Stanford University - Center for International Security and Cooperation seminar remarks

By Admiral Cecil D. Haney | Stanford University, Calif. | Dec. 9, 2014

(As prepared)

Stanford University, Calif. – Thank you for this opportunity.  It’s great to be here.  Dr. Amy Zegart, CISAC and Stanford University at large – I want to thank you for tackling some of our world’s most pressing security and international cooperation issues, and I really salute some of the projects I’ve been exposed to since I started this journey yesterday.  Projects, such as Studies on Conflict and Negotiations; Mapping Militant Organizations; Nuclear Risk Reduction; Preventive Defense Project; and Cyber Policy and Security -- just to name a few.

So, I’m honored to be here with you today among such a diverse group of intellectual professionals.  Just know that I value the time I’ve had so far with some of our intellectual giants, and it’s just a privilege to be here.  And why?  Because all of these fold very well into my command priorities, as I’ve really tried to work hard to encourage my team to get outside of what I call the skin of the ship, and to be able to talk outside the joint community to expand their reach and their thinking, as we look at our role in this very complex world we live in.

Given the complex nature of the threats to our democratic way of life, we must, in my opinion, team together to ensure we have the right approach to addressing today’s issues, and in my line of work, the right approaches to, of course, strategic deterrence.  So while I will give you some of my thoughts, know that I value your opinions and the relationship already established between our organizations due to the efforts of my predecessor General Bob Kehler and the dialogue and support you are already having with my J5 team – Plans and Policy directorate.

It’s also great to have talent on my staff from your military fellows program.  Some of you may even know United States Air Force Colonel Mark Pye, who graduated from here in June of 2013.  He works hand in hand with me, and of course you also have here today Colonel select Stacy-Jo Huser, a current military fellow, who will be heading off to lead one of my outfits in Minot, North Dakota.  She will take command of the ICBM Operations Group there as her next assignment.  So, I hope you get it, that I and my organization value the partnership we have established here, and want to further mature this relationship.

So what is this organization I lead – U.S. Strategic Command?  As I think most of you know, the Department of Defense has nine unified Combatant Commands, each with responsibilities for a geographical region or a functional area in support of U.S. strategic objectives – six geographical ones and three functional ones.  Strategic Command is a functional combatant command.

Our missions, of course, are to establish the necessary command and control of military forces around the world in peacetime, as well as in conflict.  Together, we work to detect and deter attack against the United States of America and our allies, and if deterrence fails, we provide military options to the Secretary of Defense and ultimately the President.

Some of you are familiar, of course, with General Lloyd Austin, the Commander of U.S. Central Command, who is frequently in the news given what is going on in his area of responsibility.  You recently had another good friend of mine Admiral Sam Locklear, the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, come here and talk about his geographical region of the globe – a rather large region that he’s responsible for.

As Commander of U.S. Strategic Command as mentioned, I am a functional combatant commander, meaning that I have trans-regional responsibilities.  Often I’ll show a slide that shows a picture of a globe to show my area of responsibility.  While not a geographical combatant command, I do have Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines that operate our capability around the globe, and as I like to say, from under the ocean to geosynchronous orbit.

As the Commander here, my team and I are tasked to combine the synergy of all those areas that Amy mentioned here, to include strategic deterrence, space, cyberspace, global strike, joint electronic warfare, missile defense, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance -- code name ISR; combatting weapons of mass destruction; and of course analysis and targeting.  My command provides our national leadership with a unified resource for greater understanding of strategic threats around the world, and the means to rapidly respond to those threats.

Now, my headquarters is located in, not California, but in the heartland of America, Nebraska -- the Cornhusker State – near that vibrant city called Omaha, and it’s had deep roots since the days of Strategic Air Command.  So if I can, just to ground my thinking here, if I can see a show of hands, how many of you have visited U.S. Strategic Command?  So this is excellent.  I’ve got quite a few hands.  Thank you.

I know Dr. Zegart is planning a trip, as she mentioned here, to bring some folks to U.S. Strategic Command in the month of March.  January I am told was a bit too much of a contrast to this wonderful California weather, so she’s going to come in March.  But, when she visits the team, she will see that a good portion of all the military services -- Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors -- are represented there, but also 60% of my headquarters staff wear civilian clothes every day, that come to work – just to show you the diversity of the staff.

As you look at today's military, you look at how far we have evolved.  Under the Goldwater-Nichols Act, we've become an integral military joint force, where we don't work the problems of our business singlehandedly with one service; we’ve obviously worked to integrate that together.

