Wednesday, February 13, 2008

U.S. Nuclear Insecurity

In this Washington Post article (subscription required) according to the Defense Science Board task force, the control and security of the U.S. nuclear arsenal has been given to mid-level civilian and military officials since 1991. This is in contrast to the Cold War which ended in 1991, during which senior civilian and military officials looked after the nuclear arsenal. The gist of the article is that captains and colonels and mid-level bureaucrats are doing the jobs of generals and senior level bureaucrats. I can only surmise that during a hot conventional war, the ambitious people go where the action is in order to get promotions. Guarding nuclear weapons used to be a means of gaining promotion, but it seems that that isn't the case any more. This makes little sense since nuclear weapons are still the chief means of U.S. national defense. Instead of correcting the oversights, the task force recommends adding another layer of bureaucracy to fix the problem. Where have we heard that before?


Hi John

Your analysis sounds pretty true. I think the emphasis on Iraq and new Special Forces Commands would indeed have drawn careerist high flyers. This also reinforces that the US military is overstretched with its Iraq commitment - particularly too many airforce people over there rather than heading up nuclear units.

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