Washington D.C. - (As Delivered)
Vice Adm. Charles Richard, USSTRATCOM Deputy Commander: Peter, thank you for that kind introduction and your career of leadership on nuclear issues. I’d also like to note that I’m speaking on behalf of my boss, Gen. John Hyten. I think he has also addressed this group before. He’s a brilliant speaker, and if you have a future chance to listen to him speak I highly encourage it.
I’d also like to thank all of you for coming today. I’d offer that the ongoing conversation on strategic security this speaker’s series supports is so vital, because I’d submit that nuclear attack is still the most consequential threat this nation faces. It’s a dialogue that I believe doesn’t get enough attention in the national discourse, and so it’s a privilege to be here to discuss it this morning.
We’re going to talk about strategic deterrence in the 21st century, and strategic deterrence in the 21st century is more than just nuclear. It involves space, it involves cyber, it involves missile defense. But I do want to concentrate my remarks today on the nuclear component, because that is the foundation, that’s where it begins, that’s where it ends, as we think through the broader challenges that we face.
Also, I want to recognize the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are manning our strategic weapons so that we can be gathered here today. There are 184,000 people involved in the USSTRATCOM enterprise worldwide, and they are standing guard 24/7/365 from underwater to outer space. They’re in Greenland, watching for ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles]; North Dakota, sitting in the missile silos; and they’re under the ocean inside nuclear-capable submarines.
I think they have the least glamorous but most important mission in the entire military, and I’m very proud of them. In fact, there’s more to that than you might think. Even when you talk about who’s doing strategic deterrence, it’s pretty easy mentally to kick to the ICBMs, the bombers and the submarines. But there’s more than that, there’s a lot more than that.
There are 300 Army soldiers right now that are Fort Greely, Alaska, and they man the GBIs, the ground-based interceptors that are on-watch 24/7/365. If there were to be an intercontinental ballistic missile attack on this country from say North Korea, that’s where the interceptors would come from. I like their motto, “300 Defending 300 Million.”
Fort Greely, I’m not exactly sure where that is in Alaska. I do know that it’s about 30 miles to the closest McDonalds. There are many folks out there doing very difficult jobs that we don’t tend to think about very much, but we enjoy the benefits of what they do. I’m very proud to serve with them.
As I said, I’d like to focus my remarks this morning on the execution of strategic deterrence in today’s strategic environment, because that’s what STRATCOM is all about. It’s a global warfighting command, not a functional command. We are a global warfighting command. We prevent war by being prepared to fight it, and we provide strategic nuclear deterrence every single day.
Gen. Hyten released his vision and intent for the command. It’s pretty simple and pretty straightforward. He has three priorities.
Above all else, we will provide strategic deterrence. If deterrence fails, we’re prepared to deliver a decisive response. And we will ensure our forces are resilient, equipped, trained and ready.
Since the Cold War, strategic deterrence has always been the foremost responsibility of STRATCOM, even its predecessor, Strategic Air Command. The father of the Strategic Air Command, which we all know was Gen. Curtis LeMay, coined its motto “Peace is Our Profession …,” with a dot, dot, dot after that. We sometimes forget the dot, dot, dot part.
What that means is that we keep the peace by maintaining a credible deterrent, but that we would also make sure that the consequences of any attack on the United States or its allies would outweigh the reward. So I submit since the SAC [Strategic Air Command] days that we have been very successful in this mission, maybe almost too successful. How many people in this room have ever done a duck and cover drill? The alarm goes off and you jump under your desk.
I’ve done them. I was in elementary school, not high school; I’m not quite that old. In fact, while I was under the desk I was trying to figure out exactly what this was doing for me.
But my point is, that was a very real thing back in the Cold War. We actually thought that that was a possibility. I’d ask you to think about — we’re a little bit of an older group here — do you think any of our children have ever had — has it ever crossed their minds that there might be a nuclear attack on the United States?
My son is actually here. Chase is in the back and you can ask him afterwards. But I submit they have never thought about that.
