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Encyclopedia > Decapitation strike

In the theory of nuclear warfare, a decapitation strike is an attack that aims to remove the command and control mechanisms of the opponent, in the hope that it will severely degrade or destroy its capacity for nuclear retaliation. Nuclear war, or atomic war, is war in which nuclear weapons are used. ... In telecommunication, command and control (C 2 ) is the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated commander over assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of the mission. ...

Strategies against decapitation strikes include:

  • distributed command and control structures
  • dispersal of political and military leadership in times of tension
  • delegation of the ability to fire to local commanders in the event of a decapitation strike

A failed decapitation strike carries the risk of immediate massive retaliation undertaken by the targeted opponent.

Other nuclear warfare doctrines explicitly exclude decapitation strikes, on the basis that it is better to preserve the adversary's command and control structures so that a single authority remains which is capable of negotiating a surrender or ceasefire.

Decapitation strikes with conventional weapons

Since the availability of high-precision guided conventional weapons, this strategy has actually been attempted by the United States using conventional warheads in an attack on Saddam Hussein at the start of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. It did not work. Saddam Hussein Saddām Hussein ʻAbd al-Majīd al-Tikrīt, spelled Husayn or Hussain; (Arabic صدام حسين عبد المجيد التكريتي; born April 28, 1937 ) was the President of Iraq from 1979 until his removal by U.S.-led coalition forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. ... This article contains information that has not been verified. ...

See also



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