Letter Re: Are Decommissioned Missile Silos Still Potential Nuclear Targets?

I know your time is valuable,so I will get right to it. The recent post on buying [decommissioned underground US Air Force Intercontinental Ballistic] missile sites raises a question. Aren’t these sites vulnerable during nuclear attacks/exchange with a foreign country? Thanks for your site and your service. – John

JWR Replies: They would only be pinpoint targets if the Soviets are still using ancient targeting data, and that is very unlikely. From all that I have read, they simply are no longer included in the “target structure” for any nation states that are potential combatants. (Like Russia, China, and North Korea.) I cannot imagine a nation state being that inept. The only significant threat to some of these decommissioned sites is that they are contiguous to–or immediately downwind of–newer, currently-deployed missile sites. That was case for a old Titan I silo that I researched on behalf of a consulting client, who was considering buying it. This site is near Chugwater, Wyoming–which is also the home of a fairly new, active Minuteman III silos!)

On a related note, I should mention that I was forced to use out-of-date nuclear targeting data in my book “Rawles on Retreats and Relocation”, but only because there has been no declassified targeting data (that is, CIA assessment of likely Soviet targets) released since the late 1970s.