Nuclear Triad: Supporting Voices

“Said another way: if I can’t get strategic deterrence, and in particular, nuclear deterrence to hold, no other plan and no other capability in the department is going to work as designed.”

Admiral Charles Richard, Commander, United States Strategic Command

August 2021
Source: Link

“Make no mistake; China’s strategic breakout is cause for action. The ongoing National Defense Strategy, Nuclear Posture Review, and the MDR are the ideal opportunity to address this radically changed operational environment. Clear-eyed, threat-informed decision making will avoid unintentional and premature policy and programmatic changes that affect U.S. strategy. This is a strategy that must remain resistant to adversarial coercion. The three-party dynamic that confronts us is unprecedented. We need a national undertaking to think through this.

Missile defense is, and will remain, an imperative to our nation’s defense. If we choose to life-extend, divest, or not invest in a certain capability we must consider the risk that we are inherently accepting in today’s security environment. Take the Minuteman three as an example. It can’t match the threat environment forever. If we don’t replace it with new, modern ICBM systems, we will significantly increase our strategic risk. Our capabilities must be able to pace the threat environment they will operate in. Our legacy systems have no margin for this.”

Admiral Charles Richard, Commander, United States Strategic Command

August 2021
Source: Link

“The Air Force has had great success with digital approach in its newest programs, Costello noted. The B-21 bomber and Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) missile are exploiting digital methods, and they are considered two of the Air Force’s best-run programs. Both are on schedule and within cost, and in the case of the GBSD, the design went through ‘six billion iterations’ to find the exact sweet spot of cost and performance, Costello said. That could not have been done with previous methods.”

John A. Tirpak, Editorial Director, Air Force Magazine

July 2021
Source: Link

“Our allies and partners depend on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and modernization of our strategic forces.”

Senator Jack Reed

June 2021
Source: Link

“The debate over whether to stick with the half-century-old Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile or replace it with the GBSD program just got a whole lot easier.”

Patty-Jane Geller, Heritage Foundation

May 2021
Source: Link

“ICBMs still remain the most cost-effective weapon system in the nuclear triad to build and operate.”

Dana Struckman, Real Clear Defense

May 2021
Source: Link

“USSTRATCOM is confident GBSD will meet requirements, reduce sustainment costs, and maximize day-to-day readiness.”

Admiral Charles A. Richard, United States Strategic Command

April 2021
Source: Link

“Nuclear deterrence is the Department’s highest priority mission.”

Melissa Dalton, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities

April 2021
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“Minuteman III nuclear forces have been a bedrock of U.S. national security for more than five decades. As one looks ahead to the next five decades, the question of investing in U.S. nuclear force modernization is as relevant today as ever. Our nation and allies face an uncertain future full of many challenges. In an era of Great Power Competition, we are playing an infinite game with adversaries playing, not to win once and for all, but to survive and keep playing.”

Major General Michael J. Lutton, Commander, Twentieth Air Force, Air Force Global Strike Command

April 2021
Source: Link

“Importantly, the GBSD program will not only replace the ICBM, but also refurbish the launch control centers where its officers operate, improve cybersecurity, and reduce maintenance costs. The missile itself will also feature a modular architecture that can presumably incorporate new technologies or countermeasures to help the re-entry vehicles survive the threat environment in 2075, possibly obviating the need for costly modifications to the missile itself. ICBMs that provide these characteristics, when combined with the low annual cost, makes GBSD a good value for the dollar investment.”

Matthew R. Costlow, NIPP

April 2021
Source: Link

“A desire to weaken our nuclear forces could have the unintended effects of raising the likelihood of the crises we want to avoid. Congress should heed the warnings from Richard and fully modernize the nuclear deterrent, which at its high mark remains less than 7 percent of the defense budget.”

Rebecca Heinrichs, The Hudson Institute

April 2021
Source: Link

“As the past 30 years of the post-Cold War era have demonstrated, reliance on nuclear weapons is at least as much, if not more, affected by the threat perceptions and capabilities of others as it is by U.S. policy itself.”

