New Evidence of Moscow's Military Threat

Report Europe

New Evidence of Moscow's Military Threat

June 23, 1983 2 min read Download Report
Manfred R.
Senior Visiting Fellow

(Archived document, may contain errors)

6/23/83 27


That the-U.S. must increase its defense efforts to counter'a mounting Soviet threat was confirmed yet again.this week. An analysis submitted by the Defe nse Intelligence'Agency to Congress' Joint Economic Committee, declassified and rel6ased on June 22, details the dangerous Soviet military advantage'. This important study reveals that Moscow's commitment to military spending and achievement of superiorit y is not diminishing. Instead of leveling off or declining in the face of smaller rates of economic growth, defense spending continues to:..'afficrease at-.its historical rate of 4 percent annually and is -absorbing an ever larger share of total national r e sources. Military;@ related industries receive the highest quality goods and they are given priority when it comes to capital investments. eleventh Five Year Plan Calls for a 43 percent growth in defense machinery output-by 1985 which will further strengt hen the Soviet military-industrial base, already the largest in the world.

While it is true that the nominal pace of.soviet military procurement may have lessened, this simply reflects the risi .ng costs and longer production times for more sophisticated m ilitary hardware. The United States faces similar problems. It is not evidence of a slowdown of the Soviet military buildup and does not support arguments for lesser defense spending increases by the United States.

Soviet willingness to allocate the resou rces necessary to sustain the momentum of the military buildup d6spite growing costs to the civilian economy and a slower expansion of the' resource base.provides incontrovertible evidence that Moscow remains determined to shoulder whatever expense is req uired to achieve the military objective.

Throughoutthe 1970s, U.S. defense spending has declined in real terms while Soviet spending increased at a' steady rate. This asymmetry in resource allocation has created the current conventional and strategic weapo ns imbalance that the Administra- tion's program seeks to correct. Consequentlyi U.S. defense spending levels must not be determined by what-may be short term changes in Soviet procurement patterns. The U'S. is attempting to catch up with the Soviet Union . Until it d@es so, the actual


s ize of Moscow's arsenal is more significant than the current procurement pattern..

The bIA report confirms that the Soviet Union is the world's largest weapons producer and surpasses the United States in all significant categories. This crucial fact is not changed by the slight decr 'ease in acquisition of some weapons systems. The Sovi e ts produced 7@O tactical combat aircraft in 1981, just as they did in 1977. By comparison, the U.S. procured fewer than 300 aircraft--even below the 'annual attrition rate. During 19 '81, the Soviets produced more than twice as many tanks, 40 times more s urface-to-air missiles, and three times 'more naval-vessels than the U.S. As a result, the Soviet Union fields-'a growing number of modern and qualitatively improved weapons systems while the U.S. is barely able to keep its own inventory from shrinking.

In the past, the United State relied on the qualitative superiority of its weapons to offset Soviet.quAntitative superi- ority. Soviet technological advances, however,: are narrowing the technological gap between both countries. Unl6ss the U.S. can procure s ufficient numbers of qualitatively suberior weapons systems, it will lose its ability to counter the Soviet threat. in View of the sharp deterioration of the U.S. defense industrial infrastructure resulting from stop-and-go weapons procurement patterns in the 1970s, a sustained effort to r6build military capabilities,is imperative. The Reagan program is proposing just this. As the DIA testimony before Congress inaicates, the Admin- istration has no other choice -if it is.serious'about ensuring national sec urity.

Manfred R. Hamm Policy Analyst

For further information:

U.S. Congress, Joint Economic Committee. Allocation of-Resources in the Soviet Union and China -- 1982. Hearings before the Subcommittee on International Trade, Finance, and Security Economic s. 97th Congress, 2nd Session. Part 8, June 29 and December 1, 1982. , Soviet Economy in the 1980's: Problems and Prospects, Part 1. 97th Congress, 2nd Session (December 31,1982). Joint Committee Print. , Soviet Military Economic Relations. Proceedings of a Workshop on July 7 and 8, 1982. 97th Congress, 2nd Session. Joint Com- mittee Print.



Manfred R.

Senior Visiting Fellow

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