The Air Force will complete its scheduled reduction of deployed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles from 450 to 400 sometime in April, the Associated Press reported. The Department of Defense planned the reduction in 2014 in order to comply with the terms of the New START nuclear forces reduction treaty made with Russia in 2010. At the time, DOD expected to complete the reduction by Feb. 5, 2018. At an inventory of 400, the ICBM missile fleet will be the smallest it has been since the early 1960s, according to AP. In January, USAF also completed the conversion of 41 B-52H bombers to non-nuclear status in order to comply with the treaty. These long-planned reductions of nuclear forces continue despite President Donald Trump’s assertions last month, in an interview with Reuters, that he believes the US has “fallen behind on nuclear weapons capacity” and that he wanted to see the nation return to the “top of the pack.”
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.