59. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1

[Omitted here is the table of contents.]


A. The Geographic Area of the Reductions

A number of geographic areas could be proposed as the basis for MBFR. Possible areas include:

—The “NATO Guidelines Area” (East and West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland and Czechoslovakia).

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—The “Rapacki Plan Area” (East and West Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia).

—East and West Germany.

—The NATO Guidelines Area plus the three Western Military Districts of the USSR.

—“Territories of European States” as stated in the Budapest Declaration if and when defined by the Warsaw Pact.

For a number of reasons, the NATO Guidelines Area seems to provide a good framework for MBFR.

—It has been generally accepted in NATO.

—It focuses attention on the main area of confrontation between NATO and the Pact.

Expansion of the area under consideration to include the three Western military districts of the USSR might be desirable in a corrective type of approach to MBFR since it would open the way for some limitations on Soviet reinforcement capability, which is a major source of concern for NATO, as well as for some limitations on nuclear weapons on Soviet soil. This would, however,

—Pose difficult political problems of limiting activity on Soviet soil.

—Probably be unacceptable to the Soviets without some compensation such as including the U.K., France and possibly even part of the U.S.

On the other hand, the Rapacki area, which has been proposed by the East in connection with nuclear free zones, might be useful at least as an initial negotiating position since it would subject fewer NATO forces to reduction. In addition, an area limited to the FRG and the GDR might be considered for symmetrical reductions in stationed forces. The balance of stationed forces in East and West Germany is approximately equal.

B. The National Status of Forces Considered for Reduction

It has often been assumed that MBFR should apply to both stationed and indigenous forces in Central Europe:

—This would allow a number of allied countries to share in reductions and thus to meet domestic pressures for force reductions.

Reductions in both stationed and indigenous forces should be considered. On the other hand, a number of arguments have been made for including only stationed forces:

—Stationed reductions would deal with the greatest threat to NATO, that is, Soviet forces.

—Reductions of indigenous units would be difficult to verify because it might not be possible to determine the ultimate disposition of [Page 247] disbanded units, and the disposition of equipment would pose special problems.

—The Soviets have suggested consideration of reduction of “foreign forces.”

—Stationed reductions favor NATO because fewer NATO forces in the Central Region qualify as stationed as compared with the situation with respect to Pact forces in that area. In addition, NATO indigenous forces in the Center region are thought by many to be better trained and equipped than their Pact counterparts; and in the Czech case, at least, there may be Soviet doubts over reliability.

C. Provisions Regarding Manpower

1. Definition of the Manpower Base

An MBFR proposal could conceivably include consideration of ground, naval and air forces but a number of arguments have been advanced for including only ground forces (which can be unambiguously defined as Army personnel).

—The significant unit for reduction of air strength is aircraft not manpower.

—Naval forces are difficult to include because naval vessels, which are the significant units for reduction of naval strength, are not unambiguously identified with specific land areas. In addition, there are relatively few Naval personnel stationed in Central Europe.

—Ground forces represent the primary manpower element in Central Europe.

In terms of the categories of personnel included, the manpower base for MBFR could be defined to include:

—Only presently assigned active duty personnel.

—Authorized peacetime or wartime strengths of units presently in the force structure.

—Active duty personnel plus reserve and possibly paramilitary personnel.

—Personnel based permanently in the area of reduction as well as dual-based personnel which are only there for some part of the year.

A number of problems would be encountered, however, in trying to include more than active duty personnel.

—It would be difficult to compare the functions of reserve and paramilitary personnel and to establish reliable verification procedures to account for them.

—It would be difficult to agree on authorized manning levels or, for example, to establish the number of reservists and paramilitary personnel to be counted.

—Reductions of personnel presently held in reserve status would impair NATO capability in the key area of mobilization and reinforcement.

—Inclusion of dual-based personnel would increase the total NATO forces subject to reduction. Furthermore, the Soviets could [Page 248] claim that several of their divisions are dual-based, thereby raising definitional problems.

2. The Basic Technique for Manpower Reductions

Studies of possible MBFR agreements have included extensive discussion of the relative effects of reductions by a given percentage, reductions by an absolute number and reductions to an absolute number. In a situation where the Pact has a numerical manpower advantage (which is the case for a base including either stationed or stationed and indigenous ground forces in the NATO Guidelines Area), the effects would be roughly as follows:

—Equal percentage reductions might favor NATO since the absolute level of Pact reductions would be greater.

