Date of Graduation

Spring 2017


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

John Mattox


nuclear escalation control, limited nuclear war, intelligence analysis, intelligence management, cuban missile crisis

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


Nuclear escalation control theory rests on the idea that decision makers, in a limited nuclear war scenario, will choose their actions based on a rational assessment of the available information. That information essentially consists of intelligence reports about one's adversary and information reporting the status of one's own forces' ability to execute offensive actions and the damage level of vital national targets. Yet the practical limits of managing the flow and quality of this information, coupled with the fog and friction inherent in human analyses, significantly affect the decision-making process vis-à-vis nuclear escalation. Hence, these limitations cast a pall over any military doctrine that relies heavily on the assumption that nuclear escalation can be controlled with precision. Examining information management during the Cuban Missile Crisis shows the practical limits of managing this information flow, which in turn limits the ability of national leaders to make such decisions properly.


© Luke James O'Brien

Open Access