Still on the Table

The Air Force hasn’t ruled out yet that it will inactivate one of its nine Minuteman III ICBM squadrons when it reduces the size of its ICBM force to meet the force levels established in the Obama Administration’s nuclear force posture and the caps on deployed launchers imposed by New START. Originally, Air Force nuclear overseers did not anticipate standing down a Minuteman squadron, which operates 50 missiles, as part of the drawdown of the ICBM force from 450 operational missiles to 420 or less. However, since then, “lots more analysis has gone into this,” Maj. Gen. William Chambers, who oversees nuclear matters on the Air Staff, told reporters last week at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. Plus, he said, there is the new dynamic of “pretty drastic” fiscal constraint. “So, if we are going to come down in numbers, we want to do that in a way that is both operationally and fiscally sound and so that makes some options better than others,” said Chambers. He emphasized that no decision has been made yet.