40th anniversery of Prague Spring reveals Western intelligence failures

This is not Georgia despite the similarities.

This is not Georgia despite the similarities.

Russian tanks smash over the border into a satellite state. NATO at a loss to explain why or how, or more importantly, what to do about it. You think Georgia / South Ossetia was the first time this has happened? Not hardly.

This week is the 40th anniversery of the of the Prague Spring that was crushed by Russian tanks crossing the border and replacing the more liberal minded government with one more to their liking. The Spiegel magazine has a good reexamination (in English) of those events, utilizing documents from the NATO archive that show just how unprepared the West was for this event.

When it was over, Western officers, awkwardly, seemed surprised. Against their will they had to admit the camouflage hiding the march of Warsaw Pact troops into Prague had been “good,” and the speed of their divisions “impressive.” The way the Kremlin led units out of the western part of the Soviet Union “unnoticed” was also noteworthy. The enemy, in short, had scored a “tactical victory.”

This was the verdict on Aug. 27, 1968 from NATO headquarters in Brussels on “Operation Danube” — the suppression of the legendary Prague Spring. A week earlier, 27 divisions of Soviet Russians, Poles, Hungarians and Bulgarians — around 300,000 men, armed with 2,000 heavy cannons — marched into the small state of Czechoslovakia to end the experiment of “socialism with a human face.” It was the largest military operation since the World War II, and the West was caught off guard.

It’s a pretty good article outlining the failures of the West and the success of the Russians. Worth a review if you are still wondering what happened then (or now).

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