Tom Nichols explains in his Peacefield newsletter how the United States has lost so much of its nuclear weapon planning capacity since the end of the Cold War. This is a real challenge now that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has at least rhetorically put their use on the table during his Ukrainian invasion.
As Nichols explains:
The fall of the Soviet Union changed many things, but in nuclear matters it changed almost nothing. The missiles and their warheads remained where they were. They continue to wait in silent service. The crews in silos, submarines, and bombers now consist of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the people who built the first nuclear weapons and created the plans for their use. And yet for years we have conducted international politics as if we have somehow solved the problem of nuclear war.
Of course, we haven’t. If we ever see more peaceful times again, we shouldn’t again mistake ignoring these issues. Hopefully, we can survive the inevitable escalations or mistakes that a crisis such as the current one will create.