We have removed the possibility from the American psyche. We don’t think about it anymore. That is not because the weapons went away. I understand that the Cold War is over, but there are still strategic capabilities on countries that don’t necessarily agree with us today that we need to be concerned about.
One more point from back in the past. When I was a young man, say 10 or 12 years old, not often, but every once in a while, you’d look up in the sky at night and ask yourself, is tonight the night? Are the bombers coming tonight? Are the missiles coming tonight?
In fact, it was almost a touch of— I don’t know how to describe this — I’d be sitting talking to my friends in terms of where do we think we are on the targeting list. It was almost a sign of prestige where you live. We’d say okay, look, Washington has got to be first, right?
But we were near Huntsville, Alabama and it’s got the Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal. We’ve got to be kind of high up the list. That is how much it permeated our thinking and how strategic deterrence has been so successful that it has removed that from the way that we even think.
I also submit, when I say strategic deterrence did that, that was a lot of work. That was a level of national commitment to a mission that included 4,000 strategic deterrent patrols. That’s innumerable hours sitting in a launch capsule for missile silos. That’s uncountable sorties in bombers and command and control aircraft that continue to this day. I just worry sometimes that this nation takes that for granted in terms of what it takes to achieve that level of peace in the world.
Remember, nuclear weapons are just physics. Now that we know the formula for an atomic bomb, it’s not like we can unlearn it, which is why strategic deterrence is so important. For the past 70 years, deterrence has enabled a world that has not seen major power conflict.
Now look, don’t get me wrong. This nation has been at war, continues to be at war, for the last 15 years with a terrible price in blood and treasure. I don’t mean to minimize that at all.
But I also worry about something that we don’t think about too much, exactly what the level of violence that’s involved in a major power conflict. We have not seen that since World War II. But if you go back to World War II, on the planet we lost/killed over a million people a month, every month, for 4 1/2 years. That is a level of violence that thankfully we have not seen, and I submit that strategic deterrence is one of the big reasons why we do that.
Have we made progress in political means to solve differences between nation states? Absolutely. But in the end the consequences of using violence at that scale to solve our political differences has simply become unacceptable, and that’s why we have enjoyed an absence of major power war for so long. So strategic deterrence has worked not only to prevent nuclear use but to deter major power war.
The strategic threats that we faced during the Cold War caused us to develop the most powerful weapons systems this nation has ever produced. They’re the only weapons systems I can think of where you don’t even have to pull the trigger on them for them to work. So you only have to man the missile silos, patrol the skies and cruise the seas.
It’s another thing I don’t think we recognize about our strategic capabilities. Their power lies in the power of their potential. It’s their potential use that produces the effect. Because that potential changes the way your competitors think, changes the way they act, and that’s what we’re trying to do with deterrence.
That’s what we mean when we say that we use them every day. I think Dr. Brad Roberts makes a brilliant analogy in his book, “The Case for U.S. Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century.” He compares nuclear weapons to queens on a chessboard.
I don’t know if we have some chess players in the room. I’ve done a little bit. But I think if you know much about chess, you know the queen herself rarely goes into action. Her mere presence casts a shadow across the board over all the pieces, and it changes the way the game is played.
Our nuclear capabilities do the same thing in our international relations. Here’s what’s different though, unlike the Cold War when strategic deterrence was almost solely based on nuclear and pretty much aligned to a single adversary — and I’ll acknowledge that’s a touch of an oversimplification, but it’s a good way to visualize what the Cold War was like — today it’s now an all domain campaign: multi-dimensional, multi-player, multi-polar.
Let me try to give you an analogy. As a guy who has spent a lot of time in the Pentagon it’s hard to stand up and talk to a bunch of people without having either some PowerPoint or some video or something like that, but I’m going to give it a try. I like to visualize sometimes — and we’ve made videos on this — so the Cold War was like [Boris] Spassky versus [Bobby] Fischer, if you remember that grand master chess game?
