Strategic Command: U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Force Still Needed

Prepared statement of ADM Henry G. Chiles Jr., USN, commander in
chief, U.S. Strategic Command, to the Senate Armed Services
Committee, April 20, 1994.

     Mr. Chairman and distinguished senators, it's a pleasure to
join you today to testify as commander in chief of our
22-month-old United States Strategic Command.
     The global security environment remains unsettled. The paths
of the republics of the former Soviet Union toward democratic and
economic reforms are far from straight forward. The resurgence of
ultranationalism within Russia, persistent high inflation and
other difficulties associated with the transition to market-based
reforms are challenges faced by these newly independent states as
they strive to overcome the legacy of a failed Cold War system.
     Moreover, despite the promise afforded by arms control and
associated initiatives, an unavoidable fact remains that Russia,
Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan still possess sizable nuclear
arsenals and sophisticated delivery systems. Although some force
reductions are in progress and agreements have been negotiated
that will transition all but Russia to nonnuclear states, Russian
strategic forces continue to maintain a high state of readiness.
     We are faced also with global and regional threats posed by
the ease of technology acquisition for the manufacture of nuclear
weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Certain leaders
choose to operate outside the norms and conventions of the world
community and pursue dangerous weapons capabilities to further
their political agendas. Today, nuclear weapons could be employed
to threaten entire regions, including U.S. deployed forces. The
international community is currently dealing with a difficult
predicament in North Korea, and the potential exists elsewhere
for similar scenarios.
     Within this context military options in response to major
regional contingencies will be conditioned and possibly
constrained when the adversary possesses credible nuclear weapon
capabilities. Our challenge is to find ways to deter in such an
environment to increase the likelihood of regional peace and
stability. Meanwhile we are working multilaterally and
bilaterally with our key nonnuclear allies to ensure they
understand our deterrence guarantees, thereby obviating the need
for their development of nuclear weapons.

Deterrence Evolving
     In this regard, nuclear deterrence is a concept that is
continuing to evolve to meet changing world conditions. While the
Cold War has ended, the deterrence paradigm and associated
stability measures that worked for 40 years provide useful
starting points to chart the course of this evolution. We must
proceed thoughtfully. Otherwise we risk overlooking or
misapplying deterrent and stability measures that foster regional
     Given the current and foreseeable array of threats, the
requirement exists for the United States to maintain its nuclear
deterrent force. Our nation cannot continue to deter if it does
not possess a retaliatory capability, the consequences of which a
potential adversary simply cannot afford to ignore.
     STRATCOM is in a unique position to wrestle with the complex
issues involving the future of deterrence and provide well
thought out advice to policy makers. Additionally, STRATCOM's
forces possess the necessary flexibility to allow the tailoring
of deterrent options. Our forces are ready today, and we are
dedicated to maintaining our readiness. 
     The Nuclear Posture Review is tackling the tough questions
involving the future role of nuclear forces, force structure,
operations, safety and surety of nuclear forces. STRATCOM is
actively engaged in this process. While we do not know what the
resultant policy decisions will be, and I do not want to pre-empt
the review's conclusions, I will discuss my concerns relative to
the security environment and today's fiscal realities. I have
grouped these concerns into four categories: nuclear force
restructuring, force posture and upkeep, stockpile stewardship
and people.
     The end of the Cold War, arms control initiatives, mutual
confidence-building measures and fiscal constraints have had a
significant impact on the composition of our nuclear forces.
Expressed in constant FY [fiscal year] 93 dollars, from 1985 to
1994 DoD total obligating authority declined over 33 percent, a
dramatic decline. 
     In comparison, the portion of the overall defense budget
dedicated to nuclear forces declined over 74 percent in FY 93
dollars. The nation is not producing nuclear warheads. There are
no new nuclear weapon or ballistic missile programs on the
drawing boards to replace our current systems. Hence, the systems
we currently have will be the ones fulfilling our nuclear
deterrence requirements well into the future.
     In the arms control arena the United States and Russia are
making progress toward implementing nuclear arms control
agreements that will dramatically reduce the size of both
arsenals. START I [strategic arms reduction talks treaty] has now
been ratified by all concerned parties but has not entered into
force. Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine have started to return
their nuclear weapons to Russia, and Russia is reducing weapons
toward START I limitations. 
     A major breakthrough occurred in January 1994 when the
president of Ukraine [Leonid Kravchuk] agreed to return his
nation's nuclear arsenal to Russia in exchange for financial and
security assurances. Nunn-Lugar legislated funds continue to be
beneficial in aiding the republics of the former Soviet Union
possessing nuclear weapons to dismantle their nuclear arsenals
safely and securely. START II is currently not ratified by any
party. When ratified and in force, it will further substantially
reduce the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons.
     Concurrent with arms control initiatives, significant
progress has been made in bilateral actions designed to
strengthen trust and confidence between the United States and
Russia. The most recent example is the unprecedented detargeting
agreement announced in January by Presidents [Bill] Clinton and
[Boris] Yeltsin that affects both ICBM and SLBM
[submarine-launched ballistic missile] weapons. By May 30th of
this year, ballistic missiles of the United States and the former
Soviet Union will not be aimed at each other, the first such
occasion in 35 years. This sends a powerful message to the
citizens of the United States and former Soviet republics about
the historic new relationship of our nations and our willingness
to seek innovative security solutions. We will, however, retain
the ability to rapidly retarget our forces if so directed by the

