Risk and Uncertainty in Soviet Deliberations About War

by Benjamin S. Lambeth

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Surveys the elements of risk, uncertainty, and unpredictability that might moderate Soviet behavior and undermine the confidence with which Soviet decisionmakers would consider entering into a major military engagement with the United States. Although the report does not question the substantial threat implications of Soviet force improvements that have been under way in recent years, it does describe certain realities of Soviet style and leadership concern about possible Soviet military inadequacies that make the more ominous features of Soviet doctrine and force development appear somewhat less alarming. The analysis is based on a combination of evidence suggested by past Soviet crisis behavior, information offered in Soviet literature concerning troop management and training, and inferences from known or suspected Soviet political practices, organizational characteristics, and operational concerns.

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