Reorganizing U.S. defense planning to deal with new contingencies: U.S.-Soviet conflict in the Third World

by Kevin N. Lewis

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In this paper the author discusses how U.S. defense planning might be reorganized to contend with direct Soviet military intervention in regions that have fallen outside the scope of major U.S. defense commitments in the past. To limit the analysis, the paper addresses only those situations in which U.S. and Soviet forces are or may become involved in an armed confrontation. The author restricts the discussion to strategic considerations and does not comment on important technical issues recently debated in public and official defense forums. The aim of this paper is to describe overall classes of threats and options to identify conceptual, unifying themes that can guide defense planning for a broad range of Third World contingencies. The paper asks what the overarching determinant of a U.S. policy for countering Soviet aggression in the Third World should be, and, given competing defense requirements, how we should decide which threats are the most important ones to hedge against.

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