Matthew R. Costlow, NIPP

April 2021
Source: Link

“U.S. nuclear forces are not a large budget line in the Department of Defense’s budget in real or value terms. Today, nuclear forces take up about 5 percent of the Pentagon’s budget, which itself has been a declining part of the federal budget. Even at the peak of modernization, nuclear forces will consume about 6.4 percent of the budget. Nuclear force maintenance and operation takes another 2 or 3 percent of the budget—and is a recurring cost that will not disappear.”

Michaela Dodge, NIPP

April 2021
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“America’s Nuclear Missiles Need Major Modernization: The proposed missile upgrade program saves money and deters nuclear war.”

Eric S. Edelman and Franklin L. Miller

April 2021
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“Replacing the Minuteman III ICBM fleet is necessary to maintain credible U.S. nuclear deterrence, as ICBMs are critical in maximizing the costs of adversary attack.”

Patty-Jane Geller, Heritage Foundation

March 2021
Source: Link

“Maintaining a secure, sustainable and effective nuclear deterrent is imperative and is a top US national security priority.”

Matthew Kroenig, Mark Massa, and Christian Troth

March 2021
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“The Downsides of Downsizing:Why the United States Needs Four Hundred ICBMs.”

Lloyd J. Austin, Secretary of Defense

March 2021
Source: Link

“For the past decade, two administrations and twelve annual sessions of Congress have agreed on a strong bipartisan basis to both modernize the nation’s nuclear arsenal and simultaneously continue building such weapons in an arms control framework. In a nation dangerously divided about public policy, such a consensus is a national treasure the country should not lightly give up.”

Peter Huessy, GeoStrategic Analysis Center

March 2021
Source: Link

“The U.S. nuclear triad is the bedrock of our national defense. For over 75 years, it has deterred great power conflict and nuclear attacks against the American people and our allies. Despite its undeniable importance to U.S. national security, we’ve allowed much of our deterrent to become antiquated.”

Sen. James Inhofe and Rep. Mike Rogers

Feb. 2021
Source: Link

“Without nuclear force modernization, however, U.S. nuclear forces will not effectively be positioned in the decades ahead to deter our nation’s potential adversaries thus eroding, not just a competitive advantage, but the bedrock of our security.”

Maj. Gen. Michael Lutton, commander, Twentieth Air Force

Feb. 2021
Source: Link

“The nuclear deterrence mission is the Department’s highest priority mission, and updating and overhauling our nation’s nuclear forces are critical national security priorities.”

“The U.S. nuclear deterrent is effective today; however, it remains dependent on aging weapons; delivery systems; infrastructure; and nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) systems built during the Cold War and extended far beyond their original service lives. Now we must simultaneously update and overhaul them to ensure our nuclear deterrent remains effective.”

“The Joint Force faces this challenge because we have deferred or delayed previous modernization efforts. Our Cold War era systems have been extended far beyond their original service lives and the tipping point where we must simultaneously overhaul these forces is here.”

Dr. Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense

Feb. 2021
Source: Link

“We must ensure that all of our capabilities map to an overarching strategy. We must acknowledge the foundational nature of our nation’s strategic nuclear forces, as they create the “maneuver space” for us to project conventional military power strategically.”

“Time and again, DoD has demonstrated its willingness and ability to address changing environments. We must adapt to today’s strategic environment by understanding our opponents’ threats and their decision calculus. We must also accept the gauntlet of great power competition with our nuclear-capable peers. It is through a holistic risk assessment process that we can better align national resources and military readiness to ensure strategic security.”

Admiral Charles A. Richard, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command

Feb. 2021
Source: Link

“Maintaining a secure, sustainable and effective nuclear deterrent is imperative and is a top US national security priority.”

“Our nuclear deterrent has served a vital purpose in U.S. National Security Strategy for the past 70 years and continues to be an essential component of our strategy to preserve peace and stability by deterring aggression against the United States, our allies, and our partners.”

Lloyd J. Austin, Secretary of Defense

Jan. 2021
Source: Link

“That said, it is important to look at the facts. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, produced by the Defense Department free of White House direction, estimated the annual cost of the modernization program during its peak years at 3-4 percent of the DoD budget (and this before the sequester cap was lifted). It should be clear, therefore, that proceeding with modernization does not impose a significant burden for either the DoD or Federal budgets. The “it’s too expensive” argument does not comport with reality.”

