Special Briefing on the Nuclear Posture Review
(Special briefing on the results of the Nuclear Posture Review
[NPR]. Also participating were Rear Adm. Barry M. Costello, deputy
director for Strategy and Policy, Joint Staff; John Harvey, director,
Office of Policy, Planning, Assessment and Analysis, Department
of Energy; and Richard McGraw, principal deputy assistant secretary
of Defense for Public Affairs.)
McGraw: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's time for a very
titillating subject, I'm sure, for all of you: the second Nuclear
Posture Review, the first one done in 1994, I think. To give you
a briefing and answer your questions is Mr. J. D. Crouch, the assistant
secretary of Defense for International Security Policy.
Crouch: Great. Thank you.
So, thank you very much. I see some faces that I've traveled with
recently. It's my pleasure today to brief you on the findings of
the Nuclear Posture Review. Before I get started on that, I'd like
to put this report a little bit in context.
A great deal of what we did in this report is really an outgrowth
of two things: one, the president's tasking to us to transform the
U.S. military and to transform it into a set of capabilities that
is more suitable, more effective for the security challenges that
we will face in the 21st century; and second, and perhaps particularly
in the context of this NPR, it's -- this report was conducted against
the backdrop of a completely new relationship with Russia, a relationship
that the president has been working on very hard since the beginning
of this administration and which has borne a great deal of fruit
in terms of cooperative activities and the like.
There's a great deal in this report. It's currently been delivered
to Capitol Hill. It's a congressionally mandated report, and --
in classified form. And what I'm obviously going to be presenting
today is sort of some of the unclassified findings in summary.
Where are our slides here? Good. First slide, please? Next slide,
I'm going to go over the congressional requirements. You understand
that that was really the genesis of the report. This is the first
congressionally mandated Nuclear Posture Review. But the report
is much more fulsome and goes into a number of topics well beyond
what was required by the congressional legislation. And again, that
was, I think, mandated both by the president's tasking to us to
transform the military and the major changes in the international
security environment that have occurred over the last couple of
years. I'll also talk about that security environment and the context
in which we think the changes in our forces that we're recommending
will be unfolding over the next decade or so, conclusions about
the need for a capabilities-based force, and applying the approach
of a capabilities-based force to our strategic forces and talk a
little bit about our long-term goals, commitments, initiatives and
Next slide, please.
The congressional requirement was simply to do a Nuclear Posture
Review and to provide a written report from the secretary of Defense
to the Congress. This was conducted by the department in full consultation
with the Department of Energy. There was a broad team that was put
together to do this study. We also had additional requirements levied
on us in the FY '02 budget, which we completed in this report, as
well as providing a report on sustainment and modernization of our
Next slide, please.
Before I get into this, what I'd like to do is make a couple of
comments about some of the people who were involved in this. The
Office of the Secretary of Defense [OSD] -- I chaired a senior steering
group on this issue, along with the director for Strategic Plans
in the Joint Staff, that sort of guided the process. Additionally,
we had a co-chair from the NNSA, National Nuclear Security Administration,
Dr. John Gordon, who was a co-chair for nuclear issues. All OSD
organizations that anything to do with these issues were involved,
as well as all the individual services, Strategic Command, and other
commands, as appropriate. It was a very broad-based participation.
And another thing I would point out is that while the review has
a number of decisions in it, which we're -- I will brief to you,
there's actually quite a bit of implementation that will have to
be done -- follow-on implementation and decisions that will come
out of this report. So it's an ongoing process.
The slide that you see is really a contextual slide to show how
we see the difference between the world in which our current strategic
triad was built for, the Cold War world, and the context of that
-- basically, a known, single ideological peer opponent; the idea
that there would be prolonged conflict, a limited number of potential
contingencies in which the United States and its strategic forces
would have to be involved.
And the implications of that for us was that we relied not exclusively
but very heavily on our offensive nuclear forces, and we had a threat-based
approach to nuclear planning, both because we had to, we had a --
the focus was on the Soviet Union, which of course is no longer
with us, and because everything else was sort of a lesser included
case -- any other potential contingencies were lesser included cases.
Today we have a very different situation. We have situation where
the United States may face multiple potential opponents, but we're
not sure who they might be. There are multiple sources or potential
sources of conflict.
We also have a new relationship with Russia, which is heading down
a more positive course, a much more positive course.
And the implications of this are that, on the one hand, while it's
very hard to know the who and when of when we might have to use
our military forces broadly and even our strategic forces more narrowly,
we do or ought to plan the how -- that is to say, what are the kinds
of capabilities that we need to counter the potential adversaries
or the capabilities of potential adversaries that are either extant
today or that will emerge in the years to come?
And so our conclusion here is basically that we -- the NPR underscored
the need for the continued main defense goals of the QDR [Quadrennial
Defense Review], to assure, dissuade, deter and defeat.
