One of the areas of military construction in the United States is the creation of a multi-component anti-missile defense system. The Republican administration of George W. Bush has decided to deploy a third missile defense position region in Eastern Europe - in addition to the two that exist directly in the United States (in California and Alaska). This is not the first attempt by the Americans to reduce the ability of the Strategic Nuclear Forces of Russia to retaliate.
At the beginning of the 1980s, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was launched by the official Washington, which journalists called the Star Wars program. Then the USSR developed a strategy of countermeasures, which was included in history as an "asymmetrical answer". The experience of those years seems to be still relevant today - naturally, with a correction to a new, higher level of military technology.
In this regard, attention is drawn to the work just released in Moscow "Lenand", "How an" asymmetrical response "was prepared for the" Strategic Defense Initiative "by R. Reagan. Velikhov, Kokoshin and others." Its authors are S.K. Oznobishchev, one of the participants in the development of the Soviet "asymmetric strike", retired colonel-general V.Ya. Potapov, in the recent past, Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, and Colonel-General (Retired) V.V. Skokov. They view the Soviet strategy of an “asymmetric response” as one of the most interesting examples of a comprehensive political-military strategy (which included diplomatic and political propaganda measures, as well as specific programs for the development of weapons systems and their scientific and technical base).
Recall that in 1983, the US government announced that the task of research and development under the PIO program was to make nuclear weapon "obsolete and unnecessary." Realization of this task would undermine the foundations of the then-established bipolar equilibrium and strategic stability in the world. The authors of the work published by LENAND note that the announcement of the nomination of the PIO was perceived by a significant part of the top Soviet leadership not only negatively (which was justified), but also "very nervously." This reinforced Reagan and his "team" in the belief that they were "on the right track."
By itself, Reagan, as follows from the published work, was not a caricature character, as he is sometimes presented. Despite all his antipathy towards the USSR as an "evil empire," he sought to reach agreements with Moscow in the field of arms control. Few people know that Reagan wrote handwritten addresses to all the leaders of the USSR, who at that time quickly succeeded each other (Yu.V. Andropov, KU Chernenko, MS Gorbachev), with a proposal for a personal meeting. But no answers were received in Washington. The appeal to Gorbachev was found in the depths of our bureaucratic machine only after notification from the American side.
Of course, Reagan, who began his career as a film actor, did not understand military technical issues and at first fell under the influence of such scientific authorities of the USA as "the father of the American hydrogen bomb" Edward Teller and the physicist Lowell Wood. They argued the head of the White House that purely technical solutions to the problems of ensuring US national security were possible. And yet, the views of the American president under the pressure of changing geopolitical realities, arguments and proposals of the Soviet side (largely supported by coordinated actions of prominent domestic and American scientists) have undergone a significant evolution towards realism.
Ultimately, the SDI program remained unfulfilled in its “full form”. Under the influence of external and internal criticism from the United States by recognized authorities of the scientific world and prominent politicians, the American Congress resorted to its favorite practice for such cases - it began to reduce the allocation of the requested funds to the most odious and destabilizing projects.
The authors of the brochure indicate that the components of the "asymmetric strategy" of the Soviet side were developed at the USSR Academy of Sciences, departmental research institutes (among the latter, the development of the TsNIImash of the USSR Ministry of General Machine-Building, headed by Y.A. Mozhorin and V.M. Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense). The concept of "asymmetric response", and even more so its specific programs were implemented, as follows from the brochure, overcoming major obstacles. In the USSR, by the 4 years, there was a tradition of predominantly symmetrical actions - the actions "the tip against the tip".
And this tradition manifested itself when the Kremlin was faced with the question of how to meet the challenge of Reagan. It was necessary to find an optimal model of actions for the case of the deployment of multi-echelon anti-missile defense by the Americans in order to provide an opportunity for Soviet nuclear missiles to inflict "unacceptable damage" on the aggressor.
The main role in deciding in favor of the “asymmetric response” formula was played by a group of Soviet scientists led by a nuclear physicist and vice-president of the USSR Academy of Sciences Ye.P. Velikhov, who supervised fundamental and applied research in the interests of defense at that time. The open part of this group was the Committee of Soviet Scientists in Defense of Peace, against the Nuclear Threat, created by Velikhov (with the approval of the top leadership of the USSR).
For a long time Velikhov worked at the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy - at the leading institute of the atomic industry of the USSR. In 1975, he became the head of the Soviet thermonuclear program. Velikhov's wide range of knowledge, his deep understanding of the problems of fundamental and applied science, as noted in the brochure, contributed to his being among the leaders of the Russian academic community, who raised the question of the development of computer science in our country.
The fact is that by the end of the 1970s, the USSR had a significant lag behind the USA, Japan and other developed countries in the information and communication sphere. The strategic mistakes in the development of electronic computers made by the Soviet leadership in 1960-s, when it was decided to copy the American computer equipment of the company IBM, instead of continuing their own development, embodied in such well-known computers as Strela and BESM-6.
In making proposals on specific elements of the Soviet "anti-SDI" program, Velikhov put a lot of effort into developing the information and analytical component of the Soviet "asymmetric response." Largely thanks to him, the foundations were laid for the revival of domestic developments in the field of general purpose supercomputers, which led to the creation of SKIF series machines.
The right hand in the "Velikhov group" was A.A. Kokoshin, who at that time held the post of deputy director of the Institute of the USA and Canada (ISKAN) of the USSR AS. Prior to his appointment to this post, he headed the department of military-political studies of this institute, becoming the successor of Honored Military Intelligence veteran MA. Milstein. In the same department ISKAN worked Colonel-General N.A. Lomov, who at one time occupied the post of Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff. During the Great Patriotic War, Lomov, as Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff, repeatedly personally reported to the Supreme Commander the situation on the fronts.
