WILLIAM T. LEE
25 September 1996
In the May 1996 Naval Institute Proceedings Lt. Gen. Charles G. Cooper' USMC (ret.) related how the Joint Chiefs went to President Johnson in November 1965 with a proposal to bring the Vietnam war to an early and successful conclusion by blockading North Vietnam and bombing Hanoi. After feigning consideration, President Johnson chewed the Chief s out in a manner that would have made an old Marine DI envious, and then threw them out of his office. Vietnam went on to become our longest and most disasterous war as scripted by Secretary of Defense Robert Strange McNamara and his "whiz kids".
Another fateful, but even less well known, decision was made a year later on ballistic missile defense of the United States. Like Vietnam, the consequences are very much with us today.
After Mr. McNamara became Secretary of Defense in 1961 he reportedly said that to deploy, or not to deploy, anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defenses against the Soviet threat would be the most important decision on his watch. In order to assist his expected decision on national ABM defense for the U.S., McNamara funded a number of study groups to analyze the strategic utility of U.S. national ABM defenses.
In 1961 U.S. intelligence began to acquire firm evidence that the Soviets probably had deployed only a few of their first generation ICBMS, the SS-6. The "missile gap" was conclusively negated by aid 1962.
For a number of years after this experience and the Cuba missile crisis, CIA and the majority of the U.S. intelligence community was convinced that the former Soviet Union (FSU) had settled for permanent inferiority in numbers of ICBMs and SLBMS, and certainly would not field the forces required to threaten the survivability of U.S. silo based ICBMs and hardened C3 facilities. However, even a few hundred ICBMs with megaton warheads posed an unprecedented threat to the U.S. population.
Meanwhile U.S intelligence also had detected Soviet ABN programs, but collection was of poor quality and very incomplete. Assessments of the evidence were highly contentious until the late 1960s when CIA forged the dominant view that persists to this day.
The Soviets started construction on a dual purpose anti-aircraft/ missile system (SAM/ABM) at Leningrad in 1960, but the U.S. did not discover it until 1963. By 1964 the U.S. detected construction of a much dif f erent ABM system at Moscow while statements by Soviet leaders and missiles displayed in military parades in Red Square indicated a strong Soviet interest in ABM defenses for the entire country.
The original Leningrad system was soon abandoned and replaced by another system, eventually designated the SA-5, which initially also was assessed to be a probable SAM/ABM. Appearance of the first SA-5 complex under construction near Tallinn in Estonia in 1963 took the U.S. by surprise; its development had not been detected. Indeed the gaps in U.S. intelligence collection on design, development and testing of the SA-5 remain very wide even now.
However, in 1967 CIA decided that the SA-5 was purely an anti- aircraft system, and that the large phased array radars then under construction were for early warning of U.S. ballistic missile attack (and space track), but not for battle management, i.e. did not provide detailed target trajectory tracking data relative to an earth coordinate system to the SA-5 complexes.(1) Despite sporadic dissents by other members of the intelligence community and a major DIA challenge in 1982, CIA repeated its errors for the systems that appeared in the next two decades. CIA's erroneous assessments are the current dogma of U.S. policy makers.
In fact, in the 1950s the Soviets adopted a two track approach: ABM systems dedicated to the def ense of Moscow, the apex of the Communist Party's nomenklatura; and dual purpose SAM/ABM systems-- first the SA-5 then the SA-10--and large phased array battle management radars--first generation "Hen House" followed by second generation "LPAR"--for national ABM defense.(2) Moscow was defended by the best technology the Politburo had, the rest of the nation by the best it could afford.
Like the early FSU systems, the first U.S. ABN system, the NIKE-ZEUS, was derived from the NIKE-AJAX/HERCULES air defense systems widely deployed in the U.S. in the 1950s. In the early years U.S. and FSU ABM programs f ollowed parallel courses in most respects. After 1962, however, the U.S. program took a much different turn, technically and politically.
Beginning in the late 1950s the U.S. investigated basic re-entry physics, decoys, advanced RV designs, and MIRV technologies under the Advanced Ballistic Re-entry System (ABRES) program. Despite being limited essentially to anti-aircraft technology, MIKE-ZEUS performed better than expected in this threat environment. But it shared the basic deficiencies of its PSU counterparts against large attacks, MIRVS, and a number of countermeasures.
