Shameless Self-Promotion: Overkill Edition

Posts have been sparse as of late, but I thought I’d dust off the old blog to brag to the internets inform my loyal readers (hi dad!) about a couple of recent items stemming from the paper I co-authored for the Cato Institute with Chris Preble and Ben Friedman.

First up, Tuesday at noon I had the pleasure of speaking at a Cato policy forum on our paper, “The End of Overkill?: Reassessing U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy”. The panel was moderated by Chris Preble and included myself, Ben, Dr. Hans Christensen of the Federation of American Scientists, and Elbridge Colby of the Center for Naval Analyses, who offered a critical perspective on our argument. It was a privilege to be able to share the stage with all of them. I’m generally a decent public speaker but I’ve never spoke in front of an audience that large, consisting of that many people, with that many more years of experience than I have, and with the whole thing broadcast on the internet. I can’t pretend I wasn’t just a little nervous, but the whole thing went off without a hitch. Perhaps the best part came at the luncheon after the event where we had a chance to discuss our paper with a couple of Air Force officials who, for obvious reasons, are not on board with our proposal, but who were also very willing to listen and engage us on the subject.

I want to thank Ben and Chris for putting this event together. The video of it can be found here.

The day before the forum, Chris Preble and I had an op-ed published at Defense One. Building off the argument in our paper, we knock the Navy for trying to exempt its next-generation ballistic missile submarine program—the SSBN(x)—from the pressure of sequestration. From our piece:

The Navy already is requesting $60 billion for the SSBN(x) as supplemental funding. At a recent hearing of the House Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, the Navy’s director of undersea warfare, asked Congress for those funds and to exempt the SSBN(x) from the effects of sequestration. The plan to build twelve of the next-generation subs has quickly begun to eat away at the Navy’s overall shipbuilding budget, with recent projections placing its total cost between $93 and $100 billion.

Instead of skirting the rules to find funds for the program, the Pentagon should look elsewhere within the nuclear arsenal for the money it needs. Eliminating the other two legs of the nuclear triad — intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, and nuclear bombers — would save American taxpayers around $20 billion a year. Part of the savings could be put toward replacing the Ohio-class subs.

The sea leg of the nuclear triad by itself is a more powerful deterrent than that possessed by nearly any other nation in the world. Russia retains a relatively large arsenal, but no other country is capable of deploying more than a few hundred nuclear warheads. A single Ohio-class submarine can carry up to 192.

The rest can be read here.

Blogging will probably continue to be sparse as I pass the halfway point of the fall semester and things begin to get even busier than usual (and with the government shutdown coming to an end, that means some upcoming travel for archival research). I do have a couple posts in the works so hopefully those will get finished… eventually.


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