Accession Number : ADA328180

Title :   Theater Nuclear Weapons - Are They Really an Option for an Operational Commander?

Descriptive Note : Final rept.,

Corporate Author : NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI

Personal Author(s) : Torcolini, Kevin M.

PDF Url : ADA328180

Report Date : MAR 1997

Pagination or Media Count : 25

Abstract : The September 1994 approval of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) reaffirmed the current posture of non-strategic nuclear forces (NSNFs) for use by operational commanders. Joint U.S. military doctrine firmly places the responsibility for intelligent employment of theater nuclear weapons on the operational commander. The revival of operational art in professional military education has made us aware that nuclear weapons have, over the past several decades, appeared to make operational art irrelevant. Alternately, it could be asserted that effective use of operational art may obviate theater nuclear weapons. Analysis of whether theater nuclear weapons are still useful warfighting tools for an operational commander in the context of effective operational art, particularly the tenets of operational design, reveals the many detriments which must be overcome if theater nuclear weapons are to be successfully employed. When scrutiny is applied to the commander's original desired end state relative to the conditions following limited use of nuclear weapons, it is determined that orderly war termination would be virtually impossible. Many aspects of modern warfighting on and around a nuclear battlefield have not been sufficiently resolved to allow confident employment of theater nuclear weapons as a mere subset of a major operational plan. When compared to the operational advantages of employing theater nuclear weapons, the detrimental effects of these weapons seriously limit their battlefield effectiveness. Overall, the negative effects on the operational commander's ability to affect an orderly war termination and achieve national strategic and military strategic objectives in his theater, particularly in today's coalition-based environment, will heavily outweigh potential advantages.

Descriptors :   *NUCLEAR WARFARE, *NUCLEAR WEAPONS, MILITARY OPERATIONS, DEPLOYMENT, MILITARY STRATEGY, THEATER LEVEL OPERATIONS, EDUCATION, MASS DESTRUCTION WEAPONS, TACTICAL ANALYSIS, MILITARY COMMANDERS, MILITARY ART.

Subject Categories : Nuclear Warfare
      Nuclear Weapons

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE