Saturday, June 5, 2010

Nuclear Posture Review Report - Post #3

I am finally ready to write a little bit more on the NPR report issued by the Obama administration. You can download the report here. This post will deal with the "Introduction" chapter of the NPR. Again, before I continue commenting on the NPR, I need to add a disclaimer. I am employed by Sandia National Laboratories. The views written here are not the official position of SNL and should not be viewed that way. They are my views as a private citizen.

As I read the introduction (page 1), I was struck that NNSA national laboratories (Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore) were left out of the discussion. If true, it seems that a lot of brain power was left out.  However, since reading the NPR, I have heard statements from NNSA lab directors affirming that the labs were consulted as the DoD and the administration moved forward on the document.  I am not sure that they were heard or understood, but they were "consulted".

Continuing on to page 2, I can't help but notice that the 2010 NPR is trying to tie the hands of future Presidents and Congresses.  Some of the policies that are outlined in the document would be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.  In any case, there are five key objectives of the U.S. nuclear weapons policy and posture listed on this page.  I will quote the objectives and then give you my stream-of-consciousness response as written in my notes on the document.

Objective #1: "Preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism."

  • I agree that at this time in history this should be have the highest priority.  
Objective #2: "Reducing the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy."
  • I disagree with this for a host of reasons.  Foremost, even if we were going to do this, why are we telling the world about it.
Objective #3: "Maintaining regional deterrence and stability at lower nuclear force levels."
  • Probably can be done at the tactical level.  It is also possible at the strategic level, but both depend ENTIRELY on implementation.
Objective #4: "Strengthening regional deterrence and reassuring U.S. allies and partners."
  • We must do this, but I don't think many of our "friends" believe us right now (e.g., England and Israel).
Objective #5: "Sustaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal."
  • I agree with this, but the success of this (again!!) depends ENTIRELY on implementation.

Taken our of context, each of these objectives seems entirely reasonable even though I may disagree with the reasoning.  The problem is that we cannot take them out of the context in which we are allowing Iran and North Korea (and possibly others) to pursue nuclear ambitions, committing the fortunes of our grandchildren to keep government union members employed, and blaming the previous President for every thing that goes wrong 2 years after he left office.

Basically, each objective has a chapter dedicated to it, so I will leave my stream of consciousness critiques and address the details of the policies in future posts. So, that's it for the Introduction.  I must say that I was disappointed but not surprised by this document.  Hopefully, in the next few weeks, I will outline (in coherent fashion) why this document concerns me a great deal.

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