GEN. KEHLER: Sure, let me start with the triad. I’ve said this before publicly, the triad is not a theological argument for me. It is for some, but it is not for me.
I believe that a triad continues to serve us now because it’s the best arrangement that we have today to meet our deterrence needs. It may not always be so, but for now I believe that the triad is exactly where we need to be. And I believe it for a lot of reasons.
Number one is for the attributes that I mentioned earlier. When you look at the range of attributes that are presented by the triad: survivability, prompt response, flexibility components are represented across that force. There has always been concern about whether or not the ICBM component of that force is actually more stable or less stable.
And what the ICBM force gives to the president is the ability to respond promptly. I think that’s still a valuable component of the range of alternatives that we could offer to the president.
Ultimately, we review those attributes and we will meet his needs. If, in fact, those needs change, then it’s up to us to meet his needs. But for today, I think there’s a big difference between a force that you can use promptly and one that you must use promptly. And I no longer see us in a scenario where we must use the ICBMs promptly.
And so as we sit here today, as we have de-MIRV’ed the ICBMs to reduce their individual value, it costs an attacker more than they will get in return. Those weapons remain dispersed and in instant communications and under positive control. And I believe that it continues to serve us well.
Again, we look at this arrangement all the time. And if our needs change, then we will change our force posture and I will stand up and say it’s time to change our force posture.
So I hear the arguments. I am familiar with the arguments. Again, my view today is that the triad continues to serve us well.
It may not be true in the future, but it continues to serve us well because I think it’s the best arrangement that we have to meet our deterrence needs today. As those needs change, if those needs change, if the needs of ultimately the Commander-in-Chief change, then we will make the adjustments that are necessary.
STRATCOM Commander Gen. Robert Kehler, July 12, 2012.
UPDATE 7/20: Jeffrey Lewis has a great post over at ArmsControlWonk on Gen. Kehler’s remarks and the merits (or lack thereof) of the ICBM force. Read it here.