Minot AFB, N.D. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Monday kicked off a multi-day, multiple base visit to the USAF nuclear enterprise, telling B-52 and Minuteman III crews at Minot AFB, N.D., that while their mission isn’t highly visible to the public, those in the Defense Department will place increased emphasis on its health in the face of increasing aggression from nuclear powers abroad. “All together, you are part of something vital and special,” Carter told a gathering of Minot personnel on Monday. “After all, there’s a lot that goes into this mission—because while deterrence may seem like a simple, even elegant concept, it rests on a complicated, human-intensive, and technology-intensive process.” A healthy nuclear deterrence is dependent on how it is perceived, and if potential adversaries believe the US nuclear triad is healthy and credible. “How we deter cannot be static; rather it must adapt as threats evolve, while continuing to preserve strategic stability—reinforcing nuclear restraint, rather than inviting competition or attack,” Carter said. The US has underinvested in its nuclear arsenal since the end of the Cold War, a trend the administration is seeking to end with the Fiscal 2017 budget. Previously, the Defense Department spent about $15 billion per year as a “modest investment in basic sustainment and operations.” The budget request calls for $19 billion for 2017, which is part of $108 billion over the next five years to “sustain and recapitalize” the nuclear force.
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.