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NPS-56-88-004 



NAVAL 



POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL 

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WITHHOLDING & ATTACKING SSBNS 
by 



JAMES JOHN TRITTEN 

H 



FEBRUARY 1988 



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WITHHOLDING & ATTACKING SSBNS 



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James J. Tri tten 



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02 FEBRUARY 1988 


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Edited version to appear in Naval Forces in 


1988 




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18 Sutjjtcr TERMS (Continue on reverse if necessary and identify by block number) 

Navy Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) 

War Arms Control 


FIELD 


GROUP 


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• Attract (Continue on reverse if necessary ,nd identify by block number) — 



of a rtt^Hnn°thr?I e f 0f str ® te ? ic " , i ssi1e - carrying submarines in deterrence and mission 
of attacking these forces during the conventional phase of a war. Includes discussion of 

aSJeR f ° r subm * n !? e deployments impacting on potential ASW campaign. Also 

analyzes possible arms control regulation of ASW. K y 



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I ’ ' . 

WITHHOLDING & ATTACKING SSBNS 
by 

James J. Tritten 

Attacks against strategic missile-carrying submarines is one 
of the most interesting and controversial topics for students of 
navies, deterrence, war fighting, war termination, and arms 
control. The concept involves the cutting edge of submarine and 
antisubmarine warfare technologies and techniques, the potential 
for uncontrolled or unwanted escalation during the conventional 
phase of a war, some extremely difficult command and control 
issues, and a potential new area for arms control between the 
superpowers. Such operations, often called "strategic 

antisubmarine warfare," also offer us one of the finest examples 
of the complex interaction between nuclear and non-nuclear 
warfare. 

The issue of attacking strategic missile-carrying nuclear 
submarines, however, involves more than just the two superpowers. 
First, three other nations have such warships: China, France, and 
the United Kingdom. Second, a significantly larger number of 
nations have antisubmarine (ASW) forces that might be positioned, 
capable, and potentially involved in military operations against 
the five nations of the world who currently have submarines 
carrying strategic ballistic or cruise missiles. Canada, for 
example, may join the ranks of nations with nuclear-powered 
submarines (SSNs) that will routinely deploy in some of the ocean 
areas where strategic missile-carrying submarines operate. 



1 



This prospect of a multitude of nations potentially 
conducting strategic ASW and thus upsetting deterrence reinforces 
the Soviet concept of "equal security": The USSR claims that in 
order to have the same level of security as enjoyed by the United 
States, the USSR must have a defensive capability against all 
possible enemies. 

There are those who would argue that nuclear weapons have no 
military utility and serve only to deter war. But nuclear 
weapons, like any military hardware, do have warfighting 
potential in case deterrence fails. Many people argue that 
deterrence is what prevents war from breaking out. Deterrence, 
however, is only a theory and opinions differ as to what best 
deters. In general, deterrence is thought to be credible when 
one nation is convinced that another nation has both the 
capability to perform a defending or punishing act in response to 
an attack and the political will to actually do so. 

There are two major schools of deterrence theory. The first 
says that you best deter war by having the capability to 
passively and actively prevent an enemy from achieving his goals 
and objectives. Soviet ballistic missile, air, and civil 
defenses are examples of passive actions that nations take to 
prevent damage to their homeland. Modern Soviet offensive 
ballistic missiles that can strike Western air, submarine, or 
missile bases before the allies could use them are examples of 
active "defenses" that support this theory of deterrence. 

The second major theory is that deterrence is served best by 



2 



having the capability to punish an aggressor if he breaks the 
peace. The latter theory is also described as a "minimal" or 
"assured destruction" theory of deterrence; i.e., one need not 
field sufficient forces to prevent an aggressor from damaging 
one's homeland but merely a minimal force that can retaliate 
with offensive forces even if forced to absorb a first strike. 

If shared by two nations, this second theory of deterrence 
is known as "mutual assured destruction" or MAD. The unilateral 
dismantling by the U.S. of its single ballistic missile defense 
site in the 1970s and similar U.S. actions taken to virtually 
eliminate passive air and civil defenses are actions compatible 
with "mutual" assured destruction. Unfortunately Soviet retention 
and expansion of active and passive defenses, suggests they do 
not accept the "MAD" theory of deterrence. 

