From Military Planning for European Theater Conflict in the Cold War
The Operational Plans
The conference began with a detailed overview of the NATO plans in the early 1980s. Th e plans assumed that the Warsaw Pact had numerical conventional superiority and anticipated a gradual improvement of its armament. Th e plans, it was repeatedly emphasised, were fi rst and foremost intended to deter the Warsaw Pact from attacking. Should deterrence fail, they were to serve as a guide for the defence of the territory of the NATO member countries. Th e plans were therefore of purely defensive nature. Counterattacks were only intended to recapture lost territory. All NATO representatives confi rmed this; the German representative pointed out the catastrophic consequences of any alternative for the civilian population of his country. A very important new element in the planning, in the event of the Warsaw Pact opening the attack, was attacking enemy troops assembling on the territory of the member states of the Warsaw Pact – the AirLand Battle /Follow-on Forces Attack, or FOFA, concept.
The representatives of the former Soviet Union then made it clear
that the Warsaw Pact had never had plans to be the fi rst to attack either. It would not even have been able to do so, as too many Soviet troops were stationed along the border with China, and the fi ghting in Afghanistan required the deployment of a great many troops as well. It was mainly for that reason, it was said, that the Soviet Union also halted plans for military intervention in Poland.25
The Soviet Union considered the United States to be the main opponent in the European theatre of war. If NATO had attacked, the Pact would have therefore launched nuclear missiles at America almost immediately. It would have attacked on the notion, based on past experiences, that attack was the best form of defence. Like NATO, it had stationed its troops as far forward as possible in order to be able to carry out such an attack. However, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the military leadership assumed that there would be no hostilities in Europe because they would almost certainly lead to a world war. These revelations surprised the NATO participants, who in those days had assumed that the Soviet Union was prepared to limit a possible war to Europe, to prevent American retaliation.