Targeting the Soviet Army along the Sino-Soviet Border

Targeting the Soviet Army along the Sino-Soviet Border

Author/Editor: Joseph V. Braddock, Douglas N. Beatty, William P. Schneider, Raymond J. Milesfsky

Publisher/Sponsor: The BDM Corporation
Supplier: Defense Nuclear Agency
Report Date: 31 Mar 1978
Document Number: BDM/W-0643-78-S … DNA001-77-C-0216 … b310077464P99QAXDE502-10H2590D
Classification: Unclassified
Nautilus Filing Number: 437
Box Number: 15

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In the 1970s, US defense officials took notice of escalating Sino-Soviet disagreements, particularly around the north eastern border.  In an attempt to stem the Soviet’s development of weapons technology, a plan was considered whereby strategic attacks by the west would escalate the potential conflict between China and the USSR, thus demanding both the attention and resources of the USSR.  While the Soviet side of the Sino-USSR border was relatively less well defended, the Soviet military’s general superiority and substantial missile armaments still safeguarded against possible Chinese aggression.

While the Chinese military was primarily invested in a defensive war of attrition, it certainly had the manpower to carry out offensive operations.  With strategic US attacks on the Soviet side of the border and the removal of key defensive structures, there could be an evening of the odds, and thus promoting Chinese military action or a redirection of Soviet forces stationed west eastward.

The United States government had been looking for ways to counter the growing strength of Soviet weapon systems and influence in Europe.  The Sino-Chinese border to the northeast had been a site of tensions between the two countries.  With proper interference (destroying certain Soviet defensive structures), the US could provoke a Chinese offensive.  Pitting the two nations against one another would promote the US interest of hindering Soviet military buildup.  The remainder of the document serves as a guide to how to best approach this attack operation, and also indicates the specific military capabilities and strategy employed by each side.

“The Soviets maintain a qualitative superiority in mobility, nuclear and conventional fire support, tactical air support, air and ballistic defense capability, and logistic support and supply procedures.  The Chinese have the quantitative advantage of manpower in proximity to the borders and the strategic vulnerability of Soviet logistics.  Thus it is with these thoughts in mind that targeting the Soviet Army in the East, and thereby upsetting the balance of power, shows potential as a deterrence option.” [p.53]

This report was released to the Nautilus Institute under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).