NEWS | July 31, 2017

Deterrence discussed on a global scale during 2017 USSTRATCOM symposium

By USSTRATCOM Public Affairs

OMAHA, Neb. – More than 650 deterrence practitioners and experts from around the world attended U.S. Strategic Command’s (USSTRATCOM) 2017 Deterrence Symposium, July 26-27.


The global warfighting command hosted the international deterrence symposium to discuss and promote increased collaboration among international, military, governmental, academic and industry experts.


During the symposium Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of USSTRATCOM, stated that deterrence is one of the most important topics our nation needs to discuss.


“We need to be open and not hold back on these discussions,” he said.


Hyten also noted that deterrence in the 21st century has to be approached internationally.


“There wasn’t a single speaker that stood up and said the United States can do this all alone,” Hyten said. “They all emphasized we need to work together as allies and partners. That’s one of our biggest strengths we have that in many ways our adversaries do not.” 


The audience attending the symposium, included international allies and partners from the Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Georgia, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom, all of whom were challenged to reinvigorate the international discussion on deterrence and assurance. 


U.S. Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, United Nations Command and Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, also spoke at the symposium and shared his five observations on deterrence:


1: “Deterrence is a day-to-day competition with specific applications. Deterrence in one area does not equal deterrence universally in all competitive areas.”


2: “Deterrence is driven by self-restraint in the face of potential outcomes that comprise risks and rewards.”


3: “There can be peril in patterns. Creating a consistent pattern can provide a basis for predictable behavior.”


4: “Deterrence and compellence are different effects. The object of deterrence has a choice to make…while in the case of compellence the object is deprived of choice, deprived of alternatives, deprived of freedom of action or initiative.” 


5: “A credible consequence, a real capability to inflict cost if deterrence is broken, must undergird the conditions of deterrence.”     


Brooks explained that in the case of North Korea and its nuclear missile programs, “the international community is seeking deterrence … compellence however must remain an option if North Korea does not choose to be deterred.” 


He stated that while war seeks to bring an adversary to its knees, the aim of deterrence is self-restraint in the face of assessed risks and perceived rewards.


In addition to Brooks, the symposium also featured keynote speakers and panels with international deterrence experts who discussed a wide-range of topics.


“Our international participants, for the last two days, have given us insight on their views of the evolving strategic environment and that insight is enormously helpful,” Hyten said. “These discussions help us come up with an allied approach for deterring and responding to our adversaries.”


Hyten also noted that this is a multi-polar world that is about the adversaries and not the domain.


“We have to tailor our approach to each adversary and each unique situation,” he said.


David Bakradze, Georgia’s ambassador to the United States, discussed the importance of continuing international partnerships.


“The ever-evolving nature of warfare and the recent threats and challenges posed by conventional and hybrid warfare call for effective response and comprehensive cooperation,” Bakradze said. “Georgia remains a strong, loyal and reliable partner of the United States and our European friends in a turbulent region and will do everything within its reach to advance our common interests and respond to common threats.”  


Isabelle Desmartis, Canadian Department of National Defence director general of policy planning, highlighted the deterrence concepts embedded in Canada’s new national defense policy.


The Canadian National Defense Policy at its core, “is about discouraging a potential adversary from doing something before they do it,” Desmartis said. “This policy recognizes the importance of deterrence and it’s something we didn’t have in previous policies. It recognizes the importance of deterrence supported by a credible military.


During his closing remarks, Hyten thanked international, military, governmental, academic, industry experts and media who attended the event.


“For the past two days we had some stimulating ideas, stimulating concepts and thoughts from professionals,” Hyten said. “The thoughts presented were insightful with very diverse views on deterrence and assurance in today’s environment. I’m impressed with the passion and commitment that everyone brought to the discussions.”