Will U.S. nuclear weapons system be on the budget chopping block?
October 18th, 2011
12:03 PM ET

Will U.S. nuclear weapons system be on the budget chopping block?

As the nation grapples with its need to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from its future defense budgets every year, one category seems MIA: the nuclear triad. But it's worth noting that those who embrace it tend to be those running it, while the nation's top military officers - who have to juggle competing demands, and not just the nation's nukes - are beginning to weigh the wisdom of the Cold War-era triangle that places atomic weapons atop land-based ballistic missiles, inside the bomb bays and under the wings of long-range bombers, and in missile tubes on submarines constantly patrolling the world's oceans.

The top officer who oversees the triad tells Time's Battleland blog that the redundancy is needed for now but the triad's days are numbered.

"You can have a hollow nuclear force, just like you can have a hollow conventional force," General Robert Kehler, the Air Force officer who runs U.S. Strategic Command told Battleland.  "There will be some very tough decisions to make here at certain levels, and whether or not you can then sustain a leg of the triad without it becoming hollow."

Read more on Time's Battleland blog

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Filed under: Budget • Nuclear • Time's Battleland blog
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    It is unwise to cut back on nuclear weapons infrastructure. The level of highly specific technical knowledge required to produce, and maintain nuclear weapons easily reaches into several years, depending on the role. If you cut back on spending, it will make it even more difficult to attract new talent to an otherwise fastly graying field. If we cut back in this field, we will literally lose our ability to produce nuclear weapons sometime in the late 2020's, and be a de facto nuclear weapon's free state , with the security problems that this entails.

    October 18, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  2. Jake

    If we cut back any part of our deterrent, the sea aspect can not be it. Its mobile, its effective. Land Based could be phased out. We would stil have air launched capability, while maintaining a good punch at sea. We don't need what we had 20-30 years ago, but with our enemies still possessing such weapons, we can not just say, oh never mind we don't need them anymore. These weapons alone, probably prevented a World War 3, during the Cold War.

    October 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Reply

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