Predicting the defense priorities of a new administration, especially one that hasn’t yet taken office, is a risky business. Although Joe Biden has a long and fairly consistent track record on national security, the fallout from a global pandemic and disrupted economy may drive changes in military plans that few observers are expecting.
New weapons often bear the brunt of such shifts, because it is easier to delay programs that haven’t made their way into the force. Warfighters are less likely to miss capabilities they don’t already have, and political constituencies are less likely to be upset by the loss of jobs that don’t already exist.
However, this commentary is about four new weapons programs that aren’t going away, and will likely come to define the Biden defense posture. None of the programs listed below has entered the joint force, and yet each is so central to the way Joe Biden and Democrats in general think about defense that they are sure to survive.
The Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine. From his earliest days in the Senate, Joe Biden has always been a believer in nuclear deterrence. The key feature of America’s deterrence strategy is that rather than trying to defend the nation against a Russian or Chinese nuclear attack, the U.S. maintains the ability to launch overwhelming, horrific retaliation against any aggressor. Thus, there is no sane logic to launching an attack.