US War Plans for the Commies...

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US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by MKSheppard » 2008-11-18 04:20pm

So I recently went to UMD and looked through their microfiche records -- they have all seven rolls of microfilm of the US JCS warplans concerning the Soviet Union from about 1946-1953.

Let me just say there is a whole crapload of stuff, and it's absurdly detailed. We went through several phases. First phase was in 1946-47; when we threw together war plans for every possible contigency; Soviet Invasion of W Germany -- they'd reach the Rhine on D+1 or D+2; Soviet Invasion of Yugoslavia/Balkans. Soviet Invasion of Turkey, Soviet Invasion of Italy, Soviet Invasion of the Iberian Penisula (Spain), Soviet Invasion of Nationalist China, etc.

There was also exhaustive detail of possible communist underground super factories, based on the Nazi underground factories, and studies of the soil regions of the USSR which would be most conductive to such factories, etc.

Then we started to plan ahead several years for hypothetical conflicts, e.g in 1946 or so, we had plans for a conflict starting in 1948, etc, so on so on. One possible iteration of Soviet Naval Strength in like 1952 or 1956 gave them no less than eleven BBs and six CVs. :shock:

sorry if I'm not too detailed here, but I just got back from a long day -- literally 24 hours with no sleep due to anxiety before a job test, etc so I'll post the scans I did later.

by the way guys, want to start the "Give Shep $500 so he can get all seven rolls and digitize them?" fund? :)
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Samuel » 2008-11-18 07:03pm

Where on Earth do you get all this good stuff Shep?

Also, would the plans work?

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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-11-18 10:15pm

MKSheppard wrote:There was also exhaustive detail of possible communist underground super factories, based on the Nazi underground factories
We weren't as much into that stuff though. In fact, I don't even remember which production lines went heavily underground in the fear of American bombing campaigns... none probably.

Also, Shep, why do US War Plans with the USSR pick a possible date? I always wondered about that. As far as I know, the Soviet/WARPAC exercises did not pick future war dates, using "US assault us any possible day" scenario.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by phongn » 2008-11-19 12:52am

Samuel wrote:Where on Earth do you get all this good stuff Shep?
Shep's research-fu is insane.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by MKSheppard » 2008-11-19 02:04am

Phong wrote:Shep's research-fu is insane.
After finding about a book by Anthony Cave Brown titled simply "Dropshot", which reprints Operation DROPSHOT, and then obtaining it at the U of MD libraries and seeing that Mr. Brown edited it for clarity, omitting "redunant information" I went on a search and found that U of MD had DROPSHOT and a ton of other things on file in their microfilm records.

If anyone is interested in their own independent research, look for this:
United States. Joint Chiefs of Staff. RECORDS OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF. PART II, 1946-1953: THE SOVIET UNION.

Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1979.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Pelranius » 2008-11-19 02:10am

I wonder how much of a role did Pacific forces have in attacking the Russian Far East?
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by MKSheppard » 2008-11-19 03:08am

Behold a possible commie takeover of China!

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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Beowulf » 2008-11-19 07:14pm

Stas Bush wrote:Also, Shep, why do US War Plans with the USSR pick a possible date? I always wondered about that. As far as I know, the Soviet/WARPAC exercises did not pick future war dates, using "US assault us any possible day" scenario.
Probably so they can both estimate enemy forces, and be able to tell which parts of a War Plan need to be updated based on possible enemy strength.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2008-11-19 08:06pm

Beowulf wrote: Probably so they can both estimate enemy forces, and be able to tell which parts of a War Plan need to be updated based on possible enemy strength.
That, and so we could base the plans on what our own forces would have available. Without this knowledge you really can’t do any detailed planning or wargaming to improve future plans, all you can do is update basic doctrine and tactics. This may have been less relevant to the Soviet Union because the Soviet Union simply always had massively superior numbers of conventional forces to throw at NATO. Significant changes in either sides OOB could occur and would still leave a huge margin of numerical advantage in the Soviets favor.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-11-19 11:29pm

Skimmer wrote:This may have been less relevant to the Soviet Union because the Soviet Union simply always had massively superior numbers of conventional forces to throw at NATO.
We cut down the Army from eleven million to five million during the 1950s and then even lower. I'd say that's a pretty huge reduction of conventional capability. However, perhaps the fact that USSR had the territory to run continental war games on an exceptionally large scale every 3-5 years or so had to do with it.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2008-11-20 02:10am

A huge reduction sure, but still a huge capability. 5 million men is two thirds larger then the army you had in August 1941 after all, and enormously greater then anything the US could field. By 1950 the entire US military was down to about 1.3 million men, of which only about 330,000 were based outside of the United States and just 122,000 of those in all of Europe. Heck the US army was so starved of manpower before Korea that most infantry battalions in its mere eight active duty divisions were actually forced to disband their third rifle companies! Most NATO states could hardly field anything worthwhile. Like the document says, all we could do is run behind the Rhine... and that'd just be a breathing space before we run to Spain...

