The New Triad
Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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On April 5, 2009 President Obama introduced his vision of reducing nuclear dangers and overcoming grave and growing threats by seeking the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. To this end, the Administration seeks to put less emphasis on nuclear weapons in our security policy and thus continue to negotiate mutual reductions in strategic nuclear weapons with Russia, with a goal of further reductions in the future. As stated in the third objective of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review NPR, the U.S. must continue maintaining strategic deterrence and stability at reduced nuclear force levels. Additionally, the U.S. must continue to provide assurance to allies who are covered under the U.S. nuclear deterrence umbrella. More significant reductions are possible through a mindset change regarding the traditional nuclear triad consisting of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles ICBMs, Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles SLBMs and nuclear bombers. This paper has four main points to make 1 A new version of the strategic triad is advantageous in a regime of fewer nuclear weapons 2 New START counting rules have potential disadvantages for the U.S. nuclear missile force 3 Nuclear deterrence is enhanced if strategic forces are based on the time tested concepts of dispersal and survivability 4 A realistically, and fiscally obtainable solution is available to maintain U.S. national security objectives while reducing the number of nuclear weapons. The goal of this paper is not to dispute the POTUS vision of eventually reducing nuclear weapons to zero if that is safe and possible, but to show how a smaller strategic force can be best deployed in the near future. In fact, it is possible to substantially reduce the number of nuclear weapons well below New START numbers and still maintain national security.