Chapter 12 - Strategic Offensive: Modernization, START Reductions, Nuclear Deterrence and Testing

1974 (Chapter 5) and the Committee on the Present Danger (Chapter 6). The Republican Platform—1980, adopted in July 1980, describes the deteriorating U.S.-Soviet strategic force balance, increasing U.S. vulnerability, and the madness of MAD doctrines. The Platform outlines Reagan’s proposed U.S. strategic modernization program to include the MX Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), the Trident II submarine and D–5 missile, the B–1 bomber, and anti-missile defenses—all canceled or delayed by President Jimmy Carter. Thus:

Preamble. The Soviet Union for the first time is acquiring the means to obliterate or cripple our land-based missile system and blackmail us into submission. . .

Nuclear Forces. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate military guarantor of American security and that of our allies. Yet since 1977, the United States has moved from essential equivalence to inferiority in strategic nuclear forces with the Soviet Union. This decline has resulted from Mr. Carter’s cancellation or delay of strategic initiatives like the B–1 bomber, the MX missile, and the Trident II submarine missile [D–5] programs and from his decisions to close the Minuteman production line and forego production of enhanced radiation weapons. As the disparity . . . grows over the next three years, most U.S. land-based missiles, heavy bombers and submarines in port will become vulnerable to a Soviet first-strike. Such a situation invites diplomatic blackmail and coercion of the United States by the Soviet Union during the coming decade.

[Rejecting the Paralyzing MAD Doctrine] An administration that can defend its interests only by threatening the mass extermination of civilians [i.e., the MAD doctrine], as Mr. Carter implied in 1979, dooms itself to strategic, and eventually geopolitical paralysis. Such a strategy is simply not credible, and therefore is ineffectual. Yet the declining survivability of the U.S. ICBM force in the early 1980s will make this condition unavoidable unless prompt measures are taken. Our objective must be to assure the survivability of U.S. forces possessing an unquestioned, prompt, hard-target counterforce capability sufficient to disarm Soviet military targets in a second strike.

We reject the mutual-assured-destruction (MAD) strategy of the Carter Administration which limits the President during crises to a Hobson’s choice between mass mutual suicide and surrender. We propose instead, a credible strategy which will deter a Soviet attack by the clear capability of our forces to survive and ultimately destroy Soviet military targets.

[Reagan Initiatives Against ICBM Vulnerability] In order to counter the problem of ICBM vulnerability, we will propose a number of initiatives to provide the necessary survivability of the ICBM force in as timely and effective a manner as possible. In addition, we will proceed with: the earliest possible deployment of the MX missile in a prudent survivable configuration; accelerated development and deployment of a new manned strategic penetrating bomber that will exploit the $5.5 billion already invested in the B–1, while employing the most advanced technology available; deployment of an air defense system comprised of dedicated modern interceptor aircraft and early warning support systems; acceleration of development and deployment of strategic cruise missiles deployed on aircraft, on land, and on ships and submarines; modernization of the military command and control systems to assure the responsiveness of U.S. strategic nuclear forces to presidential command in peace or war; and vigorous research and development of an effective anti-ballistic missile system, such as is already at hand in the Soviet Union, as well as more modern ABM technologies. (bracketed headings added)1

SNIE—July 1981 and Soviet Military Power Report—September 1981. Reagan’s tasking to the U.S. intelligence community for assessments of the Soviet Union’s global objectives and military buildup began early in his presidency and continued apace. The assessments he received include a Special National Intelligence Estimate SNIE 11–4–78—Soviet Goals and Expectations in the Global Power Arena, issued on July 7, 1981, that outlines the Soviet Union’s imperial drive and confirms Reagan’s earlier concern. Subsequently, an unclassified public report based on a range of declassified U.S. intelligence data was Soviet Military Power—1981 published in September 1981 by Reagan’s Department of Defense with NSC coordination. The report received wide distribution and was issued in annual updated editions as an early centerpiece of the Administration’s unprecedented information and public diplomacy campaign to educate the American people and the world on important facts about the enormity of the Soviet military buildup and the rising strategic threats that had developed during the détente period. The report is comprehensively reviewed in Chapter 10 on Reagan’s defense and arms control strategy. Its section on strategic forces is further detailed below. Thus:

These massive 1960s ICBM and SLBM deployment programs, largely centered on the SS–9 and SS–11 ICBMs, and the SS–N–6/YANKEE SLBM/SSBN weapon systems, provided the foundation from which subsequent strategic nuclear modernization programs were to grow.

[Book pg. 266]