Modernizing NATO's Long-Range Theater Nuclear Forces

An Assessment

by Tom L. McNaugher, Theodore M. Parker

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Analyzes the political and military background of the decision by the NATO Foreign and Defense Ministers, in December 1979, to modernize NATO's long-range theater nuclear forces (LRTNF), in response to the Soviet threat. The Soviets have greatly enhanced their capabilities with such new systems as the Backfire, Fencer, and Flogger D aircraft, but most of all with the mobile, MIRVed SS-20 missile. The authors concur that LRTNF modernization is warranted, but warn that it alone will not solve other crucial problems, both military and political, the latter including strains on the cohesion of West European NATO members. The authors stress the need for improvements in NATO's conventional forces, while focusing primarily on the critical importance of restoring West European confidence in U.S. strategic forces.

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