[Skip to Content | Skip to Navigation | Skip to Lesson Index]

[ASPC Main Menu | Help | Back | Next]

Lesson Index: [ Introduction | Lesson Objective | Overview | Foundations of Doctrine | Air Corps Tactical School | WWII—Europe | WWII—Japan | WWII—Nuclear Weapons | Cold War Doctrine | Massive Retaliation | Cold War Technology | Flexible Response | The SIOP | Korea | Korean Command Structure | Korean War Aftermath | Prelude to Vietnam | Objectives in Vietnam | Vietnam War 1965–1973 | Rolling Thunder—Objectives | Rolling Thunder—Restrictions | Rolling Thunder—Outcome | Command Arrangements | Route Package System | Khe Sanh | Airpower at Khe Sanh | LINEBACKER II | Post-Vietnam Assessment | AirLand Battle | Impact of AirLand Battle | Operation EAGLE CLAW | Operation URGENT FURY | Goldwater-Nichols Act 1986 | Summary | Quiz ]

Title: Massive Retaliation

Voice: In 1954, shortly after the publication of Air Force Maunual 1-2, President Eisenhower adopted a foreign policy of “massive retaliation.” This policy sought to counter the growing Soviet threat. It viewed nuclear weapons as a means of deterring war and as a first recourse should deterrence fail. The premise of the policy was that if the Soviet Union attacked Europe, the United States would use tactical nuclear weapons to blunt the assault. In addition, Strategic Air Command would be used to destroy the Soviet heartland with strategic nuclear weapons. Because of its nuclear offensive capability, Strategic Air Command was seen as the prime force for fulfilling the mission of nuclear deterrence. The policy of massive retaliation completed the transition to a military strategy based on nuclear deterrence. Although political policy changed in the years after Eisenhower, strategic nuclear bombing continued to dominate airpower thinking at the expense of doctrine for the conventional employment of airpower as an integrated whole.

Action: Screen begins with the following sentence in upper center of screen, along with a picture of an atomic bomb on lower left screen and a picture of a nuclear explosion cloud on lower right screen:

Eisenhower’s Policy of “Massive Retaliation”

Action: One-fourth of the way through the narration, the pictures are removed leaving the top sentence. The following bullet points are shown when mentioned in the narration:

[Back: Cold War Doctrine | Next: Cold War Technology]