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Introduction

This report summarizes a two-part workshop titled “U.S. Air Force Strategic Deterrence Capabilities in the 21st Century Security Environment.” The two workshop sessions were held in Washington, D.C., on September 26-28, 2012, and January 29-31, 2013, under the auspices of the Air Force Studies Board of the National Research Council. The workshop was attended by a very diverse set of participants with expertise in strategic deterrence and a range of analytic tools of potential interest to the Air Force. Specific terms of reference (TOR) for the workshop are listed in Box 1-1.

Early on, the workshop committee discussed the TOR, emphasizing that its work should produce something that can actually be used by the Air Force. More than once, committee members questioned whether the scope of this workshop should be limited to deterrence by “nuclear” forces or broadened to include deterrence by non-nuclear forces (e.g., conventional offensive weapons, missile defenses, cyber capabilities, space-based systems, and drones); the resulting discussion indicated that the workshop focus would be primarily on those tools and methods applicable to analysis of nuclear deterrence.1 With respect to adjusting the TOR, the main concern was that “social network analysis and crowd sourcing” was explicitly called out, but it became clear that these terms were not meant to limit the techniques to be considered. After more discussion, the committee did not change the TOR but did develop several questions to be considered during the workshop, including the following:

  1. How are the challenges for nuclear deterrence in the 21st century similar to and different from those of the 20th century?2
  2. What are the analytic challenges, and what approaches are needed to resolve them?
  3. What are the insights for the future and ancillary issues raised during workshop discussions that the Air Force should consider?

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1 Implications of cyberwarfare were not discussed extensively during the workshop.

2 A participant noted that an additional issue was that the United States also knows more now, and if the 20th century were to be re-lived, deterrence strategy would be better. As of now, this question reflects the notion that the United States had it right in the 20th century, an interesting notion given two world wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.



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1 Introduction This report summarizes a two-part workshop titled “U.S. Air Force Strategic Deterrence Capabilities in the 21st Century Security Environment.” The two workshop sessions were held in Washington, D.C., on September 26-28, 2012, and January 29-31, 2013, under the auspices of the Air Force Studies Board of the National Research Council. The workshop was attended by a very diverse set of participants with expertise in strategic deterrence and a range of analytic tools of potential interest to the Air Force. Specific terms of reference (TOR) for the workshop are listed in Box 1-1. Early on, the workshop committee discussed the TOR, emphasizing that its work should produce something that can actually be used by the Air Force. More than once, committee members questioned whether the scope of this workshop should be limited to deterrence by “nuclear” forces or broadened to include deterrence by non-nuclear forces (e.g., conventional offensive weapons, missile defenses, cyber capabilities, space-based systems, and drones); the resulting discussion indicated that the workshop focus would be primarily on those tools and methods applicable to analysis of nuclear deterrence. 1 With respect to adjusting the TOR, the main concern was that “social network analysis and crowd sourcing” was explicitly called out, but it became clear that these terms were not meant to limit the techniques to be considered. After more discussion, the committee did not change the TOR but did develop several questions to be considered during the workshop, including the following: 1. How are the challenges for nuclear deterrence in the 21st century similar to and different from those of the 20th century? 2 2. What are the analytic challenges, and what approaches are needed to resolve them? 3. What are the insights for the future and ancillary issues raised during workshop discussions that the Air Force should consider? 1 Implications of cyberwarfare were not discussed extensively during the workshop. 2 A participant noted that an additional issue was that the United States also knows more now, and if the 20th century were to be re-lived, deterrence strategy would be better. As of now, this question reflects the notion that the United States had it right in the 20th century, an interesting notion given two world wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. 1

OCR for page 1
BOX 1-1 Terms of Reference An ad hoc committee will plan and convene one workshop consisting of two 3-day meetings (separated for logistical reasons) to (1) examine integrated toolsets and methods, such as social network analysis and crowd sourcing, that provide insight into adversary decision calculi and insights into which Air Force capabilities are likely to be effective at influencing those decision calculi; and (2) develop terms of reference for an ad hoc study that would: (a) evaluate these integrated toolsets and insights on relevant Air Force capabilities and (b) analyze gaps. The committee will develop the agenda for the workshop, select and invite speakers and discussants, and moderate the discussions. In organizing the workshop, the committee might also consider additional topics close to and in line with those mentioned above. The meetings will use a mix of individual presentations, panels, breakout discussions, and question-and-answer sessions to develop an understanding of the relevant issues. Key stakeholders will be identified and invited to participate. One individually authored workshop summary document will be prepared by a designated rapporteur.1,2 1 This workshop summary has been prepared by the workshop rapporteur as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop. It is important to note that this rapporteur-authored workshop summary does not contain consensus findings and recommendations, which are only produced by National Research Council study committees. 2 The terms of reference (TOR) for the workshop does not call for formal analysis and/or recommendations of how these analytic-based approaches might be used by the Air Force as part of its strategic deterrence mission; however, the notional TOR for a formal follow-on study, found in Chapter 5, does explicitly call for such analysis. The first two questions align well with the panels and related discussions during the workshop, and the third question was explored as part of the dialog among the workshop participants at both sessions. Additionally, some speakers with a great deal of experience offered a variety of perspectives that helped establish a comprehensive backdrop for the workshop. Accordingly, the remainder of this report is organized as follows: Chapter 2, Various Perspectives; Chapter 3, Strategic Deterrence: Past, Current, and Future; Chapter 4, Analytic- Based and Non-Traditional Approaches; and Chapter 5, Insights for the Future. Finally, as a result of this workshop, the Air Force possesses a rich variety of independent thoughts regarding potential analytic approaches to substantiate Air Force concepts and articulate Air Force capabilities as deterrence strategy is developed in the 21st century security environment. The Air Force will also have illustrative elements of a TOR for a future longer-term study to evaluate potential toolsets and analyze gaps (see Chapter 5). 2