Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Obama's Foreign Policy Take 5 - Dismantling Our Military Capability

Obama is now in Moscow, ostensibly to renegotiate the START agreement set to expire near the end of this year. But he has gone beyond merely negotiating an agreement to reduce our nuclear arsenal by a third (we can still make the rubble bounce, so not that big of a deal) and into an agreement that would effect the core of our conventional military capability by limiting the number of nuclear capable delivery systems to 500. To give you an idea of what this means, our Air Force alone operates over 1,600 aircraft - 66 B-1B Lancers, 85 B-52 Bombers, 21 B-2 'Stealth Bombers', 217 F-15 Strike Eagles, and 1,280 F-16's - that are capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. That doesn't begin to count submarines and other systems in our inventory. To enter into an agreement of this magnitude would gut our military capability. This is an exponentialy more destructive act than those destructive acts that Obama has already taken vis-a-vis defense, to starve our future defense budget during war, to cut military research and development, and to severly cut back on missle defense at a time of ever-increasing nuclear proliferation.

Why are our nuclear capable delivery systems, many of which are intregral parts of our conventional capability, even on the table? This is utterly insane.

This from Ralph Peters:

. . . The main course in Moscow was arms control.

President Obama's ideological bias against nuclear weapons dates back to his undergraduate years. Yet those weapons kept the peace between the world's great powers for 64 years. A few remarks about deterrence notwithstanding, Obama just doesn't get it.

He agreed to trim our nuclear-warhead arsenal by one-third and -- even more dangerously -- to cut the systems that deliver the nuclear payloads. In fact, the Russians don't care much about our warhead numbers (which will be chopped to a figure "between 1,500 and 1,675"). What they really wanted -- and got -- was a US cave-in regarding limits on our nuclear-capable bombers, submarines and missiles that could leave us with as few as 500 such systems, if the Russians continue to get their way as the final details are negotiated.

Moscow knows we aren't going to start a nuclear war with Russia. Putin (forget poor "President" Dmitry Medvedev) wants to gut our conventional capabilities to stage globe-spanning military operations. He wants to cut us down to Russia's size.

Our problem is that many nuclear-delivery systems -- such as bombers or subs -- are "dual-use": A B-2 bomber can launch nukes, but it's employed more frequently to deliver conventional ordnance.

Putin sought to cripple our ability to respond to international crises. Obama, meanwhile, was out for "deliverables" -- deals that could be signed in front of the cameras. Each man got what he wanted.

President Obama even expressed an interest in further nuclear-weapons cuts. Peace in our time, ladies and gentlemen, peace in our time . . .

We just agreed to the disarmament position of the American Communist Party of the 1950s. . . .

It cannot be overemphasized what limiting the U.S. to 500 nuclear capable delivery systems could do to our conventional defense capability, as the two are largely intergrated. To get a feel for how integrated, see this from "Nuclear Matters: A Practical Guide," published on-line by the Office of the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters (ODATSD(NM)):

3.6 U.S. Nuclear Weapons Delivery Systems

A nuclear weapon delivery system is the military vehicle (ballistic or cruise missile, airplane, or submarine) by which a nuclear weapon would be delivered to its intended target in the event of authorized use. Most nuclear warheads have been designed for specific delivery systems.

Weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal include: gravity bombs deliverable by Dual Capable Aircraft (DCA) and long-range bombers; the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile/Nuclear (TLAM/N) capable, deliverable by submarines; cruise missiles deliverable by long-range bombers; Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM); and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). These systems provide a wide range of options that can be tailored to meet desired military and political objectives. Each system has advantages and disadvantages and effectively provides one part of the New Triad deterrent against the threat of nuclear and other WMD attacks on the U.S. and its allies. Figure 3.4 is a list of the current U.S. nuclear warheads and their associated delivery systems.

3.6.1 Bombers

The U.S. bomber force serves as a visible, flexible, and recallable national strategic asset. The active U.S. inventory of B-52s (Figure 3.5), which are located at Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB) in Louisiana and Minot AFB in North Dakota, have been the backbone of the strategic bomber force for more than 40 years. The B-52 “Stratofortress” is a heavy, long-range bomber that can perform a variety of missions. It is capable of flying at sub-sonic speeds at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet, and it can carry precision-guided conventional ordnance in addition to nuclear weapons.

The B-2 “Stealth Bomber” (Figure 3.6) entered the bomber force in April 1997 and significantly enhanced U.S. deterrent forces with its deep penetration capability. The B-2 is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. The B-2 force is located at Whiteman AFB in Missouri.

The B-52 is the only aircraft that can carry both gravity bombs and cruise missiles. Nuclear planners must consider multiple tradeoffs when deciding which weapon and delivery system to use. The advantages and disadvantages of gravity bombs are outlined below:

Gravity Bomb advantages:

Aircraft provide flexibility and can be recalled prior to weapon release/launch;

Aircraft range can be increased with air to air refueling;

Weapons may be employed against mobile targets;

Various weapon yields available from megaton to subkiloton; and

Aircraft can be launched from the Continental United States (CONUS).