Franklin C. Miller, served as a senior nuclear policy official in the Department of Defense and on the NSC Staff for over a quarter of a century.

Jan. 21, 2021
Source: Link

“As our teammates in Europe and in the Pacific think through their future, their ability to reflect upon the extended deterrence provided to them by the American Triad is an important part of their strategic calculus. We can’t on our own just in isolation or unilaterally change that equation and be responsible partners and allies.”

General Timothy Ray, Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command

Dec. 10, 2020
Source: Link

“The challenge for policymakers and strategists is to ensure the triad is credible to deter our adversaries from concluding that a strategic attack is ever worth the cost. A credible nuclear force is one that is reliable, safe, and leverages modern technology to meet the challenges of today and for decades to come. The decision to replace the Minuteman III program with the GBSD program is a welcome move toward this end.”

Rebeccah Heinrichs, senior fellow, Hudson Institute

Oct. 3, 2020
Source: Link

“The GBSD is an integral part of modernizing our nation’s nuclear forces and ensuring that we maintain a strong strategic deterrent.”

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R- N.D.)

Sept. 8, 2020
Source: Link

“The importance of modernizing our nuclear deterrence cannot be overstated. The mere existence of these weapons – housed at strategic bases like Minot – makes our nation and the world a safer place, an advantage we cannot afford to lose.”

U.S. Sen. Cramer (R-ND)

Sept. 8, 2020
Source: Link

“Modernizing the nuclear strategic triad is a top priority of our military,” said Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper. “It’s key to our nation’s defense. It provides that strategic nuclear deterrent that we depend on day after day – that we’ve depended on decade after decade.”

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper

Sept. 8, 2020
Source: Link

“I am fully confident in the evolutionary warfighting effectiveness GBSD will ensure,” said Gen. Tim Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. “We are leveraging stable requirements, modern technology, we own the technical baseline, and have a modular design to keep the program rapid, relevant and affordable.”

U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command Commander Gen. Tim Ray

Sept. 8, 2020
Source: Link

“Across the Department of the Air Force, we are looking for opportunities to inject innovation into programs to stay ahead of our adversaries,” said Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics. “Our GBSD team is doing just that by leveraging a modular open system approach to ensure our next generation ICBM system is adaptable to challenges posed by the pace of technological advancements and new threat environments.”

U.S. Air Force Acquisitions Dr. Will Roper

Sept. 8, 2020
Source: Link

“This contract provides the best overall value to the warfighter and taxpayers,” said Brig. Gen. Anthony Genatempo, commander of Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and Air Force program executive officer for strategic systems. “The GBSD program is leveraging technologies to reduce the program’s technical risk and ensure time-certain delivery to meet the warfighter’s needs.”

U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Commander and Air Force program executive officer for strategic systems Brig. Gen. Anthony Genatempo

Sept. 8, 2020
Source: Link

“NDIA congratulates the U.S. Air Force and Northrop Grumman Corporation on the award of the GBSD program. This culminates a long competition and results in a team of more than 300 businesses – most of them small companies – that will work under Northrop Grumman’s leadership on this vital system.”

National Defense Industrial Association President and CEO Hawk Carlisle

Sept. 8, 2020
Source: Link

“Behind our nation’s strategic national security capabilities are the men and women of the defense industry. The GBSD program awarded today, which will involve more than 10,000 defense industry employees across America, is no different.”

Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Eric Fanning

Sept. 8, 2020
Source: Link

“Although the specific capabilities of GBSD are highly classified, the need to field a system with 2020s technology instead of 1970s technology is apparent. When you consider ICBMs are the least expensive to acquire and most cost effective to maintain and operate of the nation’s nuclear weapon systems, fielding a highly reliable and cost effective system is a smart move.”

Adam Lowther, professor at the U.S. Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.; William Murphy, Director of Senior Leader Education for Nuclear Command, Control and Communications at the Louisiana Tech Research Institute; and Brig Gen Gerald Goodfellow (USAF, Ret.) is the Executive Director of the Louisiana Tech Research Institute.

July 6, 2020
Source: Link


“A replacement is also needed for the Minuteman ICBM system, which first entered service in 1962 and has been upgraded and extended 40 years beyond its original service life. In 2010, after affirming the importance of maintaining a land-based leg, the Obama administration initiated the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, a modern ICBM system that will improve reliability, lower operational costs, and respond to current and future threats.”

Former U.S. Air Force secretaries and chiefs of staff
June 19, 2020
Source: Link


“GBSD is the most cost-effective option for maintaining a safe, secure and effective ground-based leg of the nuclear triad,” Bartolomei said.  “It will address capability gaps to meet warfighter requirements, maintaining the preeminence of America’s ground-based nuclear strategic deterrent.

Colonel Col. Jason Bartolomei, GBSD system program manager

May 15, 2020
Source: Link


“A safe, secure, reliable and effective nuclear triad is essential to deterring threats against the U.S. homeland and underpins every other military operation around the world.”

General Charles Q. Brown, Jr., USAF
May 7, 2020
Source: Link


“I believe nuclear deterrence is the bedrock on which all the rest of our defense efforts remain. Nuclear modernization is like the foundation of your house. When there starts to be crumbling in the foundation there are all sorts of implications… Through our neglect, every system has reached the end of their life and therefore we do not have choices, we have to pursue each… In each of these areas [the B-21 raider, GBSD, and nuclear command and control] we are out of flexibility.”

Rep. Mac Thornberry, Texas
March 2, 2020
Source: Link


“The Air Force should make sure we keep GBSD on schedule, if not faster, if responsibly possible.”

Sen. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota
Feb. 19, 2020
Source: Link


“GBSD is the lowest risk, highest value decision to meet current and future military requirements.”

“I firmly support the Secretary’s and Chairman’s public statements identifying nuclear deterrence as the highest priority mission of the Department of Defense. Our nuclear deterrent underwrites every U.S. military operation around the world and is the foundation and backstop of our national defense. I cannot overemphasize the need to modernize our nuclear forces and recapitalize the supporting infrastructure to ensure we can maintain this deterrent in the future.”

Adm. Charles A. Richard, USN, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, Statement before the Senate Committee on Armed Services
Feb. 13, 2020
Source: Link


“The Minuteman III is aging, and modernization programs such as this are essential in ensuring that our Nation has a reliable nuclear deterrent through the rest of its lifespan and beyond. Most importantly, this visible indicator of our National security capabilities serves to assure our partners and dissuade potential aggressors.”

Col. Omar Colbert, USAF, 576th FTS Commander
Feb. 5, 2020
Source: Link


 “We’re really excited about where we’re going in regards to GBSD.  I think the program is doing extremely well…”  “I think we’re seeing that the timelines for emplacement haven’t changed.”

Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, USAF, Deputy Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command
Feb. 3, 2020
Source: Link


“If you didn’t have those 400 ICBMs that are ready to go at a moment’s notice, you could actually cripple our nuclear enterprise with about 10 targets…”

“We’ve been able to sustain it and we’re going to be able to sustain it until we bring GBSD” online, but the margin is very slim, Clark added. “That acquisition is going very well right now … but we have a long way to go and we have to stay consistent. We have to continue to be committed to this.”

Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, USAF, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, HQ USAF
Jan. 31, 2020
Source: Link


“Modernizing the ground-based leg of the triad is necessary for 21st century nuclear deterrence.  Any delay in the GBSD program will risk undermining the future deterrent capability the United States needs to defend its homeland and its allies.”
Senate ICBM Coalition
Sept. 26, 2019
Source: Link


“In my view, delaying or deferring ICBM modernization threatens the enduring value of the triad and risks compromising the foundation of U.S. strategic deterrence and allied assurance.  Land-based ICBMs remain as critical today for these objectives as they were during the Cold War, and the need to retain and recapitalize them without delay is based on the sound strategic contributions they make.”

