Thursday, January 08, 2009

Report: Pentagon Drifting From Nuclear Deterrence

David Wood writes in The Los Angeles Times:

After firing the two top Air Force leaders last year for a series of embarrassing nuclear weapons mishaps, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was told Thursday that the same problems of inexperience, poor training and splintered authority over nuclear arms affect the entire Pentagon, including its top leadership.

A task force headed by former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger painted a dismal picture of a Pentagon that has drifted from the mission of nuclear deterrence during the nearly two decades since the Cold War ended. Among the Pentagon's senior military and civilian leaders, the panel found "a distressing degree of inattention" to the role of nuclear weapons in deterring attacks on the United States.

Education in nuclear deterrence theory and practice at the nation's top military schools has largely ended, senior-level exercises have stopped and the number of senior officials familiar with deterrence is rapidly dwindling and will soon become an "acute" problem, Schlesinger reported.

Many senior leaders "lack the foundation for understanding nuclear deterrence, its psychological content, its political nature and its military role -- which is to avoid the use of nuclear weapons," the report concluded.

More here.


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