J Harvey @ NAF

A little while ago, Jeffrey put up a “good post”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1544/nnsas-harvey-at-new-america about John Harvey’s appearance at a New America Foundation event.

The post points out, correctly, that

bq. Harvey [Director of Policy Planning at NNSA] confirmed that the Moscow Treaty numbers are in fact premised on intelligence estimates of future foreign nuclear deployments.

Meaning, Chinese future nuclear weapons deployments. In other words, we need 1,700-2,200 nuclear weapons to dissuade the Chinese from attempting to achieve parity with the US arsenal.

p=. *SIOP =/= Arsenal Size*

Personally, I was most interested in a closely-related matter: Harvey’s assertion that decisions regarding the number of US nuclear forces are _not_ based on holding a certain number of targets at risk. In fact, according to my notes, Harvey said in response to a question from Daryl Kimball that holding said targets at risk “is a _relatively small_ driver” of the force size.

What, one might ask, are _large_ drivers? According to Harvey, they include dissuading competitors and providing extended deterrence to our allies. I don’t think he mentioned China by name, but I think it would make anyone’s short list.

_Soooooo_ how do these drivers translate into a number? Well, hard to say. In response to a question from Jeffrey, Harvey said that the process of determining the number necessary to assure our allies is a judgment, rather than a calculation.

1 thought on “J Harvey @ NAF

  1. MarkoB

    Don’t forget that the SIOP is now history. The US nuclear war plan is OPLAN8044 and I think that this change happened ‘cause of the reforms to the strategic war planning system since the ‘90s, things like “adaptive planning” and the “Living SIOP” that kind of changed the way the US targets its nuclear warheads. I remember seeing a STRATCOM doc or testimony to the effect that the post cold war world is a “target rich” environment rather than a weapons rich environment. With the old SIOP philosophy target requirements set the number of warheads requirement but perhaps because of these strategic reforms we see a relative de-coupling between targets and numbers…just thinkin’ out loud.


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