2500 Year Old Prophecy: Soviet Armed Invasion? AUTHOR Major Gerald L. Boldt, ARNG CSC 1988 SUBJECT AREA History EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TITLE: 2500 YEAR OLD PROPHECY: SOVIET ARMED INVASION? 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 intervention. 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 possible. OUTLINE 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. 2500 YEAR OLD PROPHECY: SOVIET ARMED INVASION? 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- tion."1 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 Council. 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 capacity. 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 economy. 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 period.7 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- ients. 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. FOOTNOTES 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. 4Ibid. 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. 11Ibid. BIBLIOGRAPHY 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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