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2500 Year Old Prophecy:  Soviet Armed Invasion?
AUTHOR Major Gerald L. Boldt, ARNG
CSC 1988
                    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
I.    Purpose:  To develop an understanding of Soviet intensions
in the Middle East.  By observing Moscow's action we can see
that the possibility of a Soviet intrusion into the Middle
East becomes a definite probability.
II.   Problem:  Ezekiel's prophecy 2500 years ago foretold of a
large armed force moving into the Middle East.  Modern day
Biblical students consider the USSR to be that armed force.
III.  Data:  Just as the commander on the battlefield observes
and scrutinizes the the intelligence of a pending attack, so I
have observed indications that could lead to a Soviet Assault
into Southwest Asia.
     First, the previous Russian and Soviet interests in the
lands south of their borders.  From the times of the czars to
the present day leader, all have considered Southwest Asia as
an area to dominate.  With Soviet forces in Afghanistan the
importance of the area to the communists is again demonstrated.
     Presently, the influence of military officers in Soviet
policy making is great.  Officers from the Red Army are in-
volved in the decisions and goals of the Party.  With their
large land army, future implementation of forces will be guided
by Kremlin leaders many of whom are directly involved as senior
grade soldiers.
     Economic considerations are important when looking at the
reasons for a Soviet armed move into the Middle East.  Large
oil reserves of the Gulf region have a direct influence on the
world economy.  Along with the oil is the importance geographic-
al features such as the Suez Canal and the topography of the
areas near the Persian Gulf.  Contol of both the oil and the
means of transportation are reasons for Soviet plans for
     Military conditions involve looking at the large numbers,
of units in the military districts of the Southern and South-
western TVDs.  With massive numbers of forces on the borders
facing Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan the movement south by the
Soviets looks to be an operation waiting to happen.
     Future trends and indicators involves looking at five of
many possible signs that could indicate a Soviet invasion.
By observing Soviet actions and policies the conditions for
intervention could be forthcoming.
IV.  Conclusion:  Our military planners should consider the
problem of projected Soviet intervention into the Middle East.
Historically, leaders in Moscow have looked to southern areas
to expand their influence.  Conflicts and political instability
of the Middle Eastern governments provides opportunities for
the communists.  With only 600 miles between the USSR and the
Middle East, Soviet military expansion into the region is very
  I. Introduction.
     A.   Prophecies of Ezekiel.
     B.   Discussion of Soviet TVDs.
     C.   Statement of subject areas.
 II. Previous Russian and Soviet Interests.
     A.   Russian Actions.
     B.   Soviet concern for expansion.
III. Present Political Perspectives.
     A.   Soviet Strategic Decision Making.
     B.   Influence of the Military of State Policy.
 IV. Economic Reflections.
     A.   Oil Reserves in the Middle East.
     B.   Control of the Oil Flow.
  V. Military Considerations.
     A.   Previous Military Actions.
          1.  Hungary
          2.  Czecholovakia
          3.  Afghanistan
     B.   Soviet Force Utilization.
     C.   Soviet Force Location.
 VI. Future Trends and Indicators.
     A.   Diplomatic Relations.
     B.   Unsettled Conditions in the Region.
     C.   Arab Unity.
     D.   Soviet Force Movement from Europe.
     E.   US Operations in the Middle East.
VII. Conclusion.
                    by Major Gerald L. Boldt, ARNG
     In the year 602 B.C. the Old Testament Prophet Ezekiel
wrote the following in the 38th Chapter of his prophecy.
     Lord God:  Behold, I am against you, O Gog, Chief
     Prince of Meshech and Tubal; and I will turn you
     about, and put hooks into your jaws, and I will
     bring you forth, and all your army, horses and
     horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a
     great company, all of them with buckler and shield,
     wielding swords; Persia, Cush and Put are with them,
     all of them with shield and helmet; Gomar and all
     his hordes - many people are with you.
                               (Ezekiel 38:3 RSV)
     The Prophet Ezekiel goes on in this same chapter:
     On that day when my people Israel are dwelling securely,
     you will bestir yourself and come from your place out
     of the uttermost parts of the north, your and many
     peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a
     great host, a mighty army.    (Ezekiel 38:14 RSV)
     These words written over 2500 years ago have special
meaning to modern day Bible interpreters.  Gog is explained
to be the leader of the invasion force.  One modern empire
is considered to be Gog of "the uttermost parts of the north"
by modern Biblical researchers.  Looking at a map of Eastern
Europe and the Middle East it is interesting to observe that
the line of longitude that passes through Moscow also crosses
Turkey, Syria and Jordan.  The USSR is considered to be Gog
by modern Bible students.  It is because of Ezekiel's prophecy
that I consider a Soviet invasion force into the Middle East.
