Editor’s note: This commentary is by retired Air Force Col. Rosanne Greco, who is a candidate for adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard. She spent 30 years on active duty in the Air Force, and is a former chair of the South Burlington City Council and a member of Save Our Skies VT.
Mutually Assured Destruction: MAD. For years that was my area of expertise. I’m a retired Air Force colonel with 30 years experience in the intelligence community, where I held the highest security clearances and provided intelligence support for nuclear targeting. I specialized in nuclear weapons and arms control, and I was a member of the U.S. START delegation. So, I know a lot about nuclear weapons and how we planned to use them.
But I thought I’d left that world when I retired and moved to Vermont. Last year, it came back to me.
I have opposed basing F-35 fighter-bombers at the Burlington commercial airport since 2012 when I was chair of the South Burlington City Council. The Air Force’s Environmental Impact Statement convinced me that the F-35 could endanger the health and safety of thousands of people living near the airport. But it was only last year that I learned the F-35 has a nuclear role.
As part of a lawsuit over the proposed basing, the Air Force had to provide their records produced during the basing process. In going through the 68,000 heavily redacted pages, I was shocked to find a few obscure references to Vermont’s F-35s carrying nuclear weapons.
Digging deeper, I found press articles quoting Department of Defense officials saying the F-35 was designed as a nuclear weapons platform, and has “a requirement to carry a nuclear payload.” The nuclear requirements for the F-35 went far beyond plans for older nuclear-wired fighters like the F-16. They include a new guided nuclear bomb, the B61-12, which is being developed specifically to fit the F-35 bomb bay.