17. Summary Report of the Inter-Agency Working Group on NSSM 1691
NSSM 1692—US Nuclear Policy Summary Report
NSSM 169 directed a review of existing US nuclear policy, to embrace all nuclear forces, and an evaluation of possible changes to current nuclear policy. This report summarizes the analysis and recommendations of the NSSM 169 Working Group.
The Working Group concluded that a new policy for employment of strategic and theater nuclear forces based on the following concepts is both desirable and feasible:
—Development of objectives and guidelines for a greater range of nuclear attack options to provide greater flexibility to the National Command Authorities (NCA), i.e., the President and the Secretary of Defense or their duly deputized alternates or successors.
—With regard to these options, establishing control of escalation as a means of terminating conflict while protecting U.S. vital interests should deterrence and diplomacy fail.
—Targeting in large-scale retaliation those political, economic, and military targets critical to the enemy’s post-war power and recovery. This is intended to serve as a more direct coercive threat to the main power blocs in the USSR and PRC, as a deterrent to major nuclear attacks and, if control of escalation becomes impossible, to be more directly in the US interest by denying any substantive gain to an opponent through such a retaliatory attack.
—Providing a relatively small, specified reserve force, even after major US retaliation, in order to deter post-war coercion of the United States and its allies.
The Working Group also concluded that it is desirable to promulgate an integrated nuclear policy which would enable nuclear force ac[Page 50]quisition, deployment, and employment plans, together with arms control efforts and declaratory statements, to mutually support basic US objectives. The effects of the proposed changes in employment policy on these other elements of nuclear policy are discussed in this report.
The Working Group has put together a number of Background Papers and they are referenced at appropriate places in the summary report as Paper A, Paper B, etc. The repeated references to these papers is indicative of the fact that the Working Group feels they contain some of the more important material taken into account in this review. However, the Working Group has made no attempt to develop agreed texts of these papers and some may wish to dissociate themselves from particular sections. A listing of the papers with a brief summary description and their origin is found at Appendix II.3
[Omitted here is the introduction.]
The goal of this review of US nuclear policy is to identify problems in current policy and to propose a consistent policy structure for approval. This must necessarily be the beginning of a long term process of change, rather than a complete, one-time revision.
B. The Elements and Objectives of US Nuclear Policy
US nuclear policy should provide both broad and specific guidelines for planning of strategic and theater nuclear force programs, budgets, and operations by the Department of Defense and for the planning of related activities by other agencies of the US Government, including US relations with other countries and the negotiation of arms control agreements.
In addressing nuclear policy, it is important to recognize that there are multiple aspects to this policy. The major elements are:
—Employment policy—how the weapons available today are targeted and would be used during nuclear conflict.
—Deployment policy—how we deploy nuclear forces and warheads, especially overseas.
—Acquisition policy—the planning criteria used to develop and procure nuclear weapon systems for the future.
—Declaratory statements on policy—how we describe our policy to the public, allies, and adversaries.
It is also necessary to consider US arms control objectives and ongoing arms control efforts. The primary US arms control objective is to [Page 51]enhance US security by preserving US strategic sufficiency through negotiations rather than unconstrained competition, by reducing the likelihood of nuclear war, and by enhancing the stability of the arms competition. Arms control efforts support US nuclear policy—primarily acquisition policy—by seeking to limit the forces of enemies. This does not mean that we plan US forces on the assumption that our arms control goals will necessarily be achieved. In fact, our acquisition policy should provide hedges against the failure of negotiations, but at the same time should provide added incentive for our adversaries to reach agreement. But arms control factors must be considered when framing nuclear policy.
The elements of nuclear policy should mutually support the broad national objectives for nuclear forces. These objectives provide a point of departure for evaluating current policy and proposing changes thereto. They are:4
1. To deter, first and foremost, any use of nuclear force against the United States.
2. To contribute to deterrence of:
a. Conflict which involves allies or other nations considered vital to US security which are threatened by nuclear powers.
b. Conventional attacks on the United States, its allies, or its forces overseas.
3. As a corollary, to inhibit threats of use of nuclear weapons that might be posed by an enemy for coercion of the United States, its allies, or other nations considered vital to US security.
4. If deterrence fails, to stop conflict at the lowest possible level with minimum loss to the United States and its allies, and to deny to an enemy the objective he seeks when vital U.S. interests are involved.
5. To encourage nuclear postures that contribute to stability in two senses:
a. By reducing incentives to use nuclear weapons, particularly in crisis situations.
b. By reducing potential pressures for unproductive or counter-productive arms competition.[Page 52]
C. Current Nuclear Policy and the Need for Change5
1. Current National Nuclear Policy Documents
Except for SALT NSDMs, NSDM 16,6 dated June 24, 1969, is the only formal Presidential guidance regarding nuclear policy. It addresses acquisition policy and states that, pending further study, US strategic forces will be planned to meet four criteria. In brief, they are:
—Maintain an assured retaliatory capability.
—US forces should not encourage a Soviet first strike.
—The Soviets should not be able to cause significantly greater urban industrial damage to the United States than they themselves would suffer.
—Provide a light area ABM defense of the United States.
This formal guidance has been amplified in the President’s Foreign Policy Repoqrts and in the Defense Policy and Planning Guidance (DPPG).7
The current National Strategic Targeting and Attack Policy (NSTAP) provides guidance for the employment of strategic forces and some theater nuclear forces.8 This policy, established in the early 1960s, states that the US objective in general nuclear war is to defeat the Soviet Union and its allies and end the war under terms favorable to the United States. The NSTAP emphasizes large damage-limiting attacks against Soviet nuclear forces and the destruction of the enemy war-supporting industry. Five Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) attack options are provided; the smallest of these in recent SIOP revisions uses 2500 warheads.
In addition to the SIOP, theater commanders have contingency plans for limited use of nuclear weapons. In addition, SACEUR’s General Strike Plan (GSP) provides for employment of NATO nuclear forces. The existing nuclear planning system has an inherent capability for generating new limited attack options for strategic or theater forces, [Page 53]but there is no national policy document providing objectives and guidelines for such planning.
2. The Need for Change9
The NSDM 16 criteria are inadequate or dated in a number of ways. They are vague and subject to varying interpretations; the area defense criterion is no longer meaningful in light of the ABM treaty;10 and they fail to provide guidance for weapons employment and for acquisition and deployment of theater nuclear forces.
There are other, more fundamental, reasons why current nuclear policy needs revision.
—In the 1950s and into the 1960s, when the United States had a preponderance of nuclear strength, the threat of large-scale retaliation against either military or population/industrial targets could be considered a credible deterrent to Soviet nuclear or conventional attacks anywhere in the world, but times have changed. The Soviets now have a highly capable deterrent to strategic attack and this has been codified by the SALT I agreements. As a consequence, the credibility of large-scale retaliation as a deterrent to anything but a massive attack on the United States may have become seriously eroded.
—As a result of the changed strategic balance and other factors, there has been a changed perception by US allies, perhaps especially in NATO, of the strength and credibility of the US deterrent as it applies to them. This has given rise to concerns about US security guarantees.
—There are discrepancies among the “popular” view of the US nuclear deterrent threat, current declaratory statements, and the actual employment policy. Current nuclear policy emphasizes the threat of large-scale retaliation to deter nuclear attacks. The popular view continues to regard population and industry as the targets for this threat; Administration statements do not identify the targets, and the current employment policy results in the major weight of effort being on the enemy’s military forces.
—No national policy guidance for acquisition and deployment of theater nuclear weapon systems has been promulgated.
—Despite several Presidential statements indicating a desire for a flexible range of nuclear employment options “to respond at levels appropriate to the provocation”, neither these options nor the required planning mechanism exist in a form likely to be adequately responsive [Page 54]to the crisis needs of the NCA. The creation of a system of plans and procedures for limited nuclear attacks is feasible, but national-level policy for such planning has not been provided.
—Because of the inadequacies in current US nuclear policy, US SALT and MBFR positions do not necessarily reflect coherent, consistent policy goals. Recent arms control analyses have, however, sought to reflect a broader range of considerations, including some of those discussed in this report.
In sum, today not all the decisions embodied in NSDM 16 can be implemented effectively and the programs based on the NSDM 16 policy guidance may not deter less than all-out nuclear war. No steps at the national level have been taken to implement the declared policy of flexible nuclear options. There are gaps (e.g., the absence of a policy for theater nuclear forces) and inconsistencies (e.g., declared versus actual employment policy) in U.S. nuclear policy, and the world political-military environment has changed drastically since US nuclear policy was last subject to a comprehensive review.