—Equal absolute reductions would favor the Pact since NATO would have to remove a slightly larger proportion of its forces.

—Reductions to an absolute number would be most favorable to NATO.

In fact, given the small difference in total manpower balance in the NATO Guidelines Area the differences between these methods are not great and any one of them could be considered depending on the military and political implications of the agreement as a whole. Percentage reductions might be easiest to negotiate since they seem the most balanced and have gained acceptance in NATO as the basic technique for reductions. On the other hand, equal absolute reductions could avoid the problem of defining the base for reductions. So could reductions to an absolute number.

3. Treatment of Combat and Support Personnel

Any reduction of NATO forces should logically be predicated on maintaining an optimal balance between combat, combat support and service support elements of residual forces. Emphasis on the reductions of only combat elements or only support elements in NATO forces could result in post-reduction imbalances, which could degrade operational capabilities. In general, a balanced reduction of combat and support elements in NATO appears to be the most desirable form of reduction since:

—Support-heavy reductions could reduce NATO’s “staying power” as well as its mobilization and reinforcement capability since reception facilities for reserve units entering the force structure would be curtailed.

If a balanced reduction of both support and combat forces were applied to both NATO and the Pact:

—Reductions of combat and support personnel by an equal percentage would reduce Pact combat forces more than those of NATO be[Page 249]cause, the Pact force structure contains relatively more combat personnel than that of NATO.

—The force structures of the Pact and NATO are very different. In particular, the Pact maintains its men and matériel for combat replacement in additional whole units while NATO plans to use a variety of techniques to maintain acceptable strength levels in original combat units. There would, therefore, be real problems in comparing the support and combat units of the two sides.

Arguments have been made, however, for reducing only divisional manpower on the grounds that such reductions would hit at the basic Pact threat to NATO and that previous unilateral NATO reductions have been support-heavy. Conversely, some believe that NATO reductions might be taken predominantly in support units, while Pact reductions might be taken in combat units.

4. Sources of Manpower Reduced

Treatment of the sources of manpower reductions essentially depends on the type of MBFR agreement sought.

—In an agreement where small reductions are made for political purposes, reductions could be in manpower alone and made at the discretion of both sides. Under such provisions, thinning out of units could be allowed, making reliable verification of reductions which had taken place virtually impossible. Alternatively, in order to enhance verification, there could be some procedures for counting forces out of the area during reductions and/or for having each side announce specific units to be reduced.

—In an approach embodying larger symmetrical reductions or one designed to correct imbalances in present force structures, it would probably be necessary, as a part of the negotiations, to designate specific units or at least types of units to be reduced as well as to specify post-reduction ceilings by type of unit. Otherwise, verification would be difficult and there would be considerable uncertainty regarding the actual military effects of the reductions.

5. Disposition of Units Reduced

Stationed forces subject to reduction would obviously have to be withdrawn from the area or, in the case of Belgian and Dutch forces in the FRG, returned to their own territory. It would appear difficult, however, to require that stationed units be disbanded since verification of such a provision would be fraught with problems. Similar problems would be encountered in disbanding indigenous units even if collateral constraints were put on the use of vacated facilities and equipment held by these units was destroyed.

6. Collateral Constraints

Collateral constraints can be classified conceptually as to their intended effect:

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—Measures which enhance our ability to verify an MBFR agreement (e.g. special observers to monitor reductions, aerial observation provisions).

—Measures which enable us to receive earlier, less ambiguous indications of Pact mobilization and reinforcement (e.g. restrictions on troop movements across geographical areas, prior notification of exercises).

—Measures which actually impede/constrain mobilization and reinforcement (e.g. requirements that reduced forces be disbanded and associated equipment destroyed).

Some examples which have been discussed are:

—A declaration by each side of forces in the area of reduction, units to be reduced, routes of withdrawal, the timing of withdrawal, and units remaining in the area (at least by type).

—Prior notification of significant troop rotations.

—A ban on the reintroduction of troops into the area except for preannounced exercises.

—Limitations on the size, frequency and duration of exercises.

—Limitations on the deployment of forces in given areas.

—Limitations on exercises in these areas.

Logically, it might also be possible to limit redeployment of forces remaining in the reduction area after an agreement but this would be undesirable from NATO’s point of view because it would foreclose a significant way to improve the Alliance’s basic posture and flexibility (e.g., it might affect the operations of the ACE Mobile Force).

