Changing Defense Concepts

May 15, 1957

Report Outline
Revision of Britain's Defense Strategy
Adjustments in American Defense Policies
Strategic Doctrines and National Security

Revision of Britain's Defense Strategy

The free world's increasing reliance on nuclear weapons to prevent or combat aggression was signalized last month by Great Britain's clear-cut decision to concentrate on atomic arms at the expense of conventional military force. The shift in military concepts was emphasized again early in May when the North Atlantic Council firmly adhered, in the face of Russian threats, to its plan to utilize nuclear weapons in the defense of Western Europe. Both actions bore out changes in military thinking that have been going on in the world since advent of the atomic age.

Startling advances in military technology, existence of a nuclear stalemate between East and West, and the astronomical costs of simultaneously maintaining both conventional and air-atomic defenses have combined to force modification of traditional approaches to military planning. The United Kingdom's realistic reappraisal of its strategic and economic position led it into the most drastic step yet taken by a first-class military power. That action highlighted the whole complex of questions confronting defense planners in other countries: What kind of wars should they prepare for? What kind of forces should they maintain? What kind of strategy should they devise?

Reliance on Nuclear Weapons to Ward Off Attack

A White Paper presented to Parliament on Apr, 4 gave the reasons for the London government's decision to base defense primarily on nuclear weapons. Asserting that dramatic strides in military technology necessitated fundamental changes in the whole basis of planning, the paper said the time had come to “revise not merely the size but the whole character of the defense plan” and effect the “biggest change in military policy ever made in normal times.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Mar. 08, 2002  Weapons of Mass Destruction
Jan. 31, 1997  Chemical and Biological Weapons
Jun. 24, 1994  Nuclear Arms Cleanup
Jun. 05, 1992  Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 29, 1990  Obstacles to Bio-Chemical Disarmament
Apr. 22, 1988  The Military Build-Down in the 1990s
May 24, 1987  Euromissile Negotiations
Jul. 11, 1986  Chemical Weapons
Apr. 27, 1984  Reagan's Defense Buildup
Jun. 04, 1982  Civil Defense
Jul. 17, 1981  Controlling Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 05, 1981  MX Missile Decision
Aug. 15, 1980  The Neutron Bomb and European Defense
Sep. 07, 1979  Atomic Secrecy
Mar. 17, 1978  Nuclear Proliferation
May 27, 1977  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1977  Politics of Strategic Arms Negotiations
Nov. 15, 1974  Nuclear Safeguards
Jul. 01, 1970  Nuclear Balance of Terror: 25 Years After Alamogordo
Jun. 18, 1969  Chemical–Biological Weaponry
Jun. 30, 1965  Atomic Proliferation
Mar. 21, 1962  Nuclear Testing Dilemmas
Aug. 16, 1961  Shelters and Survival
Oct. 12, 1959  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1959  Nuclear Test Ban
Dec. 04, 1957  Scientific Cooperation and Atlantic Security
May 15, 1957  Changing Defense Concepts
Jul. 03, 1956  Civil Defense, 1956
Nov. 16, 1955  International Arms Deals
Oct. 04, 1954  Industrial Defense
Apr. 15, 1954  National Defense Strategy
Feb. 10, 1954  New Aproaches to Atomic Control
Oct. 10, 1953  Atomic Information
Apr. 11, 1952  Biological Warfare
Oct. 03, 1951  World Arms Race
Feb. 04, 1948  International Control of Atomic Energy
Dec. 06, 1946  International Inspection
Aug. 27, 1943  Gas Warfare
Jul. 24, 1937  The New Race in Armaments
May 05, 1932  Abolition of Aggressive Weapons
Defense Technology and Force Planning
Regional Political Affairs: Europe