April 11, 2022

‘Battlefield nukes’ in Ukraine? A low but complex threat.

Featuring Stacie Pettyjohn

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Journalist Anna Mulrine Grobe

In her experience running war games for the U.S. military, Stacie Pettyjohn found that whenever scenarios involved nuclear weapons, participants tended to be flummoxed.

“Normally folks playing the U.S. side are at a loss as to what to do,” she says. It was not uncommon for teams to unnecessarily escalate hostilities – and stumble into the nightmare of nuclear war. “It’s one of those things that’s terrifying,” she said.

Time and again, though, the prospect of “mutual assured destruction” served as a powerful enough deterrent during the real world of the Cold War, and in subsequent decades fears of a nuclear armageddon began, rightly or not, to decline considerably.

Today, however, speculation surrounding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s potential use of so-called low-yield, or tactical nuclear weapons in his war on Ukraine is sounding atomic alarms for a new generation.

Read the full story and more from The Christian Science Monitor.

Authors

  • Stacie Pettyjohn

    Senior Fellow and Director, Defense Program

    Stacie Pettyjohn is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense Program at CNAS. Her areas of expertise include defense strategy, posture, force planning, the defense budget, ...