By G. Wyn Rees (auth.)
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Additional resources for Anglo-American Approaches to Alliance Security, 1955–60
General Mathew Ridgway, Army Chief of Staff, was an early advocate of this viewpoint. Before retiring in the middle of 1955, he argued that the US was devoting too great a proportion of its resources and its strategic thinking to concepts of total war. He called for more attention to be paid to limited conflicts in overseas theatres, where it would be unlikely that the US could rely upon its overwhelming superiority in strategic nuclear forces. Ridgway's successor, General Maxwell Taylor, continued to put forward these ideas during his membership of the JCS.
This fact was acknowledged privately in American policy making circles throughout the late-1950s. There was no question that the US would retaliate against an attack upon its own territory by the Soviet Union. But it was more questionable whether the US would employ nuclear weapons if only its allies were attacked, or if the area was not considered to be of vital interest. Thus the foundation on which Western strategy had been constructed, namely extended deterrence, could be undermined. The US might well find itself in a position of mutual deterrence with its adversary and the nuclear strength of the US would be rendered impotent.
Whatever the cause, a global conflict could still occur in spite of the fact that neither side might actively have sought to bring it about. As Chairman Radford stated, when the Soviets had attained a balance: the Chiefs of Staff had pointed out that the relative power position of the US will have so changed that the US could no longer count on the Russians being afraid of starting a general war. . 28 Nuclear 'sufficiency' could be said to have lessened the military utility of the British nuclear force.