The Soviet Quest for More Globally Mobile Military Powers

by Thomas W. Wolfe

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An analysis of the Soviet Union's efforts to improve the mobility of its traditionally continental military power. This study, prompted by rising interest in the question of what the Soviet leaders intend to do with a growing capability for intervention in different regions of the world, assesses the accomplishments and present ability of the Soviets to challenge the West in the domain of globally mobile military power. The Soviet Union took its first steps toward this goal under Khrushchev: military aid to the countries of the Third World, development of long-range transport aircraft, a tactical interest in amphibious and airborne landing, and a steady rise in merchant shipping. Brezhnev and Kosygin have continued these developments. Efforts toward mobility are overshadowed by a desire to strengthen the Soviet strategic posture, but the two taken together bring the military force into better line with the Soviet Union's growing obligations and commitments. The military balance of power continues to favor the United States, but the disparity is lessening.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research memorandum series. The Research Memorandum was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1973 that represented working papers meant to report current results of RAND research to appropriate audiences.

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