NEWS | Aug. 1, 2016

International experts discuss security and stability at 2016 USSTRATCOM Deterrence Symposium

By U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

LA VISTA, Neb. - More than 650 deterrence practitioners from Department of Defense (DoD) agencies, industry, academic institutions and international organizations attended U.S. Strategic Command's (USSTRATCOM) 2016 Deterrence Symposium, July 27-28, for panels and speeches designed to promote increased collaboration and discussion on global deterrence issues.

In his welcoming remarks, U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, USSTRATCOM commander, highlighted the level of international participation at this year's symposium, which included representatives from Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Georgia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, Norway, Poland and the U.K.

Haney also commended the USSTRATCOM Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance for providing a forum for communication and collaboration between the command and academic institutions and stressed the importance of continuing to grow the next generation of strategic thinkers and strategic warriors by asking the attendees under 30 years of age to stand and be recognized.

"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. "I want to thank all of our international guests - [we] have 13 nations represented here, 14 when you count the United States. I can't be more proud for having you on the same ship with us. Thank you for being here. Your presence, opinion, and your expertise are important to continued dialogue."

Mr. Peter Watkins CBE, U.K. Ministry of Defence director general for security policy, highlighted the significance of working with partners and allies by discussing the continuing collaboration between the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Defense. He cited the U.K. liaison cell permanently assigned to USSTRATCOM Headquarters and other cooperative efforts as examples.

"We are increasing our participation in [US]STRATCOM-led exercises such as Global Thunder and Global Lightning, which are expanding out of the nuclear domain to cover [US]STRATCOM's wider responsibilities, including space, cyber and BMD (ballistic missile defense)," he said. "We've just renewed our commitment to provide a senior military advisor - two-star level - to Commander, [US]STRATCOM, to support these exercises and to directly support the command at times of crisis."

Watkins added his perspective on the current security environment and said the U.K. has given the concept of deterrence more thought in recent years, noting the 2015 U.K. Strategic Defence and Security Review contained a whole section on deterrence, whereas previous reviews "barely mentioned the word."

"State-based risks appear greater, conflict-related risks are likely to rise and the dissemination of new technologies increases the potency of non-state actors," he said. "Modern deterrence, or making defense deterrence work in the contemporary security environment, has to be comprehensive and employ the full spectrum of our capabilities across all levers of national power. States cannot achieve that alone; the approach needs to be international by design, and build upon a common approach with allies and partners, based on shared interests and values."

Haney also discussed the security and deterrence environments, highlighting the capabilities and actions of the five emerging threats, beginning with Russia.

"By virtue of the size of its nuclear arsenal, Russia poses an existential threat to the United States," he said. "They continue to modernize, even though Russia faces some challenging economic conditions. At the same time, Russia is building conventional military forces; investing in nuclear weapons, including multiple independent targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) with tactical ranges; and it's pursuing hypersonic-glide vehicle technology.

"Russia is engaged in destabilizing actions in Syria and Ukraine, developing counterspace and cyberspace capabilities and conducting below the threshold of armed conflict type of activities, all the while declaring and recklessly expressing its willingness to escalate if required," Haney continued. "Having said that, Russia must understand that it would be a serious miscalculation to consider nuclear escalation as a viable option. Russia will not achieve the benefits it seeks."

Haney then discussed the other four threats - North Korea, Iran, China and violent extremist organizations - facing the nation, and reiterated importance of partnerships to confront them.

"We must have a deep, deep understanding of the adversary, and we can't do this alone," he said. "Building deterrence and assurance capacity in the challenging geopolitical landscape I describe requires a collaborative effort...This is a team effort."

During a dinner keynote speech, Amb. Masafumi Ishii, ambassador of NATO to Japan, emphasized the need for collaboration with China when considering the future of the Asia-Pacific region, citing a potential unified Korea as an example.

"We need to come up with a consensus about what a united Korea should look like," he said. "Should it have nuclear weapons? Should it have United States forces? Then, we better share that with China. Only China can make decisions for themselves about the future of North Korea, but we can present elements which they can take into consideration."

He also predicted that 2030 will a "very interesting" year because "China's defense spending, if the present trend continues, will be as much as the American defense spending."

"That does not mean that China is as militarily as capable as the America," he said. "But that will have a significant symbolic impact.

"I can identify only three pillars or poles or powers in the world which are both able and willing to work for the stability: [the] United States, Europe and Japan and democracies in Asia," he continued. "So it's important to create the closest possible coordination among these three powers if we want to maintain global stability."

Other keynote speakers at the conference include 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; and U.S. Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, U.S. Central Command commander.

The two-day symposium also featured 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.

After the keynote speeches and panels were complete, Haney addressed the audience once more to provide his final thoughts on the discussions held and his vision for the future.

"Getting deterrence right is hard work," he said. "It takes cooperation with others, but success means a safer and more secure world... We clearly have more work to do; and I hope, given the brain power we have here at this symposium, we've stimulated your thinking to go forth and continue to work this hard so that we can make a difference.

"I hope that one day my grandchildren will live in a peaceful world that is not under threat from strategic attacks from nuclear weapons, terrorists, cyberspace weapons and space weapons," he continued. "Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in today. Strategic nuclear deterrence has not failed us in preventing major power war over the last 70 years. However, to address the challenges we've presented here and talked about - that confront us in the 21st century - we must have a more comprehensive approach.

"Our thinking and concepts must constantly evolve," Haney concluded. "This conference has helped evolve that thinking through discussions on new ways of exploring deterrence and assurance, and asking hard questions."

One of nine DoD unified combatant commands, USSTRATCOM has global strategic missions assigned through the Unified Command Plan, which include strategic deterrence; space operations; cyberspace operations; joint electronic warfare; global strike; missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; combating weapons of mass destruction; and analysis and targeting.

For more information about the symposium, please visit

For more information, contact the USSTRATCOM Public Affairs Office at 402-294-4130 or, or visit