICA TIONS FOR CONVENTIONAL FORCES one side could propose a specific set of reductions ant! ask the other sicle what it would give for it. One cannot be either optimistic or pessimistic about this possibility, although there is a growing accumulation of background work and many of the problems are well clefined. One could imagine that these efforts would proceed! and that the NATO response to the Budapest initiative will start movement on that path. Finally, there is the alternative approach to arms control in the conventional fielcl, the operational approach, which means regulating military activities. To the surprise of many people, this alternative bore its first fruits in Stockholm last summer, where, after 3 years, and again with the intercession of Gorbachev and his sending his chief of military staff there to carry out the negotiations, there was a set of agreements reached that are extremely promising. These agreements provide for prior notification of many important military activities; also, observations of exercises that involve more than 17,000 troops will be required. There will be an annual calendar provided by a certain date that will contain all of the maneuvers planned for the next 2 years involving more than 40,000 troops. Three onsite inspections will be allowed per year. Each of these agreements is modified and limited in certain ways that one may not like, but it is still a substantial improvement. Attempts to extend these proposals are currently going on in Vienna and they are expected to continue for another 6 months. Here, again, however, one might find ways of limiting military activities so as to recluce the possibility of a rapid mobilization, a surprise attack, and ultimately to thin out the troop concentration around the inter-German border by moving troops back from it. What conclusions should be drawn from all of this? To put it very briefly, there is a possibility of substantial conventional force arms control and troop reductions, but it is probably going to be a fairly long process. It may be pushed by the fact that some countries have demographic problems that will make the value of young men working in the factories and elsewhere much more important than being unproductive in military units. The possibility that these negotiations will bear fruit, I think, is much more likely now than it has been in the past.

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56 REYKJA VIK AND BEYOND It remains, then, to discuss how possible reductions would relate to things that are in the air today. I think my main point is clear: the uncertainty of evaluating the military effectiveness of conven- tional forces is so great that one cannot imagine that the elimination of intermediate-range missiles in Europe is going to call for any substantial change in the conventional forces beyond quickening the pace of the improvements now under way. With the 50 percent reduction in strategic forces, ~ think one comes to the same conclusion because, although 50 percent seems like half, it really is not because the effects of using nuclear weapons are not a linear function of the number. One reaches overkill sooner or later fairly soon so that the last 50 percent of weapons could never have the military effect that the first 50 percent used would have. It is for that reason that things do not change a great deal, even at 50 percent reductions. Later on, they would, but we are not, in either of these cases, able to go back to the situation that existed in the early 1950s, when we thought of nuclear weapons as a substitute for manpower. The presence and function of manpower in conventional forces in Europe exists in its own right ant! is a partner with nuclear weapons in the deterrent; there is very little trade-off between nuclear weapons and troop levels possible at the levels of nuclear reductions in Europe we are now talking about. All of this contradicts what many experts are saying recently. Representative Les Aspin, Senator Sam Nunn, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, and former President Richard Nixon have all come out opposing in some degree or other the agreement to eliminate to zero the intermediate-range missiles 1,650 on the Soviet side and 316 on our side a deal that one could hardly have dreamt would be possible before. Yet these individuals oppose it, and their . . opposition stems trom two sources. One is that some are sufficiently unhappy about the state of the conventional balance that they want to use this opportunity to improve it. In most cases, they suggest either a decrease in the number of Soviet divisions or an increase in the number of Western (livisions. My argument has been, however, that the military

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57 IMPLICATIONS FOR CONVENTIONAL FORCES efficiency of those forces is so uncertain and depends on so many other factors that to solve it in terms of divisions is not very satisfactory. Therefore, I must disagree with their conclusions. Instead, I believe we should grasp the new opportunities that seem to lie before us, the beginnings of a new route in conventional arms control. Yet, the complexity of the issues involved are so substantial that one can probably expect only slow progress. But even with some progress in structural and operational arms control, conventional forces will remain largely invariant with respect to the state of nuclear weaponry ant! changes therein because the level of nuclear reductions that are in prospect today do not really affect the separate and important mission of the conventional forces in Europe.