The objectives expressed in the CFE Mandate include the establishment of a secure and stable balance of conventional forces at lower levels, the elimination of disparities prejudicial to stability and security, and, as a matter of priority, the elimination of the capability for launching surprise attack and for initiating large- scale offensive action1.
The objective of the Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures, simply stated, is improvement of inspection, observation, and notification of military activities in Europe.2 These objectives (from both negotiations) came from Western viewpoints and were eventually accepted by the East.
NATO's strategy of Flexible Response (MC 14/3) calls for the Alliance to respond flexibly to various levels of Pact aggression while maintaining a forward defense of NATO territories. The intent is to defend the Alliance with conventional means until, at a point at which NATO's defense could no longer guarantee success, NATO would elect to initiate deliberate nuclear escalation. Through such escalation, NATO would attempt to redress the conventional imbalance, seize the initiative in order to regain the lost territory, and halt the war on terms acceptable to NATO. At the heart of Flexible Response is the lack of political and economic will of NATO members to match the WP, tank for tank, and thus resort early to cheaper nuclear forces.
The force imbalance and secrecy of Soviet military activities do not adequately explain in depth U.S. and NATO policies concerning conventional arms control. To provide that depth we will briefly describe the principles involved in conventional arms control, and then we will discuss the strategic, operational, and tactical objectives of the West.