Military leaders, including Strategic Command Chief Adm. Cecil Haney and Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Strike Command, Thursday slammed the White House's plan for a "no-first-use" nuclear policy
, saying the plans could undermine global security at a time when the threat environment is volatile.
"We know the current policy has served us well over many years, and if there's some movement to change that, it would require some scrutiny to make sure we're not going to impact strategic stability at large by such a move," Haney warned during a hearing of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, reports The Washington Free Beacon's
The United States needs to be "very careful," Haney continued, "given the directions and the developments we see around the world, that we do everything in our power to maintain strategic stability."
President Barack Obama is considering the policy, along with other disarmament measures, but Haney said the shift is dangerous amid the growing nuclear threats from Russia, China, and North Korea.
The no-first-use policy was rejected by the Pentagon in 2010 in its Nuclear Posture review and again in 2013.
Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, urged the Obama administration to follow through with plans to modernize the nation's nuclear forces and enterprise, which he said are "aging rapidly while potential adversaries are modernizing and deploying new capabilities.
And if Obama changes the nation's nuclear posture significantly, it could undermine security.
"We hope he will ignore the small — but well-funded and vocal — nuclear disarmament echo chamber," Rogers said.
Rand told the committee that he also wants to keep the current policy.
"The current nuclear threat environment facing our nation has never been more complex, and will only become more so in the near future," said Rand.
Both officers challenged anti-nuclear advocates who are calling for modernization plans to be cancelled, with Rand saying the current nuclear air-launched cruise missile has "aged out" and must be replaced.
Even with using existing nuclear warheads and bombs, military officials testifying Thursday said that modernizing the nuclear forces by also adding new equipment will cost between $350 billion and $450 billion over the next decade.
But the nation is at the point where it can "ill afford to wait longer" to modernize forces, Haney said.
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