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It is a widely recognized fact that the United States presently holds the upper hand in the realm of strategic weapons systems, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The U. S. arsenal is programmed to include 1,000 Minuteman iCBMs and 54 Titan II ICBMs by the end of 1968. In addition, the entire U. S. holaris submarine force of 41 submarines and 656 missiles will soon be operational. Of these submarine-launched missiles, 208 will be type A2 missiles and 448 will be the greater range type A3. This is not to mention the proposed conversion of the Polaris force to accommodate the more accurate and more powerful Poseidon missile in the near future. Overwhelming as this offensive capability may seem, the United States at this time has virtually no defensive Protection whatsoever to contend with a lesser but equally significant Soviet capability or to contend with a probable forthcoming Chinese threat. The United States must instead rely solely on the deterrent effect of a seemingly
28 U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, October 1967
overwhelming offensive retaliatory capability. Although it cannot be denied that there is something to be said for a balance of terror, such a balance presupposes that all sides concerned will act in a rational, predictable manner. The fallacy in this argument has been aptly pointed out by Arthur I. Waskow:
In the real world, frightened by unprecedented catastrophe in the offing . . . men and nations may not react in any rationally predictable way. What is likely to happen at the height of an extreme and vital international crisis?
At such a moment, when deterrence is most needed, there is some evidence that deterrence disappears. As is generally recognized, deterrence exists in the minds of the major policy makers of the nations deterred. There is evidence that under conditions of extreme and growing tension, the major decision makers in every great power become unable to pay attention to the warnings, the threats, the deterrents of their potential enemies.
This was readily illustrated in the summer of 1914 when the Allies and Central Powers mobilized their full strength in an attempt to deter one another from going to war. Each side subsequently became so obsessed with its own capabilities that it ultimately ignored the threat of retaliation.
Since the United States holds a decided advantage in strategic offensive capability, it would seem logical that efforts should be made toward closing the presently “wide- open” defensive door. No enemy vehicle or weapon of any sort should be permitted to have a “free ride.” An open ICBM defense could very well prove to be the Achilles’ heel in any future conflict. The United States must seek to achieve a posture of balance between its offensive and defensive capabilities—not an offensive balance based on the presupposition that a historically deceitful enemy is going to act in a rational manner, but a balance that is both real and effective.
Scientific progress in the field of ABM research has reached the point where deployment would be very feasible. In recent testimony given by Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, before the Bomber Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, it was indicated that there had been a major breakthrough in missile defense technology in 1965. New long-range “exo-atmospheric” interceptor missiles would now render practicable an “area” defense, as opposed to a “point” defense.
When dealing with feasibility, it becomes necessary to consider cost. It is not possible to determine the value of a human life; but it would seem logical when one is considering the possible loss of millions of lives against a 24-billion-dollar appropriation in a country where the gross national product exceeds 725 billion dollars, that the cost would prove to be more than commensurate with the gain.
Although the United States presently enjoys a superior capability in the field of strategic deterrence, there is evidence that the gap is gradually diminishing. It is obvious that the Soviet Union should want to close such a gap, and it would seem that the optimum strategy to be pursued in such a case would be for the Soviet government to persuade the U. S. government to continue postponing the building of ballistic missile defenses in return for similar Soviet restraint. Then it would be free to increase its offensive arsenal while the U. S. essentially maintained a status quo. It would appear that a course of action similar to this is being pursued by the Soviet Union; with one catch—there is no evidence of Soviet restraint in any field. Not only do the Russians appear to be striving for parity in total deliverable megatonnage, but also in total numbers as well. The fact that Soviet missiles carry more powerful warheads than
U. S. ICBMs tends to work towards parity in itself. In addition, the U.S.S.R. presently has more than 300 missiles with at least another 300 programmed for completion by 1968 while the United States will have a total of 1,054 by the end of 1967 with no further in-
crease programmed in defense planning for the next five years.
