Nautilus Institute Digital Library
july 19, 1999


U.S. Nuclear Reorganization in the Pacific

The removal of nuclear weapons from Okinawa in connection with the reversion of the island back to Japan in 1972 was part of a much larger U.S. reorganization of nuclear weapons forward-deployed in the Pacific theater. The reorganization occurred in response to serious criticism from U.S. military and civilian inspections of the U.S. nuclear posture in the Pacific region, and resulted in the removal of land-based nuclear weapons from not only Japan, but also the Philippines and Taiwan. The weapons were either retired or consolidated at U.S. storage facilities in Guam and Hawaii. From 1977, only South Korea continued to store U.S. forward-deployed land-based nuclear weapons.

Obtained under provisions of the
U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

by the Nautilus Institute
September 1997/March 1998


FOIA Documents

Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Forces (CINCPAC), Command History for 1974, September 25, 1975, Volume I, pp. 262-264.
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Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Forces (CINCPAC), Command History for 1976, Octover 18, 1977, Volume I, pp. 159-160, 197.
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Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Forces (CINCPAC), Command History for 1977, September 1, 1978, Volume II, pp. 431-432.
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(See below for description)

Full Excerpt From Document 1:

"Nuclear Weapons Deployment and Security

(TS FRD) Deployment of nuclear weapons outside the Continental United States and the continuing requirement to assure the security of such weapons, were matters of CINCPAC interest in 1974. In the summer, the JCS requested that requirements for nuclear weapons deployment be reevaluated in the context of special concern for the security of those weapons. CINCPAC provided the following proposals. First was the phase out of nuclear antisubmarine warfare, antiair warfare, and atomic demolition munitions, retaining air launched and surface-to-surface weapons. He also proposed to limit the forward deployment of remaining weapons to Korea, Hawaii, Guam, and Alaska, and forces afloat. He proposed to plan for phasing the weapons out of Korea as the Korean security situation permitted.

(S) In September, the Chairman of the JCS expressed his concern that extensive media coverage of statements by public figures concerning security of stored nuclear weapons could trigger some act, possibly by come [sic] irrational individual or individuals, against a nuclear weapons site. He believed it prudent to recognize this potentially increased risk and take appropriate precautionary measures. "We should be particularly careful that our discussions with the media and with visitors do not add fuel to the fire."

(S-FRD) Following a tour of the PACOM by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy, CINCPAC advised the Chairman of the JCS of the results of that trip. The Assistant Secretary had found no immediate problems with physical security, but he raised several significant questions concerning nuclear posture. He believed that nuclear weapons stored ashore in WESTPAC were well in excess of requirements. He also suggested reducing the number of nuclear storage sites in use. He cited differences in threat perception and/or response by component security guards, indicating that the Services lacked uniform threat specifics in training and governing directives. The emphasis was on procedures to prevent authorized access, rather than the ability to defeat or repulse a carefully planned, aggressively executed terrorist attack. CINCPAC advised the Chairman that he had suggested that the Assistant Secretary discuss these matters with the JCS. While the staff was working on the entire nuclear weapon deployment problem, CINCPAC advised, he had tasked his Inspector General to inspect nuclear storage sites throughout the PACOM, emphasizing site security against violent attack.

(TS-FRD) Certain specific movements of nuclear weapons occurred in 1974. All nuclear weapons from Tainan Air Base, Taiwan, were relocated to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Permission Action Link (PAL) recode had been completed by 19 July. On 18 December CINCPACAF completed movement of 81 non-PAL weapons from Clark to CONUS. This action completed implementation of Category II of the PAL Program in the PACOM, in which all nuclear weapons in the Philippines were to be PAL-equipped and locked.

(C-FRD) Certain Army weapons were also moved. On 19 November CINCUSARPAC initiated movement of 36 HONEST JOHN and 8 MADM from the Naval Magazine at Lualualei, Oahu, departing from Barbers Point to CONUS. Weapon movements were scheduled at night to preclude the crew duty day being exceeded, which, in turn, necessitated a crew rest of 15 hours and additional security forces to secure the aircraft during this period. Four logistic movements were programmed with 11 weapons per aircraft. The remaining 147 nuclear weapons were to be returned to CONUS not later than 30 June 1975."

Source: Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC), "CINCPAC Command History for 1974," September 25, 1975, Volume I, pp. 162-164.

