The programmers’ iron rule: if it ain’t funded, it ain’t.
Oh, there’s the $2.6 million in the FY12 President’s Budget, enough to have about eight to ten RAND types study ICBM modernization for a year.
The point is $2.6 million doesn’t go too far when you’re talking ICBMs. It might keep the Department of Defense in AA batteries for perhaps a week. North Korea and Iran are certain to spend orders of magnitude more on their own ICBM programs.
So is the $2.6 million for an analysis of alternatives? For a “capabilities-based assessment”? To study things that need to be studied?
The last answer is the current story. The $2.6 million appears to be intended to study (not for too long or too hard, apparently) other ICBM areas such as:
…to underwrite studies on ICBM launch facility security, emergency air supplies for launch control centers, power storage technologies, and concepts for testing missile guidance…
So is this lack of funding an act of omission or commission?
“I’m sympathetic to claims of confusion within big bureaucracies, but this is perilous territory,” said Christopher Ford, who directs the Hudson Institute’s Center for Technology and Global Security.
Jeff Sessions had this to say:
“One of the biggest unanswered questions in the future is the ICBM force,” he said. “I am very concerned.”
Sessions noted that last year’s Nuclear Posture Review, a major Pentagon assessment of atomic forces and strategy, said the ICBM Analysis of Alternatives would seek “cost-effective” deployment options that support “continued reductions in U.S. nuclear weapons while promoting stable deterrence.”
None of the military brass testifying at the subcommittee hearing could elaborate on the meaning of that passage in the review.
Meanwhile, the ICBM fleet is being considered for draw-down to below New START levels which is capped at 420 ICBMs.
…the Air Force is currently “wrestling” with the question of whether the Minuteman 3 force should be reduced to 400 deployed missiles under New START, Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, said at the hearing. A decision is expected “within the next few months,” he said.
Somehow this all makes it seem unlikely the Russians will be anxious to negotiate away their tactical nuclear weapons, the one area where their military currently holds a massive advantage.