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STRATCOM Force Structure Studies

As the primary architect of America's nuclear posture, STRATCOM periodically conducts studies to analyze the most optimal composition of U.S. nuclear forces to meet the requirements set by the president, secretary of defense, and Joint Chiefs of Staff. Major studies are often done in anticipation of future arms control agreements or major force changes resulting from presidential initiatives. Others flow from the continuous modernization of the forces that may permit restructuring of the posture. In either case such studies present a unique picture into the secret world of nuclear war planning and the assumptions that underpin deterrence.

The demise of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union combined with the emerging series of START treaties fundamentally challenged the status-quo and predictability in nuclear force planning. During the Cold War significant changes to the SIOP had generally been rare and predictable, but the rapid and deep cuts that followed the ending of the Cold War rendered the existing nuclear war planning system cumbersome and inflexible. In response, STRATCOM set out to bring order to the chaos of the disarmament process by reinstating a systematic analysis of the strategic implications of deep cuts. The methodology and planning principles of this analysis are apparent in the following six force structure studies released under FOIA:

» The Phoenix Study (1991)
» Strategic Nuclear Forces: STRATCOM's View (1992)
» Sun City (1993)
» Sun City Extended (1994)
» Post-START II Arms Control (1996)
» Post-START II Arms Reductions: The Warfighter's Assessment (1996)

For a separate analysis of these six force structure studies and their implications, see: Hans M. Kristensen, "The Matrix of Deterrence: U.S. Strategic Command Force Structure Studies," The Nautilus Institute, Berkeley, California, May 2001 (PDF-format).

(An earlier description of STRATCOM's force structure studies was initially published by the Nautilus Institute Nuclear Strategy Project)


© Hans M. Kristensen | www.nukestrat.com | 2004