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Gen. David Goldfein: Pentagon May Need Separate Account for Strategic Nuclear Deterrence

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Gen. David Goldfein, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force and a 2020 Wash100 Award winner, said the Department of Defense may need a separate account to fund nuclear weapons, Defense One reported Wednesday.

“There are either going to be some significant trades made or we’re going to have to find a fund for strategic nuclear deterrence, that we can use to modernize,” Goldfein said Wednesday at a Brookings Institution event.

He said the current defense budget does not allow the Pentagon to simultaneously fund the procurement of new nuclear weapons and modernization of conventional forces.

“I think a debate is that this will be the first time that the nation has tried to simultaneously modernize the nuclear enterprise while it’s trying to modernize an aging conventional enterprise,” Goldfein said. “The current budget does not allow you to do both.”

The White House’s fiscal year 2021 budget request for DoD includes nearly $29B in funds for nuclear weapons, including ballistic missile submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles and stealth bombers. The Department of Energy’s requested budget seeks $15.6B in FY 2021 funds for nuclear warheads.