D. Proposed Employment Policy
The NSSM 169 Working Group focused on employment policy. Other aspects, including acquisition policy, were considered, but the most detailed study was given to planning the use of available weapons, and rather less analysis was devoted to how new weapons should be bought. The work of necessity also touched on arms control and declaratory policy. Acquisition policy, arms control considerations, and declaratory statements of policy are discussed in Section E.
In this section key aspects of the proposed employment policy are examined:
—Major changes from current policy.
—Conclusions of the NSSM 169 Working Group.
1. Employment Policy Changes
The proposed employment policy contains the following important provisions:11[Page 55]
—The guidance applies to all theater nuclear offensive forces, as well as strategic offensive forces.
—If deterrence fails, the objectives are to control escalation and terminate the war with minimum damage, while protecting vital US interests and preserving the capability to escalate further if necessary.
—To the extent that escalation cannot be controlled, the objective is to destroy those political, economic, and military targets critical to the enemy’s post-war power and recovery.
—Targeting and attack concepts for controlling escalation are identified, including options to conduct nuclear war within clearly defined boundaries, deterrence of further enemy escalation, trans-attack stability,12 and avoidance of the enemy’s national command and control.
—Targeting and attack concepts for major nuclear conflict are identified, including destruction of enemy political controls, the resources most necessary for enemy post-attack recovery, and enemy military forces (especially conventional forces) which could otherwise exercise internal control, secure external resources, and threaten the United States and its allies.
—There is a flexible structure of preplanned and preplanable attack options embodying these concepts.
—Relative priorities for allocating weapons to targets in nuclear war plans are specified, with some priorities varying, depending on whether the US attack initiates nuclear conflict or responds to the enemy’s initiation. For example, in a US second-strike, Soviet ICBMs would have lowest priority, in a US first-strike they would have higher priority.
—There is to be a specified reserve force which will be withheld from all attacks unless specifically executed by the NCA. This force is intended for deterring post-war coercion, but could also be used in part to augment attacks at the discretion of the NCA.
—There is provision for NCA review of employment plans during peacetime and for NCA involvement during a crisis in adapting employment options to immediate political-military requirements.
—The proposed guidance contained in Paper B is formulated in two parts, broad policy guidance and more detailed planning guidance (including objectives and guidelines for specific attack options), to facilitate evolution of the latter.[Page 56]
Of these changes, three are key to the proposed employment policy and merit more detailed discussion: the attack option structure, control of escalation, and targeting concepts for major nuclear conflict.
a. Structure of Attack Options
There would be four types of employment options: Major Attack Options, Selected Attack Options, Limited Nuclear Options, and Regional Nuclear Options. This contrasts with the NSTAP, which provides (in the proposed nomenclature) for the Major Attack Options and a lesser number of Selected Attack Options. The principal characteristics of these classes are displayed in Figure 1.13
STRUCTURE OF ATTACK OPTIONS
The motivation for this formal structure is to obtain the benefits of advance planning where that is possible but also to provide for flexible, responsive planning where that is necessary. Each class of options is designed to support the concepts of escalation control discussed in the [Page 57]next section. The boundaries between the classes of options are not altogether distinct and no particular purpose is served by drawing rigid distinctions.
Major Attack Options provide for massive attacks on the Soviet Union and its allies or the PRC and its allies. Attacks on the Soviet Union and the PRC are separated totally allowing attacks on either country or both. Attacks on some of or all allies of each nation may be withheld.
Selected Attack Options provide for moderate scale, preplanned attacks on selected regions or target classes, designed for an added measure of flexibility in attempting to control escalation. Each Selected Attack Option is a subset of the military portion of a Major Attack Option and is constructed so that it may be executed separately, in conjunction with other Selected Attack Options, or as part of its Major Attack Option.
Limited Nuclear Options are intended to meet currently unforeseen circumstances in which the Major and Selected Attack Options would be inappropriate for the political-military objectives that may be desired. These options, generally of lower intensity, may be developed during the normal planning process in anticipation of crisis situations, during the course of crises, or during hostilities. The rapid development of effective Limited Nuclear Options would be facilitated by the advanced planning for Major and Selected Attack Options, even to the point of using some of their weapon-target combinations.
Regional Nuclear Options are intended for circumstances in which the interests of the United States and its allies can best be served by responding against an enemy attack with nuclear forces and resources immediately available within the theater of operations and clearly committed for the defense of that area.14 The objective for Regional Nuclear Options is to counter, in concert with conventional forces, the enemy military forces engaged in aggressive actions while seeking to create a state of affairs permitting political arrangements to end the conflict. Because of the nature of Regional Nuclear Options, detailed planning may only be possible shortly prior to execution and will ordinarily be carried out by military commanders responsible for military operations within the local conflict area. However, to insure that the overall objectives of the United States will be taken into account, as well as the local tactical military situation, the proposed policy provides that general plans, covering likely contingencies, should be prepared well ahead of time and examined for effectiveness and conformance to the employment policy. It also states that during hostilities there will be a high de[Page 58]gree of control by the NCA exercised by means of detailed rules of engagement, review and possible modification of proposed nuclear strike operations, or some combination of these.
b. The Concept of Control of Escalation
Under the current employment policy, limitation of damage is regarded in the purely military sense of counterforce attacks on nuclear threats and, at least against the Soviet Union, offers little confidence of holding damage to a low level. The political-military concept of limiting damage through the control of escalation, on the other hand, appears to be a promising approach that would both provide meaning-ful options to the NCA in a crisis and enhance attainment of national objectives.15
This is a major departure from current US employment policy. It rests on a key assumption and a key reservation:
—It assumes the participants have limits in terms of their objectives and the losses they are willing to suffer to achieve them. US efforts to control escalation would show restraint in using nuclear force while seeking to convince the opponent that his limits would be exceeded if he persists. This would permit opportunities for him to reconsider.
—It recognizes that, to the extent the enemy either is willing to suffer any losses or lacks the means to pause and reconsider, such a concept may not work. Consequently, the policy affords the NCA the opportunity to attempt escalation control by setting up the requisite machinery, but it does not commit the NCA to this course and does not compromise the US capability for major nuclear conflict.
The prospects for escalation control are examined in Section G16 (Issue 1), as are the possible effects of these employment policy changes on deterrence (Issue 2). The possible perceptions and reactions of adversaries are also discussed in Issue 3 and in Paper H.17
The following are considered appropriate for this part of the employment policy:
—A capability to conduct discrete limited attacks on enemy forces in an immediate area to deny a local objective while holding some vital enemy targets hostage, thereby seeking to influence the enemy’s as[Page 59]sessment of potential gains and losses while giving him time to reconsider.
—A structure of nuclear attack options which permits application of nuclear force to achieve specific objectives within clearly defined boundaries at levels well below those of massive attacks on an opponent.
—Withholding for possible subsequent use a capability for massive attack on targets highly valued by the enemy leadership as a deterrent to further escalation.
—Withholding of attacks on the enemy’s national level command, control, communication, and surveillance systems, to allow enemy leaders to discern the nature of US attacks, restrain their forces, and negotiate with the United States.
Control of escalation would be introduced into employment plans by specifying detailed objectives for preplanned and preplannable military attacks at various levels of intensity against selected targets, within geographic limits. There would also be provisions for modifying these objectives and the supporting plans in response to a developing crisis. Thus, planning for limited nuclear conflict would be shifted from an approach which places specific targets foremost to an approach with specific crisis-related political-military objectives established by the NCA as paramount.
c. Major Nuclear Conflict
If escalation cannot be controlled and the United States becomes engaged in a major nuclear conflict, the U.S. objective in the proposed employment policy is to secure the best possible postwar position of power relative to other powers. In contrast the fundamental concept of the current NSTAP is to terminate the war on terms favorable to the United States and its allies. This has been frequently measured in terms of the number of strategic forces remaining to each side.
The current NSTAP concept of an ultimate threat of large-scale retaliation is retained, but there is a revised basis for targeting which threatens the destruction of the following targets critical to the enemy postwar power and recovery:
—The enemy regime and its control apparatus.
—Those urban, industrial, and economic resources critical to the enemy’s national and military recovery.
