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Shoobe01
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« on: December 06, 2014, 03:09:41 pm »

The Soviet View of a Desert Storm

Classified analysis redacted * All information derived from open sources

Open source analysis indicates that the conflict in the Persian Gulf has generated considerable interest in the Soviet Union. The war has rekindled intense debates about the nature of Soviet national security and the future direction of Soviet foreign policy. Because of both its national security and domestic-political implications, the debate is muted but what is clear is that the outcomes have invalidate key aspects of Soviet military doctrine and strategy, undermining the legitimacy and role of the Armed Forces in Soviet society.

The Soviet General Staff devoted considerable resources to monitoring allied military operations in the Persian Gulf. Soviet commentaries on allied air and ground operations, technology, training, and troop dispositions indicate that the Soviets were making wide use of both electronic monitoring systems and intelligence satellites to track allied forces. These themes are of interest in that they provide a great deal of insight into those aspects of Desert Storm considered important by Soviet military specialists.

With regard to allied forces, a number of recurring themes are evident throughout the Soviet military analysis of coalition operations:
  • The importance of preemption in allied air operations
  • The achievement of surprise at the tactical and operational level
  • The decisive role of electronic warfare and technical intelligence in achieving surprise and air supremacy
  • The exploitation of new technologies (especially cruise missile, stealth, and anti-missile)
  • The large-scale use of precision guided weapons and munitions
  • The high degree of accuracy of air and naval strikes
  • The importance of forward based carrier aircraft
  • The inability to destroy mobile missile launchers
  • The mistaken belief that the war could be won through air power alone
And lastly, an underestimation of Iraq, its armed forces, and its ability to endure the allied onslaught.

With regard to Iraqi forces, other themes emerge:
  • The underestimation of Western resolve and capabilities
  • The failure to launch a preemptive strike against the allied coalition when the opportunity was available
  • The failure to properly integrate and network air-defense systems
  • The integration of air-defense missile and artillery systems
  • The need for truly professional (versus political) air and air defense forces
  • The importance of redundant command and control systems and facilities
  • The importance of survivable underground complexes
  • The importance of survivable mobile missile launchers
  • The vulnerability of nuclear, biological and chemical production and storage facilities to air strikes.

Reports noted that American knowledge with regard to specific Iraqi weapons systems and their tactical and technical specifications and combat employment characteristics made this possible. He also observed that the American command had carried out a series of organizational and technical measures and special exercises at ranges in Britain, France, and Germany two months prior to the allied attack on Iraq, with the objective of testing and evaluating the effectiveness of the U.S. Air Force in neutralizing Iraq's air defense system. On the basis of these evaluations, modifications were made to weapons systems, especially those designated for use against SAM complexes.

Adjustments and reprogramming were carried out on all air and missile systems involved in the first strike, taking into account the latest data from radio and electronic intelligence in the region. Lieutenant General Gorbachev, Faculty Chief at the General Staff Academy (equivalent to the U.S. War College), noted that superior American technical intelligence and highly accurate U.S. weapons played a key role in neutralizing Iraq's air defense system. US electronic warfare systems, overwhelmed Iraqi command and control in the first few minutes of the air operation. Having no opposition in the air, the coalition would be able to compensate for Iraq's superiority in numbers of tanks.

Publicly the Soviet Ministry of Defense warned against over estimating allied successes. It was noted that Iraqi combat potential remained high and that the war could drag on, remarking that several allied aircraft had already been shot down, including an "invisible" F-117. This statement was expanded and was carried by Moscow Radio the same day.

Privately the Soviet Union had taken measures to strengthen its air defense system along its southern border. Combat readiness was brought up to a level considered necessary due to the proximity of the border. An internal analysis stated "However, these steps do not mean that the Soviet Union will enter the war. I believe that the USSR standpoint not to participate with its armed forces in this conflict has solidified even more."

The effectiveness of the coalition battleplan has given hardliners within the Soviet command structure a stronger position to oppose moderates. They note that accords have been reached between the USSR and the United States under which they exchanged data not only on their stocks of chemical weapons, but also on the places of manufacture and storage. Precise coordinates were supplied. The experience of the conflict in the Gulf shows that in the event of war these facilities will be first-strike targets. Additionally, that the coalition was simply NATO operating under another guise and their actions were rehearsals for invasion of the Soviet Union.

The debate over the performance of Soviet weaponry in the Gulf War has been intense and has already resulted in a sweeping review of the Soviet doctrine for Europe. Recent statements are indicative of retrenchment on the part of the Soviet General Staff with regard to pursuit of conventional and nuclear arms control treaties with the West. The Soviet military has made a great deal of the fact that current treaties between the Soviet Union and NATO fail to address cruise missiles, stealth technology, or forward basing of carrier aircraft. Moreover, the war in the Persian Gulf appears to have invalidated the quantitative paradigm at the heart of current arms control treaties. Instead a new qualitative paradigm in which a smaller, professional, technologically superior force is able to defeat a much larger, technologically inferior one is taking shape. The success of the allied air campaign in Desert Storm has thus created a new set of security concerns for the Soviet Union.

