CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE- 2csc3
MEMORANDUM FOR: The Honorable David Packard
of Interagency Working Group for NSSM-24
second paragraph of NSSM-24
In relation to thetrategicanalysis of ho* the Soviets view the strategic balance. On behalf of the Foreign Political and Military Reactions Studyorward an Interagency response to thisuggest it be considered for Inclusion as an appendix to the final report of theteering Group.
report is designed to be only asmight be usefuligh level audience. Anchronological listing of Sovietare part of the evidence behind the analysis,
Chairman Foreign Political and Military Reactions Study Group
is also available but was notart of the final report. This listing, as well as additional copies of the study itself, is available on request.
CXA'fSDlC? SECRET CO/iTROL
opy No. I
WORKING GROUP FOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDY MEMORANDUM 24
Study Group Report
HOW THE SOVIETS VIEW THE STRATEGIC BALANCE
Sea Dtf Cent 5r.
Assessment of the Strategic
Strategic Power Economic Power
Factors Behind the Soviet View of the
Moscow's Striving for an Image of Equality
The Geographic Factor in Moscow's View of the Balance
Soviet Studies on Strategic Interaction
Soviet Expectations of Scientific Breakthought
Soviet Theater Forces and the East-West Balance
Third Party Nuclear Strength in the Soviet View of the Balance
Factors Affecting Soviet
Assessments of the Strategic Balance
OREIGN DISSEM NO DISSojPfBROAD/CONTROLLED DISSEM
Hnw tha sovietthe Strategic
As Soviet strategic power has increased in the past three years, the Soviets have evinced greater confidence in the existencetate of mutual deterrence. An important factor behind the current confidence of the Soviets is their assessment that the United States shares this view of tho balance. Apprehensions that future developments in therelationship may be unfavorable are alsoin Soviet statements, which generally go on to indicateosture of deterrence shall be-whether by increased arms spending or arms control diplomacy. The bulk of the statements also indicate that the intentional use of strategic power isational means to advance Moscow's interests in light of the US retaliatory capabilities.
Strategic "superiority" is infrequently mentioned, and then usually by military advocates of moreweaponry. Furthermore, military spokesmen even more rarely discuss the theoretical effectsirst-strike force, and Soviet military plannersthe technological obstacles to this type of superior forcemassive and reliable ICBM force, an effective air and missile defense force, and
No it: This report vat prepared by the Foreign Political aid Hilitary Reaction* Croup for SSSH-3. Thi* Crouprepresentatives from the Department of State, the Joint Chisfs of Staff, th* Office of th* Secretary of Defense (Systems Analysis), the Offic* of th* SecretaryInternational Security Affairs), th* Arm* Control and Disarmament Agtncy, th* National Security Council Staff, and the Central Intellig*nce Agency.
an effective antisubmarine capability. Although the concept of "superiority'* undoubtedly attracts the thoughts of the Soviets, the practical task oftheir strategic relationship with the US occupies their day-to-day efforts*
The bases of their current estimate of "equality" involve moreabulation of relative strategic force strengths. Defense officials, for instance, claim that the vastness of the USSR and its system of centralized planning have resultedoreless vulnerable dispersal of population and industrial facilities. There are also those in the Soviet military who seriously regard their theater forcesart of the strategic balance, insofar as such forces ensure Soviet influence in Europe* Another factor in Moscow's view of the balance of power is the hope for qualitative breakthroughs in research and development, confidently predicted--but notsome Soviet military spokesmen.
Soviet economic analysts, while recognizing the difference in the economic capacity of the US and USSR, have also contributed to the "equality They have acknowledged some of their own economic difficulties, but at the same time they have concluded that the US faces'major economicin maintaining arms expenditures while meeting domestic requirements. And lastly, some Soviet mill-tary analysts have apparently approached the problem of measuring strategic power by utilizing computer-based war outcome models, rather than merely adding types and numbers of weapons.
Just how the Soviets weigh the geographic,and economic factors in their view of the strategic balance is not entirely clear. On the basis of their present willingness to discuss strategic arms limitations with the US, the Soviet leadership has apparently concluded that current Soviet deployment programs aretrategic relationship which it defines as adequate, given the present US forces. This provides only minimum guidance, however, on what the Soviet leadership might consider desirablelevels if the US were to expand its presentforce capabilities substantially or to undertake unilateral reduction of these forces.
