Nuclear Triad to Survive Hagel Cuts in Pentagon Spending

A U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bomber rehearses a flyover of the U.S. Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va., in 2006. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday said he would preserve funding to develop a new bomber to ultimately replace the B-2.
National Journal
Elaine M. Grossman
Feb. 24, 2014, 10:09 a.m.

U.S. De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel on Monday said the na­tion would keep its air-land-sea ap­proach to the nuc­le­ar ar­sen­al, des­pite new Pentagon spend­ing cuts.

“We … pre­serve all three legs of the nuc­le­ar tri­ad,” he said in a lengthy state­ment at a De­fense De­part­ment press con­fer­ence, mostly de­voted to con­ven­tion­al-war­fare pre­pared­ness. “We’ll make im­port­ant in­vest­ments to pre­serve a safe, se­cure, re­li­able and ef­fect­ive nuc­le­ar force.”

Speak­ing along­side Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mar­tin De­mp­sey, the de­fense sec­ret­ary laid out a series of re­duc­tions he said were ne­ces­sary for main­tain­ing mil­it­ary read­i­ness and re­bal­an­cing the force struc­ture to ad­dress fu­ture threats.

The Air Force’s A-10 close air sup­port air­craft and the U-2 sur­veil­lance plane were not­able cas­u­al­ties of the spend­ing over­haul, though each of the planned weapons re­tire­ments could face push­back from Con­gress. The de­fense sec­ret­ary also is look­ing to cut Army per­son­nel num­bers and cap a new class of Navy war­ships.

Hagel did not rule out that the Pentagon might yet in­tro­duce spend­ing re­duc­tions in the com­ing fisc­al years to today’s ele­ments of the nuc­le­ar tri­ad: Navy sub­mar­ine-based Tri­dent D-5 bal­list­ic mis­siles; Air Force B-2 and B-52 bomber air­craft; and Air Force Minute­man 3 ground-based in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­siles.

However, as part of main­tain­ing all three legs of the nuc­le­ar tri­ad, he said the Pentagon plans to con­tin­ue in­vest­ing in the de­vel­op­ment of a Long Range Strike bomber to ul­ti­mately re­place today’s nuc­le­ar- and con­ven­tion­ally armed stra­tegic-range air­craft.

“The forces we pri­or­it­ize can pro­ject power over great dis­tances and carry out a vari­ety of mis­sions more rel­ev­ant to the pres­id­ent’s de­fense strategy, such as home­land de­fense, stra­tegic de­terrence, build­ing part­ner­ship ca­pa­city, and de­feat­ing asym­met­ric threats,” Hagel told re­port­ers. “They’re also well suited to the strategy’s re­bal­ance to the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, to sus­tain­ing se­cur­ity com­mit­ments in the Middle East and in Europe, and our en­gage­ment in oth­er re­gions.”

The Pentagon late last week ac­know­ledged that it had dir­ec­ted the Air Force to ex­am­ine the en­vir­on­ment­al con­sequences of de­com­mis­sion­ing some Minute­man 3 mis­siles un­der the terms of the New START arms-con­trol agree­ment, des­pite a con­gres­sion­al pro­hib­i­tion against spend­ing on such an as­sess­ment. Law­makers from key nuc­le­ar-basing states have op­posed cuts to the mis­sile force and in­cluded the ban on con­duct­ing an en­vir­on­ment­al im­pact study in fisc­al 2014 spend­ing le­gis­la­tion.

“This is the first time in 13 years” that the Pentagon will present to Cap­it­ol Hill a de­fense budget that is not on a war foot­ing, Hagel said. “It is a dif­fer­ent time. It is a dif­fer­ent situ­ation.”

Wheth­er Con­gress would ac­cept the pro­posed spend­ing changes was un­clear, Hagel said, but he as­ser­ted that the Pentagon must put forth what it de­term­ines to be the budget pri­or­it­ies most ap­pro­pri­ate for U.S. na­tion­al se­cur­ity ob­ject­ives.

The Pentagon is ex­pec­ted to sub­mit its fisc­al 2015 budget re­quest to Con­gress next week.

What We're Following See More »
OTHER SECRETARIES AT FAULT, TOO
State Dept. Review Faults Clinton Email Management
32 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"A State Department audit has faulted Hillary Clinton and previous secretaries of state for poorly managing email and other computer information and slowly responding to new cybersecurity risks. ... It cites 'longstanding, systemic weaknesses' related to communications. These started before Clinton's appointment as secretary of state, but her failures were singled out as more serious."

Source:
CRUZ STILL TOOK DELEGATES AT THE CONVENTION
Trump Rolls in Washington Primary
49 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump "was on course to win more than three-quarters of the vote in Washington's primary" last night. Ted Cruz's defunct candidacy still pulled about 10 percent. "Cruz dropped out of the race on May 3, but won 40 of the state's 41 delegates up for grabs at last weekend's state GOP convention."

Source:
MULTIPLE OFFICERS INJURED
Trump Rally Turns Violent in New Mexico
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"What started as a calm protest outside Donald Trump’s rally Tuesday erupted into fiery violence as protesters jumped on police cars, smashed windows and fought with Trump supporters and police. Police faced such an angry crowd that they called in reinforcements from around the state, seeking to double their numbers to counter the protesters, whose numbers swelled beyond 600." Protesters threw rocks and bottles at police, who broke up several fights. 

Source:
‘LOTS OF MEETINGS’
Hill Dems Mull Dropping Wasserman Schultz
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Concerned that she's become too divisive, "Democrats on Capitol Hill are discussing whether Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz should step down as Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman before the party’s national convention in July. ... Wasserman Schultz has had an increasingly acrimonious relationship with the party’s other presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, and his supporters, who argue she has tilted the scales in Clinton’s favor." The money quote, from a Democratic senator who backs Clinton: “There have been a lot of meetings over the past 48 hours about what color plate do we deliver Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s head on." Meanwhile, Newsweek takes a look at why no one seems to like Wasserman Schultz.

Source:
PRESIDENT PLEDGES VETO
House Votes Today on Bill to Strip Budget Autonomy from DC
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote Wednesday on a Republican bill that would block the District of Columbia from spending locally raised tax revenue without congressional approval, prompting President Obama to pledge to veto it. In issuing the veto threat on Tuesday, the Obama White House made one of the strongest statements to date in support of the District’s attempt to win financial independence from Congress."

Source:
×