Pentagon Official: Nuclear Capability Needs Revamp — Now

The U.S. needs to refresh its nuclear capability or it could lose risk its deterrence advantage, a senior official told a Senate committee this week.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 1, Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said the nation needs to keep pace with Russia and China who are overhauling their own nuclear capability and building new delivery tools as well.

Although the U.S. is doing that as well, “We are living now with Cold War technology,” Lord said. “We have put off modernizing the triad for multiple decades. So now we have no margin.”

The U.S. now must push ahead and any funding cuts “would essentially have us unilaterally stand down in terms of our capability to have a credible nuclear deterrent,” Lord said.

The weapons that make up the U.S. nuclear triad are aging and might soon not be as effective to keep enemies at bay, she said. Those include ground-based missiles submarine-launched ballistic missiles and air-launched cruise missiles —areas where modernization is currently underway.

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