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The Ugly Truth about America’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile System

Written by Peter Huessy

he disarmament community has suddenly switched gears and brought to a halt its decades-long effort to eliminate America’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. Today, it has embraced the fifty-year-old Minuteman III ICBMs (MM) it has and wants to cancel the new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) replacement scheduled to be built at the end of this decade.

What’s the trick?

At least a dozen expert studies show that MM cannot be sustained much beyond 2030, the disarmers have concluded that AMERICAN can for less money than GBSD, keep MM  around for just long enough to make a deal. The deal? Russia will trade its brand new highly capable three hundred or more ICBMs for America’s Minuteman ICBMs, which it is going to shortly get rid of in any case. In short, the Strategic Rocket Forces of Russia have magically become an eleemosynary or charitable institution. 

Since the 1980 Soviet Union proposed Nuclear Freeze, the disarmament folks have tried to eliminate America’s ICBMs, first the Peacekeeper missile in 1985, followed by the mobile Small ICBM, then the MMIII legacy force (which the Clinton-era 1994 Nuclear Posture Review commendably kept in the Triad), and for the past two decades, the current Minuteman III force and its projected replacement, the GBSD.

After expending tens of millions of dollars over many decades denigrating the capability of the ICBMs and attempting to convince the world of the missiles vulnerabilities and destabilizing character, the disarmers have suddenly embraced the Minuteman III and now support a modest life-extension, (SLEP), which they claim would be far cheaper than fielding the required capabilities provided by GBSD.

Apparently, all the fictitious assertions regarding the ICBM force—being on a hair-trigger, vulnerable to attack, destabilizing and only serving as a giant sponge to soak up Russian warheads—have magically become inconveniently irrelevant and now the ICBM merits retention.

Read more at National Interest

About the author

Peter Huessy

Peter Huessy is president of GeoStrategic Analysis. He is also the director of the Nuclear Deterrence Center at The Mitchell Institute.

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