Nuclear Weapons Strategy for the 21st Century

  • Commander Anthony Michael Conley

Throughout history, mankind conducted conflicts or war as the ultimate mechanism to settle disagreements. The nature of war has been timeless, with conventional warfare evolving from “man vs. man” to “army vs. army or navy vs. navy.” Several significant technological advances occurred over time that changed the character of war; one of which was the development and employment of nuclear weapons. On August 6, 1945, a B-29 Bomber dropped “Little Boy,” a uranium based atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, another B-29 bomber dropped “Fat Man,” a plutonium based atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. The estimated death toll from both bombings represented a small percentage of the total number of people killed in World War II, but the impacts of the bombings still linger today. This paper will examine the historical context of nuclear weapons and strategy, concept of nuclear deterrence, current U.S. policy, 21st century security concerns, and propose a nuclear strategy going forward. The proposed strategy will still focus on deterrence, but also takes into consideration the need to modernize our nuclear arsenal, resume testing, and increase international transparency for all nuclear states.