Military Review

Three whales of American nuclear deterrence

Three whales of American nuclear deterrence] An analysis of official US documents shows that “the fundamental role of nuclear weapons The United States remains deterred by intimidating a nuclear attack on the United States, its allies and partners. " This conclusion is confirmed by the following provisions of such documents. "The United States will only consider using nuclear weapons in emergency situations to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners." "The United States will not use nuclear weapons or threaten the use of nuclear weapons by states that are parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and abide by their commitments on nuclear non-proliferation." "The threat of a global nuclear war has become distant, but the risk of a nuclear attack has increased."

The military-political leadership of the United States, declaring that it does not rely on counter-interest targeting, intends to maintain significant counter-force potential. In this case, the United States does not report anything that would indicate their refusal to use nuclear weapons first. The United States will be able to "convincingly threaten a wide-range nuclear response if deterrence deterrence fails."

In 2013, the report of the US Secretary of Defense on the country's nuclear strategy mentioned three types of deterrence deterrence: strategic, advanced, and regional (strategic, extended, regional). As is known, the main carrier of the country's nuclear power is the Joint Strategic Command (USC), which is called upon to carry out nuclear, space and cybernetic operations. The Combined Global Impact Functional Command (FOCU) USC is responsible for conducting strategic assurance, strategic deterrence and global strike operations.

At the first glance, the above three requirements for the GFCS seem clear and understandable. Strategic guaranteeing looks like the promise of the United States to its allies and partners (for example, European NATO countries and Japan) to protect and protect them from the attack of the “Russian bear” or the “Chinese dragon”. Strategic deterrence with intimidation is perceived by many only as a purely speculative threat of American punishment by nuclear retribution in the event of a nuclear attack by the Russian Federation and the PRC on the United States. A global strike seems to be seen as a punishment to the disobedient for their attack on the United States, their allies and partners, carried out after the American "deterrence by deterrence does not work." However, this is only a first impression. Let's first see what a global strike is, then move on to strategic assurance and end with strategic deterrence.


Global Strike was born in the United States shortly after the 11 attacks of September 2001, becoming the brainchild of "global war against terrorism", "offensive deterrence with intimidation" and "fight against weapons of mass destruction." In fact, the “global strike” became one of the elements of the forceful proactive response to the challenges of the 21st century — international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and regional instability, more precisely, a means of rapid response to threats in the regions using the United States as usual, and if necessary nuclear weapons "global shock forces." The presence of the phrase “global strike” in the names of the two nuclear commands of the US Armed Forces and in the subtitle of the USC operational plan (“Strategic deterrence and global strike”) operating in 2008 – 2012 reflects the ability of the US Armed Forces to strike with nuclear and conventional weapons on any objects on earth however, the content of the concept of “global strike” does not include the possibility of using nuclear weapons on plans for nuclear war and is more consistent with the execution of “police” functions.

We turn to the official publications of the USC, which define the purpose and tasks of the Joint Functional Command of the USC global strike. Only the fifth in a row and the importance of OFKGU is the "development of kinetic and nonkinetic variants of global impact for USC operations and exercises". And here is one of the tasks of the USC Global Operations Center: “Based on the order of the President, the Center for Global Operations performs tasks for a global strike or sends emergency actions to strategic nuclear forces.” The distinction between the global strike and the extraordinary actions of the strategic nuclear forces (SNF) in carrying out plans for a nuclear war is quite obvious.

Why did the idea of ​​a global strike appear and how did it develop? At the end of the 80 of the last century, the possibility of a conventional and nuclear war between the US / NATO and the USSR / ATS was considered almost unbelievable. In 1990, the United States, in the hope of reassigning countries previously belonging to the USSR's zone of influence, and in the hope of increasing its influence in the Third World countries, adopted a strategy of "regional defense" ("regional strategy"). The military-political leadership (CDF) of the United States proceeded from the fact that the possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including nuclear weapons, is no longer a dream for regional countries, but a reality that can be achieved. This was evidenced by the creation of the first nuclear warheads in India in 1985, in Pakistan in 1987, and in the DPRK in 1990. The need for nuclear weapons started talking almost in 10 countries of the world. The United States was required to have new methods of influence and new means to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the world, to prevent nuclear wars between regional powers, to keep the countries that are parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in check, to curb extremism.

