The Case for First-Strike Counterforce Capabilities

by Carl H. Builder


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In this briefing prepared for the 41st meeting of the Military Operations Research Society, the author challenges much of the current thinking behind U.S. arms control and strategic policies. He argues that counterforce capabilities should be sought, not eschewed or proscribed. He sees counterforce capabilities more as deterrents to conflict than as inducements to nuclear warfighting. Where some would embrace counterforce capabilities only as a retaliatory option, the author goes much further and advocates them as a credible, advantageous, first-strike initiative. He questions the generally accepted belief that counterforce capabilities are inherently destabilizing. Because of enduring asymmetries in vital interests and conventional force capabilities, the author argues that the United States, more than the Soviet Union, has a need for a credible and advantageous nuclear initiative.

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