7. Timing of Reductions

In MBFR agreements calling for large reductions, it might be desirable to conduct the reductions in a number of phases, for example three phases of 10 percent each to get to a 30 percent reduction. Such provisions would not be necessary in agreements calling for small reductions up to 10 percent. (However, we could consider an arrangement where stationed forces were reduced first and indigenous forces in a latter phase.) In all agreements verification would be facilitated if each side announced in advance the periods in which withdrawals would be completed.

D. Provisions Regarding Mobilization and Reinforcement Capabilities

The relative NATO/Pact mobilization and reinforcement capabilities are the most important determinants of military capabilities over time in the Center Region. In general, both sides have a substantial capability to mobilize while the USSR has a clear advantage in reinforcement.

—The Pact can build a force in the Center Region of 80–85 divisions in about 10 days but would probably take three weeks for full mobilization and integration. The major mobilization and reinforcement capability of the Pact derives from its maintenance of many low [Page 251] strength divisions. These divisions contain one-quarter to one-half of their personnel and 45 to 65 percent of their equipment (including most of the major combat items except armored personnel carriers) during peacetime. This provides a nucleus which can be quickly fleshed out with reservists and support equipment from the civilian economy without further training as soon as they are at strength; this provides a quick combat force but one of uncertain quality compared to active Soviet forces in Germany. If there is a protracted period of tension before hostilities, these divisions could be expected to train and increase their effectiveness.

—Most of the manpower and almost all of the equipment the West Europeans plan to contribute to NATO could be mobilized within 15 days after the appropriate NATO countries have made the necessary political decisions. In the Center Region at M+30, assuming simultaneous mobilization by both NATO and the Pact, the NATO Allies could mobilize more total active ground manpower than the Pact, but less divisional manpower and fewer tanks. (NATO M-Day may lag behind the Pact M-Day due to time required for NATO to receive and act on strategic warning.)

It might be possible to design a series of “collateral constraints”, which would constrain the mobilization and reinforcement capabilities of each side. Constraints of this type would be complicated and could be difficult to negotiate and verify. They could also lead to serious tension in a post-agreement environment because of differing interpretations and unverified suspicions of violations. They might in fact exacerbate the serious imbalance that already exists in the relative reinforcement capabilities of the US and USSR. Constraints which might be considered include the following:

—Requirements that facilities occupied by withdrawn or disbanded forces be vacated permanently or put on some sort of caretaker status.

—Controls on stockpiles of pre-positioned equipment and that available as a war reserve.

—Limitations on manning levels of active units, reserve call-ups or integration of civilian personnel and vehicles into military force structures. Such limitations presumably could not be applied within the USSR, where most of the Pact mobilization takes place. On the other hand, applying them to NATO’s area of reduction could foreclose actions which NATO can take outside of the framework of any MBFR agreement to improve its mobilization and reinforcement capability.

E. Special Verification Provisions

Verification of an MBFR agreement would probably have to rely principally on national or unilateral measures. There are, however, a number of provisions which could be incorporated in an agreement in order to enhance verification capabilities. They include the following:

—Freer movement for attaché personnel and/or military liaison missions.

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—Special observers to monitor reductions as they are carried out. These observers could be static and/or mobile and would be withdrawn once the reductions were completed.

—Special provisions for aerial observation during the period when reductions were being carried out.

—Periodic aerial observations of limited areas in the post-agreement period.

—Permanent observers to monitor compliance with the agreement.

In addition, collateral constraints which might be considered for other reasons (e.g. exercise constraints, anti-jamming agreements) could enhance verification.

F. Provisions Regarding Equipment

One of the most perplexing conceptual problems in designing an MBFR agreement is the question of how to handle equipment reductions. At the most basic level, there are three possibilities.

—Particularly in the case of small reductions, it might be possible to make no provisions regarding equipment.

—In an approach envisioning large symmetrical reductions, it might be appropriate merely to require that equipment organic to manpower units being reduced be withdrawn from the area or to the nation of proprietorship with stationed units or destroyed or removed from the area in the case of indigenous forces.

—In approaches designed to correct NATO-Warsaw Pact imbalances, it would probably be necessary to negotiate special provisions which specified the amounts of various kinds of equipment to be reduced and attempted to take account of qualitative differences in the equipment held by the two sides. Such provisions would probably be complicated, detailed and difficult to negotiate.

