Deficiencies in Deterrence Doctrine

By Darren Ruch, 1st Lt, MA ANG USAF*

In 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the United States was armed with a stockpile of over 18,300 nuclear weapons.[1]  Since then, the US Air Force (USAF) has conducted a range of military operations while maintaining a nuclear deterrence capability.  Due to a nuclear warhead mishap in 2007, the Air Force reshaped its nuclear deterrence mission and created Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC).  While the establishment of AFGSC streamlined the effectiveness of US nuclear deterrence, Air Force doctrine still has failed to articulate its leadership requirements at the Non-Commissioned Officer and Company Grade Officer levels to successfully accomplish its mission. Continue reading

When the Boomers Went to South Korea

There are not many public pictures showing the U.S. ballistic missile submarine visits to South Korea. This one apparently shows the USS John Marshall (SSBN-611) in Chinhae in 1979. The submarine carried 16 Polaris A3 missiles with a total of 48 200-kt warheads.

By Hans M. Kristensen

Back in the late-1970s, U.S. nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines suddenly started conducting port visits to South Korea. For a few years the boomers arrived at a steady rate, almost every month, sometimes 2-3 visits per month. Then, in 1981, the visits stopped and the boomers haven’t been back since.

At the time the visits began, the United States also had several hundred nuclear weapons deployed on land in South Korea, but the submarine visits apparently were needed to further demonstrate that the United States was prepared to defend the south against an attack from the north.

After North Korea’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, shelling of South Korean territory and the sinking of one of its warships, there have been reports recently that an increasing number of South Koreans want the United States to deploy nuclear weapons in South Korea again, after the last such weapons were withdrawn in 1991. They think it is necessary to deter North Korea.

Some analysts have even suggested that the United States should develop an improved nuclear earth penetrator to better threaten North Korean deeply buried targets, an idea that was previously proposed the Bush administration but rejected by Congress. Continue reading