Nukewatch Quarterly Winter 2016-2017
Even after two former secretaries of defense and a former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have called for the elimination of land-based ballistic missiles, the Department of the Air Force this past summer invited industry proposals for building an entirely new arsenal of the long-range nuclear-armed missiles.
Retired Pentagon chiefs Chuck Hagel and William Perry have both signed official reports declaring that the current system of 450 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are too redundant, dangerous and destabilizing to retain. Retired Gen. James Cartwright, once the second highest ranking military officer in the United States, has also called for permanent retirement of land-based missiles, and Mr. Perry has said cancelling its replacement would save up to $100 billion.
Gen. Robin Rand of Global Strike Command said in a press release that the Minuteman system will have “a difficult time surviving” future air defenses. However, plans for the follow-on replacement may not survive budget constraints, as even Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., has questioned the usefulness and high cost of keeping all three nuclear weapons systems: missiles, submarines and heavy bombers.
—AP, July 29; & IRIA News, July 30, 2016