by Jordan BAEV
The establishment of the Warsaw Treaty Organization in May 1955 does not cause any significant changes in the position of dependence of the smaller East-European Kremlin allies set up during Stalin’s rule. At the very moment of its creation the organization assigns specific observation and analysis tasks to each of its member states in regard of the fighting capacity and military power of their neighboring states - members of the hostile NATO bloc. Thus Bulgaria and Romania share the charge to study the NATO intentions and actions in South Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Owing to the deterioration of the Moscow - Bucharest relations by the end of the 1960-ies this task becomes mainly a responsibility of the Bulgarian Intelligence Services.
The Bulgarian and other East European archives declassified in the last decade show the channels of information exchange regarding the state of the NATO Armed Forces. This is a priority target for the Bulgarian State Security intelligence and counter-intelligence departments [KDS] and the Military Intelligence [RUMNO]. Part of the summarized collected information is discussed at multilateral Warsaw Pact meetings. It is explicitly agreed to send such intelligence analyses to the allied neighboring states for their information and assessment. Thus, for instance, in fulfillment of a bilateral agreement, signed in 1963, in the course of the next decade, till 1974 [when the contacts between the two countries were frozen], the State Security agencies of Bulgaria and Romania exchange about 200 information reports on NATO of 1500 pages total volume. Each week Sofia receives from Moscow reports, analyses and reviews of KGB and GRU regarding the political and military situation in various crisis regions all over the world. “Special Intelligence” Bulletins are also sent by the Unified Command of the Warsaw Pact Allied Forces.
The key issues for the political and military leaders of the East-European Bloc are the NATO policy and strategy, the dislocation of its nuclear and missile weapons and the stationing of the US troops in Europe, the interdependence and contradictions among the members of the North-Atlantic Alliance. With no fail a place of importance is always given to the condition of all types of armed forces and their participation in NATO joint maneuvers and exercises. A valuable information about East-European military leaders’ assessments and forecasts can be discovered in the overview of the tasks assigned during joint military exercises of the Warsaw Treaty members. The importance of the new evidence and estimates of the NATO historical development discovered in the East-European archives requires a more detailed and profound analysis of the authentic data accumulated during the period of the Cold War. Regardless the case, however, one should always take into consideration the influence of the ideological, political and strategic concepts in the Soviet Bloc at the time as well as the relative trustworthiness of the Intelligence sources used.
In compliance with the Warsaw Pact Allied Military Command’ strategic concepts in regard of the “missile nuclear war”, at the end of the 1950-ies the attention of the Bulgarian military and political intelligence services is aimed predominantly at the discovery of missile and nuclear NATO and US bases in Turkey and Greece. This tendency becomes particularly obvious during the flare-up of acute global and regional crises [ the Lebanon crisis in 1958, the Berlin crisis in 1961 and the Cuban missile crisis in 1962].
In a special military-political information of theirs dated 26th April 1957, the Allied Military Command of the Warsaw Pact in Moscow notifies the General Staff of the Bulgarian Armed Forces of the opening of the US-Greek talks regarding the creation of a nuclear base on the island of Crete. The same information points out that missiles have been delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces1. Similar reports arrive through diplomatic channels as well. The Bulgarian Embassy in Athens in their respective comments on the matter explicitly reports that during Admiral Burke‘s visit in June, 1957 and Admiral Brisco’s visit in November of the same year in Greece the establishment of nuclear bases in Greece and the supply of medium-range missiles for the Greek Armed Forces were discussed2. On its turn, the Embassy in Ankara makes known the delivery of medium-range missiles ”NIKE” in Turkey, which are to be allegedly used for the defense of the Gyuldjuk naval base. According to the Bulgarian experts it is more of a ”dangerous offensive weapon rather than a defensive one”3. All this information is used as a motive for the Bulgarian Government to request Kremlin to deliver free of charge patrol and torpedo boats and submarines for the defense of the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. At the consultations with Rear Admiral Branimir Ormanov, Bulgarian Fleet Commander, in Moscow in December 1957 it is proposed to create new organizational forms of interconnection among the Black Sea fleets of Bulgaria, Romania and the USSR since, considering “the character of a contemporary war initial period”, organizing such cooperation after the beginning of the war would be too late4.
