The Air Force general responsible for most of the nation’s military nuclear force is worried that the Continuing Resolution and the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration will wipe out 20 percent of the money he needs to keep his force combat ready.
“You can’t take those kinds of reductions we’ll be looking at without some kind of degradation.” said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and America’s nuclear-capable bombers and the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that represent two-thirds of the total nuclear deterrence force. Keep reading →
The start of a new year and of a new administration is a good time to think about the future. A key challenge facing the new Obama administration and the Congress is to ensure that US military capabilities continue to innovate and evolve in challenging times.
Paul Bracken has underscored that we are in a Second Nuclear Age, and in this age deterrence is different, but remains as significant as the first. Bracken is concerned that we are ignoring the rebirth of nuclear weapons within the global dynamic at our peril. Keep reading →
Michael Donley is the Secretary of the Air Force. This is the conclusion of a series of four op-eds Sec. Donley wrote exclusively for Breaking Defense on the future of the Air Force. Today’s piece makes the case that investments in new technology cannot be deferred — a modernization challenge that Army aviators are facing as well.
Among the most difficult challenges facing the Air Force is the need to modernize. In the sine waves of defense spending since World War II, most resources during defense buildups have supported wartime operations in Korea, Vietnam, and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan. The early-1980s build-up was the only one to focus on modernization without the burden of large combat operations, and to a significant degree we have been living off the investments from that era or even earlier. Keep reading →
Michael Donley, Air Force Secretary, wrote this second of four op-eds on the future of the Air Force exclusively for Breaking Defense. Today’s piece grapples with just how small the Air Force’s force structure can get while the service can still accomplish its missions.We will run an op-ed early each morning through Friday. The Editor.
Like all of our military services, the US Air Force has been through an extraordinary decade of change. Airmen have moved unprecedented amounts of personnel and equipment to remote theaters of operation; built global command, control, and intelligence operations; provided 24/7 close air support to ground forces; and introduced new technologies, including Remotely Piloted Aircraft [RPAs, aka UAVs]. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Where’s the strategic beef? That’s what Andrew Krepinevich wants to know.
“When the administration came out with its strategic guidance [in] January, I thought the guidance made a lot of sense in terms of setting priorities,” the head of the influential Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments said this morning at the headquarters of the Air Force Association. “Western Pacific No. 1, Persian Gulf region No. 2, that certainly made a lot of sense. But what I haven’t seen since then is the strategy. If these are the objectives, how do we go about meeting those objectives?” Keep reading →
As part of its ongoing strategic “pivot” towards the Pacific, early this year the Defense Department announced it would design a new missile able to quickly cross long distances and penetrate sophisticated air defenses, of the kind rapidly proliferating across Asia. The so-called “conventional prompt strike option” would be submarine-launched, the Pentagon said in its January Defense Budget Priorities and Choices release.
The department placed great emphasis on the new weapon, declaring that “we had to invest in capabilities required to maintain our military’s continued freedom of action.” Keep reading →
America’s weapons seem to always cost more than the Pentagon expects or the American taxpayer hopes. For much of the last decade the Air Force in particular has been the poster boy for soaring costs, badly managed programs and the odd bit of corruption or incompetence. Tanker, F-35, Space-based Infrared System, NPOESS, Light Air Support planes for Afghanistan. The list is long and depressing.
But AOL Defense has learned that after decades of cost increases and fruitless acquisition reform, the Air Force appears to have accomplished what many thought would never happen and has reined in costs, bringing down total acquisition costs by $7 billion, or 2 percent, over the last year. Keep reading →
[Corrected 9:35 pm with a note about the EC-130 Compass Call] Is stealth still America’s silver bullet? Or are potential adversaries’ radars getting too smart for US aircraft to keep hiding from them?
That’s literally the trillion-dollar question, because the US military is investing massively in new stealth aircraft. At stake in this debate are not just budgets but America’s continued ability to project power around the world. Keep reading →
The recent commentary by Maj. Gen. William Chambers touting the war-prevention benefits of nuclear weapons in this publication is unconvincing.
Gen. Chambers, the Air Force’s assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, overstates the peace-promoting virtues of nuclear weapons. In addition, he exaggerates the benefits of the nuclear triad and downplays the significant financial resources that will be required to sustain it. Keep reading →
The defense budget is going down…have you heard? The presidential campaign is shedding a lot of heat, but very little light on this reality; you won’t hear much of substance about how or where it will go down. Or much sensible or reasonable discussion about how we manage a defense build-down in a way that saves money while ensuring we continue to be as secure as we are today.
In one nook and cranny of this discussion we find America’s nuclear arsenal, almost forgotten in the age of counter-insurgency and nation building. As the administration considers next steps in the size and shape of our strategic nuclear weapons, there has been a small tempest over the question of how much we spend on our strategic nuclear forces. Keep reading →