Defense Department issues nuclear news that’s terrifying Americans

department of defense

America’s enemies are at the gates. And it could get worse way faster than you think.

Because the Defense Department issued this nuclear news that’s terrifying Americans.

The latest report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that the way the Department of Defense (DOD) handles nuclear weapons now is very dangerous to national security.

According to the GAO study, which was released on Thursday, the DOD has failed to tackle many oversight issues since 2021. The GAO — Congress’ auditing, evaluation, and investigative arm — also warned that a troubling discontinuity in nuclear oversight structure emerged in the final week of Trump’s presidency.

“DOD has significantly modified its nuclear enterprise oversight structure multiple times since 2021, putting oversight continuity at risk and potentially affecting senior leaders’ ability to make informed decisions,” stated the GAO.

Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller replaced the Nuclear Deterrent Enterprise Review Group (NDERG), which had addressed issues from nuclear enterprise reviews since 2014, with another group on January 14, 2021, six days before President Joe Biden took office: the Secretary of Defense Nuclear Transition Review (SNTR).

Last year, DOD replaced the SNTR with another group: the Deputy’s Management Action Group (DMAG).

The GAO voiced concern in an August 2021 report on SNTR that the organization lacked specified roles and duties, as well as protocols for internal and external interactions.

DOD only adopted one of the GAO’s three recommendations at the time: providing guidelines to assure progress toward or completion of the 2014 nuclear enterprise review recommendations.

The GAO offered four further recommendations about DOD coordination with the Department of Energy (DOE), the agency responsible for nuclear weapons modernization and infrastructure, in a linked January 2022 report. None of these suggestions have been implemented.

In its most recent report, the GAO urged the DOD to implement its long-standing recommendations to clarify oversight organizations’ roles and responsibilities, establish methods of communication and collaboration among oversight organizations, prioritize programs, projects, and activities within the nuclear enterprise, and monitor issues affecting the nuclear enterprise.

The GAO highlighted DOD supervision concerns as part of its examination of the DOD’s nuclear triad modernization initiatives.

The nuclear triad is the nation’s deterrence system’s land, sea, and air nuclear weapons, all of which are decades past their planned service life.

The Department of Defense predicts that modernizing nuclear defense systems will cost $350 billion over the next 20 years.

The land leg, which includes of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), is now comprised of Minuteman III, a system that is nearly 50 years past its expected service life. In 2030, the Minuteman III missile system will be replaced by the Sentinel missile system.

The sea leg, ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), is currently made up of Ohio-class submarines that were initially meant to last 30 years in the 1970s.

The DOD extended the service life of those SSBNs to 42 years and plans to replace them with Columbia-class SSBNs beginning in 2027.

In January, the GAO produced a report on the Columbia-class SSNBs that included six suggestions for performing a schedule risk analysis. None of these suggestions have been implemented.

The air leg, bomber planes, is currently made up of the B-52 and B-2 bombers, the former of which has been in service since the 1950s and the latter since the 1990s.

The B-52 bombers are expected to last into the 2050s with upgrades, while the GAO underlined the importance of modernizing sooner rather than later, while the B-2 bombers will be replaced by the B-21 bombers within the next few years.

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