—Those enemy forces (particularly conventional forces) which could otherwise play a major role in exercising internal control over the post-attack recovery, securing external resources for the enemy’s post-attack recovery, and continuing to threaten the United States and its allies.[Page 60]
The threatened destruction of the enemy political, economic, and military targets critical to post-attack recovery is also an important element in controlling escalation, because large-scale attacks on these targets would be withheld in a limited conflict to deter further escalation. By logical extension, the threatened destruction of these targets should be part of the deterrent to any nuclear conflict. Consequently, it appears that the ultimate sanction of large-scale retaliation against targets critical to post-war power of the enemy’s regime should become a part of US declaratory policy, in place of the more general threat of destruction of the population and industry of an opponent.
No one is certain—or even highly confident—that he understands what will deter the Soviet Union or the PRC from nuclear threats or attacks. The Working Group believes, however, that the proposed policy supported by appropriate declaratory statements would have at least as much deterrent effect as the current popular view of threatening population and industry, or the official view of not specifying the targets. Further, it sees the following benefits to the proposed policy:
—These revised criteria for targeting are coercive in that they establish a direct threat to each of the three main power blocs within the Soviet Union and the PRC, namely, the political regime, the technocrats, and the military.
—More importantly, they emphasize the denial of any substantive gain to an opponent from making a nuclear attack.
—There would be close alignment between the declared deterrent threat and the actions which would be in the best interests of the United States in a major nuclear conflict. This change would establish a common theme for deterrence that would provide a consistent framework for the declaratory and employment elements of policy. The deterrent threat and the targeting would coincide.
The proposed change in targeting objectives is judged by the NSSM 169 Working Group to be preferable to the threat of indiscriminate destruction of population or other targets, both for declaratory purposes and to bring the deterrent threat and actual targeting into close alignment.
Some believe that this change will enhance deterrence of general nuclear war and, if general nuclear war nevertheless occurs, will improve the outcome for the United States and its allies.
However, questions have been raised as to whether such a change would, in fact, result in any real distinctions, in terms of results, if the Major Attack Options were executed. Because of the nature of nuclear weapon effects and the co-location and co-mingling of Soviet and PRC urban population with the specific political, economic, and military targets described above, attacks on these targets will unavoidably result in substantial fatalities. It is also not clear how the proposed change [Page 61]would be perceived by others. These questions are treated in greater detail in Issue 2 in Section G.
d. Reserve Force
The proposed employment policy specifies a “swing force” in the reserve in addition to forces withheld from execution and that portion of our strategic forces which can be generated to alert status or reconstituted from previous missions. The purpose of the swing force is twofold: First, to provide, in addition to any forces which may be withheld, a reserve with high trans-attack stability (see Page 8, especially Footnote 6)18 to prevent post-attack nuclear coercion, even after major U.S. retaliation. Second, to provide a flexible capability for use in Limited Nuclear Options and a capability to augment Selected Attack Options, if, in attempting to control escalation, additional weight of effort on a Selected Attack Option is desired at the time of execution.
The swing force will be withheld unless explicitly authorized for execution by the NCA for these purposes. In order to provide diversity in weapon system characteristics, the swing force will be composed of some of each of the strategic force components. Because of the requirements that may be placed on it by the National Command Authorities, planning for swing force employment will provide for flexible retargeting procedures as well as prepositioned target data.
2. Planning Considerations
The NSSM 169 Working Group takes note of the DOD judgment that the proposed employment policy changes can be implemented to a useful degree with the U.S. nuclear forces programmed for Fiscal Year 1974, and finds no reason to dispute this judgment. The actual operational planning which marries U.S. force capabilities to objectives is a detailed process currently estimated at twenty-four months. Refer to Paper F19 for a description of what is involved. The Working Group does not take the position that the Fiscal Year 1974 forces are necessarily optimal for implementing the employment policy20 but rather they are confident that this policy with programmed forces will better support U.S. objectives than will the current NSTAP with programmed forces. Some of the reasons for this conclusion have already been discussed, but certain points of feasibility need further elaboration:[Page 62]
—Are there situations in which limited nuclear attack options would be in the U.S. interests?
—How does the proposed employment policy relate to regional considerations, especially U.S. commitments in NATO?
—What changes in the nuclear planning system would be required?
a. The Utility of Limited Attack Options
While current U.S. nuclear capabilities permit the use of nuclear weapons under many circumstances, it is not immediately clear that the United States would ever use these weapons in other than large-scale retaliation for a major nuclear attack on CONUS. Can specific purposes be identified for which a limited use would be a credible response?
One situation in which the United States would want to have options for limited nuclear war is Soviet initiation of nuclear conflict on a limited scale. Soviet doctrine calls for theater-wide nuclear attacks in Europe if the Soviets believe NATO is about to launch a nuclear attack. Their doctrine is silent as to whether attacks on CONUS would accompany the strikes on NATO Europe. More limited Soviet nuclear attacks within the European or Asian theaters cannot be ruled out either, although they are disavowed in the formal doctrine.
There may also be situations in which bold U.S. action, including the first, limited use of nuclear weapons, may be the best course in the face of grim alternatives.
It is proposed that the employment of nuclear weapons in such situations would follow the concept of control of escalation set forth in Section D.1.b. on pages 12 and 13. There is, of course, no guarantee that escalation can be controlled. Issue 1 starting on page 42 discusses the prospects for control of escalation. These prospects depend upon many factors and each situation must be judged in terms of the full military and political context. In general, however, the risks and uncertainties associated with attempts to control escalation appear higher if the level and scope of violence is large, if the attacks involve targets within super power homelands, and if the attacks involve targeting of strategic forces.
In devising the attack option structure and the guidelines and objectives for attack options set forth in Paper B there was an effort to visualize specific political-military situations which might call for limited nuclear attacks, rather than to develop an undirected menu of options. It is recognized that further analysis may result in specific modifications of the proposed structure and guidelines.
To check the validity of the structure and guidelines initially developed, a series of case studies was developed which examined pos[Page 63]sible conflicts in which the use of nuclear weapons might be considered, including first use by the United States. From this work, which is described in Paper D,21 it appears that:
—potential situations do exist where nuclear weapons could be the most appropriate military force to use in limited conflict;
—feasible nuclear options could be created for several levels of potential conflict;
—such options could and should include both strategic and theater nuclear weapons;
—establishment of such options could enhance the attainment of national objectives in limited conflict without in themselves increasing the incentives of either side for large-scale nuclear attacks.
b. Regional Considerations
The NSSM 169 Working Group examined current policy for theater employment of nuclear weapons and found a need to define this policy more clearly. Theater commanders have numerous nuclear contingency plans, but there is no overall national policy related to these plans. Present procedures for obtaining selective release of theater nuclear weapons are cumbersome and time-consuming, and these procedures have not been practiced by senior officials at the NCA level. As a result, the prospects for timely NCA approval to utilize nuclear weapons in an overseas theater are not good.
An additional consideration is that the use of theater nuclear forces must take into account the views of friendly and allied states, especially those on whose territory such operations might be undertaken. In NATO’s Allied Command Europe, plans for use of theater nuclear forces are approved by SACEUR and are based on MC 14/322 and the agreed NATO political guidelines for such use. SACEUR’s present procedures for requesting selective release of theater nuclear weapons by NATO forces in Europe are well defined but, under certain agreed circumstances, decisions on these requests involve political consultations among the NATO nations in connection with the nuclear power(s) decision on release requests. Senior allied officials involved in these consultations seldom practice implementation of the procedures pre[Page 64]scribed by the Athens Guidelines.23 As a result, under some consulta-tive circumstances, timely decisions on theater requests for use of nuclear weapons in NATO Europe might not be effected.
Because there is no national policy for theater nuclear force employment, existing plans do not necessarily reflect NCA crisis management perspectives. The concept of escalation control requires that theater nuclear force planning have a political-military orientation.
(1) Roles for Theater Nuclear Forces in the Proposed Employment Policy.
There are two major roles for theater nuclear forces in the proposed employment policy. First, theater forces would be targeted in Major Attack Options to help achieve U.S. objectives in general nuclear war. Because of their limited range, theater forces presumably would be primarily targeted against forward echelons of enemy military forces. In NATO’s Allied Command Europe, these forces are currently targeted against enemy military forces in the forward (battlefield) areas as well as in depth against military targets in the non-Soviet Warsaw Pact countries and in the western part of the USSR.
