The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday argued for the importance of integrating the Nuclear Posture Review and Missile Defense Reviews, either as a new combined Strategic Deterrence Review or making sure to keep them aligned.

“The key piece is it has to be integrated,” Air Force Gen. John Hyten said during virtual Center for Strategic and International Studies missile defense event Tuesday.

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten (Photo: DoD)
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten (Photo: DoD)

He said his experience in both the Democratic Obama administration and Republican Trump administration transitions review processes “and the interesting thing is when we’re done with those reviews, and if you go back and look at the timing of when those reviews were published, they actually were not released at the same time.

Ask yourself why weren’t they released at the same time? And the answer is when they were done they didn’t align. The one review was done from a missile defense-only review, the other review is done from a Nuclear Posture Review-only and when they were done they didn’t align.”

Hyten noted under both political parties, the Pentagon usually publishes the Nuclear Posture Review first and later the Missile Defense Review.

“Why did it take that long to get it aligned? It’s because we didn’t think about it as a unified whole. So it doesn’t matter whether you do a strategic deterrence review when you put everybody in the room to look at both…or you do them separately but they have to be aligned because from the point of view of anybody in the world, except the United States over the last little while, your deterrence comes from your offense and defense and so you have to make sure that alignment is there.”

He said this possible unified review would only look at the national missile defense element of strategic deterrence and not all missile defense systems.

Hyten said maintaining separate reviews can work “as long as you continue to have them come together and look to see – does this make sense together, does this make sense going forward. That would be fine.”

However, he warned if DoD keeps doing the reviews completely stovepiped, it is nearly guaranteed senior leadership will see they do not align and have to start all over again to make them fit together.

“So the key point that I’m trying to make is as we start into [a new administration]…we just have to make sure they’re integrated, so that’s why I’m saying a strategic deterrence review is an effective way to do that.”