Nuclear weapons and the revolution in military affairs
Geick, James L.
Yost, David S.
Wirtz, James J.
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Much of the discussion surrounding the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) presupposes that modern weapons will be able to locate and strike targets over great distances with a degree of precision that eliminates the need to retain nuclear warheads. The widespread notion that U.S. conventional weapons can replace nuclear weapons for all operational and deterrence purposes is ill- founded. Nuclear weapons will continue to play an indispensable role in U.S. national security policy. Indeed the primacy of nuclear weapons may actually increase in spite of the RMA, in three important ways: as a hedge against shortcomings in conventional weaponry; as a means to deter or counter advanced conventional weaponry; and as political-military instruments that, due to more advanced designs, may become more usable. Today, the U.S. armed forces have a commanding advantage in military capability, at least in some circumstances; but it is far from clear that this advantage will be sustained over the long term. Choices influenced by assumptions about the RMA will determine how U.S. forces are armed and prepared to fight for years to come. These choices should take into account the continuing significance of nuclear weapons in international security affairs.
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