In its final report published on Thursday, the congressional Strategic Posture Commission emphasized the urgent need for Washington to update and expand both its nuclear arsenal and conventional military capabilities. The commission argued that this is necessary to counter the combined threat posed by Moscow and Beijing, stating that the US and its allies must be prepared to deter and defeat both adversaries simultaneously. The commission also highlighted that the US-led international order and the values it upholds are at risk from the authoritarian regimes of China and Russia.
While the commission did not provide specific evidence of collaboration between Russia and China, a senior official involved in the report expressed concerns about potential coordination between the two countries. This concern led to the commission’s recommendation for an expansion of the US military to address a potential two-war scenario. Under the current US national security strategy, the objective is to defeat one major adversary while deterring another.
According to the commission, the combined threat from China and Russia is expected to become acute as early as 2027. Therefore, the report emphasizes the need for prompt decision-making and preparation by the nation. The report includes 131 findings and 81 recommendations, which call for a significant expansion of both the conventional armed forces and the Nuclear Triad.
Specifically, the report emphasizes the need for more B-21 stealth bombers and Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines. The B-21 is still in the development stage and is expected to enter service no earlier than 2027. Meanwhile, the first two Columbia-class submarines are currently under construction and anticipated to be operational by 2030. The US Navy plans to acquire a total of 12 Columbia-class subs, which will replace the existing 18 Ohio-class boats.
However, some critics, such as the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), have raised concerns about the cost implications of the commission’s recommendations. The FAS has pointed out that the report does not sufficiently acknowledge the limits of defense spending and the potential consequences of increased military expenditure. The FAS emphasizes that the commission’s recommendations are likely to exacerbate the arms race, limit opportunities for arms control negotiations with Russia and China, and redirect funding away from other pressing priorities.
Nevertheless, at a press event announcing the report, the commission’s vice-chair, retired Republican Senator Jon Kyl, argued that higher military spending is a small price to pay to minimize the risk of a nuclear war. Kyl emphasized the need for President Joe Biden and Congress to effectively communicate the case for increased defense spending to the American people.
It is important to note that the commission did not propose an immediate expansion of the US nuclear stockpile due to capacity constraints within the weapons production complex. The FAS asserts that as long as the US possesses enough submarines to provide a credible deterrent against a first strike by an adversary, there is no immediate need for a nuclear arms race.
In summary, the congressional Strategic Posture Commission’s final report underscores the necessity for Washington to modernize and strengthen its nuclear arsenal and conventional military capabilities. The report highlights the combined threat posed by China and Russia and emphasizes the importance of timely decision-making and preparation. However, there are concerns about the potential costs and negative consequences associated with the recommended military expansion, as highlighted by critics like the Federation of American Scientists.