Second, theater forces would be targeted in Selected Attack Options, Limited Nuclear Options, and Regional Nuclear Options. It is the view of the Working Group that in these options the use of theater weapons should signal to the enemy that US objectives are limited, but should also be of sufficient force to check the enemy long enough for our political process to effect war termination. While political measures and conventional military operations may in some cases dissuade the enemy from exploiting his advantage, military action by nuclear forces might be required in order to convince the enemy that his potential losses are not worth his potential gains. However, extension of such attacks in area, destruction, and duration beyond what is necessary to accomplish the above could well increase the incentives of the enemy to prolong and enlarge the conflict, if only to establish a tolerable basis for negotiation from his viewpoint. Thus, restraint would be an important element if escalation is to be controlled.
Currently the nuclear options of the NCA in such circumstances are basically of two types:
—selective release of theater nuclear weapons in response to ad hoc requests during conflict by local commanders or direction from the NCA;[Page 65]
—execution of theater-wide preplanned nuclear strikes such as SACEUR’s General Strike Plan (GSP),24 or execution of strategic strikes using the SIOP.
Between these extremes there could be planning for nuclear options that use theater and strategic nuclear forces as necessary to counter enemy forces. The purpose of these options would be to make the political process leading to termination of the conflict on terms acceptable to both sides the only rational action open to the enemy. It is just this sort of planning that is called for in the proposed employment policy.
(2) Regional Nuclear Options
Of particular importance in this approach to theater nuclear conflict are the Regional Nuclear Options. The proposed employment policy sets forth the following guidelines for developing plans in support of Regional Nuclear Options:
—These plans will include attacks on deployed forces, their local support, and fixed support bases in the rear, subject to rules of engagement promulgated by the National Command Authorities.
—The JCS should provide a capability for rapid development, assessment, and execution of Regional Nuclear Options in response to NCA requirements. This capability should include provisions for informing the NCA of the military effects, uncertainties, and risks of proposed nuclear attacks and include provisions for coordination with the Allies.
—These plans should seek to minimize collateral damage to civilians and to allied military forces through appropriate selection of yields, delivery vehicles, and targets.
—Control of the enemy national leadership over its theater nuclear forces should be left intact to facilitate control of escalation.
—Military commanders should be prepared to use nuclear weapons under any of the following circumstances: in response to enemy nuclear attacks, initially after prolonged conventional conflict, or initially during the early phases of a conventional conflict.
The effect of the foregoing would be to provide, prior to or during hostilities, a range of options based on the above criteria and reviewed by the NCA. New plans could be developed or preplanned options modified by the NCA as appropriate to meet the specific needs of the crisis. In the event of hostilities the appropriate military commander could request the authority to apply one or a combination of these op[Page 66]tions consistent with the political and military circumstances applicable at that time. Alternatively, the NCA might initiate execution of one or several options.
(3) Special NATO and Asian Considerations
The provisions of the proposed employment policy for theater nuclear forces apply generally worldwide, but they are particularly applicable for NATO. The NATO strategy of flexible response set forth in MC 14/3 and amplified in other nuclear planning documents was a major consideration in formulating these provisions. The Working Group believes the theater nuclear guidance and indeed the entire employment policy are consistent with MC 14/3, although it may not be so interpreted by some Europeans. This policy may highlight issues which are inherent in the ambiguities of MC 14/3—for example, some Europeans may perceive too great an emphasis on nuclear forces, others may fear the decoupling of U.S. strategic forces. These questions are discussed in Issue 4 of Section G.
There are some distinct differences between the European and Asian theaters. First, there is not the degree of joint planning with our allies in Asia that there is in Europe. Indeed we do not have nuclear cooperation agreements with any Asian allies and thus no legal authority for meaningful joint nuclear planning. Second, for the foreseeable future, the risks of escalation from limited nuclear employment are far less with the PRC than they would be with the Soviet Union. Third, we have not developed the sort of arrangements for crisis consultation with the PRC (e.g., the hot line) that we have with the Soviets. Fourth, in the absence of an alliance structure in Asia it is by no means clear that we could use nuclear weapons based in the territory of one nation to defend against an attack on another nation, or that third parties would permit transit of nuclear weapons of delivery systems in times of crisis if the threat of nuclear conflict were apparent to them. Finally, while our Asian allies seek the general protection of the U.S. nuclear umbrella, they might strongly object to the actual use of nuclear weapons by non-Asians against Asians, particularly if their own territory is not directly threatened. The cumulative impact of these differences in Asia does not detract from the value of this policy for Asia but serves to underscore the different strategic problems we have in Asia compared to Europe.
While the Working Group agrees that the United States should have available a range of options which will permit limited use of theater forces without also using strategic forces, it notes that there may be serious political problems vis-a-vis our NATO allies in having options for extensive use of theater weapons without engaging U.S. strategic [Page 67]forces. Consequently, there are differing views as to whether there should be a separate category of Regional Nuclear Options since allied knowledge of the existence of such a category could raise their concerns about the decoupling of U.S. strategic forces. This question is examined in Issue 4 in Section G.
c. Concurrent Changes in the Planning Systems
The proposed changes in existing employment policy guidelines, and the resulting attack plans and procedures, would require greater responsiveness by the nuclear war planning system to the NCA.
The JCS would require the capability for rapid development, assessment, and execution of Limited and Regional Nuclear Options in response to the request of the NCA. There should be a high degree of interaction, both in peacetime planning and during a crisis, among the NCA, the JCS, and those Unified and Specified Commanders with nuclear forces in selecting attack details. In addition, there should be adequate political staff support for nuclear planning in crisis management and coordination with allies. During a crisis, the JCS would have to keep the NCA informed of pertinent details about the tactical situation generally and the status of limited nuclear attacks in particular. This would be necessary to ensure that the NCA can coordinate political and diplomatic actions with military actions, can modify rules of engagement to suit changing circumstances, and can direct additional military actions when necessary.
The JCS planning system already provides the structure for developing Major Attack Options. This capability also provides the basis for planning Selected Attack Options, since they are subsets of Major Attack Options.
To be fully effective, this planning system would necessarily have to conduct peacetime exercises, involving participation by all U.S. elements including the NCA and their advisory staffs. These exercises would be designed to test and evaluate the interaction among the NCA, the supporting political staffs, the JCS, and appropriate Unified and Specified Commanders in order to familiarize all participants with their critical roles in the decision-making process. They would also be designed to examine the validity and responsiveness of the plans, procedures, and facilities to be used in wartime. These exercises would provide the means in peacetime for the NCA to thoroughly understand and be able to choose thoughtfully among the options during a crisis.
It is the view of the NSSM 169 Working Group that the concepts embodied in the Revised Tentative Guidance for the Employment [Page 68]Nuclear Weapons,25 if adopted, would bring about major improvements in current nuclear employment policy and in its responsiveness to the NCA. There are, of course, other major aspects of nuclear policy which must be considered in relation to the proposed employment policy. These are addressed in Section E.
It is not the purpose of this review to prescribe guidelines for actual US actions in any given conflict or crisis. Rather, emphasis has been given to deriving a realistic and feasible structure of options that could be used by the NCA in such situations, and to defining the machinery necessary to develop, select and execute such options. The process of implementation is lengthy (estimated to be about twenty-four months once the President has approved the basic concepts of the proposed policy). Moreover, there are procedural and technical deficiencies (such as command and control capabilities) that must be examined in further detail. These matters are discussed in Section F and in Paper G.
E. Major Policy Considerations Related to the Proposed Employment Policy
The NSSM 169 Working Group considers that a more integrated approach to the elements of nuclear policy is desirable. To this end, this section examines possible effects of the proposed employment policy changes on acquisition policy, SALT, and declaratory statements of policy.
The Working Group did not consider changes to nuclear force deployments that might serve to enhance the effectiveness of the proposed changes in employment policy. However, it took note of the work being conducted in NSSM 16826 and NSSM 17127 as much more keyed to the specific questions associated with force deployment.
1. Weapon Systems Acquisition Policy
When considering the proposed employment policy changes, the question of the implications for US strategic and theater nuclear weapon programs naturally arises. Would major increases in the strategic budget be required? Would strategic or theater nuclear force programs be required which could have a destabilizing effect on the balance of US and Soviet nuclear forces, adversely affect US relations with its NATO allies, or encounter strong Congressional opposition?
