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"Pact Nation Reliability in the Cold War" Topic

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TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2020 4:22 a.m. PST

We all know that the Pact nations after the Cold War fell away from Russia in rapid succession when the Soviet Union ended. However, had the Cold War gone hot, let's say in the mid 80s when tensions were high, how would these same nations have reacted? In other words, how loyal to the cause/ reliable would they have been if the orders came down to roll West?

Would they have followed the orders straight away, dragged their feet but eventually comply, sit on their hands or actively defy their Soviet masters?

Most Cold War gone hot games seem to have Pact nations fighting in lock step with the Pact (and makes for interesting non-Soviet adversaries in a game setting), but what would the reality have been for individual nations, each with a unique and checkered Cold War history with the Soviet Union?

East Germany

Also, for bonus points, what would Austria and Yugoslavia have done in a Cold War gone hot?

nickinsomerset16 Jan 2020 4:47 a.m. PST

Friend was assistant DA is Warsaw, mid 80s, Polish were not considered 100% behind the Russians.

Tally Ho!

Jozis Tin Man16 Jan 2020 5:46 a.m. PST

My uninformed opinion is put your money on both Austria and Yugoslavia sitting it out. Soviets would not want to divert resources from the main show for little gain, neither were a threat. The Yugoslavians would not throw in with the Warsaw Pact for a multitude of reasons, unless it looked like a WP win.

Of course, as much as I have played the Cold War gone Hot, the reality is someone would probably start using tactical nukes (I vaguely remember reading an article that in the 70's a Soviet Division was expected to use one tactical nuclear weapon per day.) After that happens, it is a crap shoot as to what happens next.

I will be interested to hear what the opinion is on WP Ally reliability.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2020 5:48 a.m. PST

I know a chunk of the Polish army was supposed to go North into Denmark rather than west. We did question how Poland would react.

ScoutJock16 Jan 2020 6:24 a.m. PST

After the wall came down, our W. German partnership unit revealed they had been unofficially talking to their NVA counterparts through most of the 80s. They had a plan that if the Russians attacked west, they were joining forces and attacking east to reunify Germany.

Legion 416 Jan 2020 7:09 a.m. PST

I have heard some things similar to those posts. Many of the WP would not "assist" the USSR or actually go on the attack against them, etc.

That being said with some of the WP "rebelling" against the USSR plus all of NATO going to war, may have been a real game changer. If the Cold War went hot …

Thank the Gods we didn't have to find out … I and other Cold War Warriors on TMP may not be here at all … frown

john snelling16 Jan 2020 7:31 a.m. PST

US Intelligence Assessments and the Reliability of Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact Armed Forces, 1946-89

Legion 416 Jan 2020 8:19 a.m. PST

thumbs up

khanscom16 Jan 2020 8:24 a.m. PST

SPI's "NATO" had an interesting take on WP reliability:

Chances of an unreliable "ally" rolled with 1D6: Poland 1/6; E. Germany 3/6; Czechoslovakia 4/6; Hungary 2/6; Romania 3/6; Bulgaria 2/6; Yugoslavia 2/6.

If found "Unreliable" a further roll provided a 3/6 chance that the army would mobilize, but only for defense of its borders; 2/6 chance of remaining neutral and unmobilized unless invaded; 1/6 chance of rebellion, which could result in removal of 2 to 18 divisions from the Soviet forces available for attack. Chinese activity was allowed for as well (a disaster for USSR even without an active war in the east).

15mm and 28mm Fanatik16 Jan 2020 8:49 a.m. PST

I'm surprised the Czechs are more reliable than the NVA.

Pan Marek16 Jan 2020 8:56 a.m. PST

Most WWIII games take place in the 80s. But people forget that Solidarity appeared in 1980, and as it grew in power,
there was much talk about the USSR pulling a Czechoslovakia on Poland. This resulted in speculation on whether the Polish armed forces would resist. It gave rise to a joke:

A Polish soldier is in a trench being rushed by an East German soldier and a Soviet soldier. He is down to one round and his bayonet. Who does he shoot?
Answer: The East German. Business before pleasure.