And in the nuclear planning context, we adopted the concept of
a capabilities-based force. We underscored the need for greater
flexibility for a range of contingencies that will be harder to
know, and we also will be making changes in how we plan, not just
our nuclear forces, but the other components of the strategic capability
that I'll talk about in a second.
Next slide, please.
Among the extant and emerging threats to the United States, our
friends and allies -- I've put this slide up, you've seen these
kinds of things before at briefings. But one of the things we want
to focus on is the problem of weapons of mass destruction. I think
one of the things that came out of the NPR is that there is not
a single solution to the problem of weapons of mass destruction.
It is not entirely a military problem, it also is a diplomatic problem.
It is also a problem that will involve other aspects of national
power. But from the military standpoint, we are concerned about
the growing capabilities of various states in the biological, chemical,
nuclear and ballistic-missile delivery area. And obviously, we are
also concerned explicitly about certain states that are developing
Next slide, please.
The new security environment. This sort of focuses a little bit
on the security environment in which -- and the direction that the
president gave us to conduct our NPR. Obviously, first and foremost
we are trying to encourage a positive relationship with Russia.
And we believe that we can do that by establishing a new framework
of relations that sets aside the sort of Cold War hostilities, in
particular the idea of ending the relationship with Russia that
is based on mutual assured destruction. This seems to be a very
inappropriate relationship given the kinds of cooperation, for example,
that have been evinced in the last few months in the campaign against
We also underscored the fact that the Cold War approach to deterrence,
which was highly dependent upon offensive nuclear weapons, is no
longer appropriate, which is not to say that we think that nuclear
weapons don't continue to play a role in that. We think they play
an important role, a fundamental role. But we also believe that
other kinds of capabilities will be needed in the future.
The other thing the president gave us, obviously, was to try to
develop a framework in which we were able to reduce to the lowest
possible number of operationally deployed nuclear weapons. And the
number, of course, as you know, that we came up with, or the number
that he released was, in fact, informed by this review, and that
is 1,700 to 2,200 operationally deployed nuclear weapons. And additionally,
we are trying to achieve these reductions without having to wait
for Cold War arms-control treaties, and placing greater emphasis
both on missile defense capabilities and also on the development
of advanced conventional capabilities.
Next slide, please.
This slide, you will be familiar with the titles in each block.
This is, in fact, the QDR defense goals. And what we attempted to
do here -- and I'm not going to go through the slide in detail --
but what we attempted to do here was provide a overview of the kinds
of capabilities that were needed in each one of these particular
I would note, under "Assuring Allies and Friends," we believe that
developing credible non-nuclear and nuclear response options were
necessary to supporting U.S. commitments. Under "Dissuading Competitors,"
maintaining a more diverse -- or developing a more diverse portfolio
of capabilities would help to deny a payoff from competing with
the United States directly in this area. And under "Deterring Aggressors,"
we -- we note not only the need for nuclear and non-nuclear options,
but also defenses to discourage attack by frustrating enemy attack
plans and the like.
So these are sort of the broad goals around -- and capabilities
around which we conducted the analysis.
Next slide, please.
This slide talks a little bit about our approach in terms of the
distinction between a traditional threat-based approach and a capabilities-based
approach. As you can see, under the threat-based approach, the size
of our force was primarily reflected -- was a reflection of a specific
threat. There was an emphasis on nuclear offensive forces. There
was clearly some flexibility in our planning, but the requirement
for flexibility and adaptability, particularly under sort of real-time
conditions, was not really there during the Cold War, and missile
defenses were considered by some in this time frame as impractical
The capabilities-based approach argues that there may be multiple
contingencies and new threats that we have to deal with. We're focusing
on how we will fight, how we will have to fight, not who or when,
and we don't really know. We expect to be surprised, and so we have
to have capabilities that would deal with a broad range of the potential
capabilities that adversaries may array against us.
These capabilities are not required to be country-specific. Indeed,
in some cases, it's -- it would be difficult for them to be country-specific.
You know, one example out of -- out of today's situation, obviously,
is Afghanistan, where we would not have expected to be in Afghanistan
maybe six months earlier.
We also believed it was very important to include new components
or new kinds of capabilities in this approach, including active
and passive defenses and non-nuclear capabilities. The non-nuclear
strike forces, we believe, have the potential, if fully exploited,
fully developed, to reduce our dependency on nuclear forces for
the offensive-strike leg of the -- of the component. And even defenses
give us more options and will allow us to do the same.
The last bullet is extremely important, because it talks about
effectiveness of command control, intelligence and adaptive planning.
We believe that by improving -- investing in these areas and improving
in these particular areas we're going to create a more efficient
capability, one that, in fact, will allow us to reduce our forces
overall but to maintain the overall capability that will be necessary
as we move forward in the 21st century.
