On ''Keeping Them Down'' or, Why Do Recovery Models Recover So Fast?

by Michael Kennedy, Kevin N. Lewis

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One of the most important questions defense planners must answer is how much strategic nuclear capability is sufficient to achieve various deterrence and warfighting objectives. Current U.S. targeting guidance specifies that an all-out U.S. strike should ensure that the USSR cannot recover from the effects of nuclear war faster than the United States. In this paper, the authors explain the peculiar result of very rapid recovery that has caused anxiety in targeting deliberations. They discuss the aims of a U.S. retaliatory blow. Then, they point out a few of the issues involved in measuring the effects of such strikes. They detail, by means of a simple model, how assumptions made in most recovery analyses give rise to apparently speedy Soviet recovery from all-out war. Finally, the authors touch on a few implications of these results for U.S. nuclear planning.

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