It’s kind of a two dimensional board, the grand masters of the game playing each other, very high consequence, high stakes and high visibility. But it was only two players. It was a fairly well understood — at least later— competition that we were in and it was pretty well-bounded.
The 21st century looks more like the three dimensional chess game out of Star Trek, if you’ve ever seen one of those. Visualize it this way, several of the levels of the board that we’re playing on in this three dimensional game, nobody has ever played on before. So the space and cyber pieces are brand new and we’re not exactly sure what the rules are on that. We’re not playing one game, we’re playing four, simultaneously, against teams of people, and moves on one board affect the game on another board. So this is a far more complicated, complex thing that we’re working on.
Underneath all of that, underneath this analogy, our ICBMs, our strategic bombers and our nuclear-capable submarines are still the backbone of our deterrent. But now we have to integrate them with space, cyber, missile defense, electronic warfare and conventional capabilities to complete today’s strategic forces. Not only do you have to do that, you have to integrate all of that, every domain: air, land, sea, space and cyber. You have to do it in every theater: Europe, Pacific, and Middle East.
You have to do it in every partnership that we have, across the combatant commands. No one combatant command defends against everything the nation faces. It takes all nine of us to go do that job, and we have to work together to accomplish it. Interagency, allied contributions, nations that are aligned in our way of thinking — it’s that complete and integrated capability that causes our adversaries to pause when they’re calculating whether to escalate a conflict or a disagreement.
Gen. Hyten, he stated the challenge this way. How do you integrate timing and tempo of operations, in real-time, across multiple domains and theaters, in synergy with partners and allies? That question is so pressing because whoever does it first is going to win, and we are very much in competition today.
So it’s fitting, I think, that the Pentagon began a Nuclear Posture Review, alongside a Ballistic Missile Defense Review, a couple of weeks ago. This is a major strategic undertaking that’s going to set the new administration’s policy, strategy and force posture regarding the use of strategic weapons. It’s not a moment too soon.
We have spent a long period of time de-emphasizing the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, while our adversaries have done exactly the opposite. It’s kind of pretty simple, to give you a quick recap on what Russia and China are doing in terms of modernizing their forces, it’s everything.
Russia: new land mobile, new fixed silo, new submarine, new submarine-launched ballistic missile, new cruise missile — they’re putting cruise missiles on pretty much everything — new early warning, new space capability, new electronic warfare capability, new doctrine on how to use it. It’s pretty much everything. I could run down a similar list for the Chinese. This is the competition that we’re in today. By the way, we’re just getting started, just barely getting started on that.
In today’s global strategic environment, the U.S. faces nuclear capable competitors, like I said, that are well advanced themselves on nuclear modernization, and in some cases our conventional advantage over them is eroding. These adversaries are taking note of our commitment to the nuclear enterprise, and I submit in order to maintain deterrence, our military must stay ahead of the pace of change we see in our adversaries. To remain effective, they need to know that our nuclear triad is reliable and ready.
To maintain the credibility of our deterrent, the department believes the nuclear triad is the most effective way to go accomplish that. We have analyzed this and come back to the solution that we have today. So our land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, sea-based ballistic missile submarines, and nuclear-capable heavy bombers are the essential deterrent components and a stabilizing force in today’s security environment. The synergy that you get from those three capabilities presents adversaries with a complex multi-layered challenge that also hedges against unforeseen technical problems or changes in the security environment. That’s why we believe the primary focus on all deterrence modernization efforts must center upon a triad of capabilities.
Last month, Gen. Hyten was testifying before the House Armed Services Committee and he was asked which leg of the triad is more important or would require the most imminent upgrade. He answered that that would be like asking to choose amongst the children.
The ICBMs are the most responsive. Our submarines are the most survivable. Our bombers are the most flexible. All are operating beyond their designed service life and each element is essential to the strategic security of the United States.
During the same testimony, he assured the committee we don’t want an arms race. He said, we don’t need more, we just need to modernize. And so at present, our nuclear forces are safe, secure, reliable and ready. But on the current schedule, each leg of the triad modernization delivers just in time, there’s just no margin left. We’ve already taken that out.
