COUNTERFORCE, DAMAGE-LIMITING, AND DETERRENCE
RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CA
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The relationship of counterforce and damage-limiting to a policy of deterrence is discussed. Deterrence is essentially a threat relationship. Deterrence of the widest range of enemy aggressive actions is provided by a credible capability to strike first. Today, this is tantamount to a counterforce strategy. The credibility of a counterforce posture is in turn enhanced by conspicuous damage-limiting measures and particularly by defensive measures that make nuclear interchange outcomes less unthinkable even under the least favorable conditions. To the extent that this can be buttressed by second strike retaliatory capabilities that guarantee overwhelming punishment of the aggressor in the event of a surprise, preventive, or preemptive attack, deterrence policy can continue to play a key role in safeguarding our society. It is concluded that the psychological and political attractions of certain strategies and certain capabilities may in the end prove more important than any rational, strategic calculus.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics