As Russia and other nations around the world flex their “nuclear muscles,” when it comes to the United States, maintaining a credible nuclear force is certainly a tough task. Challenges include: declining research, development and acquisition budgets; uncertain prospects for modernization, and an American public that lacks a clear understanding of how nuclear weapons contribute to national security.
The U.S. nuclear force has prevented a great power war for seven decades. Yet the commitment to maintain a credible nuclear force appears shaky.
That is certainly not the case in competitor nations such as Russia, China and North Korea. While sanctions and low oil prices have crippled Russia’s economy, the Kremlin is still doggedly spending billions of dollars on modernizing its strategic rocket forces. Washington’s lack of commitment takes a toll on more than investment. It does not go unnoticed by the men and women who man the nation’s nuclear submarines, bombers, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. That only makes executing a nuclear mission more difficult, both practically and morally.
State of Affairs
Imagine being out on the vast prairie of Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado or Nebraska in the dead of winter, the blasts of wind making the sub-zero temperatures nearly unbearable. After driving one to three hours to reach your missile alert facility, you go down into the launch control center where the 50-year-old equipment smells the same as it did to your father, who pulled alerts here before you were born. During winter, heavy snow may trap maintenance and missile alert crews in the missile field for days. When they finally get to go home, the smell of old equipment and chemicals lingers on their clothes.
Much the same can be said for the bomber crews who fly the exact same aircraft their fathers flew and their sons or daughters will likely fly.
Full article: Russia and China Aren’t Less Committed to Nuclear Force. So Why Are We? (The Daily Signal)