OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. â€“ U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander, hosted French Air Force (officially known as ArmÃ©e de l’Air, meaning “Army of the Air”) Lt. Gen. Philippe Steininger, French Strategic Air Forces commander, May 27-28.
While here, Steininger met with Haney, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John Uberti, USSTRATCOM chief of staff, and other command subject matter experts to discuss topics of mutual interest to the U.S. and France. The conversations focused on their long-standing partnership and the continuing need for strategic deterrence. Â
“For 70 years, we have had no wars between nuclear powers,” Steininger said. “We have been at peace. [We] need nuclear deterrence and [we] need to modernize, constantly, our nuclear deterrence.”
Haney echoed Steininger’s sentiment, adding that “working closely with our partner nations like France, both here and abroad, enables USSTRATCOM to build and maintain enduring relationships with experts from government agencies, academia and allies to confront the broad range of global strategic challenges.”
The collaboration between the U.S. and France is unique because they are two of three NATO members with strategic capabilities and responsibilities, and the only two with nuclear-capable air force assets. Steininger pointed to this, and other factors, as reasons the two nations have maintained such close ties for decades.
“History shows those two countries (the U.S. and France) have always been allies,” he said. “Even if our methods, systems, procedures (and) weapons are different, the challenges [we face] are exactly the same. We have lots to learn from each other and that makes our exchanges very fruitful.”
Prior to arriving at Offutt, Steininger visited Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, where he met with U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) commander, to discuss strategic aircraft operations and the global strike mission.
He also flew in a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, a privilege few pilots â€“ let alone those from foreign countries â€“ have ever been afforded. He pointed out that only 596 people have had the “honor” of flying aboard the aircraft.
“You have fewer B-2 fliers than astronauts,” he said. “As a pilot, I'm very happy to have had this tremendous experience on a very impressive jet.”
Steininger’s meetings with USSTRATCOM and AFGSC senior leaders demonstrate the close-knit partnership between the U.S. and France. The two nations regularly work together to tackle issues pertaining to their collective strategic operating environment.
Representatives from both countries signed a special arrangement in April to enhance their existing Space Situational Awareness data-sharing agreement, permitting an advanced exchange of SSA data which is essential for spaceflight safety.
In January, Haney traveled to Europe to reinforce the continuing cooperation between allies through high-level meetings with key strategic leaders, including Marine Nationale (French National Navy) Vice Adm. Louis-Michel Guillaume, French Submarine and Strategic Oceanic Forces commander. As a result of the meeting, Guillaume traveled to USSTRATCOM headquarters in February to continue discussions with Haney and his staff.