Whether one accepts war fighting, minimal deterrence, or MAD 
as the preferred theory of deterrence, there seems to be general 
agreement that in any case, a nation must have a 
survivable/secure reserve force capable of striking back, even if 
subjected to a well coordinated and surprise first strike. This 
reserve retaliatory force must also be perceived by the other 
nation as having the credible capability of conducting a second 
strike that would matter; something must be threatened that is of 
value to the nation to be deterred. 

Manned bombers were the first strategic nuclear delivery 
vehicles. Older bombers and associated supporting tankers have 
become, unfortunately, relatively easy to destroy before they 



3 



take off or while they are attempting to penetrate air defenses. 
Similar problems exist for new ground- launched cruise missiles 
(GLCMs). Over the years, credibility decreased that older manned 
bombers could successfully penetrate massive Soviet air defenses. 
This led to improvements in bomber systems, the development of 
GLCMs, and eventually to the use of air-launched cruise missiles 
(ALCMs) launched from bombers outside these defenses. Such air- 
breathing bomber and cruise missile forces could be used for a 
strategic nuclear reserve. 

Bombers offer the advantage of being able to provide a 
nuclear reserve force that is capable of being recalled before 
actual weapons employment and re-cycled for additional follow-on 
strikes. Mobile GLCMs with extremely long ranges are only 
recently becoming possible. The Soviet lack of investment in 
dedicated intercontinental air-breathing forces over the years is 
one indication that they appear more comfortable with other 
delivery systems for deterrence. 

Ballistic missiles in hardened silos could be used for a 
reserve force. Despite the many fine attributes missiles in 
fixed silos (e.g., prompt counter-military potential), their 
relative vulnerability to attack makes them ill-suited for such a 
secure reserve role. With the advent of longer range mobile 
ballistic missiles, nations will have to consider whether or not 
these land-based systems ought to be a part of the secure reserve 
force that is expected to survive an enemy first strike or is to 
be used/withheld from own initial nuclear strikes. 



4 



Traditionally, nations have looked to navies to provide 
strategic nuclear delivery systems that can survive enemy attacks 
and threaten nuclear retaliation if the peace is broken. Western 
strategist often argue that it is the knowledge that despite the 
relative vulnerability of land-based missiles and the problems in 
penetration by air-breathing systems, sufficient warheads remain 
on undetected submarines on patrol to constitute a threat so 
powerful that no nation would risk making the first strike. Sea- 
based nuclear forces have thus been described in the West as 
constituting the final deterrent force. 

Navies first deployed sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) 
to perform this function. The U.S. Navy performed deterrent 
patrols with Regulus guided missile submarines (SSGs) and surface 
ships well before the appearance of the Polaris system. As 
technologies permitted, sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) 
were developed and married to submarines. The Soviet Union first 
fired a ballistic missile from a diesel-electric submarine (SSB) 
in 1955. Later both superpowers developed nuclear-powered 
ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). The Soviet Union also 
built nuclear-powered guided missile submarines (SSGNs) capable 
of carrying SLCMs that can be used against shore targets. 

As SLBM ranges improved, submarines did not have to sail 
close to an enemy's shorelines in order to threaten his homeland. 
Extremely short-ranged SLCMs were discarded by the U.S. in favor 
of longer range ballistic missiles. Early Soviet missiles that 
required a submarine to surface to fire were replaced by more 
advanced models that could be launched from under the surface. 



5 



14 



Some Soviet Yankee SSBNs carrying SS-N-6 and SSGNs have, however, 
continued their pattern of patrolling off the shores of Western 
nations . 

