The top general in the United States Air Force, David Goldfein, has outlined plans for how the U.S. would respond to a nuclear attack by Russia, shooting down incoming missiles and launching a massive nuclear counterattack that would lead to Russia’s destruction. But as soon as the missiles started flying toward the United States — a flight that would take about 20 minutes — Goldfein said that he first expected to receive a call from NATO, according to an account of the general’s comments by the military site Defense Maven.
“By virtue of the speed with which air and space component deploys and employs, [NATO] expects us (the U.S. Air Force) to be the first to arrive,” Goldfein told an audience of congressional representatives and defense experts at the Mitchell Institute in Washington D.C. last week. “Because NATO is first and foremost a nuclear alliance.”
According to a report by The New York Times, however, Donald Trump has discussed with senior administration officials the possibility of pulling the U.S. out of NATO.
A U.S. withdrawal would effectively destroy the 70-year-old alliance, with about 70 percent of the military alliance’s finding coming from the U.S., according to the BBC. Goldfein did not discuss how pulling the U.S. out of NATO would affect American abilities to respond to a Russian nuclear attack.
Goldfein said that in the event of a Russian attack, the U.S. Air Force would become NATO’s “blunt force,” launching a massive nuclear counterstrike against Russia while also intercepting the Russian missiles as they rocket toward U.S. targets, according to an account of Goldfein’s speech by The Daily Mail newspaper.
But the Air Force alone will not be responsible for striking back at Russia, according two Goldfein, who said that “fighters, bombers, tankers, space, command and control, ISR, cyber, special operations and aeromedical teams trained and ready for high-end warfare,” would all play a role in the overwhelming counterstrike against the Russians.
The U.S. ultra-high-tech F-35 aircraft will soon be equipped to deliver nuclear bombs, and will be used to directly attack Russian targets with nuclear weapons. The F-22 stealth fighter plane fleet would be tasked with intercepting Russian missiles before they exit the Earth’s atmosphere, where they continue to speed toward their targets, according to Goldfein’s remarks, as reported by The National Interest.
Goldfein, who called Russia “the most dangerous nuclear threat we face,” delivered his remarks on June 26, one week before Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law suspending that country’s participation in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, considered one of the most important nuclear treaties between the countries, according to ABC News. The Trump administration in February said the U.S. planned to pull out of the nuclear treaty.