After Korea reversed this insanity the US dropped back from its 3.5 million man height to more like 2-2.2 million active duty military personal for the rest of the cold war (excluding a huge spike in strength for Vietnam, which was demobilized even faster then the Korean draw down) while other NATO states had about 3.3 million from the 1960s onward. US strength in Europe rose to about 330,000 by 1960, and remained at that level for the rest of the Cold War. Still thats not very much, Soviet forces in East Germany alone, even after the reduction to 20 divisions, still numbered over 800,000.

Now as I recall the Soviet active duty military was around 7 million men for most of the Cold War, dropping off a fair bit in the late 1980s. It had more tanks and artillery per military man then NATO, and larger reserves with a better thought out mobilization structure. The Soviets mobilized troops by activating cadre divisions, which could then be thrown into battle enmass, while most NATO reserves were structured around men and equipment being individual replacements for active duty units. Actual reserve divisions were relatively uncommon except for the US National Guard. IIRC in total the Soviet Union had about 160 tank and motor rifle divisions in 1980. About half are category C and D, not that useful, but that still left a huge number of Category A and B units.

It’s hard to see when the Soviet Union could not have simply steamrolled NATO conventionally except the mid to late 1980s. Nothing very clever at all would be required to win conventional scenarios in the 1940s/50s/60s/70s. Even if NATO could stop Soviet forces already deployed in in Eastern Europe, a bit unlikely in its own right, it wasn’t going to be able to stop all the follow on echelons of troops from the USSR proper which could start showing up in just a few days. Before the widespread introduction of precision guided weapons and modern strike aircraft (which could quickly blow up all the railroad and road bridges) in the late 70s and 1980s NATO simply had no effective means other then nukes with which to stop these follow on forces before they reached the battlefield.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-11-20 02:25am

Well, the Soviet Army had 11 365 000 men at the start of year 1945 - which rapidly contracted, starting in 1946, a further massive cutdown in 1948. On the 1st of March 1953 it was down to 5 396 000, and by the start of year 1958 the size of the Army decreased to a mere 3 156 000 men.

The Soviet Army wobbled from 2,8 to 5,3 million men during various times of the Cold War, it wasn't 7,000,000 (unless you count WARPAC ground forces; but then the figure would likely be greater).

Thus the conventional ground army supermacy was only achieved with WARPAC Allies paving the way for Soviet reinforcements to come in later; by itself the USSR did not have a huge conventional supremacy over the militaries of Europe after the 1950s.

I think NATO would have a hard time dealing with the Soviet GSVG (up to 350 000 top-equipped men in mechanized units) and East German/PPL forces during the initial strike, but the USSR often started the wargames with NATO being the attacker and the necessity to repeal a modestly deep attack in 3 days before the nukes start flying. Perhaps we were giving NATO more strength than it deserved.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2008-11-20 03:38am

I meant 7 million for the entire Soviet military, not just the Army. My figure for 3.3 million for NATO other then the US (which counts unreliable French forces) is also for total military manpower, not Army alone.

Not counting French forces, NATO could field about 26 divisions in West Germany with 3-4 days of preparation in 1980. The Soviet Union meanwhile had 27 divisions in East Germany-Poland-Czechoslovakia already. Warsaw Pact Forces from those three states could add nearly another 30 divisions. Additional Soviet forces are in Hungary but I'd assume they'd stay in place to keep NATOs souther flank threatened, and that none of the other Warsaw Pact states had modern enough equipment to take on more then minor roles.

I don’t recall what NATO reserves amounted too in deployed combat units (France had I think 7 active duty divisions) but it wasn’t a lot without at least 10-14 days of mobilization. The Baltic-Byelorussian-Carpathian-Kiev military districts meanwhile held over 50 Soviet divisions already, over half of them high readiness formation. That sure looks like a clear Soviet conventional superiority to me. Something like 17 or 18 separate railway lines cross the Polish frontier too, providing plenty of paths for those divisions to move to the battle zone.