Some strategists advocate that nuclear parity would be conducive to promoting Peace. Assuming that the Soviet Union retains its present outward rational composure, there is still much to be considered in the hypersensitive to technological breakthroughs and surprise tactics. A politically aggressive power such as the Soviet Union could readily de-stabilize the balance by concentrating its resources on a particularly promising new technology and achieving unquestionable supremacy therein. They would, through this
realm of launching the first strike in any possible showdown where “core interests” of either side are involved. Regardless of the measures °f retaliation that would ensue under a previous condition of parity, the advantage would definitely lie with whichever side launched •he first strike. Although there exists a column entitled “U. S. first strike” in an American defense table of U.S. vs. U.S.S.R. war outcomes, it is a well established fact that Americans are a temporizing people. This was made aPparent when the United States failed to take action in light of the pre-Pearl Harbor evidence provided by decoding Japanese messages and by the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities report concerning Japanese espionage. The present military posture °f the United States serves to decry such an observation in the eyes of many people, but jhe fact still remains that the United States is asically a non-aggressive nation. Russia, on ue contrary, is well known for its aggressive Policies. Poland, Finland, and Japanese * fanchuria were all victims of Soviet sneak attacks. Furthermore, Captain Nikolai Arta- manov, a Soviet naval officer, testified before he House Committee on Un-American Activ- uies that since February of 1955, Soviet strategy had been based upon the doctrine of SUrprise nuclear attack.
Assuming that an offensive nuclear parity Vvere achieved and that Soviet strategists regained reluctant to institute a surprise first stnke owing to possible overwhelming retaliatory devastation, the projected condition t parity would render the strategic balance temporary advantage, acquire a position that would be ripe for political exploitation. Deployment of a moderately effective ABM defense system would fall into such a category. An undertaking of this nature would undoubtedly yield a military and political advantage that would last for a significant length of time. Evidence presently exists to the effect that the Soviet Union is in fact embarked upon such a course. This fact coupled with the rate of progress that the Communist Chinese are making in the nuclear field render it imperative that the United States take immediate positive steps toward deployment of an effective ABM system.
Whereas the United States generally does not use strategic strength to intimidate other countries, the Soviet Union has constantly indulged in widespread use of strategic threats in support of offensive foreign policy objectives. These strategic threats have varied in intensity and degree depending upon the situation, but have generally been expressed in terms of “possible ultimate consequence” as opposed to “certain and immediate consequence.” In pursuing a general policy of bluff, the Soviet Union has repeatedly invoked an image of thermonuclear war in pursuit of its political interests. Since the United States has gained a definite strategic advantage through deployment of Polaris submarines and through elimination of doubts concerning any alleged “missile gap,” the Soviet Union has not been so prone to employ the strategic threat as a matter of routine. The
quantitative gap existing between U. S. and Soviet intercontinental strike forces is presently large enough to alleviate Soviet assertions of strategic superiority based on numbers of missiles—at least for the immediate future. The Soviet Union has, however, recently claimed strategic parity, based not upon numbers, but upon sufficiency of the existing force and its qualitative superiority. Although this might prove to be a semi-effective ploy in nullifying the quantitative advantage of an opposing force, it is highly doubtful that it could ever be made the basis for a claim to strategic superiority.
A more promising approach to achieving a superior strategic posture would, as previously mentioned, lie in the development of an effective missile defense system. A significant breakthrough in this area would reduce the requirement for offensive quantitative superiority. In addition, enemy ICBMs, that had previously been invulnerable to pre-launch attack, would become vulnerable to an ABM defense once they were airborne.