The replacement schedule for the long-range strategic bomber, the Columbia-class SSBN [ballistic missile submarine], long-range stand-off cruise missile, and the ground-based strategic deterrent, will provide the nuclear deterrent that we need, provided we modernize on schedule. Any recapitalization program delay will impact the execution of our strategic deterrence mission and degrade our ability, and ultimately our credibility, to deter.
So let me spend a little bit on the long-range stand-off cruise missile. I’d like to emphasize how critical it is to maintaining our current strategic capabilities and our deterrence and assurance commitments. Actually, maybe I won’t talk about LRSO [long-range stand-off cruise missile], maybe I will talk instead about the ALCM [air-launched cruise missile], the weapon that it’s replacing.
Don’t you just hate it when guys who have spent too much time at the Pentagon get up here and talk in acronyms like that? It can get worse. The AGM-84, is its actual designation. The air-launched cruise missile designed in the ‘70s and fielded in the ‘80s.
And you know, sometimes I think we forget our history. When the air-launched cruise missile came out in the 1980s, it was thought to be a remarkable weapon. It was pushed on — and ALCM belongs to the Air Force, but there was a version of it that’s very similar called the TLAM-N, tomahawk land attack missile-nuclear, so Navy had a variant of this also. Neither service was particularly interested in cruise missiles at the time. It was considered very novel, very high technology. The precision was something that had not been seen before, and frankly the benefits of that weren’t fully understood. So why was it considered such a remarkable weapon?
One, it could penetrate air defenses in a way that nothing else of the day could. We instantly obsoleted an enormous Soviet investment in air defense, and required them to continue down that path. The B-52, where the ALCM was launched from, was considered obsolete. It was going to be no longer able to accomplish its mission, but now it could. So that entire investment in the B-52 was able to be sustained.
That was the invention of the concept of the standoff bomber. U.S. crews would be at far less risk standing off outside air defense range, while we had the ability now to attack multiple targets simultaneously. It’s a relatively inexpensive weapon system and it’s a highly flexible weapon system. It’s part of the reason that you still have B-52s in service today.
By the way, what was also new at the time was stealth technology, and the B-2s were starting to come out. The complement of standoff and B-52 were thought to be perfect for the situation that the U.S. faced at the time.
In fact, I’m a submariner. I don’t actually do a very good job of talking about this air stuff. But I’ll tell you that if you were to read Secretary [William] Perry’s book, he has a far better discussion inside of it in terms of just how revolutionary the ALCM was and how well it complemented the B-2.
What I submit to you today is nothing has changed. Every single one of the attributes of the ALCM are still valid, and all we’re doing with the long-range stand-off cruise missile is to just update the technology so we can continue to have that capability in our inventory for all the same reasons that we got it in the first place.
And, our adversaries have them, right? Russia has it on just about everything. If you want to get into a discussion with them to eliminate them by treaty, I submit that starting from a position where you have them yourself significantly advantages you in that conversation. That’s why we need the LRSO.
Finally, we tend to like to talk about the triad a lot, but there’s more to strategic deterrence than just having those forces. A key piece I think we under-emphasize sometimes is nuclear command and control. Our nuclear deterrent is only as effective as the command and control networks that enable it to function. So those systems must be assured, reliable and resilient.
It’s unpredictable, right? I don’t know that we should have a whole lot of confidence to be able to look out 10, 20, 30 years into the future and have a very good idea of the strategic environment and what this nation is going to have to do to defend itself. But I’ll tell you that having good command and control is going to be an essential piece of that, and that’s why it is so important to update our aging legacy NC3 [nuclear command, control & communications] systems. So we’re going to need to continue to fund NC3 modernization programs so that we can assure we have good command and control well into the future.
Let’s talk about modernization. I submit to you that modernization is an investment.
