Presentation on theme: " The concept of mutual deterrence or mutually assured destruction assumed that both sides had sufficient weapons with enough security that they could."— Presentation transcript:
The concept of mutual deterrence or mutually assured destruction assumed that both sides had sufficient weapons with enough security that they could “ride out” a counterforce strike with enough punch that they could assure a retaliatory strike and the destruction of the aggressor --a task made difficult by the ever increasing numbers of accurate delivery systems, "penetration aids," and multiple warheads. Once the Soviets had achieved missile parity MAD became the accepted precept that kept us safe (LOL).
If you can strike first and ensure that you get the majority of the other sides delivery systems and warheads, should you do it to prevent the possibility of them doing it to you? This raised the question as to whether a weapon was a first strike weapon or a retaliatory weapon. What could be the difference? Cruise missile, SLBMs or submarine launched ballistic missiles were usually considered first strike weapons as they could be delivered with such little warning that the other side could not get their weapons launched in time. This made the preservation of a retaliatory strike capability essential to preserve deterrence thus the building of crazy numbers of nukes
The most vulnerable leg were the bombers, they came first, and the least vulnerable were the submarines with land based missiles having varying degrees of vulnerability. Schemes upon schemes were hatched to increase the survivability of each of these categories of delivery systems driven in part by inter-service rivalries. No arm of the service wanted to be left out of the important role of nuke delivery. The nuclear triad was considered so important that the spending of money was not an issue and every member of the nuclear club has a triad or is currently working on one.
All throughout the cold war strategies of a limited and nuclear war were developed. They generally centred around a first strike of a counterforce nature which took out much of the enemies nuclear force, while keeping enough of your own force behind to still be threatening. The calculation was that the enemy would call it a day, push back from the table and leave you the victor. The problem was that all these strategies assumed decisions made on the basis of mathematical logic and didn’t calculate the emotional response of leaders who had been attacked. They could also never resolve the issue of how many nukes they would leave behind for an enemy retaliatory strike.
In the early days of the cold war inter-continental ballistic missiles had a circular error of probability of hundreds of metres giving lie to the phrase close only counts in horseshoes, bad breath and nuclear war. Therefore, they were not useful as counterforce weapons which would need to accurately target the enemies missile silos. This would require a CEP of a few metres. As a result, early ICBM’s were targeted against countervalue sites such as cities and ports, such as Ottawa, Vancouver and Halifax since they couldn’t hit counterforce targets such as hardened silos or mobile launchers. The theory was that if the enemy suffered sufficient civilian casualties they would capitulate. Eventually GPS or global positioning systems made it possible to land a warhead within a few metres of a target thus both counterforce and countervalue targets were chosen.
These were multiple, independently targeted, re-entry vehicles or warheads and meant that one missile could take out the entire Eastern Seaboard. This system accounted for much of the rapid growth in the numbers of warheads.
Throughout the cold war the Soviets pushed for a treaty that both sides would sign saying that they would not be the first to introduce tactical or battlefield nuclear weapons. This didn’t work for NATO because their battle doctrine in Europe called for the use of nukes as a means of slowing and defeating the numerically superior Warsaw pact armies.
Warsaw PactNATO Total military power3,573,0002,696,300 Main battle tanks47,00019,000 Armoured vehicles68,40033,400 Antitank missiles23,90011,900 Artillery/rocket systems34,70012,600 Combat aircraft7,0003,600 Divisions13696
In the event of the warning of a strike some doctrines proposed using all of the arsenal to prevent a second strike and to prevent the destruction of your missiles making a counterforce strike impractical.
First assignment is to write a half page to a page on the effect of a nuclear explosion on a civilian target. Explain the effects, both short and long, on people, buildings, infrastructure and the environment. Find a song that is related to the cold war. Listen to it while reading the lyrics. Tell me what you think including how much impact you believe it would have had at the time.