Working Relationships
     Two additional actions are working within the security arena
toward increasing post-Cold War mutual trust and confidence.
First, the Partnership for Peace plan provides Central and
Eastern European states, including Russia, a vehicle to build a
security relationship with NATO. Second, the United States and
Russia are actively engaged in the development of relationships
between respective military leaders. For example, Russian Defense
Minister [Pavel] Grachev and [Col.] Gen. [Igor] Sergeyev,
commander in chief of strategic rocket forces, have visited
STRATCOM. More visits of this nature with expanded participation
should occur in the future.
     Confidence-building measures, in conjunction with arms
control progress, improve our opportunity for reducing the threat
of nuclear war while retaining a credible deterrent force to meet
current threats in an austere fiscal environment. However, I
believe they also give us pause to consider the speed with which
we have restructured nuclear forces. ... 
     As always, the future remains inscrutable and difficult to
decipher. Drawdown of our forces too rapidly, for whatever
reason, may foreclose desirable options if events do not unfold
as anticipated. To this end, Strategic Command advocates a robust
nuclear force structure. This facilitates efficient targeting of
dispersed target sets, improved operational flexibility and
targeting options, some potential to upload weapons in the event
of treaty breakout and a force posture for a more efficient
transition to START II implementation. For these reasons the
Triad [bombers and land- and submarine-based missiles] concept
remains appropriate. The complementary strengths of each leg
combine to provide the necessary operational flexibility to
effectively fulfill our charter in the face of an uncertain
     As previously stated, there are no new nuclear weapons
programs and no replacement delivery systems on the drawing board
or expected. Therefore, it is imperative to maintain sufficient
forces for our strategic deterrent capability into the next
century. Sufficiency of forces is being rigorously examined in
the NPR.
     On Oct. 1, 1993, concurrent with the standup of the U.S.
Atlantic Command in its new role as joint force integrator,
combatant command of B-52 and B-1 bombers and  U-2 and RC-135
reconnaissance aircraft was transferred to USACOM. I fully
support this move as it recognizes the dual capability of these
aircraft and their increasing contribution to conventional
warfighting scenarios. I remain confident that if the National
Command Authorities were to direct bombers back to alert status
to increase our deterrent posture, bombers could be generated in
several days if CONUS [continental U.S.]-based or about a week if
forward deployed. These constraints make sense given the current
strategic warning time and the readiness of our ICBMs and SLBMs
to provide a continuous deterrent capability. 
     Today's B-52 and B-1 bomber force provides sufficient
aircraft to fulfill the strategic deterrent mission with some
loading constraints. I do, however, have concerns about future
bomber force adequacy if B-52 numbers are severely reduced. We
are working in the NPR and bomber force structure discussions to
ensure consonance between strategic policy and the forces
available to execute that policy and to promote comprehension of
issues involving the bomber force. 
     In preparation for implementing START II, STRATCOM intends
to retire the Peacekeeper and download 500 remaining Minuteman
IIIs to single-warhead re-entry vehicles by 2003. Minuteman III
is the ICBM force of the future. 
     Life extension investments are necessary for sustainment of
the system through the year 2020. Guidance sets in the Minuteman
missiles are all of 1960s' technology and are becoming
unsupportable. The guidance replacement program (Phase I)
replaces the electronics within the guidance sets and is
essential to maintaining the Minuteman III system on alert and
launch capable. 
     Likewise, the rapid execution and combat targeting program
replaces aging launch control center systems and will provide
rapid message processing, rapid retargeting, improved launch
control center hardening and the software interface necessary to
proceed with the plans for single re-entry vehicle warheads. 
     Finally, Minuteman's three-stage, solid-propellant rocket
motors will reach the end of their service lives shortly after
the turn of the century. Therefore, motor stage washout and
repair or replacement will be necessary. All three efforts are
adequately funded in the president's fiscal year 1995 budget.
     The remaining three Poseidon (Trident I backfit) SSBNs
[nuclear submarines] retired from strategic service on April 1,
1994. Construction of the final four Trident SSBNs will be
completed over the next four years, bringing the Trident force
level to 18 submarines. These modern, stealthy and highly capable
platforms will be the backbone of our strategic deterrent force
for years to come.

