Military Strategy Magazine - Volume 8, Issue 1

Volume 8, Issue 1, Summer 2022 22 Scholars subsequently modified these basic concepts of deterrence, segregating deterrence strategies into two approaches: (1) deterrence by denial; (2) deterrence by punishment. Deterrence by denial seeks to make it extremely difficult if not impossible for a foe to achieve their objectives through the use of force. The foe, in this case, would thus perceive that the costs of action would be too high to justify the use of force. Deterrence by punishment threatens a foe with a series of potential consequences across a wide spectrum of military and political actions that can include escalation to nuclear weapons, political steps such as sanctions, and other political steps to raise the costs of action to a foe contemplating using force.[xii] Other strands of the deterrence literature address adversary calculations in circumstances short of nuclear war. Indeed, there is rich literature on conventional deterrence,[xiii] which is a closely related cousin to nuclear deterrence literature. In the post-Cold-War era, scholars created yet another strand of this literature called cross domain deterrence that applied deterrence concepts to changed strategic and military circumstances. In the modern era, advanced militaries conceptualize military operations across various domains: land, space, cyber, maritime surface and subsurface, and in the skies. These operations, it is thought, potentially blur the Cold War-era distinctions between the levels of war: strategic, operational, and tactical that once were defined at the strategic level by nuclear weapons. Added to this mix must be digitized and proliferating weapons technologies that have increased accuracy and destructive power that can be delivered at ever greater distances. A fundamental idea in this literature is that it is possible to affect adversary behavior by threatening action in one domain to deter potential use by an adversary in another domain.[xiv] Flexible Response and the Navy What does all this have to do with the Navy and Flexible Response?Historically, theNavyisnostrangertodeterrence. During the Cold War, the U.S. Navy provided a vital part of the nation’s nuclear deterrent through the eventual deployment of ballistic missiles in the Polaris class nuclearpowered submarines. These platforms were invulnerable to attack, thereby preserving the nation’s second-strike capability and stabilizing the nuclear balance of terror. [xv] In addition, the U.S. Navy played an instrumental role in operationalizing the doctrine of Flexible Response on the high seas. If required, the Navy could draw upon nuclear bombs, shells fired from large caliber guns, depth charges, anti-submarine torpedoes and rockets, surface to air missiles, and sea-launched cruise missiles to preserve escalation dominance over its Soviet foe. During the Cold War, approximately 20 percent of America’s nuclear arsenal was at sea on an annual basis.[xvi] The Navy deployed its nuclear arsenal in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean until President George H. Bush ordered these weapons removed from Navy ships in 1991. Conceptually, Flexible Response posited a direct relationship between nuclear and conventional weapons knitted together as a “seamless web.” That seamless web consisted of conventional weapons, short range tactical nuclear weapons (first deployed to Europe in 1953) all the way up to and including strategic nuclear missiles based in the United States and Europe. These weapons fit within an alliance framework that sought to build up and deploy conventional forces along the inter-German border to protect Europe from a Soviet invasion. In 1956, the alliance agreed on massive retaliation as its strategy in NATO military document MC 14/2,[xvii] thereby linking the conventional and nuclear components in an integrated alliedmilitary strategybuilt on the deterrentvalue of nuclear weapons. The initial idea was to hold the Soviet advance long enough and as far forward as possible until nuclear retaliation, becoming known as the “tripwire” strategy. Flexible response evolved out of these circumstances and a robust debate at the time about limited war, reflecting a general unease with reliance on massive retaliation and the prospect of armed confrontations in places where it was unclear what role, if any, could be played by nuclear weapons. In the early 1980s and under the leadership of Navy Secretary John Lehman, the Navy asserted its direct warfighting role against the Soviet Union with the Maritime Strategy that focused on defending alliance supply lines across the Atlantic Ocean, bottling up the Soviet northern fleet along the GIUK gap, and undertaking land- and seabased operations against the Soviets on the Kola Peninsula. While NATO always remained lukewarm to these ideas, the maritime strategy became an important raison d’etre for the United States Navy in carving out a discrete and concrete Cold War-era war-fighting mission that had powerful nuclear and conventional components.[xviii] In retrospect, the 1980s represented a high-water mark for the U.S. Navy in terms of connecting the service to a war that, at its height, could have included nuclear weapons launched from its ships, aircraft, and submarines across a spectrum of conflict. After the end of the ColdWar, however, the Navy’s connection to U.S. defense strategy languished as attention shifted to various regional crises across the Middle East and South Asia, which culminated in the land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks. With the removal of a principal adversary on the high seas, navies have not been the primary weapon of developed states. Instead, the developed states turned their focus to policing or nation building operations on land in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Sahel as well as coping with the Flexible Response and Integrated Deterrence at Sea in the 21st Century: Implications for the U.S. Navy James A. Russell