Flexible response


Flexible response

.

History

The New Look policy, though initially useful, quickly became obsolete with the introduction of inter-continental delivery systems that undermined the credibility of a deterrence threat. The cornerstone of U.S. and European defense strategy was then threatened as the U.S. could no longer rely on nuclear threats to provide security for it and its allies.

John F. Kennedy won the presidency by touting that the Republican Party had allowed the U.S. to fall behind the Soviets into a Missile gap. Upon entering office Kennedy cited to Congress General Maxwell Taylor's book "The Uncertain Trumpet" for its conclusion that massive retaliation left the U.S. with only two choices: defeat on the ground or the resort to the use of nuclear weapons. Technology had improved since massive retaliation was adopted. Improvements in communication and transportation meant U.S. forces could be deployed more effectively, quickly, and more flexible than before. Advisers persuaded Kennedy that having multiple options would allow the president to apply the appropriate amount of force at the right place without risking escalation or losing alternatives. This would improve credibility for deterrence as the U.S. would now have low-intensity options and therefore would be more likely to use them, rather than massive retaliation's all-or-nothing options.

Flexible Response was implemented to develop several options across the spectrum of warfare, other than the nuclear option, for quickly dealing with enemy aggression. In addition, the survivability of the retaliatory capability was stressed, leading to the diversification of the strategic force, development of the strategic triad (ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers), and half the Strategic Air Command force being put on permanent alert status.

The Kennedy doctrine did not include the ability to fight nuclear wars because of the idea that it would undermine deterrence, was technologically unworkable, would fuel the arms race, and was not politically feasible.

Importance was also placed on counterinsurgency and the development of unconventional military forces, unconventional tactics, and “civic action” programs.

tages in the Flexible Response

A staged plan was devised to counter any Soviet military action other than a first strike. It consisted of three stages:

"Direct defense": In case of a conventional Soviet attack (meaning non-nuclear or this would be considered a first strike) initial efforts would be to try and stop the Soviet advance with conventional weapons. This meant that the foreseen Soviet attack on West-Germany would be tried to be forced to a halt by NATO's European forces, Allied Command Europe.

"Deliberate Escalation": This phase was entered when conventional NATO forces were succumbing under the Soviet attack. This was actually expected as intelligence indicated Soviet divisions outnumbered NATO divisions by far. In this phase NATO forces would switch to a limited use of nuclear weapons, such as recently developed tactical nuclear weapons (like nuclear artillery).

"General Nuclear Response": This was the last phase or stage which more or less corresponded to the mutual assured destruction scenario, meaning the total nuclear attack on the Communist world. If the Soviets had not already done so, this would make them switch to all-out attack as well.

Development of the strategic triad

By 1960, the United States had three means of strategic forces: ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers. This triad made it possible for the United States to impose unacceptable damage to the Soviet Union with one strategic force independent of the other two forces. These different forces had their advantages and disadvantages. Bombers could deliver large payloads and strike with great accuracy, but were slow, vulnerable while on the ground, and could be shot down. ICBMs are safe in their underground silos while on the ground, but were less accurate than bombers and could not be called back when launched. Submarines were least vulnerable but were also least accurate and communication could be poor at times. Each of these forces provided the United States with different options to tailor their response to the situation.

Two-and-a-half war doctrine

Part of Flexible Response was the strategy of being able to fight over the entire spectrum of violence by developing diverse forces for different types of warfare. This meant being able to fight multiple wars simultaneously; specifically, the US should have the peacetime capability to fight two large regional wars and a small brushfire war at the same time. The consequence of this was to increase recruiting, investment, and research for the US force posture.

Assured Destruction

The strategic doctrine for Kennedy’s Flexible Response was Assured Destruction. Flexible response made second strike capability its guiding principle of deterrence. In the event of Soviet nuclear aggression, the Soviets would know that enough U.S. nuclear capability would survive their strike to destroy their cities and industry. Robert McNamara argued for the definition of what was “unacceptable” to the enemy as the destruction of 50% of industry and 25% of the population. Deterrence depended on influence to show that violence and aggression did not pay, and being explicit about the level of destruction the US was willing to inflict on the enemy was one way to illustrate this point. Assured Destruction relied on deterrence by punishment, precision, and credibility.

