Photographer: Rich Clement/Bloomberg

Pentagon studies nuclear modernization cost, beating A2AD threat

December 21, 2016 Cameron Leuthy

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The Pentagon has asked the Defense Science Board to look at two pressing problems: the enormous cost of modernizing nuclear forces; and countering potential enemy anti-access/area denial (A2AD) systems.

These study-topics are significant. Military leadership reaches out to the DSB and its counterpart, the Defense Business Board, frequently for an independent view of problems they face. The current nuclear modernization plan would cost about $35 billion a year from fiscal 2017 through 2021, based on Bloomberg Government data, so there’s plenty of incentive to find savings.

The big driver for the Pentagon’s “Third Offset” strategy is to strengthen conventional deterrence of state actors such as Russia, China and Iran that have adopted A2AD strategies to keep U.S. forces at a distance. The study may help the Pentagon think of different ways to keep U.S. friends close and enemies closer.

The Trump administration will benefit from these analyses. It will give the new team more data as they weigh priorities and make trade-off decisions for the fiscal 2018 budget and beyond.

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