A question from Yahoo! Answers:
What was the peak military strength of the USSR during the Cold War?
Does anyone know where to find a good summary of the size and strength of the Soviet armed forces during the Cold War? Number of troops, tanks, aircraft, submarines, etc.
Size is fairly easy to compute. Soviet armed forces were organized on a conscription basis; every man aged 18 was supposed to be drafted for two years (three, if you’re unlucky to land in the navy). There were, of course, health-related exemptions, but those were relatively few. The policy on drafting college students has been repeatedly reversed. So anyway, all you need to do to arrive at the size of Soviet armed forces on any given day is to figure out how many men aged 18 to 20 there are and adjust this number 30% up to account for officers and warrant officers.
Strength, however, is a different matter altogether. Soviet armed forces had a tendency to undertrain personnel and undermaintain hardware. Misappropriation of supplies was another pervasive problem (so much so that thieving warrant officer became a stock comic character). Those problems, however, were never discussed; they were easier to ignore than to deal with…