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For 25 Years, U.S. Special Forces Carried Miniature Nukes on Their Backs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:44 pm
by HC5CA
For 25 Years, U.S. Special Forces Carried Miniature Nukes on Their Backs
The B-54 Special Atomic Demolition Munition was a nuclear bomb the size of a backpack

By Colin Schultz
FEBRUARY 10, 2014

In the wake of World War II, and throughout the Cold War, the United States and its NATO allies were severely outmanned and outgunned compared to the Soviets and their allies. To balance the scales, the United States wielded the will, or at least the bluster, to threaten mass nuclear retribution for any militaristic slight, says Foreign Policy:

The strategy had a major flaw, however. Though massive retaliation was economical, it allowed the United States almost no flexibility in how it responded to enemy aggression. In the event that communist forces launched a limited, non-nuclear attack, the president would have to choose between defeat at the hands of a superior conventional force or a staggeringly disproportionate (and potentially suicidal) strategic nuclear exchange that would kill hundreds of millions of people.

To fill in the gap in military options between a full nuclear assault and engaging in a lopsided war, says Foreign Policy, U.S. special forces started packing miniature nuclear bombs, devices known as the B-54 Special Atomic Demoliniton Munition (SADM), which they could carry in a backpack. The plan was to build something a little smaller than the devastating bombs that had been designed after the end of the Second World War.

Adam Rawnsley and David Brown chronicle in a sprawling feature the stories of the special forces troops. “Soldiers from elite Army engineer and Special Forces units, as well as Navy SEALs and select Marines, trained to use the bombs, known as "backpack nukes," on battlefronts from Eastern Europe to Korea to Iran," they write. The troops were trained to parachute or SCUBA dive behind enemy lines with their little nukes, to using them to take out strategic installations or render vast tracts of land uninhabitable. According to Rawnsley and Brown, "These "small" weapons, many of them more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, would have obliterated any battlefield and irradiated much of the surrounding area.”

These little nukes were, fortunately, never used.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-new ... z2t3IWdY9W

Re: For 25 Years, U.S. Special Forces Carried Miniature Nukes on Their Backs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:38 pm
by fastback65
You have to wonder if they are all accounted for...

Re: For 25 Years, U.S. Special Forces Carried Miniature Nukes on Their Backs

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:42 pm
by HC5CA
Probably, but several of the old Soviet ones are still missing from what I've read. From what I understand, they buried theirs in various places. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, lots of the folks tasked with keeping them in operational condition disappeared. This is understandable as many of them were deep-cover infiltrators. I keep waiting for one of these "packages" to be found when someone is digging a foundation for a shopping mall or something like that...