I have seen the effects of a nuclear explosion! First hand, on the spot, over ground zero as they went off! Ever throw a big rock into a still pond and seen the ripple of waves? Imagine that with solid granite in the Nevada desert many years ago! I flew security, radiation monitoring and safety aircraft on my first assignment after pilot training as the Air Force supported the Atomic Energy Commission (later the Department of Energy) Underground Nuclear Test program. I was awed by these weapons’ power and the destruction they could provide. I flew low over the fake towns set up (with trenches for real soldiers) for the above ground tests in the 1950s and could not imagine what it was like for those soldiers.
So it was with a personal interest that I met with the DoD Blogger’s Roundtable today to discuss the just released Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) which implements the President’s vision to reduce the role of nuclear weapons while maintaining our national security. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Nuclear and Missile Defense, Bradley H Roberts and Rear Admiral John E Roberti, Deputy Director for Strategy and Policy, J-5, The Joint Staff met with and answered questions about the new posture and its implications for future military responses, force structure, weapon system updates and the role of nuclear weapons in our national defense. Roberts and Roberti were the co-directors of the review which included inter-agency partners from the Department of State and Department of Energy.
Both men were very helpful, articulate, presented the plan in a way that was easy to understand and responded to questions very thoughtfully. The Chairman and individual members of the Joint Chiefs representing each service were fully behind the new NPR which is completely unclassified with no classified annexes so it can be publicly discussed. It was also coordinated with US allies such as Great Britain to ensure their concerns were met. Their interests were respected during initial consultations, a mid project review and prior to final release they received copies of the NPR. Due to the combined US government interagency effort to design the strategy, it was announced by Secretary Gates, DoD, Secretary Clinton, DoS and Dr Chu, DoE at a press conference earlier today.
Roberts and Roberti said that we are not moving away from nuclear deterrence but responding to a changing world with different threats and enemies. There will be no new testing, no new missions and no new nuclear weapons developed under this strategy. The nuclear Triad of land based missiles, submarines and bomber aircraft will be maintained. But there will be force structure changes including a review of the next heavy bomber, a follow on to the Ohio class submarine and ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) changes. The mix of weapon systems will change based on our adversaries capabilities and strategies. Their will be budget decisions to be made and changes will occur in the next 2-6 years according to the Secretary. With the new strategy developed, weapon system changes and budget cycle efforts which take at least that long to implement will follow. Of course, with these changes will come changes to the services’ manpower and structure which will impact the military community and their families!
If you would like to read more information from the President’s announcement please go to MilitaryAvenue.com and “Review Reduces Weapons, Maintains Deterrence, Obama Says”. If you would like to listen to the Roundtable or read a transcript, please go to DoDLive!
Thank you to the Department of Defense New Media for making this interview possible with these leaders! Lee McMahon did a wonderful job as moderator today as well!