John Hyten, commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) said on Saturday he was ready to disobey a possible presidential unlawful order to use nuclear weapons.
"And then, if the commander still resisted", McKeon said as rubbed his chin, "you either get a new secretary of defense or get a new commander".
For example, what would happen if an American president ordered a nuclear strike, for whatever reason, and the four-star general at Strategic Command balked or refused, believing it to be illegal?
Procedures are in place for ensuring USA nuclear weapons are ready for a presidential launch order in response to - or in anticipation of - a nuclear attack by North Korea or anyone else. His response: "You'd be in a very interesting constitutional situation". Hyten also predicted that the president would then ask him for options that Hyten judged to be legal. This troubles experts who worry about a president with the sole - some say unchecked - authority to initiate nuclear war.
I provide advice to the president.
"And we'll come up with options with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that's the way it works".
'If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail.
Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada, Gen. John Hyten, who is the commander of US Strategic Command, shared what would happen if he were ordered to launch a nuclear strike. You could go to jail for the rest of your life, ' he explained.
"This is a system controlled by human beings. nothing happens automatically", he said, adding that the United States military does not blindly follow orders and a presidential order to employ nuclear weapons must be legal.
Since Trump came into office, the USA has taken a much harder stance on North Korea with the U.S. leader regularly trading verbal barbs with the with the pariah state's leader, Kim Jong-un.
Kim Jong Un has repeatedly ignored warnings to cease nuclear tests, prompting Mr Trump to claim the United States could "totally destroy" North Korea. "Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!" While Hyten is correct that he and other senior defense officials would have the opportunity to consult on any launch if the president followed protocol, per Slate, the actual formal chain of command for nuclear launches is direct from the president to a one-star general at the National Military Command Center.
Congress is also now re-examining the authorization of the use of military force and power to launch a nuclear strike.
But Hyten also said handling North Korea and its unpredictable leader Kim Jong Un has to be an worldwide effort.
Trump has continued to put pressure on China to help manage its communist neighbor, and tweeted after returning that things were looking up.
General Hyten added that he had discussed the scenario with Mr Trump and that he thought about the scenario often.