Nuclear Weapons and Limited War: The U.S. Army in the 1950s
Title: Nuclear Weapons and Limited War: The U.S. Army in the 1950s
Author: TRAUSCHWEIZER, Ingo
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2009/19
This essay discusses how the U.S. Army proved its utility for the nuclear age in the wake of the Korean War. It specifically addresses the rationale behind the reorganization of U.S. Army formations into pentomic divisions between 1955 and 1959. It argues that the pentomic division was the cornerstone of a transformation. Its architect, General Maxwell Taylor, intended to transform the Army to a dual-capable conventional and atomic fighting force. He believed that this offered him the opportunity to alter national strategy from perceived over-reliance on nuclear deterrence to flexible and proportional response. The paper concludes that while Taylor’s pentomic transformation must be seen as a failure on the operational and tactical levels, it did indeed contribute significantly to the subsequent shift from Massive Retaliation to Flexible Response.
Subject: United States; army; Cold War; defense policy; strategy; limited war; deterrence
Type of Access: openAccess