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NATO vs Warsaw Pact

Discussion in 'World History' started by Cunobelin, Jul 3, 2003.

  1. Case

    Case The horror, the horror

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    Bear in mind that that resulted from a deliberate choice - the Soviets chose to emphasize quantity over quality, believing that the savings which resulted from not equiping thier tanks with the best available technology would be more then made up by using the extra resourses to produce more tanks.

    Were they wrong? It's actually hard to say. Recent experiances sugest that the training and morale of troops are actually more important then technological factors (ie, the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War, The Falklands, etc). Interestingly, the US Army's 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment is equiped and fights as a Soviet pattern motor rifle regiment as the opposing force at the National Training Center, and it aparently normally beats it's opponents. This sugests that Soviet doctrine and weaponry was fundamentally sound, and could have proved sucessful if the Soviets had entered a war with well trained personel led by good officers.

    The first Gulf War provided remarkably few lessons for the employment of armor or indicators of the relative quality of tanks. As early as WW2 it was clear that any force which enjoyed air domanance over it's oponents was almost impossible to defeat, with armoured formations in open terrain being extreamly vunerable to air attack. Similarly, the importance of crew training was also understood to be important. Given the massive disparity in training and logistical support between the US and Iraqi Armues, it's likely that the US would have scored an easy victory if it's forces had been using T-72s and the Iraqis had had the M1s.
     
  2. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Deity

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    Up to around 1980 I would think the Warsaw Pact would have won if the war was conventional. Lets examine some of the equipment for Natos "technological edge"

    F15/16 Vs Mig 29. The Mig 29 gave western military planners a nasty shock. Up there with the Focke Wulf 190 vs the Spitfire in WW2. At the time the Mig 29 was a good candidate fot the most dangerous thing flying.

    T72/T80 vs M60. At this point the Abrams was either non existent or at prototype stage/early production models.

    Artillery. The Warsaw pact artillery was on par with Nato. And they had more of it.

    The west had the edge but not as decisive as widely believed. USSR missed the boat on the microchip revolution though so after 1980 or so Nato gets better although I have my doubts.

    The Soviet battleplan.

    The best defense is to attack. Striking 1st is a huge advantage. The Soviets had alot of longe range artillery and rockets to hit Nato airfields with. If things went according to plan the neither side would have air superiorty. This gives the USSR the advantage. They also had something like 100000 Spetsnaz (sp?) troops to hit airfield, polital targets, communications and head quaters with.

    Mobilisation. The attack if surprise was achieved would fall largly on the German army which was probably unmobilised. American forces would have been hugely outnumbered and also unmobilised. In 24 hours the Americans could get 1 division to europe. The rest would take a week or more to get there.

    Speed. The Soviets plan didn't involve rebuilding casualties in any divisions. Instead new divisions would be rotated in. In theory any Nato forces would be fighting an endless wave of fresh troops, supplies and tanks. Nato also had issues with resupply as each national army often used different weapons. One Soviet plan involved the whole war to be limited to 3 days to occupy Germany. The idea being Germany would make a seperate peace which could splinter NATO. Also a rapid advance would involve dropping nukes on German soil not the Pacts territory.

    Nuclear option
    Any nuclear strike on the USSR results in a bad suntan day for most American cities. The USSR had more nukes and more targets than America. Not many Russian cities had more than 1 million population. Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev vs LA, New York, Chicago, Washington, Every state capital........

    My personal belief is the Warsaw pact would win the initial 1st week of the war and try to make peace. I'm not sure the west would be willing to fight WW2 all over agin vs a nuclear arme for that has conquered Germany. Would they be willing to go nuclear? Would Nato survive if Britain and France were going to be the next target? Gets iffy at this point.
     
  3. Case

    Case The horror, the horror

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    Actually, the MiG-29 wasn't available until well after the F-15 and F-16 were deployed in considerable numbers. NATO's F-15 and 16s would have greatly outnumber the MiGs anyway - the Soviets only built about 600 of them, compared to about 800 F-15s and literally thousands of F-16s. The Soviets standard fighter was actually the dodgy MiG-23 and not the excelent MiG-29. Bear in mind that NATO pilot quality was also consistantly higher then Soviet pilot quality, and this, along with NATOs vastly superior AWACS coverage and general aviation technology, would have givern the NATO air forces a decisive edge.



    Again, the T-80 was introduced after the M-1 Abrams (and the German Leopard II - don't forget that the West German Army was about twice the size of the US force deployed to Europe). I agree that the T-72 was superior to the M-60 though.

    The West German Army was actually kept on a fairly high state of alert and fielded 10 active divisions and a number of reserve divisions, and the US had about 5 divisions permanently based in West Germany. The other NATO members had about another 5 divisions on a high state of alert in West Germany, with many more divisions in their home countries ready to rapidly move into Germany. There's excelent articles on the make-up of NATO and Warsaw pact forces at www.orbat.com/site/history/1946-99/index.html

    True, however one of NATO's greatest sucesses was the program whereby the different weapons used common ammunition types and, where practical, spare parts. Supply would have been a headache, but a managable one.
     
