The best indications for the intellectual direction of the defense policy debate have to do with conventional deterrence. In the lead article, reprinted here from the editorial section of The Washington Post, one of this (or any) nation’s most knowledgeable authorities on what works in national security affairs, Ambassador Paul Nitze, raises the issue and suggests that the United States has a responsibility to pursue an alternative to massive nuclear deterrence. It can be expected that over the next year or so the subject will be discussed with increasing vigor. It can also be expected that those discussions will center as much on budgetary matters as on military effectiveness. We have already seen that some in Congress have concern for any new start along those lines, and it has been reported Onside the Navy, March 1, 1994) that the President has assured them “that the Navy is not pursuing the development of a conventional warhead for its Trident missiles”.
With that introduction and caveat, THlE SUBMARINE REVIEW opens the larger policy discussion to a readership which is arguably the country’s most experienced in the practice of effective deterrence. Several articles have already appeared in these pages concerning the pros and cons of conventional warheads for SLBMs, and there will be more of those as the subject receives more attention. The question of what-should-be-done, however, is a much different one that what-can-be-done. As Ambassador Nitze intimates, the issue of adopting a form of conventional deterrence versus total reliance on massive offensive nuclear capability really goes to the heart of the question about what Americans believe to be their place in the future world.
Rear Admiral Rick Buchanan has contributed a very thoughtful article to accompany Ambassador Nitze’s. He discusses some implementation concerns which have to do with the application of . deterrence in our new multi-faceted world of regional, vice global, security problems and then considers that application for the general conventional weapon case. It bas to be noted that Rear Admiral Buchanan has framed his comments in the view of one who bas worked within the CNO’s Joint Mission Area effort on Strategic Deterrence.
Historically, the subjects of the other articles are spread fairly evenly across a period of about 60 years. There are two World WarD-based pieces; one on the enemy’s suicide torpedoes, and the other on the record of the Dutch submariners who got away from the Germans to fight for the Allies. The Cold War building program is represented by the second of a two-part series about TRITON, the dual reactor radar-picket that went around the world in 1960. The current period is reflected in our first piece about the Swedish Navy’s submarines. Two near-future projections round out our time spectrum with what-ifs about capabilities that seem to be close to developmental possibility.
The series on a Submarine Bibliography features articles that appeared in the Naval Institute Proceedings after NAUTILUS got underway on nuclear power in January of 1955. By 1966, it was more than obvious that a significant change had taken place in the conduct of naval warfare, but its exact dimensions were not yet clear to most of the Navy. Reprinted in its entirety is the Naval Institute’s prize essay of 1966, 1he Submarine’s Long Shadow, which went a long way toward articulation of the impact of the nuclear submarine. The author of that essay has updated for us his 1966 impressions, and has added some background that will be of particular interest to all who were involved in the surface and air ASW efforts of the late ’60s aimed at controlling the nuclear submarine threat.
The war patrol from 50 years ago is excerpted from HARD-ER’s justly famous Fifth War Patrol, under Commander Sam Dealy. That was the patrol in which he sank five (at least) destroyers, conducted a surveillance of the Japanese fleet in its anchorage, and maybe even precipitated the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The part reported here, however, concerns a special mission in which HARDER picked up a party of agents in North Bomea. Flexible submarine multi-mission excellence is not a new concept.
Last, but not least, we have to note that among the several excellent book reviews in this issue is one by Vice Admiral Jon Boyes on a new book by the REVIEW’s first editor, Bill Rube. Congratulations Bill, the book sounds great and we all look forward to reading it when it hits the stores, just about the same time that this issue is in the hands of the membership.
FROM THE PRESIDENT
For those who dwell in peace and tranquility beyond the Beltway, be aware that, in the cross~fire of the current budget battle, we find submarines in a somewhat contradic-tory situation: the post Cold War force level of fifty SSNs, plus or minus five, established in several credible independent studies, does not appear to be in dispute; the unique warfighting capabili-ties that submarines bring to joint warfare have awakened new and diverse proponents; the need to preserve the very special and very fragile submarine technology and industrial bases is recognized at the highest levels of government; but, at this writing, the will to make the national commitment is at top dead center.
As the surviving superpower with global responsibilities, and as an island nation dependent on free access to the seas for commercial as well as military needs, we must have a strong Navy, and submarines are among the most versatile and cost~ effective elements of that Navy. Perhaps not obvious in the many assessments, analyses, computer modeling, and war games, one inherent truth remains: Although the nature of the threat may vary, and the scenario may shift from one environment to another, there will always be a need for covert, independent, sustained operations, and only submarines would be capable of executing the mission.
Although it may not be palatable, a state of the art nuclear attack submarine with the stealth and offensive capabilities necessary to maintain a tactical advantage over a technologically feasible threat for the next thirty years will not be cheap. As the mechanic in the oil filter ad says, “Pay me now, or pay me later”. Later may be too late in a world on the razor’s edge of stability.
In a more mundane vein, we are expanding our membership data base to include submarine or submarine~related assignments so that we can call up a list of those who served in a specific ship, or worked on a certain project to facilitate reunions, research efforts, and the like. We are also in a full coun press to expand active duty membership, from the top down, and hope to increase our corporate sponsorship by approaching the second tier suppliers and contractors.
To the 600 plus very patient contributors to our Submarine History Book, we expect to have the presses rolling soon. We think you will be pleased with the product. In addition to the biographies, there is a great introduction to the Submarine Force by RADM Mike Rindskopf, and a very special early history of submarines by Dr. Richard K. Morris. The book should be in your bands before the June Symposium.
Planning for both the classified Submarine Technology Symposium at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in May, and our Annual Submarine League Sympo-sium in June is complete. Registration packages for the latter are in the mail. Please plan to join us for another great get-together.