Getting More Deterrence Out of Deliberate Capability Revelation

by Kevin N. Lewis

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In recent years, the United States has increasingly relied on sophisticated yet sensitive military capabilities to counterbalance powerful Soviet forces. To the extent that the Soviets have little or no understanding of deliberately concealed U.S. capabilities, their assessments of the military balance may be biased. The more successfully the United States protects key capabilities, the more this bias could result in the Soviets' overestimating their own military potential relative to that of the United States. A distorted perception of the balance could be destabilizing if it enhanced the Kremlin's expectation of military success. Therefore, the United States should consider whether it might deliberately unveil concealed capabilities to influence Soviet perception of the military balance, thereby enhancing deterrence. This Note lays out some first-order propositions about "deliberate capability revelation" and analyzes its potential efficacy.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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