No-Cities doctrine

Defense Secretary McNamara sought to limit damage to the U.S. by developing a separate strategy for offense and defense. The offensive strategy was one of Counterforce, seeking to destroy Soviet military installations and hardware and thus disable this hardware before it could be used. In a 1962 speech to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, McNamara announced that the U.S. would refrain from striking Countervalue targets (cities) early in nuclear war, reserving such force later in war should the Soviets not show similar restraint. This would not only induce the Soviets to spare American cities, but would secure the United States bargaining advantage by holding hostage something that the Soviets might want to keep.

The defensive strategy involved developing a system to intercept incoming Soviet missiles. Bombers could be easily shot down, but missiles still remained a credible threat. The United States began developing anti-ballistic missile program, modifying its Nike missiles to intercept incoming missiles. Ultimately this program was abandoned by the adoption of the anti-ballistic missile treaty.

External links

* [http://www.army.mil/cmh/books/Lineage/M-F/ Army Center for Military History Chapter on Flexible Response]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/report/1986/LLE.htm NATO's theory of flexible response]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Flexible Response — (dt. »flexible Erwiderung«) ist eine NATO Nuklearstrategie gegenüber dem Warschauer Pakt, die in Grundzügen bereits 1959 von US General Maxwell D. Taylor als Gegenmodell zu Präsident Dwight D. Eisenhowers Konzept des New Look und der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Flexible Response — Fle|xi|ble Re|sponse auch: Fle|xib|le Res|ponse 〈[ flɛ̣ksıbl rıspɔ̣nz] f.; ; unz.; Mil.〉 Abwehrstrategie der NATO, die bei feindlichen Aggressionen nichtberechenbare Reaktionen vorsieht [engl., „flexible Antwort“] * * * Fle|xi|ble Re|s|ponse [… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Flexible Response — Fle|xi|ble Res|ponse [ flɛksəbl ris pɔns] die; <aus engl. flexible response »flexible Reaktion«> (in der strategischen Planung der NATO) das Sich offen Halten verschiedener, der jeweiligen Situation angepasster Möglichkeiten des Reagierens… …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • flexible response — The capability of military forces for effective reaction to any enemy threat or attack with actions appropriate and adaptable to the circumstances existing …   Military dictionary

  • Flexible — Things known as Flexible include:*Flexible electronics *Flexible response *Flexible mold *Flexible employment *Flexible fuel vehicle *Flexible rake receiver *Flexible spending account *Flexible single master operation *Flexible baton round… …   Wikipedia

  • Flexible product development — is the ability to make changes in the product being developed or in how it is developed, even relatively late in development, without being too disruptive. Consequently, the later one can make changes, the more flexible the process is, and the… …   Wikipedia

  • Flexible single master operation — Flexible Single Master Operations (FSMO, F is sometimes floating ; pronounced Fiz mo), or just single master operation or operations master, is a feature of Microsoft s Active Directory (AD).[1] As of 2005, the term FSMO has been deprecated… …   Wikipedia

  • Flexible-fuel vehicle — For other types of vehicles, see Alternative fuel vehicle and Hybrid vehicle. The Ford Model T was the first commercial flex fuel vehicle. The engine was capable of running on gasoline or ethanol, or a mix of both. A flexible fuel vehicle (FFV)… …   Wikipedia

  • Flexible manufacturing system — A typical FMS system A flexible manufacturing system (FMS) is a manufacturing system in which there is some amount of flexibility that allows the system to react in the case of changes, whether predicted or unpredicted. This flexibility is… …   Wikipedia

  • Response spectrum — A response spectrum is simply a plot of the peak or steady state response (displacement, velocity or acceleration) of a series of oscillators of varying natural frequency, that are forced into motion by the same base vibration or shock. The… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.