Acting Secretary Michael Donley told reporters Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference that senior USAF leadership has closely studied last week’s task force report on nuclear weapons management, but hasn’t yet chosen a course of action in addressing its findings. Donley said USAF is considering a variety of options. One of these options would be to put all USAF bombers under US Strategic Command and making it a direct force provider to regional commanders; in other words, supporting, as opposed to supported. Donley also said the jury’s still out as to whether cyber operations will be folded into the new entity that would have nuclear missile and bomber responsibilities, but if it is, that will happen after the nuclear issues are sorted out. An interagency summit with Departments of Defense and Energy, USAF, and other defense agencies will take place Thursday, and Donley suggested a way forward could be announced within a month. The first order of business, he said, is to find areas of consensus among the entities involved with nuclear weapons, and then tackle areas of disagreement. He said that Air Force planning for its nuclear roadmap has followed “the Schlesinger report by about a month.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.