Gravity Bomb disadvantages:

Aircraft crew is at risk in high-threat environment;

Lead-time is required for planning and transit; and

Significant combat and ground support infrastructure may be required depending on scenario.

Cruise missiles have different advantages and disadvantages:

Cruise Missile advantages:

Weapons can penetrate heavily defended areas without risk to the aircraft and crew;

\Weapons can be launched from international airspace; and Bomber aircraft range is significant.

Cruise Missile disadvantages:

System may be vulnerable to modern air defense systems; and

Terrain factors may limit employment flexibility.

3.6.2 Submarines

There are two types of nuclear capable submarines, ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) and attack submarines.


Nuclear-powered SSBNs are designed to deliver ballistic missile attacks against assigned targets. These submarines carry Submarine Launched Ballistic Missles (SLBMs) which are the most survivable leg of the Nuclear Triad because of the ability of their SSBN delivery platforms to hide in the ocean depths, coupled with the long range of the missiles. Constantly on patrol, SSBN Trident missiles provide a worldwide launch capability, with each patrol covering an area of more than one million square miles.

Each U.S. SSBN (Figure 3.7) is capable of carrying 24 Trident missiles. SSBNs are deployed from the West Coast in Bangor, Washington and from the East Coast in Kings Bay, Georgia. These SSBNs carry the Trident II D5 missile. As outlined in the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the U.S. has reduced its SSBN force from 18 to 14 submarines.

SLBM advantages:

Weapons can penetrate heavily defended areas without risk to the crew;

Weapons can be launched in international waters;

Weapons can be on target in minimal time;

Maximum stealth and surprise can be maintained prior to launch;

System provides flexible targeting capability; and

The missile can carry multiple warheads.

SLBM disadvantages:

Missiles are not recallable after launch; and

Multiple warheads present additional planning challenges

Attack Submarines

All of the early-model U.S. attack submarines are capable of launching Tomahawk Land-Attack Cruise Missiles/Nuclear (TLAM/N). However, as a result of the President’s 1991 Nuclear Initiatives, all TLAM/N nuclear weapons have been removed from U.S. Navy vessels. The United States retains the option to re-deploy TLAM/N on attack submarines, if necessary.

TLAM/N advantages:

Heavily defended areas may be penetrated without risk to the crew;

Highly mobile platforms in international waters may serve as launch sites;

Weapons are very accurate;

Launch platform is recallable;

Overflight of third-party nations alleviated depending on launch location; and

Maximum stealth and surprise can be maintained prior to launch.

TLAM/N disadvantages:

Weapons not recallable after launch;

Lead-time required to generate and transit to desired launch point;

System may be vulnerable to modern air defense systems;

Terrain factors may limit employment flexibility; and

Launch platform must receive updated data transfer device in order to update a mission plan.

3.6.3 ICBMs

U.S. nuclear forces include Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), which are launched from stationary silos. ICBMs are on continuous alert, cost-effective, can provide immediate reaction and can strike their intended targets within 30 minutes of launch.

Currently, the U.S. ICBM force consists of Minuteman III. Minuteman III missile bases are located at: F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming; Malmstrom AFB in Montana; and Minot AFB in North Dakota. Figure 3.8 shows a Minuteman III missile in a silo.

ICBM advantages:

Weapons can penetrate heavily defended areas without risk to the crew;

Weapons can be on target in minimal time;

Planning time is short; and

The missile can carry multiple warheads.

ICBM disadvantages:

Missiles are not recallable;

Booster may fall on U.S. or Canadian territory; and

Multiple warheads present additional planning challenges.

3.6.4 Dual Capable Aircraft (DCA)

In addition to its strategic nuclear forces, the United States has CONUS-based and forward-deployed DCA consisting of the F-15 (Figure 3.9) and the F-16 (Figure 3.10). DCA are able to deliver conventional munitions or non-strategic nuclear bombs from the B61 family.

The United States also maintains forward-based DCA assigned to the U.S. European Command. Some of these DCA are available to support our North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies in combined-theater nuclear operations. . . .

If the agreement Obama is now negotiating is ratified as a treaty and indeed, actually limits the U.S. to 500 nuclear delivery systems, we will have just officially stepped down as a superpower. We will no longer have the capability of projecting force world-wide. This truly would be an act of national suicide. Robert Averich posted in his blog today: "As one fine officer in our armed services wrote privately to Seraphic Secret: 'For the first time in my career I am convinced that our Commander in Chief is not fit to be the town dog catcher.'" I'll second that.

Update: Crusader Rabbit points out the flip side of this agreement, that Russia has an aging and dwindling nuclear arsenal and they cannot hope to keep up with U.S. superiority - unless we volunteer to forego it.


KG said...

This man is truly dangerous, and the silence of the GOP may be an even bigger scandal.
Where are they? Just who do they represent nowadays? Are they complicit in this treason?

OBloodyHell said...

"Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong"
-- Ronald Reagan

Obama actually wants war. That will distract people from the economic situation.

Ex-Dissident said...

Maybe he needs more funding for his civilian corps? General franken demands more resources?