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threat of aggression. Successful coercion could give a hostile power the fruits of war without actual conflict. In Europe and Japan, for example, the Soviet threat consists of not only the danger of an actual attack, but also a long-term campaign of propaganda and coercion. The Soviets seek to dominate Western Europe and Japan without having to fire a shot. To this end, Moscow attempts to persuade our allies to distance themselves from the United States, neglect their military capabilities, adopt passive policies like nuclear-free zones and similar measures for unilateral disarmament, and ultimately end the 16-nation North Atlantic Alliance and our mutual defense treaty with Japan, which together embody our collective resolve to resist Soviet domination. As Churchill presciently observed in 1946, "I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire are the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrine."
To deter effectively, U.S. defense strategy must meet four tests:
Survivability: Our forces must be able to survive a preemptive attack with sufficient strength to be able to inflict on an aggressor losses that the aggressor perceives will outweigh any gains to itself. Example: Our strategic nuclear retaliatory capability is assured through our Triad of nuclear forces -- intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMS), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMS), and strategic bombers. This prevents Soviet war planners from concentrating on the destruction or any
destruction of any single leg of the Triad. Credibility: Our threatened response to an attack must be credible; that is, the potential aggressor must believe we have both the capability and the political will to carry out our threatened response. Example: In the early 1960s, the United States abandoned its earlier strategy of "massive retaliation" because it lacked credibility; we concluded that potential aggressors would doubt our resolve to unleash nuclear devastation in response to any attack, however limited.
Clarity: The action to be deterred must be sufficiently clear
Safety: The risk of conflict through accident, unauthorized
1 missile launch. As a direct result of these efforts during this Administration, the Hotline between Washington and Moscow has been upgraded.
Thus, the U.S. strategy to deter aggression does not just depend on our actual military capabilities. It also involves our adversaries' perceptions about those capabilities as well as the other elements of our strategy. The effectiveness of our deterrent will be determined in our opponents' minds, not in ours.
Incorporation of this insight in operational defense planning presents a formidable intellectual and institutional challenge.
of secrecy, there is a tendency among some to assume that Soviet concerns and motivations mirror our own. But preparing to deter an attack only by assembling forces adequate to deter us under similar conditions could prove insufficient to deter the Soviets. For example, some analysts have opposed this Administration's modernization of strategic nuclear forces with the argument that the resulting gain in attack and retaliatory capability is relatively small for the level of investment. The issue for a deterrent strategy that incorporates perception seriously, however, is whether the Soviet leadership shares the judgment that additional capability is pointless. The fact that for the past decade Soviet investment in strategic forces (as measured in dollars), has been two to three times the size of our own investment, strongly suggests that they do not.
By making additional investments in our intelligence capabilities, the Reagan Administration is improving our ability to understand how the Soviets assess the military balance. One of the most useful threads in our research, development, and deployment decisions has been the increasing emphasis given to analyzing and understanding perceptions of the Soviet leadership.
To deter the Soviet Union, we must make clear to Moscow that we have the means and the will to respond powerfully to aggression against our interests. We emphasize our resolve to respond, but our strategy is to avoid specifying exactly what our response will be. This is the essence of our strategic doctrine of "flexible response, " which has been U.S. strategy since 1961 and NATO strategy since 1967. Our forces deter a potential aggressor by confronting him with three types of possible responses:
Effective Defense: To confront an adversary with the possibility that his aggression will be stopped without us resorting to actions escalating the conflict. This is sometimes referred to as "deterrence through denial." Example: Defeating a nonnuclear attack with conventional forces only.
The Threat of Escalation: To warn an adversary that his aggression could start hostilities that might not be confined in the manner he envisions -- that escalation could exact far greater costs than he anticipates, or could bear. Example: NATO's deterrence of a Soviet conventional attack is enhanced by our ability and resolve to use nuclear weapons, if necessary, to halt aggression.
The Threat of Retaliation: To raise the prospect that an attack
Chart 1.0.1 summarizes how the above three types of responses
The responses summarized above are part of the overall U.S. defense strategy for safeguarding our interests worldwide. Our global strategy for deterrence can be summarized as follows:
To deter nuclear attack, the United States relies on a
To deter nonnuclear aggression, we rely on a military pos
ing U.S. conventional and nuclear forces, and allied forces. This combination of forces deters by making the outcome of Soviet aggression uncertain in their minds and by making the probable costs exceed the probable gains in the minds of any potential aggressors.