The military value of a sizeable Soviet missile defense would probably be far outweighed by its associated political value. This would particularly hold true if the United States had nothing of a comparable nature to show for itself. In such a case, it would undoubtedly prove to be a much easier task for the Soviet Union to convince the world that it had developed and deployed a relatively invulnerable ABM system than it would be for the United States to refute the claim of invulnerability on the grounds of superior offensive weapons employing exotic penetration aids. A missile defense would prove to be uniquely suitable as an agent for bluff, since the bluff could not be disproven short of a major war. Indeed, it is not inconceivable that dummy ABM installations might very well be used in this regard. The Soviet Union, with its system of rigid internal secrecy, could readily exploit such a bluff to the maximum extent possible. Well versed in the art, the Soviet Union has often successfully exploited new weapons in a psychological sphere. The most spectacular example of this tactic in recent times took place in 1957 when the Soviets capitalized upon their launching of the first Sputnik to create false impressions of an overwhelming ICBM capability. This subsequently created in the minds of the West illusions of a missile gap. In reality, any gap that might have existed consisted of a Soviet lag in missile strength. The Soviet Union has consistently exaggerated its military strength through displaying prototypes of new weapons in conjunction with a corresponding show of strength so as to create the impression that the weapons in question were available in large numbers. The effectiveness of such bluffs has been all too well illustrated in the fact that the alleged missile gap frightened the United States into
building an ICBM force which was not only much greater than that of the Soviet Union, but also much greater than that necessary for deterrence purposes, whether dealing with Russia, or China, or both simultaneously. Herein lies the danger of the Soviet tactic of bluff. It works too well! With a far superior economy, the United States is able to respond to such bluffs in an overwhelming manner, and after a short while, the Soviet Union finds itself in an even weaker position. It ®ight be argued that this phenomenon should Work against similar U. S. deployment of an ABM system; but it should be noted that Soviet statements in this area have been both cautious and subdued in tone. This restraint, in afi probability, reflects a Soviet awareness of the exaggerated American response which ^ught possibly ensue. For the Soviet Union to Capitalize upon an ABM capability, it would obviously be far wiser to effect a large scale deployment prior to showing its hand fully. Convincing preliminary advertisement in this instance could result in either a massive U. S. counter deployment of missile defense or a ntassive increase in offensive capability. In C1ther case, the Russians, with a very limited ABM capability, would suffer a greater disadvantage than would be the case were it to refrain from bluff until deployment was fully effected. Once an ABM system were deployed, the element of bluff could be introduced either m the realm of numbers or effectiveness. The Soviet Union’s ability to bluff is an advantage that the United States does not enjoy. Congress and the press preclude such a possibility.
The historically defensive-oriented military Posture of the Soviet Union renders it not only nnprobable but unlikely that the U.S.S.R. Would for any reason short of general disarmament refrain from pursuing an active program of ballistic missile defense. In fact, ailure of the Soviets to pursue a defensive program of this nature would represent a disturbance of notable magnitude in the internal stalus quo. The traditional Russian strategy °f attrition and endurance was successfully employed against Napoleon in 1812 and Hitler in 1942. Although the Soviets attribute he effectiveness of this strategy to the superior will power and discipline of the Russian People, there can be little doubt that geography and climate have contributed to its success in no small measure. Out of this background of attrition and endurance has evolved a “long-war” doctrine in which the Soviets envision a possible future nuclear war as running parallel in many respects to previous wars, differing only in severity. As described in Soviet Military Strategy, edited by Marshal Vasili Danilovich Sokolovsky in 1963, Soviet military leaders conceive of such a war as consisting of a beginning in which a devastating nuclear exchange takes place but in which this exchange neither destroys the Soviet Union nor ends the war. Subsequent to the staggering losses incurred in the first exchange, it is postulated that the war would drag out into a long and very messy affair in which both sides would continue the fight to the best of their abilities with whatever means they might have left at their disposal. It is at this point that the strategy of attrition and endurance would work on the Soviet’s behalf and ultimately result in triumph for the Soviet Union.
For advocates of “long-war” doctrine, the appeal of defensive weapons would obviously be very great. As the quality of the opposing offense is degraded, the effectiveness of the defense becomes more pronounced. It is not to be denied that missile defense installations would also suffer a certain degree of degradation subsequent to the initial exchange; but from the standpoint of fewer numbers of incoming missiles and ensuing sporadic deliveries, it is probable that the defensive problem would be easier to contend with as time goes on. It would also hold true that missile defense personnel would, through virtue of experience, undoubtedly improve their techniques by the time a long war had progressed to its latter stages. It can be seen from this reasoning that, with the Russians holding the view that deterrence ultimately rests upon their capacity and determination to drag out any war into a long struggle of attrition in which traditional defensive strategies could be successfully employed, there exists no incompatibility between such a concept and deployment of a ballistic missile defense system. Although much of what Marshal Sokolovsky has to say is flavored with typical propaganda, it does indicate that a significant faction within the Soviet hierarchy believes in a long-war concept, is basically defensively
32 U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, October 1967
oriented, recognizes the political implications inherent in an effective missile defense system, and intends to pursue to completion an ABM program.