At the height of the Berlin crisis in the summer and autumn of 1961 the Bulgarian Military Intelligence prepares a number of analyses and information reports on the co-relation between the intensification of the global military and political tension and the increased activity of NATO ships in the vicinity of the Black Sea. A report dated 5th August 1961 states that the US Government has requested Turkey to close the Black Sea Straits, should the USSR not accept a compromise on the Berlin issue. According to another information from the Intelligence Department of the Defense Ministry [RUMNO] dated 1st September, 1961 the commandment of the Egerli Black Sea naval base was put at advanced alert and was ordered to present everyday reports on the Black Sea coast situation to the Turkish Navy Staff in Ankara5.
NATO’s military exercises in the Mediterranean in September - October 1961, i.e. - RED FOX, MANZIP CONVOY and CHECKMATE are not only most attentively followed, they are also analyzed from the Berlin crisis development perspective. The reports state that the main goal of the exercises was holding the Black Sea Straits by the NATO forces, a successful coastal landing with 5 000 marines in the region of the Saros Bay under the umbrella of the naval aviation and artillery and a preparation for a counter-offensive to the North6. One of the Bulgarian counter-intelligence reports makes the ridiculous statement that “the Turkish Fleet Commander has entered the port of Burgas disguised as a senior assistant of a merchant ship”7. A diplomatic airgram from Istanbul informs that in case of military confrontation in relation to the Berlin issue, the Armed Forces of Turkey and Greece are to subordinate to the NATO Supreme Allied Command. Another source, close to American diplomatic officer stationed in Istanbul, informs of plans for quick building of military facilities at the Black Sea coast since the ones existing at the moment “could not secure effective defense in case of eventual hostile offensive”8. Allegedly, an urgent delivery of 10 American submarines, “built especially to suit the Black Sea specifics”, was planned. In April 1962 during his visit in Turkey General Lauris Norstad, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, discusses the matter of an overall reorganization and modernization of the Turkish Armed Forces9.
The Cuban missile crisis also has an indirect influence on the situation at the Balkans and the Mediterranean area. Just before the crisis started, from 15th to 19th October 1962 an operational and tactical Warsaw Pact exercise takes place in Romania and Bulgaria and their contiguous Black Sea aquatory. At this exercise overview Marshal Grechko, Commander-in-Chief of the Warsaw Pact Allied Armed Forces gives a place of special attention to the NATO Forces on the Balkans and the Mediterranean. He states that the Sixth US Fleet and the British Mediterranean Navy are the backbone of the NATO naval power in the region. The Sixth US Fleet allegedly has in its possession up to 50 warships and its two aircraft carriers are with up to 250 airplanes, and both - between themselves - 1030 nuclear warheads. Marshal Grechko stresses in particular the entrance of US warships in the Black Sea basin during the recent years and qualifies that as a deliberate “military demonstration” close by the Bulgarian, Romanian and Soviet coasts. According to him that underlines the importance of the Black Sea Straits in the NATO geo-strategic plans as a crossing point of three continents and an approach toward the most important Mediterranean lines of communication10.
A typical piece of the period is a report of the Bulgarian counter-intelligence describing how during the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis the US Defense Attaché has initiated a sequence of confidential meetings with the Military Attaches of France, Italy, Greece and Turkey, the aim of those meetings being to coordinate the collection of intelligence data related to the Bulgarian Armed Forces and the possible movement of Soviet troops in the Balkans11.
The story of the withdrawal of the Russian SS-4 [8 K 63] missiles from Cuba in exchange of the US ballistic missiles “Jupiter” from Turkey has been most carefully studied in the relevant research literature12. After the Cuban crisis is settled, the attention of the East-European Secret Services is redirected towards the replacement of the “Jupiter” IRBMs with the more modern “Polaris” ballistic missiles, based on the US submarines in the Mediterranean as well as toward the discussions within NATO regarding the building up of the Allied Nuclear Forces. Early in February 1963 Bulgarian diplomatic sources in Turkey inform that three US submarines with “Polaris” missiles operationally attached to the Sixth US Fleet and permanently based in Rota, Spain, were sent to the East Mediterranean not far from Turkish territory. Following a number of reports of later dates, at a meeting of the General Staff Chiefs of Turkey and Greece, the Greek party made clear that it was not prepared to accept submarines with nuclear ballistic missiles “Polaris” in Greek territorial waters. The Turkish party replied that they would accept the American submarines but in this case those should be used exclusively for the defense of Turkey.
