US Strategic Strike Skills Are Fading, DSB Warns

The U.S. military faces an erosion of the skills that it needs to develop and maintain strategic nuclear and non-nuclear strike forces, according to a new study (pdf) by the Defense Science Board (DSB).

“It appears that a serious loss of certain critical strategic strike skills may occur within the next decade” as senior design and operations personnel retire, the DSB study said.

“The strategic strike area most at risk today is ballistic missiles: Current skills may not be able to cope with unanticipated failures requiring analysis, testing, and redesign.”

“Design skills are rapidly disappearing, both for major redesigns of current systems and for the design of new strategic systems.”

“DoD and industry have difficulty attracting and retaining the best and brightest students to the science and engineering disciplines relevant to maintaining current and future strategic strike capabilities,” according to the DSB.

These findings are elaborated in the 89 page report with respect to ballistic missiles, bombers and other strategic strike platforms and systems.

See “Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Future Strategic Strike Skills,” March 2006 (1.9 MB PDF).

This document was password-protected by DSB so as to prevent copying or printing of the report.

Update: Thanks to F, the report is now available in unencrypted format, and can be freely copied and printed.

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