“Over the life of the New START treaty (10 years), our best estimate of the total estimated cost for DOD activities associated with implementation of the New START treaty would be between $880.5 million and $1,169 million. This estimate is tentative and does not include potential offsetting cost savings such as reducing operations and maintenance costs of eliminated forces. However, until final decisions are made on U.S. Air Force strategic delivery vehicles, as well as elimination methods for ICBM silos and conversion methods for the B–52 and SLBM launchers, it is not feasible to provide an accurate total cost estimate.”
Then-Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller in response to questions for the record after a May 4th hearing of the Senate Strategic Forces Subcommittee, May 4, 2011 (Hat Tip: the Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News blog). To my knowledge this is the first public record of a cost-estimate to implement the treaty. An interesting question is whether it would be more expensive or cheaper if the Pentagon achieved the reductions required by the treaty prior to the 2018 implementation deadline. At this point the Pentagon has no plans to implement the treaty early.
DoD’s responses to other questions for the record contain some additional interesting nuggets. Here’s Gen. Robert Kehler, Commander of STRATCOM, responding to Sen. Jeff Sessions about the prudence of considering further reductions below New START levels:
General KEHLER: It is prudent to consider any actions that have the potential to improve the security of the United States and its allies by enhancing deterrence and maintaining strategic stability. I will always evaluate any such actions carefully and provide my best military judgment accordingly. In the meantime, STRATCOM is fully engaged in implementing the New START treaty.
And here are Dr. Miller and Gen. Kehler responding to a question from Sen. Sessions about nuclear policy and targeting guidance:
Senator SESSIONS. Dr. Miller and General Kehler, what is wrong with the current guidance?
Dr. MILLER. Current guidance is not ‘‘wrong.’’ Over the last 50 years, U.S. nuclear doctrine and targeting strategy have continually evolved with the global strategic environment. The United States would be remiss if we did not reexamine our nuclear strategy in today’s dynamic security environment. Revisions to current guidance may be required to ensure that our forces remain properly sized and configured for the real threats of today and tomorrow. Updating guidance to support deterrence is a key responsibility of any administration and both previous NPRs preceded pres- idential updates in nuclear guidance.
General KEHLER. Reviewing nuclear employment guidance following a NPR is a logical follow-on step, given past precedent and today’s dynamic security environment.
Remember that existing nuclear doctrine and targeting principles are based on guidance from the George W. Bush administration, which was developed approximately a decade ago. As Kehler and Miller note, the ongoing Obama administration review of this outdated guidance is something that every administration does. It’s smart national security due diligence.