Next slide, please.
I'll let you stare at this for a second. This is a pictogram that
is designed to kind of tell you where we are and where we want to
be. And there's a transition that's going to go on here; it's not
something that's going to happen overnight. Our strategic forces
today continue to be arrayed around a triad that looks very much
like it did during the Cold War: ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic
missiles], bombers and SLBMs [submarine-launched ballistic missiles].
We would like to transition to what we call a new triad, a triad
of forces that includes non-nuclear and nuclear strike capabilities,
and notice that the smaller triad is, in fact, embedded in this.
We will continue to maintain a balanced nuclear force triad, but
at a much smaller or reduced level.
In addition to that, we think it's important to augment those capabilities
with a -- defensive systems that in some cases may offer a president
more options, may also reduce our reliance on offensive systems,
both active and passive defensive systems, and a responsive infrastructure.
When I use that term, I'm not strictly talking about the nuclear
infrastructure, I'm talking about a responsive defensive infrastructure
that can respond to -- in time frames that are not in the sort of
15-20 year time frame that we are used to thinking about the development
of new systems, in much shorter time frames to critical problems
as well as repairing our nuclear infrastructure and supporting the
forces that we currently have deployed. So -- and that responsive
infrastructure is very critical to -- repairing it is critical to
being able to reduce risk as we bring the operational force down
to lower and lower levels of nuclear forces.
So basically, what we have here is a concept of reductions of our
nuclear forces, but the introduction of some new elements that help
to mitigate risks as we introduce new elements to the force.
Next slide, please.
Now, in a capabilities-based approach we had to determine a way
to size the nuclear component of the force. And we did that by essentially
adopting a completely new approach to this problem.
And what we posited is that there are sort of immediate and potential
contingencies that we will have to deal with. In fact, there's a
broad range of contingencies. Immediate things in that category
may be rogue states that we would have to deal with, WMD, states
with WMD, and the like.
And we will maintain an operationally deployed force for immediate
and unexpected contingencies. Obviously, anything that is unexpected,
you're going to have to deal with, with your operationally deployed
systems. In addition to that, any sort of immediate threats that
you would identify would also be dealt with with these systems.
And these essentially can be thought of as, at the nuclear level,
bombers and missiles that would be available right now, in minutes,
to days to a few weeks.
We also are going to maintain a responsive capability. Now, this
is not a separate force, it's the ability to augment the operationally
deployed force in a way where, over weeks, months and even years,
that we could respond to changes. What kinds of changes? Potentially
changes in the security environment that were more adverse than
we thought. Technological surprise. Changes in our assumptions about
how well we can introduce or field new elements of the triad.
Planning in all this continues to be a very important -- important
idea. We will continue to do pre-planning for our immediate and
potential contingencies, but one of the important things that came
out of the QDR is it's necessary to develop new tools for adaptively
-- in a timely way adaptively creating plans for situations that
may arise very quickly in an unexpected way. And again, that was
not something we had to think about in the Cold War. We didn't think
about adaptive planning in the kinds of short time-frames that we
have to think about it now, because we knew who the opponent was
going to be, we knew that it was going to be sort of a -- not very
much time to make decisions and we would in fact have to execute
very much preplanned kind of options.
Our goal is to reach the level of 1,700 to 2,200 operationally
deployed warheads within a decade to meet these requirements for
the new defense policy goals. And I think another key point that
comes out of this is the idea that the force size that we have here
was not driven by an immediate contingency involving Russia, because
of assumptions we've made about where we think our relationship
with Russia is headed and the path that Russia is on, both politically
and also in terms of its own nuclear reductions.
But we will maintain the force structure and the warheads that
we take off these systems as part of that responsive force; and
how we look at immediate and potential contingencies over the future
We will reassess our situation continually and in an ongoing way
and probably more formally periodically.
Next slide, please.
We -- this slide basically talks a little bit about the sustainment
of our current nuclear forces. To give you some idea of what's in
the budget, we are currently projecting to keep the nuclear forces
that we have to 2020 and beyond -- and longer, and beyond. If you
look at the average ages of some of these systems, you can see that
they're as old or maybe older than some of the people in this room
-- certainly as old as I am, in some cases. We have life-extension
programs that we are funding for those now that are necessary, and
we are planning on life-extension programs for those that will need
them in the out years.
We are also looking at study alternatives for follow-on systems
at this point, but at this point, we are planning on going with
the existing force of ICBMs -- submarine-launched ballistic missiles
on SSBNs [ballistic missile submarines] and bombers. We will be
fully funding the Trident D-5 SLBM life-extension program in this
five-year defense plan, and we'll also be, I know, accelerating
-- DOE is planning on accelerating its test- readiness program.
