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Category: Deterrence

July 1, 2016

Measuring Strategic Deterrence: A Wargaming Approach

During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, President John F. Kennedy weighed a number of factors to assess the potential effectiveness of U.S. actions to deter the Soviets from further deployment of medium-range nuclear missiles in Cuba. Kennedy realized that an existing missile gap gave the United States an assured second-strike capability, but Soviet missiles in Cuba would make the consequences of a Soviet first strike much costlier. For example, U.S. extended-deterrence strategies would be at risk, which could suggest that the United States might not risk nuclear war if the Soviets subsequently assaulted Berlin. Although Kennedy’s greatest fear was the potential for human error and accidental escalation during the standoff, he gained insight into Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s risk tolerance after receiving a rambling four-part cable from the seemingly stressed Soviet leader.1 In the end, it was the rational consideration of these factors from both his and Khrushchev’s perspectives that allowed Kennedy to assess relative resolve and select actions that would control escalation.

Sept. 30, 2014

A Potent Vector: Assessing Chinese Cruise Missile Developments

The numerous, increasingly advanced cruise missiles being developed and deployed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have largely flown under the public’s radar. This article surveys PRC cruise missile programs and assesses their implications for broader People’s Liberation Army (PLA) capabilities, especially in a Taiwan scenario.

July 1, 2014

Tailored Deterrence: Strategic Context to Guide Joint Force 2020

U.S. deterrence is neutered by not clearly defining national security threats and aligning resources accordingly, as in favoring offensive Air-Sea Battle against China against defensive A2/AD capabilities with partners, or preparing sufficiently against regional players such as North Korea and Syria. Plans must accord with actual defense policies and dangers.

Dec. 1, 2011

Deterrence and Escalation in Cross-domain Operations: Where Do Space and Cyberspace Fit?

Warfare has become even more complicated since Richard Smoke wrote this description of escalation in 1977. The National Security Space Strategy describes space as “congested, contested, and competitive,” yet satellites underpin U.S. military and economic power. Activity in cyberspace has permeated every facet of human activity, including U.S. military operations, yet the prospects for effective cyber defenses are bleak. Many other actors depend on continued access to these domains, but not nearly as much as the United States.