The SS-N-8 Sawfly missile, first deployed in 1972, gave the 
USSR the unilateral advantage of being able to deploy other SSBNs 
close to its own shoreline and still threaten targets in North 
America. These protected home areas have been termed "bastions" 
by Western analysts. There is ample literature, hardware, and 
exercise evidence to support the contention that this was the 
preferred method of Soviet deployment for the bulk of its navy in 
the past and recent present. 1 

An interesting asymmetry developed between Western and 
Soviet navies. The U.S., French, and Royal Navies retained the 
shorter range Polaris, Poseidon, M-20 and M-4 missiles and relied 
on stealth to provide security for their SSBNs on patrol. The 
Soviet Navy, on the other hand, deployed its newer submarines in 
bastions with a protective array of air and sea power and 
favorable geography to ensure that its forces retained their 
"combat stability" (mission capability) . 

All nuclear-capable nations could feel relatively secure 
that no matter what happened during the conventional phase of 
war, or despite the use of some of one's own missiles, a 
"sufficient" amount of nuclear forces would remain at sea to 
credibly threaten an enemy. No nation would likely be forced 
into a position that it felt its sea-based nuclear force should 



6 



be used early in a war because it might be lost due to combat 
actions taken against it. 

Some analysts in the West assumed that each of the two major 
superpowers would withhold some or most of its SLBMs from any 
first strike to constitute a nuclear reserve force. In an era of 
SALT and detente, they then mirror-imaged doctrine and strategy 
and assumed that the Soviet SS-N-8 missile was developed for such 
a reserve role. 

Although this makes interesting discussion, there is no 
direct evidence in Soviet military or naval literature that 
supports such a strategy for withholding once a war enters its 
nuclear phase. To the contrary, direct Soviet literature evidence 
is that once a war goes nuclear, it does so on a global and 
massive basis. There is some latent evidence to support 
withholding but it is extrapolated from reading between the 
lines. Such evidence is extremely thin and inconclusive. 

There are obvious benefits to withholding a secure reserve 
force even after a nuclear war starts. These primarily involve 
the potential benefits for securing better terms during the 
termination phase of a war by retaining a credible nuclear threat 
that can perform militarily significant missions against one’s 
opponent. Hence nations have been and are still interested in 
refining the capabilities of their SLBMs and SLCMs to allow 
greater direct military utility; e.g. hard-target kill, rather 
than only threaten non-precision targets. 



7 



Also, it is doubtful that the Soviet military could ever 
allow one service, especially the fifth-ranked navy, to be "the" 
decisive branch of combat arms in the event of war. As is well 
known, Soviet military strategy is a combined arms approach to 
warfare in which all major branches are given a role in 
influencing the "outcome" of the war. There simply is no direct 
evidence in Soviet military literature that either the Navy or 
sea-based nuclear systems will be the force that directly 
influences the outcome of a future war. Allowing the Navy to 
constitute the only nuclear reserve is decidedly non-Russian. 

Another problem with the theory of withholding sea-based 
missiles from a nuclear first strike is that older SLBMs and 
shorter-range SLCMs deployed off the coasts of enemy nations can 
perform unique damage limitation missions. For example, Soviet 
SS-N-6 Serb missiles aboard Yankee submarines are capable of 
striking U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC) bases much more quickly 
than can intercontinental range land-based ballistic missiles 
(ICBMs) launched from the USSR itself or SLBMs from protected 
bastions. Similarly, sea-based systems deployed in the rear 
oceanic areas of Europe may allow the Soviets to circumvent the 
loss of SS-20 Saber missiles dismantled as part of the new INF 
Treaty. 

Soviet submarines on patrol off the coasts of Europe, Japan, 
and North America are also much more vulnerable to ASW operations 
during the conventional phase of war. For example, Soviet SS-N-5 
Sark missiles found on Golf-II diesel-electric submarines 
homeported in the Baltic and Soviet Far East are probably very 



8 



susceptible to ASW actions, including actions by nations outside 
the NATO alliance. For reasons then of military utility and lack 
of survivability, it is very likely that some sea-based systems 
have a role in a first nuclear strike. 

If these shorter-range sea-based systems were to be a part 
of a secure nuclear reserve, then the Soviets should have 
withdrawn them to more protected home waters where they could be 
withheld to present a subsequent escalatory threat if surge 
deployed close to enemy shores. Instead, by keeping them in 
relatively exposed forward areas, we must conclude that they are 
positioned to be used quickly as part of a combined arms attack 
in the event of war, or that the Soviets have a high regard for 
their survivability. It could also mean that they serve only a 
pre-war political role and are either expendable in time of 
combat or would be repositioned. 

