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"A Smoking Radiating Ruin at the End Of Two Hours": Documents on American Plans for Nuclear War with the Soviet Union, 1954-1955
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Document One by W. B. Moore.


Document Two.

David Alan Rosenberg  

David Alan Rosenberg is an independent historian and defense consultant who is completing a book Toward Armageddon: The Foundations of American Atomic Strategy 1945-1955, and is writing a biography of Admiral Arleigh Burke.


1. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, Department of Defense Annual Report, Fiscal Year 1982 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1981) pp. 38-45.

2. Ibid., p. 39; Among the most judicious assessments of the meaning of PD-59, albeit from different perspectives, are Desmond Ball, "Counterforce Targeting: How New? How Viable?" Arms Control Today, Volume 11, (February 1981), p. 1 ff; Fred Kaplan, "'New Look' From the Pentagon," Inquiry, September 22, 1980, pp. 10-12; and Walter Slocombe, "The Countervailing Strategy," International Security, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Spring 1981), pp. 18-27.

3. Editorial "P.D. 59," The Nation, September 13, 1980, pp. 203-204.

4. Clarence A. Robinson, "Carter Strategic Policy Under Scrutiny," Aviation Week and Space Technology, August 11, 1980, p. 21.

5. Studies of strategic doctrine reforms prior to PD-59 include three works by Desmond Ball, Déja Vu: The Return to Counterforce in the Nixon Administration (Santa Monica, CA.: California Seminar on Arms Control and Foreign Policy, December 1974); Developments in U.S. Strategic Nuclear Policy under the Carter Administration, ACIS Working Paper 21, (Los Angeles: Center for International and Strategic Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles, February 1980); and Politics and Force Levels, The Strategic Missile Program of the Kennedy Administration (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980); plus Lynn Etheridge Davis, Limited Options, Deterrence and the New American Doctrine, Adelphi Paper No. 121, (London: International Institute of Strategic Studies, 1976); and Henry S. Rowen, "Formulating Strategic Doctrine," Part III of Volume 4, Appendix K to The Report of the Commission on the Organization of the Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1975) pp. 220-234. Other sources include Secretary McNamara's and Secretary Schlesinger's Annual Reports to the Congress and Alain C. Enthoven and Wayne K. Smith, How Much is Enough? Shaping the Defense Program, 1961-1969 (New York: Harper and Row, 1971).

6. This paper is located in folder A4-3 (1), "Status of War Plans; Operation Plans," 1954 of the files of the Strategic Plans Division (Op-30). Copies of the memorandum were circulated to Op-30 and Op-55, the Air Warfare Division. It was declassified in January 1979. The briefing Moore received was apparently the standard SAC briefing. A revised updated version was presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on the Air Force in April 1956 and was published, with considerable deletions, in U.S. Congress, Senate, Hearings before the Subcommittee on the Air Force of the Committee on Armed Services, Study of Air Power, 84th Congress, 1st Session, pp. 122-162.

7. The background to Navy concerns about Air Force atomic strategy may be found in Paolo E. Coletta, The United States Navy and Defense Unification (Newark, Del.: University of Delaware Press, 1981), and David Alan Rosenberg, "American Postwar Air Doctrine and Organization: The Navy Experience" in Alfred F. Hurley and Robert C. Ehrhart (editor), Air Power and Warfare, The Proceedings of the 8th Military History Symposium, U.S. Air Force Academy, October 1978 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1979), pp. 245-276.

8. Letters, General Curtis E. LeMay USAF (Ret.) to the author, October 29, 1980, and John T. Bohn, Command Historian, Strategic Air Command, to the author, April 2 and June 25, 1981.

9. The WSEG 12 briefing is appended to Memorandum, Colonel James E. Miller USAF to Vice Admiral M. B. Gardner, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Operations, et. al., Subject: Transcript of Remarks of Director, WSEG, to JCS on WSEG Report No. 12, April 8, 1955, in folder A16-10, "Atomic Warfare Operations" in the files of the Strategic Plans Division (now designated Op-60) for 1955. The paper was declassified by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Declassification Branch October 20, 1980.

10. These were WSEG Report No. 1, Evaluation of Effectiveness of Strategic Air Operations, completed February 8, 1950, and WSEG Report...