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Thursday, 14 September 2017 07:22

Under Trump, future of U.S. nuclear arsenal slowly taking shape

Written by  Reuters

JULIETT-01 MISSILE ALERT FACILITY (Reuters) - About 70 feet (21 m) below ground, in a shielded military capsule that can launch nuclear missiles, 23-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Tia Hewuse is concerned that Americans have the mistaken impression that her mission is a gloomy one.

“America doesn’t understand what we do,” says Hewuse, whose post sits below a tiny U.S. base surrounded by vast expanses of windswept North Dakota farmland.

“This is what keeps our enemies at bay,” she says with a smile.

Hewuse is one of the U.S. Air Force missileers who met Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday as he oversees a Pentagon review of America’s aging nuclear arsenal. Experts say it could cost a trillion dollars or more to modernize it.

Critics of the intercontinental ballistic missiles have argued that the silos scattered across thousands of square miles of the upper Great Plains are sitting ducks in a war and that, given the costs of modernizing ICBMs, the United States should spend its money on weaponry that could better survive a first strike by an enemy.

Mattis himself questioned in 2015 whether the three legs of America’s nuclear “triad” of ballistic missile submarines, bombers and land-based missiles should perhaps be reduced to a “dyad.

Read more at Reuters

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