It’s Decision Time for the Air Force’s New Nuclear Cruise Missile
War Is Boring

A naive article with good intentions is still dangerously naive.

There are a few problems with this article. First, the USN’s Tomahawk missile is conventional only. The author does not state this and either thinks the nuclear version is in the field or that conventional deterrence will work against a nuclear nation (newsflash — both ideas are wrong). Second, the author talks about CALCM as a deterrent when it is an aging system requiring life extension if it is going to remain in service. Few CALCM remain in the arsenal and they are incredibly expensive. The more cost effective JASSM-ER is planned to replace CALCM, albeit with a smaller, but more precise warhead.
The biggest issue is that the author assumes that conventional assets can deter nuclear nations. As the world continues to produce more nations with nuclear weapons, the need for nuclear deterrence is growing after it initially appeared to be waning as the Berlin Wall crumbled. Sadly, two new nuclear nations (both relatively hostile to the US) have entered the arena since the end of the Cold War, and Iran appears to be on the verge of gaining nuclear capability, as well. If Iran obtains nuclear weapons, most of the Middle East will turn oil profits into nuclear arsenals of their own. As I said before, the need for nuclear deterrent capabilities is growing, not reducing.
The Cold War is over, but the need for nuclear deterrence is not lost even on the current anti-nuke administration as President Obama said “as long as these weapons exist in the world, we will have a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal.”
The need for a nuclear triad is ever-present, because increased technology across the globe or the increasing age of our own stockpile, could render one or more legs of our nuclear deterrent nonviable. ICBMs deter near-peers and assure a second strike capability that keeps them from launching a first strike. Subs provide a stealthy force (for now) that also assures a second strike. Bombers (which only really use cruise missiles for nukes) provide the visible resolve that can be recalled.
Do you really want to make our nuclear stockpile rely on only un-recallable options? If conflict escalates (as Ukraine has shown has the potential to rear its ugly head at any moment), do we want to give the president fewer options with which to deal with threats? Hey, boss — we can either lob a 1,000 pound missile or a multi-kiloton nuclear warhead at them, but no options give you the option of recall.
Pundits like the author of this article, and even the esteemed Mr. Kristensen, do not understand the second order effects that their desires would create if they got their way. Because of the 30 year procurement holiday that has occurred in the nuclear enterprise, all bills are coming due at once. We were dumb in our planning (politicians, as they cancelled program after program). Now, we either have to fundamentally reduce our stance against threats, or we have to pay the bills. Getting rid of the bomber as a nuclear deterrent asset (what would happen if we got rid of LRSO) would be a colossal mistake. Reduce the number of warhead (only through treaty — never unilaterally), but do not kill our deterrent posture due to ignorance. Please. Your children and grandchildren will thank you.

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