SPEECH | Jan. 15, 2015

Atlantic Council Remarks

Admiral Cecil D. Haney: Thank you so much. Good Morning Governor Huntsman, and also Mike, thank you for the kind introduction.

It is fantastic to be here today to interact with so many intellectuals, professionals who have been deeply involved in our nation's security and policy apparatus for decades.

So thanks to the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security for hosting this Commander Series and to the Atlantic Council at large for what you do -- stood up to bring foreign policy actors together to ensure a better global future. And I salute the broad range of security and international cooperation issues the council has addressed over the years.

I'm honored to be here, but I'm astonished to be at the podium, vice sitting in the audience listening to many of you who've engaged so brilliantly in my top mission: to deter strategic attack.

While I thank Thom Shanker in advance for moderating today, he should know that I appreciate his critical analysis of what he termed "The New Deterrence" in his book "Counter Strike," that he co-authored with Eric Schmitt.

As most of you in this audience likely know, Thom details how Matt Kroenig, who is also in the audience today, and Barry Pavel were instrumental in sparking the debate to understand that deterrence is applicable to more than just our Cold War adversaries, and in particular, for challenging our thinking with respect to deterring terrorism.

It is that type of critical thinking and debate that I appreciate. So, while I will give you some of my thoughts, know that I value different perspectives, your opinions, and I look forward to a meaningful discussion.As we look at the world today, it's important to stop and recognize just how far we've come since the end of the Cold War. This month marks 22 years since former President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed START II.

Although the treaty was never ratified, it is a significant chapter in our history in establishing the glideslope of reducing the number of nuclear weapons. I can only imagine the rich exchanges that occurred during that period of our history right here.

Today, after providing you a brief overview of my perspectives of the complex security environment we face, I will center my remarks on two things:

First, my priorities and approach as the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, and second, strategic deterrence with emphasis on the need for a nuclear deterrent force.

Today, as you know, the strategic and security environment is more complex, dynamic, and volatile. Perhaps more so than at any time in our history, as state and non-state actors challenge our democratic values and our security in so many ways.

The nature of the strategic threats, weapons of mass destruction, space, and cyberspace require serious attention. We continue to see emerging capabilities, to include, but not limited to; the modernization of strategic nuclear capabilities, counter-space and cyberspace activities, conventional and asymmetric threats; as well as a growing list of national disasters, epidemics, and disturbing trends upsetting the strategic balance, giving rise for additional concern, not only for me, but for my fellow combatant commanders that my teammates and that I work very closely with.

Perhaps most alarming is the trend of proliferation of those strategic capabilities, challenging our ability to hold other strategic forces at risk, attempting to limit our decision and maneuvering space, and ultimately impacting strategic stability.

This environment is also flanked with numerous ungoverned, or ineffectively governed, areas that are breeding grounds for bad actors.

We know we must continue to confront violent extremist organizations, and those who enable them. Who demonstrate by their barbaric actions that they understand no boundaries and lack the respect for international norms, as we have sadly seen and witnessed in recent months, to include those atrocities in France, Australia and Canada or the recent use of children for suicide bombings in Nigeria.

Clearly, in the time provided here, I will not be able to cover each of these areas; but I will address a few that I think you might be interested in from my perspective. So, I'll start with Russia.

As most of you know, Russia has had more than a decade of investments and modernization across their strategic nuclear forces.

Now, this is NOT about a continuation of the Cold War. The Cold War is over and we know how that all turned out. This is about emerging capability at a time of significant concerns in Russia's execution of their near and abroad strategy.

For example: President Putin continues to stress the importance of Russia's strategic forces, seen with his active messaging in every conceivable way through speeches, press conferences, and robust national and international media campaigns.

You also may have seen news of Russian strategic bombers penetrating the U.S. and Allied Air Defense Identification Zones on multiple occasions this year. Or perhaps you saw President Putin on YouTube ordering his commanders into action during major strategic force exercises, both in October of 2013 and during the Ukraine crisis in May of 2014.

