Of Triads and Budget Trims

While Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, does not see changes coming to the structure of the US nuclear deterrent anytime soon, there is potential in the years ahead to find savings in the nuclear force structure. “I don’t see us eliminating any leg of the triad,” he told reporters Thursday during a meeting in Washington, D.C. He added, “I think it’s more a matter of finding savings.” The United States has “a lot” of nuclear warheads, and Smith believes there are enough to meet the deterrent mission even with forthcoming reductions under the New START agreement with Russia. As for the modernization funds promised by the White House to the Senate in return for New START’s passage, Smith indicated he believes those funds are up for debate. “I think we need to do modernization,” he said. He continued, “Do we need to do it at the full amount of money that was discussed in the course of getting the START treaty passed? I don’t know.” The triad consists of ICBMs, heavy bombers, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.