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SPEECH | Dec. 14, 2022

U.S. Strategic Command Change of Command

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                09 December 2022                                                                                  


Location: Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska

Event:  U.S. Strategic Command Change of Command        


Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command: Secretary Austin, Secretary Kendall, Administrator Hruby, Hon. Moultrie, Vice Chairman Grady, General Hyten, Admiral Richard, Governor, Senator Fischer, Congressman Flood, Mayors Lambert, Hike, and Groesser, and the many civic leaders across the country that are here with us today. And the many, many friends and colleagues that are here today, not just for the Cotton family but for the Richard family. Our great allies and partners from around the world that are here, but most importantly all of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Guardians of U.S. Strategic Command.

Good morning!

It's so great to be here in Omaha. I know so many of our family members and military families that are stationed here and how they absolutely love this community. And this community welcomes us with open arms and we can't thank you enough. But before I get started, I need to thank President Biden, Secretary Austin, General Milley, Secretary Kendall, for their faith and confidence in me in this critical position. I do not take for granted the trust and responsibility that have been placed upon me. Secretary Kendall, thank you for everything. The Air Force is moving fast in the right direction. Thanks for your leadership. What a dynamic duo between Secretary Kendall and General CQ Brown. But thank you for the confidence that supported me in the steadfast support of the modernization of the two legs of the nuclear triad of which I was responsible for until about a couple days ago. Now I get it all.

Admiral Richard, Chas, we've been together for a while. I said it at my change of command at Global Strike Command in 2021, that you had a vision driven by action and results. It's been inspiring to see the changes that you have made. I've watched you lead during challenging times and I know we are in a better position to deter and present forces to our leadership. Marsha and I wish you and Lisa all the best as you begin the next chapter of your journey in your Griswold mobile.

So, if you see a 29-foot camper with a 40-foot antenna on the back

You know it's Chaz and Lisa as they’re hitting the national parks. To my family. There are many here to show support, but I wanna speak to a few. Obviously Marsha, the love of my life, who I met in Minot, North Dakota, so Mr. Secretary, you're absolutely right. If nothing else, then we have to go there for holidays in the wintertime.

And I can tell you stories about the pact that a lot of us that were assigned there said about marrying women from North Dakota so we didn't have to go to holidays in the wintertime, but it's been incredible and Mr. Secretary, you're absolutely right. I think we've taken half of the population of North Dakota and they're all sitting on that side of the atrium right now.

But the military brought us together 33 years ago and it's been incredible and I'm happy to have her by my side through it all. Russ and Bri, so proud to be your dad. So, Bri is a Carolina graduate. I'm a NC State graduate. Paid for her to go to Carolina, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. That wasn't a good thing. And she's also a law school graduate from the University of Michigan, so she's, she's got her opportunities at pick a couple of really powerful teams in sports, but I think Carolina Blue is her.

Our incredible son Russell, is an Intel Analyst and I'm looking at Ron Moultrie and he's doing some incredible work for the United States today. I'm so, so, so proud of them.

Now to the men and women of U.S. Strategic Command. I cannot put into words how honored I am to be part of this organization and to serve with you. I don't want to date myself, but I was part of Strategic Air Command. During my confirmation, and I see Senator Fischer here, I had to correct myself a few times because I kept saying Strategic Air Command. That's because it's, I have a tattoo on my over my heart- instead of STRATCOM.

Thankfully one of the senators during the confirmation hearing did the same thing, and she said, "don't worry, it's okay". But the fact of the matter is we are not Strategic Air Command. SAC achieved many successes over time, including helping to bring the end of the Cold War. But, however, new perils are ahead of us. While the post Cold-War era is over, the competition is underway among major powers to try to shape what comes ahead. What we face today is different from the situation our Cold War heroes faced. In this new face of competition, we face two peer adversaries. And guess what? Strategic Command must be ready for the global challenges of that strategic environment. Ready for the complex challenges to deter adversarial aggression and coercion, 24/7.