Russia also has significant cyber capabilities. We just need look back to Estonia, Georgia, and Ukraine.

Russia has also publicly stated they are developing counter-space capabilities, and as Director Clapper has stated, "Russian leaders openly maintain that Russia's armed forces have anti-satellite weapons and conduct anti-satellite research."

Today, however, Russia is not the only country that is center stage. China is also modernizing their strategic forces.

They're enhancing their silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. And while open news sources reported the first fleet tests of their new mobile missile, they're already making progress on its successor that is expected to be another road mobile missile, ICBM, capable of carrying multiple warheads.

They're also continuing their testing and integration of their new ballistic missile submarines, providing China with its first sea-based strategic nuclear deterrent.As I'm sure you're aware, they are also developing multi-dimensional space capabilities, supporting their anti-access/access-denial campaign. But with more than sixty nations operating satellites in space, it's extremely problematic to see China conducting missile tests designed to destroy satellites, as we saw back in July of this year, and that event in 2007 when their anti-satellite weapon created thousands of pieces of debris, endangering the space systems of all nations.

They have also made headlines associated with exploitation of computer networks.

As you know, North Korea continues work to advance their nuclear ambitions. They've conducted multiple nuclear tests and claim to have possession of miniaturized warheads, capable of delivery by ballistic missile.

At the same time they continue to move forward with both the development of a new road missile, the KN08 ICBM, and a new missile submarine.

They too are developing offensive cyber capabilities, and there has been no shortage of headlines pointing to North Korea.

Iran has made no secret of their desire to acquire nuclear weapons, and preventing them from acquiring this capability is paramount to regional stability. So, I remain hopeful that the P5+1 negotiations will have the desired effect.

Like North Korea, there are also public examples of their cyber activities and capabilities.

So, as you can see, we are fraught with an incredibly challenging geo-political environment of which I have barely scratched the surface in describing. And with that picture, I want to give you an understanding of my priorities as the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, and I hope it makes sense that my top priority is to deter strategic attack and to provide our nation with a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent force.

With a national debt today that is more than $18 trillion, I am mindful that some of our most pressing costs are associated with modernizing and recapitalizing our strategic deterrent.

That means getting our investment strategy right for the long term, because we have sustained many of our current capabilities for much longer than originally planned. I'll give you a few examples:

Our Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles were fielded in the '70s and will be sustained thru 2030. The Ohio-SSBN submarine has already been extended from 30 to 40 years of service. And our newest B-52 models came off the assembly line more than 50 year ago, and there are no plans to retire them before 2040. Some of our warhead infrastructures have been around since World War II, and our stockpile is the oldest it's ever been, with an average age of over 27 years.

Our nation faces a substantive multi-decade recapitalization challenge, and we must continue investments toward that effort. Our planned investments are significant, but are commensurate with the magnitude of the national resource that is our strategic deterrent.

We must get this right. As we reduce the number of launchers and warheads under the New START Treaty, the value of each remaining element of our nuclear deterrent becomes even more important, while at the same time, facilitating the norms set by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

We cannot do this alone, however. I work closely with my fellow combatant commanders and the interagency. But it's also working with our allies, partners and friends, and building enduring relationships with partner organizations, such as think tanks and academia, to confront the broad range of global challenges.

In just the past year, I've also had the privilege of being able to have meetings with a number of our allies to include: Chief of Defenses of the Republic of Korea, France and Australia; a former Defense Minister of Japan; a Vice Chief of Defense of the United Kingdom and 'Five Eyes' partners for space sharing agreements.

This past October, we conducted a command and control exercise designed to train our Department of Defense forces, and assess our joint operational readiness across all of my mission areas, with a specific focus on nuclear readiness. And we did this, not by ourselves; we did this in conjunction with U.S. Northern Command, NORAD, and the Joint Staff, to include our Canadian partners, in exercises that were grouped together: Vigilant Shield, Positive Response, and Determined Dragon.

I share this with you as I want you to have an appreciation of just how I value partnerships and collaborations, and how we at U.S. Strategic Command aim to work seamlessly across the interagency, as well as with our allies and partners.

