The cats at CATO recently unleashed a really blistering blitz bout how Great Satan's New Clear Weaponry Ménage à trois was like a total waste of resources, energy and American Dollars.
Great Satan's nuclear forces must have three characteristics. They must be credible to our adversaries. They must invite stability, meaning any adversary must conclude the use of such weapons cannot be undertaken successfully. And our nuclear deterrent must hold at risk an adversary’s forces so they cannot remain in a sanctuary, freely able to threaten the US.
Practically, what does this mean? Credible means that the American nuclear force must be invulnerable to any future change in technology. Nothing can change the current ability of 450 separate ICBM silos and 50 launch control facilities to withstand an attack. No sane Russian planner would contemplate trying to simultaneously destroy all of these targets.
But a technology “surprise” could make the U.S. submarine force vulnerable. Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations and a former submariner, in the July 2012 issue of the naval magazine Proceedings, said that an ability to find ships at sea was a capability on the horizon that most worried him. Over time our submarines at sea could be attrited without our being able to determine who was taking them out. A too limited or small force is an invitation to the Russians and Chinese to "come get us".
Having all three legs of our triad means we have technology insurance -- if there are problems with any one of our legs, the other two can do the job while we repair the first. Bombers are recallable and subs cannot now be found. The ICBMs remain highly stabilizing in that they cannot be attacked with stealth. They require such a high number of attacking warheads to take them out that we leave an adversary with two choices: invite Armageddon or do nothing with nuclear weapons.
For nearly 70 years of the nuclear age, our adversaries have concluded just that -- do nothing with nuclear forces. Our 500 nuclear assets when presented to an adversary during a crisis quickly leads to their conclusion: "Not today, comrade". Reducing our deterrent to 12 submarines, which CATO recommends, puts our nuclear eggs in very few baskets -- eight submarines at sea and the rest at two naval bases.
In a world of 400 current conflicts involving militias, terror groups, state sponsors of terror, guerilla groups and tribal armies, in some 62 countries, it is remarkable that no central nuclear power has been drawn into using nuclear weapons. That is because our deterrent has worked perfectly for nearly 70 years.
Finally, the U.S. cannot do these things in a vacuum. Unilaterally wiping out some 1000 to 1200 or more American nuclear warheads would be a harsh jolt to the security of the international system. Already Japan, South Korea and our NATO allies have expressed concern they will be forced to adopt nuclear weapons in their respective national arsenals if we diminish our deterrent.
In short, CATO's radical and unwise plan saves very little money; creates huge instabilities; invites attack over time on our remaining deterrent the U.S. nuclear deterrent force; and threatens to divorce our allies in Europe and East Asia from our nuclear umbrella, spurring further nuclear proliferation. On top of which, the threats to our security from nascent nuclear weapons states -- North Korea and Iran -- are where real serious nuclear dangers lie, whether from the surreptitiously delivery of nuclear weapons in an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, attack on our country or the detonation of an Iranian nuclear device somewhere in an American city. Those are serious threats that much be addressed as well. CATO diverts our attention to the wrong issue -- the U.S. nuclear deterrent.
The central role of our nuclear deterrent triad is to keep any crisis from escalating to a nuclear conflict. That requires a credible, stable and effective deterrent triad. Each successive administration from Eisenhower to the present, through 70 years of nuclear history, has so concluded.
Pic - "Threat Concepts for Deterrence and Compellence"