NATO did have plans for preemptive ground attacks in East Germany but it was never realistic that NATO political leadership would allow such a thing to happen. If they had enough warning to mount such an attack, they’d have insisted on trying politics to avoid it.

CCourse none of this truly mattered, NATO simply always relied on tactical nuclear weapons to defend Europe and avoid economic ruin trying to match the USSR in army strength. Conventional forces were built up heavily in the 1980s mainly as means of ensuring that a sudden Soviet attack wouldn’t push so deep into Germany in the first hours that the weapons couldn’t be used owing to the proximity of so many dense urban areas. We also modernized the nukes at the same time, and deployed the mighty Pershing II, which was probably our most effective weapon of the Cold War by scaring you guys into the INF treaty much to your own disadvantage given the need to strike targets across the Eurasian land mass.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-11-20 06:23am

Yeah, if we are counting NATO versus WARPAC, a clear conventional superiority is established and NATO would be rolled over rather swiftly. And it's impossible to imagine any sort of NATO-Soviet war not involving WARPAC.
I meant 7 million for the entire Soviet military, not just the Army.
That is possible. The Army always was the most numerous part though, and for the general strength to be 6-7 million the army should be around 5 million. The Soviet AF and Navy combined would equal around another million at best, as far as I know.
NATO did have plans for preemptive ground attacks in East Germany but it was never realistic that NATO political leadership would allow such a thing to happen.
The USSR always considered a possibility of local conflicts springing into a larger war with an attack by either power, I guess so did NATO.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by thejester » 2008-11-20 06:30am

Sea Skimmer wrote:I don’t recall what NATO reserves amounted too in deployed combat units (France had I think 7 active duty divisions) but it wasn’t a lot without at least 10-14 days of mobilization. The Baltic-Byelorussian-Carpathian-Kiev military districts meanwhile held over 50 Soviet divisions already, over half of them high readiness formation. That sure looks like a clear Soviet conventional superiority to me. Something like 17 or 18 separate railway lines cross the Polish frontier too, providing plenty of paths for those divisions to move to the battle zone.
Virtually none, AFAIK. NATO reserves (perhaps more accurately, second echelon) were US III Corps (REFORGER) and the French Army. III Corps in particular was ideally suited to meet Soviet second echelon forces head on before they hit the Rhine.

I suppose the key question in that is how quickly the Soviets could punch through in the north. The NATO units up there were of mixed nationality, didn't have the firepower of the US divisions and looked pretty thin the back. III Corps existed to cover them. On WW2 performances you would think the Soviets could get through pretty quickly; question is how much new technology such as 'heavy' ATGMs, attack helicopters and artillery-deployed minefields would slow Soviet advances.

If this NATO forward element could thwart initial breakthrough attempts and force mobile units to be committed to force the breach, NATO might actually have had a chance in the mid/late 80s. If not, though....
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Pelranius » 2008-11-20 10:57am

Stas Bush wrote:Yeah, if we are counting NATO versus WARPAC, a clear conventional superiority is established and NATO would be rolled over rather swiftly. And it's impossible to imagine any sort of NATO-Soviet war not involving WARPAC.
I meant 7 million for the entire Soviet military, not just the Army.
That is possible. The Army always was the most numerous part though, and for the general strength to be 6-7 million the army should be around 5 million. The Soviet AF and Navy combined would equal around another million at best, as far as I know.
NATO did have plans for preemptive ground attacks in East Germany but it was never realistic that NATO political leadership would allow such a thing to happen.
The USSR always considered a possibility of local conflicts springing into a larger war with an attack by either power, I guess so did NATO.
Would one also include the Air Defense troops, border guards and Interior, KGB formations (yeah, I know the border guards are KGB too) in the 7 million? They had quite a lot of troops, but how good would security troops be in an actual war with NATO? (they seem somewhat more heavily armed than the Chinese PAP, which isn't saying very much)
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by thejester » 2008-11-20 04:58pm

Just as a point of interest, this thread at ACG has tons of stuff about NATO/WARPAC punching on in central Europe. Opening article ain't great but the main contributors - R.N. Armstrong, Sennef, GCoyote etc - all served in one capacity or another. Richard in particular is great; served at a middle-level staff post in SHAEF during the '70s, IIRC, and spent time with David Glantz.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2008-11-20 07:10pm

