OMAHA, Neb. â€“ U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) commander, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and other defense and academic experts promoted cooperation, collaboration and innovation, March 3, during the two-day 2016 Deterrence and Assurance Workshop and Conference at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) College of Public Affairs and Community Service.
After thanking UNO's Department of Political Science and USSTRATCOM's Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance for organizing the conference, Haney said he was “thrilled” with the turnout of Department of Defense (DoD) agency leaders, as well as faculty and students from local and national universities. He also acknowledged the 14 Academic Alliance member schools that were represented at the conference.
USSTRATCOM’s Academic Alliance was started in Oct. 2014 to stimulate new thinking and develop future generations of deterrence practitioners. Since then, 23 local and national universities, including three of the four University of Nebraska campuses, have teamed up with the command to confront the challenges in the increasingly complex security environment in which USSTRATCOM operates.
During his remarks, Haney expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to be among “such an elite group of critical thinkers, discussing a topic that is near and dear to my heart: deterrence.”
“Deterrence isn’t easy,” Haney said. “We need to inspire and develop the next Thomas Schelling or Henry Kissinger to address 21st century deterrence, assurance and escalation control issues. This is why it is so important to me to have an academic alliance with universities across the country.”
He added that teaching the next generation of deterrence practitioners to embrace “continuous learning” will enable them to become “chess players” who can operate in a multi-dimensional (space, cyberspace and nuclear) environment.
“The education of our population is a strategic capability that we must never underrate,” Haney said.
Haney also praised Hagel, the conference’s keynote speaker, for his contributions to the nation and the strategic deterrence enterprise.
“Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is a highly accomplished political leader, a defense and foreign policy strategistâ€¦ and, of course my former boss,” said Haney. “Under his leadership, significant positive change occurred from oversight to policy and culture. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Today, our nuclear deterrence enterprise is healthier, and is getting much-needed support across our Department of Defense and Congress.”Â
In his keynote speech, Hagel, a UNO graduate, touched on a wide range of topics, including the current and future strategic environment, his personal experiences as a student at UNO and USSTRATCOM's role in regional and global security.
Like Haney, Hagel noted the importance of the academic and international partnerships that contribute to the DoD’s ability to identify and address global challenges. He named cyberwarfare as a specific priority, calling it “maybe the most significant, threat to the United States.”
“The importance of collaboration with institutions like the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and others, is critically important,” Hagel said. “The help that’s going to be required for our government and for our military and our intelligence agencies, is very much now dependent on relationships outside those institutions. We need a lot of partners and relationships.”
Hagel also noted the world-wide repercussions that can result from the actions of a single nation, such as the effects caused by operations in the middle-east.
“There’s no part of the world that doesn’t affect every other part of the world,” he said.
Dr. John Christensen, University of Nebraska chancellor, also presented remarks during the event and thanked Hagel and Haney for their participation.
“I am so pleased that UNO has the opportunity to host this inaugural conference, created and supported by USSTRATCOM,” he said. “The goal of the alliance is to strengthen these collaborative relationships and the interactions that we have the opportunity to have between the military and academic institutions.”
“Our purpose is to stimulate creative thinking, innovation and opportunities to bring great minds together,” Christensen added.
USSTRACOM’s Academic Alliance members support USSTRATCOM and the program by promoting research topics within their departments; participating in workshops, speaking engagements and panels; and populating an electronic database with research papers and proposals on subjects related to the command’s global strategic missions.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Hinson, who was on-hand for the remarks and discussions, has first-hand experience on both sides of the DoD relationship with academic institutions. In addition to his current role as the founding executive director of the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska - one of 13 University Affiliated Research Centers (UARC) in the nation - he is also a former USSTRATCOM deputy commander.
Hinson said military organizations have collaborated with academic institutions and UARCs as far back as World War II. He noted the importance of receiving an “academic perspective” in key areas of interest.
“I think the academic community brings a different insight to what technology is out there versus what the military has to deal with on a day-to-day basis,” he said during a University of Nebraska leadership visit to USSTRATCOM Headquarters in January.
Haney echoed Hinson’s comments on the UARC and emphasized the program’s importance.
“The UARC program is critical to USSTRATCOM. We depend on our partnership with the academic community to generate relevant and timely research solutions that directly impact our operations and ultimately, national security,” he said.
The conference also featured discussion panels and speeches from other DoD leaders, including U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, USSTRATCOM deputy commander, and was held in conjunction with a deterrence-themed tabletop exercise with approximately 60 faculty members and students in USSTRATCOM’s wargame center at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.
During his remarks on March 4, Wilson explained how rapidly technology is advancing and said it will change the world and USSTRATCOM’s role in it. Wilson specifically made note of the size and complexity of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the inherent problems with that congestion to defense department, government and civilian business and operations.
“Bandwidth has been doubling every year for the last 20â€¦and is expected to double every year for the next 10 years. In 10 years, bandwidth will be 1,000 times more than it is today,” said Wilson. “We must integrate across disciplines, through the whole-of-government, and internationally to get a unity of effort moving forward.”
He also discussed strategic deterrence concepts, space and cyberspace threats and the state of the nuclear enterprise.
“We’ve reduced our nuclear weapons by about 85 percent since the height of the Cold War,” Wilson said.
Because of that, Wilson said the U.S. and USSTRATCOM are focused on ensuring its remaining nuclear weapons are “safe, secure, effective andâ€¦ready” so potential adversaries “understand that they won’t be able to escalate their way out of a failed conflict.”
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.