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  • Is the nuke triad ‘on the table?’

    By Philip Ewing Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 2:38 pm
    Posted in Rumors


    Secretary Gates did not rule out eliminating one leg of the nuclear triad as he wound up a news conference at the Pentagon on Wednesday, saying that nothing can be “off the table” as Washington begins the Mother of All Reviews to determine how to cut $400 billion in defense spending. Which leg would he keep? Earlier in the session, he told reporters there were things the Pentagon must buy no matter what — and one them was replacement for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. His must-buy list did not include the Air Force’s nuclear-capable, next-generation bomber.

    Gates has said before that he’d be open to phasing out one of the legs of the triad — which also consists of the Air Force’s nuclear bomber fleet and its ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles — but there was no forward movement. Today, however, the U.S. is almost broke and anti-spending elements in Congress want to cut, cut, cut, which could reawaken a debate over America’s nuclear posture. President Obama is a lifelong anti-nuclear activist, and if Gates were on board, cutting the triad could become a big part of the pending mega-review.

    If a debate does take place, it won’t be pretty — congressional lawmakers from strategic weapons districts guard them jealously. And the Obama administration just went through a bruising political fight over the New START treaty last year in the Senate, where Republicans took every opportunity to attack the president for what some said was a willingness to weaken America’s strategic position in the world. There’s a Washington school of thought, in fact, that the U.S. should begin building new nuclear weapons, not just preserving or recapitalizing what it has — although in Austerity America, that is almost certainly off the proverbial table.

    The other important factor is that Gates is a short-timer, and he won’t be around even to see the end of his mega-review, let alone to argue for cutting a leg of the nuclear triad. So the next questions are what incoming Secretary Panetta will think of all this, and which battles he’ll pick with Congress as a part of these budget cuts.



    Read more: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2011/05/18/is...#ixzz1NZbbORWZ
    DoDBuzz.com
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