The Senate Armed Services Committee hosted a hearing last week on defense nuclear acquisition programs and doctrine.

Gen. Robin Rand, commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, offered a robust defense of the United States’ follow-on intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). He argued that extending the life of the currently deployed Minuteman III ICBMs would not be cheaper than building a follow-on ICBM.

Reliability and survivability are increasingly challenged in the current system, which was developed during the 1960s and 1970s. Rand mentioned how U.S. ICBMs complicate adversaries’ targeting because of their quantity and geographic dispersion, also mentioning how they provide the president with a timely response option.

In combination with other elements of the nuclear triad, strategic submarines, and bombers, the system forces adversaries to spread their resources to take into account each of the legs of the triad as opposed to focusing on defeating one or two strategic systems.

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