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This paper reviews the status of U.S. conventional forces committed to NATO. It highlights recent developments in the Soviet threat; examines the main trends in general purpose force deployment and combat capability; considers the intra-alliance political backdrop against which these trends must be evaluated; and indicates some of the key questions for future debate. The author suggests that unless NATO is content to retain a strategy that would assure either nuclear war or military defeat if deterrence fails, it will have to link its emerging conventional capabilities to an explicitly counteroffensive doctrine so as to raise the nuclear threshold to a more tolerable level without making a conventional war more likely in the process.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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