Accession Number:



Operational Employment of Airborne Forces: The Soviet Approach and the Implications for NATO

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[Technical Report, Monograph]

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This monograph examines the Soviet concept for the operational employment of airborne parachute forces and the implications of this threat for NATO planners. As background material the study first examines the pre-World War II evolution of Soviet airborne doctrine in relation to the evolving Soviet concept of deep battle. Proceeding to the wartime era, two examples of Soviet operational airborne employments are analyzed the assaults of Vyzama and at the Dnepr River. The study then reviews the post-war era during which major Soviet advances in technology finally resulted in a force capable of meeting the expectations of the early Soviet theorists. The second portion of the monograph reviews the current Soviet airborne organization in terms of equipment and lift capability, and then assesses the most probable modes of employment in a NATOWarsaw Pact conflict. Among the conclusions drawn are the following a The majority of Soviet airborne insertions will be operational as opposed to tactical or strategic. b Employment will occur very early in the conflict. c The four most likely targets are logistical facilities, key terrain, reserves, and airfields. d Operational employments will consist of several massive insertions up to division size rather than numerous small ones. The final section of the monograph assesses the implications for NATO and concludes that while existing rear battle doctrine and literature are adequate, there is a dangerous lack of emphasis on this threat. The study further recognizes that in order to counter this threat, planners will have to make difficult choices regarding the diversion of assets needed for the close battle. Nevertheless, current Soviet literature and doctrine leaves little doubt that operational airborne insertions will occur, and it is imperative that NATO planners begin to address this issue.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]