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Classified Excerpts from NPR Published, March 14

Classified excerpts of the US Defense Department's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), published on the website of GlobalSecurity.org. on March 14, 2002, at http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/policy/did.npr.htm.

Note: the classified Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) was submitted to Congress on January 8, 2002 together with an unclassified foreword from US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. For the text of Rumsfeld's summary, plus a special Pentagon briefing on January 9, see Disarmament Documentation, January 2002, http://www.acronym.org.uk/docs/0201/doc01.htm.

Selected Excerpts: Doctrinal Flexibility, Weapons Diversity & Target-Planning

"Greater flexibility is needed with respect to nuclear forces and planning than was the case during the Cold War. The assets most valued by the spectrum of potential adversaries in the new security environment may be diverse and, in some cases, US understanding of what an adversary values may evolve. Consequently, although the number of weapons needed to hold those assets at risk has declined, US nuclear forces still require the capability to hold at risk a wide range of target types. This capability is key to the role of nuclear forces in supporting an effective deterrence strategy relative to a broad spectrum of potential opponents under a variety of contingencies. Nuclear attack options that vary in scale, scope, and purpose will complement other military capabilities. The combination can provide the range of options needed to pose a credible deterrent to adversaries whose values and calculations of risk and of gain and loss may be very different from and more difficult to discern than those of past adversaries." (p. 7)

"The planning process not only must produce a variety of flexible, pre-planned non-nuclear and nuclear options, but also incorporate sufficient adaptability to support the timely construction of additional options in a crisis or unexpected conflict." (p. 11)

"US nuclear forces will continue to provide assurance to security partners, particularly in the presence of known or suspected threats of nuclear, biological, or chemical attacks or in the event of surprising military developments. This assurance can serve to reduce the incentives for friendly countries to acquire nuclear weapons of their own to deter such threats and circumstances. Nuclear capabilities also assure the US public that the United States will not be subject to coercion based on a false perception of US weakness among potential adversaries." (p. 12)

"Systems capable of striking a wide range of targets throughout an adversary's territory may dissuade a potential adversary from pursuing threatening capabilities. For example, a demonstration of the linkage between long-range precision strike weapons and real-time intelligence systems may dissuade a potential adversary from investing heavily in mobile ballistic missiles." (p. 12)

"Composed of both non-nuclear systems and nuclear weapons, the strike element of the New Triad can provide greater flexibility in the design and conduct of military campaigns to defeat opponents decisively. Non-nuclear strike capabilities may be particularly useful to limit collateral damage and conflict escalation. Nuclear weapons could be employed against targets able to withstand non-nuclear attack, (for example, deep underground bunkers or bio-weapon facilities)." (p. 12-13)

"Missile defenses could defeat small-scale missile attacks intended to coerce the United States into abandoning an embattled ally or friend. Defenses that provided protection for strike capabilities of the New Triad and for other power projection forces would improve the ability of the United States and its allies and friends to counterattack an enemy. They may also provide the President with an option to manage a crisis involving one or more missile and WMD-armed opponents." (p. 13)

"In a fluid security environment, the precise nuclear force level necessary for the future cannot be predicted with certainty. The goal of reducing, over the next decade, the US operationally deployed strategic nuclear force to the range of between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads provides a degree of flexibility necessary to accommodate changes in the security environment that could affect US nuclear requirements." (p. 15)

"In setting requirements for nuclear strike capabilities, distinctions can be made among the contingencies for which the United States must be prepared. Contingencies can be categorized as immediate, potential or unexpected. ... Immediate contingencies involve well-recognized current dangers... Current examples of immediate contingencies include an Iraqi attack on Israel or its neighbors, a North Korean attack on South Korea, or a military confrontation over the status of Taiwan. ... Potential contingencies are plausible, but not immediate dangers. For example, the emergence of a new, hostile military coalition against the United States or its allies in which one or more members possesses WMD and the means of delivery is a potential contingency that could have major consequences for US defense planning, including plans for nuclear forces. ... Contemporary illustrations [of unexpected contingencies] might include a sudden regime change by which an existing nuclear arsenal comes into the hands of a new, hostile leadership group, or an opponents surprise unveiling of WMD capabilities." (p. 16)

"North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Libya are among the countries that could be involved in immediate, potential, or unexpected contingencies. All have longstanding hostility toward the United States and its security partners; North Korea and Iraq in particular have been chronic military concerns. All sponsor or harbor terrorists, and all have active WMD and missile programs." (p. 16)

