Antitactical Missile Defense and NATO Strategy
The true significance for NATO of antitactical missile (ATM) defense lies in the growing threat to NATO strategy from Soviet nuclear, chemical and conventionally armed ballistic and cruise missiles. This chapter will examine why Soviet short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) and cruise missiles pose a serious threat to NATO strategy, and how ATM can help counter this increasingly dangerous Soviet threat. The flip side of the coin--how Soviet missile defenses could impact on NATO strategy--will also be examined.
NATO's strategy of flexible response (MC 14/3) comes under criticism from time to time, usually as a result of proposed changes to NATO's force structure such as the decision to first deploy, then remove, its INF missile forces. Criticism of flexible response usually falls into two broad categories: concern over the nature of the strategy itself, and concerns relating to the role of nuclear forces within the strategy. Those who are concerned about the fundamental nature of the strategy wonder whether it remains viable in the context of today's strategic environment, which is characterized by Soviet conventional and nuclear superiority. Some veteran observers of NATO wonder if the strategy was ever militarily credible given that it involved "an adequate conventional defense backed by an incredible nuclear guarantee.''1 Other analysts, while recognizing the inherent contradictions and problems with flexible response, recognize that its strength lies in its contribution to Alliance solidarity. As Paul Buteux has noted, flexible response is akin to an ideology for NATO "in the sense that it serves to give shape and substance to Alliance as opposed to individual interests.''2
Geographical asymmetries and a wide diversity in capabilities and vulnerabilities account for much of the ambiguity in NATO's strategic doctrine. The decision to adopt MC 14/3 was based on a consensus that reflected the views