UK Calls for NATO to Restart Special Nuclear Exercises

B-2 bomber, May 30, 2006Announcing plans to double Nato’s rapid-Response Force to 40,000 troops after a meeting in Brussels, Britain called for a return to Cold War-style planning exercises to test Nato readiness to escalate from conventional to nuclear war….

British diplomats joined a push to restart exercises for commanders of nuclear and conventional forces in response to Russia’s increasingly erratic stance for the first time since the end of the Cold War, when they were ended as a gesture of goodwill.

The proposed simulations would allow senior staff to rehearse the “transition up the escalatory ladder” from regular warfare to a full-blown nuclear confrontation, Britain’s ambassador to Nato said.

The move, if approved, would be a response to the Kremlin’s decision to order increasing numbers of drills – often held without warning – in which nuclear and conventional forces are heavily intertwined.

Sir Adam Thomson, the British permanent representative to Nato, said the recommendation to change the policy was now under active consideration.

“Since the end of the Cold War, Nato has done conventional exercising and nuclear exercising, both, but not exercised the transition from one to the other. That is a recommendation that is being looked at.

“It is safe to say the UK does see merit in making sure we know how, as an Alliance, to transition up the escalatory ladder in order to strengthen our deterrence,” he added.

Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, added: “We have to know how they fit together, nuclear and conventional.”

Image: B-2 bomber, May 30, 2006 (photo: Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III/USAF)