|I'm sure many of you have considered possible scenarios concerning an east-west conventional conflict in europe in the 1980s. It is my belief that if this scenario had been fought out the winner would have been the Soviet Union for the following reasons:
Land;The Soviets would have been almost impossible for the NATO armies to stop, since there just weren't enough NATO troops avaliable. Even if the WHOLE U.S. army had been in europe (which would never hav happened), the Soviets still outnumbered us all so much that their numerical supperiority would have won through. Their 40 000+ armour reserve would have been unstopable after an attritional war of a few months after the modern tanks of both sides had been depleted.
Supplies: The soviet Union was one nation and its allies were all supplied using identical (or highly similar) hardware. This was not true of NATO, each nation operating its own tank types. Whilst there was harmonisation of hardware in some fields (E.G. the M113 used by many NATO armies, the F16 by many airforces and the 5.56mm standard round), there were many exceptions. NATO did not even have enough munitions to supply its armies for a long protracted war, which the soviets did to an extent. The U.S. would never have sent its entire (or even more that 2/3 say) of its army to fight in Europe due to logistical problems and their commitment to the defence of the U.S. Without the whole US army, NATO in europe would be too small to stop the russkies.
Sea: Supplies from the US in term of heavy equiptment would have to been shipped in across the Atlantic. Not a good place to be with Several dozen soviet subs lurking and a few hundred Tu-22 bombers on their way. The russkies probably wouldn't have closed off the convoys, but sinking 1/3rd or more of them would have been a real headache for NATO.
Air: I firmly believe that NATO could have won air superiority, but how much would this have achieved? A famous soviet cartoon sums it up nicely.
A soviet tank commander is in paris for the victory clebrations when he sees an old friend, who he goes over to talk to. " Comrade!" he says, " It is nice to see you again!" His friend replies " Yes comrade, but it is a shame so many of our friends are not here also." The first man agrees. " Yes, do you remember poor Yuri, killed in an air raid?" The second man Nods. " Yes, it was a pity we lost the air war."
That was the general message of the cartoon anyway. Air power is very useful, but even today when it is considerably more effective that in the 1980s, you still need men on the ground to do the hard fighting.
Please keep civil and on subject, remember we're talking a CONVENTIONAL conflict here, no nukes or other WMD'S. All comments welcome for discussion.