In regard to the NATO multinational nuclear forces the Turkish government declares that Turkish officers and seamen are to be included in the teams of those forces but it makes clear that Turkey is not in a position to have a financial participation in the realization of the plan. At his visit in Athens General Lemnitzer, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe makes at his turn clear to his Greek hosts that the territory of Greece will have a full nuclear umbrella. In the months following the Cuban missile crisis both - the Greek and the Turkish sides, make efforts to get new submarines from the USA and when that is delayed, they secure for themselves the alternative military support of the FRG13.
According to the press of the two Balkan NATO members states, to compensate for the three US submarines with “Polaris” missiles on board sent towards the Turkish coast, the Soviet Union sends a nuclear submarine of theirs in the Mediterranean and organizes the delivery of more modern armament to Bulgaria14. This is an argument often used at the time to secure more military support from the USA and the West-European allies.
Indeed, after the first visit of Admiral Gorshkov, Commander of the Soviet Navy, in Egypt in 1961, the presence of Soviet military vessels in the region is significantly increased. That comes not only as a result of the increase of the NATO maritime power in the Mediterranean but is also connected with the change of the political regimes of some Arab and African states and the sharpening of the Near East situation. In November 1962 three Soviet guided missile boats 183-R are delivered to the naval base in Alexandria which makes possible the formation of the first guided missile boats battalion of the Egyptian Navy. As a commander of the group of the Soviet naval experts in Alexandria Rear Admiral Vassiliev is sent next year. By the end of the 1960-ies other Soviet naval bases are created - in the Syrian ports of Latakia and Tartus and the Somali port of Berberra. In the period 1967 - 1972 there are about 400 Soviet military advisers in all types of armed forces in Egypt only, and Rear Admiral Sutyagin is the chief military adviser for the Navy15. According to Western sources, after the Six-day War in the Middle East in June 1967 Moscow has at its permanent disposal about 50 combat and auxiliary ships and 9-10 submarines in the Mediterranean, and during the October War in 1973, the Soviets double the number of their vessels in the region. As the London daily - The Times, ironically pointed out in its editorial, the participants in the NATO naval exercises in the Mediterranean are very often with one more than it has originally been planned as Soviet warships and submarines are all the time located very near by16.
Both - the Western and Eastern assessments show that throughout the whole Cold War period the NATO Naval Forces on the Southern European Flank are nearly twice the number of the Warsaw Pact maritime power. The summary intelligence estimates of the power and fighting efficiency of the NATO Naval Forces during this period are of particular interest. An evaluation report of the Romanian General Staff’ Operational department of April 1965 states that the NATO Naval Forces have at their disposal a total of about 1 500 warships and auxiliary ships of which -370 main combat ships; 45 naval aviation squadrons with more than 680 assorted aircraft; 8 battalions of marines. The main NATO naval group, comprising the naval forces of the USA, the Great Britain, France, Italy, Turkey and, Greece, is concentrated in the Mediterranean. The NATO Naval Forces combat unit in the region is the Sixth US Fleet which has 3-4 aircraft carriers with nuclear warheads of types A-3B and A-4B with 300 kt equivalent and 2400 to 1500 km tactical radius. At the same time 3-4 other US nuclear submarines with “Polaris-A2” missiles of 2800 km range patrol in the Mediterranean17. According to official Sovet data of 1970 the Allied NATO Naval Forces in the Mediterranean [of which the French Navy is no more a member], have at their disposal 260 ships and up to 120 airplanes and helicopters. The Naval Forces combat unit is the 16th Squadron of US nuclear submarines, based in Rota, Spain. Apart of that, the Sixth US Fleet has about 60 ships, 2 aircraft carriers of 180-200 airplanes, 20 destroyers, 1-2 missile cruisers as well as marine units18.
