Accidental War Answers

We are not on the hair trigger brink of nuclear conflict, accidental war is silly

Heinrichs, 10-6, 20, Rebeccah L. Heinrichs is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute where she specializes in nuclear deterrence and missile defense.,, America Needs New ICBMs Now More Than Ever

The beauty in our ICBMs’ alert status is that they offer the United States a powerful prompt response option that can hit any target on the other side of the planet. But one should not conclude that an on-alert status means that we are a hair’s breadth away from launching ICBMs at an unsuspecting country accidentally or due to the wrong belief that we are under nuclear attack. The United States fields an extensive array of sensors to provide warning of a massive launch of ICBMs against our missile fields. We have satellites to detect the infra-red plumes, an array of radars to detect inbound missiles, other satellites to detect the movement of mobile ICBMs and other forces, and other intelligence assets. And, realistically, should an enemy decide to launch a nuclear attack against the United States, barring an act of insanity, it would occur within a broader context of tensions. So this hypothetical nightmare scenario, where we would have a believable warning of enemy launch that is, in fact, a false alarm, is highly unlikely. Strategic Commanders have repeatedly pushed back on the notion of “hair trigger alert” over the years, but Admiral Richard W. Mies said it so well before a Senate committee in 2001 it is worth repeating here at length: I would also like to challenge the perception that our forces are on “hair-trigger” alert – a characterization routinely used to justify de-alerting proposals. Multiple, stringent procedural and technical safeguards have been in place and will remain in place to guard against accidental or inadvertent launch. Rigorous safeguards exist to ensure the highest levels of nuclear weapon safety, security, reliability, and command and control. Additionally, the policy of the United States is not to rely on “launch on warning.” As I stated earlier, our forces are postured such that while we have the capability to respond promptly to any attack, we will never need to rely upon “launch on warning.” The diversity, flexibility, and survivability of our strategic forces and our command and control networks are designed to ensure we are never faced with a “use them or lose them” dilemma, and we are always capable of an assured response.