The top uniformed U.S. Air Force official criticized a report conducted by an influential retired general that recommends the U.S. reduce its nuclear stockpile.
The study, led by former Marine Gen. James Cartwright, who oversaw the U.S. military’s nuclear weapons during his military career and retired last year as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for cutting the strategic nuclear stockpile to 900 warheads. The report also calls for eliminating U.S.-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), which are operated by the Air Force.
“I don’t agree with his assessment nor the study,” said Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, at a May 16 event at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Schwartz said the combination of land-based and sea-based ICBMs, and strategic bomber aircraft serve as a deterrent.
“Why do we have a land-based deterrent force? It’s so that an adversary has to strike the homeland,” he said.
Cartwright’s report, which was conducted for Global Zero, an international organization that advocates for the elimination of nuclear weapons, states that with a reduced nuclear inventory of 900 warheads, only 450 should be deployed.
The deployed warheads should be “de-alerted” and require 24 hours to 72 hours to become “launch ready,” the report states.
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the U.S. and Russia allows for 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads.