The Military Manpower Burden and the Estimation of Soviet Force Size

by Steven W. Popper

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This paper examines the Soviet approach to augmentation and maintenance of military force levels. It considers the effect of the shortage of able-bodied men needed to satisfy the conscription levels necessary to meet force size projections. The author suggests that there may be a tendency for Western analysts to overestimate Soviet force size and argues for assessments to be measured against all accurate verifiable data. He acknowledges planners' inability to wait for verifiable data against which to check their projections, but he stresses that an accurately viewed past is crucial in avoiding an inaccurate analysis of the present.

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