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Nuclear Brief June 16, 2005

The Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP) Nuclear Supplement         

JSCP Nuclear Supplement

The nuclear supplement to the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan is top secret. Few have even seen the table of contents...until now (download from right-hand column).

Few people have ever seen the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP), much less its top secret nuclear supplement that guides the detailed planning of U.S. nuclear forces.

This is now possible, at least to some extent, thanks to the Pentagon's release of a redacted copy of the 1996 Nuclear Supplement under the Freedom of Information Act. Although the declassification process deleted almost everything, the structure was not withheld. As a result, the public can now for the first time see the outline of this crucial document, formally known as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) 3110.04.

The declassified CJCSI 3110.04, which is also called JSCP-N, was first described in the NRDC report "The Post Cold War SIOP and Nuclear Warfare Planning: A Glossary, Abbreviations, and Acronyms," which I co-authored with William M. Arkin in 1999. But the current release is the first time the raw document has been available to the public.


The JSCP is published by the Joint Staff to guide the detailed military force planning in the various services. The document translates the National Security Strategy into planning guidance for a set time period to the Commanders-in-Chief (CINCs) of the Unified Commands and Chiefs of the military services. The JSCP initiates the deliberate planning process for the development of operation plans to support national security objectives.

After the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) and Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG) are published by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff prepares the JSCP, which directs and initiates the deliberate joint operations planning process for the development of operation plans to support national security objectives through:

  • Assigning planning tasks to the combatants commanders;
  • Apportioning major combat forces and resources; and
  • Issuing planning guidance to integrate joint operation planning activities.

The JSCP Place In Bush
Administration Nuclear Guidance

note: this chronology has been moved to here.

The JSCP consists of a basic volume and supplements. The basic JSCP currently in effect (as of June 2005) is formally known as CJCSI 3110.01E and was initially published on October 1, 2002. The basic plan, which is frequently and indicated by the letter following 01, provides a strategic military framework that ties combatant commander, JCS, and NCA actions together to respond to crises and covers the full spectrum of conflict from pre-conflict deterrence measures through force deployment and employment. It assigns task to the combatant commanders and guidance to the Service Chiefs in the preparation of war plans.

The JSCP Supplemental Instructions (previously known as JSCP Annexes) provide additional guidance for specific contingencies. These supplements can be updated without changing the overall plan. As of May 2005, the supplements to the basic JSCP were:

- CJCSI 3110.02 (Intelligence).
- CJCSI 3110.03 (Logistics).
- CJCSI 3110.04 (Nuclear).
- CJCSI 3110.05 (Psychological).
- CJCSI 3110.06 (Special Operations).
- CJCSI 3110.07 (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Defenses; Riot Control Agents; and Herbicides).
- CJCSI 3110.08 (Mapping, Charting, and Geodesy).
- CJCSI 3110.11 (Mobility).
- CJCSI 3110.12 (Civil Affairs).
- CJCSI 3110.13 (Mobilization).
- CJCSI 3110.15 (Special Technical Operations).

The Nuclear Supplement

The Nuclear Supplement (CJCSI 3110.04), or JSCP-N, covers nuclear weapons planning and employment issues and was last issued on December 31, 2004, with Change 1 published on March 18, 2005. The supplement, which until February 12, 1996, was known as MCM-148-91, Annex C (Nuclear), establishes parameters and constraints that are the basis for nuclear target development. It also directs probability of damage (PD) that is to be achieved against individual installations and groups of installations. For non-strategic nuclear forces, the nuclear supplement "describes situations which could lead to a request for the selective release of nuclear weapons."

This 120-page declassified JSCP-N contains the following table of contents, revealing for the first time the structure of the Nuclear Supplement:

Enclosure A: General

Para 1 Purpose
Para 2 Scope
Para 3 Focus
Para 4 Basic Employment Objectives
Para 5 Required U.S. Capabilities
Para 6 Force Readiness Planning

Enclosure B: Weapon Deployment and Security

Para 1 Deployment Concept
Para 2 NSNF Deployment and Reconstitution
Para 3 Weapon Security

Enclosure C: General Employment Planning Guidance

Para 1 Scope
Para 2 General
Para 3 Planning Coordination
Para 4 Planning Factors
Para 5 Nuclear Execution
Para 6 Nuclear Termination
Para 7 Escalation Control
Para 8 Constraints
Para 9 Relocatable Targets
Para 10 Exceeding Limitations

