Air University Press


The Counterforce Continuum and Tailored Targeting: A New Look at United States Nuclear Targeting Methods and Modern Deterrence

  • Published
  • By Benjamin C. Jamison, Major, USAF

This research paper analyzes counterforce and countervalue as targeting strategies to determine if these concepts remain relevant to modern deterrence. Along with this analysis, this research paper recommends an updated construct for both targeting methodologies and proposes a new term for the deterrence lexicon: tailored targeting. This research paper concludes that countervalue deterrent threats are no-longer credible for the United States and the model of counterforce targeting requires modification. Tailored targeting is a concept that matches adversary vulnerabilities and American political objectives to produce a unique targeting solution. When paired with a deliberate strategic messaging strategy, tailored targeting provides the President with a credible deterrent threat. A strategy of multiple tailored targeting solutions for various contingencies creates a continuum of effective deterrent options along the entire spectrum of conflict.


AuthorsMajor Benjamin C. Jamison, USAF
AU Press CodeWF-89
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