Is There a Future Role for Tactical Nuclear Weapon Systems in the National Military Strategy?   [open pdf - 2MB]

"The disintegration of the Former Soviet Union and the demise of the Warsaw Pact as significant threats to national security allowed President Bush to promulgate new defense policy initiatives impacting nuclear force capabilities and roles. Because of this threat reduction and domestic challenges, the United States' armed services will undergo significant downsizing in the next several years. This will affect the force structure needed in the National Military Strategy (NMS) to insure attainment of national security policy objectives while minimizing risk. Planning the size and capabilities of the future force structure is complicated because of uncertainties in discerning new emerging nuclear-capable threats. This paper reviews die purpose and role that tactical nuclear weapon systems can provide in supporting the NMS, and recommends requirements be determined using a strategy based upon political, economic and military national interests versus the current target-based strategy. To draw implication for the NMS, the analysis reviews current strategic policy guidance, summarizes the current definition of deterrence theory, and provides rationales for maintaining tactical nuclear weapon systems for deterrence and warfighting in regional contingency operations again nuclear-capable forces. Based upon this analysis, recommendations are provided for joint planning, doctrine, and training initiatives needed to enhance the efficacy of the armed services in achieving national security policy objectives."

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