Saturday, November 2, 2013

Writing Sample: SND Term Paper #1

This is the first of two essays I wrote for Strategic Nuclear Doctrine. I ended up finishing this one and writing one on a different topic and submitting that one instead. Even so, I'm still fairly proud of this one.

* * *

"Assess the value of tactical
nuclear weapons in NATO’s deterrent
strategy since the end of the Cold War."

1 Introduction: History, Geography, and Security

The Cold War's end seemed to provide an unprecedented opportunity to establish a lasting international security condition. In fact, the reality is less conciliatory. Both NATO and Russia continue to forward deploy significant arsenals of tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) along their borders. This reveals continued underlying tensions.

Russia remains the actor of primary interest to NATO members. To understand NATO's TNW posture, one must understand Soviet and post-Soviet Russian history. Subsequently, one can build an understanding of NATO's recent history, its continued concerns with Russia, and the ensuing impact on NATO's doctrine pertaining to TNWs.

2 Russia, 1980 to Present

The Red Army's reputation was first tarnished during the Soviet-Afghan War, when the Soviets withdraw after ten years of stalemate against Afghan guerrillas. The 95% Hepatitis infection rate among Afghan-deployed troops betrayed poor field conditions, discipline, and organization.[001] Also noteworthy was the Iran-Iraq War, in which Soviet-equipped and trained Iraq fought a nine year stalemate. Shortly thereafter, in the only post-Korean force-on-force conflict between Western forces and Soviet-equipped counterparts, Iraq surrendered in a matter of hours. Although a notional conflict between NATO and the Red Army may have been a closer match, the failure of Soviet doctrine and kit undermined alleged Soviet quantitative advantages and qualitative strengths.[002]

Post-Soviet forces fought noteworthy engagements in the restive Russian republic of Chechnya from 1994 to 1996, and from 1999 until the unilateral Russian victory declaration in 2009. Volumes can and have been written about the Chechen Wars, particularly the spectacular Russian failure in the Battle of Grozny. Russian troops encountered the most brutal urban environment since 1945. The Chechens employed innovative tactics:
Dudayev... created avenues of approach for the enemy to move along, stockpiled food and ammunition, organized his men into small bands of 20-50 armed with light weapons, and prepared them mentally to be cut off.[003]
Many Chechens fought as conscripts in Afghanistan, and were familiar with Russian capabilities - knowledge they exploited to devastating effect. For example, the Chechens drew Russian armor down the narrow Grozny streets, then attacked the front and rear vehicles from windows too high to be engaged by the main guns of the Russian vehicles, hemming in the remaining vehicles and infantry:
While waiting for RPG gunners to engage a target, Chechens would spray the tops of vehicles with machine gun fire, keeping infantryman buttoned-up. RPGs and Molotov cocktails were used to disable Russian vehicles, causing their occupants to dismount, usually dying nearby in a hail of machine gun fire.[004]
By contrast, the Russians were grossly unprepared for their task.
Each strike force consisted of a motorized rifle brigade. In actuality, after taking into account that units were operating at only about 30-50 percent strength, each strike force was approximately the size of a reinforced motorized rifle battalion, comprised of roughly five hundred soldiers. Most were conscripts who had a year or less of service in the Russian Army[...] It is interesting to note that the Russians had no maps of the city, and their main strategy seemed to be to simply charge forward, to get in and drive toward the center of the city[...] Only one of the four strike groups reached its objective, a few hundred meters north of the Palace. All four groups were essentially annihilated. The 131st Maykop Motorized Rifle Brigade was particularly hard hit, with all of the brigade’s officers killed in action, 20 of 26 tanks destroyed, and 102 of 120 BMPs destroyed. Most of the Spetsnaz troops surrendered to the Chechens, "... after wandering about hopelessly for three days without food, let alone any clear idea of what they were supposed to do."[005]
Echoing the Soviet dysfunction in Afghanistan, Russian field sanitation, discipline, and organization were so poor that diseases such as Hepatitis, Diptheria, and Cholera were common.[006]

Poor urban warfare performance in Grozny was of particular concern, given the memory of defensive operations in Moscow (1812) and Stalingrad (1942-1943), and the high profile Soviet victory in the Battle of Berlin. The campaigns highlighted the army's inability to police internal conflicts - the obvious implication being that Russian conventional forces could neither defend Russia, nor threaten her neighbors. Far from showcasing Russia's resurgence, it betrayed an unanticipated conventional force decay.

The next critical event was the August 2000 Kursk disaster. During a naval exercise, the Project 949A/Oscar II class submarine K-141 Kursk suffered a series of catastrophic explosions, sinking the vessel and killing its entire crew - a major blow to the morale and prestige of the submarine force. This impacted Russian nuclear confidence, as the guided missile submarine was capable of launching P-700 Granit[007] cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. This loss of confidence in

Russia's deterrent underscored the need for Russian nuclear weapons to remain on the western periphery.

These events compounded the diminished post-Cold War Russian ballistic missile submarine fleet, which currently consists of only two commissioned vessels: a Project 941 Typhoon/Akula class (TK 208 Dmitri Donskoy)[008]; and the lead Project 955/Borei class vessel (K-535 Yuriy Dolgorukiy).[009] Two additional 941 boats are allegedly being overhauled, while additional 955 boats are undergoing lengthy sea trials. While these are complimented by several antiquated Delta III and IV class boats, the inability to reliably deploy more than two modern ballistic missile submarines falls well short of the minimum four submarines needed to maintain a credible continuous at sea deterrent (CASD) posture.

The rest of Russia's submarines have also fallen on hard times. Notably, Russia is unable to deal with the hulks of her decommissioned submarines, as evidenced by the accidental sinking of the Project 627A November/Kit class K-159 in 2003.[010] Russia has been reduced to taking subsidies from international partners to fund submarine disposal efforts[011][012][013][014][015] - a national embarrassment, and reminiscent of the provisions of the Nunn-Lugar Global Cooperation Initiative.[016][017]

In 2008, an accident aboard K-152 Nerpa - a vessel due to be leased to India - took twenty lives.[018][019][020][021] In 2009, Project 791 submarines deployed off the coast of North America, but were detected - a "mission failure" according to some analysts.[022][023] Another 791 patrolled the Gulf of Mexico in 2012 before being spotted.[024] These incidents followed 2008 comments by President Dimitry Medvedev calling for submarine fleet renewal.[025][026]

Russia's surface fleet fares better, but its successes betray its inferiority compared to even the modest naval assets of some NATO members. Despite plans to expand fleet capabilities[027], Russian shipyards fail to produce new ships in appreciable numbers. Russia currently possesses a single small "heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser", the Admiral Kuznetsov; as well as a single, unreliable Kirov-class battlecruiser, the Peter the Great.[028][029] 2008 plans to recommission another Kirov, the Admiral Nakhimov, by the end of 2010 were met with skepticism by American analysts[030], and have yet to materialize.[031]

Russia has continually struggled with strategic sealift and aircraft carrier production - evidenced by the Riga/Varyag/Liaoning saga.[032] In 2011, Russia signed a deal with France to procure Mistral class assault ships.[033] This move likely aimed to cause dissent within NATO, and to procure sensitive NATO technology.[034] However, this betrayed Russia's inability to effectively build or refit warships.[035] Even the fleet's successes - for example, anti-piracy task force participation near Somalia[036], and the Kuznetsov battle group's 2011 deployment - have revealed weaknesses. Russia deploys only one warship at a time to support Combined Task Force 150, compared to multiple American warships. The Kuznetsov battle group's deployment drew only a single Royal Navy escort when transiting British waters, and the flotilla was forced to shelter near the Moray Firth due to inclement sea conditions.[037]

Russia's aging aircraft have fared slightly better, taking on renewed importance. In 2007, Tu-95 bombers flew renewed patrols in the vicinity of the American base in Guam.[038][039] Russia later resumed deterrent patrol flights, prompting escort by British and Norwegian interceptors.[040][041][042] In 2008, Tu-95 and Tu-160 aircraft participated in their largest exercise in decades, with Tu-95 aircraft launching their first live cruise missiles since 1984.[043] In 2009, Russia resumed Tu-95 patrols to bases in Cuba and Venezuela, prompting a Pentagon spokesman to remark: "That would be quite a long way for those old planes to fly."[044] Later, Il-38 maritime patrol craft overflew US Navy training exercises.[045] Despite occasional Russian proclamations about new aviation assets - for example, an "undetectable spy plane"[046] - Russia fails to field new nuclear, conventional, or dual use aircraft in sufficient numbers for credible life cycle management.

