The Senate Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Coalition released a white paper today calling on the next administration and Congress to support the modernization of the missiles that form the land-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad.
The bipartisan Coalition, which includes senators from several states associated with the Air Force's ICBM mission, recommended that the next administration and Congress make nuclear deterrence the highest priority mission of the Department of Defense and support the modernization of the nuclear triad, including the replacement of the existing 1970s-era land-based ballistic missile fleet. The Coalition further recommended full funding for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrence (GBSD) program, which will produce a new ICBM before 2030. The full text of the white paper can be found here.
"This is a critical moment for our ICBM force," said Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), whose office authored the white paper. "Nuclear threats are increasing around the world, and our existing ICBMs will not last forever. The Coalition is making a strong case to support the modernization of the ICBM force today so that it can continue to protect us for decades to come."
"As a new administration takes office, it absolutely should review major weapons systems to ensure that they are being maintained in the interest of national security," said Senator Mike Lee R-Utah. "A strong and cost-efficient national security system starts with strategic deterrence, and I believe that the new administration will find a strong bipartisan consensus in Congress for modernizing our nuclear forces."
"To protect our national security, we need to reinforce the value of our intercontinental ballistic missiles with the president-elect and his staff," said Senator Heidi Heitkamp D-N.D.). "As Defense Secretary Ash Carter said when he visited Minot Air Force Base in September, the nuclear deterrent at bases like Minot is the bedrock of our security and the highest priority mission of the Department of Defense. This bipartisan paper demonstrates how the next administration can bolster the credibility of our deterrent by robustly supporting the nuclear triad."
"It is clear that our ICBM's play a key role in the strategic defense of our country," U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said. "And it is critical that our ICBM's are modernized in order to ensure we are prepared to defend against potential threats that we could face from around the world. I urge the new administration to support the bipartisan effort to update this crucial nuclear weapon system that is already close to 50 years old."
"It's important we maintain a peace through strength strategy in this increasingly dangerous world," stated Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.). "Our nuclear weapons are our most powerful deterrent and ensuring that they are modernized and capable of meeting the demands of 21st century warfare is essential to our national defense."
"Our nation's ICBM force plays a critical role in ensuring our country has an effective nuclear deterrent," said Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). "The new administration must be committed to strengthening and modernizing our nuclear arsenal. This will make sure Americans and our allies remain protected."
"ICBMs are this country's most effective deterrent and a pivotal component of our national security," said Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.). "It is critical that the next administration work closely with Congress to modernize the nuclear triad and fully fund the Ground Based Strategic Deterrence program. At a time when our country is facing real threats from across the globe, making these important investments is a top priority."
"Our national security relies on an effective, up-to-date deterrent system," said Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). "The modernization of the ICBM force is a critical step towards ensuring our preparedness. When it comes to protecting our allies and the homeland, we mean business."
In the white paper, ICBM Coalition members noted that the nation's triad of nuclear bombers, submarine-based missiles and land-based missiles has been very successful in deterring threats to the United States and its allies. They argue further that ICBMs remain critical to the success of the nuclear triad, given the rising threats from Russia, China, North Korea and elsewhere.
This is the second white paper produced by the Senate ICBM Coalition. The Coalition previously authored a white paper in 2009 before Senate consideration of the New START agreement with Russia.
Senators signing the white paper include John Hoeven (R-ND), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Barrasso (R-WY), Steve Daines (R-MT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Mike Lee (R-UT).