Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, October 14, 2016

Missileers view their job as deterring our enemies from attacking the United States and its allies. We assume that presidents will grasp the power of the nuclear arsenal at their disposal and show the utmost restraint in using it. Dwight D. Eisenhower recoiled at the concept of nuclear overkill, where far more people are killed than necessary to defeat an enemy. After a nuclear war briefing, John F. Kennedy opined in dismay, "And we call ourselves the human race." Richard M. Nixon (president during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war), in the words of his chief of staff, worried about the way war plans "lightly tossed about millions of deaths." Ronald Reagan, for all his thunder about the Soviet Union being "an evil empire" and joking that "we begin bombing in five minutes," was privately averse to nuclear weapons. He wished to eliminate them, as does President Obama. Donald J. Trump is of a radically different ilk and temperament from past presidents.



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If I were back in the launch chair, I would have little faith in his judgment and would feel alienated if he were commander in chief. I am not alone in this view. A vast majority of current and former launch officers in my circle of friends and acquaintances tell me they feel the same. The system of nuclear command and control places extreme pressure on hundreds of operators, and excruciating demands on one person: the president. Trump is seemingly blind to the importance of restraint in nuclear decision making. He shows no humility toward the civilization-ending destructiveness of nuclear weapons, and offhandedly entertains their use. He has suggested that South Korea and Japan should consider developing their own arsenals. Empowering such a person to single-handedly initiate a nuclear strike would put the nation and the world as we know it in real jeopardy.


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Missileers also know that deterrence could fail by intent, accident or miscalculation, and that preventing such failure depends in no small measure on qualities of presidential leadership -- responsibility, composure, competence, empathy and diplomatic skill -- that Mr. Trump evidently does not possess. As a launch officer, I would live in constant fear of his making a bad call. Hillary Clinton is right to warn voters not to allow him anywhere near the nuclear launch codes.
Note: This is an argument about temperament and judgment in one specific area, not a debate about who's policies or stances are preferred. I see many of the frightening possibilities that these servicemen cite and such informed warnings should not be taken lightly. Slash and burn may be a new acceptable American political reality, but it cannot be used in the nuclear realm lest our civilization might cease to exist.

#1 | Posted by tonyroma at 2016-10-12 07:52 AM | Reply

No, It's an argument feigning insubordination.

They don't get to think, they are told what to do.

If your not up to the job, there is a replacement standing right behind you.

#2 | Posted by Prolix247 at 2016-10-12 02:52 PM | Reply

"Just Following Orders."

#3 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-10-12 02:56 PM | Reply

If your not up to the job, there is a replacement standing right behind you.

And he'll push you into the shower too!
Das Prolichs

Military members who fail to obey the lawful orders of their superiors risk serious consequences. Article 90 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) makes it a crime for a military member to WILLFULLY disobey a superior commissioned officer.

Article 91 makes it a crime to WILLFULLY disobey a superior Noncommissioned or Warrant Officer. Article 92 makes it a crime to disobey any lawful order (the disobedience does not have to be "willful" under this article).

In fact, under Article 90, during times of war, a military member who willfully disobeys a superior commissioned officer can be sentenced to death.

These articles require the obedience of LAWFUL orders. An order which is unlawful not only does not need to be obeyed but obeying such an order can result in criminal prosecution of the one who obeys it. Military courts have long held that military members are accountable for their actions even while following orders -- if the order was illegal.

"I was only following orders," has been unsuccessfully used as a legal defense in hundreds of cases (probably most notably by Nazi leaders at the Nuremberg tribunals following World War II). The defense didn't work for them, nor has it worked in hundreds of cases since.

#4 | Posted by northguy3 at 2016-10-12 03:53 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

If Nuke commanders are less likely to launch, that's a good thing IMHO.

There have been a few times that those in charge of the nukes didn't follow orders thereby preventing a nuclear war.

MAD doesn't work when every commander is itching to launch.

#5 | Posted by jamesgelliott at 2016-10-12 05:58 PM | Reply

If they were real liberals they would work in the mess hall.

#6 | Posted by Federalist at 2016-10-14 09:40 PM | Reply


All just hacking political hype with no validity.

#7 | Posted by Crassus at 2016-10-14 09:44 PM | Reply

#4 - an order coming from the President is assumed to be lawful.

Just like last time...

#8 | Posted by Prolix247 at 2016-10-14 09:50 PM | Reply

Just how/where did the Times obtain the names/locations and addresses/phone numbers of these people? Knowing the leftist NYTimes, I doubt that they were in contact with any of the 'missileers'. Just another attack on Trump on their opinion page.

#9 | Posted by MSgt at 2016-10-15 11:55 AM | Reply


You sir are either oblivious or intentionally obtuse:

Former nuclear launch officers sign letter: Trump ‘should not have his finger on the button'

Ten former nuclear launch control officers who once held the keys needed to fire on the president's order have signed an open letter saying they think Donald Trump should not be entrusted with the nation's nuclear codes.

The letter, issued Thursday, says the decision to use nuclear weapons requires "composure, judgment, restraint and diplomatic skill" -- all qualities that the former Air Force officers who signed it said Trump lacks.

"On the contrary, he has shown himself time and again to be easily baited and quick to lash out, dismissive of expert consultation and ill-informed of even basic military and international affairs -- including, most especially, nuclear weapons," the letter says. "Donald Trump should not be the nation's commander-in-chief. He should not be entrusted with the nuclear launch codes. He should not have his finger on the button."

#10 | Posted by tonyroma at 2016-10-15 12:06 PM | Reply



No, It's an argument feigning insubordination.

They don't get to think, they are told what to do.

If your not up to the job, there is a replacement standing right behind you.

#2 | Posted by Prolix247

Not really sure how you came to that conclusion since it's the opposite of what the author states.

He's saying you have to have the utmost trust in the POTUS because as the launch officer you will launch if ordered.

Hence why he's worried about Trump.

#11 | Posted by jpw at 2016-10-15 12:31 PM | Reply

All just hacking political hype with no validity.

#7 | Posted by Crassus

Do you eyes actually turn brown when you're this full of s---?

#12 | Posted by jpw at 2016-10-15 12:31 PM | Reply

taken right off the hillary ad...

not much research here other than watching too much tv...

#13 | Posted by afkabl2 at 2016-10-15 01:30 PM | Reply

#7 | Posted by Crassus
Not at all. A true liberal would not put themselves in the position to push the button.

#14 | Posted by Federalist at 2016-10-15 02:25 PM | Reply

I guess I welcome a military coup if Trump becomes President and threatens to nuke Uzbeki-beki-stan-stan-stan for no good reason.

#15 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-10-15 02:37 PM | Reply

A little test done during the early 70s, dwelt with the guys in the command bunkers, they controlled at least 4 pads, each pad usually had 4 vehicles. Back then they had two shifts, of two man teams. Duty interval was seven days. The test was to see if these guys would actually pull the trigger. After disabling the controls and isolating the command center the test was conducted about halfway through the duty cycle. No verification, no external cues, just an automated order to launch immediately. The results were surprising as well as tragic. A majority would not launch. Those that did sometimes killed themselves afterwards. The longer the individuals had been on missile duty, the less likely they were to launch. I will probity get a visit from some guys in a government sedan for sharing this. After the Air Force shared this with the Joint Chiefs, the Navy tried it on one of their subs. No word on what happened. They don't call those guys the silent service for nothing. If you think things have changed, they have. The guys in the silos just maintain, they do not control. Where and how is a real secret.

#16 | Posted by docnjo at 2016-10-15 03:45 PM | Reply

The Army had other problems. Sense they only had tactical nucs at the time, usually from .25 KT to 10 KT, until Pershing got on line- the safe guards put in place were so good that most of the time the users could not get the safeties off even with the combinations for the artillery shells or not in time. The keys and codes for the lance missiles were so well secured, that if the balloon went up the weapons would have been captured before they could have been used. The Army is now a nuclear free branch.

#17 | Posted by docnjo at 2016-10-15 04:11 PM | Reply

The results were surprising as well as tragic.


#18 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-10-15 04:31 PM | Reply

Why is it surprising that an order to launch would be ignored when there's nothing in the wind indicating the world is on the brink of nuclear war?

Like, an active conventional war already taking place, for example?

Did the suicides get Purple Hearts?

#19 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-10-15 04:34 PM | Reply

OK, for the ignorant, let me explain. Command silos were hardened. No outside communication, the duty cycle was for a week at a time. The guys did status reports daily and tests constantly. So has a crisis blown up in a period of three to four days? Once they were in their was no communication except through encrypted lines. Those lines did not carry the news. You couldn't watch TV down there or get a news paper or listen to a radio. They were sealed in, till their relief showed up. Top side there was a team of armed men with no sense of humor at all who made sure that that happened. Subs are worse, those guys are down for months. No TV or radio ether.

#20 | Posted by docnjo at 2016-10-15 05:20 PM | Reply

#11 - A Lily by another name...

#21 | Posted by Prolix247 at 2016-10-15 09:30 PM | Reply

How long did it take the Cuban Missile Crisis to play out? Nearly two weeks.

I see what you are saying but any sane human being is going to take their awareness of reality into account when being asked to destroy potentially all of it.

Perfectly understandable to kill yourself after doing just that as well.

James Forestall was a role model in that regard.

#22 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-10-15 09:34 PM | Reply

"taken right off the hillary ad...
not much research here other than watching too much tv..."

Umm no.

Actually. It was taken from the New York Times and from the mouth of a former Missileer.

#23 | Posted by donnerboy at 2016-10-15 10:23 PM | Reply

At this point and time there must be a few thousand former as well as current 'missileers' in our population - appears a few are pro Hillary dems.

#24 | Posted by MSgt at 2016-10-16 12:22 PM | Reply

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