In recent years, several developments - for example, the sale of real estate to recoup funds[047], and the cancellation of new uniforms[048] - have betrayed insufficient Russian ground force resourcing. Also noteworthy is the declining quality and reliability of Russia's armored forces, in which even new tanks are believed to be qualitatively inferior to their Western counterparts.[049][050]

Many Russian units still use the T-72, despite the availability of the newer T-90.[051][052] After the 1994-1996 Chechen campaign, Russian's only major ground operation was the 2008 Georgian campaign. Although the campaign was a Russian victory, detailed analysis revealed that Russian forces relied upon "overwhelming force"[053] to overcome the volume of armored vehicles which broke down en route - a development painfully reminiscent of Chechnya.[054]

Other internal conflicts have also embarrassed the Russian army. Aside from frequent Caucasian skirmishes and occasional terrorist attacks in Russian cities, two high profile incidents - the 2002 Nord-Ost theater siege in Moscow, and the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis in North Ossetia - resulted in conspicuously violent government responses. The inability to pacify internal disputes has both undermined the conventional threat against NATO, and motivated other aggressive policies - for example, its energetic diplomatic opposition to NATO's efforts in the Balkans.

And what of Russia's strictly nuclear systems? Although Medvedev announced a plan in 2008 to revitalize Russia's entire nuclear arsenal[055], Russian submarines are frequently incapable of successfully test launching the new Bulava ballistic missile[056][057][058][059][060] - to include a failed 2004 launch observed by President Vladimir Putin.[061] Despite several successful tests[062][063], Russia's submarine-based deterrent's overall reputation has suffered, forcing greater emphasis on Russian TNWs and intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs).

Russia exports arms as an tool of both foreign and economic policy.[064][065] Although Russia exports prolifically, some recipients are conspicuous for being either rogue states, such as Iran[066] and Syria[067][068]; or else, regimes on the periphery of the international community, such as Vietnam[069][070], Venezuela[071][072] and Libya[073][074][075][076][077][078]. In several cases, such as Syria[079] and Libya[080], this practice stems both from Cold War era relationships, and from Russian attempts to secure overseas bases[081] - notably, in the Middle East.[082] These regimes are conspicuous for being pariahs to whom Western nations refuse to sell arms - in fact, they buy Russian kit because it is it the only kit available to them.

However, in addition to the incident aboard K-152, other questions have arisen regarding Russian arms export quality. In 2008, Algeria cancelled an order for MiG-29 aircraft due to poor quality control[083][084]. A 2009 Russian bid to provide Il-78 tankers to India lost to Airbus over maintenance concerns.[085] In 2008, Russia pledged to provide MiG-29 fighters to Lebanon as "military and technical assistance"[086], leading one commentator to remark, "Beware Russians with gifts".[087] Russia enjoyed record post-Soviet arms sales in 2008[088], and increased this by $800 million in 2009.[089][090] However, the condition of arms exported by Russian companies betrays more challenges than opportunities for Russia's own arsenal.

