Pentagon Cancels Controversial Nuclear Doctrine Documents

The Pentagon has formally cancelled a controversial revision of its Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations after the document was exposed last year in an article in Arms Control Today and described in the Washington Post.

The revised draft doctrine included for the first time descriptions of preemptive use of U.S. nuclear weapons, which prompted the Senate Armed Services Committee to ask the Pentagon for a briefing, and 16 lawmakers to protest to President Bush.

The decision to cancel Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, and with it three other related nuclear documents, was confirmed today by the Pentagon. The cancellation of the documents does not change U.S. nuclear policy which continues to include options for nuclear preemption.

See background briefing and analysis and copies of the doctrine documents.

2 thoughts on “Pentagon Cancels Controversial Nuclear Doctrine Documents

  1. FS: Slightly confused. Is the “Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations” a public document, published by the Pentagon, for Congressional review? Or, is this a private Pentagon document made available to Congress for oversight review on American war fighting strategy? Has this new policy itself been revised? Rescinded? Or has the Pentagon simply ended “public” discussion on this issue?

    Reply: It was a public document for more than a decade, available on the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s web site and frequently referenced by other military documents. Then, after I described a new revision in an Arms Control Today article and the Washington Post ran a front page story that caused concern in Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff removed the document from their web site.

    Congress had not been consulted and was concerned that the revised doctrine included new scenarios that tipped the balance too much in the direction of limited preemtive use of nuclear weapons.

    Officially the document has been canceled. But the policy it described remains alive and well and has continued to evolve under the new Global Strike mission. – MK

  2. Yes it was a public document available on the Joint Chiefs of Staff web site. It didn’t require review by Congress, which was surprised when the new draft was disclosed. As I noted, the cancellation does not affect nuclear policy.

Leave a Reply