The United States succeeded in keeping 1990 and 1999 in India and Pakistan from a war with conventional and possibly nuclear weapons, and in the middle of the 90s forced the use of nuclear weapons by the DPRK to fulfill its obligations. But the United States acutely felt the need to create long-range, high-precision, with a minimum reaction and delivery rate, means for neutralizing or destroying weapons of mass destruction belonging to regional states or non-governmental organizations and located in ground or underground shelters. These funds were also needed to ensure the destruction of the military-political leadership of unwanted US countries. Let us recall how many times the attempts of Americans to destroy the leaders of Libya, Iraq, Al-Qaeda with the use of an arsenal of available means at that time failed. In order to “disarm” (neutralize weapons of mass destruction and means of delivery) and “decapitate” (destroy CPR) the enemy, it was necessary to first “blind” (disrupt the work of detection and reconnaissance equipment) and “stun” (break communication and control) and destroy a number of other objects, that is, to put it in modern language, to provide "access".

The idea of ​​a global strike on particularly important objects arose from the experts of the US Air Force in 1996. Initially, it was believed that by 2025, the United States would have long-range conventional and planning ballistic missiles in non-nuclear equipment. This was followed by a clarification in the sense that a global strike is the application of a quick, high-precision strike from the territory of the USA within 90 minutes. since the decision was made using not only non-returnable, but also returned means of delivery of conventional weapons. But reality took its toll, and in 2001, the global blow meant “knocking out the door” by means available at that time to get “access” into the air, sea and land space of the enemy country to other forces. In 2003, in one of the military studies, the high-precision global impact of long-range weapons was given to the distribution of such existing and promising systems into three types: global range, range within the theater of operations (up to 3700 km) and long-duration patrols (in 10 – 15 the flight min. to the goal).


An air attack by terrorists in New York and Washington in 2001 prompted the Department of Defense to declare its intention to create a new conglomerate of “offensive strike systems” (SNF, conventional strike forces and information operations forces) to provide capabilities “ offensive deterrence. ”

Information operations then meant offensive and defensive actions in computer networks, conducting electronic warfare, performing psychological operations, misleading the enemy at a strategic level and ensuring the security of one’s own operations. In the United States firmly learned the lesson stories: the threat of the emergence of new Hitlers, now with nuclear weapons, must be nipped in the bud.

In 2002, the “National Strategy for the fight against weapons of mass destruction” confirmed the intention to use both nuclear and conventional weapons and other means for this fight, and from the “US National Security Strategy” 2002 of the year indicated that this is the strategy of proactive actions against hostile states and terrorist groups developing weapons of mass destruction. In the same year, the “global strike” task was included in the duties of the USC and began operating from January 2003 in the following formulation: a global strike is “the ability to perform high-speed, high-precision kinetic (with nuclear and conventional weapons) and non-kinetic (with elements of space and information operations) impact in the interests of achieving theatrical and national goals. ”

From 2004, USC was fully prepared to perform a short-duration global strike with conventional weapons on high-priority targets. Later messages appeared from which it was possible to conclude that not only bombers but also sea-based cruise missiles (SLCMs) were introduced to the global strike.

In 2005, the Unified Functional Command of Space Operations and the Global Impact appeared as part of the USC (after 2008, after several renames, it became the Unified Functional Command of the Global Impact). Thus, a structure was created that opposed the global challenges of the 21st century with a global strike, clearly defined its regional focus and separated it from strategic nuclear operations and large-scale operations without the use of nuclear weapons.