The Bulgarian and Romanian intelligence estimates concentrate especially on the potential of the Greek and Turkish naval forces and their participation in NATO maneuvers and military exercises. In the summary study of the Intelligence department at the General Staff of Bulgarian Armed Forces under the title: ”Conclusions from the NATO Allied Military Forces’ exercises at the South-European war theater in the period 1960 - 1972” major NATO military exercises are analyzed, such as “DANCE CROP”, “DAWN PATROL”, “SOUTH EXPRESS”, ”FALLEX” as well as special naval exercises like “MEDSABEX”, “MEDTAXEC” “AHOY NEPTUNE”, “FADEN ESCORT”, “AGGRAVATE ESCORT”, etc. The study points out that in the early 1960-ies the tasks to be worked out were concerned predominantly with organizing an initial defensive operation with a subsequent surprising nuclear thrust at the enemy, carrying out a coastal landing and an air-landing and then taking the offensive. In the early 1970-ies the use of strategic nuclear weapons becomes more and more limited. The allied troop formation time is changed from 3-5 hours after opening the hostilities in 1963-1966, to 2,5 - 4 hours in 1972. ”As a rule the naval units of the USA, Great Britain, Italy, Turkey and Greece permanently placed in the Mediterranean always participate in the amphibious operations at the South European War Theater accompanied by US marines19.”
At the Bulgarian General staff a special analysis of the operational-tactical and the combat training of the Turkish and Greek naval forces in the period 1969 - 1973 is prepared. It points out that in the period stated both countries’ participation in NATO naval exercises keeps on increasing all the time. For instance, while in 1969 Turkey takes part in 3 naval exercise of the Alliance in 1971 their number is already 7, and in 1972 - 10. In 1972 only, Greece takes part in 3 international and 5 national landing exercises in which the new sabotage-reconnaissance groups “commandos” and the 32nd marines regiment participate. Usually the Greek navy draws for participation in these exercises up to 25-30 war ships and 10-15 auxiliary ships. After a permanent Soviet naval presence has been established in the Mediterranean, the Greek Navy is assigned new combat tasks against the Soviet war ships and submarines.
The Black Sea Strait Zone is defined in the report as a chief strategic goal at the South-European Theater of operations, “the strategic stability of the whole South Flank, NATO believes, will depend on its being held.” The participation of the Turkish Navy in “DENIS KURDU” [SEA WOLF], “TYPHOON” and other naval exercises is analyzed too. The main tasks assigned to the Turkish naval forces are the defense of the Black Sea Straits, anti-submarine warfare, strategic coastal landing and torpedo-rocket strikes. About 50 Turkish war ships and auxiliary ships, tactical and naval aviation participate usually in those exercises. After 1967 one third of Turkish Naval Forces within the NATO complement are based on the Black Sea - mainly torpedo and missile cruisers and submarines.20
In a subsequent similar estimate regarding the Greek and Turkish Armed Forces exercises carried out in the period 1972 - 1981 a new accent, related to the Cyprus crisis development, is accounted for. For the first time in the national military exercises of both - Greece and Turkey, respectively - “PTOLEMEOS”, ‘PHILIPOS” and “YALDURUM”, “BARUSH” and so on, the tasks of assaults repulsing worked on are not only for an aggression from the “North” but also for such threat that might eventually be launched by a neighboring country - an ally. Another new tendency of the 1970-ies is an extended non-nuclear initial warfare period in case of a global military confrontation. During the special military exercises “PARMENION”, “DENIS KURDU”, etc. the idea of missile-strike groups is also considered. Now, the use of nuclear strike is foreseen not in relation to the danger of penetration but as “a response to a mass use of chemical weapon by the Warsaw Pact”. In those exercises the previously set numbers of troops for both blocs are nearly the same. Thus, for instance, at the first strategic echelon at the destination Bosphorus - Dardanelles the collision expected is of 12 Warsaw Pact formations against 11 NATO formations21.
During the 70-ies the East-European Intelligence Services show anticipated keen interest in the development of the Cyprus conflict. In the intelligence information received from KGB in the early 1970-ies there are two invariably dominating topics in regard of the Mediterranean - the Middle East and the Cyprus conflicts. The situation in Greece after the military coup of April 1967 and the development of the Cyprus crisis are a main issue in the Intelligence information exchange of the Bulgarian and Romanian State Security Services too. In 1975 a special study is prepared by the Operations Department of the Bulgarian General Staff focused on the military aspects of the Cyprus crisis. In it an important place is given to the assessment of the Turkish amphibious operation “CHAKMAK” of July 1974. The study also points out that the Turkish General Staff shows superiority in men and equipment over the Greek military formations - from 2 to 9 times for the different branches of forces22.
