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Thread: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

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    Default US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Back in the Cold war, if the Soviets and the Americans fight an all purely conventional war, how might it turn out? This is just a comparison of their conventional military strengths. I doubt a non-nuclear war between the US and USSR is really possible at all.

    How would it be like right after WWII?

    How would it be like in the 70s and the 80s?

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Well i'd start by saying that there would be a choosing of sides for many nations. There will most likely be two great blocks for each of the belligerents and of course the neutral countries ...


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    Armija's Avatar Taihō no heishi
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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    My opinion is that Soviet army would crush western Europe quite fast before US would be able to pour in significant reinforcements..

    Europe would become red but after that point I don't think that either side would be able to launch serious conventional attack on each other.. Long termed that would be disaster for US because they would stay completly isolated and they would collapse either economicly or in next conflict.. thus US would never allow that and would use Nuclear weapons first..


    All above is just in case of conventional conflict, while chances to avoid nuclear exchange were = 0%

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Armija View Post
    My opinion is that Soviet army would crush western Europe quite fast before US would be able to pour in significant reinforcements..

    Europe would become red but after that point I don't think that either side would be able to launch serious conventional attack on each other.. Long termed that would be disaster for US because they would stay completly isolated and they would collapse either economicly or in next conflict.. thus US would never allow that and would use Nuclear weapons first..


    All above is just in case of conventional conflict, while chances to avoid nuclear exchange were = 0%
    I don't know about that really. You had the BAOR there (which was a large British formation) plus the tens of thousands of American troops based in West Germany. They had contingency plans ( a rather funny one as the nuclear landmine hidden in a chicken, no joke, it really was an experiment) and I know the British had plans, which were tried and tested, to ship large amounts of troops by Saxon APC comfortably from the UK to Germany. I also know that the US had a large naval landing planned, which worked in testing and I think gave the US the ability to ship across 2 Divisions plus armour plus airborne in extraordinary times.. Plus at the time the Chieftain, and prior to that the Centurion were the best tanks in the world and there were large amounts in Germany alongside Leopard 1's, M60 Pattons, and later on M1A1's and were more than a match for the T-72. I don't think NATO could hold Germany, but I think France (who weren't NATO at the time) would pitch in at that point. So the combined armies of the French, British and the West Germans + American forces there would be Soviet opposition at a bare minimum. I'd expect them to be pushed back until say, British, American and Spanish reinforcements arrived. And I don't think we could push the Soviets out of East Germany if we counter attacked (politically & threat of deterrent). But on the ground I'd expect a initial Soviet gain, to be pushed back to what were then the current borders where you'd have a stalemate. In the air I'd suspect NATO to have the edge. And if it wasn't for the rather large USSR Submarine fleet, I'd say the sea would be NATO's to sail in as well.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
    I don't know about that really. You had the BAOR there (which was a large British formation) plus the tens of thousands of American troops based in West Germany. They had contingency plans ( a rather funny one as the nuclear landmine hidden in a chicken, no joke, it really was an experiment) and I know the British had plans, which were tried and tested, to ship large amounts of troops by Saxon APC comfortably from the UK to Germany. I also know that the US had a large naval landing planned, which worked in testing and I think gave the US the ability to ship across 2 Divisions plus armour plus airborne in extraordinary times.. Plus at the time the Chieftain, and prior to that the Centurion were the best tanks in the world and there were large amounts in Germany alongside Leopard 1's, M60 Pattons, and later on M1A1's and were more than a match for the T-72. I don't think NATO could hold Germany, but I think France (who weren't NATO at the time) would pitch in at that point. So the combined armies of the French, British and the West Germans + American forces there would be Soviet opposition at a bare minimum. I'd expect them to be pushed back until say, British, American and Spanish reinforcements arrived. And I don't think we could push the Soviets out of East Germany if we counter attacked (politically & threat of deterrent). But on the ground I'd expect a initial Soviet gain, to be pushed back to what were then the current borders where you'd have a stalemate. In the air I'd suspect NATO to have the edge. And if it wasn't for the rather large USSR Submarine fleet, I'd say the sea would be NATO's to sail in as well.
    Actually during almost entire Cold War Soviets had superiority in both quantity and quality of the equipment and with their allies they had more than 100.000 armored vehicles (tanks, APC, IFV etc.)
    that would outnumber all those forces in west by more than 3 to 1 and in case of purely conventional war that force would be unstopable. That opinion had even Western military strategists thus they had plan in case of conventional invasion of Soviets to turn almost entire Poland into Nuclear wasteland to prevent those forces from pouring into western Europe, otherwise they knew that they do not have a chance.. one of examples is the one you putted of NATO countries devoloping such bizare weapons as chicken Nuclear mine (obviously they had no hopes in conventional capabilities an victory).