Pelranius wrote: Would one also include the Air Defense troops, border guards and Interior, KGB formations (yeah, I know the border guards are KGB too) in the 7 million? They had quite a lot of troops, but how good would security troops be in an actual war with NATO? (they seem somewhat more heavily armed than the Chinese PAP, which isn't saying very much)
I’m not sure about KGB forces, but the PVO and all other military branches are in the 7 million figure I’m quoting, and I think the KGB is too, I'd have to go look it up again. Counted or not, in many cases KGB boarder guards were as well armed as the more lightly equipped NATO field divisions. This is because they didn’t just keep out spies and keep in Soviet citizens, they also outright manned boarder fortifications and were expected to repel conventional military attacks, partially along the Chinese boarder. The naval arm of the KGB boarder guards operated ships as large as Udaloy class destroyers and Krivak class frigates. I wouldn't count on them in any offensive role, but they'd have real value for defensive fighting and for securing the rear areas of advancing army troops. NATO after all had extensive stay behind commando forces (armed with weapons up to atomic demolitions munitions) which would need to be dealt with.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-11-20 10:23pm

Oh, I'll support what Skimmer said: KGB border guards (now FSB border guards) are some of the best-armed and best-trained soldiers in the USSR. Many of them had special operations training. If it says something, the special forces also operated under the KGB.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Akumz Razor » 2008-11-21 12:33am

Interesting stuff. I don't have anything to add, just popping in to request more of those awesome invasion maps :)
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Sidewinder » 2008-11-21 10:15pm

Question for people who're from former Soviet Republics and Eastern Europe: How enthusiastic were those nations' government leaders for a war with NATO? I'm not asking about paranoid "The USA is the new Nazi Germany! They're fiendishly scheming to conquer the Motherland!" propaganda that apparently influenced those government leaders' thoughts and actions, I'm asking if the communists actually wanted to invade and occupy Western Europe to bring those nations under their sphere of influence.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by K. A. Pital » 2008-11-22 03:47am

Um... not at all? When you have 50% of your industry destroyed and 10% population slaughtered in WWII, why would you want to start a war which would lead to more deaths?

Also, there wasn't propaganda in the vein of "USA = new Nazi Germany". Too many people encountered Germany's troops firsthand and it would be hard to convince even a simple Soviet citizen that Nazis and US people were one and the same. :lol: More like "USA = New British Empire". For a while, French and British colonial empires were also under fire in propaganda, but that ceased in the 1970s with the decolonization mostly complete.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by MKSheppard » 2008-12-30 01:21pm

Reading through Dropshot now:
Although initial Allied strategy against the USSR should emphasize the application of heavy atomic and conventional bombing attacks against selected critical targets and a continuation of the air offensive until the capitulation of the Soviets, it is imprudent to assume that complete victory can be won by the air offensive alone. Achievement of our war objectives will undoubtedly require occupation of certain strategic areas by major Allied land forces and may require a major land campaign.
I hereby declare that line -- "Heavy Atomic and Conventional bombing" to be WIN.
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Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Lonestar » 2008-12-30 01:26pm

MKSheppard wrote:Reading through Dropshot now:
Although initial Allied strategy against the USSR should emphasize the application of heavy atomic and conventional bombing attacks against selected critical targets and a continuation of the air offensive until the capitulation of the Soviets, it is imprudent to assume that complete victory can be won by the air offensive alone. Achievement of our war objectives will undoubtedly require occupation of certain strategic areas by major Allied land forces and may require a major land campaign.
I hereby declare that line -- "Heavy Atomic and Conventional bombing" to be WIN.
WIN doesn't use bright yellow colors that burn out peoples' retinas.
"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."

Pelranius
Sith Marauder
Posts: 3539
Joined: 2006-10-24 11:35am
Location: Around and about the Beltway

Re: US War Plans for the Commies...

Post by Pelranius » 2008-12-31 04:23am

Thanks for the info about the border guards. Though I must admit that I always thought the Gladio cells by NATO were overrated (cmon, arming a bunch of right wing lunatics? Ideologically motivated thugs aren't exactly Partisan material).
Turns out that a five way cross over between It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Ali G Show, Fargo, Idiocracy and Veep is a lot less funny when you're actually living in it.

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