Your Ad Here

Friday, February 26, 2010

British Army Officials Skeptical of Need for Nuclear Deterrent

High-level British army officials yesterday played down the importance of the United Kingdom's submarine-based nuclear arsenal, the London Guardian reported.

Many of the nation's military assets remain geared toward Cold War-era objectives, the sources said.

"How do you deter nonstate actors?" one of the officials asked, noting that current threats include extremists who could operate without government sponsorship.

The comments came as the army competes for funding with the British navy and air force, the newspaper reported. The navy fields the nation's nuclear deterrent on four submarines, but most any other weapon system is more likely to be employed in conflict, the army sources said.

Military experts have increasingly promoted less-expensive options for maintaining nuclear deterrents, including the use of nuclear-armed cruise missiles in place of more elaborate delivery systems, according to the Guardian.

"From the defense point of view we are at a crossroads. Going on as we are is simply not an option," one high-level army source said.

Former British army chief Gen. Richard Dannatt, though, backed the nation's existing plan to modernize the Trident system. The United Kingdom's need for a nuclear arsenal might vanish within five or 10 years, but "on balance, on a very narrow points decision ... [the modernization plan] is probably right for now," he said

The British government has sought to avoid including the Trident system in a planned review of the nation's defense posture.