Nuclear Weapons in US National Security Strategy


When the Trump Administration released its new nuclear strategy we highlighted its importance and discussed why nuclear modernization was so crucial to shaping an effective military strategy going forward, notably in the new strategic context.

There is a major challenge facing delivering nuclear modernization, and that is its disconnect from the experience of the military and civilian leadership focus on the land wars for the past twenty years.

We discussed this phenomen recently with Dr. Paul Bracken:

Question: This does raise the question of how to craft an effective and realistic military strategy towards China, with recognition of the nuclear reality of any confrontation in the Pacific.

You and I both entered our professional lives and worked with military and political leaders who understood that large scale conventional operations always contained within them the possibility and in some cases the probably of the triggering of nuclear use.

I simply do not see this with the generation of leaders who have lived through the land wars as their existential reality.

Do you?

Paul Bracken: Nuclear war as a subject has been put into a small, separate box from conventional war.

It is treated as a problem of two missile farms attacking each other.

This perspective overlooks most of the important nuclear issues of our day, and how nuclear arms were really used in the Cold War.

The central importance of an effective nuclear modernization strategy woven into a broader deterrence approach is crucial. Conventional deterrence does not exist in a vacuum with major nuclear powers; it is part of the evolving equation.

In this interview with Dr. Frank Miller, the importance of nuclear modernization is highlighted and put into the evolving strategic context.

The interview was done as part of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies breakfast series on strategic deterrence.

Dr.  Miller is a long term defense official charged with significant responsibilities in the nuclear weapons areas, and many of the Second Line of Defense team have had the opportunity to work with him in the past.