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​A missile maintenance team from Malmstrom AFB, Mont., removes the upper section of an intercontinental ballistic missile at a missile site. Air Force photo by Airman John Parie.

​The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee agrees there is a need for a nuclear deterrent force and believes the strategic triad “still makes sense,” though he said the nation cannot afford the $1 trillion estimated cost for modernizing all three legs of the triad. “If we save some money there, we could address some of the other threats,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Wednesday. He listed ISIS terrorists as “the biggest threat.” Speaking to defense reporters in Washington, D.C., Smith said the strategic missile submarines are “the easiest to hide and the safest,” and he supports building the new B-21 Long-Range Strike Bomber because the current force is aging and bombers have been useful in conventional conflicts, such as Iraq. “I think we can do with less ICBMs,” which are “the least survivable,” he said. The Navy has begun developing a replacement for the Ohio-class strategic submarines. The Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to build at least 100 long-range stealthy B-21s, and is planning a replacement for the 450 deployed Minuteman III ICBMs. Smith rebutted the Republican arguments that the US needed to match Russia’s nuclear force modernization, calling that “Cold War” thinking.