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5 Whither Conventional Arms Control? Paul Doty We are far closer to substantially reducing military forces in Europe in ways that will improve security and lower costs than I would have thought possible when I spoke here two years ago. Progress toward this goal has been especially marked in the last five months. Hence, this is a timely occasion to take measure of what has happened and to look ahead. NEW INITIATIVES IN CONVENTIONAL ARMS CONTROL A number of seminal changes have converged to make possible a new political and military relation between East and West. One is the increas- ing realization of how much it costs to maintain the present military confrontation in a time when so many other needs cry for attention. The worldwide cost of military forces now exceeds a trillion dolBars per year. To put this in perspective: the poorer half of the world lives on roughly this amount. Moreover, half of this trillion dolBars is spent in Europe to support year after year the greatest concentration of military forces ever assembled in peacetime. Clearly, if both sides perceive that threats have 47
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48 ClIAIlE7\IGES FOR THE 1990s declined, then the way becomes open to maintain defenses at lower levels of military forces. After three years of revolutionary change in the Soviet Union, the basis of the West's fears is eroding. As a member of the Central Committee told a group of us who visited Moscow recently: "The Cold War is over. You have won. You have contained us except for a few excursions from which we are now retreating. You kept the real left from coming to power in Western Europe. We are relaxing our influence in Eastern Europe. We are no longer your enemy. The time has come to build a new relation- ship." While the West may not want to embrace instantly this exuberant view, evidence supporting it is accumulating. The withdrawal from Afghanistan has been the most obvious instance. A number of Gorbachev's proposals in arms control have set the stage for serious negotiation: the most crucial have been the enlargement of the realm for negotiations from central Europe to the AtIantic-to-the-Urals region, asymmetric reductions to reach parity and advocating very deep cuts, and a restructuring of armed forces to defensive postures. In the realm of action the unilateral cuts in Soviet military forces proposed last December are already under way and wild substantially reduce the surprise attack capability of the Warsaw Pact. Yet it is not enough to say that the Cold War is over. Rather these changes have created the opportunity to reduce and restruc- ture anned forces on both sides to confonn with its being over. This is the challenge to be met. Perhaps the most important development favoring substantial military reductions is the Soviet Union's acceptance of a remarkable degree of openness. This in turn has made venf~cation of reductions in military forces possible for the first time. The shift began with the Stockholm Agreement of 1986, which provided for notification of military move- ments, for viewing each side's field exercises and for some onsite inspec- tion of forces. The implementation of this agreement has gone extremely well. Next came the Intermediate Range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty, which involved detailed verification of the destruction of major weapons systems. This too has proceeded in an exemplary fashion. Finally, there is the rapidly developing drive toward unification in Western Europe. As Europe moves toward a broader identity it is playing a larger role in planning for military reductions and seeking a more positive role in Eastern Europe. Substantial negotiated reductions of NATO and Warsaw Pact forces could provide a way out of He endless
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49 WHITHER CONVENTIONAL ARMS CONTROL? "burden-sharing" arguments that torment NATO. That is, responsible military reductions could allow both the withdrawal of some U.S. forces from Europe and some reduction in Western European forces, while modifying somewhat the role of each. For example, the United States could maintain its support and resupply role and reduce its combat strength while the European allies increased where necessary their active or re- serve forces. THE END OF THE BEGINNING Given these unusual motivations, how have the negotiations progressed? Planning began in November 1986 for two sets of conventional arms control negotiations to start not later than January 1989 in Vienna. These sessions were part of a larger forum based on the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, whereby Tree areas are considered together: secunty, economic cooperation, and human rights. One of the two planning efforts was aimed at producing a negotiating plan—a mandate to achieve further transparency of peacetime military operations. Conducted by the mem- bers of NATO, the Warsaw Pact, and the neutrals in Europe (a total of 35 nations), this effort and the subsequent negotiations go by the awkward name of the Conference on Confidence and Security-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe, or CSBM (or CDE) for short. This is the body that produced the Stockholm Agreement in 1986. lathe other planning effort, a much more ambitious one, dealt with negotiating the reduction of troops and major equipment such as tanks, artillery, and annored troop carriers in the AtIantic-to-the-Urals region. This will proceed in Vienna in parallel with the CSBM talcs and will be known as the Negotiations on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, or CFE, which stands for Conventional Forces in Europe. All the member states of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, 23 in all, would participate in this negotiation. With some difficulty France was included, even though she insists on remaining militarily independent of NATO. These planning negotiations moved forward in a slow and labored fashion during most of the two-year tune period set for them. The United States, Britain, and Canada held out for major concessions on human rights agreements. Each side had to prepare a comprehensive list of equipment subject to reductions. Initially, NATO appeared to doubt that the Soviets, who provide the majority of forces for the Pact, would