An additional considerationetailed analysis of what may be called "the* Soviet view of the balance. Power in the Soviet leadership is shared by several men, some with competing interests, and in the Politburo ruling committee there are probably several separate views of the US-USSR strategic Accordingly, future changes in the power balance in the Politburo may account for either subtle or major alterations in the collective's voice on tho nature of the strategic relationship.
This study examines the question of the Soviet perception of the strategic relationship with the United States. (Kow the Soviets might react to US strategic plans and programs is treated in National Security Study
The conclusions and discussion in this study draw on all relevant and available intelligence Basic to this examination is our knowledge and understanding of the evolution of Soviet forces, the resources devoted to them over the past decade, and the research and development work on future weapon systems.
While our overall approach is basedide variety of sources and methods of analysis, the study highlights the key factors which tha Soviets then-selves have identified, cither directly or indirectly, as significant in calculations'of the power
In short, the study endeavors to place the reader, as it were, within the Kremlin decision-making
I. Moscow's Assessment of the Strategic Relationship
in their analysis of internal and international power relationships, the Soviets' ideological bias takes second placeighly pragmatic approach in the formulation of major policy decisions. Inthe balance of power, or what they call the "correlation ofhey give particularto two manifestations ofand projected military power and socio-economic trends.
Kremlin leaders in the last few years have evinced greatly increased confidence in their second-strike capability and apparently are persuaded that the US shares this assessment. The Soviets are probably confident of their ability to read correctly USof the strategic balance at any particular
time, because of the nature of the US politicalexample, the annual publication of the US posturethe frequent leaks of portions of US national estimates. At the same time, Soviet leaders have acknowledged the well-publicizedcapabilities of the United States and they have reiterated the line that the intentional use ofanyational means to advance Moscow's interests.
The Soviets1 confidence in the credibility of their deterrent has been strengthened by increments made to their strategic capabilities. In setting about to redress the strategic imbalance, the Soviets obviously were concerned with the number of weapons available to each side and with theirsuch as reliability, vulnerability, size, and accuracy. For example, they first deployed soft ICBM launchers. When current construction is completed they will also have as many hardened, dispersed single-silo lauAchers as the US, They are also moving to make their second-strike force less vulnerable byizable force of strategic missiles at sea.
What the Soviets are doing in the general area of strategic power can, perhaps, best be summarized by an analysis9 Soviet military expenditures. The analysis indicates that increased outlays for the new submarine-launched ballistic missile and MRBM/IRBM systems will probably offset any decline in ICBM At the same time, the Soviets areto increase expenditures fornd space. rograms for strategic systems--an improved ABM system and multiple warheads foralready under way, and rising expenditures for space are anticipated.
when the Soviet effort is measured in dollars, it appears that the USSR is currently spending somewhat more than the US for strategic offense, more than three times as much for strategic defense, about the same amount for space and military research and development, but only about three-fourths as much as the US in total because of increased US spending for general purpose forces and for command and general support, chiefly as it relates to Vietnam. The Soviets, in short, areigh price for strategic confidence.
Regardless of their improved strategicarge number of Soviet military and many political leaders still are concerned especially with the specterS surprise attack. Their concern is reflected in the signs of apprehension which are present in someleaders1 statements on what the future strategic relationship might be. They probably believe that new-generation USPoseidon SLB.M, the Minuteman IIIvitiate some of their recently achieved gains in the strategic relationship.
The Soviets are well aware of US statements that the introduction of the Poseidon and the Minuteman III will increase manyfold the number of independently tar-gotted US warheads, thereby again tipping the balance in favor of the US in this respect. They may well be concerned from their observation of US MIRV tests to date and from recent public discussions in this country that the US may be seeking to develop KXRVs which have the accuracy to be used against hard targets. While the Soviets have within the last year begun testingimple multiple warhead comparable to the, it is still unclear whether this presages an effort toIRV, and in any event theprobably recognize that they are presently well behind the US in this field.
