Efforts to more clearly align nuclear deterrence with the
requirements for regional conflicts resulted in the publication in
February 1996 of a doctrine document specifically focused on theater
nuclear operations. The Doctrine for Joint Theater Nuclear Operations
(Joint Pub 3-12.1) outlined a regional security situation where the risk
of use of nuclear and other forms of WMD was said to have increased after
the Cold War:
"The dissolution of
the Soviet Union has greatly reduced the possibility of a large scale
nuclear exchange. However, the loss of the stability inherent in a clearly
bipolar world has increased the likelihood of a nuclear exchange by regional
powers. In addition, the threat to the United States, its allies, and its
deployed forces due to the proliferation of
WMD has grown following the end
of the Cold War. The flow of advanced technology to potential or actual
hostile nations has led to a proliferation of systems (missiles and
aircraft) capable of delivering WMD. The possibility of a WMD exchange in a
regional conflict has risen dramatically, threatening our forward-deployed
forces and challenging our long-range power projection capabilities."
The emergence of a specific doctrine for theater nuclear
operations followed on the heels of
efforts in 1993-1995 within STRATCOM
to more clearly define how nuclear deterrence would work against
regional aggressors armed with WMD. Foremost among these efforts were
attempts by STRATCOM to get overall responsibility for the planning of
not only strategy but also theater nuclear strike plans, up until this
point a responsibility of the regional CINCs. One attempt of achieving this
was the Silver Books project, an effort to use STRATCOM's
nuclear targeting expertise to design "books" of WMD target lists tailored
for use by the individual regional commands.
CINCs opposed STRATCOM's efforts to take control, and their opposition
was eventually endorsed by JCS in the final Roles and Mission Study from 1995 for
the counterproliferation mission. The study concluded that STRATCOM
instead would support the CINCs with nuclear planning. For STRATCOM this
was half a victory and the command has since gradually attained greater
authority on theater nuclear planning (this development is
further described in the report
U.S. Nuclear Weapons In Europe).
With its focus on regional nuclear deterrence, Joint Pub 3-12.1 included
important details that were not described in Joint Pub 3-12. Foremost
among these were the kind of targets that might be subject to nuclear
strikes in a regional conflict. Enemy combat forces and facilities that
may be likely targets for nuclear strikes, included:
WMD and their delivery
systems, as well as associated command and control, production, and
logistical support units.
Ground combat units and their associated command and
control and support units.
Air defense facilities and support installations.
Naval installations, combat vessels, and associated
support facilities and command and control capabilities.
Nonstate actors (facilities and operation centers)
that possess WMD.
Most of these target categories were "mirrored" from Cold
War nuclear targeting onto regional scenarios, but there was one big surprise: "nonstate actors." The
1994 Nuclear Posture Review spent considerable time analyzing the effect of
nuclear deterrence against regional opponents, but although the (unfinished)
review concluded that nuclear weapons should have a prominent role against
"rogue" states armed with WMD, it also concluded that nuclear weapons were unlikely to have any deterrence effect on nonstate actors (see
NPR Working Group 5 for details). STRATCOM was a participant in that analysis but apparently did
not let the findings affect the language of Joint Pub 3-12.1 which fully
endorsed nonstate actors as a target.
With the publication of the new
Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations (Joint Pub 3-12) in August 2005, the
Doctrine for Joint Theater Nuclear Operations was reorganized in two ways:
First, the theater nuclear aspect was incorporated into Joint Pub 3-12; Second,
publications Joint Pub 3-12.2 (Nuclear Weapons Employment Effects Data) and
Joint Pub 3-12.3 (Nuclear Weapons Employment Data (Notional) have been consolidated
into a revised but classified Joint Pub 3-12.1 entitled Joint Tactics,
Techniques, and Procedures for Theater Nuclear Planning.