No Special Nuclear Kitty

Funding the nation’s nuclear triad separately from the services’ other accounts—an idea put forward by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James at last year’s Air & Space Conference—doesn’t seem to be in the cards, based on Wednesday’s remarks from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Answering questions after his speech at ASC15, Carter said the “nuclear deterrent is a must-have … it’s the? foundation, the bedrock, it needs to remain healthy and we all know we need to make additional investments, both in the Navy and, importantly, in the Air Force.” Asked about a special fund for nuclear, however, Carter said, “the money’s got to come from somewhere, and you don’t get money by re-labeling it. And so the hard question remains where the money comes from in all the services. … I think we ought to face that question and stick to the central commitment of having a nuclear deterrent. That’s the fundamental concern.” Carter praised industry and USAF’s efforts so far at updating the existing nuclear force structure, saying it “needed to be done” and has been done well. Recapitalizing the Air Force’s Minuteman ICBMs, AGM-86B Air-Launched Cruise Missiles, and buying the new Long-Range Strike Bomber are expected to demand upwards of $200 billion in the next 15 years.