The possibility of a surprise military attack by one country or bloc of countries on another increases international tension and hinders discussion of disarmament and arms control measures. Such attacks may take the form of long-range ballistic missiles or the use of tactical weapons by forces in close proximity (such as in the European region).
Satellite reconnaissance has provided some means to guard against massive conventional attack by surprise. The second-strike capability which both the USA and the USSR possess has largely decreased the probability of a surprise nuclear attack. These arguments are only valid in connection with the military alliances centred on Europe. Surprise attack remains an important problem for non-aligned countries, in both military and political terms.