"Due to the combination of China's still developing strategic objectives and its ongoing modernization of its nuclear and non nuclear forces, China is a country that could be involved in an immediate or potential contingency." (p. 16-17)

"Russia maintains the most formidable nuclear forces, aside from the United States, and substantial, if less impressive, conventional capabilities. There now are, however, no ideological sources of conflict with Moscow, as there were during the Cold War. The United States seeks a more cooperative relationship with Russia and a move away from the balance-of-terror policy framework, which by definition is an expression of mutual distrust and hostility. As a. result, a contingency involving Russia, while plausible, is not expected. ... Russia's nuclear forces and programs, nevertheless, remain a concern. Russia faces many strategic problems around its periphery and its future course cannot be charted with certainty. US planning must take this into account. In the event that US relations with Russia significantly worsen in the future, the US may need to revise its nuclear force levels and posture." (p. 17)

"To meet the demands of the New Triad, an overhaul of existing capabilities is needed. This includes improving the tools used to build and execute strike plans so that the national leadership can adapt pre-planned options, or construct new options, during highly dynamic crisis situations." (p. 23)

"In addition, the technology base and production readiness infrastructures of both DoD and NNSA must be modernized so that the United States will be able to adjust to rapidly changing situations ... adjustments may be needed to match capabilities of the remaining nuclear forces to new missions ... a need may arise to modify, upgrade, or replace portions of the extant nuclear force or develop concepts for follow-on nuclear weapons better suited is the nation's needs. It is unlikely that a reduced version of the Cold War nuclear arsenal will be precisely the nuclear force that the United States will require in 2012 and beyond." (p. 23)

"Initiatives reflected in the proposed FY03-07 Future Years Defense Plan (FYPD) include:

  • Mobile and Relocatable Targets. DoD proposed to develop a systems-level approach, applied across the Services, for holding at risk critical mobile targets.
  • Defeating Hard and Deeply-Buried Targets [HDBTs]. DoD would implement a program to improve significantly the means to locate, identify, characterize, and target adversarial hard and deeply buried targets.
  • Long Range Strike. DoD will pursue a systems level approach to defeat critical fixed and mobile targets at varying ranges, in all terrain and weather conditions, and in denied areas.
  • Guided Missile Submarines (SSGNs). DoD has proposed to fund the conversion of four SSBNs, withdrawn from the strategic nuclear service, to SSGN configuration.
  • Precision Strike. Effort to increase the number of targets than can be attacked on a single mission. Elements include a 'Multifunction Information Distribution System' to provide 'a jam-resistant, secure, digital network for exchange of critical information for strike capabilities,' a 'Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile,' A 'Small Diameter Bomb,' and the 'Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle.'
  • New Strike System. 'DoD will begin in FY03 to explore concepts for a new strike system that might arm the converted SSGNs. Desired capabilities for this new strike weapon include timely arrival on target, precision, and the ability to be retargeted rapidly." (p. 24-25)

"The current nuclear planning system, including target identification, weapons system assignment, and the nuclear command and control system requirements, is optimized to support large, deliberately planned nuclear strikes. In the future, as the nation moves beyond the concept of a large, Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) and moves toward more flexibility, adaptive planning will play a much larger role." (p. 29)

"For contingencies for which no adaptive planning has been done, fully adaptive planning will be required. The desire to shorten the time between identifying a target and having an option available will place significant stress on the nuclear planning process as it currently exists. Presently 12-48 hours is required to develop a plan to attack a single new target, depending on the weapon system to be employed. A more flexible planning system is needed to address the requirements of adaptive planning." (p. 29)

"To make the Strategic Warfare Planning System (SWPS) more responsive to adaptive planning scenarios, a comprehensive SWPS Transformation Study has been initiated and is being conducted by US Strategic Command. Results will be available in late spring 2002. To meet the requirements of adaptive planning, an upgrade of the existing nuclear C2 architecture is needed." (p. 29)

"DoD has identified shortfalls in current infrastructure sustainment programs far nuclear platforms. These include the following: solid rocket motor design, development and testing; technology for current and future strategic systems; improved surveillance and assessment capabilities; command and control platforms and systems; and design, development, and production of radiation-hardened parts." (p. 30)

"As a result of the NPR, NNSA [the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration] will undertake several initiatives...

