As the Pentagon’s “efficiencies review” unfolds, one Cold War mainstay of the US military posture is inevitably going to be retired – namely, the land-based portion of the strategic missile triad. The Pentagon is tasked with coming up with $400 billion in savings over the next decade, and so this long-discussed option (and old Mark Thompson favorite from his Swampland days) is finally going to come to pass – according to my sources in the Building.
No real losses in terms of our secure second strike, because the land-based portion was always the most vulnerable, but expect military hardliners to squeal mightily, especially as they may suspect follow-on harm to their cherished missile defense programs. But since even there, the most flexible options tend to be theater- and sea-based (my opinion), expect this logic to go through. One thing for the US to sell land-based missile defense to others, but quite another to spend the money to maintain the land-based portion of the triad. This way, the Navy’s “boomers” (costliest leg of the stool) and USAF’s strategic bombers feel that much more secure – budget-wise – in the battles to come. It makes far more sense to maintain our technological edges in those categories vice those holes in the ground.
A long overdue call, and if it frees up money to modernize warheads, then so much the better.