here's Nuclear Posture Review: Recognizing the return to great power competitionSad to say, but both Iran and N. Korea are also a nuclear threat...or will be.
And through them, the very real potential of terrorists getting them.
Not in terms of abject and complete defetat of America, but in terms of a threat to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of Americans.
We dare not lower our guard.
I believe the US should continue its ABM defense capability to the point or realistically being able to defend against an attack of nuclear missiles from either N. Korea or Iran.
The United States’ nuclear deterrent has been the cornerstone of our national defense and of international stability since World War II. Today, operating, sustaining, and recapitalizing our nuclear deterrent accounts for only about 4 percent of our overall defense budget, yet its value to America’s security is incalculable.
For more than 70 years, presidents from both political parties have shepherded this enormous responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the American people and our allies. While each administration has adapted our nuclear posture to evolving threats, the story of U.S. nuclear policy is more about steady consistency than dramatic change.
At its core, the NPR reconfirms the long-recognized value of the U.S. nuclear triad. It provides direction to the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to continue the comprehensive nuclear recapitalization program initiated by President Obama, including the Columbia-class submarine, the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, the B-21 Raider bomber, the Long-Range Standoff cruise missile, and various warhead modernization programs. These programs enjoy broad support in Congress and must continue.
Importantly, Secretary Mattis’ review highlights three critical components of our deterrent that previously received scant attention: our nuclear command, control, and communications system; the infrastructure and facilities in both DoD and the DoE’s National Nuclear Security Administration enterprise; and—most importantly—the military and NNSA personnel who make up the backbone of our deterrent. All require sustained attention and resources to ensure they are ready to meet the future.
The new NPR also rightly recognizes that
For instance, Russia continues to develop and deploy a variety of nuclear weapons not covered under any arms control treaty. Secretary Mattis’ proposal to redeploy nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) is a sensible move to reassure our NATO allies and pressure Russia into finally engaging in arms control on these weapons. Recent moves to pressure Russia to stop its flagrant violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty are also steps in the right direction. Eight years after the 2010 NPR optimistically stated “Russia is not an enemy, and is increasingly a partner,” we must recognize treaty violations and Russia’s aggression for what they are: part of Russia’s strategy to fracture NATO and dominate sovereign countries.
Similarly, Russia’s plans to “escalate-to-deescalate” in a war with NATO requires clear, direct, and near-term action to deter. In a carefully calibrated response, the NPR proposes to modify and deploy a small number of low-yield ballistic missile warheads on our submarines to discourage the use of nuclear weapons by anyone. This step will help ensure deterrence prevails and that conflict is prevented in the first place.
Secretary Mattis’ review also recognizes that strategic threats to the U.S. and our allies are evolving and multiplying—and are not just nuclear in nature. While the bar must remain high for any consideration of using nuclear weapons, our adversaries must not believe that they can carry out crippling, strategic attacks on our population or infrastructure with biological or other non-nuclear means without the U.S. considering the most devastating of options in response.
The latest NPR reaffirms President Reagan’s dream of a world without nuclear weapons and stresses continued engagement with nuclear powers for prudent arms control agreements. But, it also reflects the reality that U.S. commitments to disarmament cannot be unilateral. The U.S. has provided decades of opportunities for other nuclear powers to follow our lead in de-emphasizing nuclear weapons. They have not. For the sake of avoiding nuclear war and protecting the security of America and our allies, we must now take steps to ensure the continued credibility of U.S. nuclear deterrence and assurance until the international security environment shifts to more favorable conditions once again.
Three successive secretaries of Defense have called our nuclear deterrent the nation’s number one priority defense mission. That mission will comprise no more than 7 percent of the defense budget during the peak of the coming modernization program. As Secretary Mattis has said, “America can afford survival.” Congress now has the responsibility to take necessary steps to ensure our nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and credible. Our national security and world stability depend on it.
