NEWS | Aug. 5, 2011

Deterrence Symposium brings nuclear debate to the forefront

By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

Gen. C. Robert Kehler, U.S. Strategic Command commander, provides opening remarks for the 2011 USSTRATCOM Deterrence Symposium August 3 at the Qwest Center.

OMAHA, Neb. - The 2011 U.S. Strategic Command Deterrence Symposium commenced Aug. 3 and 4 promoting thoughtful discussion and debate on "21st Century Deterrence Challenges," the theme of this year's forum.

Gen. C. Robert Kehler, USSTRATCOM commander, provided welcoming remarks to the hundreds of attending military, academic, international leaders and experts and offered his thoughts on the complex, multifaceted and evolving nature of deterrence as well as present day threats and challenges.

"Tackling this environment demands faster, more comprehensive awareness, strategic thinking, flexible planning, rapid innovation, and unprecedented information sharing. These are not insignificant challenges, and we will welcome your thoughts on them as the symposium proceeds," he said. "Against this operational backdrop STRATCOM's most important mission remains to deter attack, particularly nuclear attack, with a safe, secure, effective nuclear deterrent force. Nuclear deterrence is and always will be our first priority. "

Panels consisted of experts who discussed their perspectives on deterrence-related subjects. They also answered questions presented by members of the audience. Discussion topics included the influence of nuclear weapons, how deterrence is affected by arms control beyond the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, deterrence in the realms of space and cyberspace, world perspectives on deterrence from current events in the Middle East and Africa, whether deterrence works, and if it's a worthy concept in this present day and age.

"We've come to realize that there is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to deterrence. In our view to address the full range of threats as well as the high end existential threats requires an adaptive, diversified approach. That new approach, and developing and affirming that new approach, is the principle reason why we convened the inaugural Deterrence Symposium three years ago," General Kehler said.

Panel member Dr. Sergey Rogov, Director of the Institute for the USA and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, explained some of Russia's concerns. He touched on Ballistic Missile Defense concerns and the New START Treaty not limiting deployed U.S. missile defenses, while also highlighting its effectiveness.

"The New START Treaty I think really was a major contribution to the strategic stability between Russia and the United States based on mutual nuclear deterrence," Dr. Rogov said.

In addition to expert panelists, keynote speakers offered insight and expert opinions about current events and policy affecting deterrence. Speakers included the Honorable Dr. James Miller, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; Mart Laar, Estonian Minister of Defense and Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance.

Dr. Miller described the deterrence posture as an "offense/defense balance" in regard to the relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

"Many people think of deterrence predominantly, or sometimes exclusively, as requiring credible and capable threat of retaliation. That is basically accurate in the U.S. /Russia nuclear deterrence relationship," he explained in regard to the evolution of deterrence since the Cold War era.

"Deterrence is a critical part of our foreign policy toolkit. It has been for decades and will remain so for decades, but times have changed and will change, and deterrence requires adaptation," he later added.