Vice chief addresses need to modernize nuclear triad

WASHINGTON — Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Stephen Wilson discussed the state of the nuclear triad during a Mitchell Institute breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C., May 25, 2017.

The Air Force maintains two legs of the nuclear triad, including aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons, more than 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 75 percent of the nuclear command, control and communication that connects the president to senior military leaders and approximately 30,000 Airmen maintaining this capability.

“Strategic stability is the key term I want to emphasize today, what we need as a backdrop against what other nations are doing,” Wilson said.

Air Force leadership continue to advocate for stable, predictable budgets to ensure Airmen receive the updated equipment they need to modernize the nuclear triad, he explained.

“The budget is certainly a step in the right direction; it helps us move forward on our readiness recovery,” he continued. “We hope to have a predictable, flexible budget going forward.”

To ensure the nuclear triad is responsive, survivable, flexible and visible, the Air Force plans upgrades that include replacing the ground-based strategic deterrent missile with the Minuteman III; advancing the development of the B-21 Raider to provide critical flexibility across a wide range of joint military operations with long-range, large mixed payloads and survivability; and upgrading to the long range standoff missile that will be compatible with all nuclear-capable bombers.

“Today’s modernization is tomorrow’s readiness,” he said. “We don’t control the future, but we need to be ready for it. Our nuclear forces will continue to play an important role for our nation.”

Enemies are closing the advantage gap fast, and Wilson isn’t interested in a fair fight.

“I don’t want to win 36 to 33 – I want to win 100 to nothing,” he said. “To do that, we have to maintain an advantage, we have to maintain a strong nuclear capability.” 

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