Enclosure D: Part I SIOP and NRF Employment Planning

Para 1 Scope
Para 1c Focus/MAOs and LAOs
Para 2 Force Commitment
Para 2a SIOP Committed Forces
Para 3 Force Allocation and Application
Para 4 Target Development
Para 5 Target Lists
Para 5a National Target Base
Para 6 Selection and Damage Level Guidance
Para 6f Damage Levels
Para 7 MAO Structure
(Note: This section contains 12 directives contained in the SIOP. These directives were used as the standards against which the SIOP-97 war game predicted the effectiveness of the SIOP.)
Para 8 MAO Targeting Guidance
Para 9 MAO Planning Guidance
Para 9a(1) Force Readiness Survivability and Timing
Para 9a(3) Force Readiness Conditions
Execution of Scenarios
Para 9a(4) Timing Plans
Para 9a(5)
(Note: This section contains nine assumptions for planning.)
Para 9b Weapons Allocation
(Note: This section contains priorities for allocating weapons.)
Para 9c Defense Suppression Planning
Para 9d Measures of Effectiveness
Para 10 Limited Attack Options

Enclosure D: Part II NRF and Adaptive Planning

Para 1 Purpose
Para 2 SRF Structure
Para 2b2 Nuclear Reserve Force
(Note: This section outlines the structure of the NRF to consist of the Secure Reserve Force (SLBMs and bombers) and Residual Forces. The latter consists of strategic (recovered/reconstituted), uncommitted and unexecuted forces) and non-strategic forces (uncommitted and not NATO designated).)
Para 3 SRF Planning and Sizing
Para 4 Adaptive Planning

Enclosure E: Theater Nuclear Planning

Para 1 Scope and Applicability
Para 2 General
Para 3 Theater Targeting Requirements
Para 4 Theater Nuclear Targeting Limitations
Para 5 Theater Nuclear Option Employment
Para 6 Nuclear Appendices to OPLANs
Para 7 Crisis Management
Para 8 Adaptive Planning Procedures

Enclosure F: Reconnaissance in Support of Nuclear Operations

Para 1 Scope
Para 2 Reconnaissance Objectives
Para 3 Applicability
Para 4 Reconnaissance Priorities
Para 5 Reconnaissance Force Management
Para 6 Planning Concepts
Para 7 Planning Guidelines/Requirements
Para 8 Battle Management Considerations

Enclosure G: SIOP and NRF Review, Approval, and Analysis

Para 1 Scope and Applicability
Para 2 General
Para 3 SIOP and NRF Revision
Para 5 Logic
Para 5a SIOP Analysis
Para 5b Wargaming

Enclosure H: Responsibilities

Para 1 Purpose
Para 2 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Para 3 Combatant CINCs

According to STRATCOM, the JSCP-N "defines the threat to be countered, provides the projected threat environment, and levies requirements on the planning product of the SWPS (i.e., the SIOP). It also discusses Theater Nuclear Option (TNO) requirements as well as other requirements so directed by the NCA. Based on current direction, it is becoming increasingly important to provide a full range of military response options to any potential military threat." As can be seen from the table of contents, the type of options discussed include Major Attach Options (MAO), Limited Attack Options (LAO), and Theater Nuclear Options (TNO).

In addition to the OPLANs (Operational Plans), the 1996 JSCP-N directed that combatant CINCs and STRATCOM should "maintain the capability to plan and execute theater nuclear options for generated nuclear forces on short notice during crisis and contingency situations." When planning Theater Nuclear Options (TNOs), the warfighters were directed to consider the following:

1. Explicit objectives;
2. Type of facility, and relation, if any, to enemy power projection capability;
3. Probability of success;
4. Alternative means to achieve the objective, if any;
5. [classified];
6. Estimated fatalities (prompt and fallout);
7. Size of the attack;
8. Type of delivery system;
9. [classified];
10. [classified];
11. [classified];
12. Probable perception of US will and resolve;
13. Likelihood and acceptability of probable enemy response on the US or its allies;
14. [classified];
15. Adequacy of attack as a demonstration of US capability;
16. Relationship to other US military presence;
17. Relationship to US vital interests, treaty commitments, diplomatic agreements, and denial and escalation implications; and
18. [classified].

The document also discusses Adaptive Planning, the post-Cold War war planning methodology used against relocatable and emerging targets not covered by the deliberate plans. At the time of the 1996 JSCP-N, Adaptive Planning was mainly applied to Theater Nuclear Planning and the Nuclear Reserve Force. Yet the 1996 JSCP-N states that Adaptive Planning "will be a principle means of Reserve force employment," but that it "can occur in the pre-, trans-, or post-MAO timeframe and involve either SIOP/NSNF or Reserve forces."

Since then, Adaptive Planning has been incorporated more generally into nuclear planning as the number of MAOs have been reduced and new capabilities have increased the flexibility of the planning system and deployed forces. In February 2005, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard B. Myers stated:

"STRATCOM has revised our strategic deterrence and response plan that became effective in the fall of 2004. This revised, detailed plan provides more flexible options to assure allies, and dissuade, deter, and if necessary, defeat adversaries in a wider range of contingencies."