We've come a long way with that.  I'm very pleased to see how far we've gone also with the integration of the inter-agencies, which is important again given the complexity of the world today. This is very, very important to me as the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command given my missions, because strategic deterrence requires, as you know, a whole of government approach to be effective. 

While I would say we still have some work to do, I'm pleased to see a lot of effort in that regard, even without a Goldwater-Nichols Act Part 2 being in law. Acknowledging how far we've gone though, you understand it’s not just us working ourselves here in this country.  It's also working with our allies, our partners and our friends.

For example, in just the year I’ve had here as the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, I’ve had a variety of intricate meetings, as I hope you would expect with our international partners and allies, such as Admiral Choi, the chief of Defense of the Republic of Korea; General Pierre de Villiers, the chief of Defense for France; former Japanese Defense Minister Onodera; and more recently here Vice Chief of Defense Staff Air Marshall Peach from the United Kingdom.

Yes, they have actually made it to the heartland of America here in Nebraska, on their treks.  But, additionally I have recently visited Australia and had a series of meetings with their Chief of Defense Forces Air Marshall Mark Binskin.  And we continue to work collaboration with likeminded space faring nations, such as my meeting with the Five Eye Partners in Ottawa, Canada. 

And I recently had the opportunity to sit on a panel in Halifax at their International Security Forum with the current president of Estonia and the former Prime Minister of Israel, moderated by Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs.  We had a very thought-provoking dialogue on the topic of modernity and its future, which I won’t get into here.  But my staff also participates in a number of international forums hosted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense as well as many bilateral and multilateral events.

At my headquarters, I’m also blessed to have a number of liaison officers from a variety of different countries, as you would expect, that work hand in hand with my team, and often they provide me the views of their parent country, as well as to share their operational experience and what I value the most -- a different perspective.

I also have Phil Egger, a political advisor for me who works on my staff, who is actually on the payroll of the Department of State.  It’s always good when you have somebody else’s money paying for the staff, but this guy is integral to our day to day operations. 

I share this with you as I want you to have an appreciation of just how we work in coordination with the other eight combatant commands, and we aim to work seamlessly across our inter-agency, as well as with our allies and partners as one team. 

In fact, this past October, we conducted an exercise called Global Thunder 2015, which is a command and control exercise designed to train our Department of Defense forces and assess joint operational readiness across all of my mission areas with a specific focus on nuclear readiness.  We did not conduct this exercise solely with just U.S. Strategic Command, but conducted it in coordination with North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command’s exercise called Vigilant Shield 2015, and the Canadian Joint Operational Command Exercise Determined Dragon 14.

This is just an example of how we train in an integrated fashion and in this case it is not just as U.S. Combatant Commands but with a critical ally, as well as with various members of our inter-agency team.

I know you understand that today we’re dealing with a strategic and security environment that’s more complex and dynamic, perhaps even more so than any time in our history as state and non-state actors challenge our democratic values and our security in so many different ways. 

We see emerging threats -- proliferation of significant warfighting capabilities, to include but is not limited to conventional and asymmetric capabilities; as well as the modernization of strategic nuclear capabilities; space and cyber threats; and the threats associated with terrorists adding to that list of national disasters and epidemics.  This environment is also flanked with numerous ungoverned or ineffectively governed areas that are ripe as an incubator for bad actors at a time where our national debt is $18 trillion.

Clearly in the time provided here, I will not be able to cover each of these areas but I will tackle a few that I think you might be interested from my perspective.  As a country, we are challenged with other nations modernizing their strategic forces.  As some are increasing mobile land and sea-based nuclear capabilities, as well as those in space and cyberspace attempting to limit perhaps our decision and maneuver space, ultimately impacting global stability.

This is a difficult and perplexing problem as we balance the realities of the emerging strategic capability with today’s fiscal environment, such that we maintain a strategic advantage today, and of course, well into the future.

As we work to continue our nation’s goal of reducing the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in the United States national security strategy -- which I fully support -- we find other nation states not only modernizing their strategic capabilities, but also parading them. 

Examples include the Russian President Putin who continues to stress the importance of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, seen with his active messaging on social media today where you see him on YouTube ordering his commanders into action during major strategic force exercises, both in October 2013 and during the Ukraine crisis in May of 2014.

You may have seen news of Russian strategic bombers penetrating the United States and Allied air defense identification zones, on what Russia called “training missions” on multiple occasions this year, much more than we’ve seen in the past.