These developments reveal a Russian military - both conventional and nuclear - that falls well short of its NATO rivals. In fact, headlines discussing the state of Russia's military machine often read "The Woes of the Great Russian Army Continue"[091][092], "Red Square bash masks military ills"[093][094], "Russia's weaponry shows signs of age"[095][096], or "Russian military's roar is hollow"[097][098]. At best, Russia's military effectiveness is questioned[099][100]; at worst, then-President Medvedev expressed frustration with the state of Russia's arsenal.[101] Optimists suggest that the only solution is for the Russian military to contract in both size and ambitions[102]; pessimistic analysts suggest that the situation has "put the Kremlin on the defensive".[103]

Russia has announced rearmament plans in recent years.[104][105][106][107] These include previously noted systems, a "Russian GPS"[108], and even a new space/air-defence missile system.[109] Russia has strengthened ties with neighbors and marginal states, notably China[110], and founded an apparent rival to NATO (the Collective Security Treaty Organization[111][112]) - intending in part to exert more influence on its own neighbors.[113] Russia has attempted to influence new regions, such as the Middle East and Africa.[114] The Duma also bolstered a law governing

Russia's ability to deploy abroad.[115] These are all efforts to revive its superpower status.[116]

Russia's embarrassing inability to police internal conflicts, deploy troops abroad, or reliably launch ballistic missiles, undermines its conventional and unconventional deterrent posture. Russia's neighbors view it with suspicion, rather than fear[117]; for example, following the Georgia War, despite warnings against Georgian re-armament[118], Georgia made efforts to re-arm anyway.[119] Without the bulwark of a formidable Red Army, and without the buffer provided by the Soviet republics, nuclear weapons took on new importance as the guarantors of security and influence - particularly those peripheral weapons threatening NATO members.

3 Russia's Impact on NATO's Tactical Nuclear Assets

These factors directly influenced NATO's post-1991 strategy regarding TNW deployment. The public decay of the Red Army and the poor performance of Soviet doctrine and kit during the 1980's and early 1990's, and the perceived opportunity to end the Cold War standoff forever, was used to justify the drawdown of NATO's conventional forces. Russia's continued conventional decay underscored the desire of NATO member states' politicians and electorates to reduce force strength in favor of increased - and politically expedient - domestic spending.[120]

NATO's experience illustrates the potential drawbacks of the invisible hand of the Clausewitzian Trinity.[121] The Cold War's end convinced the non-military parties to the Clausewitzian Trinity that the international risk calculus had changed, justifying a "peace dividend" and drawdown by NATO member states' forces. By necessity, this required a greater reliance on TNWs as insurance against the unlikely event of a Russian attack. This impacted NATO's doctrine, procurements, and force strength, all of which would come to impact NATO's TNW posture.

The late 1990's saw the development of such American operational concepts as Rapid Decisive Operations[122], Objective Force[123], From the Sea[124], and Forward... From the Sea[125], which adjusted American military doctrine for a post-Cold War environment. In 1999, United States Atlantic Command was reorganized into United States Joint Forces Command and tasked with guiding the transformation of the American military into a synergistic joint force. In 2003, NATO restructured Allied Command Atlantic into Allied Command Transformation in order to adjust itself alongside its American pillar. Future expectations drew from lessons learned in the Gulf War, Somalia, and the Balkans. These operational strategies combined under the banner of "Military Transformation", itself a continuation of the late 1970's concept of a "Revolution in Military Affairs" (RMA). Transformation focused on the promise of joint and coalition interoperability to create a small, light, agile force, optimized for precision strike and low-intensity conflicts.[126]

With the Red Army marginalized, and later, Russia's conventional forces struggling, NATO member states procured less robust equipment, and less of it. During the 1990's, procurement reflected a mix of Cold War legacy purchases, and equipment optimized for Transformation. These systems also emphasized interoperability, efficiency, and enterprise-wide cost minimization, with a particular focus on maximizing NATO's C4ISR advantage. In America, this included such platforms as the F-22 Raptor; the Stryker LAV; the Seawolf class attack submarine and Littoral Combat Ship; and the M777 Howitzer.

Perhaps most notable were force reductions enacted by most NATO members. For example, the Royal Navy was nearly one hundred warships strong at the time of the Falklands War, but less than forty strong in 2011; the American Navy boasted 529 ships in 1991, compared to 285 in 2011.[127] These examples mirror enterprise-wide trends in other military branches, and in other NATO member states. As NATO welcomed new members, its area of responsibility grew; however, since 1991, most NATO members consistently fail to spend even the mandated 2% of GDP on defense.