Compared to the threat of escalation and retaliation, effective defense has several important advantages as a basis for deterrence:
High Credibility: A potential aggressor would have no reason to doubt that a nation under attack would use its defenses to
Protection: Should deterrence fail, effective defense provides protection against attacking forces, reducing the damage we would suffer.
Stability: Effective defense is not inherently escalatory, nor likely to be misinterpreted in a way that would lead to a worsening of the conflict.
Resistance to Coercion: Because of the above advantages, effec-
Reassurance: All these advantages make effective defense the most reassuring basis for deterrence. They engender both peace, and peace of mind. People are most reassured when they are actually shielded from attack.
The unique advantages of effective defense explain the attractiveness we see in having thoroughly reliable strategic defenses, which is the objective of our Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) research. If effective strategic defenses prove feasible, they could bolster deterrence, provide protection should deterrence ever fail, and reassure peoples now living unprotected from nuclear attack. As President Reagan has said, "Isn't it better to save lives, than to avenge them?"
The advantages of defense also explain why the United States and its allies must have strong conventional forces, and the capability to project them and support them, in order to protect our global interests. We cannot rely forever solely on a nuclear crutch and maintaining the balance of terror to deter and defeat nonnuclear aggression. But, of course, as long as our adversaries possess nuclear weapons, we must continue to maintain modern, effective nuclear forces, as we are doing.
Our purpose is to prepare for war so well that we successfully deter aggression. But should deterrence fail, our strategy is to secure all U.S. and allied interests, and deny the aggressor any of
d seek to terminate any war at the earliest practical time and restore peace on terms favorable to the United States that secure all our aims and those of our allies and friends.
In seeking the earliest termination of war, the United States not only would act to defeat the aggression, but would also try to convince the attacker that his continued aggression would entail grave risks to his own interests. Still, because of the enormous military strength of the Soviet Union, the United States cannot prepare only for a "short war," which could merely tempt Moscow to believe it could outlast us in combat.
U.S. strategy seeks to limit the scope and intensity of any war, and confine it to conventional means. Our goal is to end hostilities on favorable terms to us by employing conventional forces that do not engender or risk escalation. Should our attempts to limit the scope or intensity of war fail, however, U.S. strategy provides for the flexible and sufficient application of force to ensure that no area of vital interest is lost by default.
The Soviet Union, together with Soviet-backed forces, is fully capable of simultaneous aggression in multiple regions of the world. and U.S. strategy must take account of that fact. We and our allies seek to deter aggression by maintaining forces that are capable of responding effectively to the most serious threats to our interests. We also want these forces to be flexible enough to give us credible responses to other threats to our interests. Should aggression occur in several regions simultaneously, U.S. military responses would be governed by existing commitments, general strategic priorities, the specific circumstances at hand, and the availability of forces. Unfortunately, Soviet military power and Soviet intentions, as best we can read them, dictate the contingencies for which we must be ready -- neither budget deficits nor wishful thinking can change that.
To protect our mutual interests, the United States and its allies must maintain military capabilities sufficient to make our defense strategy effective. This does not necessarily require that we and our allies match our adversaries in every category of weapons sys
; e.g., numbers of tanks, aircraft, ships, etc. The calculus of deterrence and defense is far more complicated than just static numbers. At least as important are the performance characteristics of the weapons, the quality of people operating them, and the tactics used. Moreover, geography and the unique features of a specific security mission decisively affect the military forces needed. These variables, plus others, are weighed against the threat to our security in determining our concrete military needs for protecting U.S. interests and meeting our commitments. From these defense needs, we derive our defense programs and budget.
Under our flexible response doctrine, nuclear weapons make a crucial contribution to our deterrence of nonnuclear attack. However, since the Soviet Union has acquired nuclear capabilities at least as strong as ours, the credibility of nuclear responses to deter conventional attack has weakened. Therefore, our nuclear forces do not relieve the United States or its allies from the need to maintain adequate conventional forces.
In 1981, the largest problem we inherited arose from a 20-year Soviet arms buildup, which was accompanied in the decade of the 1970s by a 20 percent real reduction in the U.S. defense effort. The global military balance -- in Soviet terms, the "correlation of forces" -- was shifting in favor of the Soviet Union, in their view as well as ours. Through an investment nearly 50 percent larger thar our own, the Soviets were buying advantages in virtually every area