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Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): The Soviet Estimate: U.S. Analysis of the Soviet Union, 1947–1991

About this Collection

This collection contains more than 600 intelligence estimates and reports, representing nearly 14,000 pages of documentation from the office of the Director of Central Intelligence, the National Intelligence Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other organizations. The set includes several hundred pages of debriefing transcripts and other documentation related to Colonel Oleg Penkovskii, the most important human source operated by the CIA during the Cold War, who later was charged with treason and executed by the Soviet Union. Also published here for the first time is the Pentagon's Top Secret 1,000-page internal history of the United States-Soviet Union arms race.

Research Value of the Collection

The Soviet Union represented the major concern of U.S. national security decision makers for more than 40 years. The ultimate policies they adopted during that period were the result of numerous factors. Their understanding of Soviet objectives and capabilities--military, diplomatic, economic, and scientific and technical-was certainly one of those factors. Intelligence reports helped shape that understanding. With respect to some issues, such as Soviet ICBM strength, intelligence was by far the most important ingredient.

Until recently scholars have had to address issues such as the performance of U.S. intelligence analysis with respect to the Soviet Union or the impact of intelligence on policy without reference to most of the key documents. Thus, until December 1994, all the National Intelligence Estimates relating to the origins and demise of the "missile gap" were classified. Scholars were often forced to rely either on other government documents that reproduced some of the information in those estimates (for example, Department of Defense posture statements) or unofficial sources.

The documents included in this collection will permit scholars to refer directly to the primary documents in discussing U.S. intelligence estimates of Soviet actions, intentions, and capabilities, their impact on policy making, or Soviet developments. Thus, the documents should be of great relevance to scholars in a variety of fields, including those in:

  • intelligence studies
  • national security policy formation
  • Soviet studies
  • U.S.-Soviet relations
  • international relations