    Huge Soviet Submarine fleet would hamper any US movement of troops and material atleast for first few weeks what would be largely enough for soviets to get to Lamanche and reinforcements of 2 divisions in such scale war would be nothing at all.. In air situation wouldn't be so easy since NATO would loose many bases in quite short period and Soviet air forces were not so inferior as it was presented in western media..

    Anyway very important are the factors as: starting positions, Surprise factor, political situation, etc.
    But this is an hypothetical scenario which is highly unlikely because loosing of conventional war would lead loosing side to use Nuclear weapons sooner or later thus entirely conventional war is imposible..
    Last edited by Armija; August 12, 2010 at 04:16 AM.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quantity, yes, Quality not usually. Quantity does have a quality all of its own, and the Soviets were more than aware of this. It wouldn't surprise me if the Warsaw Pact had more than 100,000 armored vehicles. But look at it this way. If the present day British army has 9700 armoured vehicles. You can probably triple that for a 1980's stand off. American forces also have been downsized since the Cold War. NATO Armies were much larger then. I think with the extra quality of NATO vehicles, they had adequate numbers. Maybe not enough already deployed, but enough to scale up a deployment on an equal footing.

    A good T-72 is a good tank, those ones with French made systems and Czech and Russian modifications are far superior than the spartan export models that have seen action in Iraq and in Syria. But even at its best, (and all equipment this is post cold war). It was no match for a Chieftain, Challenger 1, M1A1, or Leopard 1/2, and still isn't. An M60 Patton could probably run rings around it. Cold war issue soviet T-72's were almost as spartan as their export models. I mean Christ, they have to disengage the gears before they fire or it will kill the tank. A Western tank, even in the 80's could fire to a great degree of accuracy on the move. Without the French sighting equipment, and I might be wrong, but I don't think the the Soviets could do that. Your 3 to 1 advantage, although a great assets, and has great potential to ruin a NATO soldiers day, will be bloody hard hit on the first day just up against occupying British and American forces, and the West German army. These Western Forces don't even need to succeed in holding the line. They'd just have to buy a day or two, pull back, buy another day or two, and reinforcements would be there. In that short a time frame.

    Moving 2 divisions in almost no time at all is a powerful tool. Once those 2 have been deployed, you can repeat the process. And with the British and probably French and Spanish at a minimum pouring into the fray, the Soviets would have much more to deal with than they thought. The British Army of the Rhine (I use as an example as I don't know 1980's US troop numbers for forces in Germany) is 22,000 men in its current state. Back in the cold war, it would have been much larger, and fielded hundreds of Chieftain tanks and Warrior IFV's. Two vehicles which ran rings around all comparable vehicles back then, and hold good stead even in these most modern of times.

    I am aware that the USSR's submarine fleet would be a serious problem, and I have already said this. But NATO has their own submarine fleets too. The UK is also a perfect place to launch Nimrod or Orion ASW patrols, and these were flown regularly from Norway and the UK. Rather handily, the UK would serve as a great launch place for RAF and USAF aircraft (which were already there of course). And being under the cover of these airfoces, any NATO carrier could operate in the North Sea in relative safety. I beleive this would be more than a match for Soviet Airforces, and if you include the Luftwaffe, Norwegian air force, and the French. which all had the most advance aircraft of their types in the world. I don't think the Soviets could gain air superiority. The skies may well have been constantly contested, but I don't think the Soviets could gain control.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    How might a war on the Pacific Front turn out? Will Japan and/or Alaska get bombed or invaded by Soviet forces?

