A Political-Military Game of Protracted Conventional War in Europe

by John Setear

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In 1987, a group of RAND researchers played a political-military game of protracted conventional war between the NATO and Warsaw Pact countries to take place in 1993. This Note discusses such issues as the prospect that strategic nuclear weapons would signal the strength of the U.S. commitment to NATO and re-establish extended deterrence despite obvious risks of escalation; whether ending a NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict would be difficult to achieve, particularly if either side occupies some part of the Federal Republic of Germany; whether attacking ballistic missile submarines would have any impact on the escalation level of the conflict; and whether waging protracted war in Central Europe is possible under some assumptions. While the results obtained here were clearly a reflection of the particular players and scenarios used, both teams were relatively cautious and conservative in exercising their options, and achieved insights that will be useful to those who conduct political-military games.

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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