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Second Strike Slot Review
In military theory, a second strike capability is the assured capability of a nation to counter attack against an aggressor with extremely effective nuclear retaliation. The Second Strike doctrine assumes that the United States has such a capability. In fact we already have the Second Strike capability. This was admitted in 1990 by Defense Secretary Bob Joseph. Since then it has been denied by the United States.
Second Strike, if it is to be maintained is a very serious threat. As we saw in the Persian Gulf War, the use of U.S. nuclear cruise missiles with long-range nuclear payload to strike ships in the oil-rich nations of the Middle East was unacceptable to the prospective enemy. How can a nation with a Second Strike capability to maintain an aggressive posture? Is there a way to make Second Strike acceptable?
In many regards, Second Strike may not be a real problem because there are other means to threaten nuclear strikes on US bases in the Western Pacific such as the recently implemented Japan Korea contingency plan. But the Chinese do not have to worry about such issues. For the Chinese they have the missile factories and nuclear factories and they have the capabilities to hit American bases in the Western Pacific. Will the Chinese go first and strike American bases first, or will they preempt our own preemptive strikes?
Some people believe that the United States should preemptively strike any Chinese nuclear weapons facilities. If this is done, how can China's Second Strike capability be maintained? What happens if the Chinese long-range missile test fires and hits something in California, Washington state, or Virginia? What will the reaction be? If the Chinese do not have this information, will they sue for peace?
One thing the Russian leadership seems to be concerned with is U.S. Air Force maneuvers in Eastern Europe and the Baltics. Recently the Russians did not buy any of the new U.S. built stealth missiles. The United States now has nuclear command and control submarines, and B-2 stealth missile destroyers in those regions. Is the Russian leadership afraid of U.S. stealth missile submarines sailing within their territories? Are they worried that if they shoot down that stealth missile the United States could take advantage and go after Russian nuclear facilities?
There is an interesting debate taking place in Russia between modernization and the Second Strike capability. Some military analysts believe that modernization is the necessary first step, and some argue that it is not. In a recent article I discussed this in detail and the various strategies that the United States could employ in a Second Strike scenario to take down a Russian Second Strike missile. It is my belief that in order to accomplish this task, the United States needs to deploy something along the lines of the US-built stealth missile that is able to maneuver and attack within a missile silo. This would allow the United States to utilize its own missile defense systems, which are more modern than anything that Russia has ever built.