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50 CHALLENGES FOR THE 1990s negotiate away their more than 2:1 numerical advantage in tanks, artil- lery, and armored troop carriers, so-called asymmetries. Consequently, intemal NATO discussions focused on how to bring about asymmetrical reductions to reach common ceilings. In contrast, the Soviets made known their preference for a much broader three-stage plan that would first reduce asymmetries to the level of the side having the lower total in each major category, then reduce both sides by 500,000 personnel and equipment and, in the third stage, restructure the forces so as to be unambiguously in a defensive posture, incapable of large-scale offensive action. Clearly, an agreement on the inventory of relevant weapons would be essential to forward movement in the negotiations—hence the concern over whether the data to be presented by the two sides would show reasonable agreement. Just as NATO was about to announce its count of its own weapons and its estimate of those of the Warsaw Pact, General Secretary Gorbachev starded the West by proposing on 7 December 1988, that the Soviet Union would sharply reduce its armed forces: Within the next two years their numerical strength will be reduced by 500,000 men. The numbers of conventional armaments will also be reduced. This will be done unilaterally, without relation to the talks on the mandate of the Vienna meeting. Many, but not an, details were spelled out. In the Atlantic-to-the-Urals region, 240,000 personnel would be removed, along with 10,000 tanks, 8,500 artillery, and 800 aircraft. Most important, within these totals, 6 tank divisions, 50,000 troops, and a total of 5,300 tanks would be with- drawn from Central Europe and disbanded. This reduction amounts to more than a quarter of the Soviet tanks and 10 percent of the artillery in Central Europe. Although the Pact retains a 2:1 tank advantage, it sufficiently thins out their force so as to make an attack without prior reinforcement virtually impossible. Moreover, Eastern European govern- ments have subsequently announced plans for reducing their aImed forces by 46,000 men and 1,700 tanks. These moves constitute the most impres- sive unilateral step taken since the end of World War II. Its most important effect has been to convince most skeptics that the Soviet Union is seriously interested in large-scale disarmament in the Atlantic-to-the- Urals region. Marshall Akhromeyev told us in January that, although he was originally opposed to unilateral cuts, he came to support them be- cause it was the only way to inject movement into the Vienna negotia- . . . . .
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51 WlIlTHER CONVENTIONAL ARMS CONTROL? lions, to indicate their clear intent, and to begin saving resources for other uses at home. NATO announced its count of conventional forces on December ~ and the Warsaw Pact followed on January 30. Since the two sides defined categories differently, as might have been expected, many comparisons could not be made directly. For example, NATO counted only artillery of 100-millimeter bore or larger, the Warsaw Pact included all artillery and even mortars. In aircraft the Pact assigned many more NATO types to their category of "ground-attack aircraft" than for their own, thereby implying that NATO has a superiority in relevant aircraft numbers. In fact the Warsaw Pact has a 1.85:1 advantage in total military aircraft in the region by Western counts. Nevertheless, taking this into account the tallies are mostly within reasonable agreement, although much remains to be done to reach agreement using common definitions of categories. Thus, the situation has come a long way since two years ago when the Soviet Union insisted that there was near equality in tanks. According to NATO data, the Warsaw Pact advantage, including stored NATO tanks, is 2.2; using Warsaw Pact data the advantage is 1.94. OPENING POSITIONS By mid-January 1989 all disputes—now mostly intraalliance disagree- ment had been resolved. Agreements reached in Vienna covered not only the mandates for the CFE and CSBM conventional arms negotiations but also important agreements on human rights, terrorism, scientific coop- eration, trade, travel, and freedom of information—an important advance over the original Helsinki Final Act of 1975. The foreign ministers met on January 16 to sign the agreements. Sandwiched between news of the Lybian chemical weapons plant and the coming inauguration, the Ameri- can press scarcely covered this historic event that portends so much for Europe and East-West relations. German press reports speak of He first redesigning of the European political landscape since the Yalta Confer- ence of 1945. The CFE and CSBM negotiations began on March 6. The principal features of each side's opening positions are already clear. Despite some major differences, there is a great deal of common ground on the central issue setting equal ceilings on the major conventional weapons and
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~2 CHALLENGES FOR THE 1990s setting these ceilings somewhat below that of the lower inventory, which is almost always that of NATO. This win be the centerpiece of any future agreement. Moreover, there seems to be wide agreement on the need for intensive verification measures and the establishment of a common data base in order to determine what cuts have to be made. The NATO proposal puts a cap on tanks, artillery, and armored troop carriers at 90 to 95 percent of present NATO levels for both sides. This position imposes much more severe cuts on the Warsaw Pact but simply in proportion to their present advantage. The Soviet position is to reduce these levels somewhat more and to include helicopters and ground-attack aircraft, or "strike aircraft" to use their term, since, as they recall from the German invasion, aircraft can decide the outcome of many land battles. NATO opposes the inclusion of aircraft for several reasons. Philosophi- cally, they insist that the weapons of first concern are Lose used to capture and hold territory: aircraft do not fit this definition. The Soviet attempt to define a class of aircraR whose primary capability is to support ground forces seems unlikely to survive because so many types of aircraft can in an emergency serve in this mission. Moreover, such a restriction would eliminate many NATO aircraft that are configured for nuclear mission, an area not covered