  • Advanced Concepts Initiative: ... There are several nuclear weapon options that might provide important advantages for enhancing the nation's deterrence posture: possible modifications to existing weapons to provide additional yield flexibility in the stockpile; improved earth penetrating weapons (EPWs) to counter the increased use by potential adversaries of hardened and deeply buried facilities; and warheads that reduce collateral damage." (p. 34-35)

"Test Readiness is maintained principally by the participation of nuclear test program personnel in an active program of stockpile stewardship experiments carried out underground at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). There are two concerns about the current test readiness program. ... First...the current 2-3 year test readiness posture will not be sustainable as more and more experienced test personnel retire. ... Second, the 2-3 year posture may be too long to address any serious defect that might be discovered in the future. ... Given the certainty of surprise in the future and the broad spectrum of threats, the United States also must have the capability to understand the technological implications of nuclear weapon concepts and countermeasures tested by other states, to ensure that US weapons and delivery platforms (including advanced conventional strike systems) perform effectively. If necessary, this will enable the United States to initiate research into whether it needs to develop an entirely new capability - one that is not a modification of an existing weapon - in time to address the threat. ... DoD and NNSA will work to refine test scenarios and evaluate cost/benefit tradeoffs in order to determine, implement, and sustain the optimum test readiness time chat best supports the New Triad." (p. 35-36)

"More than 70 countries now use Underground Facilities (UGFs) for military purposes. In June 1998, the Defense Science Board Task force on Underground Facilities that there are over 10,000 UGFs worldwide. Approximately 1,100 UGFS were known or suspected strategic (WMD, ballistic missile basing, leadership or top echelon command and control) sites. Updated estimates form DIA reveal this number has now grown to over 1,400. A majority of the strategic facilities are deep underground facilities. These facilities are generally the most difficult to defeat because of the depth of the facility and the uncertainty of the exact location. At present the United States lacks adequate means to deal with these strategic facilities." (p. 46)

"In general, current conventional weapons can only 'deny' or 'disrupt' the functioning of HDBTs and require highly accurate intelligence and precise weapon delivery - a degree of accuracy and precision frequently missing under actual combat conditions, Similarly, current conventional weapons are not effective for the long term physical destruction of deep, underground facilities. ... The United States currently has a very limited ground penetration capability with its only earth penetrating nuclear weapon, the B61 Mod 11 gravity bomb. This single-yield, non-precision weapon cannot survive penetration into many types of terrain in which hardened underground facilities are located. Given these limitations, the targeting of a number of hardened, underground facilities is limited to an attack against surface features, which does not does not provide a high probability of defeat of these important targets. ... With a more effective earth penetrator, many buried targets could be attacked using a weapon with a much lower yield than would be required with a surface burst weapon. This lower yield would achieve the same damage while producing less fallout (by a factor of ten to twenty) than would the much larger yield surface burst. For defeat of very deep or larger underground facilities, penetrating weapons with large yields would be needed to collapse the facility." (p. 47)

"To defeat HDBT it is necessary to improve significantly US means to locate, identify, characterize, and target HDBTs. This objective also requires deliberate pre-planned and practiced missions and the development and procurement of several types of conventional earth penetrating munitions. A number of Special Operations Forces and information capabilities will need to be developed to support this goal. Investment and organization will yield a new level of capability for the stated objectives by 2007, with new technologies deployed by 2012. One effort to improve the US capability against HBDTs is a joint DoD/DOE phase 6.2/6.2A Study to be started in Apri1 2002. This effort will identify whether an existing warhead in a 5,000 pound class penetrator would provide significantly enhanced earth penetration capabilities compared to the B61 Mod 11." (p. 47)

"...the Russian resolution of ratification [of the START II Treaty], adopted in 2000, contains unacceptable provision contrary to the new strategic framework and establishment of the New Triad." [Page number not specified.]

"Following the initial phase of US nuclear reductions [reducing the operationally-deployed arsenal to 3,800 strategic warheads by 2007], subsequent reductions will be achieved by downloading warheads from missiles and bombers. Force structure will be retained as the basis for reconstructing the responsive force. Delivery systems will not be retired following initial reductions and downloaded warheads will be retained as needed for the responsive force." (p. 54)

"The United States has not conducted nuclear tests since 1992 and supports the continued observance of the testing moratorium. While the United States is making every effort to maintain the stockpile without additional nuclear testing, this may not be possible for the indefinite future. Some problems in the stockpile due to aging and manufacturing defects have already been identified. Increasingly, objective judgments about capability in a non-testing environment will become far more difficult. Each year the DoD and DOE will reassess the need to resume nuclear testing and will make recommendations to the President. Nuclear nations have a responsibility to assure the safety and reliability of their own nuclear weapons." (p. 55)

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© 2002 The Acronym Institute.