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Title: The surreal mission : tactical nuclear weapons, the British Army, and the defence of the Central Front, 1945-1957
Author: Moody, Simon John
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 0775
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis analyses the impact that tactical nuclear weapons had across the full spectrum of British defence policy-making between the years 1945-1957. It assesses the interactions between British defence policy and strategic planning; the roles of the British Army in national and alliance strategy; and Army preparations for nuclear combat. By making connections between these distinct, yet interrelated, elements of British defence planning the thesis provides new perspectives on British thinking about tactical nuclear weapons. The overarching thesis of this study is that the reluctance of British civilian defence policy-makers to engage in meaningful debate about the military utility of tactical nuclear weapons affected negatively the ability of the British Army to adapt to meet the new challenges of nuclear land combat. It is argued that for political and economic reasons the British government invested its resources into developing the strategic nuclear deterrent over all other military capabilities and that consequently the British Army was denied the political and financial support it needed to innovate in the tactical nuclear field. In the alliance context it is posited that civilian leaders acquiesced to American leadership on nuclear issues and accepted a policy of first use of tactical nuclear weapons to repel a Soviet invasion of Western Europe in order to enhance political cohesion within NATO, despite evidence that this was a flawed operational concept and without understanding the true ramifications of such a posture. It is maintained that a corollary of this was that the Army was forced to confront the challenges of preparing for nuclear land combat with little guidance or support from its political masters.
Supervisor: Hughes, Michael Kon Yew ; Foley, Robert Thomas Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available