I point out one item on there: No change in the administration's
policy at this point on nuclear testing. We continue to oppose CTBT
[comprehensive test ban treaty] ratification. We also continue to
adhere to a testing moratorium, and I know that I have a colleague
here from the Department of Energy who will be happy to talk about
their program in a little bit more detail, if you have any questions
Next slide, please.
This slide gives you some additional background on additional --
the new components of the new Triad and some of the -- some of the
initiatives that we have in the report. Again, I don't want to go
over all of it. I would point, under "Non-nuclear Strike," you're
probably aware of our initiative to convert four Trident submarines
for cruise-missile carriage. Under "Missile Defense," we have an
ongoing, robust RDT&E program. And under the "Command Control
and Planning," we have a number of initiatives that we think will
help to create better intelligence, more efficient command and control
and faster and adaptive planning.
Next slide, please.
This slide is designed to kind of give you a picture of how all
these two things come together -- the reductions on the one hand
but the implementation of the new Triad on the other. As we bring
the force down from START I levels, which is essentially where we
are now at around 6,000 warheads, down to the president's goal of
1,700 to 2,200 operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons,
we will be making decisions. And you notice that we see periodic
assessment points. We'll be making decisions along the way about
what our force structure will look like, how -- what the composition
of it will be, and the like.
And we have made initial decisions right now, including the Peacekeeper
elimination, which you see there; the taking down -- taking four
Trident submarines out of strategic service; and taking away the
requirement for the B-1 to maintain a nuclear capability. We've
also made additional decisions, which will result in additional
reduction in warheads to FY '07.
At the same time, we are going to be introducing new kinds of capabilities.
And again, this is not something that's going to happen overnight.
There's no particular order for the things you see at the bottom,
but I think one of the most important elements -- and you'll see
this reflected in -- when the president submits his budget, I think
you will see this reflected, is to try to repair our infrastructure
so that we have a more responsive infrastructure. We will be putting
dollars against the command, control and planning. And as time goes
on, we hope to be able to field limited missile defense capabilities
and improve our conventional strike capabilities.
The assessment points are very important. We have a responsive
force. We may decide at -- somewhere along the line that we have
to flatten out our reductions because changes have been made in
the strategic environment that require us to do that. We may decide
that we would have to increase our forces. We may also decide that
we could decrease our forces further, or bring our forces down much
faster, depending upon the security environment, depending upon
technological surprise, and depending upon our ability and our confidence
in developing new elements or fielding new elements of the triad.
So we are going to be assessing along the way, along this journey,
as we reach the president's goal of 1,700 to 2,200 operationally
deployed warheads in a decade.
Next slide, please.
This just summarizes for you the decisions that have been made.
We have been over most of those. I would also say that we're planning
on downloading warheads from both the operationally deployed ICBMs
and SLBMs. And these planned reductions are going to be completed
in phases. In addition to the 1,300 START accountable warheads that
will come off the force as a result of the retirement of Peacekeeper,
the Tridents and the like, we will be taking additional operationally
deployed warheads off existing ICBMs and SLBMs down to a level of
about 3,800 by FY '07. And beyond FY '07, we'll be making the force
structure decisions on how we will be bringing down the force to
1,700 to 2,200 operationally deployed warheads.
Next slide, please.
Just in concluding, I want to hit a couple of high points that
I think were reflected in the review. First, this new triad concept,
we think, can both reduce in the long run our dependence on nuclear
weapons and improve our ability to deter attack in the face of a
proliferating WMD capability. We think the combination of these
new capabilities along with a smaller nuclear capability is more
appropriate to the kind of security environment that the United
States will enter -- has entered and will see over the next 10 to
20 years. And so in that context, I also think it's important to
point out that this new triad concept really was also a way for
us to draw down the force by lowering -- and lowering risk as we
did -- as we draw down the force, reducing that dependence on nuclear
weapons, but making the force -- the nuclear force that we retained
as safe, reliable, and effective as it can be.
And with that I will open the floor to questions. I would also
like to ask Admiral Costello from the Joint Staff and John Harvey
from the Department of Energy to join me up here. They may have
some additional insights and be able to answer some technical questions
that I'm -- that are beyond me.
How do we do this, in terms of the calling? Am I the guy?
Crouch: And this guy goes first always, right? (laughter) Okay,
Q: How are we to know who's talking?
Crouch: Well, you usually don't.
Q: My question is, there are many critics who say that while you
are announcing sharp reductions in nuclear weapons here, that since
you aren't going to destroy the weapons -- the warheads that you're
pulling off these weapons or removing from aircraft, that you aren't
really reducing nuclear weapons. Correct me if I'm wrong, you already
have thousands of warheads on the shelf, in addition to the 6,000
that are deployed. What would you say to people who say that since
you're not destroying these weapons, you really aren't reducing
the nuclear force, if these weapons are ready to put back on planes
Crouch: Right. We are in fact -- right now, as you say, there are
weapons in the stockpile -- and we refer to this as an active and
an inactive stockpile. There are a number of weapons in that stockpile.