A typically dark joke that illustrates how Poles felt about Russians. I think the reliability of WP militaries
was big issue for the Soviets. Gamers should take it into account.

And Yugoslavia was not part of the WP. It was officially neutral.

Old Wolfman16 Jan 2020 9:23 a.m. PST

GDR forces were considered more compliant to WP orders than most others. And the Albanians were tighter with Beijing at that time . As for Austria,the Sovs had the manpower and hardware to punch through.

Garand16 Jan 2020 10:05 a.m. PST

I always thought the East Germans were the most reliable WarPact member state, beside the Soviets of course…


nochules16 Jan 2020 10:57 a.m. PST

Romania refused to participate in the '68 invasion of Czechoslovakia, so certainly cracks could appear in other circumstances as well.

emckinney16 Jan 2020 11:45 a.m. PST

Armies tend to fight and soldiers follow their officers because they're disciplined to do so, because organizing mutiny is difficult and dangerous, and because everyone makes assumptions about everyone else. Officers are steeped in military life and military traditions, so they tend to follow the orders of their superiors, even when those orders are stupid or suicidal for the officer's unit.

When you look at the mass defections of units, it's impossible to believe that everyone in those units supported the defection. They were carried along with the tide.

Given a willingness to lie, and complete control of the media, I have no doubt that the Soviet apparatus would have come up with a story to motivate everyone. If you want to motivate the Poles and the Czechs, a plot to reunify Germany is a good story. Not so effective with the Germans, but you have to start somewhere. Staged attacks were well-learned from the Nazis and used to justify the 1939 invasion of Finland (the background there is a whole 'nother story).

Depending on year and country, I'd expect the worst resistance in the form of slacking. Czechoslovak soldiers in the 70s obviously wouldn't have been motivated and would have been considered unreliable. I'm not sure what happened to the Czechoslovakian officer corps after '68, but I'm sure that they were all investigated very, very carefully and that many were purged (at least most of them were probably just kicked out, not shot). That means a lot of politically-reliable, but inexperienced officers (if not incompetent).

Pan Marek16 Jan 2020 1:36 p.m. PST

First and foremost, my reading about life in the old Soviet Bloc, watching the films of Andrei Wajda and personal accounts from relatives and others who lived in post war Poland lead me to say that the populace was not fooled one bit by any Soviet or Polish governmental propaganda. This was almost as true in the USSR, where people said of the two major newspapers: "In Pravda there is no truth and in Izvestia there is no news" Pravda means truth in Russian, while Izvestia means news.

Then there is the age old ethnic animosities/nationalisms. Poles hate Russians more than they hate Germans. Its that simple.

The people of the 1970s-80s Warsaw Pact did not believe anything that came from the official media. And the armies were of conscripts, not professionals.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2020 2:30 p.m. PST

"And Yugoslavia was not part of the WP. It was officially neutral."

Yeah, I should have been clearer there- I am well aware of this, but listed Yugoslavia and Austria separately as they had leanings, and both border on the potential combatants.

And yes, this is for gaming purposes only- obviously we all should be very thankful that Western and Eastern heads prevailed and there was no war.

I, too always thought that East Germany would be most reliable simply because of the Stasi, which I have been led to believe either was everywhere or made people believe they were everywhere and ensured compliance. I'd be curious to hear the real story, though, on East German belief in 'the cause.'

Interesting responses so far. Thanks for this!

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2020 3:29 p.m. PST

I think it would be impossible to say with any certainty, I think the Soviets would not have trusted their East European allies completely, and would have taken the lead in most fronts.
After all, they remembered how poorly the EE allies had served Germany in the 'Great Patriotic War'. OK if strongly supported, otherwise rather fragile.

Legion 416 Jan 2020 3:45 p.m. PST

SPI's NATO … thumbs up

raylev316 Jan 2020 6:48 p.m. PST

The problem for the Russians is that they couldn't trust their allies. Keep in mind that during the Cold War the Russians invaded three of their own allies….East Germany in 1953, Hungary in 1956, and Czechoslovakia in 1968.

I believe that in the event of a WP invasion of the west, if NATO stopped the initial attack or if it appeared they would win, Russia's allies would have stopped fighting or even turned on Russia.