     The major responsibility of the armed forces in the Soviet
Union is to carry out the directives of the political process.
The economy of the modern Soviet state is dominated by large
expenditures on military power.  The strength of the Soviet
military in conjunction with Party policy creates tensions and
insecurity for other countries throughout the world.
     Soviet military doctrine breaks the land mass and areas
outward into five theaters of war.  The Soviets concentrate
most of their military assets into the Western, Far Eastern
and Southern Theaters known as TVDs (Teatr Voennykh Delstvii).
Military forces vary within each TVD and are determined by the
Soviet leadership in relation to political objectives and
enemy strengths.  The Soviet threat to western oriented count-
ries  by forces in certain TVDs is of concern to the US.
The Soviet leaders believe in a rapid and efficient transfor-
mation from a defensive posture to the offense for opportunit-
ies to project communist domination.  A major US concern is a
Soviet armed invasion into the Middle East by forces from the
Southern and Southwestern TVDs.
     An understanding of Soviet intensions in the Middle East
is important to US strategy developers.  By observing Moscow's
actions we can see that the possibility of a Soviet intrusion
into the Middle East becomes a definite probability.
    Just as a commander on the battlefield observes and
scrutinizes the intelligence of a pending attack, so I
observe the indications that may lead to a soviet assault
into Southwest Asia.  Several manifestations are noteworthy
and are provided for the basis of this study.  These indicators
or subject areas are as follows:
          -   Previous Russian and Soviet Interests.
          -   Present Political Perspectives.
          -   Economic Reflections.
          -   Military Considerations.
          -   Future Trends and Indicators.
     Previous Russian and Soviet Interests:  The history of
czarist Russia and the modern Soviet state demonstrates the
interest of the Russians and Soviets to influence matters in
the Near East.  Historically czarist Russia demonstrated
interest in the Middle East during the 19th Century.  British
involvement during this time prevented Russia from expanding
into Southwest Asia.  Russian advancement into the Afghan
Frontier followed losses of British military battles in
Northern Africa in 1885, but was successfully controlled
when England reinstated its determination to protect interests
in the Middle East.  This is pointed out by B. E. Grayson in
a manuscript.  "The three nations bordering Russia between
Europe and China - Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan - were all
repeatedly viewed by the Tzars as priine targets for acquisi-
     After the Bolshevik Revolution, internal governmental
matters required that the Soviets take care of problems in
their own country.  Rather than confronting the British in
the Middle East, the Soviets were making political changes
to establish themselves as the legitimate replacement of the
czarist empire.  Moscow while concentrating on internal
affairs, nevertheless, continued consideration for expanding
into Southwest Asia.  In 1940, prior to war with Germany,
Stalin informed Hitler of Soviet territorial aspirations of
areas south of the Black and Caspian Seas in the general
direction of the Arabian Sea.  Both the Soviet Union's soon
to be enemies, Germany and Japan, accepted these aims.2
     After the Great Patriotic War, Soviet interest in the
Middle East developed again.  Large economic and military
aid programs were provided to Syria, Iraq and Egypt in return
for a Soviet presence in these countries.  This financial and
military influence along with the intervention in Afghanistan
in 1979 underscore the value that Moscow places in creating a
presence south of the USSR.
     Present Political Perspectives:  The overall perspective
of the Soviet military is described in the latest edition of
Soviet Military Power.
     The Soviet Strategic decision making process is
     dominated by the Party leadership but influenced
     by top military leaders.  The strategic decisions
     that result from that process are Party decisions.
     Military professionals certainly play an important
     role in the strategic decision making process by
     providing information, assessing alternatives,
     developing contingency plans, and making recommend-
     ations.  The dominant players, however, are the most
     influential Party leaders sho sit on the Defense
     This Defense Council makes all the main decisions for
national security matters.  The organization's chairman is
Gorbachev and the next in charge is the Minister of Defense,
the senior military officer of the Soviet Armed Forces.   If
compared to the Government of the United States this would
equate to our Secretary of Defense holding the active duty
rank of general.  With such high ranking military officers
in Soviet policy making positions the foreign policy deci-
sions will certainly have military considerations.  The 1987
edition of Soviet Military Power expresses this.
     Currently, the professional military are assuming
     a more visible public role as spokesmen for Soviet
     military and foreign policies....  This reliance
     (military for projecting national power) is also
     visible through military assistance programs and
     the use of top armed forces leaders in a diplomatic
     Many high ranking government officials of the Soviet
Union have connections to the military and consider military
operations as extensions of civil policy.  Future military
actions will depend on political doctrine and the national
goals of this Marxist government.