by conventional forces talks. Finally, the French are adamantly opposed to any aircraft restriction. Clearly this wild be a difficult point to resolve. Further, the ability of each side to introduce aircraft from beyond the AtIantic-to-the-Urals region will have to be considered. Since it would be unreasonable to forego the benefits of reaching low-level parity on the major land weapons to avoid restricting aircraft that are already present in nearly equal numbers, some kind of agreement restricting aircraft will be reached. The NATO position also calls for restricting the major force equipment that any one country can station in another to 30 percent of He total in that country. Since Soviet Union forces dominate the Warsaw Pact posture, such a restriction seems biased against the Soviet Union, but taking into account that several countries may host Soviet forces, it might be nego- tiable. Both sides recognize the need to proceed through the creation of zones beginning in the central region in order to facilitate verification and reduce further the likelihood of surprise attack. However, the definitions and functioning of such zones are quite different in the two proposals. Finally, the two positions differ in overald scope. The NATO proposal focuses on reaching parity at levels slightly below the lower current
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53 WHITHER CONVENTIONAL ARMS CONTROL? inventory. The Soviet position—no actual proposal has been tabled— emphasizes the three stages mentioned above in which first-stage reduc- tions are to 85 to 90 percent of the lowest level currently possessed by either side, followed by a further 25 percent or more reduction in the second stage, and a transition to defensive military postures in the third stage. This more comprehensive plan paints a larger, more attractive picture. A number of individuals and groups have advocated extending the NATO position in this direction. Congressman Aspin has urged that NATO aim at substantially lower ceilings than 95 percent of the current lower level. Leading military figures share this position. General Good- paster, in a current report, goes further and urges "consideration of a radical restructuring of the forces of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, on the basis of parity, with active forces on each side at no more than 50 percent of the present NATO strength" by 1995. Similar recommendations for deeper cuts are being made unofficially on the Soviet side as well. These suggestions would carry the negotiation well into the second stage of the Soviet proposal and require substantial restructuring of forces and doc- trine mentioned above. OBSTACLES AND HOPE Deep reductions will force a profound recasting of not only military doctrine and force structure but also of traditional public and governmen- tal attitudes as well. This, in turn, will create an opportunity to move toward convincing defensive postures that would greatly reduce the threat in Central Europe. But many barriers lie in the way. For example, a tenet of military thought has been that the progressive thinning out of forces along a dividing line technically as the "force-to-space" ratio is reduced- a point will be reached when defense against a concentrated attack from the other side cannot be sustained. Many believe that this point would be reached along the inter-German border if the current troop strength were reduced much below 85 percent of NATO's present force. Then the front could not be continuously covered and forces would have to be reconfig- ured into much more maneuverable, independently operating units. Nev- ertheless, alternatives do exist. For example, close air support and the construction of barriers near the inter-German border would provide sub- stantial compensation for the thinning of troop strength. Long opposed by the West Germans, barriers will become more important if forward de-
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54 CHALLENGES FOR THE 1990s dense is to be maintained while troops are withdrawn. In short, the threshold at about 85 percent of current NATO strength is not a line that cannot be crossed but rather the point at which new conceptions of defense and drastic restructuring of forces and doctrine must begin to take over. Before real progress can be made, the two sides must resolve the difficult and detailed problems of negotiating a common data base and agreeing on the verification methodology that will ensure that both sides are in compliance with what is agreed. Such an effort is certain to be very labor intensive and will clearly involve many military officers. Training military personnel for this task along with intensive language preparation will probably be the first sign that real work is under way. The difficult job of verification will be greatly aided by the develop- ment of new verification technology. Many existing sensors designed for combat can be adapted to the kind of surveillance needed for verification. The use of overflights and observers at road and raid junctions and with military units to be disbanded will be needed in an expanded verification regime. A related development can be seen in the rapid growth of computer modeling that is under way. Modeling to compare the capabilities of conventional forces and the outcomes of engagements have been wide- spread for some time. Their relevance is often questioned because the outcome of any conflict depends on so many nonquantifiable variables— leadership, training, readiness, morale, logistics, geography, weather, ci- vilian cooperation, and more that no program dependent on numerical variables can hope to predict success or failure. However, modeling can be useful in making comparisons where the nonquantifiable variables are assumed to remain unchanged, for example, in comparing the conse- quences of alternative reduction regimes. In this spirit a meeting is being held this week in which several Soviet and American experts will compare their programs and results for simple comparison cases. As an example of progress along these lines, Dr. Epstein of the Brookings Institution has just developed his own dynamic mode! to the point where it can compare the relative advantage to each side of the current arms control proposals using a variety of attack scenar- ios. Whether different computer programs will lead to similar conclu- sions is clearly of interest.