Building on the ABRES experience, the NIKE-X system that emerged in 1963-64 was a revolutionary advance in ABM technologies combining a powerful, multi-aperture phased array radar (MAR), an IBM 360 type computer, and a high acceleration missile (SPRINT) for low altitude intercepts. NIKE-X was designed against MIRVs with high performance RVs, while the computer and the SPRINT interceptor took advantage of atmospheric filtering to discriminate precision engineered decoys and other countermeasures. The MAR radar combined battle management, target and interceptor tracking functions and was highly resistant to nuclear effects. The only high confidence way to overcome the NIKE-X system was to exhaust the stock of interceptors with real RVs.
Almost overnight NIKE-X gave the U.S. a 20 year lead in ABM technology. Neither the Moscow ABM system nor the SA-5 SAM/ABM with first generation battle management radars could cope with MIRVS. After the mid-1960s the Soviet lag in microelectronics began to widen and became the single most important technical weakness in the FSU's gigantic military forces. The Soviets proved much more adept at compensating for this weakness in strategic offensive than in strategic defensive forces.
The largest of the ABM study groups commissioned by McNamara in 1961-62 was managed by the Army, Lt. Gen. Cy Betts, then Assistant Chief of Staff for Research and Development. The Army study group consisted of inter-disciplinary teams from the Army's NIKE-X project office, Bell Laboratories, (the prime contractor for NIKE- AJAX/HERCULES/ ZEUS and NIKE-X), Stanford Research Institute (SRI), the Re-Entry Systems Division of the General Electric Co., and the Boeing Co.
The scope of the Army's study group was comprehensive: NIKE-X deployment locations, schedules, and costs; battery and system effectiveness, national strategic objectives, and cost effective- ness in the light of possible/likely increases in both the size and technical sophistication of the FSU's strategic missile arsenal in response to U.S. ABM defenses.
At McNamara's direction, reducing U.S. population fatalities against Soviet threats generated in response to NIKE-X deployment was the measure of NIKE-X effectiveness. As defined by McNamara and his systems analysts, "mutual assured destruction" (HAD) required that both the U.S. and the FSU have the capability to kill 25 to 50 percent (or 50 to 120 million) of each others' population. By 1965 this became their definition of "strategic stability".
Because PSU forces in the national intelligence estimates (NIES) ca. 1964-67 were so puny, computer simulations of NIKE-X national deployments reduced expected damage from a Soviet attack to very low levels. McNamarals analysts then postulated the "greater than expected threat" with HIRVed systems and an arsenal many times larger than the NIE estimates in order to counter proposed NIKE-X
deployments, thus to preserve the PSU's "assured destruction" capability to kill 25-50 percent of the U.S. population ("prompt fatalities").
McNamara's analysts assumed that the "greater than expected threat" would cost the Soviets very little so that the cost-exchange ratio was around 100 to 1 in favor of the offense, i. e. the Soviets could negate each $100 the U.S. spent on ABM to defend U.S. cities with the equivalent of $1 for additional FSU ICBMs to restore the status quo ante in population fatalities.
While at CIA in 1961-62 a colleague and I had predicted that the SS-9, SS-11 and a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) were under development, that deployment of the SS-9 and SS-11 would begin around 1965, and that some 150-200 SS-19 silos and roughly double that number of SS-lis would be deployed by mid 1968.(3)
We predicted the SS-9 as specifically designed to attack MM Launch Control Centers (LCCs), which initially were the "Achilles heel" of the MM system--100 LCCs controlled all 1,000 MM missiles. This forecast was based upon four basic elements: the counterforce priority in Soviet nuclear targeting strategy; modernization of the SS-7 to carry a much larger payload; improvement in accuracy-- "circular error probable" (CEP) to about (0.5 nm or about 925 meters); and testing of nuclear warheads weighing around 10,000 lbs. with a yield of some 20-25 MT.(4) When we put it all together the SS-9 fell out.
The SS-11 was predicted as an ICBM deployed exclusively in silos for survivability and designed to attack soft targets, which required much more modest missile accuracy and smaller warheads. The FOBS would circumvent the two U.S. ballistic missile early warning radars and hit SAC airfields before the bombers could take off.
Although officially submitted to the NIE drafters, these forecasts were not accepted.(5) A special NIE on orbital bombardment systems in 1963 did not even reference the evidence that a FOBs was under development, although it did grant the Soviets the capability to develop such a system.(6)
From 1961-62 until well into the 1970s the NIEs typically depicted Soviet military doctrine and strategy as a mirror image of mutual "assured destruction" (MAD), arguing that the Soviets would not seek parity, much less superiority, in strategic ballistic missile forces. Thus: "We do not believe that the USSR aims at matching the US in numbers of intercontinental delivery vehicles. Recognition that the US would detect and match or overmatch such an effort, together with economic constraints, appears to have ruled out this option. " (7) After leaving CIA in 1964 I became head of the threat team
responsible for forecasting Soviet responses to NIKE-X in SRI's Strategic Studies Center directed by R. B. Foster. In the 1960s that Center provided a unique environment to conduct far more comprehensive, inter-disciplinary analysis than was possible at CIA, to say nothing of other U.S. intelligence agencies.
