An automobile worker from the city of Gorki, writing recently in a Communist Party newspaper here, noted that the needs of the Soviet military will have to be met at the expense of hoped-for improvements in the standard of living.
"It cannot be denied," said G. Isaev, in a Dec. 1 article in Sovietskaya Rossiya about the hardships of life in Soviet Union during World War II. "Forced expenditures for defense do not allow us the means for the time being to improve our welfare to the extent we would like," he wrote in an article titled "Happiness to work for the motherland."
It was a rare public admission of the demands made by the military budget on the Soviet economy and, by implication, a recognition of the difficult choices faced by the planners.
Another recent article, appearing in Krasnaya Zvezda, the newspaper of the Soviet armed forces, approached the choice from the other direction, urging the military to make better use of its resources for the sake of the rest of the economy.
It is probably no coincidence that these articles appeared soon after the announcement that the official Soviet military budget, held steady at what was considered an artificially low rate for years, would show a significant increase in 1985.
That increase -- a 12 percent jump to 19.06 billion rubles -- was announced at a biannual session of the parliament on Nov. 28 and was reported by the Soviet news agency Tass.
Western diplomats said the new figure is still only a fraction of true military costs but noted its announcement coincides with recent reports that military procurements began to rise again this year.
The reported increase also carried symbolic significance. In the West, it was interpreted as a sign of Soviet resolve to meet the challenge of a rising U.S. defense budget, even as both sides approach new talks on curbing the arms race.
One Soviet commentator noted that it should answer those who have questioned the ability of the economy to stomach more defense expenditures.
"In 1985, we are obliged to increase allocations for defense somewhat in the face of active military preparations by the U.S.A. and its NATO-bloc allies," said Col. Gen. Peter Gorchakov of the political directorate of the strategic rocket forces on a Nov. 28 radio broadcast.
Drawing a parallel to the Soviet economic effort during World War II, he noted that in less than one month in 1984, the Soviet Union produces as much as it did in all of 1940.
Those in the West who think forcing higher military budgets will "hinder the social development" of the Soviet Union will be proven wrong, Gorchakov vowed.
Domestically, the announced increase in military spending also served as a signal that defense will always come first, even if it requires more patience from Soviet people.
Asked recently what needs to be done to accommodate higher defense expenditures, one Soviet answered by gesturing as if to tighten his belt.
Although the Soviet economy in the last two years has showed an upturn from the stagnant performance of the two previous years, new growth for 1985 is pegged almost entirely on increased productivity.
But articles explicity drawing a connection between military spending and reduced expectations are unusual. The article in Krasnaya Zvezda did refer to the increase in military spending.
The author, Maj. Gen. A. Gurov, an economics professor, cited as further reasons for greater savings by the military: "All of the armed forces must be involved in a campaign of thriftiness and economy. Every soldier must become aware that every saved kilo of fuel, or kilowatt of electric energy, or the extension of the working life of machinery, will save a considerable amount of means and resources for the economy."
Gurov proposed using simulated training vehicles and tanks, saying that would cut overhead 30 percent. By using a simulated cockpits for pilot training, the cost per hour would be nine times less than using a jet, he said.
"The initiative and enthusiasm of all military personnel will be of help in the search for additional resources, will eliminate unjustified waste and create a genuine regime of thriftiness at all levels," Gurov wrote.