When the U.S. Navy decided to test its Trident II D-5 ballistic missile off the coast of Southern California late on Saturday afternoon, it probably didn’t expect the social media uproar that followed. The sun had just set, and as a result the exhaust plume from the three-stage missile could be seen as far away as Arizona and Nevada. But the Navy still did the right thing in not disclosing details about the test until after the fact, since that minimized the likelihood that Russian or Chinese spies could learn important details about the weapon. The D-5 is the most important weapon in the U.S. nuclear arsenal because it has never failed to launch in over 150 attempts, and when it puts to sea on an Ohio-class submarine, America’s adversaries have no idea where it is. That means they can’t destroy it in a surprise attack, making it a very credible deterrent. So the Navy has good reason to continue making it as hard as possible for prying eyes to scrutinize the missile when it is tested. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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