The head of US STRATCOM, the branch of the military that oversees the US’s strategic nuclear forces, spoke frankly about the problems in the military’s acquisition strategy and lamented that he could not run the program as Kim Jong Un runs North Korea’s nuclear program.
“If you’ve been in the acquisition business at all over the last 20 years, you realise we already have a broken program. We just don’t know where,” Air Force Gen. John Hyten said at a recent conference, according to National Defence Magazine. “Because nothing in the acquisition business ever delivers exactly on time [and] exactly on budget anymore.”
The Pentagon faces a major feat of recapitalization in the upcoming years where each leg of the US’s nuclear triad will need updating. Analysts predict that the programs will total $US1 trillion in costs and continue through the 2030s, in part due to a bloated acquisition system.
Hyten said that between 1959 and 1964 the US spent $US17 billion in today’s dollars on putting 800 Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles around the country. Today, the plan is to spend $US84 billion on 400 missiles that won’t come online until 2035.
At one point, Hyten railed against the overly cautious, slow approach the US takes to nuclear modernisation, saying that the US takes too long because they expect every test to work.
“Look at Kim Jong Un,” said Hyten. “What he’s doing is testing and failing, testing and failing, testing and failing, testing and succeeding. … He’s learned how to go fast.”
While the US has the world’s best nuclear arsenal, and North Korea has the worst, the Kim regime has put forth an impressively quick schedule of testing. Throughout April and May, North Korea tested a new missile nearly every week.
“This is the United States of America. We have the greatest minds, the best and brightest,” Hyten said. The Pentagon just needs to “get back to the basics.”
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