Accession Number:



Russian and Chinese Use of Low-Yield Battlefield Nuclear Weapons: Stories of the Future

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Monograph]

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The end of the Cold War dramatically reduced the risk of nuclear confrontation between the United States and the former Soviet Union. Due to the decreased nuclear threat, the US military focused less on preparing to fight on a nuclear battlefield, and instead focused on other areas such as peacekeeping, safeguarding nuclear materials, counter-insurgency operations COIN, and nation-building. Now, with renewed great power competition with Russia and the Peoples Republic of China PRC, the possibility of nuclear weapons on the future battlefield once again becomes a concern to America and its allies. Even more concerning, both Russia and the PRC are modernizing their nuclear arsenal, and both possess the capability of employing low-yield battlefield nuclear weapons against US and allied military ground forces. The research within this monograph attempts to describe plausible scenarios in which Russia and the PRC would employ low-yield battlefield nuclear weapons against American ground forces. Taking a futurist, science-fiction approach, the two scenarios presented tell a compelling story of two brigade commanders recollection of their experiences against the employment of nuclear weapons against their brigades in the year 2035 one focused on a Russian employment scenario, and the other on a PRC inspired scenario. Both tell their story, ten years later in 2045, in an effort to prepare for an interview with the Center of Military History. Using back casting the opposite of forecasting, the two former commanders journey through their early childhood, military career, important relationships, and their own demons in order to come to terms with what amounts to facing the worst experience anyone on earth could face. In the end, as both our characters come to terms with their own hardships, they illuminate how unprepared the US Army and arguably its allies are to the employment of low-yield battlefield nuclear weapons by either Russia or the PRC.

Subject Categories:

  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]