Many of them are in the queue for dismantlement and destruction.
Q: Could you -- I'm sorry. I don't mean to break in. Could you
give us a ballpark figure on how many there are in addition to --
Crouch: That's one thing we can't do. (laughs) But what I can say
is that, you know, as -- there have been no final decisions made
at this point on what the size of our responsive capability would
be, and also there have been no final decisions made on the overall
size of the active stockpile and the inactive stockpile. Those things
will shift over time.
And they are a function of a number of factors. One of them is
restoring the health of our infrastructure. In fact, one of the
interesting facts is that it's necessary to restore that infrastructure
not only to be able to maintain our own -- the nuclear forces that
we have, but it's the same infrastructure that in fact dismantles
and retires weapons. And so one of the things we'll -- our ability
to put weapons through that process, that dismantlement process,
is in some way shaped by the health of that infrastructure.
We have been taking -- we have taken weapons all throughout the
history of arms control off of systems. I don't think there's a
single arms control treaty that required you to actually destroy
the weapons. The unilateral reductions that were announced by President
-- the first President Bush back in '90, '91, we -- they did mandate
destroying weapons. And there will be weapons that will be destroyed
as a result of our reductions. Which -- what we will end up with
is a situation where some weapons will move off and stay in the
responsive capability of the United States, others will be earmarked
for destruction and will be put in the queue for destruction, and
others will remain in the inactive stockpile.
So this is going to shift over time. It's also going to shift as
a result of factors that we cannot foresee at this time frame.
But I think the fact that -- the important fact -- and that's why
I left it for last -- is that we are actually taking weapons off
of the operationally deployed force. This is the force that, you
know, would be -- could be or would be used in an extreme situation,
and consequently I think that is a very positive benefit, and I
believe in fact the Russians will be doing a very similar thing.
Q: So just briefly, you are denying that the 1,700 to 2,200 figure
would be -- then be misleading, since you're going to have more
than 1,700 to --
Crouch: That -- I don't think it's misleading.
In fact, I think I've done a -- we have all done a very good job
of explaining to you and everybody else exactly what it is. We're
certainly not trying to mislead anybody. We think it's very important,
and that one of the advantages -- and we've had a situation, really
since the signing of START I, where both sides have kept very high
force levels on both sides and that are on operationally deployed
systems. We think it is a major step in the right direction that
we're able to move those forces down to significantly lower levels,
and we also think it is a prudent thing on the other side to have,
in a very uncertain period, some responsive capability that we could
respond to unforeseen contingencies.
Q: Could you give us a rough percentage, perhaps, of the 3,800
missiles that you -- warheads that you'd be taking off, what amount
of those you would keep in the responsive force? And could you also
sketch out for me what you mean, our -- philosophically our dependence
on nuclear weapons, because I didn't really get it. I mean, you've
used them only one time, in World War II, so how are we dependent
on them? What do you mean by that?
Crouch: Okay. Let me take the second question first.
When I talk about dependence on nuclear weapons, I'm talking about
the fact that during the Cold War, where we were dealing with a
country -- single country, essentially, a nuclear-armed country,
although it had allies that were not nuclear armed -- a single armed
country that had many thousands of nuclear weapons, conflict, I
mean the avoidance of conflict with that country was really dependent
upon offensive retaliation. And so the fact that we -- the happy
fact that we did not -- we have only used nuclear weapons once,
at the end of the Second World War, does not reduce or mitigate
the fact that we were, I think, very dependent upon our strategic
nuclear force capabilities to deter that kind of an attack on ourselves
and our allies. So when I talk about dependence, I'm certainly not
indicating that there were not roles and needs for other kinds of
military capabilities. There certainly were during the Cold War
period. But I think that today those circumstances have changed
Q: We can no longer depend on nuclear weapons to deter our future
aggressors, like September 11th --
Crouch: I think I would put it slightly differently; that I think
we need a broader array of capabilities, including nuclear forces,
to deter and, if deterrence were to fail, to defend against potential
adversaries. And I also think it's important to underscore that
we continue to need nuclear forces as well as other elements of
the new triad, both to assure our friends and allies of U.S. security
commitments and to dissuade potential competitors from competing
with the United States in ways that are harmful to U.S. security
and allied security.
Q: And the percentage of the warheads in a responsive force?
Crouch: Oh. At this point no decisions have been made exactly on
the character of that responsive force. And as I said, there will
be ongoing assessments on that. And that number itself will probably
change over time.