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    There isn't really much to fight over. The Soviets could try a WiC style invasion but I don't think they'd have the capability. Australia may have been a target.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
    There isn't really much to fight over. The Soviets could try a WiC style invasion but I don't think they'd have the capability. Australia may have been a target.
    How would they get to Australia? That's even further from Russia than Seattle. And I don't think the Soviets have any bases near Australia.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    1. Caveat
    These kind of discussion are always dangerous, because both sides had the use of tactical nukes factured into their OPERATIONAL plans. For the Nato, it ws the automated use planned if certain phaselines in the FuldaGap were reached by the soviets, for the soviets it was the opening strikes against keypoints like traffic hubs, troops concentrations, airfields and communication centers. You cannot just delete those strikes out of the picture, because they in turn influenced the planning of conventional.

    2. Caveat
    Which timeframe are we talking about? The 50ties? The 60ties or 70ties? What do we assume as the strategic outset? An surprise attack by one party out of the blue sky or a deteroiation of the geostrategic situation with both sides preparing for war?

    Strategic Nato Planning
    The Lissabon Treaties in the 50ties had envisaged a 90 Division army composed by units from the member states. Due to the new nuclear Doctrine of the Eisenhower (massive retalation, i.e. attack with anything and watch the world burn), only the german Bundeswehr reached its planned troop strength, the other member states instead relied on WMD deterrent and a planned build up of reserves. Under Kennedies flexible response doctrine, tactical nuclear capabilities were beefed up, as well as a resurgence in conventional forces, though the american commitment built heavily up the idea of a swift reinforcement by airlifted persoanl (using prepositioned equipment chaces) and a second wave reinforcement by see (the REFORGER Convoys).

    Force Comparison
    To get reliable troop and equipment numbers is still difficult (the majority of cold war literature tends to concentrate on WMD's), but several things should be taken into account:
    - different nomenclauture: Soviet Armies had up to 4 divisions in peacetime, the Corps of the NATO had up to 5 divisions. Soviet divisions in general were smaller than their Nato Counterparts --> just a count of divisions can be lead to wrong comparisons:
    - The spear point of any soviet offensive would have been the group of soviet forces in germany, backed up immediatly by units fo the DDR army and units from poland (both soviet and polish), further units would have to transferred from the soviet military districts. Not all divisions stationed in russia were combat worthy, many were simple shells with cadre personal and units.
    I have no idea about the troop commitments of the other WP states, on their equipment and their willingness to fight for the soviets, so that is another black mark.
    - The Bundeswehr could call up to 30 brigades in the 60ties, and by 1970, the planned force level of 36 brigades in 12 divisions (the majority armor or mechanized infantry).
    - Comparing vehicles, especially tanks and IFV from different timeframes is an exercise in futility, as our knowledge is limited and those relative strengths varied from year to year.

    Resume: far too undetailled initial post to make this discussion worthwile.
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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Nik View Post

    Resume: far too undetailled initial post to make this discussion worthwile.
    Sorry about that