  4. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Deity

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    Wouldn't the Warsaw pact have the easier supply lines? Weren't projections by both sides would run low on supplies after the 1st week or so? Also I believe something like 2000 Mig 29s were produced. After the breakup of the Soviet Union they lost over 1300 Aircraft to the various Republics, Warsaw Pact countries and poor maintenance.

    Up until the mid 80's the west didn't have the huge decisive tech edge they believed. If the Warsaw Pact came west in 75 for example not to many F15/16 would be around and after Vietnam the American armed forces were in the process of being reorganised. The best the west could hope for was a stalemate or a counter attack to drive the Warsaw Pact forces back to East Germany not to mention any political problems that would arise between German, French,British and American commands.
     
  5. Case

    Case The horror, the horror

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    Maybe, Maybe not. The supply line across the Atlantic would have been a real headache for NATO, but again, it would have been a managable one. As NATOs Anti-Submarine technology and tactics were always at least full generation ahead of the Soviet Sub fleet they would have easily won any 'battle of the Atlantic' abliet with serious casualties. In contrast, NATO put a lot of empahsis on tactics to disrupt the Soviet supply lines, which would have included lots of bridges being destroyed and harrasment by NATO special forces.

    All the NATO countries maintained about a month's worth of war stocks. Given the appaling economic state of the USSR from the 70s it's hard to believe that the Warsaw Pact had more then NATO

    I'm pretty sure that that figure is much too high. The MiG-29 fleets of every country except Russia have always been really small - the average fleet size seems to only be about 20 aircraft! The MiGs are quite a sizable purchase for the relatively poor countries who have bought or inherited them.

    True. OTOH, dente cut both ways - the Soviet military was also in a relatively low state of readiness until the Cold War was intensified in the late 70s (the Vietnam war was a huge drain on the Soviet war machine as well as the American one). The Arab-Israeli wars of the 60s and 70s tend to sugest that NATO weaponry and tactics were at least equal to the weapons and tactics used and exported by the Soviet Union. Also, I think that you're continusly over-emphasing the importance of American ground troops in Europe - whatever the failings of the US Army of the period, all the European NATO powers had large, well trained and well equiped armies on a high state of alert. The main US contribution to the defence of Western Europe was through air and naval power, and not ground forces.
     
  6. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Deity

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    I think you'll find the USSR had massive stockpiles of supplies far in excess of anything NATO had. They still had thousands of T34/55 in storage and kept manufacturing the T34 85 millimetre shell into the 80's. Not saying T55's would make a huge difference but they seemd to stockpile everything. The USSR was also the worlds biggest oil country but didn't export it. It all went to the military.

    As for NATO air superiority I wonder how many planes could have taken off in a 1st strike scenario. Airfields were a high priority target for the Soviets. Also in Vietnam at times the American were losing more planes than they were downing- vs inferior Russian planes. The Soviets had alot of short/medium range rockets aimed at the airfields.

    I think its to easy to dismiss alot of Soviet equipment out of arrogance and wishful thinking. 1975 or earlier would have been the best time for any Soviet offensive. Not counting the nuclear option.
     
  7. marshal zhukov

    marshal zhukov good economist wannabe

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    I don't think that we can precisely predict which side would win because we don't have accurate figures or statistics.

    We need both but from a respectable source, so inform from where those numbers are coming from, it better not be from a site on the internet no one has ever heard of.
    I think that after we do that we will be able to speculate which side would win this once probable war.

    Some of what is written here is based upon crasy statistics: 2000 mig-29s ?
    We should all be more serious and be more mindful of what we write.
    Inform the source
     
  8. Patroklos

    Patroklos Deity

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    The planes downed in Vietnam were overwhelmingly do to ground fire, to the NVA airforce. And once the Russians moved into Germany they would lose their highly fortified SAM rings and be vulnerable to ours.

    And it seems that that alot of you are assuming a high level of suprise. I GURANTEE you that if you waited to use the entirety of the Russian arsenel in one big push we would have a few days notice. If you attacked with partial forces for suprise then you wouldn't get those airfields. Not that a significant number of aircraft were at airfields that would have been in artillery range for a number of days anyways, no matter what the Soviets attacked with.

    I think you would at best get most of Germany, then get pushed back. Remeber that the NATO Alliance never had any intention of invading Warsaw Pact territory, just holding off the attack. Russia actually had to invade, so they are at a disadvantage regardless. Nore were the Russian allies in anyway on par with those of the US.

    I think the total production run of the MIG-29 might be that high, but we are talking about the Cold War. And a few hundred of those would be horribly substandard variants, as the Soviets never gave the WP anything of quality.
     
  9. Patroklos

    Patroklos Deity

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    That removes the Mig 29 from most of teh timeline in question.

    So the numbers available to the Soviets during the Cold War as well as the total numbers produced period have been vastly over estimated in this thread.
     

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