Debating the Cost of the Nuclear Triad

With New START reductions now law and cost pressures mounting, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said a renewed debate on the cost of the nuclear triad may be coming. “Nuclear deterrence strategy is something we should be thinking and talking about all the time,” Welsh told reporters Wednesday during a breakfast event in Washington, D.C. Although he continues to be a believer in the flexibility, survivability, and responsiveness of the nuclear triad, Welsh conceded a debate on its future may be inevitable. “The cost of operating our ICBM fleet . . . is not that significant compared to the cost of running other things,” he said. However, the cost of modernizing nuclear infrastructure is not small. That likely will lead to a “very honest debate about where we can afford to invest,” and how investments relate to the nation’s nuclear strategy, he added. “I don’t know where we are going on this,” he said. “I think that’s a fair debate and the Air Force needs to be in the middle of it.” (See also Cold War Relic)