President-elect Trump has frequently cited the need to modernize America’s aging nuclear arsenal. He’s right: the Obama Administration took too long to commence recapitalization of the main bulwark we have against nuclear Armageddon. However, the way nuclear war is most likely to begin is as a conventional conflict in Eastern Europe that escalates to a nuclear exchange. To minimize the likelihood of such a conflict, Washington needs to have modern ground forces in place that discourage Moscow from believing it could win a quick conventional campaign in the east. But that is not what the Obama Administration did. It reduced U.S. ground forces in Europe to a mere two brigades while making unrealistic security guarantees to states on Russia’s doorstep. This is a prescription for disaster — the U.S. might have no way of averting defeat other than to resort to nuclear weapons use, at which point Moscow could respond in kind. What starts as a modest conventional attack could end in an all-out nuclear exchange. Modernizing and redeploying U.S. Army units in Europe is the most effective way of preventing such a scenario from unfolding. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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