FCNL has begun publishing a series of papers outlining the arguments against building a new intercontinental ballistic missile force. The papers are intended to help congressional offices understand the risks and costs of the new system and to consider alternatives.
At the heart of this program is the replacement of the country’s arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with a new Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD). This program is expected to cost around $260 billion over its lifecycle.
The papers are intended to help congressional offices understand the risks and costs of the new system and to consider alternatives.
“Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Is a Poor Use of Tax Dollars” reports that the GBSD program is “wasteful, expensive, and unnecessary.” The program could cost more than nine times Operation Warp Speed, which brought us COVID-19 vaccines. If invested in meeting other needs, the overall budget for nuclear weapons modernization can create millions of jobs. “GBSD is not a national priority and will not make Americans more secure,” the paper concludes.
“Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles Increase the Risk of Nuclear War” warns that all nuclear weapons kills indiscriminately and could end life on earth. The U.S. ICBM force consists of more than 400 nuclear weapons, each one many times more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.
Since these missiles have to be launched within minutes, they are constantly kept on high alert. It leaves very little room for error, but errors have occurred. In 2018, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency took 38 minutes to correct a false alert.
“Alternatives to Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles” stresses that there are alternatives to ICBMs, which are housed in silos spread across Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska. Advances in Russian missile technology have ensured that these 50-year-old silos will not survive a massive attack.
The nature of war today has changed, and potential enemies have demonstrated cyberwarfare and supply chain attack capabilities—challenges that the ICBM arsenal was not designed to address.
“There are cheaper and more effective ways to address the real security challenges America faces without escalating nuclear risks,” writes Diana Ohlbaum, FCNL senior strategist and foreign policy director, in an overview to the papers.
All three papers, intended primarily for congressional staff, can be downloaded from www.fcnl.org/gbsd. Advocates are encouraged to read these papers and share them with their members of Congress.