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For many years it was the good fortune of the U.S. to possess a strategic deterrent capability whose competence could be assured well into the future. Each new system — strategic bombers. ICBMs and SLBMs — was significantly more capable than the forces available to the Soviet Union with which to counter it. In the past. the U. 5. was always a technological generation ahead of the Soviet Union. Moreover, throughout the l9b0s and most of the 1970s, our ballistic missile submarine force was confident of the future effectiveness of its deterrent posture, measurednot in years, but in decades. Unhappily, those days are gone.

For the future, our strategic submarine force has to recognize that the best that can be hoped is a deterrent posture based on a number of partial solutions. No single solution will ensure a force invulnerable to all threats. But taken in aggregate, it is believed that the elements of a credible and survivable deterrence have been assembled. The strategic modernization program which was begun in October 1981 is designed to preserve the effectiveness and flexibility required in order to continue to deter Soviet. aggression successfully. In essence, the program is designed to accomplish two general goals: first, to improve the survivability of present and planned submarine forces, and secondly, to sustain the credibility of our deterrence policy by developing a hard-target-kill capability — the ability to retaliate against the growing numbers of hardened Soviet silos and command centers — which our forces are not. able to do with confidence today. This combination of improved survivability and military capability will assure that. the Soviet leadership continues to recognize that they can realize no conceivable benefit trom initiating aggression.

The President’s strategic modernization program includes the construction of at least one Trident SSBN a year, and the development of the Trident II (D-5 ) missile with an initial operational capability no later than 1989. It also includes the deployment of sea launched cruise miss! les as part of a nuclear reserve force. It is the significantly improved accuracy and yield combination of the Trident II (D-5) missile which fulfills the presidential mandate for a hard-target-kill capability in the most survivable leg of our strategic triad. The capability of the strategic submarine force to fulfill national policy will continue to grow. Despite the fact that our Poseidon SSBNs will retire due to age in the 1990s.

Let me review the advantages of the SLBM leg of Triad.

First, it is the most survivable and endurable leg of the Triad.

Second, it permits rapid retargeting. This feature is inherent in the design of the missile fire control system and changes in individual targets or entire target packages can be accomplished on board the ship very rapidly.

Third, it offers exceptionalreliability.

Fourth,it  offers         a  hedge   against       Soviet expansion of an ABM system. The high number of warheads on each missile create an ability to exhaust an ABM defense. In addition, the mobility of an SSBN provides a multiazimuth at tack capability, which complicates the Soviet ABM defense.

While all of these attributes are important, survivability is the most significant strength of the SLBM force.

Survivable strategic deterrent systems accomplish several things. Perhaps the most important is the stabilizing influence they exert in a crisis. Since they cannot be attacked successfully, no rational enemy is likely to expend a large portion of his nuclear offensive capability in some futile attack on the system itself — an attack futile in the sense that it cannot deny the capability to  retaliate effectively. In  this sense ,survivable means non-t.argetable, and such systems remove or significantly reduce any temptation for a first strike, particularly during a crisis. That’s theory, in the practical sense our non-targetable sea-based systems limit the extortion value of the Soviets’ large ICBM force.

Additionally, with survivable, non-target-able forces, one does not have to procure forces to hedge against their potential loss. Thus forces can be sized, based on military need, and the incentive for arms build-up is reduced. What is termed “arms control stability” is enhanced by survivability.

The inherent endurance of the SSBN force. time-tested in over 2220 deterrent patrols since USS George Washington sailed in 1960, also contributes greatly to deterrence. Valuing endurance in our strategic forces does not translate to our trying to fight a protracted war. But to deter the Soviets, we have to understand how the Soviets think. They value nuclear forces held in reserve. We must project a force structure which also can be seen to have the capability of being held in reserve. It is vital that a U.S. reserve force, as well as its supporting command, control, and communications, be enduring.

The importance of a reserve brlngs us to the second sea-based component: of the President’s strategic modernization program — the deployment of sea launched cruise missiles. While these weapons will be on SSNs rather that SSBNs they will still make a major contribution to our deterrent posture. Deployment of the Tomahawk nuclear land attack cruise missile began this summer. Its value lies both in greatly expanding the Navy’s offensive capability and in providing a survivable and potent reserve threat. It wi tl have superior military utility, achieving a hard target kill with limited collateral damage. The range and flexibility of this system make it attractive for holding at risk Soviet. targets not currently ranged by any non-strategic nuclear system.

Nuclear Land Attack Tomahawk is an effective deterrent because it provides a survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability throughout the military spectrum. Its shipboard deployment will make a significant contribution to our policy of deterrence by providing visible evidence of a widely dispersed, survivable and effective nuclear presence at sea.

Should deterrence fail, the U.S. must be prepared to engage in combat across the full

spectrum of possible conflicts. A credible nonstrategic capability and a surivable and enduring nuclear reserve force are integral to this total military capability. Nuclear Land Attack Tomahawk’s survivability, flexibility, and endurance make it uniquely suited for theater and reserve force roles. Its deployment adds a new dimension to the variety of response options available to the national command authority and consequently to the unified commanders. In a post-exchange reserve role, it supports the strategy of maintaining a capability to terminate conflict at the lowest possible level of damage. Thus, while we think of it primarily as a theater weapon, it will make a major contribution to strategic deterrence as well.

Returning to the SSBN force, there are significant challenges as well.

First: There is and greater need to be able to engage targets across the entire spectrum, from soft area targets to hard point targets. The existing Poseidon and — to a lesser elttent — Trident I missiles have only a limited capability against hard targets. These problems will be largely overcome with the deployment of the Trident TI {D- 5) missile.

Second: The nature of SSBN operations poses some unique command, control, and communications problems that land based forces face to a lesser degree. As our weapons grow more  capable, our traditional stress on the viability of communications might have to be expanded to include rapid and flexible command and control.

Third: We will never be free of the traditional challenge posed by limited resources. Like all complex systems, SSBNs are expensive, both in dollars and in the requirements for skilled  manpower.

Fourth: In our stress on SSBNs we must not forget the challenges that come with the immense capabilities of TQmahawk. The Navy as a whole and the submarine force face a unique challenge in attempting to balance the nuclear and conventional roles of Tomahawk equipped ships.

And Fifth: There is the challenge of preserving both the fact and the perception of SSBN invulnerability. Further, we also must preserve the deterrent value that resides in the enemy’s perception of that survivability.

Despite what one may have read, no one in the Defense or State Department or the White House, is unaware of the horrible consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. As a result, the United States does not seek — in any way or form — to wage a nuclear war. Rather, all efforts are directed toward ensuring that nuclear weapons will never be used and that a nuclear war or a major conventional war — will never be fought.

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