U.S. planned "rigorously" for Russia using nukes on battlefield in Ukraine

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/03/09/u-s-planned-rigorously-for-russia-using-nukes-on-battlefield-in-ukraine.html


Does anyone know how much confidence/concern “planned rigorously” actually suggests in the DoD context?

They certainly don’t have unlimited analyst resources; and presumably handing people especially silly scenarios, even just as an exercise, is ineffective as a learning/practice activity and bad for morale; but it was my (layman’s/post-cold-war-reader about some of the plans we drew up and never executed) understanding that the whole point of contingency planning was to try to mitigate the impact of surprises by having a plan available even for things several notches down the plausibility list.

When they say “planned rigorously” is that a "well placed people were going to bed figuring it would be 50/50 that their alarm clock would be a call that the war in Ukraine had gone tactical-nuclear? More of a “maybe 10 percent in the next 6-12 months; but the sheer scale of the downside is obvious?”; or a “risk is high; but, more importantly, we think that there are levers available to us that can reduce that risk; so we’re really focusing on those?”


I mean, if they weren’t planning for this eventuality, it would have been a strategic planning failure.

I think more along those lines.

They actually do this all day, every day. I can’t even imagine what they get up to at NSA and CIA, but all branches of military have entire sections devoted to running over every conceivable scenario, often gaming it out in real time with actual equipment and soldiers. I participated in a couple of exercises in which there were thousands of troops, hundreds of pieces of land and air equipment, all shooting pew-pew lasers at each other in the desert. Each day was a different scenario, point of attack or defense. All to answer “what if?”


It would be interesting to know what they decided their options were if Russia had lit off a big one in Ukraine. I feel that a strongly-worded letter or summoning the Russian ambassador for a stern talking-to might not really cover it.

Once someone goes nuclear, there aren’t any good options left, only awful and less awful.


All I know is that in the earliest weeks of the conflict, anyone with a shortwave receiver could pick up the nearly constant traffic of the USHFGCS, the American analog voice numbers station for surface-to-air traffic. That means a lot of fighter, bomber, and surveillance jets.

If you have the equipment to tune it in, you should try. Multiple propagation routes and simultaneous transmitters give it an echoey reflective doomsday quality. Perhaps keep the lights on.


Yeah. the point isn’t so much to have a stack of pre-planned actions for whatever might happen, but to give the planners PRACTICE planning so that they will be able to respond to whatever unpredicted thing DOES happen.


Oh man now I’m going to dig out the old radio…

In all honesty, even WWV could give me a bit of a chill. It’s like the sound of each second is the sound of time itself being generated, but also the sound of each second lost to the ether.


I’m sure that they wrote thousands of pages of reports that were never read and would never have been read even in the event of an actual nuclear war.

President Biden was standing in an Upper East Side townhouse owned by the businessman James Murdoch, the rebellious scion of the media empire, surrounded by liberal New York Democrats who had paid handsomely to come hear optimistic talk about the Biden agenda for the next few years.

It was Oct. 6, 2022, but what they heard instead that evening was a disturbing message that — though Mr. Biden didn’t say so — came straight from highly classified intercepted communications he had recently been briefed about, suggesting that President Vladimir V. Putin’s threats to use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine might be turning into an operational plan.

For the “first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis,” he told the group, as they gathered amid Mr. Murdoch’s art collection, “we have a direct threat of the use of a nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path they’ve been going.” The gravity of his tone began to sink in: The president was talking about the prospect of the first wartime use of a nuclear weapon since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

That’s from the NY Times article about this. Why was this discussed at a fund raiser? Imagine how pissed we’d all be if Trump had discussed this type of classified information (not too hard to imagine; I’m sure he did regularly) at a fund raiser, let alone with Murdochs and Murdoch-adjacents. Weird that in this article it’s just used as a set-up for the story.


My first idea when reading this was that you were referring to World War 5. Which gave me an unexpected chill.

I now assume that you are referring to a radio station abbreviation.

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That’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. More like apples-to-hazelnuts. The implication from the article was that Biden discussed the generalities of the risk, not the specifics that make it highly classified.

T**** would have 1. Got everything backwards; 2. Named the in-country confidential assets and burned them or got them killed; 3. Would have criticized the intelligence community for spying on his totally trustworthy buddy Vlad.


Totally agree with your take on how Trump likely would have, and probably did, handle a situation like this.

…but what they heard instead that evening was a disturbing message that — though Mr. Biden didn’t say so — came straight from highly classified intercepted communications he had recently been briefed about…

I don’t read that as him discussing it in generalities. My question is, why was this discussed at all among people who probably paid obscene amounts of money to be there? I’d prefer highly classified information not be shared with a select group of rich people.

So, please tell us what exact classified detail he told people he was speaking to, because that doesn’t say and since you seem to have some more detailed information, we’d love to hear it.


Sorry, I don’t have more details. It’s my interpretation of the writing in the article. To me, “came straight from highly classified intercepted communications” implies that he potentially shared highly classified information. If what he told the donors was so not-secret, why didn’t he share it with the rest of us?

So, in other words, you’re making inferences from a statement that does not say that he shared specific information with these people.

Which does not say what you’re claiming.

Also, why should we trust NYT?

There are lots of things he does not share with the general public as the President, and not all of it is classified.

Unless you have specific information about him sharing specific claims, it’s all just spectulation on your part. Which, okay, but you’re gonna have to expect push back on that, given how much bullshit is regularly pushed about the President by the far right.


That’s a direct quote from the NY Times article. I find it strange that anyone is OK with the ultra-wealthy being privy to anything close to highly classified intelligence. To each their own, I guess.

But there’s usually nothing “highly classified” about a conclusion from gathered intelligence; what’s classified is the intelligence itself and it’s sources.

That’s like jumping to the conclusion that I told my boss my bank account balance and account number when I told him I need a raise…


…but what they heard instead that evening was a disturbing message that…came straight from highly classified intercepted communications…

What’s the purpose of the word “straight” in that sentence? No snark, I’m really curious about how other are interpreting this.

Just that - the message, aka, interpretation or conclusion - was directly from the briefing.

Confused Nbc GIF by Law & Order


Yes, and I’m saying that doesn’t give us any details on what he said, other than he discussed classified communications - not whether he told them specific details about it.

And again, why should we trust the NYT? They have been pushing bullshit narratives about Biden for a while now. They are clearly on the trump train right now and really are not to be trusted to give us a clear picture of the Biden administration.

Yes, that.