First Half of January

That’s the target date for the release of the phase II report by the nuclear task force led by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, Pentagon spokesman Chris Isleib tells the Daily Report. Chartered last June by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the gray-beard panel issued a Phase I report in September that concentrated on the Air Force’s nuclear mission and ways to improve and reinvigorate the service’s nuclear stewardship. The forthcoming Phase II work will address the nuclear mission across the entire DOD enterprise. The Phase I recommendations heavily influenced the changes that the Air Force leadership has made to the service’s nuclear organizations, operations, and culture as reflected in the service’s nuclear roadmap that came out in October. We’ll have to wait and see how the Office of the Secretary of Defense and other organizations respond to the Phase II report. So far, we are not aware of OSD making major changes to improve nuclear oversight at its level. Instead the focus, at least publicly, has been on the Air Force. But that doesn’t mean that changes aren’t called for at OSD’s level. In February 2008, for example, the Defense Science Board’s permanent task force on nuclear weapons surety recommended that OSD create the position of an assistant secretary of defense for the nuclear enterprise to ensure “continued attention to nuclear policy, acquisition, technology, surety, and command and control.” (DSB report) When asked about this recommendation during a Pentagon press briefing on Sept. 12, 2008, the date on which the Schlesinger Phase I report was released, Gates said he was “open” to the idea, but was “going to wait” for the Phase II report before acting.