Historical Encyclopedia of Atomic Energy

By Stephen E. Atkins | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) are those weapons systems designed for use on the battlefield. They are designed to be battlefield nuclear weapons with deployment, ranges, and yields small enough to be confined to a localized military area. Almost from the beginning of atomic testing, military officials in both the Soviet Union and the United States began to lobby for atomic weapons small enough to be used on the battlefield. Much testing was done to make atomic weapons small enough to be delivered by aircraft, missiles, and guns. The problem of radiation in a battlefield situation was never solved and often ignored. Americans soon had the advantage in development of these weapons, and plans were made in 1952 for deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. It was this deployment that stimulated the antinuclear movements in Europe in the mid- and late 1950s. In October 1953 the Eisenhower administration directed the military to base planning on the battlefield use of nuclear weapons in the event they were militarily necessary. This directive resulted in the creation of the army's divisional structure into a pentomic division organization. Pentomic organization meant that military forces would be scattered on the battlefield in flexible formations to enable them first to survive an atomic attack and then to counterattack with tactical nuclear weapons. It was during the Kennedy administration that this policy was changed from dependence on tactical nuclear weapons back to conventional warfare. This policy has remained in the subsequent administrations despite the improvement in the technology of atomic weapons. A reappearance in the interest in tactical nuclear weapons took place in the Carter and then the Reagan administrations in the development of the neutron bomb. Even after the U.S. government finally lost interest in tactical nuclear warfare, the Soviet Union retained an interest


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Historical Encyclopedia of Atomic Energy


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 492

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?