After more than a decade of investments and modernization across Russian strategic nuclear forces – their Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, their submarines, and they are also making significant strides in their mobile capabilities at sea, on land, and in long range bomber capabilities.

Now this is not about the cold war continuation.  The cold war is over and we know now how that turned out.  This is about emerging capability at a time of significant concerns in Russia’s execution of their near abroad strategy.  Today, however, we are not only watching Russia carefully.  You see I firmly agree with what Director Clapper has assessed as he says “the time when only a few states had access to the most dangerous technologies is past.”

China is also modernizing their strategic forces, to include space and cyberspace. They are enhancing their silo-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, and while open source news reporting reported the first fleet tests of their new mobile missile, they’re already working on its successor that is expected to be another road mobile Intercontinental Ballistic Missile carrying multiple warheads.

They are also continuing their testing and integration of the next generation of ballistic missile submarines, providing China with its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, underpinning their drive for regional dominance and growth to world power status.

North Korea also continues work to advance their nuclear ambitions. For example, they’ve conducted multiple nuclear tests and claim to have possession of miniaturized warhead capability of delivery by ballistic missile.  At the same time they continue to move forward with development of a new road missile -- the KN08 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile --and news reports also claim that they have “launched a domestically built submarine…designed to fire ballistic missiles,” raising new concerns about the growing threat posed by their missile and nuclear programs.

We know that Iran has a desire to acquire nuclear weapons and preventing them from acquiring this capability is paramount to regional stability, so the ongoing P5+1 talks are clearly important.  While nuclear weapons remain the cornerstone of U.S. strategic deterrence, we cannot avoid the 21st century reality that non-nuclear capabilities exist which can threaten, and have unacceptable consequences.

As a nation, we are highly dependent on space capabilities, more so than ever before.  Space is fully integrated in our joint military operations, as well as in our civil and commercial infrastructure.  Space today though is contested, congested and competitive, and we and the international community at large require assured access.

Congestion in space is a huge problem.  I’m going to leave here today and go to Vandenberg, California where the Joint Space Operations Center, and my component commander for space,  routinely tracks more than 20 thousand objects in space the size of a softball or larger.  So, yes though, there are things in space that are smaller than that and that is problematic.

Now of those twenty thousand objects or more, about a thousand of those objects are satellites -- the rest is debris, increasing threats to our operational satellites, as they travel at speeds of more than 17,000 mph.  To put it in context of just how busy my Joint Space Operations Center is, the team on the operations floor receives approximately 30 collision warning notifications per day, and since January they’ve logged about 100 collision avoidance maneuvers, both in low earth orbit as well as geo-synchronous orbit.

So while I know it is a good thing that technology is becoming smaller and smaller and cheaper -- just look at the incredible advances in things like smart phones-- I remain concerned with the increasing  numbers of petite satellites, that have the potential to cause serious implications in an already crowded and challenging environment.

For example, a collision with just one satellite can have devastating effects on our financial and economic sectors, as well as our ability to conduct military operations.  I hope those in the audience today really understand the significant dependency we have on space.  In younger audiences, I always ask the connection of how ATM machines require space in order to work properly, the GPS constellation.

So what about those other 2 Cs - competitive and contested?  With more than 60 nations operating satellites in space, it’s extremely problematic to see countries such as China conducting missile tests designed to destroy satellites, as we saw back in July of this year.  Thankfully this time it didn’t hit anything, but you might recall back in 2007 the anti-satellite test that occurred there, which created just 1000s of pieces of debris which continue to endanger the space systems of all nations.

So this business of keeping assured access in the space domain is a full-time job.  So you might say, “Ok commander what are we doing about it?”  Well I could spend a long time on this subject, but the part I’d like to focus a little bit on is partnering with other nations. 

For example, my space team has been diligently working on a multinational military effort, which we call the Combined Space Operations, to deter adversaries in space and provide mission assurance to our allies.  We have agreements with some 44 commercial entities, seven countries, and two multi-national organizations.  And we’re working with other companies, countries, and organizations here as we continue this journey of keeping peaceful use of space and assured access.  It is our collective interest to have countries act responsibly, to promote transparency and to enhance the long-term sustainability, stability, and safety and security in space.

While our space assets continue to face this growing threat from adversaries, adverse effects are also generated at the speed of cyber and cannot be ignored.  In our lifetime, we have benefited immensely from the advanced computer capabilities, and I would argue as Americans we have become very reliant on modern technology.  But this has also opened a threat axis regarding our critical infrastructure and information assurance. 

