The Soviet Military Leadership and the Question of Soviet Deployment Retreats

by Harry Gelman

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This report examines the effect on Soviet civil-military relations of reducing certain Soviet conventional force deployments around the Soviet periphery. The author discusses the attitude Soviet military leaders are likely to display toward five hypothetical deployment retreats: (1) major asymmetrical Soviet conventional force reductions in Europe, (2) a decision to carry out major unilateral reductions in the forces on the Chinese border, (3) an Afghan withdrawal carried to the point of accepting loss of Soviet control in Kabul, (4) a decision to alter Soviet policy regarding Vietnam and Cambodia to a degree that would jeopardize the Soviet military position at Cam Ranh Bay, and (5) a decision to return to Japan some or all of the Northern Territories. Finally, in each case the author evaluates the degree to which the Gorbachev leadership is likely to see various political and economic considerations as reinforcing or contradicting military arguments.

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