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Deterrence Concepts and Definitions

Deterrence Concepts and Definitions - Deterrence Concepts...

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Deterrence Concepts and Definitions This report will define, compare, and contrast four important terms associated with deterrence to facilitate a common understanding of US deterrence capabilities and policy. In particular, deterrence, tailored deterrence, extended deterrence, and tailored regional defense architectures will be discussed. Deterrence The goal of deterrence is to “decisively influence the adversary’s decision making calculus in order to prevent hostile actions against US vital interests” as defined by the Deterrence Operations Joint Operating Concept. In order to achieve this end and affect adversary decision making calculus, the US employs three primary strategies, including increasing the costs of action, decreasing the benefits of action, and encouraging adversary restraint. Deterrence may be conceptualized as an attempt to affect the adversary’s perceived costs and benefits of both aggressive action and restraint. The primary target of US deterrence during the Cold War was a single actor, the Soviet Union, because of the bipolar global distribution of material capabilities. The US focused on a strategy of increasing the costs of Soviet aggression through the threat of punishment. Punishment was popularly understood as mutually assured destruction through the use of nuclear weapons. However, the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of a multi-polar international system prompted a focus on deterrence by denial – denying the potential benefits of aggression action. Finally, modern US deterrence strategy focuses on convincing adversaries of the benefits and decreasing the perceived costs of restraint. Deterrence threats must be credible in order to be effective. Credibility is guaranteed by the perception of sufficient capabilities and the will to carry out threatened responses. Deterrence should be differentiated between the US goals of dissuasion , defeat, and assurance . While deterrence attempts to continually prevent aggressive actions by adversarial actors, dissuasion is the attempt to convince potential adversaries not to compete with the United States, or acquire, enhance or increase military capabilities. While deterrence is aimed at preventing aggressive actions, dissuasion convinces actors not to acquire or enhance potentially aggressive capabilities. In short, dissuasion is an attempt to stymie the so-called “security dilemma”, in which mutual fears about dyadic arms acquisition and development spurs arms races between two actors.
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