The SRI threat analysis integrated Soviet nuclear war doctrine and strategy and objectives, long range (10-15 yr.) forecasts of Soviet strategic nuclear forces, and dollar costs of estimated Soviet responses to U.S. deployment of NIKE-X. GE and Boeing provided detailed engineering and cost analysis support. The other teams in the Army's group then integrated the threat analysis with the cost and effectiveness of various levels of NIKE-X deployments around 40 to 50 major U.S. cities.
The SRI threat team's forecasts were designed to bound the limits of FSU capabilities to respond to U.S. NIKE-X deployment over a 15 year period, i.e. to 1980. Given different assumptions about Soviet strategic objectives, we postulated a series of alternative future forces, each constrained by estimates of system development lead times, technologies, and overall budgets. The maximum response threats subject to these constraints exceeded the NIE estimates by more than an order of magnitude, and also went well beyond the limits of the "greater than expected threat".
The Army study group's team ldaders from Bell, SRI, and the Army briefed McNamara twice a year on study progress. At the 1965 mid-year briefing on NIKE-X McNamara temporarily re-directed the study effort from defense against the FSU to a 20 year (1965-85) forecast of the Chinese Communist (PRC) strategic nuclear threat to the U.S., and the cost and effectiveness of deployments to counter it. That threat forecast, completed in under six weeks, concluded that the PRC would give priority to intermediate range missiles to strike targets around Chinals periphery, and was unlikely to field more than 50-100 ballistic missiles that could hit the U.S. by 1985.
When the Army group's team leaders briefed McNamara on this tasking in September 1965, he was highly complimentary of the analysis but deferred a decision on the Army's recommended NIKE-X deployment to counter the PRC threat. McNamara feared that approving light defenses against lesser threats could open the way to ABN defenses designed to counter the FSU threat.
In 1965-66 the SRI threat team reviewed the all source evidence on Soviet targeting strategy in a nuclear war with the U.S. and its NATO Allies. Clearly the Soviets had adopted a nuclear warf ighting strategy, hence limiting damage to the PSU rather than maximizing population fatalities was the primary mission of Soviet strategic missile forces, whether targeted on Europe or the U.S. This meant first priority to counterforce strikes, i.e. destroying the enemy Is delivery systems, nuclear weapons, and comand-control on the
Experience already was bearing out the evidence from literary and other sources. By 1966 deployment of the SS-9 targeted on the MM launch control centers was well underway, as had been predicted 4-5 years earlier. Construction of both SS-9 and SS-11 silos was booming; by 1969 the Soviets would reach and probably surpass the original forecast for mid-68. FOBS development had been redirected but some deployment was likely. However, as a result of redundant internetting of MM silos and a backup airborne launch control system, the LCCs no longer were the "achilles heel" of MM, so building one SS-9 for each MM silo required MIRVed systems.
The Soviets had demonstrated MIRV technology in two space shots in 1964, so I concluded tht the Politburo probably already had approved engineering development of MIRVed systems.(9)
Counterforce systems probably would have first priority but MIRVs also could be designed for soft targets-- military, industrial, transport and communications-- as well in accordance with standard Soviet nuclear targeting strategy. The GE engineers designed the MIRV payloads, beginning with two successor systems to the SS-9, and Boeing did most of the threat cost work along with enginnering studies of silo modification requirements.
The Army groups's last major briefing to McNamara in the Fall of 1966, included three major new findings based on this research and experience. First, contrary to the NIEs, the Soviets had a nuclear war fighting, damage limiting strategy; hence they would target their missiles to destroy as many of our missiles and bombers as possible on the ground in order to reduce the threat to their own air and missile defenses.(10)
Second, contrary to the NIEs, the intelligence evidence indicated that the Politburo had approved engineering development of MIRV systems emphasizing counterforce rather than population targeting. The MIRVed successor to the SS-9 (eventually designated "SS-18") would open the "window of vulnerability" of MM silos (at 300 psi) by 1975, so that few MM could be expected to survive a Soviet attack by 1980. By the same token, allocating most of their ICBMs to counterforce attacks would reduce the number of warheads targeted on U.S. urban areas, hence NIKE-X defenses (and fall out shelters) would reduce U.S. population fatalities to far less than McNamara's "assured destruction" minimum of some 50 million, even against an all out Soviet attack.
