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  • Tactical Nuclear Warfare

    Hello, I am by no means a Cold War expert, so any of you with better knowledge feel free to comment.

    I started to ponder about tactical nuclear warfare after seeing Polish war maps from the 70's showing the use of tactical nukes. According to Pruitt "Warsaw Pact and NATO planners assumed Tactical Nukes would be used before the Red Army got half way through Germany." What if the Cold War had turned hot and tactical nukes had been used in a new war in Europe, or possibly WWIII? This assumes the conflict could have been escalated to the use of tactical nukes, but restrained from turning into an all out nuclear war that would have decimated humanity.

    The use of tactical nukes would have lead, in my opinion to a very interesting war scenario and would start the use of tactics that are almost unimaginable. What would you target with your Tactical Nukes? How would you arange your forces to try to not make a big target to be hit by a nuke? Would you lead a frontal charge, passing through irradiated areas and suffering heavy casualties, but maybe over coming your enemies through massive aggression? Or would you try to navigate around the irradiated areas creating hotspots in important passageways around the irradiated areas? Would you send special forces equipped with NBC suits to launch a surprise attack through the blasted area? Maybe try to completely avoid bombed to hell central Europe, and try to open a new theatre by passing through northern Africa.

    What possible consequences could this conflict have for the future of warfare? Would such a conflict make nuclear warfare seem normal and acceptable leading to future nuclear conflicts? What would happen to Europe which now has a ton of radiation? Would western civilization start to decline and Eastern civilizations such as China and Iran become the prominent players on the world stage? What do you think?

    I also believe that in the future when we become a space faring civilization nuclear warfare may occur. All states realize nuclear warfare on Earth cannot work in their favor, but the story is different with space warfare. As long as you are far away from Earth, you can attack enemy space ships with nukes without worrying about possible environmental consequences. Seeing a space ship the size of New Jersey being hit by a nuclear missile would be quite an amazing sight.
    ביוני אני עולה לישראל! ברוך השם! בקרוב אני אהיה חייל

  • #2
    There isn't much "tactical" about a nuke. Even a small one will bust up a good part of a city or take out a large town entirely. One could flatten most of a forest. All-in-all had both sides started flinging these at each other Europe would have been largely unsafe for habitation for at least several decades....

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    • #3
      Yes, of course all nukes are incredibly destructive, but tactical nukes describe nuclear weapons that were designed to be used in coordination with ground combat, as opposed to strategic nuclear weapons.

      It is the use of these nuclear weapons on the battlefield that my post above refers to.
      ביוני אני עולה לישראל! ברוך השם! בקרוב אני אהיה חייל

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      • #4
        Fight like hell for 3 days then blow up the world.

        Escalation would occur incredibly quickly with the first exchange of NBC weapons. Any initial WP attack would combine NBC targetting to blow holes in the NATO defences. NATO would have to respond in kind to stop the mech forces from breaking through across the North German Plain. A WP reverse due to NATO counterstrike would be followed by a heavier strike by larger nuclear weapons and heavier Bio abd chem weapons on bridges, air fields, cities and other choke points. These new ruptures could only be sealed bu larger NATO retaliation, this time on infrastructure targets such as Berlin, the Oder, river, Warsaw and the Vistula.

        The WP then retailiates by erasing British, French and Dutch-Belgian ports and air bases.

        Strategic exchange follows.
        The Purist

        Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Bowcaster View Post
          I also believe that in the future when we become a space faring civilization nuclear warfare may occur. All states realize nuclear warfare on Earth cannot work in their favor, but the story is different with space warfare. As long as you are far away from Earth, you can attack enemy space ships with nukes without worrying about possible environmental consequences. Seeing a space ship the size of New Jersey being hit by a nuclear missile would be quite an amazing sight.
          Do you understand physics? There is no blast or heat. Only more intense radiation.

          If a nuclear weapon is exploded in a vacuum-i. e., in space-the complexion of weapon effects changes drastically:

          First, in the absence of an atmosphere, blast disappears completely.

          Second, thermal radiation, as usually defined, also disappears. There is no longer any air for the blast wave to heat and much higher frequency radiation is emitted from the weapon itself.
          With such weapons the lethal radii (from nuclear radiation) in space may be of the order of hundreds of miles. The meaning of such huge lethal radii in possible future space warfare cannot now be assessed. It does seem clear, however, that manned space combat vehicles, unless heavy shielding is feasible, will be considerably more vulnerable to nuclear defense weapons than their unmanned counterparts.
          http://history.nasa.gov/conghand/nuclear.htm

          So yeah invisible radiation killing unshielded biological organisms on board spacecraft for a hundred miles or so and making the craft drifting radioactive waste would sure be amazing.
          Кто там?
          Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
          Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by The Purist View Post
            Fight like hell for 3 days then blow up the world.

