The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

America’s nuclear missile system gives President a “4 minute” window for decision

apocalypseIf we’re going to design the entire system in this way, to emphasize the speed and decisiveness of text-relevanta single person, we should probably also pick that person carefully.

Our Nuclear Procedures Are Crazier Than Trump
U.S. presidents are currently given a four-minute window to decide whether or not to initiate an irreversible apocalypse. Sad!
FOREIGN POLICY, BY JEFFREY LEWIS AUGUST 5, 2016 “……The “system” for launching U.S. nuclear weapons, the former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden said, “is designed for speed and decisiveness. It’s not designed to debate the decision.”…..The nuclear command and control system, however, is designed to function under crushing time pressures. And it does so by removing any opportunity for the president to weigh his or her options or modify existing plans. If the president decides to end the world, you could probably show the whole debate in a half-hour sitcom — during one of its commercial breaks…….

The key to understanding the U.S. command and control system is that it was designed to fulfill a requirement known as “launch under attack,” a very specific scenario to deter Russia from trying to knock out America’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by launching a massive nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland and escaping retaliation. Launch under attack is the idea that deterring Russia from trying this requires that the United States be able to do a very difficult thing: detect a launch of Russia’s ICBMs and then launch its own retaliation before the Russian ICBMs arrive about 30 minutes later. As long as the United States can launch its ICBMs before the Russian ones get here — that is to say, within their 30-minute flight time — Russia is toast. (And presumably, knowing it’d be toast, it’ll think twice about launching in the first place.)…….
All those steps leave something like eight minutes from the first call to the White House to the last moment at which the president can act…….
launch under attack also means that the command and control system has been built to take any order and execute it with stunning speed — and that is what Hayden was trying to say. Once a president gives the order to use nuclear weapons, there is no turning back. The system is designed to very quickly render the president’s will into death and destruction on the other side of the world. So maybe don’t elect the guy who melts down on Twitter every other day……
My advice to any future president would be to drop launch under attack as a mainstay of U.S. nuclear policy. Some systems might still be capable of launching quickly, but I would design the nuclear force around the assumption that the president plans to “ride out” a nuclear attack. This means having enough weapons at sea to do the job and relegating any land-based nuclear weapons to the role of warhead “sink,” drawing fire away from cities. The Obama administration has made some steps in this direction, instructing the military to plan for more realistic contingencies — but it has still elected to retain launch under attack as an option…….
Defense experts have a fetish about giving the president options, and they are simply loath to abandon this one, no matter how unrealistic. It is U.S. policy now and for the foreseeable future. In fact, Washington has gone to great lengths to design its nuclear forces, as well as its command and control system, around the ability of the president to determine the fate of hundreds of millions of people in a matter of minutes. The upcoming deliberations about nuclear modernization, which will probably cost a trillion dollars over the next 30 years or so, will proceed on the same assumption. If we’re going to design the entire system in this way, to emphasize the speed and decisiveness of a single person, we should probably also pick that person carefully.

August 12, 2016 - Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: