The Doctrinal Basis for Reinvigorating and Sustaining the Nuclear Enterprise

By Harvard, James W. | Air & Space Power Journal, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

The Doctrinal Basis for Reinvigorating and Sustaining the Nuclear Enterprise


Harvard, James W., Air & Space Power Journal


Reinvigorating and sustaining the nuclear enterprise relies on a foundation of sound doctrine that provides the guiding principles for (1) ensuring that the United States presents a credible deterrence and (2) fostering a culture which promotes confidence and eliminates the risk of nuclear surety incidents. The new Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 2-12, Nuclear Operations, offers this foundation.

Nuclear operations remain essential to the national security of the United States. As affirmed in the National Security Strategy of the United States of America (2006), "Safe, credible, and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role."1 Requisites of an effective nuclear deterrent strategy include a credible capability and the willingness to employ that capability as perceived by those whom one intends to deter. The willingness to employ is a political decision whereas the credible capability is a military responsibility, the preponderance of which the US Air Force shoulders.

Two well-publicized nuclear surety incidents raised questions about the Air Force's ability to present a credible capability and served as indicators of a systemic, corporate decline of that service's nuclear enterprise. One incident, the unauthorized weapons transfer from Minot AFB, North Dakota, to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, occurred in August 2007. The other incident involved the misshipment of four forward-section assemblies used on the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).2 Several investigations and reports followed these incidents, among them the Air Force's strategic plan titled Reinvigorating the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise, which establishes reinvigoration of the nuclear enterprise as the Air Force's highest priority. Recommendations from this plan include restoring the culture of compliance, rebuilding our nuclear expertise, investing in our nuclear capabilities, organizing to enable clear lines of authority, providing sustained institutional focus, and reinvigorating the Air Force's nuclear stewardship role.3

In keeping with these fundamental precepts of strategic deterrence and the Air Force's highest priority of reinvigorating the nuclear enterprise, the LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, recently published the aforementioned AFDD 2-12. That document contains guidance for the Air Force's nuclear operations, based on a body of knowledge gained from experience and lessons learned in organizing, training, and equipping nuclear forces. This new doctrine covers a spectrum of topics that includes fundamentals of nuclear operations, command and control (C2) of those operations, planning and support considerations, surety, and training. In the process of covering these topics, AFDD 2-12 presents doctrinal principles for reinvigorating and sustaining the nuclear enterprise. This article briefly reviews some of those principles and highlights changes from the previous doctrine of nuclear operations, published in 1998.

Deterrence and Effects

AFDD 2-12 begins by examining Air Force nuclear operations within the context of the service's day-to-day role as an element of deterrence and as a provider of strategic effects, emphasizing key ideas in boldface. Early in the document, one such statement asserts that "although nuclear forces are not the only factor in the deterrence equation, our nuclear capability underpins all other deterrent elements, and the fundamental purpose of the US nuclear arsenal is to deter an enemy's use of its nuclear arsenal or other WMD [weapons of mass destruction]."4 This statement underscores the critical role of nuclear operations in deterrence and, consequently, the importance of maintaining a credible nuclear capability.

AFDD 2-12 also addresses the matter of extended deterrence, another important policy construct. Through alliances and treaties, the US strategy of extended deterrence provides friendly and allied nations a nuclear umbrella that assures them of its commitment to their security. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

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.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

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

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Doctrinal Basis for Reinvigorating and Sustaining the Nuclear Enterprise
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

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?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

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

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

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.