Soviet Deception in the Czechoslovak Crisis

Czechoslovak invasion, 1968,
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Soviet Deception

had moved into positions near the Czechoslovak border, and that large numbers of additional Soviet troops, both combat and rear services, were moving into Poland from the Baltic and Belorussian Military Districts. It was indisputably clear that a major deployment of forces was in progress. i t was less clear at the time whether exercises were also under way, although there was no discernible indication that any of the deployed forces were engaged in exercises.
What was the purpose of the announcements? Were they intended to provide some ostensibly plausible reason for the forward deployments of forces and supply columns? To lead us to believe that the only mobilization was in the rear services? To deceive us and the Czechoslovaks as to the real purpose, or primarily to put more pressure on the Dubcek regime?
Much of the disagreement concerning Soviet deception is over this issue. It has been argued, and with considerable reason, that the Czechoslovaks (who would be familiar with Soviet deception tactics and who already would have known the Pact training schedule for the year) could not have been so naive as to believe that an exercise was under way. Therefore, it is maintained, the primary purpose of the announcements was to put more pressure on Czechoslovakia, to warn but not to deceive. Perhaps so. We do not know how the Czechoslovaks interpreted the announcements.
But what about the West? Were the announcements intended to deceive us and NATO, or at least to confuse? To most observers, it would seem that they were, and that in fact many were deceived. To judge from current intelligence coverage at the time, it would appear that a majority of analysts were reluctant to say that these were not exercises, or to draw the conclusion that the only thing which was in progress was a mobilization and deployment. Only a minority probably firmly believed the latter at the time. And it may be noted that, even in retrospect, some analyses have persisted in referring to the "exercises."
At the same time, however, the Soviet announcements provided us the clearest indication which we had that a mobilization was actually in progress. If they left unclear the extent of it, and whether combat as well as rear services units were involved, they did serve to warn us, even before the military movements became evident, that an extraordinary Soviet military effort was under way. Thus the Soviet statements, if intended to deceive, also were an asset both to analysts and collectors.
Active Military Deception Measures
There is reason to believe that the USSR engaged in some active military deception against Czechoslovakia at least as early as June when


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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:27 AM
Last Updated: Aug 05, 2011 02:22 PM