Despite the Russian president’s declaration of a nuclear alert following that country’s invasion of its neighbor, Ukraine, U.S. nuclear posture had not changed as of Tuesday, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command told lawmakers in an open hearing.
“My command, as always, is ready to execute our strategic deterrence mission,” Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. strategic command (STRATCOM), said in remote testimony
to the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee from Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Neb. “I am satisfied with the posture of my forces. I have made no recommendations to make any changes. The nation’s nuclear command and control is in its most defended, most resilient lineup that it’s ever been in in its history.”
Richard spoke as part of a broader hearing on the posture of all U.S. strategic forces, which include besides the nuclear forces the Missile Defense Agency, military space systems and associated ground systems that support nuclear command and control.
Valdimir Putin, the Russian president, on Sunday said he ordered Russia’s nuclear forces into “special combat readiness.” That was after the Russian military, at Putin’s order, invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Putin, as he did during the 2014 invasion and seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, asserted a series of grievances on behalf of Russia-friendly separatists in the eastern European country.
Meanwhile at Tuesday’s hearing, a California congressman who supports a paring of the U.S. nuclear arsenal grilled Richard about whether the commander had allowed the circulation of a certain report on nuclear deterrence among thousands of U.S. Strategic Command personnel.
“Did your organization authorize … and then secondly pay for, ‘A Guide to Nuclear Deterrence in the Age of Great Power Competition’, a document written by the Louisiana Tech Research Institute?” asked Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.).
Richard offered to answer the question after the hearing.
“I don’t know off the top of my head,” the STRATCOM commander said.
“Apparently, this was distributed to all of your commanders,” Garamendi said.
“Certainly not under my direction, sir,” Richard said.
“Then you have no knowledge of this?” Garamendi asked?
“No. Not from memory,” Richard said. “I don’t know the document you’re referring to.”
The document, published in October 2020, cites support from Air Force Global Strike Command’s innovation, analyses and leadership development directorate.
Garamendi questioned Richard about the 400-plus-page, Air Force-chartered document with the Joe Biden administration’s Nuclear Posture Review still unpublished. Notionally due in January, the review has yet to see the light of day as international tensions in eastern Europe boiled over into war. Disarmament advocates had hoped the administration would slow the ongoing nuclear modernization regimen started in 2016 by the Barack Obama administration.