Q: Following on your previous answer to Pam, in the -- one statement,
"a diverse portfolio of capabilities denies payoff from competition,"
can you give us an example of what you mean by that?
Crouch: Well, I think that what we want from the standpoint of
dissuasion is to be in a position where other -- countries that
might try to challenge the United States or might try to find sort
of asymmetrical ways of attacking the United States are going to
find it very difficult for two reasons. One is we will maintain
sufficient nuclear forces to put us, in effect, beyond their reach
in terms of being able to develop themselves as a peer competitor
to the United States. But secondly, and I think this is more important
for -- is that there are going to be a lot of cases where offensive
retaliatory deterrence may not be appropriate or we may need other
capabilities in the event deterrence fails, and that's where non-nuclear
strike capabilities and our defensive capabilities would come into
play and hopefully being able to shape -- so, for example, limited
but effective defenses could well help us along with other tools
to dissuade countries from investing in large numbers of ballistic
missiles that might threaten the United States or our allies and
I don't know, do I go row by row here, or what's the -- sure, you'd
like that, right? We'll do this one, and then we'll go back.
Q: Could you explain what the difference is, if there is a difference,
between inactive and the responsive force? When you refer to --
whatever, some of the -- the current operational force going into
the responsive force, is that different from being in an inactive
Crouch: Unfortunately, these are not terms that are necessarily
separate baskets. When I talk about the immediate -- the operationally
deployed force to deal with immediate and unexpected contingencies,
those are, in fact, the forces that are deployed on a day-to-day
basis that can respond in anywhere from minutes to days and a few
weeks. The responsive capability would be able to augment that force.
And it essentially will be additional warheads that could be uploaded
back onto that force if necessary and, obviously, if the president
were to make a decision to do that. And that would take weeks, months,
even years to do that, depending upon the system and the character
of the threat.
Q: Presumably we have weapons in that status now, correct? Warheads
that are -- that have been removed from delivery systems that are
available to be uploaded --
Crouch: Well, we have weapons that are in the inactive stockpile.
That is correct.
Inactive stockpile -- and I don't know, John, do you want to maybe
talk a little bit about the distinction between the active and inactive
Crouch: I think that might help this -- that's sort of a DOE question,
but I think that will maybe give you a flavor for the distinction
Harvey: It's a very straightforward distinction. The active stockpile
is a unit, a weapon which is available, fully ready to be deployed
The inactive stockpile, typically the limited-life components that
go into a nuclear warhead, such as tritium, neutron generators,
things that live for a relatively short period of time in comparison
with the weapon, are typically removed, and when the weapon is transitioned
to the active stockpile from the inactive, those components are
reinstalled in the weapon. So the inactive weapon consists of those
weapons that are not fielded with limited-life components.
Crouch: And there are a number of things in that inactive stockpile,
including weapons that are in that dismantlement, you know, earmark
Q: So -- I'm sorry. Can I ask just one more? Would -- in a responsive
stockpile, would the tritium be removed, or would these simply be
warheads that are removed from the delivery vehicle?
Crouch: The responsive capability would reside in the active stockpile.
Right? So, in other words, those forces would be maintained at --
with the critical components that John was talking about available.
Otherwise, it wouldn't be responsive, if you follow me.
Q: I sense that there's a -- that you want to accelerate DOE's
testing readiness, but at the same time, you want to maintain a
moratorium on testing. Does that indicate that you're moving in
the direction of testing, if you want to accelerate readiness?
Crouch: The two were actually very distinct things. We are continuing
the current administration policy, as I said, which is we continue
to oppose ratification of the CTBT; we continue to adhere to a test
moratorium. And the testing readiness issue really came out of --
in fact, a number of studies that had been done prior to the NPR,
including, I think, what was it, the Foster Panel, which was a congressionally
mandated study, which said that two to three years from a decision
to test is too long; that if you were to have a problem with a weapon
system that you needed to rectify using a test, you would want to
be able to do that faster.
And so one of the recommendations that came out was that -- has
nothing to do with the issue of whether we would conduct a nuclear
test, but that if there was in fact a determination that we needed
to conduct a nuclear test, what would be the time period -- what
would be an appropriate time period? And we're continuing to study
what that time period would be. And -- but one thing that the NPR
does state is that we need to improve our readiness posture to test
from its current two to three year period to something substantially
Do you have anything you want to add to that?
Harvey: That got it.
Q: Preserving the existing triad, are you going to be abandoning
the counting rules that you use right now under START, or -- and
does that mean that you're going to be counting strictly the number
of warheads and not counting a bomber as a certain number of warheads
and a submarine as a certain number of warheads?
