The Air Force has asked the Pentagon leadership for extra monies, separate from its regular accounts, to fund nuclear modernization, said service Secretary Deborah James on Tuesday. The Air Force argued that its two legs of the nuclear triad (i.e, ICBM force, bombers) constitute a national mission and deserve to be funded as such, James acknowledged during a press conference at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. “We very much did pitch this,” in the service’s recent Fiscal 2016 program objective memoranda submission, she said. The POM goes to the Pentagon leadership, which will adjudicate the request and render final decisions “later this year,” she said. “We have redirected substantial monies within our own topline toward the nuclear mission,” explained James, but “there is more to be done.” She said she’s optimistic about the approach, saying Pentagon acquisition executive Frank Kendall “is quite understanding that, given the totality of our Air Force, even when we put nuclear as No. 1, which is what we’re doing, we still have other important missions, and we have to have a reasonable balance.” Kendall has been “a great partner in telling this story,” said James.
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.