IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

What Are Tactical Nuclear Weapons?

They are not city killers.

The phrase “tactical nuclear weapons” is in the news these days. Putin has threatened the use of nuclear weapons and experts think that if he was to use one or more, they would be tactical nuclear weapons and not city-busting/vaporizing thermonuclear bombs.

The New York Times podcast The Daily had a great episode on Friday on this topic: “What Are Tactical Nuclear Weapons, and What if Russia Uses Them?” It provides great comparisons to thermonuclear weapons that most people equate to what larger nukes will do. It is also a bit disconcerting that we don’t have the same capability that we once did.

My own personal military experience comes to mind. I was serving at the height of the Cold War and on some field training exercises we would go through the drill for what an infantry platoon or company would do if U.S. Army forces were going to utilize tactical nuclear warheads. These tactics don’t work if the enemy uses them — since you don’t know they are coming your way.

Basically, in a mechanized infantry unit, you would park your armored vehicle in what is called a defilade position (behind a hill) so the blast would not directly impact the vehicle. Then you would remove all antennas from the vehicle and turn your radios off, so that any electromagnetic energy would not fry your equipment. All people would then get in their respective armored vehicle to garner that protection. Once the blast went off, the idea was to get rolling and exploit the advantage provided by your enemies being struck by the blast(s). Yeehaw!