But, counter factuals are fun for discussions.

Barin117 Jan 2020 2:57 a.m. PST

I was in army at the end of Cold War years (85-87). Personally, I wasn't involved in joint drills with our "allies", but some of our officers were, as there was a program "to get know each other" even on the level of artillery battery commanders to be able to perform together. When our officers were coming back from these drills (I recall 1986 Dozor) sometimes we had them talking to us aboyt their experience.
In short, our captain had our allies split into battle capability and reliability during conflict. Our security officer had similar opinion, as far as I recall it was smth like this:
- Germans top capability, medium reliability
- Poles- medium capability, low reliability
- Hungarians- medium capability, low reliability
- Czechoslovakians- good capability, low reliability
- Bulgarians low capability, medium reliability
- Romanians low capability, medium reliability

All in all, even at medium level, the officers were aware, that depending how the conflict will be developing, you may find yourself alone.
However, other scenarios were considered. If you country was nuked by NATO, there's much higher chance that they will be fighting against ground troops.
Also, it was considered that some Warpac troops might be easier to convince to fight against their neighbours with age-old grudges (i.e Germans) than americans or, say, French.

Red Line17 Jan 2020 3:59 a.m. PST

Either Brezhnev or Andropov had a treaty drawn up in the early '80s that directly transferred control of Warsaw Pact militaries to Soviet command on the outbreak of war.
Also whilst the lower ranks would contain large numbers of people who weren't the greatest fans of Moscow the brass seems to have been stuffed with hardliners, so you'd have to dislocate the components, whilst providing leadership and organisation.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2020 4:00 a.m. PST

Thanks for your perspective Barin1! Very interesting, and it's fortunate for us all that we live in a world where we never had to find out and can talk to each other directly from across the globe in peace.

I was in the US Navy at the same time as you were in the army so I am so glad we never had to face each other as adversaries.

dwight shrute17 Jan 2020 5:15 a.m. PST

Bulgaria and Romania would have fought on The southern front . An interesting local dynamic , I would have thought they would have quite enjoyed fighting Greeks and Turks .Bulgarians , soviet Marines and Paras take Istanbul in week one .
The East German elite units , Willi Sangar etc would have been reliable , maybe a local civil war would have been fought out destabilising the whole country .
Polish Marines were tasked with taking out Denmark and controlling the baltic sea routes . I could see that .
How long any loyalties would have lasted in the face of battlefield nukes would be anyone's guess .
Off to dig my GDW's third world war games out of the loft .

Legion 417 Jan 2020 8:29 a.m. PST

Armies tend to fight and soldiers follow their officers because they're disciplined to do so, because organizing mutiny is difficult and dangerous, and because everyone makes assumptions about everyone else. Officers are steeped in military life and military traditions, so they tend to follow the orders of their superiors, even when those orders are stupid or suicidal for the officer's unit.
Generally that is true and the way the "system" works. But I know we did not have to follow illegal orders, e.g. My Lai.

I'd think/hope I'd never get[or give] a stupid or suicidal order. I know generally the US Military is not known for giving suicidal orders(?). And for stupid, well that can go either way.

Fortunately we never had to find out !

That being said. When in the 101, as a 1LT, I and another 1LT were "chosen/assigned" to be Bn Atomic Demolitions Missions Officers. Yes, go in with an Inf Plt, a CE ADM Section, an SF A-Tm, SatCom w/the POTUS/JCS and a back-packed Nuke. Can't remember the yields of the Small or Medium ADM. I guess it really wouldn't matter. huh?

Once inserted your Plt + would emplace the Nuke. Then go to the extraction point … hopefully.

We figured if things got that bad, we got that mission, it would be a one way trip … evil grin

Interestingly both of us 1LTs were not married. That probably was one of the criteria for being "selected". And being experienced enough[or stupid enough !] and known for getting the job done, I guess. frown

Good intel Barin1 ! I was also a Cold War Warrior, from '79-'90. Glad we met here on TMP than there at that time.

Old Wolfman17 Jan 2020 9:33 a.m. PST

And Stalin supposedly said that he didn't trust anyone,not even himself.

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