End the Confusion

The Obama Administration cancelled the reliable replacement warhead program in March. But Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, commander of US Strategic Command, says the pressing need remains for a nuclear weapons stockpile that is more reliable, more secure, and safer than the current one. “The fundamental requirement for a modernized stockpile, I don’t think has changed,” he told defense reporters May 7 in Washington, D.C. He added, “I will continue to advocate for that.” The Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, chaired by former Defense Secretary William Perry, wrote in its final report, issued on May 6, that there was much confusion over what RRW really was meant to be and what it was not intended as (e.g., a new type of military capability). That confusion, it stated, continues to be “a barrier” to proceeding with the modernization issue. “As the nation moves forward,” it wrote, “it must be clear about what is being initiated (and what is not) and what makes a weapon ‘new’ and what not.” Chilton said he agreed that there was confusion in some circles. But he said he still thinks RRW was “a good program.” “I just think it wasn’t explained very well and I don’t think we had the debate,” he said. (For more on Chilton’s May 7 comments, read Cyber Synergy and Cyber Semantics; for more on the commission, see the final report.)