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Military power of NATO and the Warsaw Pact states in 1973.svg
“Military power of NATO and the Warsaw Pact states in 1973”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


Over at the National Interest, I run through some of the history of late-Cold War operational planning…

During the 1950s and 1960s, NATO and the Warsaw Pact agreed about two things regarding combat on the Central front. First, Warsaw Pact forces would quickly overrun NATO forces, achieving rates of advance across Western Europe that exceeded even those of World War II. Second, both NATO and the Warsaw Pact would make plentiful use of tactical nuclear weapons, both to break up enemy formations and also to pave the way for advancing forces.

Both of these assumptions began to break down in the early 1970s. On the first, the increasing strength of NATO land forces (especially American and German) suggested that Western armies might have something more to hope for than reaching the English Channel ahead of the Russians. Second, both sides became skeptical that conflict would necessarily result in the use of tactical nukes.

Comments are a bit less entertaining this week.

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