Another theory that has been suggested is that the USSR 

intends to hide these units in the territorial and perhaps inland 

2 

waters of neutral nations. This option would certainly present 
both unique challenges to the militaries of such nations as well 
as to NATO. What should be the response of the allies, for 
example, if they detected Soviet SSBs in neutral waters? 

With a large portion of Western SSBNs deployed in the deep 
ocean expanse and the possibility that some or even most of these 
carry warheads for the nuclear reserve force, Soviet military 
theoreticians and spokesmen have openly stated that destruction 
of enemy sea-based nuclear assets is a strategic goal for the 



9 



Soviet military and a main mission of the Soviet navy in the 

3 

event of a future war. Such statements when coupled with 
aggressive ASW programs and other actions taken to reduce 
homeland vulnerability to attack further , reinforce the 
contention that the USSR has never accepted "mutual" assured 
destruction. Fortunately for the West, Soviet strategic ASW 
capabilities have never matched their aspirations. 

Simply put, to the Soviet military planner it is better to 
strike an enemy submarine during the conventional phase of a war 
and destroy perhaps hundreds of warheads before they launch than 
to allow that threat to exist. For example, the destruction of 
even one Ohio class SSBN armed with Trident C-4 missiles could 
perhaps result in the loss of 192 allied nuclear warheads. 
Performing this type of damage limitation mission is totally in 
conformance with Soviet military strategy for deterrence. 

The Soviet theory is that having the capability to alter the 
correlation of forces by sinking Western strategic missile- 
carrying submarines on the high seas during the conventional 
phase of a war will both deter nuclear escalation by NATO in the 
event of war and also limit damage to the Soviet homeland if the 
war goes nuclear anyway. There is no literature evidence 
demonstrating Soviet fear that nuclear escalation might result 
from such operations; i.e. they apparently do not anticipate that 
the allies would initiate nuclear warfare over the loss of 
strategic missile-carrying submarines during the conventional 
phase of a war. 



10 



NATO and U.S. declaratory maritime strategies now also 

include the possibility of offensive action against Soviet 

strategic missile-carrying submarines during the conventional 

4 

phase of war. The reasons are essentially the same as those 
espoused by the Soviets. A strong and additional side benefit to 
the Allies is that if the Soviets are tied up defending their 
bastions, then only minimal residual forces may be available for 
open-ocean strikes against vital allied sea-lines of 
communication ( SLOCs ) . 

Actually attacking a missile-carrying submarine is a far 
more difficult task than is generally given credit by civilian 
analysts and academics unfamiliar with salt water ASW operations. 
One must assume, however, that submarines deployed near an 
enemy's antisubmarine forces are more likely to be destroyed than 
those who try to avoid them. Forward-based submarines are prime 
targets for enemy navies since they represent not only a nuclear 
threat but also could provide vital attack assessment and other 
intelligence information and because they have a conventional 
torpedo and missile capability. Additionally, every submarine 
sunk during the initial stages of a war is one less that can be 
re-used if reloaded. 

The West has manipulated the USSR for years with an implicit 
threat of conventional attack against their homeland in the event 
of a future war. One can only speculate on the effect of a few 
conventional SLCMs on the populations of Japan, France, the U.K. 
or the U.S. even if such weapons were employed only against 
military targets in the coastal regions. It seems that a prudent 



11 



planning assumption one should make before a war is that any 
enemy submarine found off one's shores is a potential threat that 
should be neutralized in the event of armed conflict with that 
enemy nation. Whether it carries nuclear or conventional 
munitions is irrelevant. 

