STRATCOM Head Warns Lawmakers U-S Is Falling Behind China and Russia on Modern Nuclear Infrastructure

April 21, 2021, 4:25 p.m. ·

Admiral Charles Richard, Commander of STRATCOM. (Photo from screenshot)

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The head of the Omaha area-based U.S. Strategic Command is warning lawmakers that the United States is quickly falling behind Russia and China in its nuclear weapons infrastructure and could be at risk if things don’t change.

Admiral Charles Richard is the Commander of STRATCOM at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue and during testimony before the Senate Armed Service Committee Wednesday, made some startling assessments of the military’s nuclear deterrence capabilities.

“We’re at a point where end-of-life limitations and cumulative effects of under-investment in our nuclear deterrence and supporting infrastructure against the expanding threat leave me no operational margin,” Richard told lawmakers.

He told the panel, including Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer, that both China and Russia continue to build their nuclear capabilities and that the U-S can’t even maintain its aging infrastructure, much less produce new nuclear warheads.

“The nation simply cannot attempt to indefinitely life-extend leftover Cold War weapons systems and successfully carry out the assigned strategy,” Richard said. “They’re at risk of losing credibility in the eyes of our adversaries and if they continue to work at all they will likely will not be able to pace the threat that they’re intended to deter.”

Charles said gone are the days of flexing our nuclear muscle as a way to de-escalate potential conflicts.

“We can no longer assume the risk of a strategic deterrence failure in crisis or conflict is always low,” he said. ”The days of power projection in a permissive operational environment without regard to a possible nuclear response are over.”

He told lawmakers calls for unilateral cuts to nuclear weapons will leave the United States vulnerable as other counties continue to build and modernize their capabilities.