In an alliance of political convenience, House defense advocates and the House Freedom Caucus have teamed up to demand Republican leaders hold a vote on a
For the Freedom Caucus, the move aligns them with President Donald Trump’s “
Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told reporters on Jan. 31 that he planned to meet with pro-defense lawmakers at the GOP’s annual retreat last week “to talk about strategy going forward, to make sure we don’t hold our men and women in the military hostage.”
Meadows — who still favors a Defense Department audit, streamlined procurement and cutting
“I don’t think we were ever against defense spending in the past — it was a mischaracterization,” Meadows said. “I don’t know that you see a dime’s bit of difference between us and the [House Armed Service Committee] members on” Trump’s military spending plans.
Broadly speaking, their members place defense spending over domestic spending. However, their support for statutory budget caps and/or domestic offsets for defense increases have arguably snared defense spending in budget negotiations.
Just weeks after Trump won, for instance, Meadows and other Freedom Caucus members said they
Within the last year, a lead defense hawk, Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said on CNN the group had a “mob mentality.” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., for his part opposed Trump’s pick for budget director, Freedom Caucus co-founder Mick Mulvaney.
“You’ve spend your entire congressional career pitting the debt against our military, and each time, at least for you, our military was less important,” McCain fumed at Mulvaney, then a Republican congressman for South Carolina, during his confirmation hearing.
The Freedom Caucus, whose members rode in on 2010’s populist tea party wave, has since leaned into the populist president’s plans to boost military spending,
Embracing defense spending and the local jobs it creates is the smart way to go for Republicans wary of an anti-Trump wave in midterm elections, according to Jim Moran, a former Democratic congressman from Virginia who served for many years on the House Appropriations Committee.
“It took a little while for them to drop their arrogance enough to listen to some of the government relations representatives of the defense firms who are able to inform them about the number of [defense] jobs in their congressional districts that are at stake,” said Moran, now with McDermott Will and Emery.
“Those are good jobs, generally moderate Republicans have those jobs, and if you vote to jeopardize that defense economy in your district, you can become dead meat,” Moran said.
In November, Meadows, former Army aviator Scott Perry, R-Pa., and former Freedom Caucus chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, unsuccessfully offered an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that would have raised defense spending caps from $549 billion to $634 billion.
In December, the
In the wake of a government shutdown in which both parties accused the other of harming the military, the House passed the bill 250-166. Twenty-three Democrats joined the Republican majority, and four Republicans voted against it.
The measure has dim prospects in the Senate, but the idea was to use the vote to highlight Democratic insistence in budget negotiations that defense spending increases be matched on the nondefense side.
In 2015, House Budget Committee deliberations were derailed by a day when the Freedom Caucus jousted with pro-defense lawmakers over wartime overseas contingency operations funding. The defense hawks later won out on the House floor with an amendment to boost OCO.
But in June, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, told reporters he met with members of the Freedom Caucus to spell out the military’s needs — after which the fiscal hawks said they would be willing to consider defense spending above budget caps.
After the meeting, Virginia Republican Rep. Dave Brat, who was involved in the 2015 row, told Bloomberg: “That was back without a Republican president. So the rules of the game are a little different.”
U.S. President Donald Trump’s military buildup goals would face hash headwinds from a ballooning deficit and debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
CBO has previously projected the buildup would cost
Those plans would compete with the rising costs of major health care programs, Social Security and interest costs.
Meanwhile, U.S. debt will steadily rise to nearly 150 percent of gross domestic product by 2047, as growth in total spending will outpace total revenues.
The administration’s current plans are “unclear,” CBO acknowledges, but it appears to base the projections on Trump’s previous calls for more ships, more fighter jets and more manpower.
Meanwhile, the government office projects rising operations and maintenance. It also predicts military personnel costs will exert internal pressure, cutting the amount of procurement and research and development that can be done.
Three major categories of the defense budget “have their own momentum,” which will “create mismatches” between the Pentagon’s five-year budget projections and the actual cost of its plans:
The assessment was part of a presentation given by David Mosher, assistant director for CBO’s national security division, to a recent Professional Services Council forum.
