Nukewatch Winter Quarterly 2019-20
By John LaForge
While Civil Society and a global movement marches steadily toward the abolition of nuclear weapons, planning and rehearsal for mass destruction using nuclear weapons are still routine in the US military and NATO. In June 2019, the US Joint Chief of Staff published online—then quickly deleted—its nuclear attack manual known as “Nuclear Operations, Joint Publication 3-72.”
Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists noticed and managed to preserve a copy (https://fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp3_72.pdf), before the Joint Chiefs took it down. The manual refers to radioactive mass destruction using abstract, obtuse euphemism, like, “The employment of nuclear weapons could have a significant influence on ground operations.” No reader of the gung-ho report would guess that the subject matter involves searing fireballs, vaporized flesh, blast and shock-wave devastation, demolished hospitals, mass firestorm, or permanent radioactive contaminating of water, soil, and the food chain.
The manual simply says nuclear attacks “create conditions,” but without ever describing them. “Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability,” and, as if Reagan never said, “Nuclear war cannot be won,” the report pretends it can. “[T]he use of a nuclear weapon will…create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.”
US nuclear war practice takes place annually in Europe. “Steadfast Noon” is NATO’s code name for the mass destruction rehearsal. Hans Kristensen reported for the Federation of American Scientists that, “This is the exercise that practices NATO’s nuclear strike mission with the B61…nuclear bombs the US deploys in Europe.” Jan Merička, in ESJ News Oct. 19, 2017, wrote that the practice is designed is “to simulate nuclear strikes…and was conducted from the Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium and Büchel Air Base in Germany, where US B61 thermonuclear bombs with the force of up to 340 kilotons of TNT are stored.”
To illustrate the Pentagon’s day-to-day readiness for nuclear war, it just opened its new $1.3 billion Strategic Command headquarters in Omaha, used for supervising and targeting the nuclear arsenal. The building is named after General Curtis LeMay, who, the Omaha World Herald reported, designed and managed the nighttime incendiary bombing raids on 60 Japanese towns that “incinerated entire cities” and killed between 241,000 and 900,000 civilians.
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