The present downward trend in rate of growth of the Soviet economy might seemingly indicate a tendency to abstain from embarking upon something so costly as a missile defense program, but it is interesting to note that in spite of its semi-waning economy, the Soviet Union has never hesitated to pursue sophisticated defense programs. Extensive space-oriented outlays serve to illustrate this point.
Although there is always the aspect of sensationalism to contend with in news media, there apparently exists substantial evidence that the Soviet Union has deployed at least a partial ABM defense system. The following excerpts from the New York Times serve to verify:
• July 24, 1964: The Soviet Union has long had what is believed to be the world’s first operational site for an antiballistic missile system near Leningrad. Within the last eight months, a second site, presumably similar to the first, has been identified near Moscow.
• April 29, 1966: Questioned by newsmen about reports of Soviet deployment of an antiballistic missile system around Leningrad and Stalingrad, Pentagon officials said that they assumed that the Russians were doing so. There were indications, they said, that the Russians had previously begun such development and had then run into problems and had stopped. Now, they said, according to Soviet reports, work has been resumed.
• July 14, 1966: Still another factor regarded as potentially serious is what appears to be the beginning of an extensive deployment—in a belt across the Western Soviet Union—of an antiballistic missile defense system.
Additional verification was provided in January of this year when a statement made by Secretary McNamara to the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations was made public:
. . . significant changes have occurred during the last year in our projections of Soviet strategic forces . . . more positive evidence of a deployment of an antiballistic-missile defense system around Moscow . . . knowing what we do about past Soviet predilections for defense systems, we must, for the time being, plan our forces on the assumption that they will have deployed some sort of an ABM system around their major cities by the early 1970s.
It has been made clear that the existence of a missile defense system in the Soviet Union would necessarily prove to be of grave concern to the United States. Indeed, it would represent a technological end run in which the United States stands to forfeit all that it has achieved in the area of strategic superiority.
Emergence of China as the world’s fifth nuclear power has resulted in widespread concern and has posed new and serious problems for the United States. Coupled with the commonly accepted bellicose nature of Communist China, it comprises a threat to world peace. This threat does not stem from the size and capabilities of present Chinese nuclear strike forces, but rather from the political and psychological implications associated with even a token capability.
Although the present state of the art in Chinese nuclear endeavors does not at this time constitute much of a threat to the United States, it is only a matter of time before it will. Secretary McNamara recently testified before the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy to the effect that the Chinese Communist threat was growing at a much greater rate than he had originally expected. That this is true is readily apparent from two statements which he made within a year and a half of one another. In May of 1964, he noted that Communist China was not likely to become a first-class military power for “many, many years.” This he held to be true based upon serious agricultural and economic problems and a deficiency of spare parts for airplanes. In an address to the Ministers of 15 NATO nations in December of 1965, McNamara urged U. S. Western European Allies to start worrying about the threat posed by Communist China’s nuclear strength. He then offered some prospects for the future in the area of Chinese capabilities: operational medium- range ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads as early as 1967; deployment of several launchers for medium-range ballistic missiles by 1968 or 1969, with possibly several dozen by 1976; and deployment of ICBMs capable °f hitting Europe or the United States in 1975.
Assuming that the Chinese do develop a nominal force of 50 ICBMs by 1975 that are comparable in size, thrust, and technical characteristics to first-generation Soviet ICBMs (ten-megaton yield, 8,000-mile range), an attack against the United States could result in 40 million casualties. It has been esti- niated that deployment of an ABM defense centered around our 50 largest cities could reduce the number of casualties to less than ten million. This estimate assumes an 80 per cent effectiveness against small numbers of incoming missiles and is quite naturally a function of many variables such as missile reliabil- tty, targeting doctrine, and ABM deployment.
Although the United States currently has a targe and powerful nuclear force around the borders of Communist China, this is not, in itself, very comforting, particularly in light of the fact that some top U. S. military strategists believe the present Communist leaders to be fanatics and suicidally aggressive.” If there is any validity to such an analysis, the United ture of atomic weapons would cost so much money that China might not have any money left with which to make trousers. China, Chen Yi concluded, would have to manufacture the weapons with or without trousers. The recent Chinese test firing of a nuclear armed medium range missile and explosion of a thermonuclear device lends credence to such testimony.
