Created: 2/1/1990

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gorbachev, Perestroyka, and future soviet strategic offensive forces


I I I I C . I . I A | - Of

Gorbachev, Perestroyka, and Future Soviet Strategic Offensive Forces"


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Gorbachev. Peretlroyka, nnd Future Soiid Strategic Offensive Vrmnf

KeySoviets aic continuing io modetmic each clemeni of iheir sua legit

forces, butS they lave changed several weapon

ay lhat suggests ihey are planning lo deploy smaller force*

lltan originally intended. We COncL.de that ihe country's severe econooic problems, ihe' new security policies that deernphasize tbe military, and the increased lethality and wmvnbility of new weapon systems maVe it highly likely that Moscow will foUow through with ihb revised moderationdeaetivaie some of its ciderin live absenceTART agreement. We calculate that these smaller forces will retain the capability to achieve vital strategic objectives. We conclude that Moscow will depart from this moderated strategic modernization program only if confronted with dramaiic changes in Soviet Internal conditions or if it ptoiectt bask changes In the severity of ihe Ihreal

InS Gorbachev inherited an array of strategic weaponand deployment ptogramt that -ere designed lo support amodensiration of Soviei strategic forces. Moscow also confronted robust Western strategic force modernization and severe economicincluding growing lags in development of the core technologies ihil were fueling Wesiern military and eecisoroic development. Faced wiih this situation. Gorbachev and olher Soviet officials began to queslion the wisdom of continued military growth They settledtrategy thai gave new emphasis to the political and economic dimensions of national security, sought to improve relations with the West, and pressed for ambitious arms control initiatives to moderate Ihe threat. Despite the new approach. Moscow did not Curlail any ongoing strategic programs, anticipating, in Our view, ihal pe/eiiroyka wouldoihand civil objecUres while Gorbachev pursued his arms control agenda

8 the failure of the regime's original economic program, aconsensus on reducing defense espcndiiures.teady improve-mem in US-Soviet relations induced Moscow lo make changes in its strategic offensivecflWt The Soviets scaled back several intercontinental attack deptaymeni programs, including iheodhe SS-iM Modnd the Blackjac. bomber. Other dcploymemthe SS-ZS andobile ICO Ms. the Delta-IV and Typhoon SSBNs, and Iheruise missilenol aiTcetec Tins revised strategic iisodern.ration program, combined wiih




Ihc deactivation of some older weapons, willecce by thehat will be highly capable, although smaller and different in comr^iljoo from either the correnl rota or the one thaibeing planned in the:

The force will containallistic missile RVs. bomber weapons, and sea-launched cruisefewer weapons than cither the current inventoiy or the one that we judge was tfatiBedhe number of weapons could slill be substantially higher than the proposed START levels because ia the absenceatihed treaty the Soviets probably wouldarge number of RVs on older weapon platforms, such as Dclla-ejlass SSBNs.

The force willore balanced distribution of weapons among ihc legs of (he Iriad. Weapons on silo-based ICBMs would account (or aboui One-quarter of ihe inveniory-^as compared withereenl oT the current locce and almost one-half of ihc falurc force we judge was plannedhe rematnine weapons will be deployed on mobile ICBMs. SLBMs. bombers, and SLCMs

Wc judge i: to be highly likely that Moscow will follow through with this revised (Modernization program whether orTART agreement is reached. The Soviets determine their force levels on (he baits of their foreign policy goals. Iheir economic capabilities, and iheir military's analysis ol what is required IO carry out eriiical strategic missions We judge thai the military assesses require menu by evaluating capabilities of current and projected weapons against Ihe projected threat and noi on Ihc basisimple desire fo' quantitative partly in force levels In assessing Ihc threal. moreover, ihe Sovieis have become increasingly awareof the relationship belween Western receptions ol Soviel programs and political suprwrl (or Western modern tea (ion programs The Soviets'curreni policy agenda, pcrsislcnl economic problems. Hid improving weaponby Western defense policy debates ill argue for smaller forces:

improved lethaliiy and survivability of new Soviet strategic weapons would enable this smaller. moderriiMd force to rneel Soviel global damage goals in allorst case situation in which MoscowS first Sliike before retaliating. Thilew percent of warheadbe compilable lOIhai winch would occur with Ihe current Soviel invetilOry.


revised modernization program facilitates Gorbachev'. efforts lo undercut support (or Western miliury roodernitaiion and to retavigotate the Soviet economy. We eslimole that ii will beess costlyxecute lhan the original iracd era iia lion program and will help free Up skilled manpower. hlgh-quak'ty materials, and mannfaeiuring equipment for civilian use

Wc judge ibal these new comidera lions have already augmented Soriei ftexibiliiy In START and willimilar ClTeci in futuretlified START irealy. in turn, by constraining US forces.incicase Soviet fleiibiliiy to plan for deeper cuts, such as those necessary Io reach liieVi and accountable bomberfor START II

ir the Soviets confroni dramatically changed international or domestichey could depart (torn the revised strategic forceprogram-in eitherdo so more readily lhan ihey could for comparable charges in general purpose forces:

The most likely catalysl (or an acceltraiiofl in force moderoiialion wooMoviet perceptionevitalised US strategic mwfcrrnrntion program was eroding Soviet ability to promptlyomprehensive sirike agaioil the United Stales The ascendancyardline regime also could accelerate inoderniialion Under these conditions we judge that Moscow would choose to returnprobably MlrnodernicaiiOet program in place during the. Pressureecision on whether lo procure additional niodefniied force, willin Ihe, is curreatly deployed weapons reach ihe end of iheir normal operational service lives.

The most likely catalysts for additional cutbacks wouldeclining strategic ihieat, continued economic telcrioratieei, or ihe adoption ola doctrine of "minimumhe Soviets couldby canceling one Ol more weapon development piogram

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