In contrast, the Obama administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review involves another 20-year moratorium on significant strategic-force modernization. The Obama administration claims it is sustaining “robust” nuclear capabilities, but “sustainment” means little more than maintaining functionality, which does not equate to effective deterrence against Russia or China. If we take the Obama program at face value, in 2030 we will have 60-year-old ICBMs, 40-year-old submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and 35- to 70-year-old bombers. The earliest possible follow-up to the Minuteman ICBM is in 2030. A Trident SLBM replacement is not projected until 2042. While the Obama administration pays lip service to deterrence, including extending deterrence to our allies, the effectiveness of every element of the U.S. nuclear deterrent will decline over the next 20 years. Worse still, in 2008, the Defense Science Board concluded that “industrial base skills . . . are in danger of significant further erosion in the areas of ballistic missiles.” The Obama administration’s termination of NASA’s Aries space-booster program makes this situation worse.
Putin’s Russia believes it is a “great power,” has a 19th-century worldview, regards the U.S. as the enemy, and is paranoid. It has about 2 percent of the world’s GNP, and yet has more nuclear weapons than the rest of the world combined. When Russia does not get its way, its leaders resort to blatant nuclear threats. Pres. Dmitry Medvedev’s threat of a “real arms race” after 2020 if Russia does not get its way on missile defense should not be ignored. The Russians are not ten feet tall, but they see themselves that way. And we are deliberately weakening our defenses.
— Mark B. Schneider, a senior analyst at the National Institute for Public Policy, served until 2011 in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.