As stated earlier, significant features of the proposed employment policy are feasible with FY 74 forces. By this is meant that there are gen[Page 69]erally enough warheads, enough flexibility inherent in the nuclear forces, and enough C3 hardware capability to make it possible to implement to a significant degree the concepts of the policy in the near term. This does not mean, however, that US nuclear forces necessarily are optimal for carrying out the proposed employment policy.
The Working Group did not examine specific weapon systems programs in light of the employment policy changes. Nor did it study acquisition policy in the same depth as the employment policy. It has, however, considered the general relation between employment and acquisition policy and examined some acquisition policy issues.
a. Relation Between Employment and Acquisition Policies
Employment policy and acquisition policy have a common purpose—to support basic US security objectives—but they also have important differences. Employment policy provides guidance for targeting and using the nuclear weapons available today. Acquisition policy provides guidance for developing and procuring weapon systems for the future.
Formulation of acquisition policy must take into account the employment policy, since the capability to carry out the employment policy in the future is determined by the forces provided by the acquisition policy. But there are broader political, arms control, and fiscal considerations which indicate that acquisition policy cannot be formulated solely on the basis of employment policy objectives.
The major factors affecting the formulation of acquisition policy are:
—The capability to fulfill the objectives of the employment policy.
—The need to hedge against the uncertainties of future threats and the future performance of US weapons.
—The effects that weapon acquisition programs could have upon allied perceptions of the US commitment to their defense and the US capabilities to carry out that commitment.
—The interaction between weapon acquisition policy and programs and our objectives and negotiating positions for arms control.
—Stability goals with the Soviet Union (stable nuclear arms balance, crisis stability, and trans-attack stability).
These factors result in conflicting pressures which must be resolved in the formulation of acquisition policy. As a result, it may be decided not to provide forces for all employment policy objectives and to accept the consequent risks in the event of nuclear conflict. It may also be decided to provide forces for purposes other than the objectives of employment policy.[Page 70]
b. Effects of the Proposed Employment Policy on Acquisition Policy
For many years employment policy has had little influence on acquisition policy. The NSTAP calls for a well-hedged attack capability against a large target system that includes war supporting industry (Task C), the enemy nuclear threat (Task A), and other military targets (Task B). It includes options for a large effort against all the military targets including the nuclear threat, or against the nuclear threat only. The fundamental concept of the NSTAP is to terminate the war on terms favorable to the United States and its allies. This has frequently been measured in terms of the number of surviving strategic offensive forces.
The acquisition policy has provided for well-hedged force planning to provide an assured retaliatory capability against urban/industrial targets, frequently measured in terms of prompt deaths. However, it has specified that strategic forces should not be procured specifically for attacks on military targets. The “well-hedged planning” for the retaliatory capability has provided forces and warheads well in excess of those required for Task C; these forces are targeted in the SIOP against military targets.
The more integrated approach to nuclear policy proposed by the Working Group would bring employment and acquisition policies into greater consistency in two ways, while taking full cognizance of the political, arms control, and economic factors affecting acquisition policy.
First, the major gap between deterrence and warfighting objectives in nuclear planning would be eliminated. Under the current policy, a major shift in mental attitude is required in passing between employment planning and acquisition planning, with one focusing on winning an all-out nuclear war and the other on deterring all-out nuclear war. As a result, until recently the problems of crisis control and limited nuclear war have received insufficient attention in both employment and acquisition planning for strategic forces. The proposed changes in employment policy help eliminate this gap.
Second, if deterrence fails, the immediate objective of the employment policy would be to deter further escalation. This requires that acquisition policy provide forces for this purpose as well as well-hedged forces for large scale retaliation.
A related step would be to reorient the acquisition policy for well-hedged forces toward the objective of destroying Soviet and PRC political, economic, and military targets critical to their post-attack recovery.28 This would result in the following measure of continuity be[Page 71]tween employment policy and acquisition policy. The threatened destruction of the political, economic, and military targets critical to post-attack recovery would be the basis of the U.S. deterrent to nuclear war. If deterrence failed, the threatened destruction of these targets, coupled with limited use of nuclear force, would be the basis for controlling escalation. If escalation could not be controlled, the actual destruction of these targets would be the means of achieving as much postwar U.S. power as possible.
Having some common objectives between the acquisition and employment policies and, more generally, giving explicit consideration to employment objectives as well as to other national objectives in formulating acquisition policy provides a more systematic framework for the Secretary of Defense and the DPRC to evaluate specific program and budget tradeoffs among these objectives.
c. Effects of the Proposed Employment Policy on Weapon Systems Programs and Budgets
There are many factors which determine whether a new weapon program is initiated, the pace of the program, the characteristics of the weapon, and the procurement level. These factors are listed in Table 1 on the following page.29 Most of these factors are not affected by the proposed changes in employment policy. Thus, on-going major programs such as the B–1 and TRIDENT are generally consistent with both the current NSTAP or the proposed employment policy. The major factors affecting the initiation, pace, and characteristics of these programs to date have been assumptions about future Soviet threats; the desire to have highly survivable deterrent forces, even against unexpected technological advances by the Soviets; the desire to hedge against Soviet deployment of a nationwide ABM defense; the feeling that politically it is necessary to match the pace of Soviet nuclear weapons development activity; and the desire to increase U.S. bargaining leverage in SALT.
Of course, current programs will require detailed review in light of the proposed changes. Such a review is recommended in Section F. One aspect of this examination should be the characteristics of US nuclear forces and their command, control, and communications for limited nuclear conflict. Another aspect is the adequacy of force levels and characteristics for the full range of flexible attack options called for in the employment policy, including capabilities for attacking the post-war recovery target structure.[Page 72]
There is the possibility that adoption of the proposed employment policy will result in a major upswing in demand for increased nuclear forces and counterforce capabilities on the grounds that Soviet nuclear and conventional forces would play a significant role in post-attack recovery. Some argue that this ought not to be a major concern—if a policy and the weapon systems required to support that policy are clearly in the national interests, then they might well be approved, even if large expenditures are required.
The problem, however, is that statements of national objectives are so general that a list of weapon system requirements cannot be directly and rigorously deduced therefrom. Without specific weapon acquisition policy guidelines, adoption of the proposed employment policy could be used by advocates of various special interests to lobby within the DoD, elsewhere within the Administration, and probably within the Congress for their programs. This could create strong pressures for programs which are of marginal importance for national security. Without specific acquisition guidelines to channel the efforts of DoD planners, it will be difficult to systematically carry out debates and analyses in such a way as to allow the Secretary of Defense and the DPRC to consider all US objectives—not just those of employment policy—in making program and budget decisions. Furthermore, unless we are precise about our acquisition policies there is a possibility that our declaratory statements may imply acquisition policies we do not intend to pursue. In this case the Soviets might react with new and additional acquisition policies of their own.
Adoption of the proposed employment policy does not necessarily imply the need for any changes in current programs. Some changes may, however, be desirable. These must be judged on their specific merits. The following are some issues which must be considered:30
—Acquisition of forces to cover military targets31 critical to post-attack recovery.
—Hard-target counterforce capabilities.
—First strike capabilities against PRC nuclear forces.
—Theater nuclear force posture.
—Characteristics of U.S. nuclear forces and associated C3 for limited and controlled attacks (e.g., enduring survival).[Page 73]
As noted elsewhere, revised operational plans for current and near term forces will result in a substantial capability to meet the objectives of the employment policy. As the degree of any shortfalls become apparent, programs to correct these shortfalls will have to be dealt with on a case by case basis in terms of cost, benefits, and implications for overall nuclear policy objectives including arms control.
d. Considerations for Defensive Forces
This policy review has focused on offensive forces and thus has not given extensive attention to the contribution which defensive forces could make to U.S. security. This fact notwithstanding there are four considerations which bear importantly on the issue:
—First, we do have, and under any conceivable circumstances are likely to continue to maintain some missile and bomber defense. These (a) would serve to provide some degree of protection against limited enemy attacks; (b) can help to police U.S. air space; and (c) complicate enemy strategic planning and programming.
—Second, at present the ABM Treaty limits U.S. ballistic missile defense to 200 launchers at two sites. Current policy orients the CONUS air defense posture towards defending against a small bomber attack and limits the forces to those needed for this objective.
—Third, the U.S. is continuing major programs of R&D to provide for improved missile defense in the event added reliance on such defense in the future is deemed in the U.S. interest.
—Fourth, defensive forces with nuclear capabilities are deployed in the theater. Such forces should be taken into consideration in developing limited and regional options.
