Pentagon Budget Protects Nuclear Triad

The USS Wyoming, an Ohio-class submarine, departing Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Kimber

AA Font size + Print

The USS Wyoming, an Ohio-class submarine, departing Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel did not rule out future spending reductions for the nation's nuclear triad. By Elaine M. Grossman

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday said the nation would keep its air-land-sea approach to the nuclear arsenal, despite new Pentagon spending cuts.

We … preserve all three legs of the nuclear triad,” he said in a lengthy statement at a Defense Department press conference, mostly devoted to conventional-warfare preparedness. “We’ll make important investments to preserve a safe, secure, reliable and effective nuclear force.”

Speaking alongside Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, the defense secretary laid out a series of reductions he said were necessary for maintaining military readiness and rebalancing the force structure to address future threats.

The Air Force’s A-10 close air support aircraft and the U-2 surveillance plane were notable casualties of the spending overhaul, though each of the planned weapons retirements could face pushback from Congress. The defense secretary also is looking to cut Army personnel numbers and cap a new class of Navy warships.

Hagel did not rule out that the Pentagon might yet introduce spending reductions in the coming fiscal years to today’s elements of the nuclear triad: Navy submarine-based Trident D-5 ballistic missiles; Air Force B-2 and B-52 bomber aircraft; and Air Force Minuteman 3 ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.

However, as part of maintaining all three legs of the nuclear triad, he said the Pentagon plans to continue investing in the development of a Long Range Strike bomber to ultimately replace today’s nuclear- and conventionally armed strategic-range aircraft.

The forces we prioritize can project power over great distances and carry out a variety of missions more relevant to the president’s defense strategy, such as homeland defense, strategic deterrence, building partnership capacity, and defeating asymmetric threats,” Hagel told reporters. “They’re also well suited to the strategy’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, to sustaining security commitments in the Middle East and in Europe, and our engagement in other regions.”

The Pentagon late last week acknowledged that it had directed the Air Force to examine the environmental consequences of decommissioning some Minuteman 3 missiles under the terms of the New START arms-control agreement, despite a congressional prohibition against spending on such an assessment. Lawmakers from key nuclear-basing states have opposed cuts to the missile force and included the ban on conducting an environmental impact study in fiscal 2014 spending legislation.

This is the first time in 13 years” that the Pentagon will present to Capitol Hill a defense budget that is not on a war footing, Hagel said. “It is a different time. It is a different situation.”

Whether Congress would accept the proposed spending changes was unclear, Hagel said, but he asserted that the Pentagon must put forth what it determines to be the budget priorities most appropriate for U.S. national security objectives.

The Pentagon is expected to submit its fiscal 2015 budget request to Congress next week.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • GBC Issue Brief: Supply Chain Insecurity

    Federal organizations rely on state-of-the-art IT tools and systems to deliver services efficiently and effectively, and it takes a vast ecosystem of organizations, individuals, information, and resources to successfully deliver these products. This issue brief discusses the current threats to the vulnerable supply chain - and how agencies can prevent these threats to produce a more secure IT supply chain process.

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.