It is an obligation of the Congress to make sure that the United States will focus more on preservation of its strategic triad, especially its submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Maintaining the triad has been essential to the efficacy of the U.S. strategic deterrent for decades. A healthy solid rocket motor industrial base is the bedrock for the U.S. ICBM and SLBM force. For all these reasons, it would be wise for the Senate to consider an amendment to require the Obama Administration to submit a roadmap for preserving the nation’s solid rocket motors industrial base prior to the ratification and entry into force of New START, a bilateral arms control agreement with Russia.
The U.S. solid rocket industrial base is being jeopardized—in part by the lack of commitment on the part of the Obama Administration to modernize the strategic missile forces of the U.S. This uncertainty stems from a lack of clarity with regard to future plans to develop nuclear and non-nuclear strategic weapons, the latter of which are referred to as Prompt Global Strike. The average age of a Minuteman III ICBM is 40 years, and the average age of Trident II D-5 SLBM is 20 years. It is imperative for the Congress to maintain effective strategic missile forces indefinitely.
In addition, being the most dependent on the use of space, the U.S. needs to preserve its military, civilian, and commercial space capabilities. Among other steps, the need to develop, acquire, and operate space systems to support national security, ensure the survivable national security space systems and networks, reinvigorate the national security space industrial base, improve “mission assurance” for national security space, develop “space situational awareness” capabilities, and respond to changes in the threat environment is essential.
Accordingly, the Senate should consider an amendment to the resolution of ratification to New START. Such an amendment would require the Obama Administration to produce a roadmap outlining the production of SLBMs and ICBMs, which comprise two-thirds of the U.S. strategic triad, in a way that preserves the U.S. solid rocket industrial base.