In my latest Diplomat column I make the case for retaining a (reduced) boomer fleet:
My own view is that the United States can accept a lower threshold for at sea nuclear deterrence, but this leg should still retain a rump deterrence capability. Survivability concerns may not be what they were, but they are still relevant, and SSBNs have both survivability and flexibility advantages over ICBMs. It isn’t accidental that China, India, and Russia are all choosing to develop or upgrade their SSBN capabilities at the same time. Concerns about shipbuilding costs should be remedied by resource transfers between services; if the Air Force no longer operates an ICBM force, then funding can (at least theoretically) shift towards the Navy.
Replacement of the Ohio boats will still be expensive, but circumstances may allow life extension beyond current expectations. The long term answer may not be an entirely new SSBN design, but rather a modified Virginia class boat that could carry ballistic missiles. The Navy has argued that this design would become more expensive than an Ohio replacement, but issues of number and vulnerability may prove more manageable if the option is no boomers at all. No other state in the world can match such a capability, and yet the U.S. presumably feels deterred from launching pre-emptive nuclear attacks on China or Russia. A reduced SSBN force is still the best option for providing a foundational level of nuclear security.
Here’s some more on the aging ICBM force.
The Department of Defense is a leader in equal opportunity for all patriots seeking to serve this great nation. . . The vigilant warriors in AFGSC understand they are all equal and unified in purpose to provide a safe, secure and effective deterrent force for the United States. . .
Dr. King would be proud to see our Global Strike team – comprised of Airmen, civilians and contractors from every race, creed, background and religion – standing side-by-side ensuring the most powerful weapons in the U.S. arsenal remain the credible bedrock of our national defense. . . Our team must overlook our differences to ensure perfection as we maintain and operate our weapon systems. . . Maintaining our commitment to our Global Strike team, our families and our nation is a fitting tribute to Dr. King as we celebrate his legacy.
As Gizmodo points out, Dr. King’s presumed pleasure at the diversity of the USAF’s nuclear weapons teams could have been qualified by his pacifist views on nuclear weapons. I should note that this represents an almost perfect distillation of the conservative understanding of MLK ; an advocate of formal legal equality without any other ideological views.
The Disney-de Seversky classic:
Love the scene where the German pilot is hit in the head with a brick. Modern war cinema involves all too few brick-throwing incidents.
Some Monday morning links…
Stan the Man, RIP.
Stan Musial, one of baseball’s greatest hitters and a Hall of Famer with the St. Louis Cardinals for more than two decades, died Saturday. He was 92.
Stan the Man won seven National League batting titles, was a three-time MVP and helped the Cardinals capture three World Series championships in the 1940s.
The Cardinals announced Musial’s death in a news release. They said he died Saturday evening at his home in Ladue surrounded by family. The team said Musial’s son-in-law, Dave Edmonds, informed the club of Musial’s death.
12th career in WAR, but had only one season with WAR over 10. Crazy combination of consistency and longevity. Salary peaked at $75000 from 1951-53, ~$620000 in inflation adjusted terms.
Has another single day seen the death of two baseball legends of this magnitude?
The great Earl Weaver has passed.
Earl Weaver, the fiery Hall of Fame manager who won 1,480 games with theBaltimore Orioles, has died, the team says. He was 82.
Weaver was traveling on an Orioles fantasy cruise in the Caribbean when he collapsed in his room with wife, Maryanne, at his side on the cruise’s ship at about 2 a.m. Saturday, the New York Daily News reported.
Weaver never regained consciousness, the report said.
Apologies for so many of these; wrapping up the book (again), article proofs, consulting work, etc. But you remain my Nth love…
If all goes well, SEK and I will record the inaugural LGM podcast tonight, for publication sometime next week. If all goes well…
I have some thoughts on the diffusion of anti-access military technology over at The Diplomat
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union had a strong political incentive to maximize diffusion of its military capabilities. Proxies with Soviet technology could fight the United States and its proxies on their own. Consequently, states from North Korea to Vietnam to Cuba to Syria, Iraq, and Egypt gained access to the many of the most advanced Soviet fighter, submarine, and missile systems. Often, these systems overwhelmed the capacity of recipients, with buyers lacking the ability to put pilots in planes, sailors in subs, and mechanics in either. Nevertheless, these systems still forced the United States to act cautiously; the combination of a couple Nanuchka class missile boats, some Foxtrot subs, a few MiG-23s and a reasonably sophisticated air defense system could give the US Navy or Air Force a bad day.
Russia doesn’t see much of an upside in this kind of diffusion today. States get the equipment they can pay for, without political subsidy . China has displayed little interest in developing proxy relationships of the type seen in the Cold War. Moreover, few states have an interest in devoting resources and attention to making life difficult for a superpower. Still, given the rapidly advancing capabilities of China’s anti-access forces, questions of diffusion and proliferation bear consideration.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly will be the new coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, league sources told ESPN.
Kelly re-emerged as a candidate recently and an agreement was just reached Wednesday.
The Eagles had interviewed Kelly early in its search for a replacement for longtime coach Andy Reid, talking to the coach in Arizona after the Ducks’ 35-17 Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State.
But sources had told ESPN after the meeting that Kelly had decided to stay at Oregon. The school never made an official announcement regarding Kelly’s employment with the team, however.
Jesus. Does this mean I have to cheer for the fucking Eagles?
On this week’s episode of Foreign Entanglements, Justin Logan and I talked retrenchment: