wrong idea at the wrong time.
Right now, I think there is only one distant but realistic "limited" target, and it's the PRC's militarized islands in the SCS. And is this something that the existing triad cannot handle if need be? Best we spend in conventional naval forces to isolate and neutralize these features, vs. having to make more difficult decisions when we are two chips down from lack of investment elsewhere.
Sal, Sal, Sal. As I’ve pointed out before, simply doing the job better doesn’t have the acquisition program manager promotion magic that we always seem to see when someone decides to install that subwoofer in the trunk and a bunch of LED lights around the undercarriage.
I heard this morning that the military is facing a staffing shortage.
People don't want to sign up anymore because they feel the military isn't doing its job.
Or people are so out of shape and stupid that they can't pass the basic entry fitness exam.
Sal, that's a different Harvey who co-authored the article you referenced, not me!
Dr John R Harvey is a former OSD official and a prominent nuclear strategist (he is also a really good guy!).
Please correct the record, OK?
Thanks very much, John C. Harvey, Jr
Excellent piece. All good points.
The NAVY gains nothing with SLCM-N. And any submarine with SLCM-N automatically becomes a national asset, no longer available to the Navy to satisfy the insatiable COCOM appetite in GFM, or for conventional warfare.
why did I click the link... just why... could have saved it for later after I had already poured 2 fingers... but no...
The Commander is, as usual, right on many points. A veteran of the Cold War at sea, I served with, and was willing to use a truly tiny tactical nuclear weapon: the 1 kiloton Nuclear ASROC. Designed for underwater detonation against a single submarine, this weapon would normally not cause mass casualties. I always believed such use was feasible. It might not even be detected or understood to be a nuclear weapon. [More likely it might be understood in the longer term, after some sort of forensic investigation. Not the sort of thing that leads to crisis escalation.] But I agree that this is a "money sink." Also it is a security problem (tactical nukes are fairly easy to steal - given minimal security on ships in port in peacetime). We get a lot more bang for the buck investing and training to fight with conventional weapons - as PRC does. I also think the PRC, which has on the order of 20 specialized NON-nuclear warheads for its missiles, is correct: you don't need a nuke for most targets. According to their doctrine (See the Project Everest Translations of PLA doctrine at CASI Publications), even in a "nuclear counterstrike campaign" they will either mostly or entirely use conventional warheads. PLAN warships have no tactical nuclear warheads. It is unclear even that PLAN SSBN's have any. [The policy of "negative control" is STILL practice on land - no unit is allowed to have both a warhead and the means to deliver it. Historically, PLAN SSBNs did NOT make deterrent patrols. The TECHNOLOGY to permit that IN FUTURE is in R&D, but it won't be deployed UNLESS PRC feels compelled to do so for some reason. [The Party does not like trusting its own military officers.] The Russians, admittedly, are different. Historically opposed to using nukes, the Russians today are so weak they arm EVERYTHING with nukes, and threaten to use them even in a conventional war. But we think we have convinced their officers not to use them - using back-channels to make clear what the consequences would be. In any case, I don't think using nukes is going to happen. NOT because any nation is deterred by other nation's nukes, but because no head of state wants the political effects of using them. That has worked more than once, and on both US and Russian leaders in crises. Wasting resources on a redundant nuclear missile is not wise.
I don't see any good coming out of a war between the US and it's allies against some combination of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea and others. Perhaps, it's time for real diplomats - not Blinken et al - to sit down and hammer out some sort of understanding before there is another Sarajevo like incident.
" The first use of a small nuke to take out a military target will quickly force the opponent - if not cowed (humans don’t usually do that once the blood is up all that easily) - to respond in kind in a larger way. "
Check out Harry Turtledove's alt-history of the Korean War in which this exact scenario takes place
It seems unlikely that if a nuke were used against an enemy, that the enemy would ask "how many kiloton was that nuke" as a needed factor in their response.
You just obviate the need, in my opinion. The statement is, "If there is any use of a nuclear weapon of whatever size or type on a US installation, base, ship, or other asset - or those of our allies in NATO and ASEAN, etc. - at our discretion, the US will response will be a prompt overwhelming nuclear attack, not a proportional response. We do not recognize any difference between a so-called theater/tactical nuclear weapon or an ICBM, the use of one will be treated as a use of the other."
There, no reason for any SLCM-Ns anymore.
Go use the money to build LRASM-ERs and JASSM-ERs and delivery platforms of every type. If you can make a long-range air breathing hypersonic missile or jet (as has been discussed in development with rotary detonation engines) that is affordable and timely, put money in that (Darkhorse, Quarterhorse). See if you can get up to 2 Virgina and 2 Columbia subs per year and 6 Burke IIIs and multiple Constellation frigates per year. Accelerate the program and build the B-21s stat.
Of if you want to really make a difference and bust all the norms, grab the high ground and put up a space station with defensive lasers (won't be limited by atmospheric limitations or power/cooling problems) and go with the Rods From God plan from Project Thor. Nobody can approach to blow it up (with missiles or satelllites) due to the lasers and you have a non-nuclear orbital platform that can annihilate almost any target through kinetic energy. Mount lasers on the X-37Bs for orbital missile defense, too.
Or you could build more of the CHAMP missile concept (current phase High-Powered Joint Electromagnetic Non-Kinetic Strike Weapon - HIJENKS) so that you can fire THOSE into the line of advancing missiles to electronically disable them. Adapt it to fire at ships to disable THEIR electronics and/or missiles (already adapted to fit on ALCMs and LRASMs). As a counter air missile or to defend against air to air missiles fired at AWACS, tranports or bombers.
Your comment on “extra overhead” - flashbacks of DNSIs / NTPIs / PRP / SAS team, handling teams, etc .gave me the chills
Didn't Tom Clancy have a novel about a goat herder finding an undetonated nuke?
And the money for this program could buy a lot of conventional TLAM.
Glad to see someone else not belevin' the 'tac nuke' from a sub story. Any missile from a nuke capable platform has to be presumed to be a nuke, and nuking even a relatively small town in China will cost us somewhere in USA.
One exception to the rule however. Particularly relevant to your readers. I believe the Soviets and today's CCP had, and have, it right with regard a nuclear strike against ships at sea. Would the US respond to a nuclear ASBM smoking a CV with a nuke strike against a target in the Chinese homeland? Probably not. And that probability is so much higher we better come to grips with the real fact there will be nukes on the anti-ship ballistic missiles and Xi fully intends to use them against PACFLT units when, for example, he goes for Taiwan.
I'm old enough to be tired of this stuff. Had the best seat in the house from which to watch the peak of the cold war a life time ago ('83-'86). My take on it all today is, America needs to be smarter and more focused on a renewed domestic economy and better lives for AMERICANS. We must NOT continue wasting precious resources to try to build the military an empire, or the policeman for some global government, needs. That means a Navy focused on UUVs and sub, P-8s and UAVs, and satellites.
TLAM-N, lady finger Trident missiles, CVs, and amphibs (at least those not engaged in deporting our millions of uninvited guests from POEs in Corpus and San Diego), aren't in the tool box an America with a healthy and coherent national security policy needs.
It has been known for more than fifty years that there is no such thing as a limited nuclear war between two nuclear armed nations. If one nuke flies, they all fly. And the pace of escalation once the first one flies accelerates very rapidly.
If we want to spend 9 billion dollars on something which might prove useful some day in the mid to long-term future, then spend it on advanced shipboard lasers and on microwave directed energy weapons. Or on completely refurbishing the B-1 fleet to serve Bob Work's vision for a highly flexible maritime patrol bomber.