Third NIKE-X would be cost-effective against a 15 year projection of the Soviet threat that, in retrospect, closely approximated the strategic ballistic missile arsenal actually deployed through 1980. The advances in NIKE-X technologies, combined with realistic costing of FSU missile responses, had brought the cost-exchange ratios down to approximate parity, ranging from 4:1 in favor of the
offense to 4:1 in favor of the defense depending upon various initial assumptions.(11)
Thus the Army team had demonstrated that NIKE-X would meet both of McNamarals criteria for national deployment: greatly reduced population fatalities against a massive Soviet arsenal; and, cost- effectiveness, but in the context of Soviet nuclear war fighting strategy, not the MAD mirror image of McNamara and the NIES.
At the end of the briefing McNamara accepted the cost-exchange ratios as being no more than 4: 1 in favor of the offense (down from 100:1), which made NIKE-X cost-effective by the standards he had prescribed. (12) However, in an emotional outburst during the briefing McNamara rejected the evidence that the Soviets put first priority on destroying MM silos in order to limit damage to the USSR, saying that as a Soviet Marshal he would target the entire arsenal on U.S. cities. Hence he refused to approve NIKE-X deployment to protect U.S. citizens from the FSU on the grounds of MAD theology--U. S. ABM defenses would be "destabilizing" by forcing the Soviets to respond with a massive MIRVed ICBM buildup.
The Joint Chiefs used a version of that 1966 NIKE-X briefing to ambush McNamara when they met with President Johnson at his ranch in December 1966, persuading Johnson to overrule McNamara and order deployment of U.S. national ABM, although not the defense against the FSU that the Chiefs proposed.(13) While the Chief's briefing is not available, a memo for the record prepared by W. W. Rostow, then President Johnson's national security adviser, is.(14)
According to Mr. Rostow's memo, the Chiefs recommended MIKE-X deployment at 25 cities to save the lives of 30 to 50 million U.S. citizens, if attacked. McMamara opposed the Chiefs' proposal on the grounds of MAD theology and simplistic "action-reaction":
because the Soviets could not calculate, with high confidence, how well they could penetrate NIKE-X whether they attacked population or MM silos, or both;
In sum, the Chiefs argued that no matter how the Soviets reacted to NIKE-X deployments, the U.S. strategic position vs. the FSU would
The immediate upshot of the meeting was that McNamara agreed to deploy some kind of light defense while continuing ABM R&D on thick defenses. McNamara then moved quickly to undo the decision on three fronts: discredit NIKE-X effectiveness in terms of reducing population fatalities; ensure that NIKE-X deployment was watered down so as to be ineffective against a Soviet attack; and negotiate away U.S. ABM under the guise of "arms control".
A team of McNamarals systems analysts, headed by Ivan Selin, went to work on the computer to conjure up the "qreater than the qreater than expected" FSU threat, optimized to exhaust all interceptors in the maximum NIKE-X deployment and still have enouqh RVs to kill 120 million people ("prompt fatalities"). Selin and Co. simply used the computer to generate numbers that matched McNamara's qut feelinqs on the one and only way the Soviets conceivably would react to U.S. ABM. Needless to say, there were no counterforce MIRVs in this threat; all the MM survived to attack the Soviet population.
In an all day meeting in the Pentagon toward the Spring of 1967, Selin's systems analysts could not defend the cost and technology leadtime assumptions underlying the "greater than greater than expected threat", but insisted that it was the basis for McNamarals position that deployment of NIKE-X designed to counter the Soviet
threat would only elicit a Soviet response to restore their "assured destruction" capability to kill 50 percent of the U.S. population, thus escalating the "arms race". (18)
Meanwhile, in a move long prepared, in early 1967 LBJ offered SALT to the Politburo before deploying even a very limited version of NIKE-X.(19) At the close of the meeting at the ranch in December, 1966 he instructed to W. W. Rostow, his national security adviser, to obtain the views of several senior officials on probable Soviet reactions to U.S. ABM deployment. The LBJ Library has provided copies of the memos written by Ambassador Llewellyn E. Thomson, Deputy Undersecretary of State Foy D. Kohler, the acting Secretary of State, Nicholas de Katzenbach, Science Advisor Donald F. Hornig, and Rostow himself. CIA views were also solicited and summarized by Rostow, but the text of the CIA memo, evidently signed by Director Richard Helms, is not available.
