Only Trump can restore America's ability to win a nuclear war

Only Trump can restore America's ability to win a nuclear war
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When the Cold War ended in 1991, America made an unwise decision. No enemies were in sight, so our leaders — with the strong concurrence of the American people — decided it was safe to dismantle much of the superb nuclear weapons capability that had won that half-century of poised armageddon.

Ongoing nuclear programs were stopped. Budgets were cut. New nuclear capabilities were prohibited by law. A presidential moratorium denied underground nuclear testing. No research into advanced nuclear technology was allowed. Essentially, America went into an unannounced a nuclear freeze, and we have progressively increased its restrictions and denials for a quarter-century.

As a result we have lost most of our essential nuclear weapons capabilities. All of our nuclear weapons are far beyond the end of their design lives. Not one has been tested for over 25 years to make sure they still work. Designed for the nuclear threat of a past century, our much-reduced nuclear stockpile is unable to deter most of the nuclear threats we face today.

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But that’s only the beginning. The nuclear weapons world is a world of science! And science has been e has been the principal target of the cutbacks and rejections.

 

Mankind’s immense technological advances in the last few centuries have resulted from application of the “scientific method,” which focuses upon experimentation and testing. If you deny testing, you deny science, and if you deny science, you deny progress. Our leaders — following the mistaken idea that nuclear weapons are evil — wished to deny their progress; thus their top-priority goal has been to prevent nuclear weapons testing.

America’s nuclear weapons capability is divided between the Departments of Energy and Defense. DOE focuses upon the science of the nuclear reaction itself, exploring what’s possible, and how it can be used. It then designs, tests, and produces nuclear weapons.

DOD concentrates on the military science of nuclear weapons effects. Offensively, DOD establishes the requirements for each of America’s nuclear weapons, working with DOE to determine, through underground nuclear tests, the ways this massive energy release can best be shaped to destroy each type of target.

Defensively, DOD conducts underground nuclear tests to expose every U.S. weapons system — conventional and nuclear — to nuclear detonations. Each new weapons system is born with its own unique vulnerabilities to nuclear weapons effects. These can be found and eliminated only through repeated cycles of testing and fixing. Our weapons systems must be made survivable against weapon effects.

Based on this underground nuclear testing, DOD is then able to develop the offensive and defensive strategies and tactics needed to fight and win on nuclear battlefields.

For an entire generation, neither DOE nor DOD has been allowed to conduct a nuclear test. Today, America has lost the capability to fight nuclear war. DOE’s scientists, designers, engineers, testers, and production managers have no experience in their professions. Our nation’s policies have denied them the scientific practice needed in this exacting business. With testing denied, the leaders have been unable to teach and newcomers have been unable to learn. Their collective judgment is simply not to be trusted. And scientific quality has declined. World-class young scientists don’t rush to become curators in a nuclear museum.

In DOD the situation is even worse. With the exception of the strategic deterrent, DOD has been essentially de-nuclearized. The essential military science of nuclear weapons effects is virtually unknown throughout DOD. The Defense Nuclear Agency, our national laboratory for nuclear weapons effects, was closed 20 years ago. The thousands of DOD nuclear weapons specialists and sub-specialists, through which DNA managed DOD’s nuclear weapons capabilities worldwide During the Cold War are now gone, and their meagre replacements don’t know their business.

One example (of many): For 25 years Russia has been following exactly opposite policies. It has concentrated on low-yield weapons research and testing (10-100 tons), as opposed to our aged weapons with hundreds-of-kilotons yield. Russia has focused on greater use of fusion, less of fission, possibly achieving pure fusion. These weapons might well emit only neutrons and gamma rays, and leave little or no contaminating residual radiation.

Their tactics of use would be ones we’ve never seen or thought about. Putin has threatened military action in many areas of Europe, to recover the former Soviet empire. If armed conflict broke out tomorrow, the advancing Russian armor, mobilized troops, artillery, and tactical aircraft would be preceded by dozens of low-yield nuclear detonations, killing everything but leaving roads and bridges intact. The war would be over in days — or hours. How would we react?

Russian military organization and strategy totally integrates nuclear and conventional weapons. For decades America has done everything possible, not just to separate the two, but to eliminate all vestiges of (war-fighting) tactical nuclear weapons.

Wake up, America! Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are changing the nuclear weapons world. To survive, we must reverse our misguided nuclear weapons policies.

First, and most important, bring science back into DOE and DOD. President TrumpDonald John TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE must immediately terminate the moratorium on underground nuclear testing. It will take decades to recover, and we must start now. It may take five years and cost two billion dollars just to conduct out first nuclear test in Nevada.

DOE’s testing is urgently needed to ensure that the nine types of weapons in our stockpile are still reliable and effective. They must carry us for decades. We must design, test, and produce low-yield weapons. We must conduct advanced research and testing toward pure fusion weapons. We must test better earth-penetrating weapons — our adversaries are going deep underground. We must test and design advanced replacements for our over-age stockpile weapons. Russia’s and China’s hypersonic nuclear missiles require our testing nuclear warheads for missile defense.

DOD must immediately re-establish the Defense Nuclear Agency to rebuild the essential military science of nuclear weapons effects throughout DOD by underground testing for battlefield survivability in Nevada.

Finally, President Trump must terminate the moratorium on nuclear testing as the headline of America's Nuclear Posture Review, a final version of which will be published in the weeks ahead.

Robert R. Monroe, Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.), is former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency.