The US defense budget was unveiled by the administration and sent to Congress February 9, 2016 and already the “military critics” and their long knives are anticipating how to disembowel critical elements of our nation’s military.
For example, Mr. Gordon Adams, previously at the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton administration and Mr. Lawrence Korb at the Center for American Progress, are both calling for the dismantlement of the US nuclear deterrent.
Mr. Adam’s proposals not only will save almost no money over the near term, any delay in the acquisition of the new submarine is fraught with danger. For example, already the hull life we are expecting from the current submarines will be greater than any other submarine in our nation’s history.
What about the impact on the strategic balance and deterrence of going to a submarine only nuclear deterrent as he proposes? (1)
We would be putting all our nuclear eggs in one nuclear basket.
We would be assuming that while the air and land have become increasingly transparent, for some reason the oceans will remain opaque and thus our submarines will remain undetectable for their entire four decade deployment, an assumption Mr. Adams makes. That is a lousy bet to make especially when the very survival of the United States is at stake.
Furthermore, the reduced submarine force would for logistical reasons be only able to be deployed in one ocean-either the Atlantic or Pacific but not both. Thus either deterring China or Russia would have to be taken off the table.
In addition, Mr. Adams proposal requires more warheads being loaded on the 16 missiles per submarine than we are now planning. Why is this? Well because the land based missile and bomber warheads would no longer be available as Mr. Adams is eliminating them.
According to two top former Pentagon nuclear experts, the extra warheads would so increase the weight of the warheads on each missile that it would “cut down on the range of the missile and the patrol area” as the submarines would have to operate closer to the countries needing to be deterred in order for the heavier missile to get to its target.
Even worse, the submarine missiles only have a fixed “footprint” or range once they release their warheads. Thus whether the missile caries 2, 4, 6 or 8 warheads, each warhead when released can only hit certain targets in a fixed area. Thus extra warheads will be redundant, only hitting the same targets as other warheads or as one wag said “only making the rubble bounce”.
Even more absurd is Mr. Adam’s assertion-echoed by Mr. Korb– that the administration is launching a new nuclear arms race. The administration has cut nuclear warheads from 2200 deployed strategic warheads to 1550-1800 as have the Russians under the New Start treaty of 2010. This is a further reduction from the George W. Bush era when US strategic deployed nuclear weapons were cut under the 2002 Moscow Treaty [just a few short months after the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty] between the US and Russia from 6000 to 2200, a 64% reduction on top of the reduction from over 13,000 warheads to the 6000 warhead level under the 1991 START 1 treaty between the US and Russia. (4)
Modernizing, sustaining and replacing the projected nuclear force stricture envisioned under the New Start treaty did not add any nuclear weapons to our arsenal-in fact it cut our arsenal by over 60%— and thus can hardly be described as part of any” arms race” that has compelled North Korea to build nuclear weapons.
Now it is true, that as USAF Major General Garret Harencak responsible for two-thirds of our nuclear Triad, warned a Capitol Hill audience on May 13, 2015, the United States starting with the end of the Cold War to go on both “an intellectual and procurement holiday”. The General explained we failed to modernize our nuclear deterrent as well as forgot to update our nuclear policy doctrine.
That is hardly a description of leading some arms race!
Now with the leadership of Secretary of Air Force Deborah James and Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh, the Air Force has moved to remedy that deficit. The Air Force programs of the modernized bomber and ICBM force-and the Navy’s submarine replacement program-are supported by both this administration and an overwhelming majority in the US Congress. That consensus is difficult to achieve on any subject let alone the future nuclear deterrent of the United States. But it is there.
But a consensus indeed we now have to go forward with the nuclear modernization plan. It will cost only 4% of the defense budget, a historically low figure and 1/2200th of the overall Federal budget.
Why would we throw away such a deal?
Full article: Cutting Budgets and Increasing Nuclear Dangers (Part 2) (Family Security Matters)