A critical factor in the nuclear timetable of China is the prevailing state of Sino-Soviet relations. It is possible that a cementing of the Sino-Soviet alliance could result—at the price of Russian nuclear aid to China. In this event, the Chinese timetable would be advanced quite significantly and Chinese missiles could become as advanced as Soviet missiles in a relatively short period of time. This being the case, the United States would then be forced to contend with both a sophisticated Chinese and Russian threat.
On the other hand, should the Sino-Soviet relationship continue to deteriorate, a Chinese long-range, nuclear strike force could prove to pose itself as being of equal menace to both the United States and the Soviet Union. Such a circumstance would obviously work to the benefit of the United States, since it would
‘ tates will probably be susceptible to some °rm of nuclear blackmail from China in the not too distant future. An offensive deterrence oould lose all significance when dealing with a dnatically belligerent China. That the Chi- oese are determined to continue their pursuits m tbe nuclear field was indicated in an inter- 'iew in October 1963, between Vice Premier hen Yi and a group of Japanese newspapermen in which Chen Yi stated that Premier hrushchev had once said that the manufac- dilute effectively the concentrations of forces of two potential aggressors. The proximity of these Communist giants would render each more of a threat to the other than the United States would present to either. The nuclear capabilities of both would necessarily be designed in part to deter one another. If, indeed, Sino-Soviet border clashes similar to those which occurred in the early 1960s continue to develop, a situation such as that described above could very conceivably come to pass.
34 U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, October 1967
Inasmuch as missiles have come to represent a standard status symbol whereby one nation can intimidate another, it is doubtful that the existence of an effective U. S. missile defense system would deter China from pursuing an active missile program. It could, however, conceivably vector Chinese efforts into IRBM channels since China would be forced to face the question of whether or not the cost of an I CBM program would prove to be commensurate with the gain.
In the light of the present internal upheaval in China, it is difficult to anticipate the future direction of Sino-Soviet relations or the future direction of Chinese nuclear exploitation, but the United States must be prepared for any line of development. Deployment of a missile defense system undoubtedly would constitute the best possible course of preparation.
A question which arises out of the issue of missile defense is what European reaction would be to American deployment. The prevailing opinion is that the reaction would be unfavorable, that Europe would feel left out and defenseless to missile attack. Demands inevitably would be forthcoming for similar European defenses. Compliance with such demands would in all probability be cost prohibitive to the United States. Furthermore, deployment of such a system in allied countries would raise the issue of control of the nuclear warheads: whether such control would be retained by the United States or relinquished to the ally concerned. This is a significant issue in light of present beliefs that the most stable international condition is one in which nuclear proliferation is kept to an absolute minimum. Whether or not the United States would be willing to provide missile defenses for Europe should not make any difference in European reaction. It would seem apparent that, with a missile defense system of her own, the United States would be more willing than ever to come to the defense of Europe. An ABM capability would render such a gesture a much lesser sacrifice.
A similar situation is inevitably going to develop in Asia when China acquires the capability of attacking the United States. Asian allies will begin to question whether the United States will consider the defense of
Japan or Burma to be worth the risk of thermonuclear holocaust. The problem for American foreign policy will be the same for Asia as it will be for Europe: how to maintain the morale of allied nations and their willingness to oppose Communist expansion. The United States will have to convince her allies that all commitments will be honored in spite of possible consequences. A significant effort in this direction was made by Defense Secretary McNamara in a recent military posture statement made before the House Armed Services Committee:
First, in order to preclude any possibility of miscalculation by others, I want to reiterate that, although the United States would itself suffer severely in the event of a general nuclear war, we are fully committed to the defense of our allies.
Second, we do .not view damage limitation as a question of concern only to the United States. Our offensive forces cover strategic enemy capabilities to inflict damage on our allies in Europe just as they cover enemy threats to the continental United States.
Until such a time as either a “freeze” or a general disarmament can be effected in a sincere, gentlemanly manner, the choice of discontinuing the arms race does not appear to be open to the United States—only a choice in the method of conducting it. It is generally acknowledged that there are certain implicit risks associated with a continuation of the arms race, and it is on this account that most objections to U. S. deployment of a missile defense system are raised. The primary objection finds its substance in the contention that an ABM program would constitute a needless waste of vast sums of money and could only result in setting in motion another “upward spiral” in the arms race; all this at a time when a Soviet-American detente may be developing. The desire to contain the arms competition is based on a belief that any continuation will provide the United States with very little opportunity to increase its security. In line with this thinking, it is felt that ABM batteries do not help to contain the competition but merely represent another dimension in which to compete. This prevailing fear of adding impetus to the arms race can be assailed on several accounts.
