In a recent submission to a UK parliamentary committee the former chief of the navy (Lord West) was talking about a policy change which surprised me, that "recently" (some point in the last 10-20 years) the UK have changed policy such that a nuclear attack with a single trident SLBM might be ordered (rather than trident being maintained on a purely strategic basis as part of a global nuclear war).
Lord West was concerned with establishing the legal standing of the submarine commander in such a launch (the commander not being aware of the target) but I'm curious about the broader issues.
- Who changed his policy and when?
- Why did they do it?
- What were some of the scenarios they envisaged where this would be helpful?
- Is the intention that trident in this way be used tactically or to establish strategic deterrence (through blackmail, MAD, etc) on a more regional scale?
- Is this precedented among other nuclear-armed nations?
- Was there significant reaction from major players?
I've tried a little searching and googling but have found little. But not being an expert in this area maybe I just don't know the sweet terms.