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
    Quantity, yes, Quality not usually. Quantity does have a quality all of its own, and the Soviets were more than aware of this. It wouldn't surprise me if the Warsaw Pact had more than 100,000 armored vehicles. But look at it this way. If the present day British army has 9700 armoured vehicles. You can probably triple that for a 1980's stand off. American forces also have been downsized since the Cold War. NATO Armies were much larger then. I think with the extra quality of NATO vehicles, they had adequate numbers. Maybe not enough already deployed, but enough to scale up a deployment on an equal footing.
    Actually you can't just triple that because they those 9700 are all armored vehicles (including those from Cold War) and no country has scaled down its equipment by 70% as you imply.. most of that equipment is still counted for and is in warehouses so British forces at that time were 10.000 12.000 thousand top.. US ha quite large force but most of it was in USA and thus was of no use, other countries in western Europe combined had maybe at most 20.000 of armored vehicles while just Soviets ha around 80.000 of (IFV, APC) plus 25.000 thousand tanks put on that quite large Polish army, Czechoslovakian army, East German army which were having quite large armored forces of them self... So 3 to 1 ratio is even small for real situation on the ground.. NATO vehicles were not better especially IFVs and APCs where Soviets ha great superiority M-113 which was main APC of NATO was no mach in any aspect for BMP-1 (of whom soviets had tens of thousands) and which could quite succesfuly engage even MBTs with its guide missiles, T-72 is not inferior to its counterparts (Chieftain, M60, Leopard1) if not superior to atleast M60 (which was most numerous) while M1A1, Challenger, Leopard2 are another class and are more than matched by T-80 when they came around..
    Quote Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
    A good T-72 is a good tank, those ones with French made systems and Czech and Russian modifications are far superior than the spartan export models that have seen action in Iraq and in Syria. But even at its best, (and all equipment this is post cold war). It was no match for a Chieftain, Challenger 1, M1A1, or Leopard 1/2, and still isn't. An M60 Patton could probably run rings around it. Cold war issue soviet T-72's were almost as spartan as their export models. I mean Christ, they have to disengage the gears before they fire or it will kill the tank. A Western tank, even in the 80's could fire to a great degree of accuracy on the move. Without the French sighting equipment, and I might be wrong, but I don't think the the Soviets could do that. Your 3 to 1 advantage, although a great assets, and has great potential to ruin a NATO soldiers day, will be bloody hard hit on the first day just up against occupying British and American forces, and the West German army. These Western Forces don't even need to succeed in holding the line. They'd just have to by a day oe two, pull back, buy another day or two, and reinforcements would be there. In that short a time frame.
    NATO vehicles were not better especially IFVs and APCs where Soviets had great superiority. M-113 which was main APC of NATO was no mach in any aspect for BMP-1 (of whom soviets had tens of thousands) and which could quite succesfuly engage even MBTs with its guide missiles, T-72 is not inferior to its counterparts (Chieftain, M60, Leopard1) if not superior to atleast M60 (which was most numerous). While M1A1, Challenger, Leopard2 are another class and camed in significant numbers only in last few years and are more than matched by T-80 when they camed around..

    Taking all of that and adding ratio of more than 3 to 1 I do not agree that NATO had any chance in purely conventional war and actually they were aware of it, thus they were devoloping such weapons and plans to use Nuclear weapons in the begining..

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
    Moving 2 divisions in almost no time at all is a powerful tool. Once those 2 have been deployed, you can repeat the process. And with the British and probably French and Spanish at a minimum pouring into the fray, the Soviets would have much more to deal with than they thought. The British Army of the Rhine (I use as an example as I don't know 1980's US troop numbers for forces in Germany) is 22,000 men in its current state. Back in the cold war, it would have been much larger, and fielded hundreds of Chieftain tanks and Warrior IFV's. Two vehicles which ran rings around all comparable vehicles back then, and hold good stead even in these most modern of times.
    Repeating process of moving 2 divisions is inposible.. Air lifting of MBTs, IFVs and other heavy equipment is being able just in recent years and was not there during Cold War (except last few years and even then it was only in small numbers an for some types of equipment) so all equipment would need to be transported over sea. Do not think about Cold War and weapons of it for just weapons an capabilities of 1990. Cold War lasted from 1947 till 1991 so putting Warrior (which entered service at 1987 and wasn't there in any significant number when Cold War ended) is not any proof of what you want to say because even at last year vast majority of NATO and British equipment was still old M-113 and equipment similar to it..
    British army of the Rhine even if 10 times that number would still not be very significant since Soviet army pouring in WE would be in millions..