It is widely recognized that intense political
Pressure exists in both the United States and the Soviet Union to duplicate one another, tt is possibly because of this that many American spokesmen assume that Soviet reaction to S. deployment of ABMs would necessarily Je the same as U. S. reaction to similar Soviet deployment. American reaction to even an inadequate Soviet missile defense system could best be summed up in the words of President John F. Kennedy, who said they would have appeared to have surpassed us,” or General Maxwell Taylor, who said they would have Won a “technological triumph” and provided the United States with a “cold war defeat,” or Hanson Baldwin, who stated that it might result in a “ripple of fear” and create subsequent pressure for appeasement. Although such reaction is essentially justifiable, there is ittle reason to believe that a similar Soviet reaction would take place if the situation were reversed. On the contrary, there is ample reason to believe that the defensively oriented uviets would think of ABM deployment as |he logical thing to do. As the authoritative -ondon Institute for Strategic Studies has Pointed out, “a Soviet phobia about air de- ense has led to ‘major investments in de- ensive systems’ throughout the postwar Period.” Indeed, it is interesting to note the VlewP°int expressed by General N. Talensky 'n which he derides the West on the grounds at it was only after convincing evidence came into existence concerning successful ‘ oviet efforts in the field of missile defense, Gat the West began to voice fears that missile dense would undermine the existing nuclear alance. He advocates that anti-missile systems are purely defensive weapons in every Aspect and only go into action after an act of aggression has commenced. He further states .at “the creation of an effective antimissile dense system by a country which is a poten- t'al target for aggression merely serves to increase the deterrent effect and so helps to ;;yer.t aggression.” In addition, he points out le increased stability inherent in a mutual eterrence based upon both offensive and c ensive capabilities, where any partial shifts ln the qualitative or quantitative balance of cither element tend to be “correspondingly compensated and equalized.” In other words, eneral Talensky indicates that ABM does n°t pose a threat to world peace, but rather instead serves to deter an aggressor from attempting a first-strike attack. If this reflects the general Soviet attitude and there is no reason to believe that it does not, then Soviet reaction to an American ABM program probably would be much milder than similar U. S. reaction to the reverse situation. It is possible, but not very probable, that the arms race would “spiral upward.” In light of this, it is not inconceivable that mutual deployment of missile defense systems by Russia and the United States could result in a new strategic balance wherein the total number of casualties involved on either side in a nuclear exchange would be significantly less than that which would be incurred under the existing arrangement—yet still great enough to accomplish the goal of deterrence. So long as defense remains less efficient than attack, and so long as both super powers are engaged in improving their defenses, they are unlikely to
change their assessments of one another’s capabilities or intentions. In this regard, skeleton deployment could only act to strengthen
the present Soviet-American balance by
minimizing the possibility of a general war resulting from either accidental or unauthorized firings.
If it were possible to reach some sort of an agreement between Russia and the United States involving a freeze on ABM, it would be difficult to feel secure under such an arrangement. Duplicity has been a historical trademark of previous Soviet transactions. In fact, the record can best be described as a tabulation of broken promises. It may be argued that this record was established by the “old school,” that the Soviet regime of today does not adhere to the same line of deceit. As recently as 1961, evidence of Soviet Machiavellian inclinations exploded on the world scene in the form of a 57-megaton bomb, in violation of a moratorium existing between Russia and the United States to the effect that no further nuclear testing was to be conducted in the atmosphere by either side. In the hearings conducted prior to the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963, Secretary of Defense McNamara pointed out that the Soviets would honor the treaty only so long as it served their best interest to do so.
Although this dubious record should not deter efforts to negotiate with the Soviets in the area of arms control, it would be prudent for U. S. negotiators to keep it in mind as they do undertake such endeavors.
In addition to providing protection against the present Soviet threat and a future Chinese threat, an ABM defense system would also protect against any small, unauthorized or accidental attacks. Some feel that the probability of an accidental firing is “virtually zero” but the consequences of just one such firing render it imperative that the possibility be both considered and provided for.
