A Tall Order

Protecting the nuclear enterprise may be “central” to the new defense strategy, but it won’t be easy as defense dollars continue to dwindle, said Gen. Robert Kehler, US Strategic Command boss, during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. “Of all the elements of the nuclear enterprise, I’m most concerned with the potential for declining or inadequate investment in the nuclear weapons enterprise itself, some declining investment that would result in our inability to sustain the deterrent force,” said Kehler during his May 30 talk. He added, “Our weapons are aging, and we face the continued erosion of the nuclear enterprise’s physical and intellectual capital.” Kehler said the President’s Fiscal 2013 budget request protects funding for stockpile certification, warhead life extension, and infrastructure recapitalization, but the United States must keep its commitment to such investments in the future if it wants to maintain the “long-term credibility and viability” of the nuclear deterrent. “No question that’s a tall order while we are facing significant budget reductions,” he added. (Kehler transcript)