Wrote this for RAND
What should the United States strategy be in the age of nuclear weapons and specifically the age of nuclear ballistic missiles?
Nuclear weapons have vindicated Douhet (destructive power of air power)
No time for the defense because the culminating point (the opening shots) are so destructive
Can’t accomplish preventive or preemptive attack so we are stuck with deterrence using active and passive defenses. Primarily passive for the country, and active for our retaliatory force. Deterrence only works if it is clear that our response will be too painful for our adversary.
Especially the four following principles: (360)
- because of the scale and speed of destruction possible with nuclear weapons, a general war of the future will be fought and decided exclusively with forces in being
- the problem of defense against strategic bombardment presents seemingly insuperable difficulties, and the resources that could legitimately be absorbed in it are limitless
- the probability of general war for any given time period is essentially unmeasurable, but is surely more than trivial
- limited wars, which appear even more probable, appear to require independent capabilities
Warning is the key to the entire defense problem…First, whatever else it may be possible or desirable to defend, it is absolutely essential to defend our retaliatory force, or a substantial portion of it…Second, if there must be a choice, a reliable and unequivocal warning measured in hours, or even quarter-hours, is far more valuable than an equivocal indication received much earlier. (184)
Considerable active and passive defenses should be put around our retaliatory force. (221)
Governments have no moral right whatever to adopt cavalier attitudes about the value of individual survival (in response to protecting civilians passively in the event of a nuclear attack). (299)
It is a common misconception that the problem of defense against manned bombers is practically solved. That problem is no doubt less difficult than defense against the ballistic missile, but it is a formidable one still. (vii)
The requirements approach, aiming at a specific statement of needs for a minimal satisfactory posture, probably never had real validity, and is by now clearly outdated. It is easy enough to establish the existence of crying needs, but we can never be rich enough to afford all the equipment we could legitimately use for our security, and we must therefore make painful choices in which the major consideration is to get the most security for the dollar. (x)