- Costs of developing and buying weapons have been, on average, 20 to 30 percent higher than the Defense Department’s initial estimates.
- Costs for compensation of military personnel — including their active and retired health care benefits — have been rapidly increasing since 2000.
- Costs of operation and maintenance per active-duty service member have been steadily increasing since at least 1980.
The assessment comes a week after Trump,
Trump closed out his first year in office without substantially advancing his promise to “rebuild the military” and — with statutory budget caps in place — no clear political path to the massive defense increase required to achieve it.
As of Monday, Trump and congressional leaders were at an impasse on the 2018 federal budget. The deadlock, in part, centers on how much to raise budget caps for the defense and nondefense sides of the budget.
and the most recent is
House GOP leadership is tying a continuing resolution that averts a government shutdown through March 23 to a $659.2 billion defense spending measure for fiscal 2018 and health care items.
Introduced late Monday, this fifth funding patch is meant to attract votes from both sides of the aisle, but its fate is uncertain in the Senate, where Democrats are seeking defense spending increases be matched on the non-defense side of the budget.
By advancing the bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is seeking to satisfy a large chunk of his caucus in the lower chamber.
The next continuing resolution will be the fifth of the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. Military leaders have decried the practice of passing short-term spending legislation in lieu of a full-year budget, saying it severely hurts efforts to start new programs and maintain multi-year equipment purchase plans.
Its unclear whether the package’s inclusion of funding for a range of items outside defense, will secure needed Democratic votes in the Senate, where Republicans have a 51-vote majority. Funding for community health centers, the 2020 Census and the Small Business Administration, are part of the bill, CQ reported Monday.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., suggested on Senate floor Monday that Ryan was wasting time with the “cromnibus” gambit.
“Speaker Ryan needs to do what’s best for the country and work in a bipartisan way to fund the government, even if not every faction of his caucus will go along,” Schumer said. “If he lets the Freedom Caucus be the tail that wags the dog, there’s no way we’ll reach an agreement that can pass the Senate. And it would jeopardize the positive discussions going on right now about the budget, disaster aid, immigration aid and more.”
The current short-term spending bill — passed last month to end the three-day government shutdown — expires on Feb. 8. If a new spending plan isn’t adopted by then, lawmakers will trigger another partial closure of government operations.
now the question is Will the US trade its new sub-launched cruise missile for Russian arms treaty compliance?
Under the recently released
But could it be part of a broader diplomatic effort to bring Russia in line with the existing
The idea was floated by Greg Weaver, deputy director for strategic stability on the Joint Staff J5 directorate, during a Feb. 1 interview with reporters.
“Were Russia to agree to return to verifiable arms control measures to address that imbalance in nonstrategic nuclear forces, the U.S. might agree to limit or forgo [acquiring] a nuclear SLCM,” Weaver said then. “This is a response to Russian expansion of their capability and the nature of their strategy and doctrine. The United States is not arms racing. We are responding to Russian initiative.”
Mattis seemed to pick that thread up during a Feb. 6 House Armed Services Committee hearing, saying: “I want to make certain that our negotiators have something to negotiate with, that we want Russia back into compliance. We do not want to forgo the INF [Treaty], but at the same time we have options if Russia continues to go down this path.
“So the idea is, once again, to keep our negotiators negotiating from a position of strength. I don’t believe you can go into a negotiation and try to get something or nothing. I don’t think the Russians would be willing to give up something to gain nothing from us in terms of reductions.”
Asked specifically if the Pentagon would halt development on the SLCM if Russia returned to compliance with the INF Treaty, Mattis was hesitant but did not rule it out.
“I don’t want to say in advance of a negotiation and undercut our negotiators’ position [by saying] what we would or would not do. The point I would make is deterrence is dynamic, we have to deal with it as it stands today,” he said. “And in that regard, I believe we have to give our negotiators something with which to negotiate.”
