Deterrence is a vital part of U.S. security strategy, but today’s reduced threat environment could allow us to move some of our nuclear forces from hair-trigger alert. Response to attack still would be certain—ensured by the ballistic missile submarine force—but not necessarily immediate.
The recent revolution in world political affairs has generated much discussion, and not a little controversy, over the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security policy. The marked change in international relations of the last decade, coupled with rapid developments in communications technology, argues for dramatic changes in the processes, procedures, and postures of strategic deterrent forces. A new paradigm for U.S. deterrent posture—assured response—will facilitate the implementation of these changes, and the ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) is uniquely suited to be its key player.