Nuclear Expertise ‘Decaying’

The Defense Department is not prepared to deter, defend, and mitigate a nuclear attack, the Defense Science Board warns in a new report meant to be a wake-up call for Pentagon leadership. “US attention and capabilities to counter nuclear weapons have been atrophying for many years,” board members assert in The Nuclear Weapons Effects National Enterprise. They don’t sugar-coat their concern over DOD’s decaying nuclear knowledge: “Intelligence assets are focused elsewhere. Military and civilian leaders in DOD are poorly educated on military operations in nuclear environments and have little understanding of nuclear weapons or the issues surrounding their use against our nation.” Among the board’s recommendations, DOD leadership needs to make “nuclear survivability a routine issue,” given “growing horizontal proliferation by both state and non-state actors,” they write. The report is dated June 2010, but was publicly released only recently. (DSB report; caution, large file.)