By: Rosanne Greco, published by VTDigger, Apr. 23, 2019
Editor’s note: This commentary is by retired Air Force Col. Rosanne Greco, who spent 30 years on active duty in the Air Force, including as a delegate to four international nuclear arms control negotiations, including the Strategic Arms Reductions Talks (START). She is a former chair of the South Burlington City Council and a member of Save Our Skies VT.
The Department of Defense’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review contained a message of enormous significance for Vermonters. It designated the F-35 as a part of its strategic nuclear bomber force. This is the first time a fighter has been so designated. That makes the F-35 completely different from the F-16 or any earlier nuclear-wired fighter. Numerous high-level Defense Department officials have elaborated on the role that the F-35 will play in regional nuclear deterrence, that is, in so-called “small” nuclear wars.
The F-35 will carry what has been called the most dangerous nuclear weapon in America’s arsenal: the B61-12 guided nuclear bomb that is custom tailored for the F-35. The Pentagon has been developing this new nuclear bomb specifically for the F-35’s bomb bay since 2010. The B61-12 nuclear bomb has settings for four different sizes of nuclear blast, referred to as a “dial-a-yield” capability. Because the B61-12’s “smallest” setting is only a third of a kiloton, military war planners are talking about this as a “usable” nuclear weapon. And even more dangerous, because of the F-35’s stealth technology and the accuracy of its B61-12 bomb, the F-35 is being considered a first strike nuclear weapon.
Not since the worst Cold War crisis has the United States been as close to a nuclear war as we are now. This is because our current administration is ripping up nuclear arms control treaties, budgeting a trillion-and-a-half dollars for new nuclear weapons — and most frighteningly, “modernizing” most of them with smaller, more “usable” nuclear weapons while openly stating that these nuclear weapons will give us the option of conducting a first nuclear strike against non-nuclear threats.
Moreover, our current president seems not to understand nuclear weapons or the consequences of using them. In fact, he has spoken about wanting to use nuclear weapons.