Future of U. S. Nuclear Operational Doctrine

Author: Tkacik, Michael P.
This book contributes to the scholarship on nuclear strategy by proposing an alternative strategy to both current U.S. nuclear strategy which emphasizes speed of attack, and critical recommendations that urge decoupling U.S. nuclear weapons from delivery vehicles. It advocates adopting instead a U.S. nuclear operational doctrine of delayed retaliation.


“… provides a timely, comprehensive, authoritative and fair-minded analysis of where we are, where we are headed, and in which direction we ought to take our nuclear forces in the 21st century…. If the status quo is more dangerous than the situation warrants and the proposals of the critics both weaken deterrence and threaten instability during crises, then there is clearly a need for new thinking in the debate on American nuclear weapons strategy. The author arrives at a sensible solution to the need for balancing the issues of safety and deterrence, which he calls delayed retaliation. His solution is comprehensive, calling for changes in doctrine, force structure and deployment….the author’s grasp of the intricacies of nuclear strategy are obvious and his logic is impeccable. That alone will force both sides to undertake a serious re-examination of American nuclear policy and to prepare it for the 21st century.” – Dr. Kevin Curow, American International University in Germany

“Michael Tkacik has produced a very thoughtful and serious overview of the future of nuclear weapons, and of the plans that are made for their use…. In a careful analysis of the difficult choices facing us here, the book makes the issues as clear as they can be…. Quite up-to-date in taking into account the new policy approaches outlined by the Bush administration, as it dialogues with President Putin in Russia and as it contemplates how it will interact with China and the other nuclear powers in the future…. Explores in a very profound way the major alternatives for the handling of nuclear arsenals in the new century…..In developing his analysis, the author has tapped the entire body of literature on nuclear deployments and strategy that evolved over the last five decades. The book would thus be worth hanging on to for the footnotes and bibliography alone….a book which policy-makers will have to read, and which a great number of students and public-spirited Americans will want to read.” – Professor George H. Quester, University of Maryland

“… examines operational nuclear doctrine for use of nuclear weapons at several levels…. offers a comprehensive review of Cold War nuclear strategy, but through a post-Cold War lens. In doing so, it offers insights that cannot be obtained from previous works…. This review would be very useful in the classroom…. Delineates the danger inherent in policies reflecting critical views, and calls for an incremental approach to arms control, reflecting the author’s argument that the end goal of complete disarmament is not yet a rational choice…. this book will spark a very productive debate in the field of international security.” – Prof. Carolyn C. James, Stephens College

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface; Foreword
1. Introduction
2. Past and Present U. S. Nuclear Policy
3. Critical Recommendations for Change to U. S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
4. De-alerting and Decoupling
5. Delayed Retaliation
6. Conclusion
Bibliography; Index