The Warsaw Pact is known to have made plans for an aggressive, unprovoked invasion of NATO. Are there any known serious NATO plans for an aggressive, all-out attack on the Soviet Union? I am sure both sides had extensive plans for an all-out war when provoked, but did NATO ever seriously consider starting a war unilaterally?

If yes, were such plans backed up by practical preparations? For example, in Poland, maps of Western Europe were produced, with names polonised for soldiers to follow more easily. I believe Polish fleet was regularly practicing invading Denmark from the sea.

EDIT: I researched the topic a little, but I haven't found much. There is plenty of material on either side's "aggressive defence" plans, mutually-assured destruction etc. I also know of serious plans made by the Soviet Union - for example those leaked to NATO by col. Kuklinski. I never came across plans for an unprovoked attack from the NATO side.

  • 1
    Welcome to History:SE. What has your research shown you so far? You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask. Dec 1 '17 at 22:22
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    Thanks @sempaiscuba . I added my research to the post, and rephrased it to be a bit more specific. There is plenty of material about defence plans against Warsaw Pact aggression, and about Soviet Union attack plans on NATO, but not the other way round.
    – Bennet
    Dec 1 '17 at 22:31
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    Downvote for "It is known..." Please cite all non trivial assertions.
    – MCW
    Dec 1 '17 at 22:38
  • That's just context... I can just take that out?
    – Bennet
    Dec 1 '17 at 22:47
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    Almost certainly. Part of the job of military officers is to prepare plans for any feasible war scenario. That way they are ready to go when the worst happens. This is not unlike how major newspapers have celebrity obituaries ready to go for any famous person who they'd want to run an obit for if that person dies suddenly. That of course doesn't mean the paper wants every celebrity to die.
    – T.E.D.
    Dec 1 '17 at 23:04

As @T.E.D. has pointed out in the comments, NATO almost certainly had top-level planning to cover that contingency, but it is extremely unlikely that NATO ever seriously considered starting a war unilaterally.

Some idea of NATO's strategic planning can be found in the review of NATO Strategy Documents, 1949-1969. These strategy documents show that the focus of strategic planning was always on defence. Indeed, it is unlikely that the electorate in the western democracies that formed the core of NATO would have supported an unprovoked attack on the Warsaw Pact nations.

Furthermore, the principle of collective defence is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty. It is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. In essence, this states that an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies. The treaty made no provision for starting a war unilaterally, and it is by no means certain that all the member states would have gone along with any such military action.

We do know, however, that plans for a nuclear first strike against the Soviets were drawn up for JFK during the 1961 Berlin Crisis. How detailed those plans were remains unclear, but it doesn't appear that other NATO allies were involved.

The fact that a nuclear first-strike was being considered, rather than an invasion by conventional forces of the type you describe in the question, does appear to correspond with the evidence from the NATO Strategy documents. There was no provision in place for an unprovoked attack by NATOs conventional forces at that time.


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