But does the Pentagon intend to use the potential creation of an SLCM as a trade chip early on, or intend to go through with developing and producing the weapon first before negotiating with it?
Rebeccah Heinrichs, a nuclear analyst with the Hudson Institute, says the answer likely depends on Russia’s reaction, but believes the Pentagon is “serious” about developing the capability.
“It’s not like this is only being pursued strictly as a negotiating chip. No doubt the Pentagon will be happy to have it even if it doesn’t have the effect of forcing Russia to get serious about talks on INF,” she said.
More broadly, Heinrichs supports the idea of using the SLCM as a cudgel to get Russia to remove its ground-based cruise missiles from the field.
“Obama officials tried to persuade Russia to comply with the treaty, and obviously they were unsuccessful. Russia is now deploying those prohibited weapons. If we’re going to preserve INF, we have to enforce it,” she said.
However, Hans Kristensen, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project, argues that idea is “flawed,” as the U.S. had a nuclear cruise missile in its arsenal in 2011 when Russia first started developing its INF-violating weapons system.
“So why would a SLCM make them back down?” Kristensen said. “The idea to use SLCM to make Russia reduce its nonstrategic arsenal is strange because everyone knows it’s used to compensate for Russia’s inferior conventional forces. Increasing U.S. nonstrategic forces could make Russia further increase its nonstrategic forces.”
The other factor is America’s plan to begin research and development on a ground-based cruise missile, something Mattis hinted at in his comments. Such a weapon would be designed but not deployed, as the U.S. wants to stay within the INF Treaty’s rules — but it could provide a potential threat or trade-off for negotiations with Russia.
Said Heinrichs of that weapon: “We don’t intend to deploy it, obviously. But we can’t be caught flat-footed without the capability if INF falls apart. ... If we don’t enforce treaties, they are worse than meaningless. They are an advantage to our adversaries and a handicap for us.”
here's (vid inside) First look: Watch the V-280 Valor reach 80 knots in flight tests
The V-280 had its maiden flight Dec. 18 at the Bell facility in Amarillo, Texas, picking up off the ground in a low hover for roughly 15 to 20 minutes.
“So far the aircraft is behaving incredibly well,” Flail said. To date, Valor has ticked off 8.2 flight hours total, more than 28 hours in restrained ground runs and more than 52 hours of rotor turn time.
Last week was a particularly big week for the new demonstrator when it reached 80 knots of air speed flying at an altitude of 1,000 feet accompanied by a chase aircraft, Flail said. Valor has also performed 360-degree hover-in-ground effects and has faced winds of roughly 15 knots at all azimuths, he added.
The Army had been planning — through its Joint Multi-Role demonstrator program — for two very different vertical lift prototypes to begin flight demonstrations last fall as part of a critical path to informing and shaping the design of a Future Vertical Lift helicopter fleet expected to hit the skies in the 2030s.
The other prototype’s
As Valor progresses through flight testing, Bell and the Army will continue to push the envelope.
Flail said a flight speed of 80 knots begins to test minor pylon rotation — which converts the rotors from facing upward to facing forward — and as air speed continues to pick up incrementally, the pylons will move to face forward until the aircraft is in full cruise mode.
Once testing moves into evaluating the aircraft’s flight characteristics in full cruise mode, more restrained ground runs will be performed in order to verify and validate system capability, Flail said.
now this one is even more interesting:
The commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet pushed back against recent discussions that he shouldn’t both prepare and operate ready forces and that force-generation should be concentrated at U.S. Fleet Forces Command on the East Coast.
Adm. Scott Swift also denied the Pacific Fleet was training its forces to a different standard than East Coast ships and warned that concentrating force-generation responsibilities on one coast would be counterproductive in today’s competitive maritime environment.