There is probably considerable doubt within the ruling Politburo about the technical prospects and economic effects of trying to counter theseat this time with new weapons programs. Some Soviet leaders appear to realize that the only alterna tive to an intensification of such an arms race would be some form of strategic arms limitation which would not jeopardize their relative position. Other leaders may not seriously expect that strategic armsagreements would, over the long run, bein stabilizing matters. This group could thus regard strategic arms talks at this timeay of exploring the US position and seeking to delay USwayIRV test ban, forlittle expense to the USSR.
What remains unclear, however, is exactly how the Soviet leaders would define an adequateposture and what they believe are the desirable
limitations to be placed on various weapons systems. This is due not only to the lack of hardbut also to the presence of differencesand among the civilian and militaryon strategic force structure issues.
The cost of new Soviet strategic programs to offset the effects of projected improvements in US strategic forces could easily raise the peak level of; Soviet defense spending by the equivalent of several billion dollars in the. This increase in spending would provide the USSR with no appreciable strategic gain over the US, and if achieved at the expense of investment programs* prospects for future Soviet growth would be reduced.
These issues are apparently on the mind of Premier Xosygin in particular. Kosygin emphasized his concern for the economic effects of the arms race on both the USSR and the Westeeting with theof the UK Board of Trade in concerned over domestic Soviet problems, he railed against US military spending assertingthat on an annual per capita basis it was three times the comparable Soviet expenditure, went on to assert that US economic growth would go mostly to the military, and that thecatastrophic sum.* Similarly,onversation with former Secretary of Defense McNamara inosygin described the size of US military expenditures asnd emphasized that military budgets had reached impossible levels, that "both sides havendurther increase in military expenditures could haveconsequences*
Soviet leaders are aware that Americanpressures and problems put into question how much the US can do in the strategic arena. Soviet
economists and other spokesmen have concluded that the US needs to find resources to devote to theof domestic problems and that the pace of the arms race the US is capable of maintaining should not be assessed on the basisealthy economy, stable
society and united population. While theirare influenced by an ideological bias, they do not go so far afield as to claim thatproblems will constrain the US inredible deterrent posture.
II, Other Factors Behind the Soviet View of the Strategic Relationship
The Soviets also weigh othera good deal of wishful thinking and some self-deception--in their assessment of the balance of power
Moscow's Striving for an Image of Equality
Soviet leaders are interested not only in being assured of their country's military security, but also in convincing the world that the Sovietuperpower in the same class as the United tes. Their political dealings with other states MO facilitated to the degree they can represent themselves, credibly,ation equal to the most powerful "imperialist" state*
Statements such as Grcmyko's assertion in8 that current Soviet strategic power is "by no means lesser" than that of the West indicate that the image is vital to them, for several other reasons. The Soviet claim to equality with the US avoids both the admissioness than equal bargaining position in strategic arms limitations talks, and the loss of the image in the external world. Arms talks advocate* within the leadership must also be able to claim equality to counter internal arguments that an arms control agreement would freeze the Soviet Unionosition of strategic inferiority.
Their sensitivity on the point of inequality was reflected inonversation with Westernin mid-November last year. Kosygin heatedly denied the implication, which was attributed toRuskress account, that the USSR was more in need of arms control measures than the United States, and insisted that this subject was equally important to both sides.
Statements on Soviet "superiority" are infrequent, generally confined to military interest groups, and usually geared to internal decision-making matters on force structure. In the context of disarmament-related decisions, advocates of preponderantweaponry are, in effect, arguing thatarms control agreements cannot insurenational security. Their effort in thisis to convince policy makers to continuepreparations in light of the contingency that deterrence night fail.
The Geographic Factor in Moscow's View of the Balance
Assertions of equality by the Soviets may be based in part on Soviet assessments of the relative vulnerabilities of the US and USSR. Soviet spokesmen have claimedumber of occasions that the vast land mass of the USSRotential defense asset in conditions of nuclear war. They assert that the centralized control of economic planning in the USSR has resultedational distribution ofand industrial facilities from the defense point of view.