All respondents agreed that the SA-5 (then still known as the "Tallinn" system) was just a SAM. None discussed the issue of the battle management radars. Rostow, de Katzenbach, and Helms (CIA) agreed McNamara that the Soviets would react by buying as many missiles as were required to restore their "assured destruction" capability, thus leaving both sides back where they had started but much the poorer withall. Thompson and Kohler argued that the Soviets would speed up their own ABM program before buying a lot more offensive missiles to overcome U.S. ABM. Kohler specifically doubted that the Soviets would "necessarily seek parity in offensive forces". Thompson and Kohler also perceived that the Soviet reaction probably would be greatly constrained by economic factors. Hornig did not really address the response issue, except to say he doubted that it would be resource constrained.
None of the respondents perceived that the Soviets had adopted a nuclear war fighting, damage limiting strategy, emphasized counterforce targeting, were deploying the SS-9 for that specific purpose, and were engaged in a vast MIRV development program dominated by counterforce systems, or that the Politburo had adopted preferential growth of military expenditures at the expense of consumption to pay for it all. All respondents agreed the time was ripe for negotiations that had good prospects of freezing both strategic offensive and defensive forces on both sides.
Most of the respondents may have been unaware, in whole or in large part, of the evidence available at the time on what the Soviets really were up to, but CIA may not plead ignorance on these issues. CIA files were loaded with evidence, classified and unclassified, on Soviet military doctrine, strategy, nuclear targeting,, and economic priorities, and contained a good deal of evidence on the other issues as well. Rostow's sumary of the CIA memo puts that organization in an indefensible position.
Former Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin's memoirs reveal some of
the history that led to LBJ's initiative in early 1967 to negotiate ABM limitations with the FSU: at lunch on 16 January 1964 William Foster, Director of ACDA and McNamarals "soul mate", proposed that the U.S. and FSU work out a "preliminary confidential arrangement" on ABMs, "the more so since President Johnson had not yet committed himself". Foster warned Dobrynin, "Don't talk about this in public, or I'll be called before the Un-American Activities Committee".(20)
Foster raised the subject with Dobrynin again several times through 1966. In December 1966 Llewelln Thompson, U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, "confided" in Dobrynin that the U.S. was "alarmed over reports of the Soviet ABM system".(21) Earlier Dobrynin stated, "By the middle of the decade, Soviet researchers were working on the design of the first ABM networks aroundmoscow and in the western part of the country near Tallinn in Estonia (emphasis added). A defense against missiles, specifically for the protection of civilians, was considered in Moscow as a legitimate matter and was not supposed to arouse suspicion abroad."(22)
Evidently also around December 1966 McNamara unburdened himself on the ABM issue to Dobrynin as follows:
On April 11, 1967 McNamara invited Dobrynin to lunch at his home to convey the following:
According to Dobrynin, this lunch set up the summit between Premier Kosygin, President Johnson, and McNamara at Glassboro, N.J. in June 1967. Johnson reportedly wanted the summit for two reasons: enlist
Moscow's assistance in negotiating with Hanoi; and impress the Soviet Government with the dangers of proceeding, with ABM def enses - Kosygin was instructed by the Politburo to listen but to make no commitments.(25) Glassboro, rather than New York or Washington, was chosen for mutual protocol reasons.
In the first round of discussion between the principals, Dobrynin says Johnson told Kosygin:
Dobrynin writes that two days earlier McNamara had told him he "would come prepared with latest American confidential scientific and military data demonstrating the essential futility of ABM systems", and that he wanted to limit the presentation to Johnson and Kosygin, and to keep it secret so that his critics would not jump him.(27)
Johnson handled presentation of McNamarals briefing clumsily; in addition to Johnson and Kosygin, evidently Dobrynin, and perhaps others, were present. This caused McNamara to shuffle his classified briefing papers into a somewhat disjointed presentation. Kosygin told Dobrynin later that he found it "unconvincing" and was disappointed by it. Dobrynin reports that McNamarals main points were:
At dinner Kosygin responded to the briefing by "pointing out the Soviet missile defense systems around and Tallinn were designed to save the lives of Soviet citizens". so both sides should agree on limiting offenses first before negotiating defenses away (emphasis added).(29) But Kosygin reiterated that he did not have authority from the Politburo to begin negotiations then and there as the Americans proposed.
Dobrynin remarks, "Thus the Soviet Government did not recognize a historic opportunity and responded by continuing Am mmilatruction around and Tallinn" (emphasis added).
