While many detractors of the LRSO dismiss the warfighting capabilities of the nation’s nuclear weapons, it is their ability to strike targets—regardless of where they are or how an adversary has sought to protect against them—that makes deterrence credible. To suggest that nuclear weapons are political weapons and therefore not required to destroy the wide range of heavily defended, buried and hardened targets only undermines American credibility in the minds of America’s adversaries.
With the United States facing the prospect of modernizing all three legs of the nuclear triad over the next twenty years, long-time advocates of cutting the nuclear force to minimal levels see an opportunity to make significant gains in the reduction of both nuclear warheads and delivery systems. Our adversaries do not see such efforts as an attempt to make the world a safer place, nor do they see these efforts as reducing instability. They see it as weakness and a lack of resolve—nothing more. As Donald Rumsfeld once said, “weakness is provocative.”
Adam Lowther is Director of the School for Advanced Nuclear Deterrence Studies. Major Allen Agnes is a Student at SANDS and a B-52 radar navigator. The views expressed in this article are their own and do not represent the opinions of the U.S. government.
Image: A Long Range Anti-Ship Missile launches from an Air Force B-1B Lancer. Wikimedia Commons/DARPA