The conclusions and impact of the studies that civil defense officials presumably make for the Soviet leadership are unknown. They appear tothat the USSR would require fewer strategic weapons than the US to cause comparable levels of casualties and damage.*
Soviet Studies on Strategic Interaction
Apropos of the methodology employed for the above discussion, Soviet strategists are many years behind in the application of the techniques of systems anal-
tU| J9 moJ the Soviets would appear to b*
Soviet urban population live
ysis. The USSR's buildup of strategic forces has not evolved solely from the executionell-defined strategy based upon detailed calculations* There are signs, nonetheless, of increasing appreciation of the uses of strategic analysis.
Recent articles in the classified journal Military Thought indicate that some Soviet military strategists are becoming aware of the potential effects of anuclear exchange by means of aggregativemodels. Their articles, however, stop short of discussing the more revealing points of strategicsuch as what the studies reveal to them about the impact of the new-generation systems programed for the US. Soviet references to strategic studies are, nevertheless, important for the indications they contain that the problem of measuring strategic power is not confinedimple tabulation ofof weapons.
7 article in Military Thought, forajor General Anureyev asserted that the balanco of forces is determined not only by theof weapons, but also by the quality ofeliability, accuracy, and reaction time) and more importantly by the manner in which they are used. In an examinationirst-strike option, Anureyev arguedharp, favorable change in the balance of forces is possible through improvement in reaction time, timely and correct interpretation of the opponent's activity, and the optimal allocation of weapons against the opponent's strategic retaliatory capabilities, including his support and control system.
Discussions of the mathematical elaboration of strategic interaction models for evaluating theof nuclear power are kept highly abstract. As-cording to Anureyev, the key requirement in assessing the balance of forces is translating "the tasks ofarthe language of mathematical logic with the subsequent application of computer8 Military ThoughtajorProkhorov discussed mathematical modelseans of assessing the potential damage that the USSR could inflict on enemy economic, political, andcenters, given alternative uses of the forces
and equipment available. Prokhorov alsoorce-designminimi ration of our own losses."
Soviet Expectations of Scientific Breakthroughs
Research and development play an important role in Moscow's hopes foravorableof power in the future. Some strategic force advocates have stressed that research and development were the most promising avenues for achievingemphasizing the prospect for successfullyurprise technological breakthrough. Onedvocate wrote6 that the attainment of quantitative and qualitative superiority "requires lengthy production efforts" while concludingelaboration) that the "creationasically new weapon, secretly nurtured in scientific research offices and design collectives, can abruptly alter the forceshort period of time."
A more authoritative article by Minister ofGrechko in7 discussed the issue of military superiority and rated combat readiness and advances in weaponry well ahead of numbers of Qualitative superiority, he asserted, "comprised the content of the party's present military policy."
These articles place research and developmentriority element of the strategic relationship,
Soviet Theater Forces and the East-West Balance
Some Soviet leaders regard their European theater forces asole in the East-West strategic relationship in Europe. This isemnant of the days when the Soviet Union had no strategic force capable of inflicting significant damage on the continental United States and usedurrogate its ability to hold Western Europe "hostage" to Soviet conventional forces, as well as medium- andballistic missiles (MRBMs andhile the Soviets nowredible deterrentdirected at the US, there is no evidence that they have rejected the notion that their European
forcesole in their strategic position, inasmuch as such forces maintain Soviet influence in Western Europe and control in Eastern Europe.
Soviet military writers have broached the concept that strategic forces may act as the umbrella for limited distant action by theater forces. Theof this concept may, in part, be anotherof the confidence some Soviets have in their deterrent. It may also be related to resourcedisputes within the military establishment between the advocates of more conventional weaponry and those for strategic
Third Party Nuclear Strength in the Soviet Viewthe Balance""
Soviet military defensive planning doubtless takes into consideration the medium bombers of the French fore* de distuaBion (which will be supplemented iny submarine-launched ballistic missiles, or SLBMs, and MRBMsJ and the medium bombers and SLBMs of Great Britain. However, it is not likely that the Soviets considerajor factor in the strategic balance. For political reasons they have said very little about French strategic forces and seem tothe British capabilities as having no independentut rather servingupplement to US forces. Since the strategic attack forces of both France and Britain are small in comparison with those of the United States, the Soviets probably pay them little attention outside of relatively minorto their air defenses. Soviet propagandato evince fear over alleged West German interest in securing nuclear weapons, but it is difficult to ascertain to what extent this reflects genuine fears or is intended to support Soviet political aims in maintaining control over Eastern Europe.
