Selective Nuclear Operations and Soviet Strategy
Discusses Soviet doctrinal views on nuclear targeting restraint, the Soviet public reaction to the U.S. pursuit of limited nuclear options, and possible private Soviet attitudes regarding selective nuclear employment. Although they publicly reject the feasibility of controlled nuclear warfare and dwell heavily on massive nuclear operations with an implied endorsement of preemption, the Soviets are currently acquiring a force posture capable of more measured applications of force as well. There is a reasonable presumption, therefore, that whatever they say in their public pronouncements, the Soviets will gradually develop their own options for controlled nuclear warfare and may be disposed in certain situations to implement improvised strategies inconsistent with their enunciated doctrinal principles. It is unlikely, however, that these strategies will constitute mirror images of currently evolving U.S. nuclear options. Rather, they will probably represent unique Soviet force application schemes, conceived in an ethnocentric Soviet frame of reference and heavily infused with idiosyncratic Soviet strategic perceptions and priorities.