Methodology for Examining Effects of Arms Control Reduction on Tactical Air Forces

An Example from Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty Analysis

by Charles T. Kelley, Jr.

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In 1989, NATO and the Warsaw Pact were engaged in the Conventional Forces in Europe arms reduction negotiations. The major advantages to NATO were the large cuts in Warsaw Pact ground forces. However, agreement to these cuts was not expected until both sides had agreed on how tactical air forces should be reduced. Both sides submitted proposals (NATO's involving a 15-percent reduction), but, after negotiation, remained far apart on three categories of aircraft: trainers, medium bombers (including land-based naval attack aircraft), and homeland defense aircraft. This note describes RAND's suggestions on how the tactical air reduction agreement should be structured and how NATO should implement it. The author suggested a compromise that allowed each side to exclude some number of basic trainers and land- based naval attack aircraft, and that granted the Soviets a unilateral exclusion for some number of homeland air defense aircraft. The final treaty incorporated the first two suggestions. NATO was not required to reduce its inventory of combat aircraft. Had the proposed 15-percent reduction been accepted, about 100 aircraft would have had to be transferred from the region or destroyed.

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