US bombers could go back on alert if ICBMs are curtailed, top general says | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

US bombers could go back on alert if ICBMs are curtailed, top general says

If the Defense Department is forced to get rid of its intercontinental ballistic missiles, it will have to move its bombers to alert status to pick up the slack, the head of U.S. Strategic Command said Tuesday.

The U.S. military maintains a “nuclear triad” of ICBMs, bombers and ballistic missile submarines meant to deter nuclear-armed adversaries from attacking the nation, as the United States could respond with a subsequent attack even if a portion of its nuclear arsenal was wiped out.

“The basic design criteria of the triad is that you cannot allow a failure of any one leg of the triad to prevent everything the president has ordered you to do,” said Adm. Charles Richard during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

When bombers are on alert status, they sit parked on the runway, ready to take off with nuclear weapons loaded. Richard argued that, because the United States removed its bombers from alert status after the end of the Cold War, it essentially functions with only its Minuteman III ICBMs and Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines prepared to take on the nuclear mission at a moment’s notice.

“What is not often recognized is that we do not have a triad from day to day. ... Day to day, what you have is basically a dyad,” Richard said.

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