Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 107

Command-post exercises on controlling strategic nuclear forces began in Russia yesterday under General Staff Chief Mikhail Kolesnikov. The maneuvers are said to be designed to test operations for controlling strategic troops "under different conditions. " The exercises, which are to conclude with training launches of strategic nuclear missiles on October 10, also will test the reliability of ground, air- and sea-based missile systems and their operational readiness for launch. (9)

A separate report a day earlier said that Ground Forces command-staff exercises would be held October 2-6 in central Russia under Ground Forces Supreme Commander Colonel General Vladimir Semenov. These exercises were described as including scenarios that stress the transition from a state of crisis to the initiation of defensive combat operations against an aggressor state. A Ground Forces spokesman said it was a mere coincidence that they were being held at the same time as large-scale NATO maneuvers in the Czech Republic which began this past weekend. (10)

Both exercises are "paper" ones, meaning that the exercise play is simulated on maps and charts and (with exception of the missile test firings) no "real" field maneuvers take place.

The announcement of the exercises and their themes appear designed to catch the attention of leaders in NATO member countries, especially those in Europe. The strategic forces exercises are particularly noteworthy because they heavily imply testing the readiness of missiles for launch-on-warning. This is reminiscent of the shrill Soviet propaganda that followed NATO’s l979 decision to counter Soviet SS-20 deployments by basing long-range theater nuclear missiles in the heart of Europe. As for the Ground Forces exercises, several Russian military analysts openly speculated that they were meant to simulate defensive actions which might become necessary if NATO expands to approach Russia’s borders. Russia had been invited to attend the NATO maneuvers in the Czech Republic, but declined.

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