November 13, 2014

Press Note: Crises in the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Program and the Pending Pentagon Report

By Elbridge Colby

Washington, November 13 – In advance of the pending release of a Pentagon review of the U.S. nuclear deterrent program, the Center for a New American Security’s Robert M. Gates Fellow Elbridge Colby has written a new press note explaining the challenges the program faces. He further lays out the why the U.S. needs to improve the program as quickly as possible. The press note is below:

The Pentagon is expected to release this week or next a review of the nation's nuclear deterrent led by retired four stars General Larry Welch and Admiral John Harvey. The review, commissioned by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in February in the wake of embarrassing revelations particularly about the Air Force's ICBM force, is expected to reveal that the problems in the ICBM force are worse even than expected - and this after the Pentagon dismissed two senior officers responsible for overseeing ICBMs earlier this month.

The review is likely to draw further attention to the consequences years of relative neglect and underfunding - and sometimes even scorn - have had on the nation's nuclear force, particularly its land-based missile force. It should therefore spur more attention and ultimately support for the significant funding and consistent political backing needed to ensure the nation's nuclear forces are adequately modernized and prepared to deal with an increasingly unstable and in many ways more dangerous world.

Every other nuclear-armed nation - save the United Kingdom - has been busy modernizing its forces even as the United States has deferred doing so until very recently. It is therefore crucial that the Administration and Congress fully fund and support the recapitalization of the nation's nuclear delivery platforms, weapons, and broader supporting enterprise - including its people. 

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  • Elbridge Colby