President Reagan contends that the U.S. must launch a massive military buildup to counter decades of stagnation and inactivity in the area of weapons development. Yet the following actions taken in the past 15 years make it clear the U.S has never fallen behind the USSR in the arms race but rather that we have been hard at it and in the lead in most sectors.
1. Deployed 496 Poseidon submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), the world’s first MIRV SLBMS by eight years and the world’s first solid-fueled MIRV SLBMs by 12 years;
2. Replaced 192 of these missiles with the still more advanced, more powerful and longer-range Trident I missiles;
3. Deployed 72 additional Trident I missiles on new Ohio class submarines (the old Polaris subs were quieter and more reliable than the Soviet’s newest subs);
4. Improved the accuracy of the Trident I missiles, making them the world’s only SLBMs with significant ability to destroy hard targets;
5. Constantly upgraded and modernized our B-52s, equipping them with simultaneous quick engine starters to escape surprise attack;
6. Completed deployment of the FB-111A strategic bomber with. fully automatic terrain-following radar and escape capsule — more advanced than any deployed Soviet bomber;
7. Completed deployment of the Short Range Attack Missile (SRAM), carried by both B52s and FB-111As, a missile unmatched by the Soviets and, for practical purposes, immune to any known or expected defense;
8. Deployed over 200 radar-elusive long-range strategic Air Launched Cruise Missiles, many years ahead of Soviet counterparts;
9. Deployed 550 Minuteman III ICBMs, the world’s first MIRV missiles by five years and still the world’s only operational solid-state MIRV ICBM;
10. Replaced the warheads on 300 of these ICBMs with improved models giving twice the explosive power with no increase in size or weight;
11. Improved the accuracy of all Minuteman IIIs, more than quadrupling their destructive power against hard targets;
12. Tripled the hardness of Minuteman silos and installed a system for rapid retargeting to improve response time.
Meanwhile, President Reagan has also deployed 572 Pershing II and Cruise missiles in Europe, restarted construction of the MX ICBM, and the B-1 bomber, and increased development of chemical and biological weapons and space-based laser weapons.
Claiming that the U.S. has been asleep during the arms race is misleading and dangerous. While the President’s statements about the Soviet’s arms build-up tend to make the front page, the actual U.S. build-up is rarely reported. The truth is that both sides have been racing as fast as their technological and economic limitations will allow.
WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL WEEKLY EDITION, 12/12/83, “We Never Dropped Out Of the Arms Race, by Thomas J. Downey.