What’s Changed?

Cuts the Air Force proposes in the 2007 defense budget include 50 ICBMs. And, Republican Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana asked Air Force officials Wednesday what has changed since just last year when the Nuclear Posture Review set the ICBM number at 500 missiles not 450? Burns said he must conclude that the budget is now driving strategy. Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne responded that the commander of US Strategic Command decided the nation can operate with a “reduced target set for a hostile response.” Based on that decision, the Air Force determined that it could accommodate that lowered requirement with fewer ballistic missiles. However, Wynne added that no one had decided whether that meant the US would reduce its number of warheads. (Each Minuteman III ICBM can take up to three warheads.)