Issue Briefs

How To Defend America Against A Russian Nuclear Attack (From RealClearDefense)

How To Defend America Against A Russian Nuclear Attack (From RealClearDefense)

Loren B. Thompson

March 8th, 2022

The conventional wisdom among nuclear experts has long held that defense against a large-scale nuclear attack is not feasible. Nuclear warheads are so destructive that anything less than a perfect defense probably isn’t worth the effort–and no defense is perfect. However, Russia’s repeated nuclear threats since the Ukraine crisis suggest that the West may have no choice but to try defending itself, otherwise it could be coerced over and over again in the future. With regard to defending the U.S. homeland, five principles are essential. First, the defense must be layered. Second, the defense must be resilient. Third, the defense must have a cost advantage over the offense. Fourth, the defense must rely on directed energy for much of its interception capability. Fifth, the defense must mesh with an offensive deterrent, meaning the two components of the posture should be complementary. I have written a commentary here.

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