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Soviet Union

The Sokolovskii Era, l962-68

In January 1960, Khrushchev unveiled the new nuclear strategy in a speech to the Supreme Soviet. According to Khrushchev, this strategy's aim was deterring war rather than fighting it (see Evolution of Military Doctrine , this ch.). Despite Khrushchev's emphasis on deterrence and reductions in military manpower, Sokolovskii's Military Strategy focused on apocalyptic scenarios for fighting a world war with nuclear weapons and stressed the need for mass armies. The idea of preemption resurfaced, this time on an intercontinental basis, because the Soviet Union had acquired nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and could threaten the territory of the United States. Sokolovskii maintained that the Soviet side had to "frustrate" an enemy coalition's attack by delivering massive nuclear strikes on the enemy's territories. These strikes would destroy not only the enemy's weapons but also the enemy's will to continue the war, thus limiting the damage from a retaliatory strike.

This view of nuclear strategy prevailed during most of the l960s. Soon after the publication of the third edition of his Military Strategy in l968, however, Sokolovskii wrote with an eye on the future: "Military affairs are entering or have already entered the next stage of their development, and apparently it is necessary to introduce essential changes into military art." Such changes began to occur in the 1960s and continued through the 1970s and 1980s.

Data as of May 1989