Editorial on the missile gap

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Editorial on the missile gap - them-sevles -widely nation- a re-generation...
them-sevles -widely nation- a re-generation Matter of Fact By Joseph Alsop Paris These words are written in Paris because this reporter is again on his way to tne troub led Middle East. The diplomats here are anxiously arguing about the meaning of Nikita Khrushchev's recent open threat to vulnerable, vital West Berlin. 4ospb Aisop Yet the storm signals abroad are very much less significant that the process go ing on in Washington the President's painful, personal effort to prepare next year's defense budget. Now is liter ally the last chance (and it is vprv late bv now) to deal with the problem of the oncoming missile gap. Hence, it seems worth trying to show how the missle gap will affect the whole theory of Western defense. Verv few persons outside the sacred circle of those having clearance realize how enormously American and Western defense theory has al-changed in the Eisen hower years. To begin with, any idea of maintaining true offensive carjability has long since been abandoned by the Eisenhower policy-makers. YOU have no offensive capability, very obviously, if you dare not strike the first blow. In an exchange of nu clear weapons, no nation can, even think about striking the first blow without fuU con fidence of meeting one central requirement. The first blow must be heavy enough to prevent or cripple the return blow. Otherwise, the price of striking the first blow will be the immediate destruction of the nation. When President Eisenhower took office, the American Strategic Air Command stiU had the power to strike the first blow, but Soviet nuclear striking power was already growing fast, and the Eisenhower Administration decided not to make the great effort to maintain the American lead. Hence, SAC lost its true offensive capability rather early on. The Dulles doctrine of "massive retaliation" became massive nonsense not long after it was proclaimed. Secretary Dulles was talking about striking a nuclear first blow in retaliation for non-nuclear aggression. The United States lost the power to retaliate in this manner by 1956, because by then SAC was no longer able to prevent or cripple the Soviet return blow. This did not mean, however, that the Soviets could in turn begin to think about striking a nuclear first blow. Even today, the Soviets are just as unable to prevent or cripple SAC's return blow as SAC is unable to prevent or cripple their return blow. IN THIS precariously bal-lanced' situation, all the actions of each side are limited by the other side's nuclear deterrent. This effect was clearly visible, even in such a strange local conflict as the fight at Quemoy. On the American side, the President at once tore up all his previous "bigger bang for a buck" directives authorizing our armed forces to use tactical nuclear weapons in almost any kind of local mili-tray spat. By the same token, the Soviets clearly held back the Chinese Communists, in order to avoid an uncontrol-able widening of the war. One side was deterred from using tactical nuclear arms. The other side was deterred from' bringing to bear the full weight of its conventional armaments. In both cases, the other side's strategic nuclear deterrent was the great persuader. ! But what will happen when the balance of the nuclear de terrent changes again, during the period of the missile gap that now lies ahead? In order to answer this question coherently, it is first of all necessary to note that your true nuclear deterrent is what the other side thinks will be left over after the first blow. For the other side is certainly not going to be deterred by air planes they count on destroy ing on the ground and bombs they believe will not be deliv ered. V HAVING noted this crucial point, it is then necessary to make a series of subtractions from the existing strengths of the American nu clear deterrent, in order to allow for the progress of Soviet arms. Above all, subtractions must be made be cause the Soviets are expec ted to haye a full panoply of intermediate and intercontin ental - range ballistic missies by the end of 1962 or 1963. Subtraction number one will be required because of the neutralization of the American overseas air bases by Soviet intermediate-range missies. Even in 1962, appoxi-mately three- - quarters of SAC's total striking power will be composed of short- range B-47 aircraft, which are heavily dependent on the overseas bases. When the overesas bases are neutral ized, a very high proportion of the B-47's will simply be come unusable. Very few suit able tankers will be available for B-47's to strike Russian targets from bases on this con tinent; and only these B-47's can be counted on for the re turn blow. " . Subtraction number two will be required because even SAC's long - range bombers, based in the Western hemis phere, will not be immune to Soviet intercontinental missiles. In fact, only the relatively small proportion of B-52's and B-58's that are in the air or on 15-miriute alert can be counted on for the return blow. These two subtractions, taken together, will thus reduce SAC's dependable retaliatory striking poweifcby somewhere between 70 and 85 per cent. , . " FINALLY, a third subtrac--V tion must be made because of the great and continuous improvements of the Soviet air defense system. In the period thaiTlies ahead, the Soviet war planners cannot only expect their first blow to destroy or neutralize a huge part of SAC's over-all striking power. They can also ex pect their air defense to destroy or turn back much of what is left over. Having made this third subtraction, the Soviet war planners will then ask themselves how much damage the American return blow can do. And if the answer to this final question is acceptable, the Krenv lin will then consider that it has full freedom to strike the first blow if this seems desirable. Such is the development that has to be guarded against, The prospect raises a whole series of pressing questions, now being debated in the Pen tagon's recesses which will be examined in a further re port. (c) 1958 New York Herald Tribune Inc. Phoenix Man Enters Plea of Innocent Robert Mix, Phoenix, Fri day pleaded innocent to charges in district court of assault and battery. His trial has been set for Jan. 21. He was released on $500 bail. Jackson county sheriffs officers said they received a call from state police about 12:45 a.m. Friday stating that a girl reported to a resident on Pioneer rd. that she had been assaulted. ed passing be of of the in ed to or in . hv ca-below-the-Equator as ,

Clipped from
  1. Medford Mail Tribune,
  2. 16 Nov 1958, Sun,
  3. Page 4

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