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.

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 advanced computer capabilities; and I think it is reasonable to say that 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.

I think you can understand why addressing the challenges in space, and building our cyberspace capability and capacity, is a top priority for me.

My sixth, and final, priority is our ability to anticipate change and confront uncertainty with agility and innovation.

We can't just look at military doctrine and order of battle to determine how an adversary thinks, or what his next move will be; and as a society, we just haven't always done well at predicting potential conflicts.

We were certainly surprised with the chemical attacks in Syria, the Ukraine crisis and, more recently, things in France and Ottawa, Canada.

It's going to require us to stretch our imagination in the art of deterrence to get into what I call the "cognitive spaces" to understand the problems and work even better solutions. And I can't stress enough the vitality of continuing to bring together our national leaders to think through and visualize some of our nation's most challenging issues.

Last summer, we cut the ribbon at U.S. Strategic Command's War Gaming Center, back there at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, to help enable and challenge our thinking with the ability to look at alternative scenarios; some plausible today, and some unthinkable tomorrow.

This is why this Department of Defense innovation initiative, announced recently by Secretary of Defense Hagel, is also very important to me.

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 and, of course, assure our allies.

So, now that I have covered my priorities, let me shift to that number two topic I wanted to talk about this morning: Strategic Deterrence with emphasis on the need for a nuclear deterrence force.

Today, as I have discussed, there are multiple states around the globe who possess nuclear weapons – or aspirations of acquiring them.

In his 2009 Prague speech, President Obama publicly stated his goal for a world free of nuclear weapons, and we continue to work towards that goal with the New START Treaty.

The President's Nuclear Employment Strategy, released in June 2013, as well as multiple strategic documents, to include the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review and the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, make it clear that as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States must maintain a strong, credible, safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent, and that we must be prepared for the possibility that deterrence can fail.

So, 21st century deterrence must be tailored to specific adversaries and threats and in an integrated manner so we can predict what deters, and what prevents escalation.

Given the aspirations of some, and the modernization of nuclear capabilities in the world today, there is clearly a need for the U.S. to maintain a nuclear capability as part of our strategic deterrence strategy. But it is also equally clear that while our strategic deterrence includes the triad of delivery platforms, it is more than that, and all of it must remain credible for decades to come.

Our strategic deterrent also includes the following: A robust and agile intelligence apparatus that can provide the necessary indications and warnings. A synthesis of dedicated space and ground sensors that provide the critical early warning for missile launches and bomber threats. Assured national and nuclear command and control and communications; the necessary infrastructure to sustain nuclear weapons without fully testing the warheads today. A credible missile defense system that extends and defends against limited attacks from rogue nations; relevant cyberspace and space 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.

This is not just capability, but a whole-of-government approach that requires our attention and the necessary resources. This is why I believe the Nuclear Deterrent Enterprise Review Group that Secretary Hagel established is so important to keeping the focus and balance of effort to support our nation's strategic deterrent.

In closing, let me say this; the strategic context and the emerging threat environment are increasing in complexity. At the same time, the speed of information and misinformation, coupled with the proliferation of capabilities, continues to threaten our critical infrastructure and democratic way of life.

Even in this era of significant resource constraints, we must get 21st century deterrence right.

We must make it clear to our adversaries, or potential adversaries, that restraint is always the better course; and 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.

As stated by former Secretary of State, George Shultz, "Deterrence is not synonymous with nuclear or a mutual-assured destruction. It can and is, exercised in many different ways: through non-nuclear military forces, through economics, through alliances and coalitions."

Of course, we could not have this credible strategic deterrent today if it were not for the men and women, both in uniform and in civilian clothes, who conduct and contribute to our strategic deterrent mission day in and day out.

Across all areas, from under the sea to geosynchronous orbit, they are making concrete contributions to our national security, 24-7, 365 days a year. I couldn't be more proud of them and the work they are doing, and I hope you have the same sentiments.

Thank you for this opportunity, and I look forward to your questions.