The available Intelligence data of the assumed intentions and operations of the NATO countries are used for planning the operational-tactical and staff exercises involving the Warsaw Pact Black Sea Fleets. The operational and tactical exercise on the largest scale in the Balkans area within the stated period is carried out in August 1967, its code name is “RODOPI”. This exercise covers nearly the whole territory of Bulgaria and the West Black Sea coast from Sevastopol to Sozopol. One of the main tasks set to the Bulgarian and Romanian Naval forces and the Soviet Black Sea Fleet is to off a coastal landing after enemy’s nuclear missile strike. In it all available naval forces of Bulgaria, 12 Romanian war ships, 139 ships and submarines and the whole combat aviation of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet take part. The following is explicitly stated in the “RODOPI” military exercise overview: “An air-dropping coastal landing and its deterrence is the most complicated of the military actions not only on sea but in any case of military hostilities whatsoever” it is also “an unavoidable element” of a future war23.
In preparation of this significant military exercise on the Bulgarian territory the military counter-intelligence carries out a special operation called “MALNIA” [THUNDERBOLT]. This counter-operation is aiming to accomplish a set of desinformation measures against the military attaches of the NATO countries in Bulgaria and neutralize their intelligence activities in the regions of the exercise “RODOPI”. The movements of the Greek, Turkish, British and Italian military attaches in the Burgas coastal area as well as in the areas of other towns in Southern Bulgaria were closely followed. The Bulgarian counter-intelligence services report to the Ministers of Defense and Interior that the bigger part of data collected about the “RODOPI” exercise by the Western military representatives are “inaccurate”. The conclusive report on the “MALNIA” operation points out: ”The data gathered by the enemy parties and their assessment of the beginning of the exercise, the Danube forcing, the airdrop landings in the Ruse and Sarafovo areas and the D-day in Sozopol are really far from the truth… Even now the military attaches are aware of nearly nothing in regard of such important operations like the air landings in Kondofrei and Bezmer …”24
By the end of the 1960-ies following the experience resulting from of the Near East and Indochina wars, the Unified Allied Command of the Warsaw Treaty Organization change their previous strategic concepts in regard of the inavoidability of a “nuclear missile war”. In exercises and maneuvers, carried out from that time on, a participation in “local wars” with of conventional armament is foreseen. Thus, for instance, the Directive for the Training of the Warsaw Pact Allied Armed Forces of 1969 points out as an important weakness in the military training before that time the fact that ”… the possibilities of conducting continuous fight without the use of nuclear weapon are not considered…”25 When analyzing the naval exercises carried out on the Black Sea in March and June 1970 a point is explicitly made of the fact that the military leadership of NATO takes particular care of the development of the organizational structures of its Armed Forces and with their being supplied with new types of conventional arms applicable in local wars26.
When the naval staff exercise “VAL-72” held in February 1972 under the command of Rear Admiral Vassil Yanakiev, Commander of the Bulgarian Navy, is planned, two new points are introduced. The information that the Turkish Navy is increased with 23 new vessels and that there are plans to eventually base the Sixth US Fleet in the immediate proximity of the Black Sea Straits, is interpreted as an indication of the increased strategic importance of the Strait Zone for the NATO Naval Command in South Europe. On the other hand, the Cyprus situation is for the first time included in the military exercise scenario. The hypothetical variant of “overthrowing the Cyprus government and creating possibilities to turn the island into a NATO military base” is considered as well27. In the analysis of another staff exercise, held in April 1973 near to the Bulgarian Black Sea coast in which 36 ships and two submarines of the Bulgarian Navy and 6 ships of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet participated, it is once again underlined: “Following the assessment of the NATO Allied Command the Black Sea Straits - Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, shall be the most important regions of hostilities at the South-European war theater.”28
The data and the estimates of the eventual intentions of the NATO Allied Command in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea area determine the tasks set to the Warsaw Pact Black Sea fleets. These tasks are most clearly explained in the Letter of Instruction for a tactical Soviet-Bulgarian naval exercise in May 1975, performed under the command of Rear Admiral Hovrin, Commander of the USSR Black Sea Fleet. The exercise task is formulated in such a way: ”Securing operational deployment of allied countries’ Black Sea Fleets and participation in a blockade of the Straits Zone for keeping enemy’s warship combat groups and landing teams away from the Black Sea.”29
The above presented new documentary evidences visibly illustrate the views and estimates of the Warsaw Pact member-states concerning the plans, operational-tactical concepts and the combat potential of the NATO Naval Forces in the East Mediterranean and the Black Sea area till the mid-1970-ies. These “visions from the North” in respect of the possibilities and intentions of the NATO Allied Command at the Southern Flank are meant to improve the environmental background of those times and to contribute for establishment of a more differentiated picture and understanding of the Cold War years’ bi-polar confrontation. They might as well help the joint efforts to throw more light on the half Century contemporary history of the North Atlantic Treaty as the most effective and long lasting military and political alliance of our times.