To the best of my knowledge, reports of Kosygin's remarks lumping Moscow and Tallinn (the SA-5) together as ABM systems never reached DIA. Whether it was reported elsewhere I do not know. In any case, it did not deter McNamara from telling Congress six months later that U.S. intelligence, i.e. the CIA, was now confident that
the system was only a SAM, not a dual purpose SAM/ABM although such systems could have some marginal ABM capabilities. (30)
When McNamara finally announced U. S. national ABM deployment in September 1967, he watered it down to the "SENTINEL" system that had been designed to counter the PRC threat from the 1965 study. Having been designed strictly as the most cost-effective defense against the limited PRC threat, SENTINEL was virtually ineffective against a large Soviet MIRVed force. Only the full NIKE-X system could greatly reduce casualties against the Soviet threat forecast in the 1966 study. Granted, the latter was expensive, some $40 billion (ca. 1967 dollars) for full deployment (including 5 years operating costs) to protect major U.S. cities. But that was a fraction of the cost of the Vietnam War, without the after effects.
President Johnson and McNamara, however, discarded our 20 year ABM technology advantage over the Soviets in ABM capabilities for "arms control" negotiations. Much more than $40 billion, and more than 50,000 U.S. killed in action, went to Vietnam to pay for a strategy that precluded winning that war.
Glassboro coincided with the crisis in the Soviet ABM program when they scaled back the Moscow ABM, decided to copy the NIKE-X to defend the Moscow nomenklatura from MIRVS, and were about to approve engineering development of their second generation dual purpose national SAM/ABM, the SA-10 and LPAR battle management radars. The Politburo and the General Staff realized that the proposed "arms control" talks were a Marxsend. By limiting U.S. ABM the Soviets could buy time while trying to regain the technical lead by developing directed energy systems under a national program adopted in 1965.
By February 1968, after McNamara told the world that the SA-5--per CIA's assessment--really was only a SAM, the Politburo was convinced that the American goose really was pleading to be plucked. So when SALT negotiations began after a brief mourning period for the demise of Czech "socialism with a human face" under the treads of Soviet tanks, the U.S. was surprised to find that the ABM Treaty was the Polithurols first priority.
Meanwhile in the U.S., widespread unrest over the Vietnam War that McNamara now says he didn't really support all along, combined with the prospect of U.S. national ABM, galvanized MAD advocates and anti-nuclear activists into a campaign that soon killed U.S. ABM entirely while the Soviets cultivated our self deception and tried to catch up and leapfrog us technologically.
However, because all the RV and quidance system technologies had been developed earlier under the ABRES proqran, the U.S. was able to beqin f ieldinq MIRV payloads some f ive years ahead of the Soviets even thouqh the Politburo had funded Soviet MIRVs two or three years before Conqress funded the U.S. systems.
Ironically, the Soviet force forecast that McNamara rejected in 1966 proved to be conservative, without the stimulation of U.S. national ABM. Flight testing of MIRVed Soviet ICBMs began in 1972- 73 followed by deployment in 1975-76. All three of these new ICBMS, not just the SS-18, were designed for damage limiting, counierforce strikes, and by 1980 constituted some 90 percent of the total Soviet ICBM arsenal. Too support its nuclear war fighting, damage limiting strategy the Politburo funded a larger and more formidable strategic nuclear arsenal than McNamara thought he would provoke by approving U.S. ABM defenses.
The counterforce arsenal that the Soviets actually deployed in 1975-80 was only 10-20 percent larger than my 1966 forecast. The "window of vulnerability" of U.S. land based strategic missiles opened on schedule, and became one of the major issues in U.S. strategic debates in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Furthermore, the total ICBM/SLBM warhead arsenal the Soviets negotiated and deployed under SALT was not significantly different than the 1966 forecast against which even McNamara admitted NIKE-X would be cost- effective.
Most importantly, SALT legalized Soviet acquisition of the strategic offensive missile arsenal required to achieve the damage objectives of their nuclear war fighting strategy. These forces represented the Soviet def inition of sufficiency, so the entire SALT process did not limit the planned Soviet buildup. All the SALT agreements were so designed to accommodate Soviet strategic ballistic missile force objectives, and so full of loopholes, that extensive violations were not necessary. The U.S. failed to enforce those that did occur.
The ABM Treaty was quite a different matter; it had to be violated from the beginning. The infamous Krasnoyarsk radar was the sixth in the LPAR series, constructed in that location by a Politburo decision in deliberate violation of the ABM Treaty. However, the really serious Soviet violation was nationwide deployment of the dual purpose SA-5/10s and the battle management radars in violation of article 1 of the ABM Treaty.