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
    I am aware that the USSR's submarine fleet would be a serious problem, and I have already said this. But NATO has their own submarine fleets too. The UK is also a perfect place to launch Nimrod or Orion ASW patrols, and these were flown regularly from Norway and the UK. Rather handily, the UK would serve as a great launch place for RAF and USAF aircraft (which were already there of course). And being under the cover of these airfoces, any NATO carrier could operate in the North Sea in relative safety. I beleive this would be more than a match for Soviet Airforces, and if you include the Luftwaffe, Norwegian air force, and the French. which all had the most advance aircraft of their types in the world. I don't think the Soviets could gain air superiority. The skies may well have been constantly contested, but I don't think the Soviets could gain control.
    Sheer number of Soviet submarines and if they were about to be released all at one time would render all ASW relatively useless because they couldn't even with it full capacities deployed prevent Soviet Subs from entering Atlantic and after they enter tracking and engaging hundreds of them in vast Atlantic would be impossible thus all troop transport would be stoped or face disaster for atleast week or 2 and if you take in account time needed for transports to reach from NA to NE that would give Soviets time of 1 month to deal with European powers without significant help from USA that would be more than sufficent time..


    Again I am repeating that NATO strategists were aware of that and all their strategies regarding potential war with Soviets called for emidiate Nuclear bombing of Poland especially cities on Vistula river to prevent soviets from moving in their enormous numbers and to give time for USA to reinforce its allies and NATO countries to mobilise. Without this they stand no chance at all, they would be destroyed in matter of 1-2 weeks.
    Devolopment and deployment of Nuclear mines, Nuclear artillery shells etc. Is proof of this strategy (otherwise why would they deploy it if they had chance in conventional war)

    I do not claim that Soviets had upper hand because NATO would use Nuclear weapons 100%.
    But this thread is about solely conventional war and I think that in such conflict Soviets would be far superior..

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quote Originally Posted by moviemakerrules View Post
    How would they get to Australia? That's even further from Russia than Seattle. And I don't think the Soviets have any bases near Australia.
    Yes, but Australia, although strategically unimportant to the USSR, would provide a great morale boost for USSR forces, and weaken the resolve os NATO forces (Even though Australia has never been in NATO). It may even split NATO command as to how, if, or when to liberate Australia, and any attempt to do so would mean a sizeable chunk of British and American naval and ground forces would be kept away from Europe.

    Australia compared to Europe is a soft target as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Armija View Post
    Actually you can't just triple that because they those 9700 are all armored vehicles (including those from Cold War) and no country has scaled down its equipment by 70% as you imply.. most of that equipment is still counted for and is in warehouses so British forces at that time were 10.000 12.000 thousand top.. US ha quite large force but most of it was in USA and thus was of no use, other countries in western Europe combined had maybe at most 20.000 of armored vehicles while just Soviets ha around 80.000 of (IFV, APC) plus 25.000 thousand tanks put on that quite large Polish army, Czechoslovakian army, East German army which were having quite large armored forces of them self... So 3 to 1 ratio is even small for real situation on the ground.. NATO vehicles were not better especially IFVs and APCs where Soviets ha great superiority M-113 which was main APC of NATO was no mach in any aspect for BMP-1 (of whom soviets had tens of thousands) and which could quite succesfuly engage even MBTs with its guide missiles, T-72 is not inferior to its counterparts (Chieftain, M60, Leopard1) if not superior to atleast M60 (which was most numerous) while M1A1, Challenger, Leopard2 are another class and are more than matched by T-80 when they came around..
    The British Army was very very severely scaled down. When the BMP-1 was first introduced, it shocked the world, it sparked massive development into IFV's in NATO. And by all means, the BMP family are good vehicles. But they are outclassed by AIFV's, Bradleys, Warriors, AMX-10's and Marders. M113's and FV432's can, and were, armed similarly to the BMP family (In terms of cannon or missile armament). Soviet APC's (not IFV's) were terrible. The T-72 was inferior to its counterparts. As we have seen time and time again. Whilst Soviet models were considerably better than the export models we have seen get trounced, and the Soviets would perform better. I wouldn't expect a too different result. Chieftain was by far the best tank in the world until the Leopard 2 came about, Abrams, and Challenger series. And there was a lot of them.

    Taking all of that and adding ratio of more than 3 to 1 I do not agree that NATO had any chance in purely conventional war and actually they were aware of it, thus they were devoloping such weapons and plans to use Nuclear weapons in the begining..
    Yes, overwhelming Soviet numbers were a huge threat and I've never denied this.