Maintaining Deterrent Capability 
     Current funding is sufficient to continue procuring Trident
II D-5 missiles required to support the 10 Atlantic Fleet Trident
II SSBNs. Continued D-5 missile production is necessary to meet
our commitment to the United Kingdom in completing their
strategic submarine modernization program and to preserve all
options associated with backfitting D-5 missiles or maintaining
the present Trident I C-4 missiles in the eight Trident SSBNs of
our Pacific Fleet. Finally, current SSBN force posture requires a
two-ocean, two-crew policy to maintain required operational
capability. The NPR is evaluating these precepts to ensure the
Trident force will remain a viable, safe deterrent force for the
     As we transition to smaller, more flexible forces for
today's security environment, reliable, timely command and
control are essential. Milstar (military strategic and tactical
relay satellite) is clearly a force multiplier and provides the
backbone of the systems that support our forces by assuring
two-way, worldwide, survivable satellite communications. The
program has been completely restructured to emphasize tactical
utility and to eliminate most of the features that made the Cold
War version so expensive.
     Milstar will provide unmatched operational flexibility,
global connectivity and communications on demand at strategic and
tactical levels. It will bring the warfighter assured access, low
probability of intercept, low probability of detection, capacity
to support large numbers of simultaneous users from all services
and freedom from vulnerable ground relay points. These
capabilities make Milstar the only satellite communications
system capable of satisfying critical communications needs of the
warfighting community into the next century.
     STRATCOM is committed to Milstar, and we have started the
transition, in some cases an irreversible transition, from older,
nonsurvivable or nonsupportable systems. For example, the current
Air Force Satellite Communications system will no longer be
capable of supporting our needs beginning in 1996. Milstar has
long been programed to replace the strategic AFSATCOM capability.
Additionally, Milstar provides the best alternative to the Ground
Wave Emergency Network. GWEN was designed to provide survivable
connectivity for time-critical force survival actions. Although
we depend on GWEN to provide critical communication connectivity
now, the current configuration does not meet the required
availability or reliability for our forces. We anticipate
shifting these requirements to Milstar in the 1998-99 time frame
when portable Milstar Extremely High Frequency terminals become
available. Milstar will also provide a more survivable path for
critical tactical warning data. Milstar is strongly envisioned to
be a decisive factor in strategic force readiness while
facilitating theater commander connectivity to forward deployed
units of all services.