When CIA concluded in 1967 that the SA-5 was just an anti-aircraft (SAM) system, and that the Hen House radars were just for early warning (and space tracking), a majority of the U.S. intelligence comunity joined the CIA choir. Subsequently ClAts analysis of the SA-5 and the Hen House radars was extended to the SA-10 and the LPARS. Once enshrined, CIAls erroneous analysis was not challenged even when "hard" evidence to the contrary appeared.(31)
By the time the Empire collapsed, more than 10, 000 dual purpose SAM/ABM interceptor missiles were deployed at SA-5/10 complexes. Yet the U.S. officially counts only the l00 interceptors of the "ABM X-3" system at Moscow, which are permitted by the ABM Treaty. ABM X-3 is a scaled up model of the NIKE-X system, vintage late
1960s, that it took the Russians 20 years to copy.
Even those who now are pushing hard to "defend America" from ballistic missile attacks want to reconcile it with the ABM Treaty, and are not willing to admit that the entire strategic "arms control" process was a farce, a middle class welfare program at best.(32)
According to CIA estimates, when SALT began the Soviet military burden was down to 6-7 percent of GNP, and the Politburo was looking to the negotiations to reduce it further. "Arms control" advocates shared this view.
In fact, between the initial SALT talks in 1969 and Reykjavik in 1987, the military burden on the Soviet economy roughly doubled from 15-16 to about 30 percent (or more) of Soviet GNP. By that time another 15 percent of GNP was being wasted on collectivized agriculture, so at least 45 percent of Soviet GNP was being flushed down the drain for no economic return.
After failing to persuade President Reagan to give up SDI at Reykjavik in late 1986, the synergistic effect of the military and agricultural burdens forced Gorbachev to make concession after concession in all "arms control" negotiations. Years of Soviet intransigence and stalling evaporated as the INF, CFE, and START Treaties soon followed.
The Russians now have openly admitted the obvious, to all but those hooked on the "arms control" process: until Reykjavik the Ministry of Defense controlled the FSU negotiating agenda for the purpose of "preserving and strengthening Soviet military might, which, in this case, included weakening the potential chief enemy--the United States--by negotiations"; and the ABM Treaty "was more a product of insufficient technological development in the Soviet Union" vis-a- vis the U.S. than a "product of strategic analysis". (33)
Fortunately for the West, by 1989 the FSU economy was collapsing from the combined cost of the FSU's nuclear war fighting doctrine and the failure of collectivized agriculture, exacerbated by ill advised economic "reforms", before Gorbachev's diplomatic campaign and "arms control" concessions could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The political collapse of the Evil Empire followed in 1991 and the Cold was over, at least for a while.
Unfortunately for the West, this causal nexus is not only virtually unknown but also is almost universally denied, not least of all by the CIA.
The most important national security task facing this country today is to protect both U.S. citizens and our military forces from hostile missiles (and aircraft). In addition to Russials arsenal of thousands of weapons, China already has a few ICBMs and the
capability to deploy many more. A number of other countries are likely to acquire at least a few long range missiles and aircraft in the next decade.
Poll after poll shows that moqt American citizens believe that we have some defenses against nuclear missile (and air) attack. While regrettable, such public ignorance is understandable. Over the past three decades, under both Democrats and Republicans, the U.S. has spent many trillions of dollars on defense against most all kinds of threats on a global scale. How could the Government have refused to defend the country against the most huinongous military threat the nation has ever faced?
While a majority in the 104th Congress wants to defend the country against ballistic missiles, Mr. Clinton does not because he considers a Treaty that never was a valid contract with a state that no longer exists to be the "cornerstone" of national security policy. In addition to exacerbating past errors, the amendments to the ABM Treaty that the administration is negotiating not only will prevent the U.S. from acquiring the best ballistic missile defense our technology can provide to protect U.S. forces and our Allies abroad, but also will give both Russia and several other successor states to the Empire veto power over where and how-we would employ any theatre (tactical) ABM that we may acquire.
As William R. Graham, former science advisor to President Reagan, has put it, the question really is not whether we deploy national ABM, but whether we do so before or after the first nuclear armed missile lands on American territory. For this thank Mr. McNamara, his system analysts, and all the high priests and acolytes of HAD.
In retrospect, the U.S. made three fundamental strategic errors in the Lyndon Johnson administration: adopting a strategy guaranteed to lose in Vietnam; rejecting national ABM for strategic "arms control" agreements that have failed totally; and attempting to finance the "Great Society" and the Vietnam war at the same time, thus setting the stage for more than two decades of deficit financing. Present generations already have paid a pretty price for these policies; future generations will pay more.
