Obstacles to Conventional Deterrence

  • Gary L. Guertner


More than two decades have passed since flexible response and non-nuclear war fighting options were formally accepted as the core of NATO strategy. Raising the nuclear threshold through credible conventional defenses for Europe has been central to that strategy. The Soviet buildup in strategic nuclear weapons in the early 1970s, followed by equally dramatic theater nuclear force modernization programs, resulted in an overly narrow, nuclear focus on NATO strategy in Europe. Soviet acceptance of the American proposal to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles and progress in conventional arms control have refocused Western attention on NATO’s conventional forces. NATO strategy will undergo dramatic changes if conventional forces are reduced in accordance with the ambitious proposals coming out of both Washington and Moscow. As the difficult details of a conventional arms treaty emerge, it is important to remember how and why NATO’s 1990 force levels and military strategy evolved in the first place.


Nuclear Weapon Flexible Response Declaratory Policy Warsaw Pact Conventional Force 
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Copyright information

© Gary L. Guertner 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary L. Guertner
    • 1
  1. 1.Strategic Studies InstituteUS Army War CollegeUSA

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