Interestingly, the son of Yu.V. Igor Y. Andropova, who worked in the Planning Department for Foreign Policy Activities of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, worked part-time in the same department of military-political studies as a senior researcher. In the 1983 year, Andropov Sr., being already the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, planned to introduce a national security assistant post, and Kokoshin was considered for this position (at the end of 1983, Kokoshin’s general secretary was supposed to take place, but it did not take place due to a sharp deterioration Andropov’s state of health).
In general, the military-political research department of ISKAN in 1980-s was a unique interdisciplinary team that played an important role in developing a “asymmetric response” strategy. And the work "How to prepare an" asymmetric response "to SDI ..." is interesting with its detailed story about the "kitchen" of intense intellectual work, when it was decided how to neutralize Reagan "star wars." In particular, the very idea of asymmetry arose due to the fact that, in the department, Kokoshin paid attention to the works of the national military theorist A.A. Svechin, who carefully studied the use of asymmetric strategies in different periods of history. According to Kokoshin himself, the treatise of the outstanding ancient Chinese theorist and strategist Sun Tzu, both in the military-technical and in the political-psychological dimension, also played an important role in shaping the "ideology of asymmetry". The ideas of asymmetry and formed the basis of a series of scientific and technical reports prepared by the "Velikhov group".
THE INTERESTS of ensuring an effective political and psychological impact on the American side and the "neutralization" of the arguments of the SOI lobbyists demanded public appearances from the "Velikhov group", both before the domestic and foreign audiences. In 1987, at the international forum "For a Nuclear-Free World, for International Security" in Moscow there was a discussion on the problems of strategic stability between Kokoshin and Academician A.D. Sakharov. The greatest differences in their speeches concerned the role of ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles of mine type.
Sakharov at that time argued that such ICBMs are a “first strike” weapon, since they are the most vulnerable part of the strategic nuclear triad on each side. The party, "relying mainly on mine rockets, may be forced in a critical situation to deliver a" first strike, "he said. Relying on these arguments, the academician considered it necessary, when reducing strategic nuclear arsenals, to adopt the principle of mine-based ICBMs.
In fact, the brochure states that the logic of Sakharov’s reflections in many ways coincided with the arguments of a number of American politicians and experts who demanded in the process of limiting and reducing strategic offensive arms, first of all, reducing the Soviet ICBM, which would lead to a “redrawing” of the strategic nuclear triad of the USSR.
Historically, the USSR’s precisely mine-based ICBMs made up the lion’s share of the SNF arsenal. In addition, the mine ICBM in the USSR were the most technically advanced means and the ground component of the Soviet strategic nuclear forces had the most mature combat control system.
Kokoshin, on the other hand, pointed out that the threat of counter-oncoming or counter-strike is an additional factor of nuclear deterrence, and therefore the mine-based ICBMs cannot be considered as a "first strike" weapon. His position was based on the substantive knowledge of the characteristics of the various components of the strategic nuclear forces of both sides.
At the same time, it must be admitted that a significant part of Sakharov’s speech devoted to the problem of SDI “worked” for the USSR. The academician said that "the PIO is ineffective for the purpose for which, according to its supporters, it is intended," because the components of the antimissile defense deployed in space can be disabled "even at the non-nuclear stage of the war, and especially at the moment of transition to nuclear stage using anti-satellite weapons, space mines and other means. " Similarly, "many key land-based ABM facilities will be destroyed."
The arguments of Sakharov, who had great authority in the West, questioned the ability of the large-scale US missile defense system to provide effective protection against a "first strike." They largely coincided with what was presented in the open reports of the “Velikhov group” and in a number of publications by American and Western European scientists opposed to the PIO program.
One of the components that determined the optimal character of the Soviet response to the “star wars program” was the ability of the national team of scientists to reach the leadership of the USSR. This helped protect it from hasty and destructive anti-missile decisions.
Within the framework of the “asymmetric response” strategy to the American IDF, a wide range of measures was envisaged to increase the combat stability of the Soviet strategic nuclear forces (invulnerability of ICBM launchers and strategic missile submarine cruisers, the possibility of removing a strategic strike from under aviation, the reliability of the strategic command and control system of the strategic nuclear forces, the survivability of the state control system as a whole), as well as their ability to overcome multi-defense missile defense.
Means and procedures of a military-strategic, operational and tactical order were collected into a single complex, which made it possible to provide a sufficiently powerful retaliatory strike of retribution even under the most adverse conditions that would have arisen as a result of massive preemptive strikes on the Soviet Union. Even the principle of "dead hand" was envisaged, i.e. automatic launch of the mine-launched ICBMs that survived the preemptive strike of the enemy in the conditions of violation of the centralized command and control system.
As Academician Kokoshin later noted, it was important not only to develop and have it all “for a rainy day” (which could be the last day for both parties), but also to demonstrate to the opponent in a measured dose using the art of “strategic gesture”. And to make it look convincing both for the "political class" of the United States and for the highest-level American experts who would recognize any "stretch" and elements of misinformation ...
Job C.K. Oznobishcheva, V.Ya. Potapova and V.V. Skokova seems to be very timely. She not only recalls the existing domestic experience (moreover, successful) of developing an asymmetric strategy, but also draws attention to the importance of the practice of “embedding” scientific institutions and interdisciplinary teams in the process of developing political and military solutions, which allows for a serious analytical study of public policy in key areas national security. True, for this today it is important to take measures to support research teams and groups of scientists who are capable of carrying out such work professionally and on an ongoing basis.
- Vladimir Sharonov
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