United States and Soviet Strategic Technologies and Nuclear War Fighting: A Comparison



The cornerstone of United States strategic policy with respect to the Soviet Union is deterrence through the possession of an ‘assured destruction’ capability; that is, the ability to inflict ‘unacceptable’ levels of damage on the Soviet Union even after absorbing an attack on United States strategic nuclear forces. This has included the capability to limit damage to the United States, using high accuracy missile systems to attack hardened Soviet military installations. Reportedly, the United States targeted some of its strategic forces against Soviet conventional forces in order to blunt a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. But the principal emphasis of United States policy remains assured destruction, and consequently most of the United States strategic nuclear missile warheads are small and inaccurate and can be targeted effectively only against soft urban areas. The inventory of United States warheads is large and they are deployed on a diverse number of strategic nuclear delivery systems (ICBMs, SLBMs, and long-range aircraft). There is little reliance on strategic defence, whether passive or active, since it is believed that in a nuclear war no one can win.


Technical Indicator Ballistic Missile Cruise Missile Strategic Capability Nuclear Warhead 
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© Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr and Uri Ra’anan 1981

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