For the foregoing reasons, it is proposed that the Secretary of Defense, in reviewing the acquisition implications of the proposed nuclear policy, present an assessment of the role, nature, and potential utility of existing levels of defense as well as possible future alternative levels which may be in the U.S. interest, including the fiscal and arms control implications of such future levels.
2. Nuclear Policy and Arms Control
The basic objective of the proposed nuclear policy is to provide for a more effective and stable deterrent to war, and to make the outcome less catastrophic should nuclear weapons, for some reason, come to be used. As such it is supportive of U.S. arms control policy. The principal concern that may affect arms control is how the new policy is perceived by the public, our allies, and the Soviet Union.
The Working Group believes there should be little direct effect of the employment policy on current US arms control positions in SALT and MBFR, but that the employment policy changes, if they result in [Page 74]certain changes in acquisition policy, would have an indirect effect on these positions.
There is the risk that the new policy will be interpreted as a sharp departure from past policies with a greater emphasis on nuclear “war fighting” as opposed to deterrence through assured destruction. This could be seen as requiring new strategic capabilities to which the Soviet Union would have to respond, thereby intensifying strategic arms competition and impairing the prospects for further arms control negotiations. However, it also can be argued that the prospect of new US strategic programs which could be implied by the revised employment policy might encourage the Soviets to negotiate more seriously in order to forestall such programs.
Emphasis on the theme that the new policy is not a radical departure and does not imply any large procurement or development programs would mitigate (but perhaps not wholly eliminate) any possible impact on SALT. In this regard, budget requests and other actions could demonstrate that the policy will not increase the U.S. Defense budget, or stimulate an arms race.32
a. Impact of the Proposed Employment Policy on Arms Control
There should be no major impact of the proposed employment policy as such on arms control.
It is possible in the future that the United States will have to consider SALT limits on the operations of nuclear forces—for example, restrictions on the operating areas of SSBNs or aircraft carriers. In general, such proposals would have to be evaluated with respect to overall U.S. policy, including nuclear employment policy. Although the Soviets have made such proposals, the United States has made none and in fact has argued that operational practices are not within the purview of SALT.
SALT potentially could result in limits on the basing of U.S. nuclear forces. The Soviets have argued that U.S. forward-basing of SSBNs and other systems (e.g., dual-capable tactical aircraft) should be dealt with in SALT. Similar proposals are likely to arise in MBFR. Again, such proposals should be evaluated with respect to overall U.S. policy, including employment policy. The United States has, however, repeatedly rejected efforts in SALT to limit its forward-based systems and has made clear that it would not consider any SALT limits which would undermine the security of its allies or its ability to fulfill its NATO obligations.[Page 75]
b. Acquisition Policy and Arms Control
U.S. arms control efforts should support overall nuclear policy in two ways. First, they should protect the policy through agreements which allow the objectives of this policy to be fulfilled and, second, they should enhance the policy through reduction or stabilization of the current or future threat opposing U.S. and allied forces.
If acquisition policy is properly formulated, it should reflect the considered judgments of the President and the Secretary of Defense about the essential objectives, roles, and characteristics of U.S. nuclear forces. As discussed above, these judgments should consider employment policy requirements, but should also consider the other factors which bear on weapon acquisition (e.g., stability, budgets, and allied perceptions). Thus, the Working Group believes that arms control should interact primarily with acquisition policy.
The following are examples of acquisition policy issues related to the employment policy changes which could, depending on how they are resolved, affect U.S. positions in SALT:
—An increased emphasis in acquisition policy on covering military targets would affect the evaluation of proposals which reduce the total U.S. nuclear payload or which constrain U.S. offensive capabilities such as MIRV.
—An emphasis in acquisition policy on high reliability in those forces needed for limited attacks would affect evaluation of proposals for limiting missile flight tests.
—Consideration about the respective roles of various elements of the strategic offensive forces—a facet of acquisition policy—could affect U.S. SALT positions on qualitative limits on U.S. strategic systems. We might, for example, look to use of land-based missiles only for certain options in a limited nuclear war and, therefore, be less concerned about an attack on them by hard target capable Soviet ICBMs. Alternatively, while maintaining TRIAD capabilities, we might want to negotiate mutual reductions in systems perceived to require major improvements in the face of prospective threats or we might choose to negotiate other measures permitting a “freedom to mix” within an overall fixed force level.
—The proposed nuclear policy assumes a continuing need to support vital interests outside CONUS. Objectives in this area could be satisfied through the use of bomber aircraft to deliver conventional or nuclear warheads. Thus, proposals to trade U.S. strategic bombers for Soviet ICBMs should be considered in terms of the dual role of bomber aircraft.
—The U.S. position on forward-based systems in SALT and on possible MBFR limits for theater nuclear forces could be influenced by refinements to the current acquisition policy for theater nuclear forces. For example, current theater nuclear acquisition policy calls for essentially a “status quo” posture with minor modernization. Initiation of major modernization programs for these forces could serve as “leverage” or could create negotiating problems.[Page 76]
Some possible changes in the acquisition policy that appear to have little direct impact on arms control positions are:
—Greater emphasis on trans-attack survivability in C3 and nuclear forces, in the sense that survivability of forces over time is already a key consideration in SALT, and C3 programs have not been the subject of negotiations (and probably will not be).
—Greater emphasis on retargeting capability.
Thus, the revised employment policy could have some effect on U.S. arms control positions, primarily through acquisition policy implications, but at this point the effect can be considered as minor. The way employment policy is explained may, however, have greater effect on the SALT negotiations themselves.
3. Declaratory Statements of Policy
If the proposed employment policy changes are implemented, there are at least four reasons why some disclosure to our allies, potential enemies, and the public at large will be called for:
—The U.S. commitment to NATO for consultation on nuclear strategy and plans through the Nuclear Planning Group and for coordination of certain aspects of nuclear planning through combined NATO military staffs.
—The desire to create an environment in which the leaders of countries with nuclear weapons give consideration to controlling escalation in a nuclear war, rather than making automatic, preplanned responses.
—The continued public interest in a fuller explanation of what is meant by Presidential statements of a requirement for flexible options.
—The responsibility and the necessity to provide an explanation for our policy to the Congress and the public at large as the rationale for specific defense programs.
Depending upon the extent to which policy changes are made now, rather than after further studies have been completed, it may be possible to say relatively little about any changes, at least for a while. This would permit further insight into acquisition policy questions, and enable the Administration to respond to questions from the Congress and allies from a more extensive base of firm policy. However, even if acquisition policy decisions are delayed, it is necessary to get started now on a detailed plan for declaratory statements because of the necessity to respond to any unauthorized disclosure of the policy changes or the ongoing studies, and to deal with questions that may arise from limited disclosures already made.
Any public statements about nuclear policy will have a multiple audience: the U.S. public and Congress; allies and other friends; the Soviet Union, the PRC and their allies. Declaratory statements of policy must adequately address all of these potential listeners.[Page 77]
Reactions by all audiences to changes in U.S. nuclear policy will depend on how the new policy is presented and how they perceive it affects them. There are elements of the proposed changes in employment policy that could create foreign policy issues with both allies and adversaries and could cause domestic problems. These are discussed below and in Issues 3 and 4 of Section G.33 Careful presentation can minimize such possibilities, both through a plan for phased explanation of the main features of the new policy, thereby avoiding dramatic statements, and by stress on the theme that changes envisioned are procedural and evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Nuclear weapons are generally an emotional subject, and the reactions to any proposals that suggest something new in the way of U.S. nuclear policy are not fully predictable. The Working Group believes, however, that the following will be the likely reactions or major concerns with respect to proposed changes.
a. Congress and Public
They will be primarily concerned about whether the new policy involves increases in defense spending. They also may be concerned about reopening arms competition. In addition, those who have in the past heavily emphasized the “assured destruction only” theme will probably be vocal critics of any changes which imply a policy other than this. On the other hand, there are vocal critics of “assured destruction only” who would be receptive to the changes.
b. Potential Adversaries
There are two different perspectives which must be considered:
—The new policy, with its stress on restrained use of nuclear weapons, could be interpreted as a weakening of U.S. will and, therefore, of deterrence, thereby increasing the risk of aggressive acts by adversaries.
