Those privileged to know Admiral Jerry Miller will not be surprised that his opinions, judgments and emotional reactions are displayed in this book without waffling or condescension.
The counterforce strategy produced by RAND without participation of anyone with combat experience or knowledge of the sea was bankrupted by submarine based weapons.
Nuclear weapons became a jobs program for scientists and technical workers. The book can be a primer for requirements writers of all weapons systems.
For Congress, production of weapons was a jobs bill and an issue to attack the other party.
For the services, nuclear weapons were a force builder: i.e. the more weapons, the more delivery platforms would be needed. This is much more than a critique of how the stockpile grew. It contains a careful analysis of the various delivery systems, the effects of Arms Limitation Treaties, the failures of political and military leaders to examine nuclear weapons and the anomalies in policy that were not just in error but nonsense.
Admiral Miller was one of the initial members of the organization charged with determining targets (the National Strategic Target List) and then formulating that into the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), reporting there in 1960, in the first increment of the Joint Strategic Targeting Planning Staff (JSTPS). In 1973 he returned as Deputy Director.
Over and over again he laments as a targeteer, “What in the world are we going to do with all these weapons”. Miller’s thesis is to address the question of why the United States dedicated so much effort and so many resources to the creation of a stockpile of ten thousand strategic weapons? How did the buildup happen? Who were the individuals and groups of individuals who were responsible for the creation of this unbelievably destructive force that has never been used and that has necessitated years of frustrating and sometimes questionable arms control negotiations.
Early in the book Miller notes that Admiral Dan Gallery contended in public arenas that a shore-based nuclear weapons force provided targets for the enemy; targets that would attract many weapons and create many casualties just because of the location of the force. Gallery’s argument has been turned from a fault to a blessing in arguments that land based forces make an unambiguous target that must be attacked in the nuclear war. The issues of Admiral Miller’s analysis of the McNamara era is particularly telling.
With Kennedy’s support, McNamara usurped a great deal of authority that had been in the hands of the military. He made decisions not only on what strategies would be used in warfare, but about what weapons should be procured and from what contractor. Intellec-tual arrogance and disdain of the military became the hallmark of the civilian staff in the Office of the Secre-tary of Defense. That disdain was met with frustration and contempt for the civilian authority on the part of the military.” Page 24
Using as many as 7,000 nuclear weapons could not attain even a 50 per cent probability of destroying the nuclear threat.
When McNamara entered office, the nuclear war plans had 3,500 weapons. When he left seven years later the number was seven thousand and climbing to ten thousand.
“If there were a common thread in their views and those of many of their staffs, it was contempt for military judgment.” Page 28
The AEC and the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (JCAE) were powerful sponsors of the research, development and procurement of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons became a jobs program first for the academic think tanks and then for the nuclear labs. In RAND and similar think tank studies he found two missing elements: none of group had any experience in combat and Miller never noticed any experience or detailed knowledge of the sea.
“The targeteers in Omaha had no contact with those elements of the military developing requirements for weapons. This lack of communications, mostly due to the secrecy imposed on the targeting function, prohibited development of quality requirements. ‘More’ was the only word that seemed to be in the lexicon of those developing requirements.”
” … strategists often dictated changes in the guidance to JSTPS without much reference to that staff and its ability to implement the guidance or changes in strategy that were being made.
“An old military axiom is you should never give an order that can’t be obeyed …. the guidance that was issued for the preparation of the nuclear warfare plans of the 1960s failed to adhere to this axiom” -p78
By 1973, 8,000 weapons were committed to the SIOP.
Using nuclear weapons to send signals to the Soviets … did the Soviets detect this signal and did they react to it?
“A good case can be made that one of the reasons intelligence is often wrong is because security classifications has prevented review and proper oversight. SAC intelligence did not constrain its tendencies to inflate intelligence. Intelligence by itself did not have nearly the impact on the size and composition of the nuclear force as the strategies chosen for its use and the damage criteria that were prescribed.
Rarely did we experience any exchange of ideas between the policy/strategy/guidance civilian authorities and the staff preparing the SIOP.” P133
Secrecy led to ignorance
“Dr Norris Bradbury, head of Los Alamos, would appear before the Military Liaison Committee mentioning that a new weapon capability was possible and ask if the military had a requirement for such a weapon. Invariably the answer would be affirmative and the cycle continued.” P141
Miller’s delivery system of choice is the submarine. Support of local economy took priority over national needs.
1) size the force to
a) protect us
b) meet our obligation to our allies
c) deter any opposition
2) Abandon arms limitation negotiations -unneeded and unnecessary. Most effective reductions and limits have been made by agreements between leaders
3) Begin testing -moderate program: build new war-heads if needed.
The submarine provides a flexibility that presents our leaders with many options. Superior both offensive and defensive. The deterrence mission needs the Navy more than the Navy needs the mission.