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SPEECH | April 24, 2015

USSTRATCOM Annual Awards Banquet

Adm. Cecil Haney: Good evening and welcome to U.S. Strategic Command’s annual awards banquet.  Let’s have another round of applause for the Heartland of America Band, Bellevue West High School Arie Armonie for singing the National Anthem, and U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Color Guard.  I’d also like to thank Senior Master Sergeant Kost from J1, Master Sergeant Olopade from J3 and the rest of the team who worked so hard to put tonight’s program together.  This is a spectacular event, and you have gathered a fantastic looking crowd.  Well done! It’s also great to have Rob McCartney here from KETV, and a big thanks, of course, to all our sponsors.  I am surprised to see such a large crowd, however, because today was the Apple watch release, and I was worried some of you might be caught up in those lines, but I am glad you all made it here tonight.

Well it’s a pleasure to be here and I can tell you there is nothing I enjoy more than an opportunity to recognize the outstanding team of men and women who passionately come to work, ready to execute U.S. Strategic Command’s wide range of mission areas that are so critical to our National Security.  Each of our nominees here this evening has contributed, have made a difference, and have clearly demonstrated their talent. They represent the best and the brightest of our All Volunteer Force – including our civilians – who work tirelessly to ensure our democratic lifestyle way of life.  But as extraordinary as our nominees are, I am confident their success is a result of the support they receive from their front line supervisors, our senior leaders at the General Officer and Flag Officer level, their peers, those they lead and the support they receive at home.  So to the wonderful U.S. Strategic Command team, spouses, friends, and significant others here tonight, thank you for your sacrifice and your support.

While I know I am the only thing between you and announcing the winners.  I want to take a few minutes to highlight some of the great work you have been a part of.  Our ability to deter strategic attack, assure our Allies, and provide the nation with a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent force is always a top priority.  We have worked hard to institutionalize mechanisms geared at generating mission excellence.  We have capitalized on the many opportunities presented, particularly in the areas of improving readiness and increasing performance, and I am extremely proud of the work being done to chart continued success in the future, not just those areas identified by outside studies, but especially those spearheaded by you, the Force Improvement Program being one of them, and I appreciate the leadership of Lieutenant General Jack Weinstein in this area.

Given our dependency on space – both as a nation and a military -- we are aggressively addressing challenges in space and to get at some of these challenges, we established The Joint Space Doctrine and Tactics Forum, which now has an established battle rhythm.  We continue to work on improving Space Domain Awareness, and in fact we now have signed agreements with nine countries and 47 commercial entities.  The heartbeat of this effort, though, is operationalizing our space capabilities and I am excited to see our efforts bear fruit in coming years.  Thanks, of course, to Lieutenant General Jay Raymond and his team in this critical area.

As a nation, however, we faced potentially devastating effects of cyber actors taking advantage of our vulnerabilities in this “wired world” and this is why we must continue to increase our cyber capability and capacity, particularly in support of the recently released cyber strategy.  While we have much work do, we are moving in the right direction, and I am immensely proud that our team continues to build this capacity while remaining engaged in real world operations across the globe. Lieutenant General Kevin McLaughlin, thanks for what you do, and please pass my thanks to Mike Rogers and the team.

Given the number of mission responsibilities, as you might expect, we can’t work alone and it’s critically important that we build enduring relationships.  Across the staff, to include myself, we’ve had some very successful engagements with a number of senior officials across our interagency and our Allies, including the Republic of Korea, France, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.  We have established momentum, and are making great strides with our Academic Alliance Program, to include our efforts with the University of Nebraska and the University Affiliated Research Center.  We also had successful and productive engagements with Stanford and Georgetown, and last year, our first ten civilians graduated from our fellows program at University of Nebraska in Omaha, and the next class will graduate next week.

Of course, if we are to achieve U.S. Strategic Command’s number one priority – deter strategic attack and assure our Allies – we must be able to anticipate change and confront uncertainty with agility and innovation.  We can’t just look at military doctrine in order of battle to determine how an adversary thinks or what his next move will be.  As history has shown, we can get strategic prediction wrong.

So I am particularly proud of your achievements in this area.  Our Global Thunder and Global Lightening exercises provided a high level of very valuable training for our forces.  Our Table Top Exercises and war games, whether hosted here in our war game center or elsewhere, have been fundamental to increasing the dialogue on critical issues with senior leaders across the interagency, especially in the areas of countering weapons of mass destruction, national nuclear command and control, space, cyber-space, and deterrence. I’m impressed with your solutions you have generated in dealing with conflicts that extend into space, strategic targeting and modeling capabilities, the agile and effective use of our current Intelligence, Surveillance, & Reconnaissance capabilities, and how we are maximizing our vital, but limited missile defense assets.  These are capabilities that are critical to the joint warfighter and U.S. Strategic Command’s global mission.  We have also made great strides with our planning efforts at large, including efforts in our deliberate and crisis action planning support for conventional and nuclear operations. 

Finally, we worked very closely with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the interagency on efforts to not only neutralize the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile on board the Cape Ray, but to develop medical countermeasures and treatment protocols for the Ebola outbreak, which was in conjunction with our collaboration with University of Nebraska Medical Center through the University Affiliated Research Center.  We have some truly amazing people that are working these issues every day.  Lucas Polakowski, Mark Westergren thank you for your leadership and for what you and your team are doing for our nation.

That’s just a quick snapshot of some of the fantastic work all of you carried out in 2014, and it is incredibly important work because as we look back at the events of 2014 and early part of 2015 we can see that today’s threat environment is more diverse, complex, and uncertain than it’s ever been.  We live in a world where emerging nation states are modernizing their nuclear weapons capabilities, while engaged in behavior on the world stage that does not respect existing norms of international behavior.  Nations are investing in other strategic capabilities to challenge us with counter-space and cyber space capabilities and violent non-state actors want to challenge our democratic way of life.

So let me say this again.  What you do is important and it matters!  No matter whether you are working personnel issues or planning targeting packages for our strategic and conventional forces, you have ALL contributed and it’s a team effort!  And while we are not presenting team awards tonight, know that I value you all as team and as I mentioned earlier, we have much work to do, so there will be more opportunities next year!

As Chairman Dempsey has said, and I’ll paraphrase, bloom where you’re planted, because you never know where you’re going to end up and whatever you do, don’t accept mediocrity because we need your very best efforts to succeed in the future.

So thank you for your individual and collective achievements. Thanks again to all the nominees, their supervisors, the leadership team at large and of course the families. I’d also like to offer a salute to several of our General Officers and Flag Officers who will change out this summer, and one who will pin on new rank soon.  They represent the importance of our mission but know you are the reason behind their success, and I am sure I speak for all of them when I say they are grateful for your service and what you do every day for our nation.  So congratulations to Major General Uberti who is heading to be the deputy commanding general of the 3d Corps and Ft Hood, Brigadier General Tibbets who will command the 509th Bomb Wing, Brigadier General Coffelt who will command the Spaatz Center at the Air War College, and of course Brigadier General Crosier will soon pin on his second star.  Well done to all.  With that, congratulations again to everyone and let’s get on with the show!