Defense Official Stresses Continuity in Trump Nuclear Posture Review

Defense Undersecretary for Policy John Rood testifying before a the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. Screenshot photo.

A top Pentagon official Thursday stressed continuity between the Trump and Obama administrations’ nuclear posture reviews in testimony before the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, noting the review has received support from senior Obama administration officials.

John Rood, under secretary of defense for policy, made the comments during questioning by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), who pointed to positive comments by former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller, the main author of the Obama administration’s 2010 nuclear posture review, as well as comments by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter and former Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.

Lamborn quoted Miller as having said, “Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s 2018 National Posture Review offers continuity with past US policy and plans, including those in the 2010 NPR. It deserves broad bipartisan support. Its proposal for a low-yield SLBM weapon and a new nuclear-tipped sea-launched cruise missile are sensible responses to changed security conditions, especially Russia and North Korea.”

This was apparently a reference to comments Miller made in an article posted by Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, which is identical other than referring to the “Nuclear” rather than “National” policy review. Miller also wrote in that article, though, that, “Given the President’s sole authority to direct nuclear weapons employment, the central question is whether this reasonable Mattis NPR represents the views of President Trump.”

Lamborn suggested the positive comments by Obama administration officials constituted strong support for the current NPR, which Rood agreed with.

“We’re gratified that, for instance, having spoken myself to former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, as well as Jim Miller, about this, both went out of their way to praise the work that we had done on the Nuclear Posture Review.”

Much of the policies and programs that started during the Obama administration have continued in the new NPR, he said, including the recapitalization of the nuclear triad.

“So it is gratifying to see that, and I think they see the global security environment in similar ways in discussing the topic with them,” he said, adding, “We’ve just got the hard work ahead of adapting to that new environment and adjusting our posture.”