Needed Nuclear Investment

Even though the Defense Department is looking to double the amount it spends on its nuclear arsenal, the total number is still just a fraction of the Pentagon’s overall budget and the funds must be protected, the head of US Strategic Command said. The issue isn’t if the US can afford keeping a nuclear triad, it’s “can we afford not to,” STRATCOM chief Adm. Cecil Haney said March 11 at an Air Force Association-, National Defense Industry Association-, and Reserve Officer Association-sponsored symposium in Silverdale, Wash. The Defense Department currently spends about three percent of its total budget on its nuclear capability, but that number is expected to increase to six or seven percent through 2020 into the 2030s as the Pentagon invests in programs such as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent and the Navy’s Ohio-class nuclear submarines. However, those numbers do not reflect the “conventional piece” on top of that, including human capital and support equipment, noted Haney. (See also: Still Time for Debate on Nuclear Deterrent.)