    Repeating process of moving 2 divisions is inposible.. Air lifting of MBTs, IFVs and other heavy equipment is being able just in recent years and was not there during Cold War (except last few years and even then it was only in small numbers an for some types of equipment) so all equipment would need to be transported over sea. Do not think about Cold War and weapons of it for just weapons an capabilities of 1990. Cold War lasted from 1947 till 1991 so putting Warrior (which entered service at 1987 and wasn't there in any significant number when Cold War ended) is not any proof of what you want to say because even at last year vast majority of NATO and British equipment was still old M-113 and equipment similar to it..
    I'm basing my arguments on a 1980's scenario. You can reuse the same ships and planes for a limited amount of time to speedily get these units and vehicles into action. Even if it took 6 weeks per division, NATO had extremely large troop movement plans and in exercises they worked, the British could get troops from the UK to Germany in a matter of days, which is exactly what the Saxon was designed for. They'd be landing in friendly territory, and therefore are able to get organised. Britain has never used the M-113 as an APC. Only as a mounting for the Rapier system.

    British army of the Rhine even if 10 times that number would still not be very significant since Soviet army pouring in WE would be in millions..
    BAOR 10 times its current levels, 220,000 men. Soviet invasion force would be hundreds of thousands, not millions. The BAOR never reached those levels, but combined with American units in Germany, and German units, it would surpass the 200k mark. That's a problem for ANY enemy.


    Sheer number of Soviet submarines and if they were about to be released all at one time would render all ASW relatively useless because they couldn't even with it full capacities deployed prevent Soviet Subs from entering Atlantic and after they enter tracking and engaging hundreds of them in vast Atlantic would be impossible thus all troop transport would be stoped or face disaster for atleast week or 2 and if you take in account time needed for transports to reach from NA to NE that would give Soviets time of 1 month to deal with European powers without significant help from USA that would be more than sufficent time..
    Or, alternatively, ASW patrols would have a field day, and NATO subs in the Atlantic and based in the UK would be released too..

    Again I am repeating that NATO strategists were aware of that and all their strategies regarding potential war with Soviets called for emidiate Nuclear bombing of Poland especially cities on Vistula river to prevent soviets from moving in their enormous numbers and to give time for USA to reinforce its allies and NATO countries to mobilise. Without this they stand no chance at all, they would be destroyed in matter of 1-2 weeks.
    Devolopment and deployment of Nuclear mines, Nuclear artillery shells etc. Is proof of this strategy (otherwise why would they deploy it if they had chance in conventional war)
    Yes, all true, never denied it. but the Soviets had similar plans. It was a deterrent.

    I do not claim that Soviets had upper hand because NATO would use Nuclear weapons 100%.
    and vice versa.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Nik View Post
    1. Caveat
    These kind of discussion are always dangerous, because both sides had the use of tactical nukes factured into their OPERATIONAL plans. For the Nato, it ws the automated use planned if certain phaselines in the FuldaGap were reached by the soviets, for the soviets it was the opening strikes against keypoints like traffic hubs, troops concentrations, airfields and communication centers. You cannot just delete those strikes out of the picture, because they in turn influenced the planning of conventional.

    2. Caveat
    Which timeframe are we talking about? The 50ties? The 60ties or 70ties? What do we assume as the strategic outset? An surprise attack by one party out of the blue sky or a deteroiation of the geostrategic situation with both sides preparing for war?

    Strategic Nato Planning
    The Lissabon Treaties in the 50ties had envisaged a 90 Division army composed by units from the member states. Due to the new nuclear Doctrine of the Eisenhower (massive retalation, i.e. attack with anything and watch the world burn), only the german Bundeswehr reached its planned troop strength, the other member states instead relied on WMD deterrent and a planned build up of reserves. Under Kennedies flexible response doctrine, tactical nuclear capabilities were beefed up, as well as a resurgence in conventional forces, though the american commitment built heavily up the idea of a swift reinforcement by airlifted persoanl (using prepositioned equipment chaces) and a second wave reinforcement by see (the REFORGER Convoys).

