nukes: "tactical" vs. "terrorist"

Furt -

They could, and did. I’ll need to look up the cite when I get home. The prevailing attitude of nuclear weapons being another type of bomb persisted into the mid-50’s. IIRC, it wasn’t the strategists that persisted in thinking that way, it was the rank-and-file generals who wanted to use it as a tactical weapon, ignoring the consequences.

furt, it wasn’t a case of ‘Lets go find survivors and finish them off.’ It was more a case of, ‘We just blew a hole in their front, not rush through it and either grab the land to fortify or break through and make a run for their supply lines.’
In the fifties and possibly into the sixties, the thought that you could use the weapons as a means of front breaching bombs was prevalient, yes.


>>Being Chaotic Evil means never having to say your sorry…unless the other guy is bigger than you.<<

—The dragon observes

As I read falcon’s explanation, and think of previous instances of the military being slow to adopt to change, (battleships/carriers, rifles) it makes more and more sense.


“It all started with marbles in school…”

Thanks furt. It’s probably good, because now I can’t find that damn book that listed the history of US nuclear policy! (It’s probably somewhere in my parent’s attic…sigh)

It is a neat topic, though - you realize that for much of the Cold War, we didn’t have a clue in hell what we were doing. Plus, in the early stages, we were fighting a Russian threat that didn’t exist. And it explains why SDI should NEVER be implemented, even if it would work. (Which I don’t think it would…)

If I can find the book, I’ll list it - it was a pretty clear discussion of nuclear policy.

Watching the History Channel today, they made passing mention of nuclear depth charges that would wipe out any and all submarines in a 3-5 mile radius. I guess it wouldn’t do the fish a lot of good either.


“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

Jophiel, Correct. The Nuclear Depth charge would wipe out A) all subs in a several mile radius, B) all surface ships in a couple of mile radius (Nukes underwater are Nasty) and C) most likely the S-3B Viking that dropped it. This is because unless the bomb is dropped rather precisely, the S-3B won’t get far enough away before it goes off. It can’t climb fast enough, and the nuke can’t be dropped from height. Jim is rather happy that they aren’t considered tactical weapons anymore, and have been phased out of doctrine.


>>Being Chaotic Evil means never having to say your sorry…unless the other guy is bigger than you.<<

—The dragon observes

Hey Nickrz: You can , in theory, build an atomic bomb the size of a bullet. The material is called Californium. It is EXTREMELY rare, and one of the synthetic, transuranic elements that do not exist in nature without Man’s intervention. I’ve heard the figure of 10 tons [that’s tons, not kilotons] yield.
Didn’t The Great Celestial Cecil do a riff on this once? In the 80’s?

Personally I think most modern weapons could be considered “cheating”. Think about it. It takes a LOT of skill to handle a blade or an axe or mace or weapon of the type effectivily.(I know from personal experience- even after 5 years of using a sword I got cut recently on my hand!) A bow requires skill and a bit of luck. Now consider guns. Point it at something and pull the trigger. NOW consider nuclear weapons- do we really need something capable of destroying the planet? I think not. Unfortunately, we cannot go back to the simple things anyway because no one will ever be rid of the damned things-for one,all too simple reason- no one trusts anyone else.

example-“Sure, I’ll get rid of all my weapons if you do- FIRST.” Enough said.

Why not? Of course, up close, both you and whatever you were hiding behind are toast. But beyond some radius, it’s better to be hiding behind something than not to be hiding behind anything! And a fighting force is likely to be more resistant than a city caught completely unaware.

Also consider that tanks and trenches offer a good bit more protection than trees. I once read the estimated radius at which a 10 Kt blast could kill an exposed tank - I don’t remember the number any more, but it really wasn’t very large. I seem to recall something on the order of hundreds of meters, but much less than a Km - but that’s from memory, so I might be misremembering it. But it’s quite possible for a tactical “battlefield” nuke to leave survivors at a pretty small distance from the blast. Granted they’ll be REALLY pissed off, and probably a lot of them will die over the next hours/days, but they could still kill you in the meantime.

I think the military has a pretty good idea about these sorts of things - they’ve done a whole lot of research about it. There’s a classic paper - I don’t recall the exact title, but it’s something like “The Effects of Nuclear Weapons” that has all sorts of hard data on these issues. They know exactly what blast overpressure is achieved at what radius from what sized bomb dropped what distance above the ground, etc.


peas on earth

Falcon, might you by chance be thinking of “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age”
I love that book

I disagree. It really doesn’t take that much skill to use most any hand weapon effectively. For example, consider the quality of the soldier and training of the people who actually used these weapons.

Most of the people I train can hold their own against somebody who has trained for a couple of years (keeping in mind that most duels are over in moments, so what I really mean is that the win-loss ratio is pretty decent even for rookies vs slightly trained swordsmen). That being said somebody who trains for many years will eventually truly master the weapon at which point you will start to see some real wholesale slaughters (in terms of win-loss ratios again). Case in point, my instructors beats me handily since he has been training for a VERY long time and I have only been training a long time.

In any event, swordplay on the battlefield of the time was essentially non-existent. There is no room or time for duels to take place. Lots of shoving, bodies in your face, yelling, blood, confusion, etc.

Keep in mind that the bow as a military weapon was used en masse. Frankly, the military of the time could care less if you could hit the bullseye 9/10 times. They just wanted you to be able to get the arrow in the general vicinity of the opposing army. Again, not a lot of skill involved.

True, discounting mindset, which I didn’t consider in the previous two cases so I won’t here.

smegmum -

I don’t think so, but I’m not sure. I can’t remember the damn title, even with spending a half-hour on Amazon looking for it, and checking the classes’ syllabus online. I remember reading it, and what the cover looked like, and for what class, but can’t remember the title. The title you mentioned isn’t ringing a bell, though. Argh! This is going to drive me crazy, I just know it.

counterattack said:

Well, maybe. The nuclear reduction treaties have worked to decrease the nukes in the US and former Soviet Union. The real problem is a need to keep a deterrence force to guard against other countries gaining a nuclear first-strike capability.