As I’m sure many in this crowd appreciate -- information or misinformation -- can be moved at incredible speeds with the potential to generate strategic effects, and there is no shortage of headlines pointing to intellectual property thefts, identity thefts, Denial of Service attacks, all in the cyberspace arena, and often framed in terms of the next Pearl Harbor. 

These cyber “incidents” around the globe are growing in tempo and severity and the entry fee is relatively inexpensive when you look at the price of computer capability today.  You may remember the cyberattacks on Saudi Aramco, Target and Sands Casino, and of course most recently JP Morgan and Sony.  And as we have seen in the various articles over the years, Russia has a solid cyber capability, footnote Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008, and China too has been in the news regarding cyber theft.  This too I put in the category of emerging capabilities.  But what about Iran and North Korea?

I know Admiral Mike Rogers was just here, and has mentioned that he works for me as my Cyber Commander and he likely discussed how cyber is pretty foundational in almost every nation state that has some form of capability, but he reminds us that non-state actors are also generating effects using cyberspace.

As we confront terrorist groups, we all know that they are not only using cyber as recruiting and messaging capability, but they seek weapons of mass destruction and given the opportunity they are likely to use it. 

What a sobering picture in a few critical areas.  So given that picture of our strategic and security environment involving both state and nation-state actors, I next want to share my approach to these as Commander of U.S. Strategic Command by highlighting two areas:  One, my priorities and two, strategic deterrence in the 21st century with emphasis on nuclear deterrence.

It is likely not surprising, in this list I’m about to go over associated with my priorities. First and foremost to deter strategic attack to provide our nation with a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent force; building enduring relationships with partner organizations to confront the broad range of global challenges; addressing the challenges in space; building cyberspace capability and capacity; and finally anticipate change and confront uncertainty with agility and innovation.

Now this last priority that I just mentioned – this business of change, uncertainty – is one that is hard and requires special attention.  Now two days ago we just commemorated the attacks on Pearl Harbor. We were surprised that day by such a terrible attack on our country, just as we were surprised on 9/11.

To get at this, to try to anticipate change and confront uncertainty, to get ahead of the new strategic situation in the Arctic, for example, requires careful study, modeling and simulation, emulation, table top exercises and war games.  In other words, it requires a significant and careful study, using all appropriate instruments of power, and obviously to come up with a strategy or strategies to confront.

This summer, we opened up at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters a War Gaming Center to help enable and challenge our thinking with the ability to look at alternate scenarios; some plausible today, some unthinkable tomorrow, to enhance our planning capability with the integration of all of our mission capabilities. 

I value critical thinking and methodologies to enhance -- that just like the forums you’ve had here are vitally important.  When you visit my headquarters, I will make sure you have an opportunity to get a demonstration of that part of the facility.

This is why the newly announced DoD innovation initiative is also important to me, because we need to do what you’re doing in some of these fellowship programs and the other programs you run here.  We need to grow innovative leaders, identify new operational concepts, and develop – and continue to develop – cutting-edge technology, so that we can continue to evolve our ideas on how to deter our adversaries and potential adversaries.  But to do that requires a foundational knowledge, of course, of deterrence theory.

To me, deterrence requires two elements.  One, the expectation of unacceptable cost to an adversary; and two, the actor will not realize the benefit of their attack under all scenarios and conditions.  When combined, these two elements aim to have potential adversaries conclude that they cannot succeed in an attack and the costs far outweigh the benefits.  Stated differently, deterrence is impacting the potential adversary’s perception and subsequent decision calculus to shape their behavior.  Though often unstated, these two fundamental elements are usually well accepted, even if their particulars are publicly debated.  For example, the need to be able to impose cost and deny benefit is a given, even as we debate by how much and in what ways.

In the bi-polar world of the cold war, we only had to know and understand the former Soviet Union, so to speak.  Today we must know the potential adversaries and work diligently to predict what deters; what prevents escalation; and what are the range of possibilities of the vast cast of states and actors.

So, we must look to each adversary differently and in an integrated manner to ensure that we get the best deterrence solution as right as we can get it.  Twenty-first century deterrence must be tailored to specific adversaries and threats, because as you know from history, large scale wars can start on a miscalculation -- a spin off from a regional issue.  The consequences of warfare can degrade the strategic world order, and as a society, we just haven’t done very well at predicting these potential conflicts

It’s essential to clearly communicate our intended message to our adversary.  The challenge is how do we communicate with people who have limited exposure necessarily to the free press, or with leaders who show little regard for diplomatic measures and international norms.  Today we must make clear to our adversaries or potential adversaries that restraint is always the better course.

