US Defense officials plead for modernization for aging nuclear deterrents

Minuteman launching from Vandenberg

Minuteman launching from Vandenberg


The US military is realizing that it aging nuclear missiles are eroding its credibility:

February 27, 2016

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — In describing how little room the Pentagon has to extend the life of its decades-old nuclear forces, the top U.S. nuclear war-fighting commander, Navy Adm. Cecil Haney, says “we’re at the brick wall stage.”

Time to begin modernizing the country’s nuclear weapons is running short, he and other Pentagon leaders say. They contend the force is still in fighting shape – “safe, reliable and effective” is the official mantra. But they also argue the time has come to begin modernizing the force or risk eroding its credibility as a deterrent to attack by others.

Robert Work, the deputy secretary of defense, said the Pentagon will need an estimated $18 billion a year between 2021 and 2035 to modernize the three “legs” of the U.S. nuclear triad – weapons capable of being launched from land, sea and air.

“We need to replace these,” Work said. “We can’t delay this anymore.”

The enormous sums needed are at risk of getting squeezed by high-priority requirements for non-nuclear, conventional weapons. And Work’s numbers don’t include the billions that would be needed to modernize the nuclear warheads on the business end of missiles and bombs.

“Modernization now is not an option” – it must happen, Haney, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said in an interview on Friday, just hours after watching a test launch of an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM. The Minuteman, which has been on constant 24-hour alert since 1970, has long surpassed its 10-year life expectancy.

Haney said the U.S. stockpile of nuclear warheads is the oldest it has ever been. As head of Strategic Command he is the military’s top nuclear war-fighter.

“We have to realize we can’t extend things forever,” Haney said, noting that the Navy is planning to replace its aging Ohio-class ballistic nuclear missile submarines, while the Air Force intends to build a new nuclear-capable bomber to replace the B-52.

So, it looks like some in the defense world believe that the 2021 and 2035 time period is critical.  This suggests a perceived vulnerability to attack during those years.

As far as the Minuteman program goes, the US military has been launching Minuteman missiles from Vandenberg for decades.  According to something I heard on the radio yesterday, two were launched and tested this month. They test them to see how well they work, and apparently some US military officials have doubts about them, even after these recent tests.

Here is some information on the history of the Minuteman missile:

Development of the Minuteman began in the mid-1950s as the outgrowth of basic research into solid fuel rocket motors which indicated an ICBM based on solids was possible. …

Minuteman entered service in 1962 as a weapon tasked primarily with the deterrence role, threatening Soviet cities with a counterattack if the US was attacked. … The Minuteman-II entered service in 1965 with a host of upgrades to improve its accuracy and survivability in the face of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system the Soviets were known to be developing. Minuteman-III followed in 1970, using three smaller warheads instead of one large one, which made it very difficult to attack by an anti-ballistic missile system which would have to hit all three widely separated warheads to be effective.

Peaking at 1000 missiles in the 1970s, the current US force consists of 450 Minuteman-III missiles in missile silos around Malmstrom AFB, Montana; Minot AFB, North Dakota; and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. By 2018 this will be reduced to 400 armed missiles, with 50 unarmed missiles in reserve, and four non-deployed test launchers to comply with the New START treaty. The Air Force plans to keep the missile in service until at least 2030. (LGM-30 Minuteman. Wikipedia, accessed 02/27/16)

Much of the USA’s nuclear deterrent is aging.  And the Minuteman is clearly one component that is.

Many think that the military of the USA is too strong to ever be beat militarily. Those who place their trust in that notion are 0verlooking scripture as well as what has been happening the past several years.

A couple of years ago, the US Army announced that it would cut its forces to pre-World War II levels (US Army plans to shrink to pre-WWII levels).

Several years ago, the US Air Force announced major cuts last year (Budget cuts to ground 1/3 of US Air Force); as did the US Navy (Pentagon concerned about additional looming defense cuts–prophetic ramifications?).

About three years ago, the US Army removed all of it tanks from Germany (There are no longer USA tanks in Germany: Do Americans understand this is a serious risk?). This helps put the USA in a situation that it simply will not be able to effectively react if European forces attack.

The Europeans are not comfortable standing by as the USA slowly diverts military protection away from them, while it also cuts the size of its military.

The ‘social experiments’ happening in the US military are also another risk that many have overlooked (Sexual corruption at the US military academies). This is a risk that even with the ‘right’ equipment, those involved with it may not act as defense officials will want them to in a real military emergency–character counts.

The current concern that defense officials have is money. The Obama Administration has ‘kicked the can’ down the road the past seven years, as I taught back in 2009 it would do:

“Because of domestic economic concerns and international pressures, Barack Obama is shifting priorities away from defense spending… This will help lead to the destruction of the United States, when the Europeans are ready and the U.S.A. is not” (Thiel B. 2012 and the Rise of the Secret Sect. Nazarene Books, 2009, p. 147).

Here is something I posted on this page about two years ago:

While the USA will do some modernization, it has so many political considerations (including economic) when it makes defense spending decisions that optimal defense capabilities are not always the top priority (often getting or keeping defense-related jobs in certain areas plays a major role).  The essentially bankrupt USA cannot really afford to be on top militarily and its political system will likely contribute to it making the wrong decisions for its next major war.  The USA’s recent focus on terrorism seems to have gotten it to overlook who its future enemies will be.  Thus, the USA will likely modernize the wrong aspects of its defenses. (Thiel B.After START Treaty, Russia Announces New Military Build-Up. February 24,  2011)

The USA still has those problems. We are getting closer to World War III (see World War III: Steps in Progress), and the USA will NOT win then.

Notice that the Bible shows that the power with the strongest military will be taken over:

39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain. (Daniel 11:39)

The ‘He’ above is the European King of the North. In the 21st century, the USA is the power with the strongest fortresses.

Many still do not accept what scripture teaches on this, but biblical prophecy will be fulfilled.

The USA, itself, tends to be focusing on how to deal with China and Russia and Middle East terrorists, which is part of why it will not see what is happening in Europe. The current world order dominated by the USA, and formerly by the UK is being changed. The Bible shows that the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) is getting nearer–and that will greatly affect the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand which have descendants from Jacob also known as Israel. The Bible also tells of the final time of the Gentiles. (Luke 21:23-24; Revelation 11:2), which means the time when the descendants of Israel will no longer dominate the world scene.

We are getting closer to that time (see also When Will the Great Tribulation Begin?).

It may well happen in the 2021 and 2035 time period Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work pointed to as enemies tend to strike when they perceive a power is most vulnerable.

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