Gorbachev's Relationship with the Soviet Military: Consensus or Conflict?
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the CPSU in March 1985. Almost immediately he began a restructuring of the Soviet economy. His perestroika program, to include the twin pillars of glasnost and demokratizatsiya, was necessary to ensure that the Soviet Union remained competitive with the West. The restructuring has unleashed unforeseen turmoil in the republics of the USSR and in Eastern Europe. The Soviet General Staff has reacted warily to these developments and to the force structure and budget reductions which are a part of perestroika. Initially, there was resigned acceptance of the cuts and need to divert military resources to the civilian sector of the economy. After five years of sacrifices, however, perestroika has failed to achieve measurable improvements. As a result, the General Staff is now resisting calls for additional sacrifices by the armed forces. They desire a more cautious, controlled approach as regards internal changes in relations with Eastern Europe. Such a course seems particularly prudent at this juncture as the perceived NATO threat has not appreciably decreased. Given the increasing opposition to his policies from both the left and the right, Gorbachev will need the militarys support to stay in power and to effectively implement perestroika. Such support is, however, unlikely. The military will increasingly resist restructuring, glasnost and democratization and will seek allies in the conservative wing of the CPSU, who share similar views. Such an alliance will further undermine and jeopardize Gorbachevs already tenuous political position. Keywords Reports.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics