Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Nuclear Option??

This is coolbert:

In his book, "Understanding War", Trevor Dupuy gives some advice to combat commanders, who, on the modern battlefield may at some point contemplate the use of nuclear weapons, tactical or otherwise.

"He [the combat commander] must not allow himself to be deluded - - as some would suggest - - that nuclear weapons are not significantly different from other weapons, only somewhat more powerful . . . Nuclear weapons differ from conventional weapons not just in power, but in kind."

"NOT just in power, but in KIND."

[I would have to think that of all people Dupuy would be one a few most familiar with the usage of nuclear weapons on the battlefield and the ramifications thereof. A combat artillery officer, and a planner on the Pentagon staff during his career, this just has to be so!!]

[what follows is developed from the original idea as contained in the book, "The Face of Battle", by John Keegan.]

Consider the preparatory artillery bombardment by the British on the German positions prior to going “over the top” at the Somme, 1916.

* A bombardment that lasted continuously, more or less, for SEVEN days.

* ABOUT thirty tons of high explosive were lobbed onto the German positions for each square mile of what became the Somme battlefield.

[this is the quantity of explosive contained WITHIN the artillery shells, NOT the weight of the shells themselves!!]

Consider also the bombardment of the Normandy battlefield [1944] by allied heavy and medium bombers in support of what became the Cobra Offensive.

* ABOUT 4,000 tons of high explosives dropped in area comprising roughly eight square miles [21 square kilometers].

[several sources exist on the tonnage per square mile at Cobra. Keegan says 800 tons; sites on the Internet suggest 500 tons. Again, we are talking about the weight of the high explosive contained WITHIN the bombs themselves, NOT the actual weight of the bombs]

* An aerial bombardment lasting for three hours!!

Consider now the detonation of a small size tactical nuclear weapon. Say of the B61 atomic bomb variety.

* About 1500 tons of high explosive energy will be released by the detonation of the B61! Variable "yields" are obtainable from the B61!

It will take about 10 seconds for the blast wave to reach the furthest point of the square mile, which is at the epicenter of the atomic detonation!

[assuming the blast wave is traveling at about 250 miles/per/hour. Also NOT taking into consideration heat and radiation effects of the bomb!]


The Cobra bombardment was 1,000 times more INTENSE than the preparatory bombardment at the Somme!!

The detonation of a B61 atomic bomb would be 3,000 times more INTENSE than the Cobra bombardment!!

A B61 atomic detonation would be roughly about 3 MILLION times more INTENSE than the Somme preparatory bombardment!!!

[all my calculations rough and approximate!! ABOUT!!]

Are my assumptions right here? Am I missing something? I am not an expert on this subject! In a quick and dirty way I am correct with my calculations?

INTENSITY alone is worthy of consideration? Radioactive and heat effects of course make the situation worse with a nuclear blast!!

AND, if we take into consideration a Hiroshima size atomic bomb, we are talking then an intensity ten times that of the 1.5 kiloton version B61? Go even beyond Hiroshima size and just forget it!!??




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