Attacking enemy submarines in actively defended bastions 
will likely be extremely difficult and will doubtless involve a 
high cost. If the benefits of such actions, however, are 
substantial, then one must assess the commensurability of 
benefits to costs. For example, if France or the United Kingdom 
took every possible precaution to ensure survivability of their 
sea-based nuclear forces during the conventional phase of a war, 
but the Soviets were able to destroy them anyway, then France or 
the U.K. might not have any nuclear "cards" to play during war 
termination and therefore might not participate. Such a major 
political result might be worth the cost of a few, albeit high 
cost, Soviet ASW units. 

One of the major issues now being raised is that with 
improvements in technology, the Soviets might elect to send the 
majority of their strategic missile-carrying submarines into the 
deep oceans instead of keeping them in bastions. Such action 
would circumvent the problem of having their fleet tied up on 
defense rather than on offensive operations against the West. 
Whether survivability of Soviet strategic missile-carrying 
submarines would be enhanced by such deployments is dependent 
upon advanced submarine and ASW technologies and the penchant for 
control of nuclear weapons exercised by the Kremlin. It would be 



12 



more Russian to retain nuclear weapons close to home in bastions 
than it would to allow them to hide independently in the open 
ocean. 

Another option is to deploy submarines in restricted waters 
such that for geographic, military, political, and legal reasons, 
other nations would find it more difficult to actually conduct 
offensive ASW operations. Tom Clancy raised such a possibility 
in his fictional Red Storm Rising when Soviet SSBNs deployed in 
the White Sea. 

Choosing to achieve survivability of a reserve force by 
stealth alone has proven successful for the West now for some 
thirty years. Deploying submarines in waters such as the White 
Sea would offer the Soviet Union the opportunity to hide 
submarines beyond narrow straits whose access is relatively easy 
to control. This type of deployment might make up for 
deficiencies in submarine and ASW technology. 

Additional political and legal implications would certainly 
impact on Western decision-making, e.g. should the allies conduct 
naval operations in enemy home waters during conventional war? 
Or during a limited war when the action thus far is confined to a 
distant theater? 

Some of these restricted waters are claimed by the USSR as 
either closed seas, historic bays or seas, or internal waters. 
The Sea of Okhotsk is a case in point, having been referred to in 
the past as a "closed sea" by Soviet jurists. It has also been 
acknowledged as an area for Soviet SSBN deployments. The similar 



13 



principle of the historic bay is recognized in the West with 
Britain's Bristol Channel, Canada's Hudson Bay and Strait, and 
the U.S. Chesapeake Bay as examples. 

Whether or not the Sea of Okhotsk is actually a "closed 
sea," or what the legal significance is of such statements, it is 
clear that the Soviets attach more importance to areas of the 
seas that are close to its shores than they do the high seas. 
They may be likely to react to attacks within such areas in a 
different manner than attacks on forward deployed units. 
Similarly, Canada or the U.K. would probably react more strongly 
to attacks conducted on shipping in the Hudson Bay or Bristol 
Channel. In other words, horizontal escalation from warfare 
ashore to war at sea may have a number of "rungs" in that ladder. 

Similarly, the White Sea is claimed as internal waters by 
the USSR. While other nations have not accepted the exact line 
behind which the White Sea is internal waters, there is a certain 
portion of the White Sea that clearly is internal waters and not 
part of the territorial sea. Internal waters are afforded a 
special legal status as the legal equivalent of land; i.e. ships 
from other nations do not have the right of innocent passage 
through them in time of peace. Ships do have certain rights of 
innocent passage in the territorial sea. 

During wartime, such as during the Vietnam war, nations 
often find it more difficult to authorize even conventional 
offensive military operations within an enemy's or a neutral 
nation's internal waters just as they take a significant step 



14 



when they attack targets on or invade a nation's land mass. Are 
there other areas of the world that nations might want to use to 
hide their strategic missile-carrying submarines? If sea-based 
nuclear forces primarily constitute a nuclear reserve, there is 
no requirement that they routinely patrol within missile range of 
their assigned targets. 

These geographic, military, political, and legal 
ramifications serve to illustrate the ratchet effect possible 
through horizontal escalation at sea. Nations may be expected to 
react differently if one of their naval or merchant ships is 
attacked well out on the high seas, closer to their own shores, 
within the territorial seas, or within internal waters 
themselves. Simply imagine the difference if the nations of the 
world were losing tankers and other ships within sight of their 
own shores rather than in the on-going limited war in the Persian 
Gulf. 



