Distributed Deterrence: The Continuing Utility of ICBMs

Like its three predecessors, the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review reaffirmed the need for the nuclear triad of bombers, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Now comes the hard part.

With the authorization and appropriation cycle for fiscal 2020 now underway, the United States is moving closer to the coming bow wave of modernization efforts necessary to recapitalize it. During the post-Cold War period, when the U.S. faced few real challenges to its military superiority, it was easy to be lax on conventional and nuclear modernization alike, first while taking the peace dividend and then later while focused on counterterrorism.

Geopolitical rivalry is back, and with it a renewed need to steward nuclear deterrence — what former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called the bedrock of American national security.

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