20th Anniversary of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program

By General C. Robert Kehler | Washington, D.C. | Dec. 3, 2012

General C. Robert KehlerGeneral C. Robert Kehler speaks in a panel at the Nationl Defense University during the 20th Anniversary of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.

General Kehler:  Thanks Madelyn, and thanks to General Martin for the introduction, and let me also add my thanks to the National Defense University for hosting this symposium.

It's my distinct honor to be here this morning to acknowledge the importance of this symposium and to convey the appreciation of the men and women of the United States Strategic Command to Senator Lugar and Senator Nunn for their hard work and visionary [inaudible]. There's no question the CTR program has contributed immeasurably to STRATCOM's mission.

In 2012 we celebrated two important anniversaries at STRATCOM. June marked the 20th Anniverasry of the stand-down of Strategic Air Command and the Joint Strategic Partner Planning Staff, and the stand-up of the United States Strategic Command. In October we marked the 50th Anniverasry of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I can't think of two milestones that are more significant or more perfect for what these two American leaders have done regarding reducing the threat of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and its various components.

The Cuban Missile Crisis represented the most dangerous event in the Cold War and the stand-down of SAC represented the end of the Cold War [inaudible]. There were those in the early 1990s who were tempted to breathe a sigh of relief and relegate the nuclear threat to the history books. Fortunately, that was not the view of Senators Lugar and Nunn. And even though the threat of a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia receded, they recognized that weapons of mass destruction posed an enduring threat to the United States and the world at large and that the United States could take positive steps to reduce that threat. At some level they saw the end of the Cold War as the beginning.

Much has changed in Strategic Command over the last 20 years. While our mission to deter strategic attack on the United States and our allies remains as important as ever, the nature of today's threats and the way we go about the business of strategic deterrence and the missions and capabilities assigned to us are dramatically different than they were 20 years ago. There is no one-size-fits-all deterrence of the past at the end of the Cold War.

Today we are shaping our deterrence concepts to fit specific actors in their decision processes and we are applying a wider range of tools, not just nuclear forces, to our deterrence challenges.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge we face in STRATCOM today is our responsibility to synchronize planning with DoD's efforts to combat weapons of mass destruction. This challenge is every bit as daunting as our strategic deterrence challenge and it is here where we need significant help.

Fortunately CTR is effective at helping us with both our deterrence and our combating WMD problems. I attribute that to the foresight of Senators Lugar and Nunn and the effectiveness of the CTR team and the commitment many of you in this room have. We are reaping the benefits of this remarkable program that secures and then eliminates the world's most dangerous weapons.

As a military commander I must say that the success of the program over these past two decades made my job easier. The need to find, identify and track potential threats is a never-ending task for Strategic Command. Therefore the elimination of 7,000-plus warheads, 902 ICBMS including both fixed and mobile launchers, more than 150 bombers, close to 700 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, 38 submarines along with some 2,700 metric tons of chemical weapons will greatly ease our intelligence demands. Indeed, just this past September CTR supported the disposal of four more ballistic missile submarines and another 161-plus megatons of chemical nerve agents. I can therefore devote a portion of our intelligence resources to some of the many other threats that confront us today, and similarly, the success of the CTR program has contributed to my ability to assure national leaders that STRATCOM can carry out its deterrence mission at New START Treaty levels because the success of Nunn-Lugar has contributed directly to New START Treaty's [inaudible]. That's synergy at its best [inaudible].

The Nunn-Lugar CTR has been and will continue to be a powerful tool in our national effort to reduce the threat of WMDs. So Senator Nunn, of course, we thank him; and to Senator Lugar, as he completes his public service, we want to join every one here today in recognizing their long and distinguished service to our nation. Speaking on behalf of the men and women of the United States Strategic Command, they have made our job easier, and as Americans they have made us safer.

So on behalf of both [inaudible]. Thank you.