Lost a Generation of Thought

USAF Gen. Kevin Chilton believes the US has “lost a generation of thought” because few military members or civilian employees who joined the defense cadre after 1992 “have been challenged with the imperative to be versant in the art of deterrence” and some of those “will be eligible for retirement starting in the next three years.” Chilton, who heads US Strategic Command, made that observation at STRATCOM’s 2009 Deterrence Symposium in Omaha last week. Despite changes in the security environment, in his view, “the fundamental deterrence theorem has not changed: That is the postulate that a decision maker’s behavior can be affected by holding at risk something he or she values, and by denying the benefits he or she seeks.” He cautioned against assuming that “deterrence means only nuclear deterrence.” Having said that, he emphasized that whether “a nuclear weapons-free world is a possibility; the reality is that nuclear weapons will be with us for the foreseeable future.” And, that demands, said Chilton, that we continue to consider their utility in the strategic deterrence equation.” (Chilton’s remarks)