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By Peter Huessy, President of GeoStrategic Analysis, Potomac, Maryland - Senior Warrior Maven Columnist

Mathew Costlow of NIPP and Mathew Kroenig of the Atlantic Council both spoke April 27, 2021 at the Mitchell Institute/Huessy nuclear seminar series on a variety of GBSD, B-21, Columbia class nuclear deterrent and arms control issues. Here is a summary of their remarks and links to their video presentations and discussion.

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  1. ICBMs are the cheapest of all legs of the Triad and GBSD will be considerably lower in cost to sustain, and 6% of the defense budget is a reasonable amount to pay for the nuclear enterprise;
  2. Allies will feel undercut in their security environment if the USA reduces the US nuclear deterrent especially if we eliminate one leg of the Triad, diminish the role of nuclear weapons in our deterrent or determine that there is a sole use of nuclear weapons or that the US will adopt a No First Use nuclear policy strategy.
  3. Dr. Kroenig was particularly supportive of the USA nuclear deterrent as he explained those areas of the world under the USA nuclear umbrella are universally prosperous and free.
  4. The Russian nuclear modernization effort is a race to seek an advantage especially with exotic systems and those outside the New START agreement, although some of Russia’s nuclear systems may be more fanciful than real or technologically problematic.
  5. Nuclear weapons provide great stability especially within the contact of the rules based international order the US created after the end of WWII.
  6. The consensus or modernization was started by the Obama administration and has extended through the Trump administration. It is a valuable asset that should not be discarded recklessly, especially in that the security environment circa 2021 is much more serious than the environment assumed in 2010.
  7. US nuclear forces have four key goals: deter use of nuclear weapons against the USA; assure allies of our deterrent capability; deter further escalation of a conventional conflict; and as a hedge if the US needs to enhance our deterrent forces.
  8. US modernization is not inconsistent with arms control or the NPT.
  9. Our current forces are aging and need prompt recapitalization, especially in a deteriorating international environment.
  10. Whatever decisions we make now will last through 2075-80;
  11. Radical ideas are killing ICBMs and adopt No First Use; never before adopted by any previous US administration.
  12. There are 8 negative consequences of killing ICBMs: we simplify disarming attack options for our enemies; we make it attractive to seek to attack the USA first and put us out of the nuclear business; onus on the POTUS to escalate should we adopt a NFU strategy; attrition of MM III assets makes for a wasting resource, for which Russia will trade nothing; Putin will secure elimination of 60% of USA SNDVs “free of charge….”; savings of $600m a year says CBO if a SLEP for MM III vs GBSD but does not into account savings in sustainment over 60 years that could easily reach $18B or $300 million a year or 16% of current sustainment costs/

Peter R. HuessyMr. Huessy is the President of Geostrategic Analysis, a Potomac, Maryland-based defense and national security consulting business, and Director of Strategic Deterrent Studies at the Mitchell Institute, a Senior Fellow at ICAS, a senior consultant with Ravenna Associates, and previously for 22 years Senior Defense Consultant with the National Defense University Foundation at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.He is and has been a Guest Lecturer at the School of Advanced International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, at the Institute of World Politics, at the University of Maryland, at the Joint Military Intelligence School, at the Naval Academy and at the National War College.

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