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The Pentomic Era is the period in U.S. military history between the Korean and Vietnam Wars known for widespread integration of tactical nuclear weapons into all four branches of the armed forces. The name is derived from the U.S. Army’s five-battle-group division created for the atomic battlefield. This entry examines the origin and development of tactical nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal and discusses the structure and criticisms of the Pentomic division.

Ideas for using atomic weapons in a tactical role can be traced back to World War II and the idea of employing the atomic bomb in support of a projected invasion of Japan. The strategic use of the bomb and the ending of the war halted these plans. However, the concept of using nuclear ...

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