By G. Wyn Rees (auth.)
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Extra info for Anglo-American Approaches to Alliance Security, 1955–60
Many such states were receiving military supplies and support from the USSR and could present a serious challenge. The size of forces that would be involved in an interventionary operation would depend upon the nature and intensity of the conflict and the level of sophistication of the opponent. It was argued that unless the West was equipped to meet the challenge of limited wars, it would find itself powerless in the face of numerous small-scale conflicts. Failure to become involved could also prove to be false economy because a containable war might well escalate into a much bigger conflict.
The US strategy of 'Massive Retaliation', outlined by Secretary of State Dulles in January 1954, became the formal expression of this thinking. This strategy threatened the use of nuclear weapons on a massive scale against an adversary as a response to any form of aggression around the world. The emphasis was upon punishing the aggressor by inflicting damage on him with nuclear weapons of tactical, as well as strategic, range. It reflected the fact that nuclear capabilities were now plentiful and that the advent of thermonuclear weapons provided unlimited firepower.
It would now be the strategic nuclear weapons that acted as the shield to prevent the escalation of a limited conflict, while the conventional forces served as the sword that would counter aggression and eventually defeat the enemy. He did not believe that small forces armed with tactical nuclear weapons The Nature of War 31 could compensate for the absence of substantial ground forces supported by tactical air power. 46 In a subsequent book, he stated that: the over-all problem . 47 Support for the Army's view was forthcoming from the US Navy, which shared the desire to prevent further cuts in its conventional force budgets.