     Economic Reflections:  Additional political considerations
of the Soviet Union for the Middle East can vest be expressed
as an extention of economic interests.  Oil deposits throughout
the region are a central economic consideration by Moscow
according to many experts.  While this may be a point of con-
cern, it might be more likely that the Soviets are looking to
expand their influence to secure access to the Mediterranean
and Arabian Seas.
     Robert Hunter in a paper for the Institute of Strategic
Studies developed the reasons for this expansion.  Control of
oil resources in the Middle East is an important strategic
consideration of the USSR.
     Because territorial contiguity would in theory permit
     the Soviet Union to draw oil from the Persian Gulf
     fields overland means alone, a long-term closure of
     the Suez Canal may seem to offer the Soviet Union
     certain geographical advantages over her East Europ-
     ean neighbors.  She may wish to exploit these by
     obtaining oil from the Persian Gulf either for direct
     shipment to Eastern Europe or for supplying the
     Caucasus in order to free internal supplies for export
     to that market.5
     It would seem that Red control of energy assets in the
Middle East could be tied to a Soviet military presence.
Hunter emphasized this point.
     The most obvious means, as an adjacent to active
     trading and diplomatic relations, would be some
     form of Soviet military or naval presence in the
     Gulf.  Whether this will be thought necessary will
     also depend upon one key factor which is only mar-
     ginally connected with the problem of oil:  The
     possible value of the Gulf to the Soviet Union as
     a base for pursuing activities further afield.6
     By controlling oil flow to western Europe and Japan the
Soviet Union can influence economic activities throughout the
world.  A military intrusion into the Middle East could re-
sult because of Soviet designs  on the oil and seaways of the
area.  The control of these assets would challenge the world
     Military Considerations:  The use of military force is
as extension of Soviet national policy.  The Soviet military
provides security to the state.  In addition to this fact
policymakers in the USSR use their massive military assets to
extend communist influence.  Ground forces have been designed
to project Red power and have been used to effectively in-
fluence other national neighbors as seen in the cases of
Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 and most recently,
Afghanistan of which Soviet forces from the Southern TVD
remain to this day.
     The TVD represents a territorial portion of the Soviet
Union.  Each TVD has strategic routes that lead outward to
foreign centers of interest to the Soviets.  TVDs are stra-
tegic in organization and involve theater or front sized
forces.  The Soviets have continued to increase assets within
each TVD.  In the Southern and Southwestern TVDs the numbers
of divisions have been increased from 56 to 59 in the last
two years.  Also numbers of Soviet tanks for these theaters
have increased from 12,000 to 13,100 in the same two year
     The Kremlin places a high value on the role of the tank
in war.  Mark L. Urban in his book Soviet Land Power explains
this relationship in the use of tanks in the Red armed forces.
     At the end of the Great Patriotic War the Red Army
     had over 500 rifle divisions and about a tenth that
     number of tank formations.  Their experience of war
     gave the Russians such faith in tank forces that
     since then the number of tank divisions has remained
     virtually unchanged, whereas the wartime infantry
     force has been cut by two-thirds.  When one considers
     that since the motorisation of the rifle divisions
     these too have also had large numbers of tanks, then
     the Soviet obsession with armour becomes apparent.8
     The Soviet Union basis the utilization of armor for
force development.  The nature of Soviet combat operations
is offensive.  The tank is an offensive type weapon.  Military
leaders in the Red Army have long believed that offensive
actions most benefit Soviet aims.  Offensive actions are
most successful when the momentum of the attack is maintained
using the military principles of mass, surprise and speed.
     Mass of Soviet forces is accomplished by providing a
combat ratio to overwhelm the opposition.  In the Southern
and Southwestern TVDs Soviet armored vehicles greatly out-
number similar type vehicles of potential opponents, Iran
and/or Turkey.  The Kremlin could take advantage of its
weaker southern national neighbors and mass forces to move
through these countries into the Middle East.
     Surprise has been used in the movement of Red Army ground
forces.  With very little warning the Soviets moved into Hun-
gary and Czecholovakia to put down political uprisings.  More
recently Soviet domination was forced upon a southern neighbor.
With surprise Russian elements entered Afghanistan to bolster
a puppet government.  The speed that the Soviets used to move
into this country reflects the effectiveness of modern military
assets driven by an aggressive political force.
     Military Districts (M.D.) are located within each of the
Soviet TVDs.  These military districts with their respective
headquarters are used to help provide information on Red
operational maneuver units.  Within the ten TVDs are sixteen
military districs each with army and division sized forces.