In his 1981 BBC Reith Lecture, nuclear strategist Sir Laurence Martin remarked:
This task returns me, finally, to the American request that Western Europe and Japan reconsider their military abstention from Third World affairs. America’s allies are understandably nervous. They fear the costs of a military role: costs that would be both economic, military and, if the Soviet Union took reprisals, at best expensive in terms of the so-called dividends of d├ętente in Europe and, at worst, raising the danger of a conflict spreading to Europe itself. Many Europeans also doubt the appropriateness of American prescriptions for the Third World and cling to the hope and belief that military intervention is neither necessary nor efficacious. Nevertheless, Europe is inevitably involved, not merely because the stakes, particularly oil, affect it but because, in a European nightmare that has been recurrent ever since the Korean War, the forces that the United States needs elsewhere may be bled from its European garrison. And never will the Europeans miss those forces more than if some Third World crisis both draws them away and raises the tension simultaneously in Europe itself.[128]
Sir Laurence's 1981 proclamations remain uncomfortably and counterintuitively relevant today; indeed, they were uncomfortably prescient, as the proverbial "elephant in the room" is the September 2001 al Qaeda terrorist attacks. With the 2001 invocation of Article 5 of the NATO charter[129], NATO forces of diminished strength were called upon both to assist their security guarantor, and to do so outside the anticipated European theater.

The fallout from 9/11 revealed NATO's own post-1991 weakness. Most publicly severe was disunity over the decision to invade Iraq, which left NATO and its aspirant members divided into supporters, neutrals, and opponents. Simultaneously,

Article 5 obligated NATO members to support the Afghan campaign, revealing operational weaknesses. Most conspicuous were the Germans, who: deployed the Kommando Specialkrafte regiment to Afghanistan for three years without sending them on a single mission[130]; consumed approximately one million liters of alcohol per year among 3,600 troops (a vice forbidden to other coalition troops)[131]; and were deemed overall "too fat to fight" once deployed.[132] In one prominent incident, elite French troops were slaughtered[133] in a formerly Italian-controlled area the BBC had referred to as "an Italian oasis" less than six months before.[134] Indeed, the French Mirage 2000D is also reputed to be the least effective combat aircraft in Afghanistan:
In all, about fourteen types of aircraft fly topcover, including American, Belgian, British, Dutch and French. JTACs here say the least desirable aircraft of those fourteen are the French M2000D. A package of two jets carries no cannon, no downlink and a total of only 4 GBU 12s. The optics aboard the aircraft are not good, and the trail aircraft spots targets with binoculars like the Red Baron.[135]
Notably, newer members of NATO, such as Lithuania[136], Romania[137], and Poland[138] have been conspicuously steadfast and effective in their support for the campaign. However, post 9/11 conditions have seen more challenge than triumph for NATO.

4 Conclusion: The Equalizing Power of the Atom

Deterrence is built upon a theoretical triad of capability, communication, and credibility. A credibility deficit is particularly dangerous in the case of a nuclear standoff. While theoretically possible, the proposition of initiating an exchange of strategic nuclear weapons based on violation of a regional "tripwire" is implausible. In order to restore credibility, the nuclear threshold must be lowered. TNWs lower the nuclear yield to a point at which nuclear weapons could conceivably be employed against conventional targets, leaving theoretical room for escalation. As the threat of early resort to nuclear weapons could lead to further escalation once salvos have been exchanged, this lower threshold reinforces credibility. As Sir Laurence notes:
The device NATO relies upon to replace this dangerous imprecision with deterrent certainty is the nuclear weapon. For the last 15 years the official doctrine for linking nuclear weapons to European security has been the so-called ‘flexible response’ employing the ‘NATO triad’ of conventional, tactical nuclear and strategic nuclear weapons. The first line of Allied resistance to conventional attack is to be conventional resistance; if that fails, tactical nuclear weapons used on the battlefield are both to reinforce the defence and raise the spectre of escalation; finally, if all else fails, weapons are to be employed more widely and ultimately ‘strategically’ against the Soviet Union.[139]
Notes John Weltman:
It should be understood, furthermore, that the revolutionary character of the nuclear weapon was not recognized at the time. Rather, use of the new weapon must be placed in the context of contemporary ideas. In the summer of 1945, the nuclear weapon was seen only as a more powerful means to carry out what had become a conventional military operation: strategic bombing directed against urban centers.[140]
Popular perception of nuclear weapons places them in a category so horrific as to separate them from conventional weapons. Despite their unique attributes, nuclear weapons represent a significant incremental advance in the progression of the implements of warfare. In essence, TNWs offer incremental capabilities beyond those of conventional assets. Owing both to their potential capabilities against conventional targets, and to their additional utility in underscoring the credibility of deterrence, TNWs require civil and military policy makers to formulate coherent plans governing their use.

