[fa.arms-d] Arms-Discussion Digest V0 #104

C70:arms-d (05/12/82)

>From HGA@MIT-MC Wed May 12 01:17:36 1982

Arms-Discussion Digest                            Volume 0 : Issue 104

Today's Topics:
                      ZRM's reply (and prophecy)
               Time-urgent hard-target kill capability
                    U.S. base on Ascension Island
                           Reloading silos
     Continuing debate on time-urgent hard-target kill capability

Date: 10 May 1982 23:25:57-EDT
From: csin!cjh at CCA-UNIX
Subject: Re ZRM's reply (and prophecy)

   Taking your political points \very/ briefly:
- I'm glad you're amused; perhaps now you can pick up your temporal
ruler?  Burke and de Tocqueville are as outdated as Adam Smith and for
similar reasons.

- The relative awfulness of Nixon, Carter, and proposed Reagan
cabinets is related to one's political position. See the recent
ATLANTIC re Nixon.

- You have no baseline from which to allege that I "shrilly denounce
anything a conservative administration does." I've given up on THE
PROGRESSIVE for just this reason. Note also that I spoke of RAH's grip
on reality 30 years ago.

- Respect for a given ballot box is in the same class as respect for a
given church--let it be earned. Shall we argue about elections in El

- Fertilize your civics lesson. I consider it a far more appropriate
function of government to prevent a disaster, rather than abetting it
and claiming credit for cleaning it up.

   Taking a little more time on civil defense, I will note that I have
yet to see a sound refutation of the conclusion that evacuating the
major cities (which seems to be the primary plan outside of the
three-feet-of-dirt school) is sufficiently close to stating that we
expect those cities to be bombed that our opponents would strike
before evacuation could be well underway, in anticipation of whatever
action we plan that we expect to result in the bombing of our cities.
   It's completely insufficient to argue that our opponents would not
reason this way; determining how (and how well) even one individual
reasons under stress is close to impossible (try to visualize how your
best friend would behave if he were dumped into an Outward Bound-type
situation without their support structure). The world now has several
examples of how assorting reasoning turned out wrong when it was acted
---Did Galtieri really expect the British to react as strongly as they
---Did the Iraqis expect effective resistance from the Iranians?
---Did the Chinese expect that their mostly inexperience infantry
  would be able to handle a blooded Vietnamese army?
You have several possibilities: those who initiated the action may
actually have been irrational, or reasoning may have been carried out
insufficiently (but how do you determine what is sufficient?), or (and
this is as frightening as individual irrationalities) a conscious
decision may have been made that an outside action, whatever the
consequence, was preferable to the status quo (and how do you reason
   Attempting to predict what a human being will do can be as futile
as attempting to predict what the next major scientific discovery will
be (not simply the area, but what will actually be discovered).


Date: 11 May 1982 0900-PDT
From: Herb Lin <LIN at WASHINGTON>
Subject: REM's rationale for time-urgent hard-target kill capability

    Paraphrase of REM's argument: you need time-urgent hard-target
    kill capability to prevent him from retargeting his missiles; he
    wants to wait to see what hits, and in this waiting time, you can
    hit him.

I don't buy this.  In the time it takes for you to launch your
retaliatory missiles aimed at his silos (another 30 min), essentially
all of his warheads will have landed, and he will know what has been
hit and what has not.  He then retargets in the remaining time, and
launches even *without* waiting for warning of your incoming missiles,
which he knows will be coming in anyway.  What do you buy with your
hard-target capability?

A number of significance: reprogramming a given missile to hit an
arbitrary target takes about 35 minutes on the US side, probably more
on the Soviet side.  However, it is absurd to think that any missile
fire control system has only one target pre-stored inside it,
precisely because we (or they) would want the flexibility to retarget.
Thus, retargeting from among a finite list of targets (as opposed to
reprogramming) can take place essentially instantaneously.


Date: 11 May 1982 18:24-EDT
From: Robert Elton Maas <REM at MIT-MC>
Subject: REM's rationale for time-urgent hard-target kill capability

It would seem to me that it takes approximately the same time for
ICBMs to go from the USA to the USSR as it does to go from the USSR to
the USA. I'll assume this is 30 minutes (the figure you used). The
enemy can't retarget their second wave until the first wave has struck
and reconnaissance has fed back the results. This occurs 30 minutes
after initial launch plus any time needed for reconnaissance. But we
can send our silo-killers as soon as we see their ICBMs coming at us,
say 15 minutes after they launch their first strike, 15 minutes before
their warheads reach us. Our warheads will then reach and destroy
their silos 30 minutes later, i.e. 45 minutes after their first
launch, 15 minutes after their their first strike reaches target.

Are you saying that the USSR can perform reconnaissance and retarget
their missiles (from a finite list per missile) all within that
15-minute window after their missiles hit target before ours reach
their silos?


Date: 11 May 82 09:07:28 EDT  (Tue)
From: Steve Bellovin <smb.unc@UDel-Relay>
Subject: U.S. base on Ascension Island

The U.S. has a base on British-owned Ascension Island about 3500 miles
from the Falklands.  The treaty that permits the base requires us to
give full access to the British, and to furnish them with supplies
such as fuel.  The British have been taking full advantage of this
since the whole mess started.  According to the press accounts I saw,
only one Vulcan bomber participated in the raid.  That might make it
difficult for American observers to tell when the real attack was
starting.  Even if it was obvious, that's still only about 6 hours for
word to travel to Washington, and thence to Buenos Aires.


Date: 11 May 1982 19:22-EDT
From: RMS at MIT-AI

I've heard reports that the Russians have hundreds of extra ICBMs
ready to put into silos that have been vacated by launches.  If this
is true, then there is a good reason to be able to destroy Russian
silos even after the missiles in them have been fired.

I would expect that cruise missiles would be able to do that job,
though.  Does anyone know whether they can do it?


Date: 11 May 1982 2113-PDT
From: Herb Lin <LIN at WASHINGTON>
Subject: Re: continuing debate on time-urgent hard-target kill capability

Under your scenario, we are implementing launch-on-warning.  That is
the very thing a survivable basing mode for the MX is supposed to
forestall.  Are you implying that time-urgent hard-target kill
capability is dependent on an LOW scenario?  If so, since I don't
think LOW is the way to go for the usual reasons, t-u h-t capability
isn't needed.

Nevertheless, assuming your LOW scenario, I think I do believe that
they could process reconnaissance information and retarget in 15
minutes; retargeting is essentially instantaneous, and you shouldn't
need lots of processing time to determinate the site of an explosion.


Date: 11 May 1982 12:49:48-EDT
From: rae at mit-vax
Subject: re: armsd

Concerning REM's recent remark on the retargeting the second half of
one's strategic (read first-strike) nuclear missles.  From a talk by
Kosta Tsipis, I was lead to believe the retargeting of a balistic
missle was a non-trivial task 	requiring many (14 was the number I
remember) hours to perform.  Presumably the personnel to accomplish
this job are scattered throughout the missle launch system...


End of Arms-D Digest