Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations

Publication - September 23, 2005
An unclassified draft of a US nuclear doctrine review that spells out conditions under which US commanders might seek approval to use nuclear weapons.

Illustration explaining the convergence of nuclear and non-nuclear options for Pentagon war planning.

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Executive summary:

This document was removed from a Pentagon website in September of 2005 "because even in an unclassified world this is not the kind of thing you want flying around the Internet," according to a Pentagon Spokesman.

We believe this is exactly the kind of document which ought to "fly around the internet," and so present you the draft report complete with tracked changes.

Sample nuggets of the collective wisdom of the warplanners:

"Executing a nuclear option, or even a portion of an option, should send a clear signal of United States' resolve. Hence, options must be selected very carefully and deliberately so that the attack can help ensure the adversary recognizes the "signal" and should therefore not assume the United States has escalated to general nuclear war, although that perception cannot be guaranteed."

[...]

"Friendly forces must receive advanced warning of friendly nuclear strikes."

[...]

The immediate and prolonged effects of nuclear weapons including blast (overpressure, dynamic pressure, ground shock, and cratering), thermal radiation (fire and other material effects), and nuclear radiation (initial, residual, fallout, blackout, and electromagnetic pulse), impose physical and psychological challenges for combat forces and noncombatant populations alike. These effects also pose significant survivability requirements on military equipment, supporting civilian infrastructure resources, and host-nation/coalition assets. US forces must prepare to survive and perhaps operate in a nuclear/radiological environment.

Num. pages: 69

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