As I hinted at yesterday, Gen. Chilton’s performance at last week’s Defense Writers Group Breakfast was not only noteworthy for his outlandish statements on the relevance of nuclear weapons to deterring cyber attacks.
In response to a question from Global Security Newswire’s Elaine Grossman, Gen. Chilton pushed back against the article Jeffrey Lewis and I penned in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on how vacuum tubes are irrelevant to the RRW/modernization debate. Yet in lieu of refuting any of the specific points we made in the piece, Gen. Chilton changed the subject:
…the strategic commander said Lewis and Reif had misconstrued his point, which he insisted was to call for a broad overhaul in the nuclear stockpile and the complex that maintains the weapons.
“A life-extension program is what we have [had] to do for the last 15 years, and I think it’s been successful to this point,” Chilton told reporters at a May 7 Defense Writers Group breakfast. However, he said, “I don’t think that gets you to where you want to be 20 years from now.”
Rather, steps must be taken to “modernize” the arsenal, giving the weapons increased reliability, safety, security and maintainability, he said.
I won’t summarize our entire response here but we pushed back pretty hard. However, I do want to briefly note that what I found really bizarre about Gen. Chilton’s remarks (other than fact that he clearly did not read our piece) is that his central point seems to be that vacuum tubes aren’t the issue. Funny, since that’s central to our argument as well. While I certainly disagree with Chilton about how best to maintain the safety, security, and reliability of our arsenal, that’s exactly the debate we need to be having. Based on his most recent remarks Chilton seems to agree that vacuum tubes should have no part in that debate. As Jeffrey notes, if that’s the case, then, Gen. Chilton needs to correct the ridiculous claims he fed to the Wall Street Journal. If that’s not the case, then he needs to refute the specific points we made in our article.