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Conventional Forces in Europe: A New Approach to the Balance, Stability, and Arms Control

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There has recently been a resurgence of interest in the balance of conventional forces in the central European region. This increased concern is attributable to several factors, including the signing of the U.S.-Soviet INF treaty, the possibility of a third zero in Europe, increasing interest in a conventional arms control agreement, a perceived decrease in the credibility of the threat of nuclear use, and a trend away from considering escalation to nuclear use as the inevitable result of a conventional war. The debate surrounding the conventional balance is somewhat confused. There are many different balance assessment techniques used in analysis. Inadequate attention is given to the concept of stability in the conventional realm. Although conventional force planning, arms control policy, and defense objectives should be inextricably entwined, there appears to be very little connection between them. This report suggest a concept of conventional stability. Conventional stability exists when there is a balance of conventional capabilities such that both sides believe that neither side can launch a successful attack against the other, and either side can successfully repel any attack launched by the other. This definition suggests two facets of conventional stability, one based on offense and one based on defense. Offensive conventional stability would exist if neither side believed it could successfully attack the other, that neither could achieve its military objectives if it were to attack. Defensive conventional stability would exist if each side believed it could repel any attack launched by the other side.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations

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