Full Excerpt From Document 2:

"Deployment of Nuclear Weapons

(S/FRD) In April 1976 the Commander, U.S. Army CINCPAC Support Group (CRDUSACSG) reopened the question of beddown for the LANCE missile system. In addressing the possible consolidation of weapon storage on Guam, the CDRUSACSG recommended that the LANCE battalion and weapons be positioned in Korea and that Army weapons currently stored on Guam be removed to CONUS. The rationale offered by CDRUSACSG pointed TO Korea as the most likely area requiring use of ground nuclear weapons and the cost of construction of new storage igloos at either Andersen Air Base or the Naval Magazine if reserve weapons (artillery and surface-so-surface missiles (SSM)) were to be retained on Guam. This position was supported by CINCPAC, but with the stipulation that the two aging SSMs (NIKE HERCULES and HONEST JOHN) be removed from Korea upon introduction of LANCE. COMUS Korea concurred with putting the LANCE battalion and weapons in Korea and removal of remaining Army weapons on Guam back to CONUS. However, he felt it would be operationally unacceptable to give up the NIKE HERCULES missile system because of the requirement for the additional capability offered by that system.

(S/FRD) In July the Commander, Central Ammunition Management Office Pacific noted previously approved plans to ship LANCE warheads to Guam and recommended action to fulfill those plans. CINCPAC weighed in recommending that until resolution of issues cited above, deployment of the LANCE be held in abeyance. However, in September the JCS decided to move the LANCE warheads to Guam. They cited the requirement for additional time for Presidential review and the time and review required to get the issue to that level as the reason, and noted that this process could hold LANCE in CONUS for an indefinite period. By 31 December all authorized LANCE warheads were in place on Guam.

(TS/FRD) In anticipation of a directive to move most of the nuclear weapons from the Philippines, a series of conferences with the CINCPAC and component staffs were convened to determine the best means of accomplishing the forthcoming task. This advanced planning enabled planners to locate opportune sealift for movement of weapons with a resulting savings of approximately $700.000 and the ensuing movement went off without incident or notice (at this writing).


(C/FRD) In January the General Accounting Office initiated a survey of the adequacy of transport capability and security for contingency movement of nuclear weapons deployed overseas. The CINCPAC staff provided briefings concerning the duties and responsibilities of PACOM units involved in transportation and security matters. Also in the matter of security, a GAO team completed in August a survey of the Defense Nuclear Agency's accountability system for nuclear weapons on Guam. The verification encompassed inspection of unit records, weapon containers, and weapon casings against selected serial numbers that had been provided by the DNA.

(C/FRD) On 30 September the last of 54 LANCE nuclear warheads arrived at the Naval Magazine on Guam, completing initial deployment of this system to the PACOM.

(C/FRD) In consonance with the FY 77 nuclear weapons deployment plan, 140 nuclear weapons were removed from the Philippines between 20 and 28 November. JCS approval for planning was received on 6 November, and CINCPAC issued the execute order on 10 November. CINCPAC admonished that, because of the highly sensitive nature of the operation, the need to minimize visibility and risk to public disclosure required that non-essential visitors to sites of the operation be prohibited. Removal was carried out under CINCPACAF Operation Order 76-9, with the code name COMMANDO FLIGHT. The weapons were loaded aboard USS Flint (AE-32) at Cubi Point, and departed on 1 December. No public interest or reaction was report throughout."

Source: Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC), "CINCPAC Command History for 1976," October 18, 1977, Volume I, pp. 159-160, 197.

Full Excerpt From Document 3:

"Chapter X: Supporting Activities

Section I -- Inspector General

(U) The office of the PACOM Inspector General (IG) was established in 1973. The office was primarily concerned with matters of an operational nature; it did not infringe on responsibilities of the Service IG. The PACOM IG monitored and periodically inspected operational areas essential to mission performance in order to provide CINCPAC with an additional means to evaluate the ability of all echelons of the command to accomplish their missions. Further, the IG continued to serve as CINCPAC's office responsive through the JCS to the Secretary of Defense for the evaluation of command and control, joint operations and readiness, and operational security programs within the command. CINCPAC's Director for Personnel continued to serve in the additional capacity of Inspector General throughout 1977.

(S/FRD) The physical security of stored nuclear weapons and other munitions was a matter of continuing study and interest. From 5 to 11 February and IG team visited the U.S. Naval Magazine at Guam. From 6 to 10 June another team, this time supplemented by an officer from CINCPAC's Operations Directorate, inspected the physical security of nuclear weapons stored in Korea at Camp Ames and Kunsan and Osan Air Bases. (As noted in the Operations chapter of this history, the nuclear weapons storage site at Osan was deactivated later in the year.) A third visit, again with Operations Directorate support, was made to two branch facilities of the Naval Magazine at Lualualei, Hawaii, the West Loch and Waikele branches, on Oahu. From 30 October through 3 November an IG team, again with Operations Directorate support, conducted an inspection of the Physical security of nuclear weapons stored at the U.S. Naval Magazine at Adak, Alaska."


Source: Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC), "CINCPAC Command History for 1977," September 1, 1978, Volume II, pp. 431-432.

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