—The new policy, if fully revealed to potential adversaries, may be seen as a more pragmatic approach in contending with the Soviet and PRC strategic buildup than past policy statements emphasizing massive retaliation. If so perceived, it could increase respect for U.S. interests and commitments. There is, of course, the risk that the threat of coercive use of nuclear weapons could ultimately increase tensions, stimulate arms competition and impair arms control negotiations. Alternatively, it could correspond to Soviet perceptions of what U.S. nuclear policy actually has been and thus may have little effect.[Page 78]
c. Allies and Friends
There are distinct advantages to the proposed policy in terms of relations with our allies. These ought to be stressed in any declaratory statements.
—The emergence of a secure Soviet retaliatory capability has tended to erode allied confidence that the United States would be prepared to use large numbers of strategic nuclear forces in their defense. The development of selected and limited options would make use of nuclear forces in defense of our allies more credible.
—The integration within the proposed policy of theater and strategic forces is likely to be attractive to our allies if it is demonstrated to them that there is, in fact, effective linkage between theater and strategic forces and that it will operate to couple U.S. strategic forces more closely to the defense of Europe rather than to decouple them.
The potential major concerns of our allies could be:
(Refer also to Issue 434 and Paper E for amplified discussion of these points.)
—In spite of the strategic-theater force integration, the existence of Regional Nuclear Options as a separate attack category could imply the possible decoupling of U.S. strategic forces from the defense of Western Europe and Asia.
—Possible conflict of the new concepts with UK and French strategies which rely on minimum deterrence. They may be apprehensive about changes in U.S. policy if they perceive that such changes tend to denigrate their deterrent.
—The possibility that these policy changes would lead to a weakening of the allied role in nuclear decision making.
—The possibility that the new policy implies greater emphasis in U.S. strategy on nuclear weapons, and thus could lead to increasing tensions with the Soviets and impair current prospects for detente. Should this be the allied perception, they could diminish their efforts to provide conventional force improvements.
In particular, there is a potential risk of a divisive strategic debate in NATO if the proposed changes in nuclear policy are perceived as major changes adversely affecting NATO. On the other hand, the proposed policy offers the opportunity for a more realistic approach by the United States and its NATO allies to the role of nuclear weapons in NATO defense planning.
The Working Group has considered how to describe and explain the proposed changes in nuclear policy to each of the above audiences [Page 79]so as to reduce the potential risks. The recommended approach emphasizes relations with allies, since the concept of control of escalation will no doubt be the change most difficult for them to accept, as discussed in Issue 4 in Section G and amplified in Paper E. This approach involves a time-phased, progressively more detailed exposition of the new policy, emphasizing that it is consistent with past policy and that it will enhance attainment of U.S. objectives and, in the case of allies, the objectives they share with the United States.
The proposed approach is both substantive and procedural. Substantively it would involve:
(1) Demonstrating that this policy is consistent with past U.S. policy in that its principal objective is deterrence and that it threatens no adversary who is not intent on aggression.
(2) Emphasizing and describing how the policy changes will enhance deterrence at all levels of conflict (especially important for allies), while also showing that it enhances the coupling of all U.S. forces to the defense of Europe and Asia.
(3) Emphasizing the more humane and moral aspects of the policy as compared to “assured destruction.”
(4) Demonstrating by budget requests and other actions that the policy will not increase the U.S. Defense budget, proliferate U.S. nuclear weapons, or stimulate an arms race.
(5) Emphasizing that the policy is a pragmatic approach to contending with potential threats in today’s world.
Procedurally, this approach to declaratory statements would involve:
(1) Describing the policy as a natural, evolutionary change.
(2) Briefing key members of Congress in a series of frank, detailed discussions.
(3) Conducting extensive consultations in NATO (primarily in the NPG) and bilaterally, based on well prepared prior positions.
(4) Identifying in detail the probable sources of objection and developing cogent responses to each.
Paper E contains a more detailed description of this approach to declaratory statements.
F. Implementing Procedures
The Working Group believes that the integrated approach to nuclear policy proposed in this report will foster greater consistency among the various elements of nuclear policy and will enable nuclear force acquisition, deployment, and employment plans together with arms control efforts and declaratory statements to mutually support [Page 80]basic U.S. objectives. In addition it will serve to sharpen the analysis of many unresolved nuclear issues.
The Working Group suggests that if the proposed policy changes are accepted, the implementing process be evolutionary in nature for two reasons:
—First, the actual production of the operational plans which marry U.S. force capabilities to objectives (e.g., revision to the SIOP and other nuclear operational plans) is a detailed, time-consuming process (estimated at 24 months) that cannot officially begin until revisions to current employment policy are approved. A summary description of this process and what is involved is contained in Paper F. As noted therein, many of the preliminary steps of this process are underway, but full implementation of proposed policy changes must be an iterative process to ensure the existence of viable operations plans throughout the process of change.
—The second is because changes, if any, in weapon systems acquisition policy and programs will depend upon further analysis which will consider factors in addition to employment objectives, includ-ing fiscal resources. This is discussed above in Section E.1 and also in Paper G.
However, based on preliminary analysis by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Working Group has concluded that the proposed employment policy can be implemented to a useful degree with forces programmed for Fiscal Year 1974. That is, the resulting plans will constitute a significant improvement over current employment plans. These improvements are in terms of (i) plans for large scale attacks more directly in the national interest should such attacks be necessary, and (ii) plans for moderate and small scale attacks that provide greater flexibility and more cogent options for use of nuclear weapons in local conflict should that be necessary.
Thus, adoption of the proposed employment policy does not require changes in programmed forces at this time. However, the proposed policy does sharpen the need for eliminating deficiencies in surveillance, warning, and C3 that are known today.
The recommended course of action is to direct implementation of the proposed revisions to U.S. nuclear policy and then proceed, with a clear understanding that policy revisions may be necessary in specific areas as problems are identified.
The Working Group believes that the broad policy guidelines which have been formulated in this effort are needed to clarify existing policy. It also believes that steps can be initiated to revise employment policy without prejudging acquisition decisions, which must be subjected to further study before a satisfactory basis can be established for a Presidential decision. It, therefore, recommends the following ap[Page 81]proach to implementation of the recommendations contained in this report.35
1. Approval of the overall nuclear policy objectives and supporting framework developed in this report. These objectives would be subject to further review and possible revision after additional efforts outlined below.
2. Approval of the proposed changes in nuclear weapons employment policy as the basis for evolutionary revision in U.S. nuclear policy. This would be accomplished by directing the Secretary of Defense to issue policy guidance for the employment of nuclear weapons as the basis for nuclear weapons employment planning.36
Pursuant to this guidance, the planning system of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would then: (a) develop operational plans, assess them in terms of the objectives and guidelines set forth in the guidance, and at significant phase points advise the NCA as to their findings; (b) establish procedures for crisis management to respond to further guidance from the NCA as to which situations and toward which objectives plans for local conflict should be developed; and (c) prepare for and conduct peacetime exercises to test and evaluate the interaction between the NCA and its advisory staffs, the NMCC, supporting military and political staffs in Washington, the JSTPS, and appropriate unified and specified commands. The previously discussed need for iteration in this planning process may necessitate further adjustment to the guidance.
The employment guidance places special emphasis on mutually supporting military and political measures that seek to control escalation. Accordingly, to support the flexibility inherent in the options under this policy guidance, the need for rapid response and the importance to the NCA and their immediate policy advisors of having political and military advice in relation to possible nuclear usage, a senior staff level mechanism for providing such rapid reaction advice is necessary. The staff involved must be collocated, must have full access to all relevant information, and must have full capability to communicate to their respective superiors. The current emergency operations procedures of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the current program to expand the NMCC should be reviewed and modified as appropriate to meet this requirement.
3. Direction by the Department of State of further development of a detailed plan of declaratory policy, based on the initial plan presented in Paper E, for communicating the policy changes, including appro[Page 82]priate statements for use with U.S. Allies, and for explanation (either public or private) to potential adversaries. The plan would take into account the existing channels within the NATO military structure as well as the normal diplomatic channels. In support of this effort, the Central Intelligence Agency should prepare a special assessment of likely Soviet and PRC reactions to the new policies, based on the initial work in Paper H, and how these reactions might be influenced by U.S. statements and actions. Detailed planning of the aspects of declaratory policy could serve to alleviate possible problems noted earlier.