    Force Comparison
    To get reliable troop and equipment numbers is still difficult (the majority of cold war literature tends to concentrate on WMD's), but several things should be taken into account:
    - different nomenclauture: Soviet Armies had up to 4 divisions in peacetime, the Corps of the NATO had up to 5 divisions. Soviet divisions in general were smaller than their Nato Counterparts --> just a count of divisions can be lead to wrong comparisons:
    - The spear point of any soviet offensive would have been the group of soviet forces in germany, backed up immediatly by units fo the DDR army and units from poland (both soviet and polish), further units would have to transferred from the soviet military districts. Not all divisions stationed in russia were combat worthy, many were simple shells with cadre personal and units.
    I have no idea about the troop commitments of the other WP states, on their equipment and their willingness to fight for the soviets, so that is another black mark.
    - The Bundeswehr could call up to 30 brigades in the 60ties, and by 1970, the planned force level of 36 brigades in 12 divisions (the majority armor or mechanized infantry).
    - Comparing vehicles, especially tanks and IFV from different timeframes is an exercise in futility, as our knowledge is limited and those relative strengths varied from year to year.

    Resume: far too undetailled initial post to make this discussion worthwile.
    I agree entirely with your post.
    As I stated already there is no chance for Conventional only war..
    I was just trying to emagine such scenario and in my opinion in such scenario Soviets would had upper hand..
    Last edited by Armija; August 12, 2010 at 06:05 AM.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
    Yes, but Australia, although strategically unimportant to the USSR, would provide a great morale boost for USSR forces, and weaken the resolve os NATO forces (Even though Australia has never been in NATO). It may even split NATO command as to how, if, or when to liberate Australia, and any attempt to do so would mean a sizeable chunk of British and American naval and ground forces would be kept away from Europe.

    Australia compared to Europe is a soft target as well.
    That's just ridiculous Soviets would never try to attack Australia they neither had capabilities nor any reason of why to attack it...

    And by the way I have noticed you taking British too serious.. They were small and unimportant compared to Heavy weights like US or USSR even in European scenario response and army of France or West Germany would be of much more significance than British. British role would be to help deal with N. Atlantic and USSR subs and provide bases and help for other NATO countries in WE that is all.. They were never major player on the scene.
    Last edited by Armija; August 12, 2010 at 06:07 AM.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    I think up to middle 70's SU had a better capacity, not just more weapons, but even better ones. After that, starting with 80's especialy, the west (especialy US ofcourse) start to surpass red army as having more and more quality weapons. But still both parts relied on nuclear weapons i think.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Armija View Post
    That's just ridiculous Soviets would never try to attack Australia they neither had capabilities nor any reason of why to attack it...

    And by the way I have noticed you taking British too serious.. They were small and unimportant compared to Heavy weights like US or USSR even in European scenario response and army of France or West Germany would be of much more significance than British. British role would be to help deal with N. Atlantic and USSR subs and provide bases and help for other NATO countries in WE that is all they were never major player on the scene.
    I was answering his question. I didn't say it was what they would have done. Its a possibility and would have the effects on NATO I had described.

    Britain, not a major player? They were responsible for the defence of Norway and North Germany, and the BAOR was a large permanent garrison thats still there now. The RAF was on the front line and the army fielded the at the time worlds best MBT, many of which were based in Germany, and had contingencies for moving large amounts of troops to Germany. Thats pretty important. Obviously they aren't in the same league as the US and USSR, but they are above the French, France wasn't even in NATO.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post


    The British Army was very very severely scaled down. When the BMP-1 was first introduced, it shocked the world, it sparked massive development into IFV's in NATO. And by all means, the BMP family are good vehicles. But they are outclassed by AIFV's, Bradleys, Warriors, AMX-10's and Marders. M113's and FV432's can, and were, armed similarly to the BMP family (In terms of cannon or missile armament). Soviet APC's (not IFV's) were terrible. The T-72 was inferior to its counterparts. As we have seen time and time again. Whilst Soviet models were considerably better than the export models we have seen get trounced, and the Soviets would perform better. I wouldn't expect a too different result. Chieftain was by far the best tank in the world until the Leopard 2 came about, Abrams, and Challenger series. And there was a lot of them.