Crouch: START I will continue to be in force, and all of its applicable
rules, including the verification provisions as well as the counting
rules, are still in force. However, when we talk about 1,700 to
2,300 operationally deployed systems, we are talking -- this is
what we might call truth in advertising. There are no phantom warheads
here. This is the actual number of weapons that we will deploy on
Now, those two things are not inconsistent, because obviously START
force levels are at about 6,000 weapons, and we're going to be --
we are in fact drawing down to force levels that are not only below
START I, but are below what would have been deployed under START
Q: When you say the number of weapons that will be deployed, weapons
and warheads then are interchangeable there; you mean the number
of warheads that will be deployed?
Somebody in the back. This lady, here?
Q: Yeah. Mr. Harvey, what is the status of the stockpile stewardship
program, and is that going to change after the NPR is approved?
Harvey: We have two main responsibilities for the -- to the Department
of Defense. One is we have to assure that the stockpile is safe
and reliable. And two, we have to make sure that we respond to any
requirements that the Department of Defense has with regard to modifications,
refurbishments, et cetera, of nuclear warhead systems.
We have a very aggressive stockpile stewardship program designed
to surveil the nuclear weapons stockpile, to be able to assess and
fix problems on a time scale relevant to DOD needs. We -- as part
of that stockpile stewardship program, we intend to do this -- we
feel confident we can do this without nuclear testing, but there
are no guarantees. We need to retain, as part of stockpile stewardship,
an ability to, if the president so decides in response to a possible
problem in the stockpile that can't be fixed without testing, that
we have to be able to be prepared to carry out a test, and we maintain
the readiness to do so. Currently, that readiness is 24 to 36 months.
That's a key element of stockpile stewardship.
In addition, with regard to the program itself, we have a long
ways to go to restore some of the capabilities we need later this
decade to be able to refurbish elements of the stockpile in connection
with our sustaining the force levels that J.D. talked about earlier,
including elements of our SLBM force, the W-76 warhead for Trident,
elements of our air-delivered systems, our cruise missile systems,
the W-80 warhead for the air-launched cruise missile and the advanced
cruise missile, and also some of our air-dropped bombs, the B-61
in particular. We will need to establish and recover production
capabilities in order to be able to refurbish that element of the
stockpile later on this decade, and that's one of our key challenges
in the future.
Q: Mr. Crouch? Mr. Crouch? Mr. Crouch?
Q: May I ask a question? I know you probably think you might have
answered it, but just for the average American, average public,
without getting into technical terms, provided you can even avoid
the word "triad", would you just explain the -- exactly what it
is that you are doing and why it is important, if you can? Just
summarize what it is and why is it important.
Crouch: Right. The Cold War is over. We have a nuclear capability
that was built then. And what we are doing is we are transforming
our forces in a way that I think will make -- that is much more
appropriate to the security environment and the threats that we
believe we will face in the future. And as a result of that, I think
we will have a U.S. military uniformly, because of that military
transformation, and in this particular piece of that transformation
in this new strategic triad, we will have a capability that will
make the United States safer, will give the president more effective
options for dealing with crises and managing crises. And I think
that that benefits every American.
Q: And why is this being done? Is it strictly because of Russia,
or is this also the best plan?
Crouch: (laughs) I think it's definitely the best way to arrange
or to array our forces for the future. And -- but I want to underscore
that one of the -- I mean, one of the things that enabled us to
-- gave us the opportunity to do this was our improved relationship
with Russia. So I think the two sort of go hand in hand.
How about this gentleman?
Q: Thank you. I think this is a question for Mr. Harvey. What do
you see our tritium supply looking like over the next 10 years,
taking into account that we're going to be -- a lot of these weapons
are going to be deactivated?
Harvey: We're currently reestablishing a capability to produce
tritium. For the time being, given the dramatic reductions over
the past 10 years of weapons moving from the active to the inactive
stockpile -- that is, weapons that don't require tritium -- we've
been able to free up quite a bit of tritium to be able to sustain
ourselves until we can resume production. We're currently scheduled
to resume production sometime later on this decade, and I believe
we're in good shape with regard to being able to support the DOD
Q: Does that mean that you won't be needing TVA to produce any
tritium? And does it also mean we won't have to import any?
Harvey: Our approach to producing tritium is to use a commercial
light-water reactor, the TVA reactor approach. And no, we -- that
is our approach to producing it, and that's the capability that
we'll require in the future.
Q: One more question. With -- and Mr. Crouch said that not all
of them would be destroyed. I'm still not sure exactly what he means
by "destroyed." But does this reinforce or boost the need to get
the MOX process up and -- MOX or immobilization going?
Harvey: Basically, when we talk about destroying, we talk about
dismantling the warheads, taking the components that are not needed
and disposing of them, but making sure that we still can take good
care of the safety and security of nuclear weapon materials from
the warhead. So we will need to continue, obviously, to store those
components that have special nuclear materials in them -- we call
them enriched uranium or plutonium --
McGraw: We can take two more questions.