This paper has been presented at the 4th Pelagic Maritime Conference in May 2001 in Kefalonia Island, Greece, and was published in Bulgarian in Godishnik na Voennomorskija Muzej, Vol. 1, Varna 2001.
 Central Military Archive [CVA], Veliko Tarnovo, Fond 1, Opis [Record] 3, File 42, p. 126-128.
 Diplomatic Archive [DA], Sofia, Opis 3s, File 129, p. 91, 153, 194, 313, 328.
 DA, Opis 3s, File 212, p. 75-76.
 CVA, Fond 1, Opis 3, File 44, p. 26; Fond 22, Opis 2, File 15, p. 35-41.
 Archive of the Ministry of Interior [AMVR], Sofia, Fond 1, Opis 10, File 73, p. 29, 77-78.
 AMVR, Fond 1, Opis 10, File 73, p. 7-9, 20, 22, 30, 51; DA, Opis 3s, File 433, p. 222-224.
 AMVR, Fond 1, Opis 10, File 72, p. 126.
 DA, Opis 3s, File 433, p. 197, 263.
 DA, Opis 4s, File 52, p. 23.
 Vojensky Historicky Archiv [Military History Archive], Praha, MNO-1963, 65/65, sf. 17/1.
 AMVR, Fond 1, Opis 10, File 83, p. 97.
 Criss, N., “Strategic Nuclear Missiles in Turkey: The Jupiter Affair, 1959-1963”, The Journal of Strategic Studies, London, No. 3, September 1997, p. 97-122.
 DA, Opis 5s, File 10, p. 78; File 26, p. 196, 211; File 56, p. 115; File 59, p. 34, 294; File 155, p. 329; File 208, p. 176.
 DA, Opis 5s, File 26, p. 290.
 Voennie Znania, Moscow, 1994, No. 7, p. 8; Voennoistoricheskij Zhurnal, Moscow, 1994, No. 4, p. 36-42; No. 5, p. 53-60.
 The Times, London, No. 59 406, 27 May 1975.
 Archivele Militare Romane, Bucharest, Marele Stat Major, Directia Operatil, Fila 110-119, 17/04/65.
 DA, V/I/4, 1970.
 RUMNO. “Conclusions from the NATO Allied Military Forces’ exercises at the South-European war theater in the period 1960 – 1972”, Sofia 1972.
 RUMNO. “Analysis of the operational-tactical and the combat training of the Turkish and Greek naval forces in the period January 1969 – May 1973”, Sofia 1973.
 RUMNO. “Conclusions from the Greek and Turkish Armed Forces’ exercises in the period 1972 – 1981”, Sofia 1981.
 General Staff. Ministry of Defense. “The Military Conflict in Cyprus”. Sofia 1975.
 CVA, Fond 1027, Opis 12, File 101, p. 73-90.
 AMVR, Fond 1, Opis 10, File 258, p. 112-138.
 CVA, Fond 1027, Opis 13, File 7, p. 72.
 CVA, Fond 1027, Opis 13, File 13, p. 62-65; File 35, p. 60.
 CVA, Fond 1027, Opis 16, File 44, p. 121, 129; File 45, p. 47.
 CVA, Fond 1027, Opis 19, File 21, p. 2; File 22, p. 94.
 CVA, Fond 1027, Opis 24, File 47, p. 6-8.