The Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw Treaty Organisation also known as the Warsaw Pact was signed by Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the Soviet Union in Warsaw on 14th May 1955. The sole legal defector since its formation has been Albania, which withdrew in 1968, in protest at the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Organisation

The military organisation of the Pact forces was along Soviet lines, with a Joint High Command, charged with the directing and coordination of the joint forces for administrative and training purposes, however, in time of war, they would be directly subordinated to the Soviet High Command.

The Pact did not have its own air defence organisation, instead, each member's air assets were integrated into the Soviet national organisation, the Protivovozdushnoi oborony strany (PVO-Strany). A Soviet Deputy Commander/PVO-Strany acted as the air defence commander for the six air defence districts in Eastern Europe, as the Soviets saw control of the air as vital to any attack.

The sole nuclear power within the Pact, the Soviet Union also contributed 60% of the Pact's front line forces. Since the end of World War Two, Soviet forces in Eastern Europe never fell below 25 divisions, mostly remaining steady at 30 divisions deployed in East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

The other Pact forces were divided into the Northern tier - GDR, Poland and Czechoslovakia - Czechoslovak forces comprised 5 tank and 5 motor-rifle divisions and the Southern tier (Hungary - 1 tank and 5 motor-rifle divisions, Bulgaria and Romania - each provided 2 tank and 8 motor-rifle divisions. ) which together with others added a total of 45 divisions.

The largest non-Soviet Pact force was that of Poland, with over 300,000 men, making up 5 tank divisions, 8 motor-rifle divisions, an airborne division and an amphibious division.

While the East German forces only had 2 tank divisions and 4 motor-rifle divisions, they were permanently under direct Soviet military command and thus considered the next most reliable troops of the Pact forces.