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US Revives Idea Of Limited Nuclear War That Doesn’t Destroy The Planet
A nuclear war doesn’t have to be the end of the world, according to the U.S. government’s latest Nuclear Posture Review.
The recently updated policy on nuclear weapons calls for fitting existing submarine-launched ballistic missiles with low-yield warheads to deter Russia, which believes that if it uses tactical nuclear weapons as part of a first strike, it can de-escalate a crisis on its terms because the United States would not want to counter with a full nuclear strike.
In other words, the United States could respond to a tactical nuclear strike with a low-yield weapon instead of escalating to World War III. For the long term, the Defense and Energy Departments will also study how to develop new submarine-launched cruise missiles that can also be fitted with low-yield warheads.
“Expanding flexible U.S. nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression,” according to the Nuclear Posture Review. “It will raise the nuclear threshold and help ensure that potential adversaries perceive no possible advantage in limited nuclear escalation, making nuclear employment less likely.”
Underlining the policy is the idea that a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia could be limited to the least destructive weapons in both countries’ nuclear stockpiles.
America is neither increasing the number of its nuclear weapons, nor is it increasing the odds of a nuclear conflict, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood said at a Friday news briefing. Furthermore, the United States has had low-yield nuclear weapons in its inventory for decades, he said.
“When we look at some of the activities, statements, capabilities that adversaries — or potential adversaries — have pursued, one of the things that we want to make sure that we maintain is a flexible set of capabilities so that they not come to the mistaken impression that would be some ranges of situations where they might employ nuclear weapons — whether they be low-yield or so-called ‘battlefield nuclear weapons,’ things of that nature — in a way that we would feel that we did not have credible response options, in order to preserve deterrence,” Rood said.
However, Rood also stressed that the U.S. nuclear policy does not call for the automatic use of nuclear weapons in certain circumstances. The U.S. government would consider the circumstances of any attack — including a cyber attack — before deciding whether or not to respond with nuclear or conventional weapons, he said.
“Obviously, I would highly discourage any nation from considering such an attack on the United States or our allies — that would not be in your interest to do so, to state the obvious,” Rood said.
The U.S. government’s embrace of low-yield nuclear weapons echoes the “flexible response” nuclear attack policy in the 1970s, said Paul Saunders, executive director of the Center for the National Interest think tank in Washington.
Under then-Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, the United States sought an alternative to mutually assured destruction, under which any use of nuclear weapons between the U.S. and Soviet Union would result in both countries being annihilated, Saunders said in an interview with Task & Purpose on Friday.
“There was a concern that if the other side thought that they could use nuclear weapons in a limited way and we didn’t have a viable response — other than destroying human civilization — that they would be able to get away with it,” Saunders said. “That’s certainly something we want to prevent.”
Right now, the United States has a conventional military advantage over Russia, and that has caused the Russian government to consider using tactical nuclear weapons “because they may have no other alternative in a conventional conflict,” Saunders said.
However, while deterrence calls for having appropriate responses to the full spectrum of nuclear attacks, no one knows if a nuclear war could actually be contained to low-yield weapons, he said.
“That’s the strongest reason for not getting into a situation where someone needs to think about using nuclear weapons,” Saunders said. “To the extent that having lower yield weapons makes our deterrence more credible, then I think it helps us to avoid getting into that situation.”
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.