WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2013 â€“ The challenging and ever-changing strategic environment requires a “vigilant, flexible and innovative” force able to prepare for and respond to threats to U.S. national security, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said.
“Our strategic and operational environment requires a deep understanding of our adversaries and potential adversaries in the context of our complex and interconnected operating space,” Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney recognized in his first combatant commander guidance memo since assuming command in November.
“Change and uncertainty is a reality, both across our nation and around the world,” he said.
That dynamic has huge impact across the Defense Department, including at Stratcom as it carries out its vital deterrence mission, Haney noted.
The command and its elements oversee the nation’s strategic nuclear deterrence and work in close collaboration with other combatant commands, the services and interagency partners to deter and detect strategic attacks against the U.S. and its allies. Stratcom also must be ready to act to defend the nation when directed by the president or defense secretary.
In addition, the command is DOD’s global synchronizer for ensuring space, cyberspace, missile defense and intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities across the military. As Stratcom’s commander, Haney also serves as the department’s point man for combating weapons of mass destruction.
During his Senate confirmation hearing in July, Haney called the pursuit of nuclear weapons by violent extremists and nuclear weapons proliferation the greatest strategic threats facing the United States. He also recognized the pace of technology, particularly in the space and cyberspace realms, and the need to maintain a strategic edge in support of the United States and its global interests.
“In this complex environment, there remain those who wish to do the United States harm, and seek to limit our global awareness and power projection,” Haney said in his memo to his new command.
He noted other factors that impact global security. As operations continue in Afghanistan and against terrorism, unrest festers in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the world. Earthquakes, floods and other disasters come without notice, driving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts that often require U.S. military support.
Meanwhile, budgetary challenges at home have created “significant uncertainty” not only within DOD, but across the whole-of-government, Haney said.
He cited other signs of change, from leadership changes within DOD and internal departmental efficiency reviews and external fiscal realities that “continue to introduce new variables into our calculus.”
Adaptability will be vital as the United States faces ever-changing traditional and nontraditional threats that pose challenges to U.S. global interests, Haney told Congress during his confirmation hearing.
“Our potential adversaries have studied the U.S. way of warfare and are actively developing asymmetric responses,” he noted in his written statement, submitted for the record. “Complex threats provide opportunities for terrorism and raise significant security concerns â€¦. We will need flexible and adaptive capabilities to respond to unknown abilities.”
Haney underscored that message to Stratcom’s chain of command shortly after taking command.
“The strategic environment requires us to remain vigilant, flexible and innovative as we synchronize all our mission areas with the other combatant commands to deny or disrupt threats, defend the nation and assure our partners and allies,” he said.
Haney said he has no doubt the command’s members are up to the challenge. He called on them, in the months ahead, to recognize fiscal realities as they carry out their mission.
“We must not only diligently advocate for appropriate capabilities, but we must be thoughtful in requirements development and be respectful of current and future resource constraints in execution and future-year planning,” he told them.
But Haney also recognized that the unique skill sets his command provides “demand a most thoughtful approach to any further reductions.”
Confronting new and emerging threats and challenges in a new fiscal climate, Haney emphasized the importance of continued excellence across the command.
“We have chosen a career where there is no room for error, [and] the American people expect nothing short of perfection from us,” he said.
“We will continue to enforce the strictest standards in all we do while seeking opportunities for efficiency and interdependence across the joint force,” Haney said. “Every member of the command shares this responsibility, and I have tremendous faith that each of you will continue to make extraordinary contributions to national security.”
(Follow Donna Miles on Twitter: @MilesAFPS)