Trump Administration Nuclear Posture Review A Strategic Triumph
The Trump administration Nuclear Posture Review has finally given the long-overdue strategic guidance to deter Putin’s Russia in Europe, China in the South China Sea and Indian sub-continent, Iran in the Middle East, and North Korea.
The return of the nuclear-tipped, Sea Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) to the US strategic deterrent will send shock waves through the military high commands of America’s great power strategic competitors, and its rogue state opponents, not felt since the recall of nuclear-armed Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles (LACM) in 2010-2013. When coupled with the threatened new "low-yield" option on the Trident Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), the new nuclear-tipped, SLCM would provide both a match in capability to Russian weapons in the SS-26 Iskander-M Short Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM) system and its cruise missile variant and Russia’s warfighting strategy to escalate to victory in a limited preemptive nuclear strike to deescalate from a full-scale nuclear war. The Iskander series missiles, key to that warfighting strategy, are allegedly just under the threshold for theater-level nuclear weapons in Europe restricted by the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) of 1987. The INF Treaty excluded or prohibited weapons with ranges of between 500-5500 kilometers. But many observers, including the US and NATO, believe that the Russians are hiding the true range of the Iskander series missiles, and that they are cheating on their INF Treaty commitments. Russia has moved the Iskander system into its militarized Kaliningrad Oblast on the Baltic Sea sandwiched between Poland to the south and Lithuania to the north and east. The deployment of Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad Oblast also suggest that Russia is serious about taking on the West in Poland and the Baltic States and prepared to cheat on fundamental arms treaties to do so.
The new US nuclear posture once operationalized will enhance deterrence in the face of Russian ‘coloring outside the lines’ by countering Vladimir Putin on cheating and defeating/negating his warfighting strategy The Trident “low-yield” and nuclear-armed SLCM will give Russia pause to reconsider its own deployments of theatre level nuclear weapons and a return to INF Treaty compliance. The return of US SLCM with nuclear warheads may be just the leverage that America needs to force the Russians into INF Treaty compliance by forcing Vladimir Putin to choose between his banned-nuclear weapons and the return presence of US theatre level weapons to the coast of Europe and beyond. The deployment of the new US nuclear weapons systems would serve as a counter-point to Russia’s warfighting strategy to escalate to victory in a limited nuclear pre-emptive strike to deescalate from a full-scale nuclear war by putting forward the same first strike preemptive strike weapons. In short, the new US Nuclear Posture Review and the deployment of new theatre level nuclear weapons on board ships and submarines will send the Russians a clear message that their warfighting nuclear strategy to escalate to victory and then to descale will be matched missile for missile.
The strategic counter to Russia will also be felt by China, Iran and North Korea with the sure knowledge that the US has both a nuclear warfighting strategic option and weapons to ensure the ultimate defeat of its adversaries short of total nuclear war.
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