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By U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs
U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) and its components hosted allied military leaders and planners in Exercise Global Thunder 2018, which concluded Nov. 7, 2017.
Senior and mid-level personnel from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia participated in the headquarters planning and operations processes during the command and control exercise.
"Deterrence in the 21st century has to be an international approach, and it has to involve our allies and partners," said U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of USSTRATCOM. "Increasing participation in exercises like Global Thunder from allies like the U.K., Canada and Australia helps us develop a coalition approach for deterring and responding to our adversaries."
Allied personnel integrated into senior leadership teams, as well as worked across a broad spectrum of areas, offering legal, public affairs, policy support, targeting and information operations insight.
According to Royal Canadian Navy Commodore Richard Feltham, lead for the Canadian delegation during the exercise, participating in the exercise with a larger team than previous years helps further Canada's Defence Policy of providing greater value to North American Aerospace Defense Command, NATO and other allied partners while building on the importance of partnership with the United States.
“Canada’s defense partnership with the United States remains integral to continental security and the United States continues to be Canada’s most important military ally,” Feltham said. “It is incredibly important for Canada to understand USSTRATCOM’s role and considerations in executing its primary missions as it relates to Canada and Canadian interests. Opportunities like Global Thunder serve to broaden mutual understanding, and in turn, strengthens interoperability to increase our ability to work together.”
United Kingdom Royal Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Turner, senior British military advisor to the commander of USSTRATCOM, stated that knowing each other well and integrating closely and clearly is critical.
“We also bring a different philosophy and approach on how we see the world and I think we can be a useful sounding board for ideas and concepts, but also offer a different perspective which might influence how the commander here is seeing and reading the world,” Turner said.
United Kingdom Royal Navy Commodore Paul Burke noted that since we expect to fight together, we need to train together.
“We learn every single time we do one of these exercises, and we make it better each time,” Burke said. “When we make it better, we find the next potential snag or issue that needs to be addressed; so it’s an ongoing process to make us better and ready for any activity in the future.”
Noting the many common areas in which Australia and the United States conduct joint operations and activities, including the space domain, Australian Army Maj. Gen. Marcus Thompson, deputy chief of information warfare, said the real value from operating together is the collective security provided by solid alliances.
"The alliance shared between Australia and the United States is a strong and formidable commitment that would give any adversary pause," Thompson said. "The deterrence umbrella created by the alliance is ultimately what keeps our families, our countries, and all nations safe."
The focus of the Global Thunder exercise series is to provide realistic training for nuclear command, control and communication operations, as well as headquarters planning and operations across the spectrum of the mission responsibilities assigned to USSTRATCOM.
One of nine Department of Defense unified combatant commands, USSTRATCOM has global responsibilities assigned through the Unified Command Plan that include strategic deterrence, space operations, cyberspace operations, joint electronic warfare, global strike, missile defense and intelligence.