Plans to replace the aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile with a new “ground-based strategic deterrent” are likely to be carefully scrutinized by the Biden Pentagon. If the scrutiny is objective, here is what it will find: maintaining a resilient, reliable ICBM force is an essential hedge against unexpected weaknesses in the other two legs of the nuclear triad. For instance, if ICBMs were eliminated and China then figured out how to track ballistic missile submarines, the U.S. could be effectively disarmed in a surprise attack by destroying only two dozen targets. There’s a reason why the triad has survived for six decades, and it isn’t bureaucratic inertia: each component makes an vital contribution to strategic deterrence. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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