Critical Element
     A critical element of STRATCOM's ability to fulfill its
assigned mission is a survivable Integrated Tactical Warning and
Attack Assessment system. The Defense Support Program is our
primary system for space-based early warning and is expected to
meet this requirement until 2004-2005. USSPACECOM [U.S. Space
Command] is initiating requirement definition of a future early
warning system to replace DSP. We expect the follow-on system to
be fielded without incurring gaps in our worldwide ballistic
missile detection and warning capability. Additional elements of
our ballistic missile detection and warning system are the
ground-based radar systems such as the Perimeter Acquisition
Vehicle Entry Phased Array Warning System. Your continued support
for these systems is appreciated.
     Low frequency and very low frequency communication systems
provide required independent and survivable connectivity with our
nuclear forces. The Fixed Submarine Broadcast System meets the
minimum acceptable ballistic missile submarine connectivity
requirements for day-to-day and crisis scenarios. FSBS must be
modernized and sufficient sites maintained to assure we can
communicate with forces when survivability and mission success
require covertness. Currently, adequate funds are programed to
modernize the FSBS. We are conducting studies to ensure that the
FSBS is the right size to adequately support our needs.

ELF System Essential 
     Finally, extremely low frequency continues to be an
essential communications system to support our strategic and
tactical submarine forces. The ELF system is the only system
capable of providing continuous communications to submarines
operating at designed depths and speeds. Without ELF, strategic
submarines would be limited to operations at much slower speeds
and at significantly shallower depths, severely restricting
maneuverability and training. Similarly, attack submarines
operating in support of battle group commanders would be
restricted without the connectivity provided by ELF. ELF clearly
provides a dimension of operational flexibility not otherwise
available and is adequately funded in the president's fiscal year
1995 budget.
     Consolidation of the EC-135 Airborne National Command Post
mission onboard Navy TACAMO [for "Take Charge and Move Out,"
nickname for communications relay aircraft] aircraft will sustain
readiness while achieving personnel and fiscal savings. When
completed in 1999, the ABNCP mission will reside on a new, more
flexible platform with enhanced warfighting capability through
consolidation of communications systems, airborne launch
capability for ICBMs, and SSBN force direction and force
execution capability. Utility of TACAMO aircraft will be further
enhanced through a planned block upgrade program that replaces
aging LF/VLF transmitters with solid state High Powered Transmit
Sets to improve strategic force connectivity. The increased
reliability provided by HPTS will enable us to efficiently cover
our alert TACAMO requirements. Additionally, the upgrade installs
the Milstar terminal and Global Positioning System on TACAMO
aircraft, making it an extremely capable command and control
     The U-2 needs a new engine for continued strategic
reconnaissance mission performance. During the past 10 years
overhaul costs of the U-2 engine have doubled and engineering
support has increased seven-fold. A program to re-engine the
entire U-2 fleet is ongoing and is adequately funded.
     A credible deterrent force posture necessitates flexible war
planning commensurate with timely and effective force employment.
Ironically, the end of the Cold War compounded the planning
challenge for several reasons. First, the intelligence community
had to broaden its emphasis from the predictable Soviet threat to
taking a more global focus to identify evolving threats,
including those posed by the proliferation of WMD [weapons of
mass destruction]. Second, national planning guidance changed to
accommodate dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union.
Lastly, the U.S. strategic nuclear force structure diminished
significantly through arms control and budgetary constraints. As
a result, we need to be ready to respond rapidly to unplanned
situations as they emerge.
     In this changed environment, STRATCOM can no longer rely on
a Cold War SIOP [single integrated operations plan] that takes 18
months to build. Instead, STRATCOM is developing an adaptive
planning process to produce a variety of options for crisis
response. The goal is greater adaptability and responsiveness to
reduce the time necessary to provide the president with viable
options. Hence, STRATCOM is modernizing the Strategic War
Planning System with hardware and software upgrades. When
completed by 1999, this system will enable STRATCOM to plan force
employment options more rapidly in response to global
contingencies while reducing system operating costs and personnel
     STRATCOM's Joint Intelligence Center is an integral
component of the adaptive planning process. The center's
intelligence personnel survey the globe to analyze current
threats and to identify emerging ones that could threaten our
nation's vital interests. Despite dramatic resource reductions,
this world-class center has sustained its production quality
while enhancing its communications and automated data processing
interconnectivity. Current funding is adequate. However,
additional cuts will degrade intelligence production capability.
     In addition to SIOP planning, STRATCOM has been tasked to
extend its resident planning expertise in a supporting role to
geographic unified commanders for the contingency planning of
theater nuclear forces. Systems and procedures to accomplish this
task have been developed, and planning coordination with regional
commanders has begun.