For some, and I fully recognize this crowd does not fit into that model, deterrence is synonymous with nuclear, and two of the challenges I face as the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command is my part of the strategic narrative -- communicating that strategic deterrence is more than nuclear, but that nuclear deterrence and capabilities remain relevant in the 21st century.

Twenty-first century deterrence capabilities are clearly more than the triad of delivery platforms.  Even that includes a robust and agile intelligence apparatus that can provide the necessary indications and warnings; a synthesis of dedicated space and ground systems and sensors that provide the critical early warning for missile launchers and bomber threats; assured nuclear command and control and communications; the necessary infrastructure to sustain nuclear weapons without fully testing the warhead today – a good thing; a credible missile defense system that extends and defends against limited attacks from rogue nations; relevant space and cyberspace capabilities; trained and ready people that conduct strategic operations and planning; synchronized treaties, policies and strategies; and of course a campaign plan that orients all of our assigned capabilities and activities toward a common purpose.

Based on my discussion of the strategic environment, I hope I have provided you my sight picture on why I feel strategic nuclear deterrence remains relevant in the 21st century, and why I feel it will remain foundational for our national security for many years and decades to come.

As stated in the 2013 Report on Nuclear Employment Strategy of the United States, the international security environment has changed dramatically since the end of the cold war.  The threat of global nuclear war has become remote, but the risk of nuclear attack has increased.   But as stated in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States must have a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal.

While our nuclear weapons and their critical supporting infrastructure have aged well beyond their lifetime, the United States is moving today in the right direction to recapitalize and replace our mature nuclear weapon systems and platforms.  We have much work to do, however, because as we decrease the number of platforms and warheads under New Start Treaty, the value of a safe, secure, and effective, and credible nuclear deterrent becomes increasingly more important -- both in terms of the assurance we provide our allies and partners, while at the same time facilitating the norms set by the non-proliferation treaty.

In closing, let me say this, the strategic context is more complex than it was during the cold war given the emerging threat environment of multiple actors, as mentioned.  And the speed of information and misinformation, coupled with the proliferation of capabilities continues to threaten our critical infrastructure and our democratic way of life.

While I have discussed nuclear, space, and cyberspace separately, I would argue our strategy cannot look at each one of these areas in isolation, but as I discussed, it will require us to work together as a team…as partners…the government…the private sector…academia to shape policy that will have a meaningful impact on our national security.

The theory of nuclear reduction and nuclear deterrence is an enduring 21st century central debate amongst academia and national leadership.  Certainly, it is not one we all agree on, but serious debate and discussion is healthy, and quite frankly, we can’t have enough discussion, in my opinion, on this vitally important topic.

Clearly as we look at the way forward discussed by the Four Horseman -- the Honorable Kissinger, Nunn, Perry, and Schultz -- let’s make sure we consider all the steps they have discussed.

2011…what did they say? – “As long as nuclear weapons exist, America must retain a safe, secure and reliable nuclear stockpile primarily to deter a nuclear attack and to reassure our allies through extended deterrence.”

2013…what did they say? – “Actions following New START. The progress in the strategic field has been considerable.  Washington should carefully examine going below New START levels of warheads and launchers, including the possibility of coordinated mutual actions.  Such a course has the following pre-requisites: strict reciprocity; demonstrable verification; and providing adequate and stable funding for the long-term investments required to maintain high confidence in our nuclear arsenal.”

Too often in articles I read, these parts are not discussed.  We must continue to address these strategic threats in a holistic, thoughtful and meaningful way.  As one senior experienced official here at Stanford and I discussed yesterday, the concern is not simply an order of battle – numbers and capability problem with respect to strategic capabilities.  But we do have to concern ourselves with the prospect that it takes years for a potential adversary to build capability, while the intent of a potential adversary can change on short notice.  Or stated another way, we must deter great powers, perhaps, that are behaving badly.

So I thank you again for allowing me this opportunity to address you, and I also thank you for what you do, and the passion you bring to this elite institution.  And as I look forward to working together on mutual topics of interest, please know that the Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines and civilians that work for me also thank you for what you provide our country.  We’re all one team and one sport in deterring and preventing conflict.  With that I think I’ll stop and I’ll take your questions.