AFGSC commander delivers Nuclear Triad and Deterrence Symposium Remarks

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Kaylin P. Hankerson
  • Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, spoke virtually at the 20th Annual Nuclear Triad and Deterrence Symposium, Dec. 10.

The symposium, hosted by the Cyber Innovation Center, the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and the Louisiana Tech Research Institute, focused on the present and future strategic capabilities of AFGSC.

Out of an abundance of caution for the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Ray provided pre-recorded remarks on nuclear deterrence within the current global climate, and touched on the importance of remaining competitive with near-peer nations.

In opening statements, Ray provided a command update that focused on successes the command has seen in respect to readiness and mission execution through the global pandemic.

“We’ve actually built readiness,” Ray said. “Our bomber crews are more ready today than they’ve ever been in the history of Air Force Global Strike Command. Our ICBMs have been absolute stalwarts in this whole endeavor … they’ve never faltered. I could not be more pleased.”

Ray expressed that the conversation regarding U.S. nuclear deterrence is framed by the need to remain strategically competitive with near-peer adversaries as well as uphold commitment to the nation’s allies.

“You can’t pick the context of this conversation; you don’t have that luxury,” Ray said. “The context of the American triad lives in the context of a now fully declared Chinese triad … and a fully modernized Russian triad that absolutely lives in the minds of our partners and allies.”

Ray also presented some thoughts on what he believes are misconceptions or myths; debunking notions such as “nuke modernization is an arms race,” or the idea of unauthorized launch.

(Regarding an arms race) “All we’re talking about in DoD is replacing systems; replacing the ALCM with the LRSO, replacing the B-2 and B-61 with newer versions i.e. the B-21 and B61 -12, and the Minuteman III with GBSD,” Ray said. “So, at the end of the day, this is not an increase in capability, it’s ensuring the cornerstone of the security structure of the free world remains viable, effective and affordable. If there’s an arms race, it’s going on somewhere else; it’s not with us.”

Ray offered statistics to refute the notion that the nuclear modernization price tag is too high, adding further perspective that may be lacking in current cost discussion.

“There’s no version of adding the right capabilities to the Minuteman III or to the other platforms that make them effective,” Ray said. “Our enemies have thought through this; how to beat these systems and how they’re approaching this with missile defense and anti-access aerial denial -- were not on an affordable path for modernization and sustainment of relevance! If it’s not relevant, it doesn’t deter and that is actually a bigger waste of money.”

Air Force Global Strike Command’s mission is to provide strategic deterrence, global strike and combat support to U.S. Strategic Command and other geographic combatant commands.

“I believe we have a great plan,” Ray said. “I believe you should be very confident in the plan that’s in place in terms of modernization, the team we have on the field and certainly how we're going to approach this problem (nuclear modernization)."