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Soviet Military Requirements and Responses

  • Paul Dibb
Part of the Studies in International Security book series (SIS)

Abstract

The previous chapter concentrated on the Soviet Union’s external strategic situation. It identified certain tendencies in the international system that have worsened the USSR’s geopolitical encirclement and heightened its incentive to build its military power. The main questions about the development of Soviet military power that require consideration in this chapter are:
  1. 1.

    Does the USSR have more military capability than it requires for defensive purposes?

     
  2. 2.

    Is the Soviet Union dedicated to achieving military superiority over all its conceivable enemies?

     

These are not easy questions to answer, but they are central to the current debate about the USSR in the West. Unfortunately, much of the discussion about Soviet military power tends to compare military capabilities that are not comparable at all. At the most basic level, for example, simply comparing Soviet with US forces is not a very useful analytical approach. What needs to be assessed is the alignment of all opposing forces on both sides, including NATO, the Warsaw Pact, Japan — and perhaps China.

Keywords

International Environment Nuclear Force Military Force Military Capability Cruise Missile 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    See, for example, Richard Pipes, ‘Why the Soviet Union Thinks It Could Fight and Win a Nuclear War’, Commentary, July 1977; Richard Pipes, ‘Soviet Global Strategy’, Commentary, April 1980; Richard Pipes, ‘How to Cope With the Soviet Threat’, Commentary, August 1984; Colin S. Gray, ‘Nuclear Strategy: A Case for a Theory of Victory’, International Security, Summer 1979; William E. Odom, ‘Whither the Soviet Union?’ Washington Quarterly, Spring 1981; Paul Nitze, ‘Assuring Strategic Stability’, Foreign Affairs, January 1976; Joseph D. Douglass and Amoretta M. Hoeber, Soviet Strategy for Nuclear War (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1979);Google Scholar
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  38. 117.
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  40. 124.
    Joshua Epstein argues that prevailing assumptions about the East-West balance of power rest on erroneous measures of military strength. Virtually the entire defence debate concerns itself with peacetime inputs — static inventories of men and machines. He develops a mathematical method for integrating operational factors (skill, flexibility, coordination, sustainability) and technological factors with static military inputs to arrive at a judgement about wartime effectiveness. The particular wartime mission that he examines is the Soviet offensive tactical air threat to NATO. Epstein concludes that Soviet frontal aviation falls short of success criterion by a very wide margin, and that a devastating Soviet attack on NATOs conventional defence seems eminently unlikely: Joshua M. Epstein, Measuring Military Power: The Soviet Air Threat to Europe, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Institute for Strategic Studies 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Dibb
    • 1
  1. 1.Strategic and Defence Studies CenterAustralian National UniversityAustralia

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