Analysis on the Soviet Union

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Steiner, Barry H. "American Intelligence and the Soviet ICBM Build-up: Another Look." Intelligence and National Security 8, no. 2 (Apr. 1993): 172-198.

Steury, Donald P. "Dissecting Soviet Analysis, 1946-50: How the CIA Missed Stalin's Bomb." Studies in Intelligence 49, no. 1 (2005), 19-26.

The CIA's Office of Reports and Estimates (ORE) "was responsible for producing the Intelligence Community's best judgment on when the Soviet Union would first produce an atomic bomb.... In retrospect, it seems that ORE's failure to accurately predict the advent of the Soviet atomic bomb was due less to any particular shortcoming than a general failure to piece everything together."

Steury, Donald P. "Origins of CIA's Analysis of the Soviet Union." In Watching the Bear: Essays on CIA's Analysis of the Soviet Union, eds. Gerald K. Haines and Robert E. Leggett. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 2003.

From "Introduction": "Steury's paper focuses on the evolution of an independent, analytical capability" at the CIA during the early years of the Cold War. He traces the development of the CIA "from the creation of the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) in 1946 through the tenure of Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) in 1950-51. It was during this period that the nucleus of the Agency's future analytic organization -- the DI and a Board of National Estimates (BNE) -- was formed."

Steury, Donald P., ed. CIA's Analysis of the Soviet Union, 1947-1991. Washington, DC: History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 2001.

Steury, Donald P., ed. Intentions and Capabilities: Estimates on Soviet Strategic Forces, 1950-1983. Washington, DC: History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 1996.

This is a selection of 41 National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) on Soviet strategic capabilities and intentions from the 1950s to 1983. Only the shorter NIEs have been reproduced in their entirety; for the longer Estimates, the "Summaries" and "Key Judgments," along with extracts from their other sections, are included.

Cohen, FA 75.5 (Sep.-Oct. 1996), sees this compendium as "an indispensable window into one of the central issues confronting the American national security establishment." Prados, JAH 83.4, finds that "a good selection of the relevant material" has been made. While this is "a useful contribution,... it has major drawbacks." These include the fact that much of information is "culled" from longer documents, giving the materials a fragmentary nature. Deletions for security reasons is a continuing problem. And the CIA "has failed adequately to identify the originals, which are given titles but not dated." (Italics in original)

Taylor, Jack H. "Wohlstetter, Soviet Strategic Forces, and National Intelligence Estimates." Studies in Intelligence 19, no. 1 (Spring 1975): 1-8.

Westerfield: "Here is evidence that CIA, in house, very quickly agreed that Wohlstetter's breakthrough claim (1974) was essentially correct, namely, that the United States had for years been underestimating the pace of Soviet arms racing."

Thamm, Gerhardt.

1. "It Was All About ALFA." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 18, no. 4 (Oct. 2002): 9-12.

The author discusses the years-long effort by Naval Intelligence Support Center (NISC) analysts (aided by CIA analysts) to piece together the enigma of the Soviet ALFA class SSN -- and to get that analysis accepted.

2. "Unraveling a Cold War Mystery -- The ALFA SSN: Challenging Paradigms, Finding New Truths, 1969-79." Studies in Intelligence 52, no. 3 (Sep. 2008): 17-24. [Originally published in a classified Studies in Intelligence 37, no. 3 (Fall 1993). Declassified "with slight redactions in 2007.] "The ALFA SSN: Challenging Paradigms, Finding New Truths, 1969-79." Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly 25, no. 1 (Jan. 2009): 21-25.

The author describes the long road to acceptance that the Soviets had broken the mold with their ALFA class submarine.

Townsend, Robert E. "Deception and Irony: Soviet Arms and Arms Control." American Intelligence Journal 14, nos. 2 /3 (Spring/Summer 1993): 47-53.

"A strong case can be made that for twenty years the Soviet Union was able to encourage in the minds of key US decision makers the spiral model of international relations and denigrate the deterrence model.... Clouseau ... will perhaps become the metaphor for US central intelligence during the Cold War."

