In 1995, CINCSTRAT Admiral Chiles directed the policy subcommittee to the Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) to produce a Terms of Reference that could be used as a baseline for other SAG subcommittees in "expanding the Deterrence of the Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction."
The work continued the efforts of STRATCOM and other elements of the Pentagon to adjust U.S. nuclear doctrine to the changes that occurred with the demise of the Soviet Union and the increasing focus on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The result was a eight-page outline of deterrence theory and its potential application against enemies armed with weapons of mass destruction in the Post-Cold War era. The study emphasized a value-based deterrence, holding at risk those assets that mean most to an opponent..
It also recommended a declaratory deterrence policy which clearly communicates what the U.S. wants to deter. At the same time, however, the study favored maintaining ambiguity about the exact response. To that end the study specifically criticized the so-called Negative Security Assurances pledged by President Clinton in 1995 to ensure support international support for an indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The study recommended against limiting the nuclear option through a no-first-use policy.
of maintaining ambiguity, the study found that deterrence
would be hurt by portraying U.S. leaders as too fully
rational and cool-headed. "The fact that some
elements may appear to be potentially 'out of control'
can be beneficial to creating and reinforcing fears and
doubts thin the
In arguing for applying nuclear deterrence against chemical or biological weapons, the study claimed that Adolf Hitler refrained from using chemical weapons during World War II because he was concerned that allied bombing might escalate. Likewise, the study said, Saddam Hussein also appeared to have been deterred from using weapons of mass destruction in the 1991 Gulf War by a U.S. threat of overwhelming response if such weapons were used.
After this study and some of the SAG minutes were referenced in the publications "Targets of Opportunity" (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1997) and "Nuclear Futures: Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and U.S. Nuclear Strategy" (BASIC, March 1998), STRATCOM's FOIA office informed that formal minutes SAG meetings would no longer be produced. Coinciding with this, the National Security Council told the Associated Press that the SAG study did not represent official U.S. policy.
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John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
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