Why is the Biden administration arguing (seemingly contra Pentagon) that nuclear-tipped cruise missiles provide only a “marginal capability”?

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Sep 26, 2022 08:16 AM 0 Answers
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Back in April

Milley told the House Armed Services Committee that his advice to the commander in chief would stay private, but said his views on the cruise missile, known as the SLCM-N, and low-yield nuclear weapons “have not” changed. [...]

Milley has previously backed new weapons proposed by the Trump administration’s 2018 nuclear blueprint. During his 2019 confirmation process, Milley argued in written answers to questions posed by the Senate Armed Services Committee that the cruise missile, along with a low-yield sea-launched ballistic missile warhead, “are necessary to enable our flexible and tailored deterrence strategy as we modernize aging nuclear forces.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, meanwhile, downplayed the decision to slash the program, which was disclosed by senior officials last month ahead of the rollout of the Nuclear Posture Review.

“The marginal capability that this provides is far outweighed by the cost,” Austin said at Tuesday’s hearing. “So we had the ability to provide options to the president with a number of means.” [...]

A pair of four-star officers have already backed the cruise missile. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), noted that Adm. Charles Richard, head of U.S. Strategic Command, sent lawmakers a letter recommending the weapon. Gen. Tod Wolters, head of U.S. European Command, told the committee last week that he agreed with Richard’s assessment in support of the weapon.

Has the administration made it more explicit why they view the SLCM-N as providing only "marginal capability"?

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  • September 26, 2022