Monday, March 13, 2006

Joe Buff Said What?

Regarding a Navy suggestion to refit some nuclear armed Trident II D5 (missiles) with at least some conventional warheads for SSBNs on patrol, esteemed author/analyst Joe Buff asked today in Undersea Global Strike,
"If the same SSBN carries two types of missiles, and a conventional Prompt Global Strike order ever does comes through, what stops a worst-case tragic error where the wrong type of missile gets launched?"

Qualified submariners know that error proposition is extremely farfetched. In all fairness, Buff couches his question in the proposition that opponents in Congress would never be convinced to ignore. Two competing solutions are being bandied about in the Pentagon, including one from the Air Force (as Molten Eagle had predicted Friday).

Buff concludes (emphasis added), Conventional Prompt Global Strike is vital to national defense and homeland security. Implementing it is a job that the Silent Service seems uniquely suited to help achieve, and participation by the Air Force as well may offer more fire-mission options, better tactical flexibility, and needed systems redundancy in a transformational non-nuclear dyad.

What is the news here, then? Dyad? (a pair) What happened to triad? ICBMs obsolete or strategic bombers? In Molten Eagle's opinion, strategic bombers are obsolescent, and I am not speaking of the airframes, but the concept. Want to save bigtime in the DOD budget? Dismantle the Air forces's Air Combat Command, successor to the reorganized (in 1992) Strategic Air Command.

Would we still be able to sleep well at night? Yes, nuclear ICBMs were combined with the Navy's nuclear component to form USSTRATCOM (United States Strategic Command) still headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base (SAC's former headquarters). Dyad indeed! More on the new nuclear triad here (history Wikipedia), here (analysis, Stansfield Turner) and particularly here (The Center for Contemporary Conflict: A Quiet Revolution: The New Nuclear Triad). Quoting from the last source:

"The new strategic triad thus paves the way for further reductions in U.S. strategic nuclear forces because it clears a path for the possible elimination of one of the legs of the old nuclear triad."


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