The Forces for SufficiencyLast year I announced my commitment to maintain our existing strategic forces with relatively little change. The grounds for this decision were that:
Sharp cutbacks would not permit us to satisfy our sufficiency criteria and were unwarranted in view of the continuing growth of Soviet forces. Unilateral reductions could --paradoxically-- eliminate any Soviet incentives for an agreement to limit strategic arms. They would also raise serious concerns among our allies, particularly in NATO.
On the other hand, sharp increases in our forces, unless spurred by new Soviet deployments, might lead the Soviets to misunderstand our intentions, and might force them into new strategic investments they would otherwise eschew. The prospects for reaching agreement to limit strategic arms might be irreparably damaged.
During the past year I have continued this policy of deliberate restraint. Our programs have been as follows:
We started to improve the survivability of our Minuteman force by increasing the hardness of Minuteman silos, thereby making them less vulnerable to nuclear attack. We also are continuing the deployment of Safeguard defensive sites to protect our Minuteman.
We are adding multiple independently targetable warheads to some of our strategic missiles. This action also contributes to stability, since it helps ensure a credible retaliatory capability. Without such a system in our future arsenal, the possibility of a Soviet preemptive strike against our strategic forces, combined with strong Soviet defensive forces, would make questionable the assured penetration of a sufficient number of weapons from our retaliatory capability. With multiple independently targetable warheads, each of our surviving missiles will have the capability to attack a number of targets, thereby enhancing our ability to penetrate enemy defenses.
We consider these measures to be essential to maintain the sufficiency of our strategic posture in the light of increases and improvements in the Soviet strategic forces.
To insure that our forces will remain sufficient in the future we will continue research and development on appropriate measures and systems to enhance the survivability and effectiveness of our strategic offensive and defensive forces.
In light of the negotiations on strategic arms limitations, we are acting with great restraint in introducing changes in our strategic posture. We will avoid steps which make it more difficult for the Soviet Union and ourselves to reach an agreed structure of strategic stability. At the same time we must be prepared to take necessary steps to maintain the sufficiency of our strategic forces should an agreement not be reached within the near future.