1. NIE 11-3-67, "Soviet Strategic Air and Missile Defenses", pp. 1, 17.
2. Documentation for this assessment is presented in my forthcoming book, "The ABM Treaty Charade: A Study in Elite Illusion and Delusion". A summary of the draft of the book appeared under this title in Comparative Strategy, Vol. 15, no. 3, July-September 1996, pp. 251-60.
3. The colleague was Frank Leonard who had transferred from CIA to NSA.
4. SNIE 11-14-67, The Soviet Strategic Military Posture", 1961-67", p. 6 reports the nuclear warhead weight and yield.
5. See NIE 11-8-62, "Soviet Capabilities for Long Range Attack" and NIE 11-8-63, "Soviet Capabilities for Strategic Attack".
6. NIE 11-9-63, "Soviet Capabilities and Intentions to orbit Nuclear Weapons", p. 17.
7. NIE 11-8-64, "Soviet Capabilities for Strategic Attack", p. 2.
For an extensive critique of NIE mirror imaging and other errors during this period, see the "Team B" report, "Intelligence community Experiment in Competitive Analysis", December 1976, particularly pp. 9-16.
8. In addition to the materials f rom the SECRET and TOP SECRET editions of the General Staff journal Military Thought provided by Col. Penkovsky (now de-classified), most essential aspects of Soviet nuclear targeting strategy were published openly, most notably in the book Xilitary Strategy edited by Marshal (SU) V.D. Sokolovsky.
9. William T. Lee and Richard F. Staar, Soviet Military Policy Since World War II, (Hoover Institute Press, Stanford CA, 1986), p. 63. For an extensive discussion of Soviet nuclear targeting strategy and analysis of the evolution Soviet capabilities to meet that strategy's damage limiting requirements, see chapter 8 of that study.
10. The evidence for this strategy was in open Soviet literature and in the SECRET and TOP SECRET documents provided by Col. Penkovsky, but had been ignored by the NIES. Much of this material now has been declassified so it now can be said that Military Strategy (three editions) edited by Marshal (SU) V.D. Sokolovsky was an unclassified synthesis of the highly classified documentary material provided by Penkovsky.
11. I was present at this briefing because of my role in developing these three arguraents.
12. McNamara's FY 1968-72 Defense program, p. 53, accepted the 4:1 cost exchange ratio--see Lee, "Arms Control Perceptions and Realities", Comparative Strategy, Vol. 12, no. 4, October-December 1993, pp. 415-436.
13. After the briefing to McNamara, R.B. Foster spent several weeks closeted in the Pentagon preparing the Chiefs' briefing. I supported that effort but did not see the final version nor, to the best of my knowledge, did Foster.
Some limited material on these events at the ranch in early December 1966 have been declassified at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and are referenced by Patrick Glynn, Closing Pandora's Box, (Basic Books, 1992), p. 226 and footnote 43. That reference stimulated my acquisition of the documentary material discussed herein.
14. "Notes on Meeting with the President in Austin, Texas, December 6, 1966 with Secretary McNamara and the Joint Chiefs of Staff 11, dated 10 December 1966 (originally TOP SECRET, EYES ONLY FOR THE PRESIDENT). Present were President Johnson, Secretary McNamara, Deputy Secretary Vance, General Wheeler (Chairman, JCS), Admiral McDonald, Generals Johnson (USA), McConnell (USN), Greene (USMC), and W. W. Rostow.
15. Summarized from Rostow's memo; the quote is on p. 4.
16. ibid. These and most of the arguments in the next paragraph had been presented to McMamara at the briefing two or three months earlier.
18. I presented most of the intelligence, technology, cost, and leadtime analysis refuting the "greater than the greater than expected threat".
19. Smith, Doubletalk, p. 19; Freedman, U.S. Intelliqence, p. 94.
20. Anatoly Dobrynin, In Confidence, (Time Books, Random House, N.Y., 1995), p. 149.
22. ibid., p. 148.
23. ibid., p. 149-50.
24. ibid., pp. 151-52.
25. ibid, p.162.
26. ibid., p. 165.
28. ibid, pp. 165-66.
30. Freedman, U.S. Intelligence, p. 93, footnote no. 36, citing McNamara's FY 1969 Pdsture Statement, p. 62, dated January 1968.
31. I have a Freedom of Information action pending to release one body of the evidence on the Soviet dual purpose SAM/ABM programs.
32. For an extensive analysis supporting this judgement, see Lee, "US-USSR Strategic Arms Control Agreements: Expectations and Reality", Comparative Strategy, Vol. 12, no. 4, October-December 1993.
33. A.G. Savellyev and N.N. Detinov, The Big Five: Arm Control
Decision Making in the Soviet Union, (Praeger, 1995), pp. 17, 21.