Digging deeper into the problem, a number of additional complications become apparent. Questions which need to be considered include:

—Is equipment organic to manpower units being reduced to be withdrawn from the area, destroyed or allowed to be put into stockpile?

—Should any provisions be made regarding equipment which is presently stockpiled? Possibilities include:

—Placing a ceiling on present inventory levels.

—Reducing these inventories by taking the equipment in them out of the area or destroying it.

—Withdrawing or destroying all equipment presently stock-piled, effectively placing a ban on pre-positioning of supplies.

—Should the equipment levels of active units which are not reduced be frozen?

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—What collateral constraints are necessary to insure that equipment withdrawn from the area is not reintroduced, except possibly for exercises?

—In order to enforce any equipment ceilings, is it necessary to constrain military manufacturing facilities in the area of reduction?

—What provisions should be made regarding the replacement of equipment remaining after an MBFR agreement with new equipment of the same type? With better equipment?

An agreement which attempts to improve the military balance by changing the equipment holdings of the two sides, which many view as particularly important in the case of tanks, if it were to be effective and verifiable, could well involve acceptance of conditions to which neither side could agree. This is particularly true in the case of requirements that equipment be destroyed, that production facilities be controlled, that qualitative improvements in weapons systems be prohibited, and that constraints be put on pre-positioning of equipment. Considerable uncertainty exists as to the military effects of various equipment reduction packages in terms of different relative mobilization scenarios. Several gross effects can be noted, however, from the NATO point of view.

NATO relies on stockpiled equipment for reinforcing units. The Pact does not. This means any controls on equipment stockpiling would constrain NATO’s reinforcement capability more than that of the Pact.

—Equipment withdrawn from the reduction area or returned to the nation of proprietorship could be placed a relatively short distance away in the Soviet Union and reintroduced into the area quickly and easily. It would be much more difficult for equipment withdrawn to the US or even the UK to be reintroduced.

The problems involved in negotiating equipment reductions are illustrated further in the following sections covering tanks and tactical aircraft.

G. Tanks as an Element in an MBFR Agreement

1. The Base for Tank Reductions

There are a number of ways of defining the base for tank reductions depending on:

—The area considered for reductions.

—The availability of tanks for combat.

—Whether or not tanks in reserve stocks outside active units are counted.

2. Tank Reduction Packages

There are several different approaches to tank reductions which might be considered:

—In the case of small reductions, it might be possible to make no explicit provisions regarding tanks.

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—In significant symmetrical reductions, it would be appropriate to specify that tanks organic to active manpower units should be reduced along with them. Reductions of tanks in active units in the NATO Guidelines Area, if taken in this manner, would actually favor NATO. NATO tanks held in stockpiles outside active units would not be affected while all Pact tanks in the area would be counted (since the Pact keeps all of its tanks in active units).

—In approaches designed to correct NATO-Warsaw Pact imbalances, there are other possibilities, for example:

—Proportional tank reductions at percentages greater than those used for manpower reductions, effectively converting some armored units on each side to infantry units.

—A “mixed-package tradeoff” in which tank-heavy reductions on the Pact side were offset by NATO reductions in some other area (e.g. tactical aircraft or tactical nuclear weapons).

—Reductions to a common or fixed ratio ceiling.

Reducing tanks in the area of reduction more than manpower might lessen the chances of either side gaining a quick conventional victory but it would also enhance the importance of Pact tanks maintained in the Soviet Union (assuming that the three Western military districts were not part of the area), which could be rapidly introduced into Central Europe.

A “mixed-package tradeoff” in which the Pact took tank-heavy reductions might be a way to reduce significantly the Pact’s numerical advantage in armor. NATO might take disproportionate reductions in the areas of tactical air or tactical nuclear weapons to compensate for Pact tank reductions. An approach of this type would, however, also present some real problems.

H. Tactical Aircraft as an Element in an MBFR Agreement

1. The Base for Aircraft Reductions

The area used as a base for aircraft reductions should be at least as large as that used for ground force reductions. The area could be larger, however, in order to include all aircraft immediately available for operational missions in support of ground units in the area of ground reductions. Defining the area in this way may not, however, be to NATO’s advantage since the generally longer-range/higher payload NATO aircraft have a greater capability to fly effective missions from adjacent areas.