But we're positioning a 21st-century command for the future. And what we're doing is incredibly important. As Secretary Austin has said before, "America's defense will always be rooted in deterring conflict." So we are again making it clear to any potential foe, the risks and costs of aggression far outweigh any conceivable gains.

The deterrence and combat capability we provide is bedrock to all operations. Everything we do is foundational to national and international security. It's not just our nation that's counting on us, it's our allies and partners. NATO calls the strategic forces of the alliance, particularly those of the United States, the supreme guarantee of the Alliance's security. And we embrace that.

We know what's riding on our shoulders. The U.S. owns all ICBMs for our allies. The U.S. owns all bombers for our allies. The U.S. is the only or one of three NATO members with SSBNs. And we have made investments that will ensure that our capabilities and readiness do not atrophy, and that our deterrence remains safe, secure, effective, and credible.

But deterrence is not just nuclear. When Secretary Austin delivered our National Defense Strategy, he presented one of the primary ways we advance as a department: Integrated Defense. Integrated Defense combines all of our strengths. That means every domain, every theater, every instrument of U.S. national power. The world's greatest allies and partners all working together to make an insurmountable problem for any potential adversary and ensure a free and prosperous and secure international order.

And we know our nuclear capability is at the heart of deterrence. The importance of our mission will continue to be paramount and the backstop of U.S. national security. And we must maintain our position of strength. But to safeguard our capabilities and credibility, we can't settle on a status quo. So we're taking actions now. Our mission cannot fail, so we're modernizing our systems.

As the Secretary mentioned, last Friday I also had the pleasure to receive the first glimpse of the new B-21 Raider, our first strategic bomber in more than three decades. As noted by Secretary Austin during the unveiling, it's a testament not only to America's enduring advantages in ingenuity and innovation, but also to our strategy of deterrence backed up with the capabilities we need every time, anytime, every time. The Raider, Sentinel, our next generation ICBM, the new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, the next generation nuclear command, control and communications, represents an era of significant transformation for our nuclear forces. And as we transition to these new systems that are gonna be even more capable and synchronize all of our capabilities through integrated deterrence, our deterrence will only get stronger. But I don't want anyone to think that our strength and confidence comes solely from our combat capabilities. What gives me the greatest confidence is the solid foundation of relationships that we have with allies and partners.

We're the best in the world, combined with the best allies in the world, and there's nothing that we can't accomplish. I've seen it firsthand, the relationship and integration with our allies and partners. Whether it's major exercises with our friends in the United Kingdom, integrating with INDO-PACOM, providing conventional bomber exercises with the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, refueling bombers with the Royal Australian Air Force, landing at an Arctic base in Norway, or conducting SSBN port visits in Scotland, Gibraltar, and Diego Garcia. It shouldn't be a surprise that I, as commander of Global Strike Command- there we go. As the commander of U.S. Strategic Command – sorry brah - will continue to reinforce those relationships with our allies and partners.

Winston's Churchill said it best, "If we are together, nothing is impossible." And together we have a team that our adversaries will never be able to overcome.

People often ask me, General Cotton, what keeps you up at night? Well, I really don't lose sleep at night when I go to bed. And here are the reasons why.

First, the United States has the greatest military power in the history of the world.

Second, the United States is part of the most successful security alliance in the history of the world that has enabled almost 75 years of stability, prosperity, and growth.

And finally, I don't lose sleep because there are brave men and women who are keeping watch 24/7, even as I speak. They may be underwater, underground, airborne, or watching space. This gives me confidence.

The generations that follow us will continue to live in a free world thanks to the men and women of U.S. Strategic Command. And I am so incredibly proud to lead those men and women. And they'll continue to set the bar high so our nation and our allies and partners can rest well knowing that we will keep watch.

May God bless all of our personnel in harm's way and this great nation we call America. Thank you so much.