Wasting Defense Dollars on a Purposeless Bomb

On the radar: No military capability, no deterrence, $10 billion; missile defense spending; NDAA roundup; Defending tax dollars; Iran’s “election”; Pakistan’s transition; and Missileers come off the bench.

June 6, 2013 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke

”The nuclear bomb we don’t need” - “In today's Europe, tactical nuclear weapons make no sense,” writes Steve Andreasen in The LA Times. Despite this, the U.S. is set to spend over $10 billion on the a tactical nuclear bomb whose military rationale evaporated when the Cold War ended.

--”Wouldn't it be more reassuring and wiser burden-sharing to spend this money on weapons and capabilities that are relevant to the threats NATO faces today? Indeed, why would allies be reassured by an investment that provides no real military capability and no modicum of deterrence beyond that already provided by the U.S., Britain and France, each of which has nuclear arsenals capable of obliterating any adversary?” asks Andreasen.

--”If Americans understood that their government plans to spend about the same amount of money this year, $537 million, on the B61 bomb as it will spend on Alzheimer's research, while financing nearly three-quarters of NATO's military spending, the B61 would deservedly become a dead man walking.” Full article here. http://lat.ms/17r0wfY

Waste watch - The House Armed Services Committee added funds for more ground-based missile defense interceptors and an East Coast missile defense site in its markup of the defense authorization bill.

--Problems: The current version of the ground-based interceptor is so flawed that the National Academy of Sciences said it needs to be completely redesigned. Also, the Missile Defense Agency said it does not need money for an East Coast site, while independent experts note that such a site would not add any defensive capability. Laura Grego at All Things Nuclear has the analysis. http://bit.ly/11GREuj

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NDAA Roundup - The House Armed Services Committee completed its markup of its defense authorization bill a little after 2:00am this morning. We’ll report back later with a more complete list of what happened with the bill. Here is a compilation of stories posted in the wee hours last night.

--East Coast site: The committee passed a Republican proposal - after a 33-27 vote and a “rousing partisan debate” - to green light a controversial East Coast missile defense site and make it operational in fiscal year 2018.

--“The amendment does not approve a specific funding level for the project, but it does order the Missile Defense Agency to deliver Congress a report that includes ‘a description of the current estimate of the funding to be required for construction and deployment of the missile defense site, including for advance procurement, engineering and design, materials and construction, interceptor missiles, and sensors.’” John Bennett at Defense News reports. http://bit.ly/10SJm6Z

--HASC Dems: ”If we are to protect America and its allies by confronting and defeating the enemies of today, we must invest in the weapons of today and strengthen regional and strategic stability, not cling to the Cold War arms races of the past,” write Democrats on the committee. Last night, democratic members sought to remove excess spending on nuclear weapons, an East Coast missile defense site, and missile defense interceptors. Press statement here. http://t.co/tq7fTc30OZ

--MEADS: The committee passed by voice vote an amendment that would prevent funding the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), a failed missile defense program that Congress has been trying to kill for years. Jeremy Herb in The Hill has the story. http://bit.ly/11ukguX

--”Fact Sheet: H.R. 1960 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014” from the HASC. (pdf) http://1.usa.gov/15N138P

Tweet - @nukes_of_hazard: Administration will surely recommend veto of NDAA if it includes GOP strat forces amendments currently being added to bill #fy14ndaa.

Defending taxpayers - “Taxpayers are not only saddled with items the Department of Defense doesn’t need, they are also footing the bill for systems the services don’t even want,” according to a new report by the National Taxpayers Union and the R Street Institute. The U.S. could save $385.8 billion by scaling back weapons programs.

--Ten-year savings from select spending cuts: End Ground-Based Midcourse Missile Defense program ($4.7 billion); Reduce nuclear weapons force structure ($79 billion); Require NATO to share in costs for B61 nuclear bombs in Europe ($2.1 billion); Cut four submarines from next generation fleet ($18 billion); Defer next generation bomber ($6.3 billion). Full report here. (pdf) http://bit.ly/18RdSQv

Iran’s (s)election - “Iran’s 2013 Presidential Election: Its Meaning and Implications.” New report from Alireza Nader at RAND.

--Conclusion: “The Iranian regime seeks to produce a 2013 election that at least appears to be popular and legitimate; but more importantly, Khamenei desires a president who will act as his prime minister, rather than as an independent power....This has resulted in what appears to be a presidential selection rather than an election. The Iranian people will largely serve as spectators.” Full report here. (pdf) http://bit.ly/14zZuI0

Pakistan’s democratic transition - “Pakistan is at a crossroads, says Bruce Riedel, an expert on South Asia and career U.S. intelligence officer. Although the country's ‘internal security situation is grim,’ he says that the inauguration of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister--the first time that two Pakistani civilian governments have succeeded each other peacefully--is an encouraging milestone.” Riedel explains the situation in Pakistan in an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations. http://on.cfr.org/11mTelY

Missile morale - Ten of the 19 missileers that were benched due to failed readiness inspections have been recertified and are able to return to duty, with the remaining officers expected to return in June. Meanwhile, Air Force leaders increasingly focus on workplace stressors for Airmen responsible for the nuclear mission, says an Air Force press release.

--An AP story yesterday said that an unpublished RAND study detailed morale problems within the ICBM force. The press release provides some background: “RAND's study is not finalized; however, initial findings validate that the alert mission compounded with workplace stressors impact the quality of life for those Airmen responsible for the nuclear deterrence mission.” Full post here. http://1.usa.gov/13cxPxr

IAEA meeting - ”Iran Nuclear Issue May Be Deferred at IAEA Meeting” by jonathan Tirone of Bloomberg. http://bloom.bg/12uiY6p


--”Ballistic Missile Defense- Technical, Strategic and Arms Control Challenges.” Discussion with Phil Coyle, George Lewis, Bruce MacDonald, Pierce Corden, and Charles Ferguson to moderate. June 6th from 4:45-7:00pm at AAAS, reception to follow. Details here. http://bit.ly/188gZ90

--”The Future of U.S.-Pakistan Relations,” Robert Lamb and Sadika Hameed. June 7 10:00 am- 12:00 pm @ CSIS 5th floor Conference Room.

--June 10th is the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s commencement address at American University, where he called for banning nuclear testing. http://bit.ly/18J6Ugk

--”The Implications of the NPT Regime for Nonproliferation.” Speech by Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman. June 18, 9:00 am @ Elliott School of International Affairs. RSVP and details here. http://owl.li/lH9Ks