2. Arguments for and Against Reducing Tactical Aircraft in MBFR

There are arguments both for and against including tactical aircraft reductions in an MBFR agreement. Those opposing inclusion contend that:

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—The present air balance favors the Pact. NATO essentially has nothing to trade for disproportionate Pact reductions and proportionate reductions would have a number of disadvantages including:

—The fact that such reductions could induce a battle for qualitative superiority where improvements in technology and training would compensate for numerical restrictions. Such a contest would favor the Pact which in the past has chosen to substitute numbers of aircraft for technical complexity. NATO on the other hand, would have to make major improvements to increase its air capabilities.

NATO’s theatre strike capability to deliver nuclear weapons depends more on tactical aircraft than does that of the Pact. Proportionate reductions of tactical aircraft would, therefore, have more effect on NATO.

—The Pact can bring aircraft back into the area more quickly.

—Limitations on the reintroduction of forces after a MBFR would argue against including aircraft in a reduction package. The mobility of tactical aircraft and their capability to be reintroduced rapidly could be negated by such constraints. A situation such as the Berlin crisis of 1961–62, when 11 squadrons of tactical aircraft were deployed to Europe to emphasize US resolve, might not be possible post MBFR. There certainly would be serious political inhibitions about introducing augmentation forces during a period of tension. Moreover, deployments which bordered on violation of the arrangements could trigger the crisis we hoped to avoid.

There are, however, a number of arguments in favor of including aircraft:

—The overall tactical air balance in Central Europe is now roughly equal when all relevant quantitative and qualitative factors are considered. In addition, despite differences all agree that the outcome of the air battle cannot be accurately predicted.

—An agreement which withdrew some US forward-based aircraft from the area could induce the Soviets to make some concessions in other areas (e.g. tank reductions). Also, the Soviets have expressed concern in SALT about US forward-based aircraft.

—It should be possible to specify the plane for plane tradeoffs which would be an essential element in any agreement calling for substantial aircraft reductions. For example, some models of the US F–4 and the Russian MIG–21 appear to be roughly equivalent in air-to-air capability, a function which could dominate the early part of an air war.

—If aircraft withdrawn from the area are also taken out of commission, substantial budgetary savings could result.

3. Methods of Reducing Tactical Aircraft

The design of the tactical air portion of an agreement obviously requires resolution of a number of outstanding differences of view regarding the relative capabilities of the two sides. It is possible, how[Page 256]ever, to specify in a general way the types of provisions which could be included.

—A ceiling on the number of aircraft presently in the region might be an appropriate supplement to small reductions in ground forces.

—Proportional reductions in the 10–30 percent range could complement similar manpower reductions.

—Equal absolute reductions in specified types of aircraft, which would avoid problems of defining the base for reduction but could favor the Pact because the Pact starts with more aircraft, might be a workable part of an approach emphasizing arms control objectives.

In general, disproportionate reductions could be considered to reduce imbalances:

—Disproportionate numerical reductions on the Pact side to reflect qualitative superiorities in some of NATO’s aircraft.

—Disproportionate reductions on the NATO side to compensate for Pact concessions regarding tanks and/or MR/IRBM. Such an arrangement could run great risks if as a result the Pact gained a greater tactical air capability. Reductions of tactical aircraft would clearly have some effect on NATO’s ground forces. However, the multi-purpose capabilities of tactical aircraft pose difficulties in determining the effects of tank-aircraft trade offs.

4. Collateral Constraints

It might be desirable to accompany any tactical aircraft reductions with constraints on the reintroduction of aircraft into the area or limits on the number and frequency of military flights in certain areas without prior notification. Such reductions could be more detrimental to NATO than the Pact, however, by limiting the inherent flexibility of aircraft.

In addition, a number of other collateral constraints which could in theory be applied to make reductions more meaningful appear to be undesirable and destabilizing from the NATO point of view. They include:

—Controls on the deployment of related systems, such as aircraft shelters, air defense missiles, radars and GCI networks. Such controls would foreclose important NATO options to reduce the vulnerability of its aircraft.

—Requirements to close air-bases or put them on stand-by status. This would make it more difficult for NATO to disperse its aircraft while providing little constraint on the Pact which has many airfields and whose aircraft are designed to be operated from prepared sodfields.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 6 NATO. Secret. The Department of State transmitted the paper to USNATO in Airgram A–7, March 17. Kissinger approved its transmission. (Memorandum from Smith to Kissinger, March 13; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 261, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. X)