The conceptual battles of the central front: The air–land battle and the Soviet military–technical revolution
Beginning in the mid-1970s the US faced a daunting situation in the European theater of operations: mutually assured destruction eroded the option of nuclear war. Yet, in the balance of conventional forces, the Soviets were predominant. The early 1980s saw the Western response – an introduction of two new doctrines, Air Land Battle (ALB) and Follow on Force Attack (FOFA). The West capitalized on precision guided munitions (PGMs) to destroy the menace of Soviet second echelons. The Soviets monitored these developments and searched for countermeasures. Unlike the West, which focused on the weapons’ narrow implications, the Russians championed the argument that the new range of innovations constituted a fundamental strategic discontinuity and dubbed it the Military-Technical Revolution (MTR). This chapter argues that although ALB and FOFA were the first to incorporate emerging technologies with the new concept of operations, the Soviets actually predated the West by almost a decade in its realization and elaboration of the revolutionary essence embodied in the US and NATO military-technological shifts. Utilizing declassified Soviet military periodicals, works and memoirs by Soviet defense policy makers, this chapter enriches academic knowledge with fresh facts and interpretations about this chapter of the Cold War.