Harvey: -- until such times as they can be disposed of.
McGraw: Excuse me. Didn't mean -- two more questions, folks.
Q: Sir, is there a doctrine of retaliation that is now replacing
assured destruction, or is it just a doctrine of, you know, more
options for the president?
And specifically, when you talk about missile defense, it seems
as though you're heading for a potentially very odd scenario. Right
now, if somebody were to attack the United States with a ballistic
missile and weapon of mass destruction, it's assumed, I think generally,
that there would be a severe retaliation, probably nuclear. You
seem to be implying that if a future country were to do that, and
the missile were intercepted, that country would be, quote, unquote,
"rewarded" with a lesser level of retaliation, because there hasn't
been actual destruction caused to the United States. That seems
to be what you're implying when you're talking about this new menu
of options for the president.
Crouch: If that's what you think I was implying, that's certainly
not what I was implying. What I was stating is that by providing,
in this particular example, an additional capability to the president,
a missile defense capability, the president would be in a position
to defeat the attack of a weapon of mass destruction on the United
The lady earlier mentioned, you know, what's in this for the United
States and what's in this for the American people? And it seems
to me while deterring an attack of a weapon of mass destruction
against the United States is something that we have to continue
to have forces and capabilities to do, and we will certainly maintain
forces and capabilities to do that, being able to defeat that attack,
whether it were to come out of the Middle East or some other place,
would be a far more preferable option and does not, in fact, foreclose
any other options that the president might have.
So I don't think I'm implying that we would be rewarding a country
for shooting a ballistic missile. What we would be doing, hopefully,
is -- in the long run, is dissuading them from developing those
missiles because to have them would be fruitless because we would
have the ability to defeat them -- defeat an attack on the United
States. And I think that's a very positive outcome.
McGraw: One more --
Q: It just seems to me -- if I can follow this -- this clear implication
that the macabre business of massive retaliation is being gotten
rid of. And yet, your answer just now seems to indicate that it's
not, that it's still there; that you would still, in addition to
intercepting the missile, retaliate massively against -- is there
a doctrine that tells a president, a future president, what do to
in circumstances like this?
Crouch: No, the president will have a -- one of the things that
will come out of this is the president, hopefully, will have a much
wider range of options that he can deal with. And that's why one
of the initiatives here was not only to maintain a smaller nuclear
force, but also to develop additional non-nuclear strike capabilities
that would also be part of a -- sort of this diverse portfolio of
options that the president could draw from.
We're certainly not -- there's nothing in the review that talks
about what the president's options are or are not are. Those are
really up to the president. The main idea was that we feel we need
to give the president and future presidents a broader portfolio
of responses and options to deal with the kinds of uncertainties.
You know, we thought we knew fairly confidently how to deter the
Soviet Union during the Cold War. I think one of the reflections
here is that we're not as confident that we will be able or we will
know how to deter the kinds of attacks that might be presented in
the United States in the future. And if September 11th doesn't underscore
that, since I don't -- most of us did not expect that, I think nothing
Crouch: How about somebody way in the back?
Q: When you talk about taking warheads off of the operationally
deployed force, but keeping them available for return, are you effectively
saying that they're going to be de-alerted? And also, will warheads
that are on missiles or ships that are in overhaul be considered
part of the operationally deployed force?
Crouch: De-alerting usually refers to taking off alert the weapons
platforms that you have decided to retire. All right? So in this
context, no, because the -- basically we're actually -- and those,
of course, could be brought back up to alert in a few minutes to,
you know, maybe a few hours. What we're talking about is a responsive
capability that would take, at the very least weeks but likely months
and even years to be able to regenerate -- would not be something
that you would respond, let's say, under a tactical threat. It would
be a major change in the security environment, for example.
And to answer your second question, we are planning on maintaining
a trident SSBN fleet of 14 submarines. Two of those submarines will
be in overhaul at all times, and those submarines will not have
missiles available to fire, and they will not be part of the operationally
deployed nuclear weapons.
Thank you very much.
Q: Can I just clear up one thing you said about the 2020? You said
you'd planned to maintain the current force until 2020 -- the current
force. Does that mean you're not going to try to develop smaller
nuclear weapons, earth-penetrators, and other things that -- but
that you will go with conventional forces to do that kind of thing
for the short term?
Crouch: (to McGraw) And I'm violating your rule. I shouldn't do
(to press) At this point, there are no recommendations in the report
about developing new nuclear weapons. The -- so I don't know whether
that answers the question, but I think that's where we stand. Now,
we are trying to look at a number of initiatives. One would be to
modify an existing weapon, to give it greater capability against
deep and hardly -- or hard targets and deeply-buried targets. And
we're also looking at non-nuclear ways that we might be able to
deal with those problems.
Q: Thank you.
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