The organizational structure was basically completed by October 2010 by creating the Global Strike Command (KSU) of the US Air Force, including all ICBMs and all B-52 and B-2 bombers (in October 2015, the 63). It was then officially announced that the purpose of the KSU was “nuclear and conventional strike - a key component of strategic deterrence”, but the role of bombers in regional deterrence was not protruding. Now the main performers of selective "surgical precision" global strikes are considered bombers (B-1, B-1, B-2), as well as fighters and Tomahawk SLCM.


Let's see how the idea of ​​a global (including a quick) strike can now be realized.

ICBMs with nuclear warheads and a flight time of up to 35 minutes. can be applied immediately, but because of their capabilities in range - only on half the surface of the planet. SLBM with a flight time of up to 45 minutes can be used at the most distant site in the world only after several days of SSBN transition from ordinary patrol areas to newly designated missile launch areas. Bombers with nuclear or conventional weapons with a flight time of three to 24 hours, depending on their deployment in advanced areas or on the continental United States, are ready for departure 12 or 24–36 hours after receiving the order. Tactical Flight Time aviation and Tomahawk SLCM depends on the proximity to the intended targets of the destruction of the airdromes and ships they use, as well as on the time it takes for these forces to advance into the areas of aviation recovery and missile launch.

Ohio's strategic submarine missile carriers remain the core of the US strategic deterrence system. Photo from

Destruction of targeted unfortified and buried objects can be accomplished by using highly accurate conventional weapons (SLCM, ALCM, UAB) and, if necessary, with nuclear weapons, including ultra small and low power (for example, using a nuclear warhead with variable power of an explosion in 300 t at the bomb and in 2 kt for ALCM). A global strike is preceded by adaptive or crisis planning or planning for the order of the CDF that is to be quickly executed (recently, advance planning of options for non-nuclear strikes has also been practiced). Operational or tactical control of the forces delivering a global strike is carried out by FUCU (the use of strategic nuclear forces in a nuclear war is provided for under the combat control of the USC commander).

As we can see, a global strike is usually a quickly planned and carried out kinetic and nonkinetic high-precision impact of various strengths and time-limited (mainly by conventional weapons, if necessary nuclear) from the territory of the United States and / or from advanced areas within the framework of regional offensive deterrence on the most important and threatening US objects and subjects of the regional enemy, located anywhere in the world.

It is noteworthy that the speed of the organizational formation of the forces of global strike is ahead of the speed of their technical improvement. The euphoria of the idea of ​​a fast global strike did not lead to equipping the USC with fundamentally new types of strike weapons. There were no official reports on the implementation of the proposal to equip a certain number of ICBMs and SLBMs with a nuclear warhead with variable explosion power. The only new long-range air attack weapon is the incoming non-nuclear equipment of the ALCM AGM-158 JASSM-ER. In the new century, supporters of the global strike failed to achieve the consent of the legislators to design intermediate-range SLBMs in non-nuclear equipment, to create high-precision non-nuclear warheads for SLBMs (96 warheads for 24 12 SSBNs) and for ICBMs (based on 10 – 50 missiles) improving the accuracy of an SLBM for the production of a shock-resistant nuclear warhead penetrating into the ground. Nevertheless, the preparatory work on the creation of at least several dozen promising aerospace tools capable of hitting specified objects anywhere in the world in a period of up to 90 min. from the moment the order is given, they continue.


Strategic guaranteeing is a confirmation of the loyalty of the United States to its obligations to its allies and partners in the defense of their vital interests with American non-strategic and strategic nuclear weapons and conventional weapons. The recent emergence of the “strategic safeguarding” task, the essence of which is the long-standing “extended deterrence deterrence” by the US “nuclear umbrella”, is intended to emphasize not only the US’s shown determination to protect its allies and partners as themselves, but also the increased US intention to show this determination. Strategic guarantees can dissuade the allies, partners, and friends of the United States of the need to create their own, national nuclear weapons.

Before we talk about deterrence and deterrence with intimidation, think about American pragmatism regarding the use of nuclear weapons. In 1979, US Secretary of Defense Harold Brown said: "We will continue to avoid relying on nuclear weapons until their use is clearly beneficial to our interests and the interests of our allies, or until their use is imposed on us by the nuclear actions of others." The United States does not commit itself first to the non-use of nuclear weapons.

