Courtesy Reuters

Keeping the Strategic Balance

The Soviet Union and the United States are rival superpowers not simply because of their wealth, numbers, size, geographical position, social cohesion, strong government, but because they have translated these potentialities into overwhelmingly strong military forces which, measured on any historic or current standard, are comparable only with each other. For nearly fifteen years, the central strength of these forces has been their respective long-range strategic striking arms, each designed to be capable of a large-scale attack with nuclear weapons on the home territory of the other. Over the past decade, more or less, each nation has become increasingly aware that the chief utility of his strategic force was to prevent his adversary from using his own. This result was achieved primarily by offering the adversary the prospect that any attack by his strategic forces would be met by a counterblow so devastating as to convert a decision to attack into a suicide pact. So the strategic equilibrium commonly termed "mutual deterrence" was recognized.

For our (or the Soviets') strategic forces to provide effective deterrence, they must be in such numbers, of such nature and so deployed as to be capable of delivering the required counterattack after the other side has struck; thus effective deterrence is measured by the usable strength of the survivable second-strike force. We were perhaps earlier than the Soviets in recognizing this, but we were far from perceiving it from the first. Once we recognized the need, we sought survivable forces in different ways as technological possibilities changed over the period. Increase in the size of the force, geographical dispersal to increase the number of targets presented by a given force, active defense, hardening to survive attack, warning and movement capability to take advantage of warning, all played a part in the quest for a secure second-strike force. If surviving forces are to be usable, equally essential requirements are imposed for ensuring the survival of a complex network of reporting and communication facilities, command organization and commanders,

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