‘We will be the ones deterred’: STRATCOM commander on China’s ‘breathtaking’ nuclear buildup

Ben Dhyani

Active member
This week in Washington, Adm. Chas Richard, head of the U.S. Strategic Command and thereby commander of America’s nuclear forces, delivered a sobering message: the U.S. is quickly falling behind both China and Russia in fielding modern, next generation nuclear weapons.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Richard called China’s rapidly expanding nuclear capability “breathtaking,” and said that the Chinese are well ahead of the pace to double their stockpile by the end of the decade.” But it’s not just the raw number of warheads that has Richard concerned, it’s China’s new nuclear command and control which allows it to integrate land-based missiles, bombers, and submarines to give them “a launch under warning or launch under attack capability” that right now only the U.S. and the Russians possess.

“They're about to complete a triad ... for the first time, they have a complete triad,” Richard said. “They have six second-generation ballistic missile submarines, so they can do continuous at sea deterrent patrols, i.e., a survivable second strike capability and a missile that can range the continental United States from protected bastion in the South China Sea.”

“And you add all of this together, and they can do any plausible nuclear employment strategy regionally. This will backstop their conventional capability and will potentially constrain our options,” he testified. “That is, we will be the ones that are getting deterred if I don't have the capability to similarly deter them.”