In light of the fact that the Soviets1 main strategic concern is with the United States, another element generally peripheral to Moscow's view of the strategic balance at this moment is Communist China's nuclear force. The Moscow ABM system, for example, was clearly developed for the US continental
strategic threat. Only recently have developments surfaced whichossible concern regarding ABM defenses against the CPR. The Soviets are aware that geography will allow the Chinese to target MRBMs and IRBMs against the Soviet Union and that the Chinese are pursuing an advanced weapons program. Soviet planning forrobably will give increasing attention to the Chinese strategicwhich will threaten the USSR before it does the US.
Institutional Factors Affecting Soviet Assessments Of the Strategic Balance
While the Soviets have little trouble in getting and verifying official US assessments of the balance, several members of the ruling Politburo probablydifferent interpretations of the evidence. On the basis of their separate interpretations, theytheir preferred interests and views for political, economic, or other motives.
This is particularly significant in the context of the Soviet polity, since the USSR does notnitary executive institution, such as the US Rather, executive power is shared amongmembers of the ruling Politburo whoariety of interests and views. In this regard, there is good evidence that Brezhnev is the chairmanoint military-civilian body--at the senior, executiverough equivalent of the National Security Council, In contrast to the NSC, however, some members of this body rank with Brezhnev in theas Kosygin and Podgornyy, whose opinions, especially in defense allocations matters, Brezhnev must consider in light of the current balance of power within the collective leadership.
The Soviet Communist Party prevents competingfromegree of autonomy which would enable them to resist the party's central control. Nevertheless, the party has not been able (or willing} to suppress signs of competition between various institutions. Significantly, these signs have concerned subjects relating to key strategic
Most recently, many differences have centered on the issue of strategic arms talks with the United States, Some elements of the intellectual and scientific community opposedtep-up in the anas race consider that their most promising politicallies with government leader Kosygin and other officials whose primary interest centers on the state of the economy and consumer welfare. At tho same time, the military establishment looks to party leaderas its patron at the decision-making level.
Within the military establishment itself, as notedispute has centered on the issue ofversus conventional weaponry. The debate, which is not over, concerns future offensive force levels, the ABM matter, and the need for more flexibleforces. The debate also suggestsetermined fight for resource priorities within the military establishment is taking place on the eve of the next five-year.
There may be conflicts of interest even among those who favor strategic arms control agreements with the United States, The main civilian competitors are the inves tment and consumer interests, which wouldreater share of the resources that could be shifted from increased strategic anus spending. The main military competitors, thepurpose forces and the advocates of increased research and development, would alsohare of these resources.
for resources. Moreover, strategic arms *alkt further possible causes of dispute.
The Department of Statehat stra-tegio issues, which involve decisions which mustalance between national security and politically sensitive economichave an enormous potential for dispute
within the Politburo, between military and
Eowever, the Soviet system does notreward but customarily punishes political dissent in high places. And in the oolleetive leadership mode it has tended to develop its own defense mechanisms or antibodies for avoiding divisive debates. The regime therefore preferred to mute or suppress defense ministry debates at high-level rather than encourage and systematise them. In general, the Soviet leaders have tended to take relatively narrow decisions, settling as much as they had toiven moment and letting other aspects ueetion drift.
Given the way in which the Sovietworks we have very little information on issues and positions taksn by rankngat any given moment. The nature of their public statements frequently is determined by circumstances such as the audience and occasion, and the speaker 'e own party or governmental .position. Brezhnev, for example as general secretary of the party more often appears in the roleommunist ideologist than Kosygin. Efforts to exploit press matsrials for evidence of differencee among leaders have thus over the past twenty years rarely produced data sufficiently persuasive and reliable to serveaeie for formulating US policy. One cannot, for example, assume that the debate on etrategic arms negotiations ended with the decision to open talks with the VS. it would be more likely that the Soviets in deciding on the talks left to the future resolution of many issues which are potentially contentious in Moscow.