    Yes, overwhelming Soviet numbers were a huge threat and I've never denied this.

    I'm basing my arguments on a 1980's scenario. You can reuse the same ships and planes for a limited amount of time to speedily get these units and vehicles into action. Even if it took 6 weeks per division, NATO had extremely large troop movement plans and in exercises they worked, the British could get troops from the UK to Germany in a matter of days, which is exactly what the Saxon was designed for. They'd be landing in friendly territory, and therefore are able to get organised. Britain has never used the M-113 as an APC. Only as a mounting for the Rapier system.
    Well, T-64 and T-72 was at least on par with M-60, Chieftain and Leopard 1, or AMX-30. M1 A1 and Leopard 2 was better then T 80 probably
    BMP better then M 113. I am not sure about artilery, but i think here too SU had a numerical superiority.

    Even in small arms SU had better ones then west.

    Regarding aviation, well, Mig 21 and Mig 23 i think was as good as F-4 Phantom and Mirage F 1, and clearly better then F 104. F 14 had an advantage with its long range missile, but Mig 25 was close. In the 80' was introduced F 16 and F 15, but new Mig 29 and Su 27 was on par with them too, and better then Tornado. And SU had numerical superiority again.


    But as naval power, clearly US rules, and probably make SU navy to stay just around its harbours. Few US carrier groups will manage to assure a landing everywhere in Europe, and even if SU will manage to conquer west of Europe (not impossible even without use of WMD), the partisan fights who might start will be clearly way over their capacity to resolve them. I think even some WP members will not want to participate very happy to such war, because russians wasnt too liked, so most then probably SU will colapse under the heavy of such war, which can sustain too long.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    BMP and M113, you can't compare. They are different types of vehicles. You compare the BMP to the AIFV, Bradley, Marder and Warrior. You compare the M113 and FV432 to vehicles like the early BTR's.

    T-72 is a good tank, its sound, its light, its reliable, it has a powerful gun. But it let down by technology and armour and design limitations. Which NATO tanks had massive advantages in. A T-72 couldnt get a 4000 metre kill on the move over rough ground. A Chieftain could. A T-72 has to stop to fire, you can't use the T-72's gun whilst the gears are in action. the recoil will shatter them. It's carousel autoloader was a serious problem, T-72's are nicknamed "Jack in the Box" for a reason you know. Because 1 shot to the turret sets off the ammunition on the carousel and sends the turret 40feet skyward.

    Small arms, well, that's debatable.

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    Default Re: US vs Soviet Union conventional strength

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
    I was answering his question. I didn't say it was what they would have done. Its a possibility and would have the effects on NATO I had described.
    Are you aware that Soviet pacific fleet ha no capabilities to do anything close to that??(they couldn't pass Japan and South Korea and they never intended to) not to mention supplying army so far from any friendly area, they had no... nah it is worthless to explain...



    Quote Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
    Britain, not a major player? They were responsible for the defence of Norway and North Germany, and the BAOR was a large permanent garrison thats still there now. The RAF was on the front line and the army fielded the at the time worlds best MBT, many of which were based in Germany, and had contingencies for moving large amounts of troops to Germany. Thats pretty important. Obviously they aren't in the same league as the US and USSR, but they are above the French, France wasn't even in NATO.
    For your info France was member of NATO for almost half of Cold War, and was also included in all planing for the Soviet invasion. Thus officially not in NATO structure in case of any hostility they would be included in fighting.

    Regarding British you are again wrong.. Cold war was mainly Between USA vs USSRwhich were two only major players, while others had secondary roles including British. British MBTs were solid ones but sheer capacity, number etc. of British forces were to small for us to call them major player..
    W.German army was bigger in size an potential (not to mention that they would be first to fight) and French were also stronger and more important especially in land war largely because of their position.

    British on the other hand were of great significance only in battle for Atlantic because of their fleet, Position, SOSUS line, etc. while in land war in Western Europe they wouldn't be of much significance. Germany and France would be more important..

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