The impact of sequestration beyond FY ’15 will affect plans for modernizing the nuclear triad, Elaine Bunn, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defense Nuclear And Missile Defense Policy, said Wednesday. 

Elaine Bunn, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy. Photo: DoD.
Elaine Bunn, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy. Photo: DoD.

“If there is sequestration after 2015, it will hurt this a lot. We would love to see stability and predictability in that recapitalization,” Bunn testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

Without sequestration, she said the Department of Defense and the Services were on track to meet their goals and were on a “good path” toward modernization.

“While we’ve had a few slips because of budget concerns, we are on the path,” she said.

The department’s budget, which was submitted to Congress on Monday, meets Budget Control Act caps for FY ’15. Beyond that, the president has asked the department to plan according to strategy, not sequestration. The FY ’16 budget will ask for nearly $35 billion more than what the caps would allow.

Bunn said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey placed maintaining secure nuclear weapons at the top of his list in his risk assessment of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The QDR accompanied the budget release and reinforced the department’s commitment to nuclear weapons as an extended deterrent and way to project power.

In her written testimony, Bunn said plans for the Ohio-class nuclear submarine replacement, recapitalization of ICBMs and development of the new strategic bomber were all on track. She said long-lead item procurement for the Ohio class will begin in 2016 with full construction by 2021. The Air Force will also release a report on options for the Minutemen III ICBMs by late spring or early summer. The budget also continues funding the Air Force’s Long-Range Strategic Bomber.

Bunn expects the department to make decisions regarding force structure changes before the start of FY ’15 and that they should not affect the implementation of the New START treaty.