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Warsaw Pact - Central Front Ground Forces

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Part of the problem fun of modeling the Cold War is that sources, particularly for the Warsaw Pact, can be a little more challenging to find in English. During the Cold War, all sorts of things were published for the popular presses, but these often featured grainy photographs from Soviet/Eastern European agencies, or photos of Soviet-built hardware in armies outside the Warsaw Pact. After the Cold War, more photography has gradually trickled onto the web and into print books, but I don't think it is as comprehensive as what we can get for, say, the U.S. Army during the period. (Not to overstate the comparison - it can still be a challenge to find pictures of less famous and logistical U.S. gear "in the wild" during the 1970s). Non-photographic information of Soviet forces - developments, orders of battle, TOEs, tactics, and so forth - can be equally challenging. In English, this information is still incomplete, as it is often from NATO intelligence agencies' products during the period, which could be pretty good, but as we now know, was not infallible. Plus, there's a lot of "folk wisdom" generated in the West during the Cold War, concerning Warsaw Pact forces, that still gets tossed around as "truism." I think this can be particularly misleading, especially as what may have been true for one corner of the Pact's giant military forces may not have been true at all for other units, in another sphere, theater, branch, or command.

So I'm starting this thread where we can compare notes on what we've found, particularly concerning the ground forces of the Central Front: Group of Soviet Forces Germany and other commands that were organized to take part in a Central European campaign, if the Cold War had turned violent there. (Air and Naval units are okay, I suppose, but shouldn't they go elsewhere within the forums?) Obviously, many sources won't be focused per se on Eastern Europe, but still can provide good data for these formations in this era. I urge a healthy degree of researcher's skepticism in all these, but for hobby purposes, I think we can generate a pretty good bibliography of places to go for the Warsaw Pact in Eastern Europe. I'll get started:

There are several photo threads on militaryphotos.net that have Soviet-era photography of their forces. This one, for instance, is on Afghanistan. Photos seem to come and go, with lots of broken links left behind. Still, some great stuff there.

The following are useful for modelers, insofar as they are interested in placing certain hardware into a proper timeframe, particularly in dioramas. If nothing else, I find them compelling reading that motivates me to break out a BRDM or T-64 kit.

The CIA has published Cold War intelligence documents concerning "=field_collection%3A1700321"]Analysis of Warsaw Pact Forces.." These broadly describe trends in Soviet forces.

The Woodrow Wilson Center has digitized parts of its Cold War Archive, and include some interesting translations of Soviet Forces documents. Again, high-level; they won't tell you what color your T-62 is supposed to be. But they do illustrate Soviet thinking at the time about what World War III should look like. Among the collections, my favorite is "Warsaw Pact Military Planning," particularly the 1980s documents concerning exercises, and doctrine.

War gamers, enthused with the Central Front scenario, have put a lot of information on the web, too:

Fire & Fury's Orders of Battle

Cold War Gamer

If this thread generates some good stuff, I'd like to see a similar thread or threads concerning NATO forces. For example, while there is no shortage of information on the current German or Belgian ground forces, locating stuff that specifically illustrates the equipment, organization, conventions or tactics of these formations during the Cold War is less obviously available via the internet and even in out-of-print English language books.

Edited by Fishwelding
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