EMPLOYMENT OF FORCES
1. Fundamental Considerations
a. Implementing the National Military Strategy. The decision to employ nuclear weapons at any level requires the explicit decision of the President. Senior commanders should be consulted and, based on their considered judgment, make recommendations affecting nuclear policy decisions on force structure, weapons and/or force capabilities, and alternative employment options. Consequently, those responsible for the operational planning and the direction of US nuclear forces must fully appreciate the numerous and often complex factors that influence the US nuclear planning process, and would likely shape US decisions on the possible use of nuclear weapons. Clearly, the use of nuclear weapons represents a significant escalation from conventional warfare and is caused by some action, event, or perceived threat. However, the fundamental determinant of action is the political objective sought in the use of nuclear or other types of forces. The decision to use nuclear weapons involves many political considerations. Together, these considerations will have an impact not only on the decision to use nuclear weapons, but also on how they will be employed. Other prominent planning and employment factors include the strategic situation, type and extent of operations to be conducted, military effectiveness, damage-limitation measures, environmental and ecological impacts, and how such considerations may interact.
b. International Reaction. International reaction toward the nation that first employs WMD is an important political consideration. The United States and its allies have articulated their abhorrence of unrestricted warfare, codifying "laws of war" and turning to definitions of "just war." The tremendous destructive capability of WMD and the consequences of their use have given rise to a number of arms control agreements (refer to Appendix A restricting deployment and use, and in the case of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, even prohibiting the development of an entire class of weapons. At the same time, it is important to recognize that there is no customary or conventional international law to prohibit nations from employing nuclear weapons in armed conflict. Therefore, the use of nuclear weapons against enemy combatants and other military objectives is lawful. The nation that initiates the use of nuclear weapons, however, may find itself the target of world condemnation.
2. Considerations in Force Planning and Employment
a. Employment Options. Combatant commanders responsible for the employment of nuclear forces must ensure those forces are fully capable of executing the full range of employment options required by the NCA. To this end, employment planning must fully consider the characteristics and limitations of the nuclear forces available and seek to optimize both the survivability and combat effectiveness of these forces.
b. Characteristics. To provide the desired capabilities, nuclear forces must be diverse, flexible, effective, survivable, enduring, and responsive. If no one weapon system possesses all of the desired characteristics, a variety of systems may be necessary.
(2) Flexibility and Effectiveness. To provide deployment and employment options that allow the United States to maintain effective deterrence and, if necessary, successfully execute a broad array of missions against the full spectrum of potential targets, forces must be flexible and effective. Flexibility allows engaging the enemy at an appropriate level or place with the capability of escalating or de-escalating the level of conflict, if desired. Flexibility is important because deterrent credibility hinges on having a convincing capability to execute a variety of nuclear and nonnuclear options. The flexible application of responses tailored to the provocation would afford greater control over the possible escalation of conflict. Flexibility is also essential in escalation management because available nuclear and conventional weapons can be tailored for specific military and political outcomes without destablization of the conflict.
(3) Survivability and Endurance. US nuclear forces and C4I must be able to survive enemy attacks to convince potential aggressors that, in any scenario, sufficient US capability will remain to deliver a devastating retaliatory strike. Nuclear forces and C4I must also be able to survive enemy attacks for both warfighting utility and deterrence purposes. Survivability is enhanced by a combination of multiple redundant systems, mobility, number of weapons, hardened sites, and employment concept. (For example, mobility, increases survivability, because the forces cannot be attacked with any certainty of destruction due to the unpredictability of the location of the weapon at the time of attack.) Survivability also strengthens deterrence by providing nuclear forces for continued retaliation against the enemy.
(4) Responsiveness. Some targets must be struck quickly once a decision to employ nuclear weapons has been made. Just as important is the requirement to promptly strike high-priority, time-sensitive targets that emerge after the conflict begins. Because force employment requirements may evolve at irregular intervals, some surviving nuclear weapons must be capable of striking these targets within the brief time available. Responsiveness (measured as the interval between the decision to strike a specific target and detonation of a weapon over that target) is critical to ensure engaging some emerging targets.
(2) Centralized Control. Centralized control ensures that US national policy decisions directly affect deployment or employment of nuclear forces. Militarily, centralized control provides clarity of purpose and unity of command while ensuring nuclear forces are responsive, properly used, and integrated. It guides a broad plan of action while providing the flexibility for subordinate commanders to plan authorized attacks in the most operationally effective manner.