Additional political and legal aspects of strategic ASW have 
been raised with suggestions that arms controls regulate such 
potential operations. Proposals to restrict deployments of 
strategic missile-carrying submarines and parallel limitations on 
ASW have been around since the Brezhnev era. Even former U.S. 
President Jimmy Carter favored such an approach. More recently, 
these ideas have been once again raised in the Western literature 
and suggested by Soviet Communist Party Secretary Mikhail 
Gorbachev in his October 1987 speech in Murmansk. 



15 



Most of these proposals would attempt to create "safe" zones 
for the deployment of strategic missile-carrying submarines. All 
ASW operations would be restricted within them. Other proposals 
include limits on strategic ASW technological development. Even 
if one could verify compliance with such measures, the net effect 
would be more beneficial for the Soviet Union than for the West. 

Simply put, the Soviets would be allowed to restrict Western 
naval operations in vast areas of the high seas while, at the 
same time, the West would be required to identify the areas of 
the ocean in which its strategic missile-carrying submarines 
deploy. The latter would be a major contribution to the solution 
of the Soviets' ASW search problem. 

If we try to think through such a possible arms control 
agreement, verification problems abound. For example, if the 
West could demonstrate that the Soviet Union was not in 
compliance with the agreement, but could only do so by exposing 
sophisticated technical or intelligence capabilities, then might 
it also be likely that someone would argue against exposing the 
violation at all? 

Attempting to regulate strategic ASW technology without 
similar restrictions on operational or tactical ASW is obviously 
not practical nor in the allies' best interests. If successful 
execution of NATO defense strategy continues to depend upon the 
reinforcement/resupply of Europe from North America in the event 
of conventional war, then the allies will continue to require 
advanced ASW techniques to get the convoys through. The Warsaw 



16 



Pact can fight in Europe without reliance on vulnerable SLOCs and 
might therefore be in a better position to absorb ASW technology 
restrictions. The West cannot afford to gamble on surrendering 
its lead in ASW technology by agreeing to any restrictions in a 
future arms control regime. 

Given all of the major policy issues surrounding the 
potential withholding of sea-launched missiles in the event of a 
war and the possibility of conducting strategic antisubmarine 
warfare, what should Western policy be for procuring new weapons 
systems and for war planning? Although one might like to be 
prepared for all possible threats, governments are more likely to 
prepare only for "more likely" or even "best" case assessments 
than they are against the "worst" case. The exception has been 
that in the U.S., every Secretary of Defense since Robert 
McNamara has openly stated that nuclear forces should be sized to 
retailiate even in the face of a first strike. 

Thus procuring forces that can perform defensive strategic 
ASW in high threat environments seems to be a good idea even if 
that capability is expensive. If deterrence were to fail, such 
forces could actually do something that is militarily 
significant. Attacking enemy strategic missile-carrying 
submarines during the conventional phase of a war is exactly what 
the Soviets say they will do, and it is matched by the evidence 
that they are not only developing such forces, but also give 
research and development in this area a high priority. 



17 



Having such an ASW capability does not necessarily undermine 
deterrence but rather parallels it by reinforcing the notion that 
deterrence is best served by a credible capability to prevent an 
enemy from achieving his own war aims. We should always 
remember that it is the Soviets that the West wants to deter and 
to do so means taking steps that they respect. Having a credible 
capability to limit damage to one ' s homeland in the event of war 
is a principle that the Soviets obviously respect. 

It follows that any attempt to regulate deployments of 
strategic missile-carrying submarines or strategic ASW in the 
absence of a comprehensive nuclear and conventional arms 
limitation regime is a bad idea. The price to be paid by the 
West would include probably less security for its own sea-based 
nuclear forces, less opportunity to be prepared for critical 
battles in the event of war, and significantly reduced 
opportunities for the gathering of intelligence (a part of our 
national technical means of verification of existing arms control 
agreements ) . 