Unique Expertise
     The adaptive and theater nuclear force planning tasks
mentioned above underscore STRATCOM's unique expertise in
fulfilling its deterrent mission. These actions, coupled with the
command's operational perspective and intelligence capabilities,
illustrate STRATCOM's ability to serve as the centralized
planning and control headquarters for the nation's strategic
forces. In a supporting role, STRATCOM will provide its planning
expertise to assist geographic unified commanders when required. 
     In addition to the specific programs mentioned above, there
are some overarching considerations regarding the nuclear
stockpile that could ultimately affect the readiness of our
nuclear forces. Two key issues are continued support for the
nuclear weapon stockpile and maintaining a high level of
confidence in the safety, reliability and performance
characteristics of our nuclear weapons under the conditions of a
comprehensive test ban.
     The Department of Energy is in the process of downsizing the
nuclear weapons complex. The issues surrounding reconfiguration
of the nuclear weapons complex are difficult, but the capability
to provide critical support materials processing and
manufacturing must be maintained. With the cessation of nuclear
weapons development and production, it is likely that some
nuclear weapons in the inventory will be retained beyond the
planned service life.
     DoD and DOE are working together to implement a
science-based stockpile stewardship plan. This plan is based upon
previous nuclear test data, nuclear effect simulators, nonnuclear
testing and application of computer and simulation modeling to
replicate existing weapons and confirm performance. There are
some significant technical challenges and long lead-time items
associated with the Stockpile Stewardship Plan. This plan offers
the best hope to maintain an acceptable level of confidence in
our nuclear weapons without the ability to carry out nuclear
     The caliber of people in the armed forces ultimately
determines our ability to deter. Deterrence theories are only
visions without the hard work of many dedicated individuals.
Personnel at STRATCOM headquarters and those manning our ICBM
force, flying our aircraft and operating our SSBNs come from a
wide variety of backgrounds. They are talented and demonstrate a
high degree of expertise, competence and comprehension of our
mission. Motivated to serve our country through good times and
bad, their loyalty is inspiring. To maintain our robust force it
is crucial that we support these superior individuals while
working to reduce the considerable anxieties associated with the
downsizing of our military. 
     Lastly, we must recognize that their day-to-day sacrifices
in the performance of their duties also affect their families. We
must continue to support families with the requisite programs
that reassure our servicemen and women that their loved ones are
cared for during periods of absence. I ask for your continued
support for these dedicated patriots; they are a national
     In conclusion, I believe the future holds many challenges to
the continued peace and security of our nation and allies. Hence
it is imperative to provide our National Command Authorities the
ability to dynamically exercise American leadership in the
evolving, post-Cold War world from a position of well-respected
strategic strength.
     I envision difficult issues in balancing the requirements of
arms control and confidence-building initiatives within an
environment of fiscal constraints to meet policy and force
planning guidance. Nonetheless, I am heartened by our
extraordinary men and women and their demonstrated commitment
under adversity to sustaining our strategic capabilities to
fulfill our charter of deterring major military attack on the
United States and its allies.

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