The joint chiefs project it’s going to cost about 6.5 percent of the defense budget to modernize everything that I just talked about. That is relative to about 3.5 percent of the defense budget that we spend on it today. That means we’re spending 96.5 percent of our resources on conventional forces.
Let’s put that in perspective, just a little bit. Twice before in our nation’s history we have faced this decision. You recapitalize your strategic forces basically every other generation. This is an every 40 or 50 year decision that the nation faces. I know the submarine’s number is slightly better, but all three legs are very similar, and both times the nation has chosen to make this investment
Let’s look at what we got from the last time we did it. The Ohio-class submarines were originally designed for 30 years. We are going to take them out to 42 [years].
By the way, we have never taken any individual submarine past 37 [years]. Now we’re going to take an entire class of submarines and take it out to 42 [years], and we’re going to ask that ship to be as good on its last day as it was on its first. By the way, it went to 37 years, the USS Kamehameha, and she was not quite as good on her last day as she was on her first.
I submit that to you because I think that should be a source of pride to us. What a credit to the people that designed that submarine, built that submarine, operated that submarine, and maintained it. You thought you were going to get 30 years and you wind up getting 42 [years] out of it: no nuclear weapons use; deterrence from major power war. When you look at that investment over 42 years, I think that that was a great bargain.
Put this in context. Six and a half percent is a small fraction of the Department of Defense budget, which itself is a fraction of our discretionary spending, which is a fraction of our overall spending, over a long period of time. So when you look at all the things that this nation chooses to spend its money on, and how little of it we’re talking about spending as our insurance policy against the only existential threat this nation faces, I think it is a very straightforward decision, a wise decision, very similar to the way we came to the same answer twice before in our history.
I want to leave you with just one final reminder. The only thing more expensive than deterrence is fighting a war. Ladies and gentlemen, the United States’ nuclear enterprise preserves the peace every single day. So let’s think of it in terms of what we can’t afford not to do. Let’s not lose the big picture.
Our adversaries are modernizing, and if we’re going to deter them they have to know that we take deterrence seriously. I want to be clear about this. What’s the alternative?
The alternative is unilateral disarmament. Those systems will not last forever, and if they do not get modernized they go away. Of all the worlds I don’t want to live in, the one where others have nuclear weapons and the United States does not, is at the top of the list. I just don’t think that that’s a very good outcome.
Thank you all again. I know many of you contribute both in government and in industry, and I thank you for the important work that you do. Each of you contributes to this discussion in some way. So in the spirit of promoting that discussion, I’m happy to take your questions.
Mr. Huessy: If you would like to ask a question of the admiral, please tell us who you are and speak up a little bit. I’d like to ask the first question, which is, what do you think are the major challenges to maintaining strategic deterrence in the 21st century, that you see over the horizon?
Vice Adm. Richard: Peter, there’s a number of them, and I would go back to some of the things that we talked about in the speech that we’re going to have to think our way through in the competition. I actually would start the list with continuing resolutions. I know we are in the middle of one. It is hard to state, unless you are actually inside the Department of Defense, just how corrosive a continuing resolution is to the business of defending this nation.
It freezes everything. It requires much more work to be able to go accomplish your mission. It drives delays, difficulties, and cost in acquisition programs.
More fundamentally, what it doesn’t allow you to do is change. You can’t do new starts. You can’t change funding levels. If you were to ask Gen. Hyten what keeps him awake at night, what is his greatest concern, he would tell you it’s that we can’t change fast enough to keep up with the competitions that we’re in. It’s interesting that the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. [John] Richardson, will tell you very similar things. It’s that we cannot change fast enough, and a CR [continuing resolution] prevents you from being able to change. So while I have plenty of things down the road that I could talk about that I’m worried about that we have to go do, it starts with our ability to change, and that walks all the way back to we need stable budgets.
Question: Frank Braden with Rocketdyne. You talked about the breadth and rate of modernization among our adversaries, and the importance of us keeping up with those changes in terms of modernization of the triad. Do you see within that context the need for new capabilities or new requirements that we’ll have to meet in the future, both within the triad or potentially beyond the triad?