General Robert Kehler, USAF (Ret), Former Commander, U.S. Strategic Command
Aug. 16, 2019
Source: Link


“Anyone who doubts the United States must modernize its nuclear deterrent need only look at the modernization efforts of the world’s other nuclear powers. Russia revealed a series of new strategic nuclear delivery systems last year, suggesting that nuclear weapons remain a key element of its national security strategy. China is expanding its nuclear posture, raising doubts about its minimal deterrence doctrine. North Korea has dozens of bombs and potentially can deliver them on Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). To reaffirm the U.S. nuclear deterrent and extended deterrence commitments to our allies in this complex threat environment, we must prioritize the effective and efficient modernization of our nuclear triad”

Sen. John Hoeven, North Dakota
July 2019
Source: Link


“I think there’s tremendous support on the Senate side for the triad,” said Sen. Deb Fischer, the chairwoman of the subcommittee in charge of nuclear weapons, referring to the three methods of delivering a nuclear weapon. “I think everybody’s well aware of the importance that we make sure all three legs are strong.”

Sen. Deb Fischer, Nebraska
May 12, 2019
Source: Link


“GBSD addresses the problems of MM III aging, attrition, and declining capability. The GBSD program is a comprehensive effort to replace the missile system, weapon system command and control, and ground systems—as well as convert, modernize, or replace aging MM III infrastructure. Beginning with its initial deployment in 2028, GBSD will provide improved capability versus the legacy MM III, and ensure the ICBM force remains safe, secure, effective, and reliable out to 2075.”

Ellen Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, U.S. Department of Defense
May 1, 2019
Source: Link


“I think it would be the height of irresponsibility for us to be in a position where we decide that we’re going to unilaterally disarm. We have to modernize. I think that we ought to be in a position where we are all absolutely affirming the importance of the Triad.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming
March 6, 2019
Source: Link


“The nuclear triad is the most important element of our national defense, and we have to make sure that we’re always ready to respond to any threat.”

General Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee
Feb. 26, 2019

Source: Link


“In this environment, it is not possible to delay modernization of our nuclear forces if we are to preserve a credible nuclear deterrent.”

—Secretary of Defense James Mattis
February 2018
Source: Link

Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks about bilateral negotiations with nuclear-threatening adversaries to de-escalate those threats during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.
March 8, 2017


“To deter, you have to have a capability that provides the adversary a calculus that he looks at and decides that his options will fail. If the adversary has capabilities to operate from the sea, from the land [and] from the air, we have to be able to turn all those elements. That’s how the triad was developed and that’s how we need to go.”

—Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command
March 8, 2017
Source: Link


 

Gen. David L. Goldfein holds up a floppy disk to show need for nuclear triad modernization

“I’m one that believes that you actually need all three legs, and we’ve got to modernize them. And we haven’t modernized. I brought a visual aid for you here. So I don’t know if anybody’s seen one of these in a while, but this is an eight-inch floppy disk, all right? We require these today in the missile fields, eight-inch floppy disks. It’s time to modernize.”

—Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force
Jan. 18, 2017

Source: Link


“This is a critical moment for our ICBM force. Nuclear threats are increasing around the world, and our existing ICBMs will not last forever. The (ICBM) Coalition is making a strong case to support the modernization of the ICBM force today so that it can continue to protect us for decades to come.”

—Senator John Hoeven (R-ND)
Dec. 14, 2016

Source: Link


“The fact is, most of our nuclear weapon delivery systems have already been extended decades beyond their original expected service lives. So it’s not a choice between replacing these platforms or keeping, it’s really a choice between replacing them or losing them. That would mean losing confidence in our ability to deter, which we can’t afford in today’s volatile security environment.”

—Former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter
Sept. 26, 2016

Source: Link

 


“Making major changes to the nuclear modernization program and the nuclear policy framework on which it is founded would not only endanger U.S. national security, it would send a terrible signal to both our allies and our adversaries.”

—Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
July 13, 2016

Source: Link

 


“As we contend with the department’s five strategic challenges, we recognize that successful execution of our defense strategy requires that we maintain credible nuclear and conventional capabilities. Our strategic nuclear deterrent remains effective, but it’s aging and it requires modernization. Therefore, we’re prioritizing investments needed for a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.”

—Gen. Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
March 2016
Source: Link

 


“While we seek a world without nuclear weapons, we face the hard reality that Russia and China are rapidly modernizing their already-capable nuclear arsenals, and North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them against the continental United States. A strong nuclear deterrent force will remain critical to our national security for the foreseeable future. This is the highest priority for the Department of Defense.”

—Mr. Bob Work, Deputy Defense Secretary
June 25, 2015
Source: Link

 

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