The Odessa, Transcaucasus and Turkestan Military Districts
most likely would provide the organizational basis for an
invasion force into the Middle East.
     Three tables with information from Urban's book provide
specific units and locations of these units within the  ilitary
districts most likely involved with a Soviet intervention
into the region.
Click here to view images
     Future Trends and Indicators:  Indications of the Soviet
invasion into Afghanistan were present to western observers,
but not heeded.  In 1978 the Kremlin's appointed leader of the
Peoples' Democratic Party in Afghanistan was removed from
office.  Soviet forces later that year moved into the country
to "aid" in the development of this adolescent Soviet satel-
lite.  Western officials were prohibited from visits and large
military units were reported in Afghanistan during the last
two months of 1979.  During this time the government leaders
and policy makers of western nations were unaware of the full
extent of Soviet activities.  Because of this lack of percep-
tion and indifference, Soviet forces will probably remain in
this foreign land for an extended period of time.
     If the Middle Eastern scenario is considered then obser-
vations could point towards similar Soviet actions as those
seen in Afghanistan.  Soviet military intervation should be
considered likely with certain indicators.  Subtle seeming
changes in regional and world events often result in major
alterations in the status of nations.  I present only five
of many hypothetical indicators.
     The first indicator could be an improvement in diplomatic
relations between the USSR and Turkey or Iran.  This could
indicate a new era of cooperation between former enemies.
This new spirit of "friendship" could lead to Soviet maneuvers
with objectives farther south.
     Another possible indicator could be the unsettled cond-
itions in the southern Soviet states.  With the recent growth
of Muslim Fundamentalism and the appearance of the lack of
Soviet control between rival ethnic groups such as the Arm-
enians and Azerbaijanians, the Central Government in Moscow
may take action.  This move could result in increased military
operations in the area.
     Third, an increased Kremlin interest in Arab unity and
diplomatic attemps on the part of Moscow to reduce tension in
the Middle East.  With the continued conflict between the Arab
states and Israel, Soviet attempts to influence events in the
region may increase.
     A fourth consideration could be the movement of Soviet
forces from Europe.  With reductions of conventional forces
as a result of diplomatic discussions between the US and Mos-
cow, Soviet military assests could be relocated.  These forces
would likely be moved to a military district not considered
to be a threat to western leaders.  Military districts of the
Southern and Southwestern TVDs would seem to be likely recip-
     Ultimately, Soviet intervention and military operations
could send a signal to the US forcing a withdrawal of forces
from Europe to defend against aggression in the Middle East.
The resulting reduction in NATO strength could open the door
for a Soviet move into Europe
     Conclusion:  Our military planners should consider the
problem of projected Soviet intervention into the Middle East.
Historically, leaders in Moscow have looked to southern areas
to expand their influence.  Conflicts and political instability
of the Middle Eastern governments provides attractive oppor-
tunities for communist leaders.  With only 600 miles separating
the USSR and the central portion of the Middle East, Soviet
military expansion into the region is very possible.
     1Benson L. Grayson, Soviet intentions and American
Options in the Middle East (Washington, D.C.:  National
Defense University Press, 1982), p.1.
     2Martin Gilbert, Atlas of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
(New York, N.Y.:  Macmillian Publishing Co., Inc., 1974),
p. 81.
     3Soviet Military Power (Washington, D.C.:  U.S.
Government Printing Office, 1987), p. 11.
     5Robert E. Hunter, The Soviet Dilemma in the Middle
East Part II:  Oil and the Persian Gulf (London:  The
Institute for Strategic Studies, 1969), p. 4.
     6Ibid., p. 11.
     7Soviet Military Power (Washington, D.C.:  U.S.
Government Printing Office, 1985), p. 17.
     8Mark L. Urban, Soviet Land Power (New York, N.Y.:
Hippocrene Books, Inc., 1985), p. 44.
     9Ibid., pp. 5O,51.
    10Ibid., p. 53.
Gilbert, Martin.  Atlas of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  New York,
     N.Y.:  Macmillian Publishing Co., Inc., 1974.
Grayson, Benson L.  Soviet Intentions and American Options in
     the Middle East.  Washington, D.C.:  National Defense
     University Press, 1982.
Hunter, Robert E.  The Soviet Dilemma in the Middle East Part
     II:  Oil and the Persian Gulf.  London:  The Institute for
     Strategic Studies, 1969.
Urban, Mark L.  Soviet Land Power.  New York, N.Y.: Hippocrene
     Books, Inc., 1985.
U.S. Government Printing Office.  Soviet Military Power.  1985.
U.S. Government Printing Office.  Soviet Military Power.  1987.

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