Quick reminder: We’re on the eve of destruction as the INF Treaty expires

Pentagon Run-Down

The Army test fires a Patriot missile in a recent test

Photo by Jason Cutshaw, U.S. Army.

We're all going to die.

That doesn't mean we're all going to die tomorrow, but before we delve into the United States government's withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, it's worth remembering that we are all mortal and our corporeal existence will end one day even if the world is not consumed by a nuclear holocaust or global warming or the heat death of the sun (Your daily motivation courtesy of your friend and humble narrator).


First, let's take a trip back in time to 1987, when the INF Treaty was first signed. At the time, the Soviet Union was led by Mikhail Gorbachev, who came to power after his three predecessors died in quick succession between 1982 and 1985. For Soviet reformers, Gorbachev's accession gave hope that Stalin's generation of cronies was finally starting to die off. Gen Xers and Millennials can relate.

The INF Treaty, intended to defuse the possibility of a global thermonuclear war, paved the way for the Soviets to dismantle their inventory of 654 SS-20 nuclear cruise missiles, which were difficult for NATO to track because they were so mobile and could strike targets in Europe with little notice, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Missile Threat website.

Flash forward to the present: Current Soviet leader Vladimir Putin has shown the INF Treaty as much respect as he has given to the territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine. Russia has developed a new ground-launched cruise missile with the designator 9M729, making the United States the only country actually living up to the treaty. As President Barack Obama can attest, nice guys who play with Russia really do finish last.

On Friday, the United States formally withdrew from the INF Treaty. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement claiming, "Russia is solely responsible for the treaty's demise."

For defense industry, the end of the 32-year-old treaty meant to prevent Armageddon is surely more exciting than Christmas, July 4th, and the Super Bowl all wrapped up in an orgasm. Expect to see companies rolling out new lines of missiles for Prime Day; after all, nothing says "I love you" like a $500,000 million gift card for Raytheon.

However, it will take several years for the Defense Department to field any new weapons systems, said Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, who added that not only is the Pentagon is only looking to test and develop new systems for conventional weapons rather than nukes, but it's far too early to say where these new weapons might be deployed.

"In light of Russia's continued violation of the INF Treaty, the Department commenced Treaty-compliant research and development activities in 2017," Gleason said in a statement. "DoD's initial R&D [research and development] efforts led the department to focus on mobile, conventional, ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems."

Now that the INF Treaty is history, the U.S. military has an opportunity to develop hypersonic weapons and other conventional systems that would come in handy in a war against China, said retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, author of Scales on War, a.k.a. the bible for lethality.

These new weapons systems could be launched by bases held by Marines to take out Chinese missiles, which have ranges between 1,200 and 2,200 miles, Scales said. The U.S. military can now also develop long-range anti-ship missiles.

In other words, the Pentagon is free to become more lethal, and if there's one thing the U.S. military loves, it's lethality, which top civilian and uniformed officials are known to mix with baking powder and smoke it like crack cocaine.

But one unresolved question is whether leaving the INF Treaty makes war against a great power such as Russia or China more likely, especially since humanity will have brand new tools of self-destruction.

It's also worth noting that President Donald Trump has shown great enthusiasm for using destructive weapons, such as the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast or "Mother Of All Bombs."He recently said he could win the war in Afghanistan at the cost of millions of lives. (He's right, you know.)

So where does that leave us?

The best advice your humble Pentagon correspondent can give is this: Treat every day as if it were your last. Eventually, you'll be right.

Jeff Schogol covers the Pentagon for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 14 years and embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq and Haiti. Prior to joining T&P, he covered the Marine Corps and Air Force at Military Times. Comments or thoughts to share? Send them to Jeff Schogol via email at schogol@taskandpurpose.com or direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter.

(DoD photo)

Five people have been indicted in federal court in the Western District of Texas on charges of participating in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from benefits reserved for military members, U.S. Department of Justice officials said Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
In this March 24, 2017, photo, bottles of hemp oil, or CBD, are for sale at the store Into The Mystic in Mission, Kansas. (Associated Press/The Kansas City Star/Allison Long)

Editor's Note: This article by Patricia Kime originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

As the military services each roll out new policies regarding hemp-derived products like cannabidiol, or CBD, the Defense Department is not mincing words.

"It's completely forbidden for use by any service member in any of the services at this point of time," said Patricia Deuster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

The warning, along with the policies issued recently by the Air Force, Coast Guard and Department of the Navy, comes as CBD is becoming increasingly ubiquitous across the country in many forms, from coffee additives and vaping liquids to tinctures, candies and other foods, carrying promises of health benefits ranging from pain and anxiety relief to sleeping aids and inflammation reduction.

Read More Show Less

The Navy has fired five senior leaders so far in August – and the month isn't even over.

While the sea service is famous for instilling in officers that they are responsible for any wrongdoing by their sailors – whether they are aware of the infractions or not – the recent rash of firings is a lot, even for the Navy.

A Navy spokesman said there is no connection between any of the five officers relieved of command, adding that each relief is looked at separately.

Read More Show Less
Then-Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville. (U.S. Army/Spc. Matthew J. Marcellus)

After months of focusing on modernization priorities, Army leadership plans to tackle persisting personnel issues in the coming years.

Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday at an event with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that what people can to hear service leadership "talk a lot about ... our people. Investing in our people, so that they can reach their potential. ... We are a people organization."

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army/Pfc. Hubert D. Delany III)

Two U.S. military service members were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Resolute Support mission announced in a press release.

Their identities are being withheld pending notification of next of kin, the command added.

A total of 16 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan so far in 2019. Fourteen of those service members have died in combat including two service members killed in an apparent insider attack on July 29.

Two U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been killed in non-combat incidents and a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was declared dead after falling overboard while the ship was supporting operations in Afghanistan.

At least two defense contractors have also been killed in Afghanistan. One was a Navy veteran and the other had served in the Army.