Vice Adm. Richard: Sir, my boss has testified that he has the capabilities that he needs today for us to execute our responsibilities at STRATCOM. But that’s today, right? How long that holds into the future I don’t know.
I think it comes back to; do we have the investments in the infrastructure? Do we have the flexibility across the board such that, can we adapt to a change situation in the future? So yes, we have all the capabilities we need today, but we need to be prepared with the basis of being able to answer your question potentially differently in the future.
Question: Otto Kreisher, I have a question for Seapower Magazine. I will stick with the sea-based deterrent. I think the general testified in Congress that the Ohio has reached a point where they no longer, if they stay down too long, they can no longer dive and do the mission due to the hull. You’ve got subs going out 42 years, where is the cutoff point when they can no longer dive?
The other one is, we haven’t talked about replacing the Trident D-5, which is fairly long in the tooth. It’s getting pretty old. Is there a program? Are you still working with the Air Force to come up with a common missile component to replace the Trident and ICBMs?
Vice Adm. Richard: Let me answer your first question first. The Trident Ohio-class has been extended to 42 years. That’s as far as it can go.
If you were to ask NAVSEA [Naval Sea Systems Command] — actually there’s a number of technical issues that prevent any further extensions. It’s easy to visualize that there’s just so many times I can take a steel tube and put it under water and compress it before it doesn’t keep water out of the people tank anymore. There’s probably 300 separate engineering things that go through that, but that’s the simplest way to describe it, and there is no further margin on the Ohios.
Again, people say, how are you going to mitigate it? Well we’re on like the seventh mitigation plan. We’ve already gone from 30 to 42. Again, it’s pretty remarkable we were able to do that.
But we are just at the point where the basic things like the corrosion rates that the ship experiences, the number of pressure cycles on the hull, and we’re done. It’s just the risk associated with trying to put that thing under water simply becomes greater than the point we’re willing to accept.
Back to your point on the D-5s. Again, it’s the most successful ballistic missile program in U.S. history. The D-5 is just such a remarkable rocket system, missile system.
It has already been life extended. One of the things that drives both confidence and lowers cost inside Columbia, is that the D-5 life extended missile is going in to serve us now. So again, it’s a great credit to the Strategic Systems Program Office and Vice Adm. Benedict and the rigor of their engineering.
So that system is actually going into the fleet now and will simply be pulled through into the Columbia. The weapons system coming across is well understood and has already been in service for over a decade. Now there is a point — nothing lasts forever.
Again, SSP [Strategic Systems Programs] is a national treasure in terms of its ability to think long-range. They are starting to think about what lies beyond the life extended D-5s, and they are working closely with the Air Force to look for areas of commonality between GBSD [Ground-Based Strategic Deterrence] and the follow-on to the D-5 in such a way that it’s to the nation’s advantage in the resources that it spends.
Question: (Name inaudible) from Senator Markey’s office. You used the really great metaphor of a chess game, and I don’t mean to criticize the metaphor but —
Vice Adm. Richard: I’ve already been criticized, so you can argue that Russians play chess, we play poker, and the Chinese play Go. There’s always some limitations in terms of using analogies.
Question: But in any of those games you have a finite number of pieces and in a strategic environment you can add pieces to the game as much as you want, and you can have more than one queen and all of these things. So, I don’t want to try and be critical, but how do we modernize and how do we maintain an uncomfortable stalemate for everybody without triggering an arms race, but just a slower one?
Vice Adm. Richard: Our decision not to modernize to this point has certainly not stopped our competitors from modernizing. If there is an arms race, our decision hasn’t changed the calculus of others. In fact, we say things like there’s no evidence that unilateral U.S. reductions have caused an in-kind response over history.
I’m sometimes a little more plain spoken. It’s like it has never happened. So we have gone from over 20,000 weapons in the Cold War, down to our 1,550 that we have today. After a certain point, our unilateral reductions were met with nothing. So I think it would call into question why would we think that’s going to change?