Attempts to regulate ASW technology would only undermine our 
operational and tactical needs such as convoy and battle group 
defense. Restrictions on strategic ASW operations in wartime 
also is a bad idea since it would deny navies the opportunity to 
conduct otherwise legitimate and lawful military operations. 

In the event of a war, attacking an enemy force before he 
attacks you is sound militarily. Attacking enemy nuclear capable 
forces may also make good military sense. The numbers of 



18 



strategic missile-carrying submarines of all types as well as 
air-breathing and land-based weapons systems in the Soviet 
inventory make it unlikely that the West could actually ever 
attrite sufficient numbers to deplete the Soviet strategic 
nuclear reserve in its totality.^ The loss of a submarine at sea 
is not likely to "require" a nation's political leadership to 
seek overwhelming retribution through nuclear escalation. 

On the other hand, the opportunity to reduce large numbers 
of enemy nuclear forces in the event of war is one that should be 
taken. Soviet SSBNs, SSBs, SSGNs, and SSGs should not be placed 
on a list of targets that require authorization to attack once 
armed conflict commences. The Soviets will attempt to attack 
our forces; we should attack theirs. Every submarine destroyed 
will reduce the number of warheads whose use could be threatened 
by the Soviet Union during the conventional phase, or would be 
used in actual nuclear combat operations, or could be 
threatened/used during the termination phase of a future war. 

Deterrence through both active and passive defense is a 
concept with which navies should be very comfortable. Armor has 
been added to men of war as part of damage control systems. 
Active anti-aircraft defenses attempt to shoot down missiles and 
aircraft before they strike the ship. Aircraft have extended the 
ASW protection envelope of convoys and battle groups. Strikes 
against enemy airfields are seen as an integral part of fleet air 
defense. 



19 



Attacking the enemy's main battle fleet is naval tradition 
and a principle of operational naval warfare since Alfred Thayer 
Mahan. Even Karl Von Klausewitz claimed that to decide a war, 
nations must attack centers of gravity. Developing the forces 
that can sail into the teeth of the enemy is expensive but if 
this serves deterrence, no price is too great. 

It is not likely that any nation will make the political 
decision to escalate to nuclear warfare due to actions that are 
taken against its fleet at sea, even if the units damaged or sunk 
are strategic nuclear delivery vehicles. No matter how much we 
talk before war about the need for arms control and reductions in 
military expenditures, during a war that same political 
leadership will demand from its military that actions be taken 
that will result in as favorable a set of terms of war 
termination as can be achieved. Altering the nuclear correlation 
of forces by attacking an enemy's submarines is the type of step 
that can help. Defense of one's homeland is a morally acceptable 
position that is one of the primary responsibilities of 
government. 



20 



NOTES 



1 . See my Soviet Naval Forces and Nuclear Warfare: Weapons L 
Employment , and Policy , Boulder, CO. and London, Westview Press, 
1986. 

2. Roger W. Barnett, "Soviet Strategic Reserves and the Soviet 
Navy," in The Soviet Union: What Lies Ahead, Washington, D.C.: 
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1985, p. 601. 

3. Found extensively in writings and speeches of the 1960s, e.g. 
Marshal of the Soviet Union V.D. Sokolovskiy, Military Strategy , 
1962; and reinforced over the years by Admiral of the Soviet 
Union S.G. Gorshkov, e.g. "Certain Questions Concerning the 
Development of Naval Art," Morskoy Sbornik , No. 12, 1974, and The 
Sea Power of the State. 



4. Admiral James D. Watkins, "The Maritime Strategy," Supplement 
to the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings , January 1986. See also 
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization: Facts and Figures , 
Brussels: NATO Information Service, 1981, p. 144. 

5. This view is shared by the authors of two recent studies. 
See Tom Stefanick Strategic Antisubmarine Warfare and Naval 
Strategy , Lexington, MA and Toronto: Lexington Books, 1987, pp. 
118-120? and Donald C. Daniel Anti-submarine Warfare and 
Superpower Strategic Stability, Urbana and Chicago, IL: 
University of Illinois Press, 1986, p. 151. 



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