NEWS | July 27, 2016

USSTRATCOM kicks off 2016 Deterrence Symposium

By U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

LA VISTA, Neb. − More than 650 deterrence experts gathered at the La Vista Conference Center as U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) kicked off the seventh annual Deterrence Symposium, July. 27.

In his welcoming remarks, U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, USSTRATCOM commander, thanked the audience for their attendance and discussed the challenges related to deterrence and assurance in a variety of environments.

“I am thrilled to see the diverse and talented audience we have here: allies and partners, international experts, members of our government, think tanks, academia, national labs, industry and media,” Haney said. “Some question whether deterrence theory is relevant in [today‘s world]; I can assure you it is. Our deterrence mechanisms continue to contribute to strategic stability. Deterring in today‘s multi-polar world requires us to view threats across the spectrum of conflict, where escalation can occur with more than one adversary, and can be transregional and span space, cyberspace, air, land and sea domains. These strategic problems have global ramifications and require comprehensive solutions.

“Strategic deterrence is a complex subject that is foundational to global security,” Haney added. “It depends on the situation and one size never fits all; yet it is bounded in the understanding that no adversary can escalate its way out of a failed conflict, no adversary will gain the benefits they seek and restraint is always a better option. If necessary, we will respond in the time, place and domain of our choosing.”

As the command responsible for detecting and deterring strategic attacks against the U.S. and its allies, USSTRATCOM is hosting the symposium to discuss and promote increased collaboration on global deterrence issues amongst industry, military, governmental, international and academic experts. “Building Deterrence and Assurance Capacity in a Changing Geopolitical Landscape” is this year‘s theme.

Haney also discussed how verifiable treaties and policies are key to strategic stability.

“The New START Treaty promotes stability by maintaining equivalency in size of our nuclear strategic forces, between the United States and Russia, as well as transparency with an inspection regime. Furthermore, it helps assure our non-nuclear allies that they do not require their own nuclear deterrent capabilities,” he said.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Clinton E. Crosier, USSTRATCOM director of plans and policy, also provided remarks, during which he highlighted the variety of experts in attendance and the importance of working with partners and allies.

“This symposium is designed to drive intellectual discussion on deterrence theory among government agencies, the Department of Defense, industry, academia and international partners,” he said. “We have each of these groups soundly represented. This year, we have 63 [international dignitaries] representing 14 nations, including [the U.S.], Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Georgia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, Norway, Poland and the United Kingdom.

“Our world is an ever-more complex and ever-more dangerous environment. Despite claims of attempting to hold on to the Cold War, a critical understanding of both the art and science of deterrence theory, strategic deterrence and strategic stability is as relevant today as it ever was; and perhaps even more relevant,” Crosier added. “Our goal is to make this symposium the premier international forum where we can cultivate these critical concepts together.”

Both Haney and Crosier noted that 19 members of U.S. Strategic Command‘s Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance (the most ever), were represented at this year‘s symposium.

“The purpose of the alliance is to build a community of interest - focused on themes of national security, deterrence and assurance - to leverage expertise and research on the concepts and encourage development of deterrence professionals to meet the needs for future generations of leaders to address these challenges,” Haney said. “More importantly, this academic alliance provides a forum for communication and collaboration.”

The Academic Alliance was established in October 2014 to stimulate new thinking and develop future generations of deterrence practitioners. Since then, 31 local and national universities have joined the alliance and Haney said his goal is to continue growing that number.

Haney went on to emphasize the need for a “generational approach” to deterrence, saying, “As leaders, we must ensure we are developing the talent that will assume the mantle as the geopolitical landscape continues to change and evolve.”

The two-day symposium features a series of panels where international deterrence experts discuss a wide-range of topics, such as: ensuring credible deterrence and assurance capabilities, developing an integrated (space, cyberspace, conventional, nuclear, etc.) strategy, and the future of arms control among major state powers.

The conference also highlights keynote speakers, including Mr. Brian McKeon, acting under secretary of defense for policy; U.S. Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, U.S. European Command commander and NATO Supreme Allied Commander; U.S. Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, U.S. Central Command commander; Mr. Peter Watkins CBE, U.K. Ministry of Defence director general for security policy; and Amb. Masafumi Ishii, Ambassador of NATO to Japan.

For more information about the symposium, please visit