In order to reach its goal of at least $480 billion in Pentagon savings over the next decade, the Obama administration must scale back previous schemes for a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems.
AP Photo/Eric Talmadge/File
Earlier this month, President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta outlined a more streamlined and affordable defense strategy that envisions a more limited role and smaller budget for US nuclear weapons.
While they were short on specifics, it is clear that in order to reach the administration’s goal of at least $480 billion in Pentagon savings over the next decade, previous schemes for a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems must be scaled back.
The Navy has been seeking 12 new nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines to carry more than 1,000 nuclear warheads into the 2070s, at a total cost of almost $350 billion. The Air Force has sought a new, nuclear-armed strategic bomber that would cost at least $68 billion, as well as a new fleet of land-based ballistic missiles.
In July, then-Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright explained that “… we have to recapitalize all three legs [of the nuclear triad], and we don’t have the money to do it.”
But as the new defense strategy correctly asserts, “It is possible that our deterrence goals can be achieved with a smaller nuclear force...”
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