Variables Affecting Central-Region Stability

The 'Operational Minimum' and Other Issues at Low Force Levels

by Paul K. Davis, Robert Howe, Richard L. Kugler, William G. Wild

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The negotiations on conventional forces in Europe (CFE) include the principle of mutual reductions to parity at force levels below NATO's current levels. The participants' proposals set limits on equipment such as main battle tanks and artillery in the Atlantic-to-the-Urals region and various subregions. This Note provides an analysis of the following issues: (1) defining and estimating the "operational minimum," which is the operational-level strength of forces below which the feasibility of narrowly defined forward defense would be questionable (although by no means impossible) even under conditions of parity; (2) the significance for Central Region stability of the D-Day theater force ratio; (3) the potential stability at low force levels (i.e., below the "operational minimum"); and (4) possible CFE "stabilizing measures."

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