Whereas the Soviet Union has historically pursued a generally defensive military program, the United States has consistently thought more in terms of offense, adhering to the age-old maxim that the best defense is a good offense. In line with this, a “short-war” doctrine has evolved among American strategists with regard to thermonuclear war. This doctrine visualizes the end result of such a
A graduate of the U. S. Naval
Academy with the Glass of
1960, Lieutenant Johnston
received Advanced Nuclear
Power Training and attended Submarine School prior to serving in the USS Skipjack (SSN-585) in 1962-1963 and in the USS Grant (SSBN-631)
from 1963 to 1966. He attended Harvard University (International Relations Curriculum) in 1966—1967, and received his Master’s degree in Public Administration. He is now the Engineer Officer, Blue Crew,
USS James K. Polk (SSBN-645).
war as being determined by the outcome of the initial attacks. Following the initial exchanges, the Soviet Union will either be so completely destroyed that no further organized military resistance will be possible or the threat of further destruction will persuade surviving Soviet leaders to accept American terms of peace. Although this concept may be logical in its inception, history has proven it to be dangerous in its conclusions. The short-war strategies of Germany failed disastrously in both world wars. Whether or not the American concept should be “short war” or “long war” in nature is irrelevant. What matters is the fact that if a war of this nature ever did take place, millions of American lives would be forfeited—lives that otherwise could have been saved through pursuit of an ABM program. Although present programs yield a relatively invulnerable force structure and an unequivocal ability to deliver weapons, they also yield an extremely vulnerable population.
Another of the factors to be considered in the field of missile defense is the potential expense involved. Calculations have been made in this area by Pentagon officials, based upon estimates of what Soviet capabilities will be during the 1970s. A missile defense system that could cope with this projected threat would cost approximately 24 billion dollars over a five-year period and would cost another billion dollars per year for manning and maintenance. It has been estimated that a massive Soviet I CBM surprise attack against the United States in 1970 without ABM protection would result in approximately 149 million fatalities out of a population of 210 million. With an 18 to 24-billion-dollar ABM system deployed, fatalities would be reduced to approximately 71 million, roughly half of toe U. S. industrial capacity and retaliatory missile force would survive, and trillions of
dollars worth of property would be saved.
With the present U. S. strategic weapons budget in excess of 25 billion dollars and the War in Vietnam resulting in a continual drain °n the economy, an expensive missile defense system lends itself to a state of continual deferment. Unlike offensive missiles, ABM does not offer a rationale for cutting back on other weapons systems (such as bombers or infantry). For this reason, a relatively cheap skeleton deployment of ABM holds even greater appeal at this time. Such a deployment would be effective against a primitive Chinese threat and any accidental or unauthorized firings. In addition, it would have toe capability of being expanded upon at will to provide effective protection against toe Soviet threat. The cost of deployment of j*nch a system has been estimated to be 10.6 billion dollars.
Yet another aspect to be considered in pur- SUlt of ABM is the defense shelter program that should supplement it to render it effective. Without civil defense shelters, it is postu- *ated that 30 per cent more lives would be lost, this holds true because incoming missiles could be targeted for undefended areas and thereby achieve through fallout what would have otherwise had to be achieved through blast and heat effects. It has been estimated toat a five-year systems cost for protection of the entire population would run approximately five billion dollars. It is probable that s°mething less than a full shelter program may be appropriate in a light “damageluting” posture designed against small unsophisticated attacks. Although it would not e cost-prohibitive in either case, Congress 'as consistently refused to appropriate more toan token sums for shelter programs. Since Congress has indicated that it would support ABM, missile defense enthusiasts believe that '■-‘Cmgress will be more inclined to support a toelter program once ABM production and employment is authorized, since it would then constitute only a small addition to a large commitment already made.
Although shelters may prolong the lives of survivors, additional thought must be given to
ABA4: The High Cost of Living 37 their continued survival. There are many
critical aspects to be considered in this area. For instance, the destruction of forests by fire or radiation could lead to catastrophic flooding of urban areas following heavy rains. If
birds, which are particularly sensitive to radiation, are destroyed, insects could multiply at catastrophic rates thereby devastating the surviving crops and food supply. The possible results of nuclear devastation are too numerous to explore thoroughly, but it is important to consider them in terms of how they could be mitigated through deployment of a missile defense system.
