NEWS | Sept. 18, 2017

U.S. Strategic Command hosts Advanced Operational Law Conference

By USSTRATCOM Public Affairs

U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), in collaboration with the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) and the University of Nebraska College of Law, hosted the Advanced Operational Law Conference here Sept. 6-8, to explore the legal perspectives related to 21st century strategic deterrence.    


During the conference, international legal and defense experts from government agencies and academia participated in classified and unclassified discussion panels on a variety of topics. They discussed international law applicable to military uses of outer space, rogue states and nuclear weapons, as well as limitations on cyber operations and issues of sovereignty in cyberspace.


Delivering the keynote address, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Susan Arnold, U.S. Army assistant judge advocate general for military law and operations, emphasized the need for cooperation among experts and that legal issues arise at all levels of command.


“The practice of law is a collaborative process and relies upon the concerted effort of dedicated professionals at every level from the tactical to the strategic and policy realms,” Arnold said.


Arnold also emphasized the importance of being flexible and ready for unexpected situations.


“You think you’re going to be doing X, Y, or Z, but all of us have to be poised regardless of our service and regardless of whether we wear the uniform or civilian clothes to support something that could come out of nowhere,” Arnold said.


David Thaw, University of Pittsburgh assistant professor of Law and Information Sciences, stated that at this year’s conference there was a heightened focus on strategic stability.


“The geopolitical economic environment has changed tremendously, but there really are a substantial series of changes globally, which whether or not they were anticipated, change the ways in which we think about strategic stability and I think that seems to be at the forefront in many of these discussions,” Thaw said.


Jack Beard, University of Nebraska associate professor and faculty advisor for the Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program, noted that the conference was unique because it’s attended by legal and policy experts, legal practitioners and academics.


“The conference gives U.S. military legal officers the opportunity to hear preeminent experts discuss legal and policy issues that are important to them, the work they do and their practice,” Beard said.  “USSTRATCOM needs legal advisors who can see the big picture to answer the complicated questions and this is a chance to do that. It’s hard to do when you’re just focused on whatever your particular job is for whatever command you’re in, so this is a really important function for USSTRATCOM and for U.S. national security.”


Arnold added that the conference brought together academics and military professionals from all services as well as different nations.


“The nature of our national security and those of our allies is both politically and legally complex and these conferences reinforce our partnerships and hone our thinking,” Arnold said. “I am very grateful that I had a chance to participate and I look forward to continuing the relationship with USSTRATCOM and the University of Nebraska.

One of nine Department of Defense unified combatant commands, USSTRATCOM has global missions assigned through the Unified Command Plan that include strategic deterrence, space operations, cyberspace operations, joint electronic warfare, global strike, missile defense, intelligence, and analysis and targeting.

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