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WASHINGTON, (BM) – As in the Cold War, the US and NATO are mulling how to deal with Russian submarines, designed to deliver a “second strike” in the event of a hot conflict, writes Forbes. However, according to US Navy veteran Bradford Dismuks, these nuclear submarines are one of the key factors in nuclear deterrence, so any threat hanging over them will greatly irritate Moscow, which is more likely to lead to a nuclear war than to stop it.
During the Cold War, the US Navy planned to send its submarines into northern waters in order to track down Soviet nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles on board, Forbes writes.
If a “hot” war broke out in Europe, American submarines would start sinking Soviet nuclear submarines inside their “bastion” – in a sea area protected from all directions. According to the plan, even in such conditions, the Soviet nuclear submarines had to go to the bottom within minutes.
However, according to US Navy veteran Bradford Dismukes, this “bulwark” plan – also known as “strategic anti-submarine warfare” – was a bad idea 40 years ago, and has not improved since then.
Given that the fleets of the United States and its allies are now rethinking how to combat the Russian fleet, they, according to Dismuks, should be very careful about the issue of containing Russian nuclear submarines. “In almost every conceivable circumstance, the United States should not threaten Russian nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles on board,” he warned.
The fact is that the threat to the means of nuclear deterrence of the state in any context with the exception of a war of destruction will most likely lead to it. “It can be argued that at the moment, during the implementation of a strategic anti-submarine war, such a rare situation has developed that failure in it is much preferable to success,” the expert noted.
The “anti-bastion” doctrine originated in the early 1970s with the appearance of the Murena-class nuclear submarine in the USSR with R-29 nuclear missiles capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 9 thousand kilometers, which allowed the Murena to conduct containment missions in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.
Considering that the Murena carried out their combat missions very close to the Soviet border, they could be covered by both ground-based patrol aircraft and short-range combat ships. Thus, the USSR defended its potential for a “second strike” in the event of a full-scale nuclear war.
The ability to deliver a second strike is a key point of mutual nuclear deterrence, meaning that your adversary will not be able to neutralize your nuclear potential in any way. In other words, in such conditions, victory in a nuclear war becomes an impossible task. Consequently, nuclear war is becoming a much less attractive option for solving all problems.
At the same time, NATO strategists feared that the Soviet Union might invade Norway and Sweden in order to defend the borders of its “bastion”. “The Soviet Union will inevitably try to turn the Baltic Sea into its mare nostrum,” said the Norwegian military analyst Histen Amundsen in 1986.
Therefore, the alliance in all seriousness was going to storm the Soviet “bastions”, developing specialized means for these purposes. Fortunately, the Cold War ended before strategic anti-submarine warfare had time to fully fledge and show its destabilizing face.
However, now, 30 years later, amid growing tensions with NATO, Russia is once again modernizing its submarine forces. In response, the US Navy is building up its submarine capability to the north, conducting exercises and developing new torpedoes.
In such circumstances, Russian planners will likely find it extremely difficult to convince the United States simply intends to give its ballistic missile nuclear submarines more room to maneuver. Therefore, such a step could provoke the Russians to take concrete action against the American nuclear submarines, which threatens with unpredictable consequences and aggravation of the situation.
According to Dismuks, the US Navy and its allies should reconsider their position on the active fight against Russian ballistic missile submarines in the waters near Russia. “If you believe the old worldly wisdom, then a person’s problems appear not because he doesn’t know something, but because he was completely sure of something,” concluded the expert.
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