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SPEECH | Oct. 4, 2021

2021 US Strategic Command Deterrence Symposium Closing Remarks

Edited for Clarity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                        13 September 2021

Location: US Strategic Command (virtual)

Event:  US Strategic Command Deterrence Symposium Closing Remarks

ADM Richard: Before I start my closing remarks, let me say thank you to everyone who put together and participated inside the symposium. I thought it was a great success and a very useful exercise. For those of you that participated, I thank you. I thank you for your initiative, for being a part of this, and for your leadership, and taking on, what I think, is one of the biggest challenges that we face today.

In particular, I’d like to thank Senator King and Senator Fischer for spending time with us and giving us some very valuable insight, and we appreciate your continued dedication to this mission set. And, also, thanks to Maj. Gen. Kamekoa for those fine keynote speaker remarks.

Every panel, I think, discussed some topics that are very relevant to the challenges that we face today. From cultivating our intellectual capital, thinking about the impact of disruptive technologies, gray zone deterrence risk, next generation deterrence models. All of that, I think, is very valuable and important work. And of course, we are going to harvest this and continue to apply it practically in the defense of the nation. Probably good time to remind ourselves [of the] interim national security strategic guidance. Our most solemn obligation is to protect the security of the American people, and we take that responsibility very seriously.

And so, if you take nothing else away from the symposium, I’d ask you to consider that the way we have been doing business to accomplish national objectives has to be updated to match the threat that we face today. We have to get after revised operational deterrence theory, reframe our approach in many respects to today's challenges: escalation management versus escalation control, three-party reality, not to mention, other threats and then global threats that require global responses.

Conditions are changing rapidly. China is in the midst of a strategic breakout. I want to reiterate that we now face competitors – Russia and China – who have a unilateral ability to escalate to any level of violence, using any instrument of national power in any domain, globally, at any point in time that they choose to, and we have never faced two competitors with that capability at the same time ever in our history. You can help us with this, in terms of, how we go do this. I think it's also a great opportunity for us to look back at our history. We have a lot of history in how we accomplish the deterrence mission. Time to go back and look at that again and see what we can take away from it; it doesn't account for this three-party problem. We've focused a lot of our intellectual capital on other areas over the past 30 years, and it's time to pivot back to this challenge.

The ongoing reviews – nuclear posture review, missile defense review, and national defense strategy – are all ideal opportunities for us to update our theories and produce better strategies and capabilities to address the threat that we face today. I continue to applaud Secretary Austin’s leadership and where he's taking us with the concept of integrated deterrence and think that is the path that we need to achieve in order to protect the nation and our allies’ security. So, I thank everyone for all their efforts in this, look forward to next year, and look forward to the intellectual and operational work that will be conducted as a result of this symposium.

Thank you.