Target Allocation Issues
Any scheme to assign priorities to targets necessarily entails substantial judgment or arbitrariness in developing values for targets in a class and then deciding what fraction of the total value of that class to target to meet military needs. Developing a value scheme that spans the whole range of targets of very different character is even more difficult. How should one decide the relative value of a fighter airbase, a tank regiment, a naval base, a nuclear storage site, a “ball bearing” factory, or an oil refinery? However, it can be argued that practical value schemes can be developed for the usual categories of targets, and since much of the total value in many categories resides in the most valuable 50 or 100 targets, the total weapons requirements to do “unacceptable” damage to the full target system can be provided even by retaliation from a damaged force. A few examples make this assertion plausible:
(1) The CIA reported that in 1984 the Soviet Union had a total of 53 oil refineries distributed throughout 17 economic regions. 1 Destroying 50 percent of them, selected by capacity and geography, would require about 30-35 warheads and would devastate this industry.
(2) Figure B-1 shows the cumulative electrical generating capacity of the Soviet Union in 1984, again using CIA data, starting with the largest
Page 56stations and proceeding down to the smaller ones. 2 The 80 largest stations account for over 50 percent of total capacity. It seems plausible that destroying 50 of the largest and most strategically located stations would be very effective militarily.
(3) Figure B-2 shows an estimate of the cumulative destruction of Soviet industry of all kinds as a function of the number of attacking warheads, assuming the most valuable and concentrated targets are struck first. 3 By this estimate, successful detonation of about 130 warheads, each with a 500-kiloton yield, would destroy 50 percent of all industry. If the attacks were concentrated on primarily military-related industry, presumably fewer would be required to destroy 50 percent of those industries, although inevitably nonmilitary industries would still be destroyed.
(4) The Soviet Union has about 100 seaports of all kinds. Most are nonmilitary and some are ice-locked most of the year, so destroying perhaps 20 military ports would presumably cripple the Navy's shore facilities. Fifty detonations should be adequate for that task.
Examining the process of targeting Soviet ground forces provides a more complete example of this process. According to the most recent editions of Soviet Military Power 1990 and The Military Balance 1990-1991,4 the Soviet Union has about 195 ground force divisions, mostly tank and motorized rifle with a few airborne. About 23 of these divisions are still in Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, but they are expected to leave soon; the future size of the Soviet Army is uncertain, but it will probably decrease. The Military Balance reports that Soviet divisions currently fall into four categories: Category A divisions are at 75 percent strength or higher, B divisions are at 50 percent strength, Category C are at 20-50 percent, and Category D/E divisions are termed mobilization divisions and are at 5 percent strength or lower.
There are many questions about the effectiveness of attacking ground force units if they are on alert and dispersed to uncertain locations. However, assuming there is sufficient knowledge about the divisions' locations to make attack possible, it is clear that not all units should have equal priority as targets. As a very qualitative example, the following exercise assumes that each full-strength division presents six targets—a headquarters and C31 unit, and five fighting regiments. It assumes further that for a Category A division each headquarters unit is worth 2 “points” and each regiment 1 point, for the Category B divisions the points are 1 and 0.5 respectively, for Category C they are 0.5 and 0.25, and for the mobilization divisions 0.2 and 0.1. According to The Military Balance, there are 46 Category A, 47 B, 89 C, and 13 mobilization divisions. With these data and assumptions one can construct a value curve for Soviet ground force targets. Figure B-3 displays the curve. It appears that successful detonation
Page 57of about 300 warheads against units whose location is reasonably well known could destroy 50 percent of current Soviet ground force capability. This example is only presented to suggest roughly the magnitude of the task of targeting this element of Soviet power.
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Similar arguments can be made to estimate the forces needed to attack substantial fractions—on the order of 50 percent—of the value of other militarily significant target categories, including airfields, logistic and transportation nodes, and command and control centers. We note that, in addition to the intended destruction of the target, tens of millions of people would be killed and injured, especially in attacks on military-related manufacturing targets in urban areas. Explicit anticity targeting would produce comparable casualties with far fewer weapons.
1. Central Intelligence Agency, USSR Energy Atlas. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1985.
3. R.D. Speed, Strategic Forces: Future Requirements and Options. Livermore, Calif.: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Report UCRL-ID-105336, November 1990, pp. 52-53.
4. U.S. Department of Defense, Soviet Military Power 1990. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990; International Institute of Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 1990-1991. London: IISS, 1990, pp. 28-43