The DoD's nuclear doctrine

  • 26 June 2019
  • NormanL

The Department of Defense is required to make plans for a wide array of threats to our nation's security. Included on that list: when and why to use nuclear weapons.

While contemplating nulcear war is about the farthest thing from most people's minds these days (unlike it was even as recently as the 1980s), the DoD is thinking those thoughts -- and publishing them. Here's a sample of what's inside:

The document presents an unclassified, mostly familiar overview of nuclear strategy, force structure, planning, targeting, command and control, and operations.

“Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability,” according to one Strangelovian passage in the publication. “Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.”

Which seems obvious. But there was something odd about the publication of this particular report:

The document might have gone unremarked, but after publishing it last week the Joint Chiefs deleted it from their public website. A notice there states that it (JP 3-72) is now only “available through JEL+” (the Joint Electronic Library), which is a restricted access site.

This link, containing the full report, was established before the DoD's duck and cover maneuver. It's not the kind of report that will change many minds, let alone reveal any secrets. But it does make for eye-opening reading about the kind of operations we have long thought were the stuff of Hollywood movies.