The United States is more secure today thanks to the path taken by the nation and Russia to shrink their Cold War nuclear arsenals, said Gen. Robert Kehler, head of US Strategic Command. “We have dramatically reduced the size of our nuclear arsenals and we have preserved deterrence and stability, ” he said in his address last week at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. The US arsenal has come down from some 30,000 warheads since the end of the Cold War, something he dubbed an “extraordinary success.” The number Kehler said he is focused on now, however, is 1,550—the cap on deployed strategic warheads the United States will have to reduce to by February 2018 under the terms of the New START agreement with Russia. After this, any conversations about further reductions in the arsenal will depend on the strategic environment, he said. Much depends on how the world looks in another decade, what the United States believes needs to be included in further negotiations and what the national strategy is, he said. “And then, we get to numbers,” added Kehler during his Feb. 23 address.
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.