The Changing Scope of Military Strategy

  • James Sherr
Part of the RUSI Defence Studies book series (RUSIDS)


When it comes to confronting the Soviet military challenge, strategic provincialism and its companion, strategic introversion, may prove more damaging to the West than Soviet power itself. ‘The threat’ has become, in Soviet parlance, ‘well known’, and well stereotyped: on their side, an economy locked into a scale and tempo of war production which we may lack the will or wherewithal to match; on our side, a technological edge eroding under pressure of rising capital costs and determined Soviet effort; and finally, the forfeiture of strategic and nuclear superiorities which historically have served as NATO’s trumps against traditional Soviet strengths. Without doubt, the latter development represents a secular change in the strategic environment of profound importance. It would be both remarkable and alarming if that change alone did not bring greater scrutiny to bear on the perennial dilemmas of NATO strategy and of roles and responsibilities in the Alliance. Deterrence, being a political as well as a military enterprise, cannot profit if those who deter are in disarray. Nonetheless, the object of deterrence is to impress an opponent, not to make ourselves comfortable. It would be welcome indeed if security improved as consensus were widened and as the ‘stresses and strains’ of the Alliance diminished, but if ‘deterrence’ and ‘reassurance’ are related undertakings, it is worth reminding ourselves that they are also separate ones.1


Nuclear Weapon Ground Force Continue Challenge Military Strategy Military Affair 
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© RUSI 1987

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  • James Sherr

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