Twining, David T. "Soviet Strategic Culture: The Missing Dimension." Intelligence and National Security 4, no. 1 (Jan. 1989): 169-187.

Although perhaps a little "political sciency" for some tastes, this article makes some interesting points. It is presented as a "review article" of Tom Gervasi, The Myth of Soviet Military Supremacy (1986), but goes well beyond that limit. The author examines "the methodological and epistemological attributes of Soviet strategic culture as a critical means for improving intelligence analysis.... Strategic culture is those attitudes, values and beliefs relating to the preparation for and conduct of war.... Western analyses of the Soviet threat ... have given scant attention to the requirement to assess Soviet strategic developments as perceived through Moscow's own lens."

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. CIA Analysis of the Warsaw Pact Forces: The Importance of Clandestine Reporting, at:

A collection of documents examining "the role of clandestine reporting in CIA's analysis of the Warsaw Pact from 1955 to 1985.... This study continues CIA's efforts to provide a detailed record of the intelligence derived from clandestine human and technical sources from that period. This intelligence was provided to US policymakers and used to assess the political and military balances and confrontations in Central Europe between the Warsaw Pact and NATO during the Cold War."

U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. Estimating the Size and Growth of the Soviet Economy. Hearings, 101st Cong., 2d sess., 1990. Committee print.

U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. Intelligence and the ABM. Washington, DC: GPO, 1969.

U.S. Congress. Senate. Select Committee on Intelligence. The Soviet Oil Situation: An Evaluation of CIA Analysis of Soviet Oil Production. Committee Print. 95th Cong., 2d sess. Washington, DC: GPO, 1978.

U.S. General Accounting Office. Soviet Economy: Assessment of How Well the CIA Has Estimated the Size of the Economy. Washington, DC: GPO, 1991. [GAO/NSIAD-91-274]

Walton, Timothy R. "Lessons Learned from the CIA's Assessment of the Soviet Economy." International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence 28, no. 3 (Fall 2015): 468-479.

"The historical record shows that the CIA's assessments of the Soviet economy were not as bad as some have claimed. They were quite good at an early definition of the central issue -- whether the Soviet economy could support a serious military threat.... While often wrong on details, the[y] usually got the broad picture right, if sometimes in a belated fashion."

Whitman, John. "Better an Office of Sovietology." Studies in Intelligence 8, no. 1 (Winter 1964): 65-66.

Responding to Richard W. Shryock, "For an Eclectic Sovietology," Studies in Intelligence 8, no. 1 (Winter 1964): 57-64., the author argues that while "all schools are needed,... they will continue to work at cross purposes so long as they remain in different bureaucracies." They need to be united "in a single organizational framework devoted to exploiting all methodologies for a single aim -- the analysis of Soviet politics as a research problem."

Ziegler, Charles A. "Intelligence Assessments of Soviet Atomic Capability, 1945-1949: Myths, Monopolies and Maskirovka." Intelligence and National Security 12, no. 4 (Oct. 1997): 1-24.

The author makes an interesting, if not totally substantiated, argument that the belief among top U.S. policymakers that the atomic monopoly would last longer than it did was based less on "character flaws" and more "on the failure of US intelligence." That failure lay initially in not accounting for all the high-grade uranium remaining in Europe and, then, in not compensating for that mistake "by obtaining reliable information on Soviet atomic progress."

Ziegler, David W. "Yellow Rain: An Analysis That Went Awry?" International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 2, no. 1 (Spring 1988): 91-113.

From Editors' Comment: A "50-page article appears in the spring 1987 issue of International Security, 'Sverdlovsk and Yellow Rain: Two Cases of Soviet Noncompliance?' by Elisa D. Harris.... Ms. Harris shares Professor Ziegler's skepticism and criticism of the U.S. Government's charge that the Soviet Union engaged in chemical warfare in Southeast Asia and Afghanistan."

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