Naval War College Review


For more than three decades, beginning soon after the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union faced off against each other. The concept of “mutual assured destruction”—MAD, the U.S. threat of massive retaliation to a Soviet first strike—became America’s Cold War de facto strategic defense policy. In March 1983, however, President Ronald Reagan asked whether ballistic missiles could be destroyed before they reached the United States or its allies, thus catalyzing efforts for a national ballistic-missile-defense program that would undermine the need for MAD.