(3) C4I. C4I must support the employment of nuclear weapons through all phases of a conflict. C4I must be able to provide the appropriate political and military authority with a survivable, secure, and endurable C4I capability through which execution, direction, assessment, and termination of nuclear operations can be ensured during all phases of a conflict, especially in its termination. Reporting residual capability assessment information through C4I systems is essential to providing the NCA with an understanding of the military capabilities remaining in a post-attack environment. Because of their central importance to US response capabilities, the destruction or degradation of C4I systems will likely be a primary enemy objective. Consequently, such systems must be robust, redundant (where essential to guarantee continuity of operations), and rapidly recoverable.
a. Preplanning. Guidance for planning nuclear strikes is promulgated from the NCA to the combatant commanders through documents such as National Security Directives, the Policy Guidance for Nuclear Weapons Employment, and/or the JSCP, Annex C. The combatant commanders then preplan nuclear targets using this guidance.
b. Target Planning. Conditions leading to US employment of nuclear weapons may not necessarily lead to an all-out exchange of WMD. Consequently, several strategies or factors must be considered in planning joint nuclear operations.
(1) Countervalue Targeting. Countervalue targeting strategy directs the destruction or neutralization of selected enemy military and military-related activities, such as industries, resources, and/or institutions that contribute to the enemy's ability to wage war. In general, weapons required to implement this strategy need not be as numerous or accurate as those required to implement a counterforce targeting strategy, because countervalue targets generally tend to be softer and unprotected in relation to counterforce targets.
(2) Counterforce Targeting. Counterforce targeting is a strategy to employ forces to destroy, or render impotent, military capabilities of an enemy force. Typical counterforce targets include bomber bases, ballistic-missile submarine bases, ICBM silos, antiballistic and air defense installations, C2 centers, and WMD storage facilities. Generally, the nuclear forces required to implement a counterforce targeting strategy are larger and weapon systems more accurate, than the forces and weapons required to implement a countervalue strategy, because counter-force targets generally tend to be harder, more protected, difficult to find, and more mobile than countervalue targets.
(3) Prioritization of Targets. Targets are normally prioritized based upon the overall targeting strategy. Further refinement of target priorities will be made within each target category (e.g., industrial, military, energy facilities, storage facilities, weapon storage areas) based on the operational situation and the objectives established by the appropriate command authority.
(4) Layering. Layering is a targeting methodology that plans employing more than one weapon against a target to increase the probability of its destruction or to improve the confidence that a weapon will arrive and detonate on that target and achieve a specified level of damage.
(5) Crosstargeting. At the same time it incorporates the concept of "layering," crosstargeting also uses different platforms for employment against one target to increase the probability of at least one weapon arriving at that target. Using different delivery platforms such as ICBMs, SLBMs, or aircraft- delivered weapons increases the probability of achieving the desired damage or target coverage.
(6) Preplanned Options. Preplanned options are a means of maintaining centralized control while minimizing the impact on response time. These options should be capable of being executed individually or in combination with other options to expand the attack either functionally or geographically.
(7) Emergent Targets and Adaptive Planning. Even after the initial laydown of nuclear weapons, there may be a residual requirement to strike additional (follow on and/or emerging) targets in support of retaliatory or war-termination objectives. Commanders must maintain the capability to rapidly strike previously unidentified or newly emerging targets. This capability includes planning for and being able to perform "ad hoc" planning on newly identified targets and maintaining a pool of forces specifically reserved for striking previously unidentified targets. It is important to recognize that success in engaging emerging targets depends heavily upon the speed with which they are identified, targeted, and struck.
(8) Collateral Damage. US forces will limit collateral damage consistent with employment purposes and desired effect on the target (see JSCP, Annex C, for a more detailed discussion).
(9) Damage Criteria. Damage criteria are standards identifying specific levels of destruction or materiel damage required for a particular target category. These criteria are normally levied on the executing commander by higher authority, in accordance with national strategy and policy. These criteria vary for the intensity of the damage and also vary by particular target category, class, or type. Commanders must estimate the number and characteristics of the weapons and delivery systems that will be needed to achieve the level of desired damage to designated targets while minimizing undesirable collateral effects. Damage criteria, based on the nature of the target (size, hardness, mobility) as well as its proximity to military or nonmilitary assets, provide a means by which to determine how best to strike particular targets and, following the attack, to evaluate whether the target or target sets received the amount of damage required to meet operational objectives.
4. Operations in a WMD Environment
a. WMD Effects. The immediate and prolonged effects of WMD--including blast, thermal radiation, prompt (gamma and neutron) and residual radiation--pose unprecedented physical and psychological problems for combat forces and noncombatant populations alike. Not only must US forces be prepared to survive and perhaps, operate in a WMD environment for long periods of time, but they must have effective, sustained C4I to accomplish their missions. Military planners must contend with significant challenges in a WMD environment. When planning operations in such an environment, planners should refer to authoritative documents detailing WMD effects published by the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, or qualified scientific authority and incorporate mitigating or avoidance measures into operational planning.
b. Mitigation Efforts. Mitigation of WMD effects, and at least partial preservation of the operational and functional capabilities of people and equipment, requires the following specific actions be taken by commanders:
(2) Partially offset long-term degradation of effectiveness produced by nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare through comprehensive force training, preconditioning, and protection.
(3) Establish and carefully assess operating procedures to avoid disproportionate or unacceptable loss of personnel, units, or equipment and to ensure continuity of operations during the initial and subsequent phases of a conflict involving WMD.