During the period of sole possession of nuclear weapons, the United States in relation to the USSR carried out a "containment". Having lost their monopoly on "absolute weapons" and having lost the invulnerability of their territory from the effects of nuclear weapons of the USSR, the United States began to "deterrence" of the Soviet Union with its nuclear weapons. Gradually, his clarified name appeared - “nuclear deterrence”. After the deployment of powerful non-nuclear precision weapons, which became one of the pillars of “conventional deterrence” (conventional deterrence), began in 80, the “strategic deterrence”, which absorbed nuclear and conventional deterrence, came into use in 90. It included power and non-force measures, with the strategic (nuclear) strategic forces (SNF) playing the main (nuclear) role in it in the form of the Joint Strategic Command.

In 1973, the American theorist John M. Collins, in his book “Big Strategy,” counted 11 types of deterrence with deterrence. Stating that deterrence deterrence is a measure to prevent war rather than warfare, he also acknowledged the existence of intrawar deterrence.

In 1986, US Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, characterizing deterrence with intimidation as a “multilayered concept,” called its components defense, escalation and retribution. The modern American formulation of deterrence with deterrence is concise, mercantile and vague: “Preventing actions by the existence of a persuasive threat of unacceptable opposition and / or the belief that the price of action outweighs the expected benefits.”

Nowadays, the United States exercises “strategic” deterrence by intimidating those states that are capable of destroying this country or causing unacceptable damage to it, and “regional” nuclear and conventional deterrence by intimidating those states that cannot inflict such damage on the United States. “Deterrence by intimidation” is not only a psychological pressure in the form of a “ghost of an unacceptable response”, but also a forceful act.


A notable event was the introduction of the offensive deterrence (offensive deterrence capability) and offensive deterrent capability clause in the Nuclear Review of the US Department of Defense in 2001. Since nuclear deterrence is the primary deterrent to deterrence, offensive deterrence by deterrence means using nuclear weapons first. I will give a few examples.

During the Cold War, the United States solved the problem of deterrence by intimidating a general (global) nuclear war, a nuclear war in a theater of war, a conventional war in a theater of war, and conventional military actions of a smaller scope in theater or in one of the theater regions. Such tasks were worked out in the 1971 – 1989 years at the largest command and staff exercises of the NATO Winter Joint Command Force, which covered the European and Atlantic theaters of war. Detaining the intimidation of the “aggressor” (USSR / ATS), the participants of the exercise acted out during the war with the use of controlled escalation of the use of nuclear weapons by NATO forces - by expanding the areas of destruction and the categories of objects targeted, increasing the number and power of conditionally used nuclear weapons. At the same time, the conditional use of their nuclear weapons in a limited nuclear war by NATO’s NATO was launched first.

Only a few KSUs "Winter" otygrya deterrence deterrence included the transition to a universal (global) nuclear war. But at specialized US exercises to work out the use of nuclear weapons, deterrence did not end with a full-blown massive nuclear strike against the main enemy, it continued for a long time using assured nuclear reserve forces and other nuclear reserve forces for subsequent attacks (post-attack). Is this not proof that nuclear deterrence with deterrence ends only when the belligerent spends his last delivered nuclear warhead.

Many variants of selective US nuclear strikes on the USSR, created during the Cold War period, provisions on the duration of a nuclear war of three to six months, which existed from the 80-s up to the 1997 year, the appearance of a "sub-strategic" provision in NATO in the 90-s nuclear strike and selective strike options, provisions in the United States on the need to end a nuclear war at the earliest possible stage, under conditions favorable to the United States and its allies, the options of "selective attack" in our century combined with ntrsilovym targeting the US strategic nuclear forces eloquently speak about the role of the preferred controlled escalation of the use of nuclear weapons in deterrence force.

“Offensive deterrence deterrence” using the US conventional and nuclear weapons first and strategic deterrence using counter-force targeting get along well with each other and show that under the deterrence wrapper the deterrent is not only responding, but also proactively using US nuclear forces, including using escalation.


