Stratcom Commander Says Nuclear War is No Longer Theoretical

For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the US faces the possibility of nuclear war with a peer-level opponent, Navy Admiral Charles Richard, commander of US Strategic Command, declared on Wednesday

Speaking during the panel discussion on “America Under Attack — Defending the Homeland” at Air & Space Forces Association’s 2022 Air, Space & Cyber Conference, at National Harbor, Maryland, Admiral Richard has spoken about the reality of the US entering a conflict with China and Russia.

His address comes after Russia announced that it would further escalate the war in Ukraine.  

Noting that the possible conflict with a nuclear-armed peer is no longer theoretical, he claimed that the US would have to prepare to escalate quickly against possible opponents and protect its homeland.

The US Stratcom commander warned that both Moscow and Beijing can escalate to any level of violence that they choose in any domain with any instrument of power worldwide, pointing out that the US just hasn’t faced competitors and opponents like that in a long time.

Admiral Richard said that every plan and capability of the US Defense Department rests on an assumption that strategic deterrence, and in particular nuclear deterrence, is holding, warning that nothing else in the department or the joint force is going to work the way that it was designed if that assumption isn’t met.

He singled out the recently delivered nuclear posture review, noting it lays out an excellent strategy that endorses the modernization of the nuclear triad and its command-and-control system.

Ever since Russian troops entered Ukraine in February, the US has steadily escalated its commitment to weapons, intelligence, and financial assistance to Kyiv, locking itself in a proxy conflict in the eyes of Moscow.

While the American doctrine allows for a nuclear first strike only in extreme circumstances, to defend the vital interests of the US or its allies, Moscow’s current nuclear doctrine allows for the use of nuclear weapons when its territory or infrastructure is targeted by a nuclear strike or when the existence of the Russian state is threatened by either nuclear or conventional weapons.

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