Milestones in Strategic Arms Control 1945-2000: United States Air Force Roles and Outcomes   [open pdf - 805KB]

As a strategy instrument, arms control is an integral element of national efforts to enhance security, in this case as both a complement to and a substitute for more confrontational strategy elements. Second, and related, it establishes that security strategy involves both conflict and cooperation, side by side and often simultaneous, as overlapping stages of a single continuum. In such a deliberately ambivalent world, primary national security organizations can find themselves caught in the middle of these seemingly incompatible policy threads, and this was often the fate of the United States Air Force (USAF) across the Cold War and through to today. An examination of arms control and its implications for the USAF entails establishing the policy context of national security strategy and national military strategy, particularly nuclear strategy and USAF development to support that strategy. The story of United States national security policy across the Cold War and into its immediate aftermath is very much the story of the continuous framework of containment. And the central dimension of containment was the US-Soviet strategic relationship. Thus, implementation of United States national security policy focused on evolving nuclear strategy and, as the Cold War matured, on the accompanying process of arms control. This strategic dimension of policy and practice was also the central force shaping much of the development of the organization charged with employing most of the United States nuclear capability and with creating the infrastructure of nuclear force management, the USAF.

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