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Nuclear SWMs Add to Deterrence and Security IRecent months have witnessed a spate of articles outlining the ”problems” that sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) present for arms control in general and START in particular. These articles have focused almost exclusively on the admittedly tremendous difficulties of verifymg numerical limits on such missiles. Despairing of any way to verify such limits, some have gone so far as to propose a complete ban on sea-launched cruise missiles, a ban enforced, if necessary, by a total ban on all tactical nuclear weapons on U.S.and Soviet navy warships. Those who decry SLCMs because of their alleged arms control problems have their frame of reference wrong. They have forgotten that arms control is not the ultimate goal. National security is. A r m s control is only one of several tools to be used in constructing a secure and stable world. Seen from the perspective of national security, sea-launched cruise missiles are not part of the problem-they are part of the solution. The term ”sea-launched cruise missile” means different things to different people, for these are exceptionally versatile weapons. The United States deploys nuclear-armed land-attack missiles, conventionally armed land-attack missiles, and conventionallyarmed antiship missiles. The Soviets deploy both nuclear and conventionally armed antiship missiles, and are developing and deploying two different nuclear-armed missiles for land attack. The importance of conventional variants of sea-launched cruise missiles to United States military strategy is widely accepted by U.S.defense experts.*There is universal agreement within the professional military and the administration that these important conventional weapons must not be restricted as a result of a START agreement. Indeed, much of the verification discussion has focused on how to limit nuclear-armed cruise missiles without inhibiting essential conventional programs. The strong Congressional interest expressed during the recent INF ratification debate in ensuring that convenLinton Brooks Linton Brooks is a Navy Captain now serving as Director of Arms Control on the Nationnl Security Council staff. 1. For an explanationof this importance,see the authoritative statementby Vice Admiral Henry C. Mustin elsewhere in this issue. International Security, Winter 1988/89(Vol. 13,No.3) 8 1988 by the President and Fellows of HarvardCollege and of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 169 International Security 13:3 I 170 tional SLCMs were not captured under START illustrates how universally recognized the advantages of these weapons are. The importance of nuclear land-attack cruise missiles has been less widely documented. Indeed, supporters of protecting conventional cruise missiles in START sometimes act as though they would be perfectly willing to eliminate nuclear variants of such missiles if they could do so without inhibiting our conventional capability. Once again, the frame of reference is wrong. If anything, nuclear land-attack cruise missiles are more important to deterrence and to national security than are their conventional cousins. The United States recognized this importance in the 1970s by establishing the TOMAHAWK cruise missile program. The nuclear land-attack variant of TOMAHAWK (called T L M N , for Tomahawk Land-Attack Missile/Nuclear) was initially deployed in 1984. Unlike the Soviets, who tend to concentrate. their land-attack forces, placing a large number of cruise missiles on a few dedicated platforms, the U.S. program involves dispersing the capability throughout the fleet. Ultimately about 100 submarines and about 100 surface ships will be capable of carrying T L M N . While the United States considers the nuclear land-attack SLCM as primarily a non-strategic weapon, it has important strategic capabilities, capabilities acknowledged when the Reagan administration chose to include the weapon in the President’s Strategic Modernization Program, announced in the fall of 1981. Nuclear land-attack cruise missiles strengthen the U.S.nuclear deterrent in several ways: Complicating the Soviet Defense Problem. Deterrence rests on the ability to convince an adversary that he cannot gain his objectives through force and that the penalty for trying will be unacceptably high. Deterrenceis enhanced when an adversary is presented with both risk and uncertainty. What can be calculated and predicted may be discounted. Sea-based systems, able to attack a wide spectrum of targets from a large number...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1531-4804
Print ISSN
0162-2889
Pages
pp. 169-174
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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