But back to your point, that is why Gen. Hyten actually supports the New START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] treaty. That has been successful and beneficial actually to both parties to put limits, verifiable limits, on strategic forces to avoid doing exactly what you just talked about. So right now we’d still be limited to the same agreed to relative position between us and Russia and our modernization would still be subject to that and that would tend to minimize the chance that you would trigger an arms race. So again, I go back to, we don’t need more, we just need to modernize.
Question: Rachel Karas from Inside Defense, good morning and thank you for being here, you mentioned the Ballistic Missile Defense Review. Is that actually on the way now and could you explain a little bit about what the scope is and sort of the timeline for that?
Vice Adm. Richard: It is just starting. The Nuclear Posture Review may be a little bit ahead of it, both on the order of six months. It is going to look at our national policy, what capabilities we need, offense-defense relationships, as pieces of strategic deterrence. And then both of those are going to at least set the stage for us to think through strategic deterrence larger than nuclear, in terms of the role of space and the role of cyber. So I’m pretty excited actually that the nation is willing to make this commitment in its intellectual capital to go ask itself those questions. I look forward to the results of it.
Question: David (last name inaudible), International Magazine. The INF Treaty. If in the future this hallmark bomb control collapses, or there is a formal of Russian withdrawal, how will that complicate our strategic posture?
Vice Adm. Richard: Well, you summed it up precisely right. It is going to complicate our strategic posture. In fact, my boss is undergoing a review of that treaty to answer those questions. It would be kind of premature for me to get out ahead of him. We certainly don’t want that to happen.
Question: (Name and organization inaudible) Thanks very much for being here. You made it very clear that the margins have essentially been eroded. There is no margin left for this very necessary recapitalization program. What concerns you most about — with essentially no margin left -- the challenges, the threats in executing the recapitalization we need, the modernization we need? Whether that’s here in Washington with Congress. Whether that’s industrial base. Or anything like that.
Vice Adm. Richard: One of my concerns is, I go back to taking it for granted. We know how to do this. We have the resources to make this decision. We as a nation can make all of those programs come in on time.
Sometimes we forget just what this nation is capable of doing. Go back to the first Polaris submarine. This nation tried to do something that had never been done before and in four years went from an idea, we figure out how to launch solid fuel rockets from underwater, and went from zero to boomer in four years. This nation knows how to go do that, it’s just a question of the commitment. We’ll make that decision, as long as we remember our history, know what we enjoy and know what’s at stake here.
Question: Greg Collins, I really appreciate it. Could you envision any scenario within the Nuclear Posture Review where the current modernization programs would be reconsidered in some fundamental way, or do you view the posture review as about other things plus modernization?
Vice Adm. Richard: You’re just trying to get me in trouble.
I’m not allowed to speculate in terms of what the Nuclear Posture Review is going to go do, nor should I. That’s kind of the key of having a zero-based independent review, to allow that process to work out. So no, I don’t predict Super Bowls and I probably shouldn’t be trying to describe where the NPR is going to go.
Question: Good morning, I’m Joseph Alseimer. I’ve dealt with NATO capabilities for about 30 years and am back in the U.S. now. I did notice from your talk, because I took so many notes, is that we’ve already had one such Nuclear Posture Review. Just in your talk I noticed that the old Nuclear Posture Review key words were safe, secure and effective. You used safe, secure, reliable, ready, assured, resilient, and modernized. The only one you missed was tailored. Do you think your vocabulary has changed? If my anthropological observation is correct, do you think the vocabulary of the entire nuclear enterprise will change?
Vice Adm. Richard: I’m smiling because you’re asking an engineer that question.
So the fact that I used a lot of words may be more related to the fact that I’m an engineer, as opposed to a writer. No, I don’t think the vocabulary has changed all that much because the fundamental principles haven’t changed. What’s fundamentally at stake is, saying it’s safe, secure, reliable and ready would capture what we’re after. Then we’ll see which words we pick to describe that in the future.