As might have been expected, some elements of the Soviet press have taken an anti-American stance in regards to the Persian Gulf War. On 9 February, Moscow Radio aired a commentary with clear statements that intrigue by the motivateds and secret services led to coalition intervention in Kuwait.

Possible American use of nuclear and chemical weapons against Iraq continued to be a major theme. On 13 February commentary on Moscow Radio, asserted that some political leaders in the United States favored the use of nuclear weapons in the Gulf War to minimize American losses. He also questioned whether the U.S. had given up its policy of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and promoting the Nonproliferation Treaty. They concluded that the very fact that American officials were considering the use of nuclear weapons as an option in the Gulf showed that events were threatening to go beyond the UN mandate.

General Lobov, was stinging in his criticism of allied military operations in the conflict. "No one," he noted, "should be allowed to use the Security Council resolutions as a smoke-screen to camouflage the massacre on Iraqi territory." Lobov went on to express concern over the "testing of advanced weaponry, such as cruise missiles or Stealth aircraft." He warned that such tests could "disturb the qualitative parity in the weapons sector and have serious consequences for the future." He concluded that the prospects were very alarming.
Public condemnation of American military operations by such senior-level Soviet officers is indicative of increasingly problematic Soviet-American relations in the postwar period. With the military gaining an increasingly influential role in Soviet domestic politics, Gorbachev's "New Thinking" is rapidly being replaced by to the General Staff's old thinking. According to reports in the Western press, resurgent military conservatives in the Kremlin are taking an increasingly hard line in both the START and CFE talks.

He further suggests that, having concluded that conventional force reductions in Europe run counter to Soviet security interests, the Soviet military is prepared to blame NATO for their failure. The success of the allied air campaign—and Western technology—in the Persian Gulf has created a security dilemma for the Soviet Union: it finds itself increasingly unable to keep pace with Western technological developments.

The Soviet Central Asian Factor
One reason cited to explain the Soviet Union's lukewarm support for the allied coalition is Soviet Muslim backing for Saddam Hussein. In a poll conducted by INTERFAX early in the war, most Soviet citizens supported the allies in the war. The survey, however, failed to take into account Soviet Muslim sentiment. According to Oleg Shchedrov, a Radio Moscow commentator, many Soviet Muslims view Saddam Hussein as a defender of the faith, "comparable to the late Ayatollah Khomeini." Novosti, the government news agency, reported that the Iraqi Embassy in Moscow had received more than 10,000 letters from Soviet Muslims volunteering to fight on the side of Iraq against allied forces.

Some 58 million Muslims live in the Soviet Union, most in the Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, Kirghizia, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, located only 250 kilometers from the fighting in the Persian Gulf. Thus, Soviet Muslims account for more than 20 percent of the Soviet population. Furthermore, they are rapidly growing in number. Soviet authorities fear that the war will further exacerbate tensions between the Soviet Government and a rapidly growing and increasingly militant Muslim population. The result would be a further escalation of the ethnic violence which has already engulfed the region.

In another 22 February broadcast on Moscow Radio, the Soviet MoD took the opportunity to refute Western reports that a delegation of the Soviet General Staff was staying in Iraq. According to the Defense Ministry, allegations that the Soviet Union was supplying Iraq with either military supplies, specialists or intelligence were false. It also denied providing the United States with information on Iraqi systems. The report notes that despite the fact that all previous fabrications have been officially denied, a mythical delegation has now been added. It is not difficult to guess that this is being done with a view to discredit the basic Soviet stance on the crisis in the Persian Gulf area. The broadcast concluded by stressing that such "disinformation" is being spread by someone "who is not interested in a peaceful settlement to the conflict," a clear allusion to the United States.

Colonel Aleksandr Tsalko, who headed a Soviet Air Force Training Center prior to assuming his duties as a Soviet People's Deputy, observed that the crushing defeat of the Iraqi Army made it clear the Soviet military doctrine and the entire model of military development were obsolete. On a 1 March Moscow Radio broadcast he stated “the main lesson of the war was that huge amounts of tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery pieces were "absolutely useless."

In the same broadcast, Colonel Nikolay Petrushenko, one of the leaders of the powerful, conservative, Soyuz [Union] organization, stated that he had no doubts that the reported successes of the multinational forces were exaggerated by the Western press. "Only a very naive person," he commented, "can believe that during the month and a half of preparations for the war, the U.S. lost 80 people.

However, a conference of the Moscow Council on 3 March discussed the lessons of the Gulf War. According to speakers, the war showed that Soviet military doctrine and principles of military development had "considerable drawbacks" and that prevailing Soviet views on modern war had become "outdated.” The war also showed the advantages of a highly-professional army over a mass army based on universal military service. Participants in the conference included Soviet and Russian People's Deputies, members of the Democratic Russia Movement, and military servicemen. They pointed out that the previously announced military reforms were actually not taking place for lack of relevant legislation.

Conclusion
The military operations between the coalition forces and Iraq have modified the idea which Soviets had about the nature of modern military operations. A deeper analysis is necessary, but one point is already clear; the Soviet Armed Forces will have to take a closer look at the quality of their weapons, their equipment, and their strategy.
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