One must also consider that TNWs act as a hedge against conventional attack, particularly when facing a conventionally superior enemy. The "equalizing power of the atom" allows TNW holders to deter by denial, even against overwhelmingly superior conventional forces, by rendering them theoretically irrelevant by way of "limited assured destruction". Although one party may possess unprecedented conventional assets, an opponent's ability to obliterate that capability with a handful of TNWs, without bringing conventional combat (even if the first party possesses nuclear weapons itself), deters both conventional and nuclear aggression. In fact, these were the conditions NATO faced during the Cold War.
To take tank forces as the most frequently cited index of strength, crucial to the success of a modern invading force, the Warsaw Pact’s advantage over NATO on the Central Front has risen from a superiority of 16,000 tanks to NATO’s 6,000 in 1972, to a margin of 20,000 to NATO’s 7,000 today. At the same time the Soviet Union has reversed the traditional pattern in which each new technical sophistication has usually appeared first on the Western side. Thus the Soviet Union introduced the so-called ‘fourth generation’ tank — that is, the one after the Chieftain-Leopard generation — before NATO did. Indeed, the Soviet Union produced 2,500 of these new tanks in 1980 alone, and already has more of this generation deployed than NATO plans to have by the mid-Eighties.[141]
As Sir Laurence noted, NATO forces typically enjoyed a qualitative advantage compared to the Soviets, while the Soviets matched with a quantitative advantage that NATO was never able to surmount. Nor, indeed, did the NATO members possess sufficient political will to spend national treasure to match Soviet conventional capabilities. This forced NATO to formulate a deterrent posture known as "flexible response" employing the "NATO Triad" of conventional, tactical nuclear, and strategic nuclear weapons. NATO refused to adopt a "no first use" policy, as doing so would have allowed the Soviets to invade Europe with relative impunity given the two parties' significant conventional dissimilarity. As such, NATO's doctrine involved locating TNWs as close to Warsaw Pact territory as possible:
The decision to station the Thor and Jupiter missiles overseas has been our principal public response to the Russian advances in rocketry, and perhaps our most plausible response. Because it involves our ballistic missiles it appears directly to answer the Russian rockets. Because it involves using European bases, it appears to make up for the range superiority of the Russian intercontinental missile. And most important, it directly involves the NATO powers and gives them an element of control[...] My previous comments have suggested that warning against both manned bomber and ballistic or cruise missile attack is most difficult overseas in areas close to the enemy. But this is related also to a fourth problem, namely that of active defense. The less warning, the more difficult this problem is. And the problem is a serious one, therefore, not only against ballistic missile attacks but, for example, against low altitude or various circuitous attacks by manned aircraft.[142]
This proximity was critical in 1958, and remains critical today. Moscow stations TNWs within close proximity to its borders with the NATO states, and NATO responds in kind. One reason, of course, is that this posture mirrors Moscow’s posture - a typical element of strategies on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and now the border. Another reason was noted by Wohlstetter: deploying TNWs on the border undermined the Soviet warning systems, increasing the risks tied to potential Soviet/Russian aggression. Finally, positioning NATO TNWs near the NATO members' eastern borders provided sufficient proximity to lend credibility to a theoretical TNW attack against Soviet/Russian conventional assets within minutes of an attack against a NATO member. (Noteworthy in this respect were the Jupiter IRBMs that were stationed in Turkey in 1962, which precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis.)