In the aftermath of two fatal surface navy collisions and two other major mishaps in the Pacific last year, a Comprehensive Review and a Strategic Readiness Review looked at various contributing factors, including command and control structures within the fleet. Lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee have taken a particular interest in the topic, with several members suggesting they’d like to create a system where U.S. 2nd Fleet is reestablished to serve as a force-generator on the East Coast that parallels U.S. 3rd Fleet on the West Coast, and U.S. Fleet Forces Command takes over as the lead developer of policy and standards for the Navy’s man, train and equip functions.
Swift told USNI News today that the two reviews recommended two different command and control models – the CR suggested a Naval Surface Group Western Pacific be inserted into the current organization to oversee training and certification of deploying forward-deployed forces in the Pacific, whereas the SRR recommended making Fleet Forces the “single-source provider” of readiness generation – and warned that “we need to be careful” about concentrating the authority to train, certify and deploy ready forces under a single command.
“I’ll use Amazon as an example – why is Amazon going down the path of multiple headquarters? If centralization is the key to business excellence, why is Amazon going in a different direction?” he told USNI News after giving a speech at the WEST 2018 conference, co-hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA.
“This idea of centralization is what our peer competitors expect us to do; they saw us do it in Iraq, they saw us do it in Afghanistan, that’s their expectation. So if we’re going to take an asymmetric approach to warfare, why would we take a symmetrical approach to what we’re doing in command and control?”
As for the concern that having two readiness providers creates two readiness standards, Swift said bluntly: “we do not have multiple standards. We train the fleet to the same standard.”
“The last five carrier strike groups that deployed, we built that readiness. PACFLEET did, they all deployed off the West Coast. And they’re performing magnificently in Syria, Iraq, all those other places. So there’s not a double standard,” the admiral said.
“Our ability to achieve that standard in [Forward Deployed Naval Forces- Japan] is challenged, we can’t meet the same standard that our West Coast deployed units meet or what our East Coast deployed units meet. … We don’t have the ranges in Japan that we do on the West Coast. There’s also a difference between the West Coast ranges and the East Coast ranges, so I’m not about to criticize the model that [Fleet Forces Command] has because their environment is different.”
More broadly, Swift said he was pleased with how PACFLEET has handled its responsibilities: by overseeing readiness being both produced and consumed by both U.S. 3rd Fleet and U.S. 7th Fleet, he said he has been able to find efficiencies, such as the 3rd Fleet Forward deployment model.
“When I traveled around the theater after I took over as Pacific Fleet, when I would talk to people about the power of the Pacific Fleet, what was reflected back to me was the power of 7th Fleet. 3rd Fleet was force generation and all that other stuff,” Swift said of the common assumption about the roles of 7th Fleet and 3rd Fleet. But today, under the 3rd Fleet Forward model, where strike groups deploy from San Diego and remain under 3rd Fleet command and control the whole deployment, instead of moving to 7th Fleet command and control after crossing the international dateline, the “Vinson [Carrier Strike Group] is out prowling around in the Pacific right now, the leading edge of U.S. national interests, being commander by Adm. Alexander here in the 3rd Fleet headquarters.”
With so many potential conflicts lurking in his area of operations, “in my world, how am I going to fight a major warfight with the resources that I have right now?” Swift said is his primary focus.
“That’s my responsibility. That’s where the focus is, and that’s why we’re doing 3rd Fleet Forward, so we have more availability of ships to act as a deterrent to be where it matters when it matters with what matters.”
During his lunchtime speech, Swift told the crowd at WEST that being a producer and consumer of readiness has given him a unique perspective on matters of funding both sides of the equation. Mentioning the carrier strike group’s force generation model, the Optimized Fleet Response Plan, and its creator, former Fleet Forces commander Adm. Bill Gortney, Swift said “when Adm. Gortney talked about OFRP, he said the relevancy of OFRP is going to be based on whether it’s funded or not. So it’s a great process, it’s a great readiness tool, but we have to resource it. And then we have to resource operations based on the amount of readiness we’re able to generate. So we may have to do less – the Navy is a can-do organization, we’re getting underway, we’ve got a mission. Well, wait a minute, we need to take a look at our readiness to get underway.”