Responding to press reports on a new RAND survey showing lagging morale among airmen in the ICBM community, Air Force Acting Secretary Eric Fanning said the service has actually been making a great deal of progress in its nuclear operations in the last few years. Fanning, speaking on Nov. 22 at AFA’s Pacific Air & Space Symposium in Los Angeles, said RAND itself had put caveats on the report, noting that the sample size was small and RAND’s researchers wanted to do a deeper look at the ICBM corps. Further, taken alongside other more comprehensive looks into the Air Force’s missile force, there is evidence of improvement, said Fanning. “Perception is lagging reality, I think, in this case,” he said. The long-term question has to do with the maintenance of the triad. Fanning noted that it will be a “very expensive bill” to recapitalize and modernize the triad in coming years. However, the Air Force is committed to supporting and modernizing both its ICBM and nuclear-capable bomber forces, he said.
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.