At the time of the 1996 JSCP-N, Russia was clearly the center of U.S. nuclear planning:

"The fundamental objective of US nuclear employment policy is to deter direct attack, particularly nuclear attack, on the United States and its allies. Deterrence is best achieved if [the] US defense posture makes a Russian assessment of war outcomes, under any contingency, so uncertain and dangerous that it removes any incentive for initiating attack."

With the Bush administration claiming to have removed Russia as an immediate contingency from U.S. nuclear planning, one would assume that "Russia" has been replaced with "adversary" in the 2004 version of JSCP-N. But the planned force level of up to 2,200 operationally deployed strategic warheads in 2012 suggests that Russia remains the predominant focus.

The requirement to maintain forces on high alert, ready to launch on short notice, was a core feature of the U.S. nuclear posture in 1996, and continues to be so today. In the 1996 JSCP-N, however, the guidance defined that "the United States does not rely on its capability for launch on warning or launch under attack to ensure the credibility of its deterrent." Yet the pledge was dubious and apparently did not prevent launch on warning and launch under attack capabilities from being integral characteristics of the strike plans: "At the same time," the 1996 JSCP-N conditioned, "the US ability to carry out such options complicates Russian assessments of war outcomes and enhances deterrence."

The 1996 JSCP-N applied to plans effective on or after October 1, 1996, which included the SIOP-97 strategic war plan that entered into effect the same day. According to STRATCOM, "SIOP-97 was the first effort at making a combined evaluation of the objectives to predict effectiveness of the strike plan. Planners attempted to consider all possible objective (quantifiable) and subjective (non-quantifiable) criteria in assessing each directive."

The declassified Nuclear Supplement was classified Lieutenant General Wesley K. Clark, who in February 1996 was the Director of Strategic Plans and Policy at the Joint Staff (J-5), and the staff officer responsible for world-wide politico-military affairs and U.S. military strategic planning.

Updates to the Plan

Several changes were made to the basic JSCP and its supplements between 1996 and 2000 when a new plan was published on January 28. This period also saw the publication of Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 60 in November 1997 and a new Nuclear Weapons Employment Policy (NUWEP) in 1999.

The first JSCP of the Bush administration was issued on October 1, 2002, following a new NUWEP issued by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld on April 19, 2004. The most recent (as of June 2005) update to JSCP-N was published on December 31, 2004 (CJCSI 3110.04B), followed by Change 1 on March 18, 2005 (see here for recent guidance chronology).

Compared with the 1996 version, the 2004 JSCP-N apparently no longer uses the term "selective release," according to STRATCOM. Before that, the JSCP-N described situations where a combatant commander might request permission from the National Command Authority (NCA) for the selective release of nuclear weapons. But this concept has been omitted because the concept was determined to carry multiple definitions and might confuse planners.

Bureaucratic Secrecy

The declassification process of 1996 JSCP-N revealed serious but common errors in the implementation of the FOIA. First, the redacted sections in the released document closely follow the classification markings in the printed document. The FOIA officer simply deleted everything marked "S" (Secret) and "TS" (Top Secret) and released the sections marked "U" (Unclassified). While this may seem natural to most people, a FOIA declassification officer is can not simply follow existing markings of a document for release determination but is required to make an individual assessment of whether the information is currently and properly classified. But this was not done.

Second, all redacted sections were withheld in full, rather than withholding only those portions of each section that need to be withheld. Few paragraphs are ever fully secrets but contain a few secrets intertwined with unclassified information. By withholding each section in full, the FOIA officer failed to demonstrate what is known as discretionary disclosure requiring release of those segregable portions in each sections that are not currently and properly classified. Yet FOIA officers frequently block-delete because it takes less time than discretionary disclosure.

Because of these errors, and because the denial letter did not determine that there were no segregable portions that could be released, an appeal was made to obtain the additional information and complete the declassification in accordance with the law. But the Pentagon denied the appeal, saying everything was properly and currently classified.

Finally, a follow-up request was submitted in November 2000 for a later version of the Nuclear Supplement. But this request was denied in full in September 2002, withholding even those sections that had previously been declassified in the 1999 release. After a brief moment in partial sun, the JSCP-N is back in the dark.

Hans M. Kristensen/Federation of American Scientists | www.nukestrat.com | 2004-2006

download documents:

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) 3110.04, "Nuclear Supplement to Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan For FY 1996 (JSCP FY 96)," February 12, 1996. [1.25 MB]
Partially declassified and released under FOIA.

background papers:

William M. Arkin and Hans M. Kristensen, "The Post Cold War SIOP and Nuclear Warfare Planning: A Glossary, Abbreviations, and Acronyms," Natural Resources Defense Council, January 1999.
[0.29 MB]

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  Hans M. Kristensen