            Escalation would occur incredibly quickly with the first exchange of NBC weapons. Any initial WP attack would combine NBC targetting to blow holes in the NATO defences. NATO would have to respond in kind to stop the mech forces from breaking through across the North German Plain. A WP reverse due to NATO counterstrike would be followed by a heavier strike by larger nuclear weapons and heavier Bio abd chem weapons on bridges, air fields, cities and other choke points. These new ruptures could only be sealed bu larger NATO retaliation, this time on infrastructure targets such as Berlin, the Oder, river, Warsaw and the Vistula.

            The WP then retailiates by erasing British, French and Dutch-Belgian ports and air bases.

            Strategic exchange follows.
            Yes that is probably what would have happened. But what if it had not escalated to Strategic. What if NATO after being hit by the initial tactical nuke barrage had realized that escalating it further would have quickly escalated it to MAD so they decided only to respond with the same amount of force. Then ground combat would continue, but with the battlefield and tactics wildly changed by the nuclear detonations.

            Stryker - Ah I haden't thought that through. That makes sense that with no atmosphere the explosive damage would be minimal, but radiation could be a dangerous weapon. I assume that in space warfare 100 miles might not be that far, so a space ship could launch the nuke far enough away in the right direction that they are not within the dangerous radiation but the enemies are. Smaller bombs could be used to decrease combat distance to maybe 50 or 25 miles. And for every weapon is a counter. Battleships will probably have radiation shielding.
            Last edited by Bowcaster; 18 Dec 12, 17:42.
            ביוני אני עולה לישראל! ברוך השם! בקרוב אני אהיה חייל

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bowcaster View Post
              Stryker - I assume that in space warfare 100 miles might not be that far. And for every weapon is a counter. Battleships will probably have radiation shielding.
              Then what would be the "quite amazing site" of "seeing a space ship the size of New Jersey being hit by a nuclear missile"?
              Кто там?
              Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
              Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Stryker 19K30 View Post
                Then what would be the "quite amazing site" of "seeing a space ship the size of New Jersey being hit by a nuclear missile"?
                Well I guess it wouldn't look as crazy as if nukes exploded like they did on Earth, but they would still make an effective weapon.
                ביוני אני עולה לישראל! ברוך השם! בקרוב אני אהיה חייל

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bowcaster View Post
                  Yes that is probably what would have happened. But what if it had not escalated to Strategic. What if NATO after being hit by the initial tactical nuke barrage had realized that escalating it further would have quickly escalated it to MAD so they decided only to respond with the same amount of force. Then ground combat would continue, but with the battlefield and tactics wildly changed by the nuclear detonations.
                  That's just it. A NATO counter strike would bring a further immediate WP strike against the counterattack force and their LOC to keep the hole open. NBC warfare is no win scenario. As soon as one side begins to lose tactically the nuclear and bio-chem weapons reach out further to to do more damage to recover the advanatge. No one will "hold back" to permit a balanced land battle. What you are talking about is "play balance" in commercial wargame design. This is completely divorced from reality. Armies don't make attacks to "even the odds"
                  The Purist

                  Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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                  • #10
                    When you have hundreds of these deployed in Europe things would get ugly fast... Nuclear hand grenades are going to turn alot of Europe into a waste land....

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                    • #11
                      So there is a Dr. Strangelove kinda deal going on here? The escalation would be so fast that neither side would have the time to consider other options.
                      In Vino Veritas

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                      • #12
                        Like the use of gas in WW1, the use of tactical nukes would have had its hazards to friendly forces. That was determined during testing in Nevada shortly after WW2 where troops were used as test subject in combat training. That is likely, along with the use of lethal gas and biological agents, such weapons have not been used in combat since.
                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nevada_..._Security_Site
                        “Breaking News,”

                        “Something irrelevant in your life just happened and now we are going to blow it all out of proportion for days to keep you distracted from what's really going on.”

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                        • #13
                          what about tactical nukes against airbases ? wouldnt that be a big blow to NATO airpower if WP strikers take out half theirbases like this on the first day ?

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                          • #14
                            What i don't get is why do the soviets want a war torn devastated Europe that is going to have partisan problems that make the Soviet resistance look like peanuts

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                            • #15
                              During the Berlin crisis the US had several hundred of those Davy Crockett "nuclear hand grenades" in Europe with theater release authority. Had it become a hot war much of Eastern Germany would have been a radioactive wasteland.

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