Jeffrey LewisDoctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations (Joint Publication 3-12) Revisted

Walter Pincus has a story in the Washingon Post on the new draft Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations (Joint Publication 3-12), which is a walk down memory lane for this blogger.

Pincus summarizes Hans Kristensen’s article in Arms Control Today, which opened:

A nuclear draft doctrine written by the Pentagon calls for maintaining an aggressive nuclear posture with weapons on high alert to strike adversaries armed with weapons of mass destruction (WMD), pre-emptively if necessary.


The draft doctrine and editing comments were freely available on the Internet until recently, providing a rare glimpse into the secret world of nuclear planning in the post-Cold War era.

”… freely available on the Internet until recently.” Ah, my blog’s first big story.

DTIC pulled down the entire Joint Electronic Library after I revealed the existence of the documents in May 2005.

Jason Sigger blamed me for complicating his life, although Human Rights Watch—which revealed a draft document on detainee operations in the same library—probably played a more significant role.

Anyway, DTIC eventually put the JEL back up—sans the draft docs. But I’d already downloaded them.

Here are the documents in a single, zipped file—drafts from September 2003 and March 2005, as well as first and second rounds of comments from the services and a contractor.

You can also download them from Cryptome, which has other removed documents from the JEL presented in user friendly form.

Take a look at Hans’ article, it’s great. But then take a look at the documents themselves. The focus on pre-emption is a big story, but—as my blog post at the time noted—the documents and comments contain many other insights into nuclear doctrine and the abuse of classification.

Sorry to indulge in nostalgia, but—with the arrival of Textpatten 4.0—Greg is working on a major redesign of the site. So, whither the blog and whatnot.


  1. Ben Friedman (History)

    Interesting to note on page II-13 the discussion of pulling out of the Moscow Treaty and rearming missiles with warheads above the treaty’s cutoff (2000) if “a developing crisis” occurs.

    A. What kind of crisis could occur where 2000 nukes are insufficient?

    B. Why is language noting that the President of Congress would have to act to get us out of the treaty crossed out? Wouldn’t it be hard to exit the treaty quickly during a crisis?

  2. walter pincus

    I often read your blog but not all the time and of course missed your effort last spring. I wish I had seen it then to give you the credit you deserved.

    walter pincus

  3. J. (History)

    Yeah, the JEL going off-line was fun all right. And serves me right for being unprepared – usually I download all my relevant joint pubs but they’ve been changing so much, I just got lazy and depended on the internet. Good story, though.