Deterrence with intimidation is a very flexible concept, especially when the right to self-defense is regarded as the right to proactively use force. Strategic nuclear deterrence is a two-eyed deterrent: its face is demonstrative action, and the reverse is the use of nuclear forces.

Demonstrative actions are to increase the readiness of the SNF, to build up duty forces, to disperse and move closer to targets of carriers of nuclear weapons, to show in a warning manner the power of a nuclear weapon (by an explosion of nuclear warhead outside or near the territory of a hostile state) to demonstrate its determination to use it against the enemy.

The use of nuclear forces is the commissioning of nuclear war plans and the implementation of strategic nuclear operations.

Judging by the official USC information posted on the Internet, updated as of March 2014 of the year and stored there in March of the 2015, the first task of the CIFU is to “keep ready and put into action a strategic (nuclear) deterrence plan war of the country. " Consequently, strategic deterrence with deterrence includes not only the combat duty of strategic nuclear forces, the performance of demonstrative strategic deterrence operations with intimidation, the development and maintenance of plans for nuclear operations, but also the implementation of these plans with the use of strategic nuclear forces. or emergency response in a nuclear war. It was not for nothing that one of the officers of the USC made it clear in 2008 that strategic deterrence with intimidation included operations by nuclear forces.


In a situation where the threat of a global nuclear war between the United States and the Russian Federation became remote, and the risk of a nuclear attack on the United States from rogue states and non-governmental organizations increased, the United States carried out strategic nuclear deterrence with deterrence (in relation to the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China) nuclear and conventional weapons (to protect NATO countries and other allies and partners) and regional deterrence with conventional and nuclear weapons deterrence (it is directed against other non-allies, friends of countries and partners of the United States and against non-governmental organizations in these countries that pose a threat to the United States).

Strategic nuclear deterrence with deterrence is carried out by the SNF, enhanced nuclear deterrence with deterrence — non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed in the forward zone and in the US, with the ability to connect to it the SNF, and regional deterrence by deterrence is carried out mainly by non-nuclear forces with the ability to connect them to the SNF.

Strategic nuclear forces are called upon to carry out mainly prepared (in the family of national strategic response plans) plans for the use of nuclear weapons, while the nuclear forces engaged for a global strike at regional facilities will more often operate using adaptive or crisis plans or in accordance with the subject fast execution by orders of the military-political leadership. American non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe and the United States and the "remotely present" in Europe, the US strategic forces that are currently carrying out extended nuclear deterrence by deterrence allegedly do not have advance plans for the use of nuclear weapons. Strategic nuclear deterrence with intimidation is carried out by carrying on the continuous combat duty of USC nuclear forces, conducting demonstrative strategic nuclear deterrence operations with intimidation, and also using USC nuclear forces under current nuclear war plans.

