The nation’s nuclear deterrent is “the very foundation” of US national security and the Defense Department’s leadership is resolved to institute improvements to counter the “consistent lack of investment and support” that has befallen the mission in recent years, said Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall on Wednesday. “There is absolute commitment to this,” he told attendees of his keynote speech at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. He added, “It is our most important mission, period, just because of the sheer destructive power that is involved.” The Air Force “has already taken significant steps in the right direction,” like adding missileer billets and reshaping its nuclear force training, said Kendall. The Navy also is acting to improve its nuclear enterprise, he noted. However, more needs to occur and “we will do what needs to be done,” he said. The fundamental problem of recent years “has been a lack of focus, attention, and resources,” leading to “a pervasive sense that a career in the nuclear enterprise offers too few opportunities for growth or advancement,” said Kendall. “We will fix this,” he said.
While some of the Air Force's newly announced changes will happen quickly, it may take most of Chief of Staff Gen. David W. Allvin's tenure in the job to accomplish the rest, he said in a Brookings Institution event Feb. 28.