Hans Kristensen notes the final report of the Air Force Blue Ribbon Review of Nuclear Weapons Policies and Procedures reveals what has been an open secret in Washington for some time — that overseas bases with US nuclear weapons have significant security issues:
Host nation security at overseas nuclear-capable units vcaries from country to country in terms of personnel, facilities and equipment.
188.8.131.52 Supporting Information
The BRR team visited nuclear-capable units in Europe and observed a motivated USAF team working closely with their host nation counterparts. At the base level, there is a strong sense of teamwork between the host nation and the USAF personnel, but each site presents unique security challenges. Inconsistencies in personnel, facilities, and equipment provided to the security mission by the host nation were evident as the team traveled from site to site. Examples of areas noted in need of repair at several of the sites include support buildings, fencing, lighting, and security systems. In some cases conscripts, whose total active duty commitment is nine months, provide security manpower, while other locations have the challenge of working with unionized security personnel. A consistently noted theme throughout the visits was that most sites require significant additional resources to meet DoD security requirements.
Investigate potential consolidation of resources to minimize variances and reduce vulnerabilities at overseas locations.
For your information, the Dutch have unionized military forces and the length of conscription in Germany is nine-months. So, I think we can safely assume that the Volkel and Büchel are among the sites with security issues.
This is crazy — imagine what would happen in the event of a significant security incident. Everyone talks about how these weapons are important to maintain alliance cohesion. Well, the worst possible threat to alliance cohesion would be a nasty, public dispute in the event of a significant security incident that led to the precipitous withdrawal of forward-deployed nuclear weapons.
Much like a party guest, it is much better to politely excuse yourself before your host throws you out.
I would endorse the recommendation of consolidation as a first step toward eventual withdrawal. The first step would be to open consultations with our allies about placing all NATO nuclear weapons at two US overseas bases like Aviano and Incirlik. Then we could talk about how to remove them, perhaps as part of a negotiated agreement with Russia on tactical nuclear weapons. But the important thing is to resolve the security issues immediately and begin think about life after NATO nuclear sharing.
This wouldn’t change our commitment to our allies one bit, which is really rooted in shared sacrifice and common interest, not this or that particular piece of hardware.