Components of the Warsaw Pact

The alliance which is known in history as the Warsaw Pact was founded on May 14, 1955. Its establishment was mainly a demonstrative and propaganda act because the Soviet Union had ensured its absolute control over all the armies in its sphere of influence and Soviet forces had been deployed in most of them. However, the Warsaw Pact brought the possibility of a more effective use of the human, industrial, and military potential of the member countries and it also became a “hedge” against centrifugal tendencies, which was proved already in 1956 by the events in Poland and Hungary and in 1968 in Czechoslovakia. The exclusive position of the USSR within the Warsaw Pact was shown, among other things, by the fact that during the whole existence of the Pact the main commander in chief of the Allied Forces was one of the Soviet marshals and the head of the headquarters staff was a Soviet army general.

The Allied Forces - with their power, modern equipment, and readiness to fight proven at large joint drills, together with the offensive doctrine – commanded respect and caused legitimate concerns. In 1987 the growth and consolidation of the military potential of the Warsaw Pact states, including Czechoslovakia, reached their climax. That was shown by the number of people in the army, the number of weapons produced, including their export and import, and by the high level and intensity of training.

However, two years earlier the Czechoslovakian representatives had pointed out to the Soviets that there had been a tense economic situation and possible deterioration of life standard of the population as a result of the huge defence costs. The reason for these costs was that the Warsaw Pact countries had reacted to the deployment of the American medium-range missiles by deploying their own nuclear carriers and by further development of their conventional armed forces.

The crisis led to discussions about changes in the Warsaw Pact which would strengthen political structures at the expense of military ones, and a mechanism for contacts with NATO was to be created.

The Warsaw Pact ceased to exist - despite the USSR’s effort to “modernize” it - at the Prague summit on 1 July, 1991. It was only a formal termination of the actual disintegration of the pact, which had been in rapid progress since the previous summer

Components of the Warsaw Pact