Since ABM would require that missiles with nuclear warheads be maintained in a fully ready condition, there exists some anxiety that the American public would be reluctant to live in close proximity to missile defense installations. Recently Tempo, the “think factory” division of General Electric, interviewed 1,400 supposedly well-informed adults with regard to their reactions to ABM. One in ten said that they would move away from a protected city. The majority of these said they would move out of fear of an accidental ex
plosion, but many were more concerned about television reception interference that would be caused by adjacent radar installations. Two thirds of this “well-informed” group believed that the United States already had a missile defense system and that this system was comparable in reliability to existing bomber defense. Here again, are signs of public apathy that could prove dangerous. Where the “right to live” is involved, Americans cannot afford to be complacent. Recent Defense Department figures might serve to dispel some of the indifference. Based upon a 20-billion-dollar
38 U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, October 1967
version of ABM coupled with a five-billion- dollar shelter program, it was calculated that the cost per life saved would be $350.00.
The contention that deployment of an ABM system would destabilize the nuclear balance and would impart an “upward spiral” to the arms race is valid only if the nation building it has displayed a willingness to indulge in nuclear blackmail. A good indication of a nation’s aggressive intentions is the type of missile force that it develops. The aggressor would build a large force of first-strike missiles (missiles not sufficiently protected by hardened silos to qualify as retaliatory weapons) armed with high-yield warheads (30-100 megatons). The Soviets are presently pursuing such a course and indications exist that they are deploying a missile defense system as well. The United States, on the other hand, possesses a retaliatory missile force (hardened silos and low-yield war-heads), and deployment of ABM in this case could only be construed as a defensive gesture.
Continued pursuit of increasing an already more-than-adequate offensive capability can only make starker the balance of terror. Furthermore, how can the United States legitimately convince itself beyond all doubt that Soviet missile defenses can be penetrated? Intelligence information is not foolproof, and a gamble of this nature could prove disastrous. Rather than emphasizing the offensive threat, it would be far better to mitigate the possible effects of war by encouraging defensive measures. Only ABM shows any prospect of neutralizing the offenses and providing the American public with some security in this area. A defensive system may not bar the door completely, but it will certainly raise the price of admission. If deployed in time, it may even preclude Chinese admission altogether through discouraging their efforts in ICBM endeavors. It would also serve to dispel some of the anxiety of Western allies with respect to American willingness to come to their defense in a nuclear showdown, since there would be less risk involved in so doing.
The issue of missile defense deployment has been subjected to such extensive debate that the form has changed several times during the course of the dialogue. The dialogue itself has just recently entered a new phase wherein the United States and the Soviet Union are negotiating in an effort to reach an understanding with respect to mutual restraint in the area of ABM deployment. Since the Soviets have in initial discussions indicated that they might consider participation in an ABM moratorium “only so long as such a step is linked to a ceiling on the production of offensive weapons,” an area in which the United States holds a commanding superiority, it seems doubtful that any short-term agreement on ABM can be arranged unless it is the prelude to a much broader program of arms limitation—a program which has in the past foundered upon the rock of inspection and control. The Soviet Union is unlikely to agree to any arrangement which serves to prolong its position of strategic inferiority any longer than is absolutely necessary. That the issue is being critically examined is commendable, but developments in the Soviet Union and Communist China render it imperative that the debate be drawn to a close and a decision be reached as soon as possible. This becomes all the more imperative when it is realized that while the U. S. is busily engaged in negotiations, the Soviet Union is continuing with its ABM deployment. Also deserving of attention is the fact that some very real intangibles exist with regard to estimating the lead times for deployment of a Chinese ICBM capability.
Unless a satisfactory comprehensive arms control arrangement can be effected in the near future, the United States will have to decide in favor of missile defense deployment in order to protect the most sacred right of the American people—the right to live. Deployment would not constitute a case of letting nervousness outrun the danger or a case of panicky reaction to Soviet deployment. It would, on its own merits, be in the best interest of the United States. Not only could it make the difference between war and peace from the standpoint of deterrence, but in its damage-limiting capacity, it could also make the difference between the end of our national existence and our survival as a nation. To over-estimate the enemy could prove expensive; to underestimate him could prove fatal.