Catalytic Diplomacy

Note to Truncate the Sword

By SAC standards, adequate deterrence of attacks on the United States was easy–especially because nuclear missile-firing submarines could not be destroyed by Russia in an initial attack. Rather it was counterforce disarming attacks by the United States on Russia that dictated the size of the force.

In particular, this option kept U.S. nuclear submarines on fifteen-minute alert, stationed with fifteen-minute or lower flight times to Russian targets. Thus it maintained the ability for a surprise attack.

The threat of such a surprise attack kept the Russians on alert and encouraged them to expand their strategic forces. By February 1999, as the Russian strategic forces deteriorated, Russia was losing even its early-warning defense against missile attack because it could not replenish the array of satellites it needed to monitor U.S. missile silos and submarines.

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