4. Direction of an overall analysis by the Department of State of the impact that pursual of the basic objectives will have on current U.S. positions with respect to MBFR and SALT II. The report of this review should recommend changes in the current negotiating approach in support of the basic objectives and also should recommend any necessary changes to the objectives to support arms control positions. The Working Group is fully cognizant that acquisition decisions can influence arms control negotiations, but did not examine the current considerations in SALT II. As a consequence the planning objectives for acquisition do not contain any explicit provisions for the sole purpose of facilitating arms control.
5. Continuing review by the Department of Defense of the implications for the development, acquisition, and deployment of nuclear forces (both strategic and theater) appropriate to support the changes proposed herein. The initial results of this review would be reported to the President prior to final decisions on the Fiscal Year 1975 budget. This review must consider a range of policies and programs in terms of fiscal resources, arms control considerations, and the degree to which they would meet the deterrent, employment, and planning objectives previously set forth. This effort has been directed already by the Secretary of Defense, with work to commence after review and decisions on the policy changes discussed in this report. This work should be done within the framework suggested in Paper G.
[Omitted here are Section G and Appendices I and II.]
- Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–78–0002, A 381 (May–Dec. 1973). Top Secret; Sensitive. The working group, chaired by Foster, included Spiers, Weiss, Tucker, David S. Brandwein of the CIA, and Lieutenant General Louis T. Seith, Director of the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate, Joint Staff, JCS. Foster forwarded this memorandum and its attachment to Schlesinger under a covering memorandum of June 15 and recommended that, after review, he send them both to Kissinger. Secretary of Defense Schlesinger forwarded the report to Kissinger under a covering memorandum, July 13. “In my judgment this report represents an excellent basis for further consideration by the National Security Council,” Schlesinger wrote. (Ibid.)↩
- Document 4.↩
- Neither attached appendix—including Appendix I, a draft NSDM to implement the paper’s recommendations—is printed.↩
- These objectives are stated with various degrees of explicitness in the President’s Foreign Policy Reports, and are equally applicable, with appropriate minor modifications, to all military forces as instruments of national policy. [Footnote in the original. Nixon’s Fourth Annual Report to the Congress on United States Foreign Policy includes a summary of strategic policy. See Public Papers: Nixon, 1973, pp. 480–482.]↩
- Paper A (“Review of U.S. Policy for the Employment of Nuclear Weapons”) and Paper C (“U.S. Nuclear Policy,” pages 9–19) expand on this discussion. [Footnote in the original. According to Appendix II, not printed, Paper A, originally written by DOD in May 1972 and revised on April 26, 1973, covered the “environment conditioning employment of nuclear weapons” and “underlying issues in the proposed employment policy.” Paper C, drafted by DOD in October 1972, contained “a broad review of structure and elements of overall nuclear policy.]↩
Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XXXIV, National Security Policy, 1969–1972.↩
- Richardson distributed the DPPG for FY 75–79 under a March 26 covering memorandum. (Washington National Records Center, OASD/ISA Files, FRC 330–76–0117, 381)↩
- For purposes of this paper, the term “strategic forces” means ICBMs, SLBMs, and intercontinental bombers. All other US nuclear forces will be considered “theater nuclear forces.” [Footnote in the original.]↩
- See Paper A (“Review of U.S. Policy for the Employment of Nuclear Weapons”) and Paper C (“U.S. Nuclear Policy”) for a more detailed critique of NSDM 16 and other elements of current nuclear policy. [Footnote in the original. The background papers were not found attached.]↩
- See footnote 3, Document 2.↩
- Paper B contains the proposed new employment policy forwarded to the President by the Secretary of Defense. Paper A contains supporting rationale and a comparison with the current NSTAP. The proposed employment policy does not provide guidance for planning the employment of nuclear air defense, anti-ballistic missile and anti-submarine warfare forces nor does it explicitly cover related and ancillary activities such as reconnaissance and non-nuclear forces whose coherent application would be anticipated. These matters will be the subject of further work by the Department of Defense. [Footnote in the original. According to Appendix II, Paper B, drafted by DOD in October 1972, was entitled “Revised Tentative Policy Guidance for the Employment of Nuclear Weapons.” The paper was not found attached.]↩
- Attack options most likely to be withheld for the purpose of deterring further enemy escalation should involve forces and C3 systems with sufficient enduring survivability that they can be withheld over an extended period of conflict and then executed in a timely, effective manner. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- There is a more detailed description of the attack option structure in Paper B (“Revised Tentative Policy Guidance for the Employment of Nuclear Weapons,” pages 4–11). Paper B also contains objectives and guidelines for specific Major Attack Options and Selected Attack Options (pages 18–24). [Footnote in the original.]↩
- This definition is not intended to exclude the use of Poseidon RVs committed to NATO or other “strategic” systems deployed in the theater. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- See Paper A (“Review of US Policy for the Employment of Nuclear Weapons”), for further discussion of these points. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- Section G, not printed, addresses five issues: the prospects for control of escalation, the effect of proposed policy changes on deterrence of nuclear warfare, possible Soviet reactions to the new nuclear policy, flexible nuclear options and the perceptions of allies, and feasibility and implementation.↩
- According to Appendix II, the CIA submitted Paper H, “Perceptions and Reactions of Adversaries,” in response to NSSM 169.↩
- A reference to footnote 12 above.↩
- According to Appendix II, Paper F, submitted by the DOD on April 5, 1973 in response to NSSM 169, outlined an operational plan to implement the proposed employment policy.↩
- Weapon acquisition implications and issues are discussed in Section E and in Paper G (“Weapon Systems Acquisition Policy Issues”). [Footnote in the original. According to Appendix II, the DOD submitted Paper G on June 5 in response to NSSM 169.]↩
- According to Appendix II, an OSD study group prepared Paper D, “Employment of Nuclear Weapons in Local Conflict,” that, as amended in March 1973, contained one introductory section and five case studies.↩
- On January 16, 1968, NATO’s Defense Planning Committee adopted NATO’s Military Committee’s report, MC 14/3, as an overall strategic concept for the defense of the North Atlantic Treaty area. MC 14/3 stated that theater nuclear forces were meant to deter conventional attacks and, if deterrence failed, to respond to attacks and to confront the enemy with escalation of the conflict. (Gregory W. Pedlow, ed., NATO Strategy Documents, 1949–1969 (Brussels: NATO, 1997), pp. 345–370)↩
- At the NATO Ministerial Meeting in Athens,
Greece, May 4–6, 1962, foreign and defense ministers from the member
countries approved guidelines regarding the use of nuclear weapons
by NATO in self-defense. For a
summary of the meeting, see
Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, Vol. XIII, West Europe and Canada.↩
- While the GSP can in theory be executed independently of the SIOP, its effectiveness is dependent on simultaneous SIOP execution. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- Contained in Paper B. [Footnote in the original.]↩
NSSM 168, February 13, 1973,
NATO Policies and Programs,” is
Document 9 in
Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. E–15, Documents on Eastern Europe, 1973–1976.↩
NSSM 171, February 13, 1973,
entitled “U.S. Strategy for Asia,” is
Foreign Relations,1969–1976, Vol. E–12, Documents on East and Southeast Asia, 1973–1976.↩
- Table 1, attached, but not printed, lists 15 factors affecting weapons system acquisition, including assumptions about future enemy threats, the need to hedge against unexpected future enemy technological breakthroughs, the need to replace aging systems, arms control considerations, and costs.↩
- A detailed discussion of these issues is in Paper C (“US Nuclear Policy”) and in Paper G (“Weapon Systems Acquisition Policy Issues”). [Footnote in the original.]↩
- Coverage of a class of targets means having enough independently targetable warheads on surviving US bombers and missiles to penetrate enemy defenses and detonate, suitably distributed, so as to destroy the bulk of targets of that class. See Paper B, Part II on Targeting and Damage Criteria. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- Refer to Section E3.d. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- Paper E provides an expanded discussion of these potential problems and a plan for alleviating them through declaratory statements of policy. [Footnote in the original. According to Appendix II, Paper E, “Impact on Relations with Allies and Adversaries (With Declaratory Statements),” submitted by the Department of State in response to NSSM 169, discussed “the impact of the proposed policy on relations with allies and adversaries, and includes a suggested outline of declaratory policy.]↩
- A reference to Section G, Issue 4, “Flexible Options—Perceptions of Allies.”↩
- This approach has been incorporated in a proposed NSDM contained in Appendix I. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- That is, the draft language in Paper B would be appropriately modified to reflect Presidential decisions. [Footnote in the original.]↩