The United States should adopt a new nuclear posture that eliminates its first-strike capability by reducing the strategic arsenal to 900 warheads or less, said retired Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, former Joint Chiefs vice chairman, in a media teleconference May 16. “It is a significant departure from our posture [and] it is one that we would have to enter into with the Russians,” explained Cartwright in introducing the Global Zero initiative’s new report (caution, large-sized file) advocating this new doctrine and structure. “We’re talking about having about 300 weapons . . . that are available at any given time . . . so the numbers are not there for the pre-emptive, decapitating strike,” he stressed. Cartwright further advocated eliminating the ICBM force, asserting that fixed missile sites are “malpositioned” and “vulnerable” in comparison to ballistic missile submarines and the strategic bomber force. Asked for comment during a May 16 appearance at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said “Cartwright’s supposition is farfetched and it introduces the likelihood of instability in a deterrence equation, which is not healthy.” Schwartz added: “I don’t agree with his assessment, nor the study that is referenced.”
The Air Force isn’t giving up on its long-frustrated efforts to retire older aircraft, as the department’s leader continues to talk with lawmakers about plans to free up funds for its modernization efforts, Undersecretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones said Nov. 30.