Intercontinental ballistic missiles housed in hardened underground silos are a vital part of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. They are cheaper to maintain and more responsive in a crisis than the submarine-launched missiles and bombers that comprise the rest of the strategic force. At least, that’s what the Pentagon’s most recent nuclear posture review found.
However, the 400 Minuteman III ICBMs in the current force are 50 years old, and not expected to be reliable beyond 2030. The Air Force has done an admirable job of keeping the missiles in a high state of readiness, but they need to be replaced. With that goal in mind, the service launched a program called the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) to develop a successor.
The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the author.
|Loren B. Thompson is a Senior Adviser at GPI, Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University.