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55 WHITHER CONVENTIONAL ARMS CONTROL? THE OUTLOOK In two years it should be possible to see if this ambitious program is moving toward fruition. This is the period in which the Soviet unilateral reductions are to be carried out. And the negotiators must report to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the permanent body that carries forward the Helsinki Final Act. This period should be a most exciting one. In terms of weapons, we wild see whether the Soviet unilateral withdrawals wild continue on the way to a low-level parity across the East-West divide in Europe. The political accompaniment win be rich and diverse. We will see if the Soviet Union sacrifices its presently declared intent of seeking deep cuts in European forces to He quite different goals of breaking up NATO or separating the United States from Europe. And we win see if Eastern Europe can evolve toward more democratic fonns of government without putting the security of the Soviet Union at risk. We will see if NATO can broaden its position to present a more far-reaching vision of how a much reduced and defensively postured military confrontation can contribute to "the common home of Europe" and to the broad easing of East-West tensions. Because of the complexity of this radical change in the military con- frontation, we must be ready for setbacks. Nevertheless, if a review two years hence shows that there has been more failure Can accomplishment, hope might still arise from a different quarter: the Stockholm agreements might by then be greatly extended in the separate CSBM negotiations, so that a disengagement of forces could be choreographed in a quite different fashion. This negotiation could possibly produce agreements on su~veil- lance, repositioning of forces to the rear, and limits on the size of exer- cises that would greatly enhance European security well before actual force reductions reached parity. Furthermore, it may turn out that reduc- tions of troops and weapons by means of a series of reciprocal steps similar to the Soviet unilateral initiative of last December might be undertaken if the present plans prove too cumbersome. At present this kind of outcome seems quite fanciful because the Westem position is to deal only with limited extensions of the Stockholm Agreement until panty in force reductions is reached. But it is clear that the path to negotiated parity will be long and hard. Even if the willingness to
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56 CHAllENGES FOR TlIE 1990s compromise is there, the effort could bog down over the complexity of the problem or the difficulties inherent in negotiating with 23 or 35 delega- tions. Thus, the direct approach in the CFE negotiations deserves full, com- m~tted support. But we have no experience in disassembling the greatest war machines ever built: this may require repeated attempts and some trial and error approaches to bring it off. So, much innovation, resource- fuiness, and patience will be needed. But the most urgent need is for the political win, backed by an informed public, to ensure that this rema~- able opening is fumed to mankind's advantage. By 1995, 50 years win have passed since the end of World War II. The postwar period will be over, and a new kind of world order will begin to shape the next 50 years. If that new order is to deal effectively with the towering challenges of the next century, much of the current investment in military confrontation will have to give way to cooperation and even partnership. Arms control is only one of several tools that can make this grand transition possible, but what is done with this tool in the next few years will be decisive to the outcome. NOTE ADDED IN PROOF: Following this presentation, the Soviet Union on 25 May 1989 agreed to the limits on tanks and armored person- ne] carriers in the central region that had been suggested by NATO. On May 30 President Bush announced that NATO would remove much of the remaining difference in positions by agreeing to include troop reductions and combat aircraft in the CF~ negotiations. Specifically he proposed that U.S. troops be reduced by 30,000 as part of reduction of U.S. and Soviet troops stationed in Europe to a common ceiling of 275,000, that combat aircraft and helicopters be reduced to 15 percent below current Alliance holdings, and that all withdrawn equipment be destroyed. These new proposals will be tabled in detail in Vienna in September 1989.
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