First-Strike Stability and Strategic Defenses: Part 2 of a Methodology for Evaluating Strategic Forces
RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CA
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First-strike stability between two adversaries is robust when both leaders perceive no great difference between the expected cost to each side of striking first and the expected cost of incurring a first strike if one withholds his attack. Conclusions include 1 First-strike stability is currently quite robust. 2 Deployment of strategic nationwide ballistic missile defenses by either superpower in competition with the others strategic offenses generally erodes first-strike stability. 3 Neither country would be likely to continue to adhere to agreements that constrain and reduce offensive arms under the specter of intent by the other to deploy robust strategic defenses in contravention to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile ABM Treaty. 4 There may be a window in which United States and Soviet strategic nationwide BMD could be robust in defending against limited attacks third-country ballistic missile attacks, unauthorized attacks, and accidental launches, yet not so robust that first-strike stability is seriously undermined. 5 The level of U.S. defenses attributed to the so-called Phase I deployment seems to go beyond the upper bounds of this window even with current offensive forces, and certainly with offensive forces constrained by START I. 6 Any attempt to transition to a situation in which each sides strategic defenses dominate the opponents ballistic missiles must include a careful negotiation on the critical role of bomber forces in maintaining firs-strike stability.
- Antimissile Defense Systems
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics