But the logic of designating an area as a prime attack zone in a nuclear conflict is puzzling to many—and the concept of a nuclear sponge is one that has drawn criticism for decades. In 1978, Dominic Paolucci, a retired Navy captain who served on the Strat-X team that assessed U.S. strategic options in the 1960s, railed against the strategy saying, “It is madness to use United States real estate as ‘a great sponge to absorb’ Soviet nuclear weapons. The objective of our military forces and strategy should be to reduce the weight of any potential attack on U.S. real estate rather than attracting even more.”
There are plenty of other arguments to be made today. Nukes, of course, no longer have to be delivered via ICBMs and can be launched from submarines and bombers. And Russia’s arsenal reportedly has more than 1,500 warheads deployed on strategic long-range systems and almost 3,000 in reserve. That’s more than enough to strike larger cities in addition to saturating the sponge.
Despite the criticism, the U.S. appears to be committed to the idea of a nuclear sponge in those five states. The Pentagon plans to spend $264 billion on its next-generation ICBM program, which would upgrade the silos and missiles, and ensure the absorbency of the sponge for decades to come.5 USA States selected for target areas for the enemy, in a nuclear war | Nuclear Information