U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, responded to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith’s (D-Wash.) statement that he doesn’t think ICBMs are “necessary” for nuclear deterrence:
“To casually assert that an entire leg of the triad is superfluous disregards the best advice of our military leadership and the threat assessments we’ve received. It is a dangerous, misguided assertion.
“Both the Obama and Trump administrations agree on the value of the triad, as has every administration since the Eisenhower-era. The testimony from our senior military leaders has also been clear and consistent: Our nuclear triad is necessary to keep our nation safe.
“Just last week, STRATCOM Commander General Hyten testified that our nuclear forces represent the bare minimum required to protect the United States.
“Russia and China are building up their nuclear forces; unilaterally cutting our deterrent ignores this reality. It is not the answer.”
Smith’s comments were made during a House Armed Services Committee hearing today focused on nuclear forces. He said: “As far as the ICBMs.... The problem with them is that they're identifiable targets and, also, I don't think they're necessary for our deterrence because of the submarines that we have and the bombers."
Last week, General Hyten stated that “[the] ICBM is the most ready element to respond to a quick surprise attack. And, it also creates the most significant targeting problem for an adversary because there are 400 separate targets across the United States; all would have to be independently targeted by an adversary. That targeting problem is hugely problematic and creates a significant advantage for us.” Speaking specifically on the question of reducing the ICBM force, he stated: “I don't understand how with the threats that we face today, which are growing, not shrinking, we would make a decision today as a nation to lessen our overall strategic deterrent. That makes no sense to me and the best military advice that we do not do that.”