Trump’s Nuclear Cruise Missile Plan Pits Biden Against His Generals

By Alex J. Rouhandeh AND Tom O’Connor
May 6, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a rarity in recent U.S. history, as both the Left and the Right have largely joined together in advocating for increased military spending to bolster the nation’s capabilities while providing support for Ukraine.

However, despite the recent string of defense-based collaboration, one issue has developed as an area of contention between Democrats and Republicans in the House Armed Services Committee, and has also become a key sticking point that has put the Biden administration at odds with its top military leaders — the Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM-N).

“On one hand, you’ve got folks that would like to demonstrate their commitment to reducing reliance upon nuclear weapons, but on the other hand you’ve got a lot of folks that are contending with a very provocative and obstreperous Russia,” Tom Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told Newsweek.

The SLCM-N is a type of nuclear missile that would be launched from a submarine and is could carry a smaller “tactical” warhead that possesses a lower yield than its larger counterparts.

Those who support its usage within the armed forces, including those in the Trump administration that sought to put the plan into action, argue it serves as “a needed non-strategic regional presence” that addresses “the increasing need for flexible and low-yield options” in order to deter aggression from powers like Russia and China.

Despite this argument, the Navy ultimately decided that the program was “cost prohibitive and the acquisition schedule would have delivered capability late to need,” slicing it from the FY2023 budget in order to save an estimated $199.2 million in FY2023 and $2.1 billion over the next five years. However, top generals have openly disagreed with this decision.

Read also:
Biden’s Ukraine Strategy Could Start a Nuclear War with Russia

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