Strategic assurance, strategic deterrence and global strike are the three pillars of nuclear deterrence by US nuclear forces. Whatever may be said, but the global strike includes the use of nuclear weapons by the United States on the regional adversary already in our time, and strategic deterrence with US deterrence includes the unthinkable now, but possible in the future, putting into action plans of a controlled nuclear war against one or two great powers of the world.
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  1. igorka357
    igorka357 4 July 2015 06: 57
    The United States will not use nuclear weapons only against those who also have them, they would gladly burn all the others in the nuclear apocalypse! Only a tough response will stop these know-it-alls!
    1. Mario
      Mario 4 July 2015 23: 38
      Enough to duplicate nonsense, the USA is not the dude from the gateway with the club that you imagined here.
  2. cumastra1
    cumastra1 4 July 2015 07: 53
    If you want peace, get ready for war. NW - the guarantor of a peaceful sky above your head, no matter how strange it sounds.
  3. Barakuda
    Barakuda 4 July 2015 09: 22
    I don’t get it? Why article request Russia, as it were, on the drum .. Irreparable damage to the mattress is provided, that is, KAYUK .. they themselves know.
    1. stavr550
      stavr550 4 July 2015 16: 06
      not so simple. we don’t know much
      1. Alexei
        Alexei 21 December 2020 09: 41
        What do we don’t know? Explain?
  4. blizart
    blizart 4 July 2015 11: 27
    Generally speaking, the fear of a nuclear strike is greatly exaggerated, oddly enough it sounds. The photo from the epicenter of Hiroshima shows that even telegraph poles have been preserved. The developed civil defense system can significantly offset the damage to the human potential of the state. I think, all the same, that Civil Defense in Russia will be better. Now let's look at the map and see the obvious: the United States is much more vulnerable in terms of compact population distribution and more complex infrastructure. All this, coupled with greater stress resistance and solidity of your population, makes it unlikely that you will use nuclear weapons even proactively, in other words, they, as they have done repeatedly, are bluffing. The layman of course knows little about this (as their recent survey revealed, well, stupid, what can you do), but everyone who needs it knows well. So the brothers are more optimistic, the main thing is to breed, multiply and educate.
    1. new communist
      new communist 4 July 2015 12: 10
      10 th
      There will be no better civil defense in Russia, at 2 at night of January 4 of January 2020 of the year Russia, unfortunately, is defenseless, before a sudden nuclear strike. Nicholas GO will not save such dates, when GO is useless a lot. 22 June 1941 years at 4 hours of the night, the USSR was also defenseless. Alas, this is a fact, and Pearl Harbor, too.
      1. Dry_T-50
        Dry_T-50 5 July 2015 10: 34
        Quote: new communist
        There will be no better civil defense in Russia, at 2 at night of January 4 of January 2020 of the year Russia, unfortunately, is defenseless, before a sudden nuclear strike. Nicholas GO will not save such dates, when GO is useless a lot. 22 June 1941 years at 4 hours of the night, the USSR was also defenseless. Alas, this is a fact, and Pearl Harbor, too.

        I apologize, but you are not a New Communist, but a New Idiot. The US authorities, of course, are mud @ ki, but not enough to turn the world into piles of contaminated land.
  5. new communist
    new communist 4 July 2015 12: 07
    “The United States will only consider the use of nuclear weapons in emergency circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.” ---- An invasive massive nuclear strike against Russia and China is, alas, also a defense. Hitler also defended himself against the USSR. And as for the non-use of vigorous weapons against countries without them ??? When did the Americans not offend the weak?
    1. Rebus
      Rebus 4 July 2015 14: 58
      Mushrooms harm your health!
  6. sabakina
    sabakina 4 July 2015 13: 05
    new communist
    Allegedly, a massive nuclear strike against Russia and China is, alas, also a defense. Hitler also defended himself against the USSR.

    USSR attacked Hitler? belay
    You et, smoke less ...
  7. hd9305
    hd9305 4 July 2015 14: 57
    Quote: new communist
    “The United States will only consider the use of nuclear weapons in emergency circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.” ---- An invasive massive nuclear strike against Russia and China is, alas, also a defense. Hitler also defended himself against the USSR. And as for the non-use of vigorous weapons against countries without them ??? When did the Americans not offend the weak?

    Think about what you are talking about! It was the USSR defending itself.
  8. clansman
    clansman 4 July 2015 16: 00
    I respect the USA. A great and rich country, only arrogant niggas there are too many.
    CTABEP 4 July 2015 17: 23
    Very hard to read, not the best translation. But basically, interesting.
  10. Alexy
    Alexy 4 July 2015 19: 12
    This makes no sense.
  11. topicrange
    topicrange 4 July 2015 21: 50
    Why does Topvar frighten the Russian reader with this nonsense from the USA? It becomes clear that the topvar is in the service of the mattress. The country of eternal traitors. Putin does not count yet.
  12. Platon Viktorovich
    Platon Viktorovich 3 August 2015 12: 06
    The United States has a level of development of the economy and industry and the Armed Forces - higher than its opponents and it is simply unprofitable for them to impose an honest exchange with nuclear weapons strikes!