The line between tactical and
strategic nuclear weapons exists only in the minds of
ivory tower theoreticians. With either, we are at the
mercy of the LEAST STABLE person who has their finger on
Allowing battlefield commanders
control over tactical nuclear weapons has only been done
once before. In late September, 1958, China and Taiwan
were battling over Quemoy and Matsu Islands. The islands
are only 8 miles from the mainland, and were being
shelled by Mao. Chang convinced Eisenhower to "protect"
the islands, so Eisenhower sent the USS Mauna Kea on a
midnight run through the Taiwan Straights to give the
American battlefield commander 8" howitzers and nuclear
shells. The battlefield commander was horrified and
ordered the nuclear shells removed from the islands. Had
we a less sane commander on the spot, a nuclear war could
well have resulted, as Russia was then supplying China
with nuclear bombs.
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military is
considering allowing regional combatant commanders to
request presidential approval for pre-emptive nuclear
strikes against possible attacks with weapons of mass
destruction on the United States or its allies, according
to a draft nuclear operations paper.
The March 15 paper, drafted by the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, is titled "Doctrine for Joint
Nuclear Operations," providing "guidelines for the joint
employment of forces in nuclear operations ... for the
employment of U. S. nuclear forces, command and control
relationships, and weapons effect considerations."
"There are numerous nonstate organizations (terrorist,
criminal) and about 30 nations with WMD programs,
including many regional states," the paper says in
recommending that commanders in the Pacific and other
theaters be given an option of pre-emptive strikes
against "rogue" states and terrorists and "request
presidential approval for use of nuclear weapons" under
The paper identifies nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons as requiring pre-emptive strikes to prevent their
Allowing pre-emptive nuclear strikes against possible
biological and chemical attacks would effectively
contradict a "negative security assurance" policy
declared 10 years ago by the Clinton administration
during an international conference to review the Nuclear
Creating a treaty committing nuclear powers not to use
nuclear weapons against countries without nuclear weapons
remains one of the most contentious issues for the
35-year-old NPT regime.
A Pentagon official said the paper "is still a draft
which has to be finalized" but indicated that it is aimed
at guiding "cross-spectrum" combatant commanders how to
jointly carry out operations based on the Nuclear Posture
Review report adopted three years ago by the Bush
Citing North Korea, Iran and some other countries as
threats, the report sets out contingencies for which U.
S. nuclear strikes must be prepared.
It calls for developing earth-penetrating nuclear bombs
to destroy hidden underground military facilities,
including those for storing WMD and ballistic
"The nature (of the paper) is to explain not details but
cross spectrum for how to conduct operations," the
official said, noting that it "means for all services --
army, navy, air force and marine."
In 1991 after the end of the Cold War, the United States
removed its ground-based nuclear weapons in Asia and
Europe as well as strategic nuclear warheads on warships
But the paper says the U. S. has the capability of
reviving sea-based nuclear arms.