Speeches

SPEECH | July 28, 2022

2022 Deterrence Symposium Closing Remarks

So first, I'd like to start off just by thanking everyone for your participation and contributions to what I think was another highly successful conference. A lot of people, a lot of work go into this and particularly like to thank the J5 Director Steve Pettit and the team who put this on for us on behalf of STRATCOM.

By the way, as we kind of summarize all this what I think is a very useful thing, particularly for those of you that were here the last time we were in person, is to ask yourself how much has changed just in those two years- and we had to go to the virtual piece. It's actually pretty stunning, and I'll come back to that in a second.

But across the board, I thought this was valuable in every respect. I'd like to congratulate again our Larry D. Welch Deterrence Writing Award winners, Dr. Justin Anderson at NDU, Lt. Col. James McCue at DTRA. The junior category, Cadet First Class, Alexander Kleitz  at the Air Force Academy, and these are really - there were many other good submissions.

It was unfortunate that we didn't have an opportunity to recognize them all, but that's an example of the intellectual engagement that we're talking about and that we need. I in particular want to thank our keynote speakers across the board in each of those three keynotes. You got what I thought was a nearly unique insights into areas that we don't often get a glimpse and don't often think about yet are absolutely critical to the way we accomplish the mission. General Kelly, Ambassador Taylor, Dr. Schake, thank you so much for your time, insightful perspectives. I know we don't compensate you a lot for that. Each of them came here really on their own initiative to share with us what they did.

General Kelly, the touch on the White House, POTUS, Administration, Congress, American people, fabulous insights. Again, I don't think we give that much in many other cases or ways.

Dr. Schake's historical perspective, kind of re-analyzing what we learned out of Berlin. And I think not only was that valuable in its own right, but it's something I think we need to do more of. I know right now at STRATCOM headquarters we're actually reanalyzing the Taiwan Straits crisis that we've had over time. We're going back and looking at SAC and Navy's posture back in the Cold War to glean lessons from that, that might be useful as we think about going into the future. There's a lot of stuff out there, if we're not careful, we're going to forget, have to relearn the hard way. And I think we need to avoid that.

Then, Ambassador Taylor again gives unique insights into the situation we face in Ukraine, glimpse again of that new security environment and there is so much at stake at this. And one of many things that I would want to emphasize that Ambassador Taylor said has to do with us thinking through the long-term implications of what we do or don't do in this crisis as opposed to being completely focused on the near term.

Panels, right across the board. I mean, those were fabulous panels, it was very wide ranging, integrated deterrence, three-party dynamics, coercion, rising autocracy, private sector impacts. What a great look at the spectrum, in some great detail that we have to pay attention to. I will say also, I was really impressed with the audience questions, right? There was some real engagement, some real thought put into those, and I appreciate everybody that puts an effort into that.

So as I talked about, things have really changed since the last time we all got a chance to get together and talk about this mission set. That's a good reminder to us that deterrence is not a static concept, right? It never has been and it's not going to be particularly in the environment that we're in. We have so many areas where we need to rethink what our theory looks like, challenge all assumptions, start to bring in new concepts, there's new domains, there's new technology. There's so much work that we have to do.

Hey just saying it's a three-party dynamic really doesn't cut it. There are so many dimensions that we have to go work on and I will say it again, business as usual just isn't going to work anymore, and it's going to be detrimental to our security.

Global versus regional, strategic versus operational, there's so many dimensions that we have to get to in this. Now, I will, I have testified to this effect before Congress and I'll say it again in front of you. I mean, we just rolled out the Nuclear Posture Review and National Defense Strategy, there was tremendous effort in the Department of Defense, broader government, Allies and Partners, all to think our way through that.

We have, in my opinion, a very good strategy expressing those documents. And we made certain decisions with regards to capabilities designed to implement those. But the threat that strategy goes up against, the threats of that strategy is designed to deter is not static. It is continuing to change.

We don't know where China is going to wind up. We don't have great insight into what their intentions are. I could say the same about Russia, North Korea, others, which means we must be, much more frequently than we have in the past, asking ourselves what capability, capacity, and posture do we need to be in order to execute that good strategy as the threat evolves.

We just have had the luxury in the past of doing that every four to eight years coincident with a Nuclear Posture Review. Write it all down, put the report on the shelf.  that's just not going to cut it anymore. And I'm confident that our department and the government as a whole is going to go off and do that.

So, I want to leave you with this as we go and it's a call to action. It is a call to urgent action. We have just summarized what we're up against. This is, I would ask each of you as you go back to your organization, whether that be in the government, or in the military, or if you an academia, or at that RDC, corporate, I don't care where it is. This has to be something that we all go back and we keep pushing on. We each have a piece. We each make a contribution to this. This is not something that we can wait till next year and come back here and talk about it a little bit more.

We do not have a lot of time. Things are changing on us very rapidly and we are going to have to pick up the pace in my opinion if we're going to address the threats that face us and our Allies. So I think it is a good time to remind ourselves of STRATCOM’s motto, Peace is our Profession….

Remember in this mission set, unlike others, victory looks like nothing happened. And then finally, as we like to say a lot around STRATCOM “All Ahead Flank”.

Thank y'all.