Catalytic Diplomacy

Note to Trying Again with Putin

Others said: “No, the posture is driven by the guidance requiring a ‘significant’ amount held hostage of the stuff Russians are presumed to hold dear.” And “significant” and “held dear” were sometimes interpreted as including command-and-control and could mean every last Communist Party local headquarters.

I asked one analyst about this and he replied:
The real answer is that we have what we have, and justifications are built up around it. I agree with Jan: the force should be based on what would survive an attack. So if you thought that deterrence required 1000 warheads, you have enough force so that 1000 survived. But this is not how it’s done. STRATCOM justifies the numbers differently. The guidance says that they have to “hold at risk” certain sets of targets. They look at different force levels and determine how much damage they can do. But that’s the full force, not the survivable force. If you try to pin them down, they’ll say that in a ride-out situation they can “satisfy the guidance with a lower level of confidence.” It’s BS. To the extent that they think about executing the SIOP, they think about going first or launching under attack with a fully generated force. They don’t believe in Russian bolts-out-of-the-blue. They’ll think we’ll most likely have warning, and that’s why they don’t look very hard at the survivable force.”
(e-mail to JJS of January 30, 2001)

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