Since 1991, this juxtaposition puts NATO in a paradoxical quandary. Russia's conventional decay forces it to lean heavily on its deployed TNW arsenal, forcing NATO to do the same; and, indeed, NATO's conventional drawdown necessitates this posture, as do its Afghan commitments and their corresponding revelations of NATO weaknesses. Conversely, if Russia's conventional forces regained regional or international prominence, they might exceed NATO's capabilities, forcing NATO to rely on TNWs as both a force equalizer and guarantor of nuclear escalatory credibility. In theory, greater quality control and professionalism in the submarine force could build confidence in Russia's submarine-based arsenal, allowing for redeployment of the land-based TNW arsenals. However, given Russia's goal of great power resurgence, this outcome seems unlikely.

As TNWs serve as a bulwark against conventional forces, any reduction in their importance would require investment in conventional assets, and the manpower to operate them. Between the invisible hand of the Clausewitzian Trinity, fatigue over 21st Century counterinsurgency campaigns, and recent economic conditions, the prospect of NATO member states reconstituting their atrophied conventional arsenals is, for all intents and purposes, a fantasy. The result, of course, will be a continued reliance on nuclear weapons, and the escalatory credibility of TNWs, as a force equalizer. As Sir Laurence notes:
To one persuaded like me of the need for vigorous defensive efforts, the most obvious price exacted by a strong pacifist movement is the detraction from military preparedness. But unjustified optimism about the strategic world can actually encourage policies that the disarmers themselves should condemn. The crowning example of this, I suppose, is the tendency for parsimony in military spending to drive strategy towards cheap and dangerous nuclear solutions in the way that was typified, above all, by the doctrine of Massive Retaliation.[143]
In fact, given that the lion's share of Sir Laurence's remarks continue to ring true more than three decades later, one could reasonably ask whether the value of TNWs to NATO's deterrent strategy has changed fundamentally, or merely incrementally, since 1991. Russian history before the Bolshevik Revolution, and following the Cold War, make it obvious that while Marxist ideology served as a catalyst for Soviet aggression, Soviet aggression derived from the same Realist concerns that motivated both Nicholas II and Boris Yeltsin, and which continue to motivate Vladimir Putin to this day.

NATO has endeavoured to distance itself from its TNW reliance, as evidenced by the 2010 Strategic Concept's "goal of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons"[144]. As noted in the 2010 United States Nuclear Posture Review:
The United States has reduced its non-strategic (or “tactical”) nuclear weapons dramatically since the end of the Cold War. Today, it keeps only a limited number of forward deployed nuclear weapons in Europe, plus a small number of nuclear weapons stored in the United States, available for global deployment in support of extended deterrence to allies and part-ners. Russia maintains a much larger force of non-strategic nuclear weapons, a significant number of which are deployed near the territories of several North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries and are therefore a concern to NATO.[145]
A strategic dialogue with Russia will allow the United States to explain that our missile defenses and any future U.S. conventionally-armed long-range ballistic missile systems are designed to address newly emerging regional threats, and are not intended to affect the strategic balance with Russia. For its part, Russia could explain its modernization programs, clarify its current military doctrine (especially the extent to which it places importance on nuclear weapons), and discuss steps it could take to allay concerns in the West about its non-strategic nuclear arsenal, such as further consolidating its non-strategic systems in a small number of secure facilities deep within Russia.[146]
However, as Weltman notes:
The "nuclearization" of the strategic relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States was the consequence, not the cause, of the cold war.[147]
Despite numerous changes, the situation remains fundamentally similar to that which Sir Laurence discussed in 1981, and which Wohlstetter discussed in 1958. Though weakened since the height of communism, Russia remains a formidable economic and political rival to the United States and its NATO allies, largely due to its legacy possession of nuclear weapons. NATO's TNW arsenal will, then, remain an important asset reinforcing the stability of mutual deterrence for the foreseeable future.


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[071] BACK Staff Writers; Chavez announces Russian missile purchase; AFP; Caracas; 12 September 2009;

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