WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel demanded more information Wednesday after the Air Force removed 17 launch officers from duty at a nuclear missile base in North Dakota over what a commander called “rot” in the force. The Air Force struggled to explain, acknowledging concern about an “attitude problem” but telling Congress the weapons were secure.
While the Pentagon’s modernization budget for the pre-emptive nuclear option is a modest ten billion dollars (excluding the outlay by NATO countries). the budget for upgrading the US arsenal of “strategic nuclear offensive forces” is a staggering $352 billion over ten years. (See Russell Rumbaugh and Nathan Cohn,“Resolving Ambiguity: Costing Nuclear Weapons,” Stimson Center Report, June 2012).
These multi-billion military outlays allocated to develop“bigger and better nuclear bombs” are financed by the massive economic austerity measures currently applied in US and NATO countries.
Phi Beta Iota: The US Air Force is the most tail to tooth service, the most wasteful service (the most irresponsible across all forms of acquisition), the most inattentive to strategic duty service, and totally unconcerned with what the US Army, US Marine Corps, or US Navy might need in the way of joint support. In that light, one has to wonder what the Secretary of Defense is thinking of is he chooses to cut the US Army, which provides the 4% of the force that takes 80% of the casualties and only receives 1% of the total Pentagon budget (for the infantry alone), when a much more intelligent cut would be across the entire US Air Force starting with the elimination of land-based missiles and long-range strategic bombers — what we NEED is a long-haul Air Force that drives the Army to work the way the US Navy drives the Marine Corps to work. And never mind those pesky uncared for veterans, still committing suicide at a rate of 18 a day (those are only the successful ones).