SPEECH | May 5, 2015

Strategic Deterrent Coalition Symposium

Adm. Cecil Haney: Good morning and happy Cinco de Mayo.  We should also give a round of applause to the singing of the National Anthem -- (Applause).

Thank you, Joe, for your leadership, and I want to thank the Strategic Deterrent Coalition at large for what you do.  I’m honored and humbled to be here.

Dr. James Schlesinger once said, “Public interest in our strategic posture has faded over the decades.  In the Cold War it was a much a common subject.  Now much of the public is barely interested in it.”  So this is an especially welcomed forum, and thank you for the efforts in growing and furthering this vital national dialogue of deterrence in our 21st century at this inaugural event.

Special thanks go out to the University of Central Missouri and Dr. Chuck Ambrose.  It’s good to see you again.  And for not only hosting this event but all the support you provide our folks at Whiteman Air Force Base and our joint military forces.

I’m delighted for the diversity of this audience and I thank you all who came, given that you could be off celebrating Cinco de Mayo.  I understand, I could not make it to the reception last night, and that there was a bar scene in the movie that was being played.  You thought you could continue there until I arrived. Unfortunately, I’m glad you secured because I didn’t arrive until this morning.  The plane broke.

While I won’t call on everyone, I do want to salute Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler.  Thank you for what you do day in and day out and for being here. 

It’s also great to have the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Lieutenant General Frank Klotz who I know you’ll hear from later today, but it’s great to serve with him on our Nuclear Weapons Council.  And clearly I have a deep appreciation for all that your organization does for us as well as the National Labs supporting my strategic deterrence forces.

It’s wonderful to also have, I understand some United Kingdom representatives are here in the audience today.  Thank you for being here, because you’re clear partners in what we do.  And recently, about two months ago, I went through London and Faslane, and a couple of other places over there.

I’m also excited that we have a lot of young folks that are also present here in the audience.  It’s very important that we involve our future leaders here.  I hope you as a group will engage with those leaders that are here, those youngsters that are here.  They are a key part of our future as we go forward.

I’m impressed with the agenda.  You have some remarkable folks as moderators as well as panel members.  I want to thank you all for being here.  I just can’t tell you how important it is to have your perspective as part of the rich dialogue that I predict will follow throughout the day.

I hope you also have some quality time with some of my key leaders that also are here today, or will be here.  I mentioned Lieutenant General Sevy Wilson who will soon become my Deputy Commander at U.S. Strategic Command.  And Vice Admiral Mike Connor who leads our submarine force, but also for me more particular is one of my SSBN task force commanders.

You’ll have folks like Colonel Tracy Hayes, the 90th Missile Wing commander.  I was there at FE Warren with her last week.  It seems like it was just yesterday.  I appreciate that opportunity.  And Brigadier General VanHerck.  For being here this morning, but also I want to congratulate him publicly on his nomination for his second star and for your continued service to our country in your next capacity.  Even though I know this is one of those [inaudible] jobs that you’re in currently.  And Colonel Christine Goodwin.  It’s good to see you as you lead the 2nd Bomber Wing, commander.  I could go on but I’ll stop here.

And I recently visited our SSBNs, the facilities there in Kings Bay, Georgia; alert crews and the missile fields I mentioned at FE Warren; our space teams in Colorado, a variety of bases there.  It’s great to be here and have a chance to visit the 509th Bomb Wing and the 131st Bomb Wing here at Whiteman.  I can tell you and you can be proud of our team of strategic warriors that carry out the mission of deterrence and assurance for our country.  They understand the importance of their mission and are working hard for mission excellence.

I’ve been asked to lead off this forum, but given today’s strategic and security environment, strategic deterrence in the 21st century is a topic that’s so important for the future of our country and must be part of our national discussion.

We have our orders. The President has stated that while we aspire to have a world free of nuclear weapons he said, “As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal, to deter any adversary, and guarantee the defense of our allies.”

Accordingly, my top priorities are to detect and deter a strategic attack against the United States and its allies, and to provide the nation with a credible, safe, secure and effective strategic deterrent force.

For 70 years the United States has been deterring adversaries from employing nuclear weapons while simultaneously assuring our allies, our strategic commitments to them.  But as we look back to the events of 2014 and early 2015, that stressed the relationship between major nation states that have nuclear weapons, and nation states that have aspirations of becoming nuclear capable, forums like this are increasingly important.  We must get 21st century deterrence right.

So this morning I’d like to offer my thoughts in three areas.  I’ll talk a little bit about the global security environment and how it relates to strategic threats; the spectrum of conflict and escalation control with adversaries that have strategic capabilities; and our approach and how I view the way forward.

You understand that our nation is dealing with a global security environment linked with multiple actors operating across multiple domains, challenging our democratic values and our security in so many different ways with significant potential to impact strategic stability.  These threats extend from under the sea to geosynchronous orbit and as commander of U.S. Strategic Command I have trans-regional responsibilities.  So I hope you understand that while my emphasis on the strategic environment today is focused on emerging capabilities, my concern is much broader.

We continue to see actors developing emergency capabilities to include but not be limited to the modernization of nuclear weapons capabilities, the development of and utilization of counter-space capabilities, and an increase in the sophisticated and intrusive nature of cyber threats.  Nation states and non-state actors are seeking advanced long range conventional weapons and asymmetric capabilities and are preparing to employ them as options to achieve their objectives during crisis and conflict.

Perhaps most troubling is trends associated with the proliferation of advanced capabilities and how mobile, hardened and underground they have become.

Russia, for example, has more than a decade of investments and modernization across all legs of its nuclear triad, and Russia has demonstrated selective compliance with international accords and treaties. 

President Putin’s provocative rhetoric coupled with his active messaging and demonstrations of Russian nuclear capability challenge strategic stability.

Russia, however, is not the only emerging country.  China is making clear it intends to assert regional dominance. It’s making significant progress with land reclamation projects in the contested borders of the South China Sea, strengthening justification for its territorial claims, and their gross purchasing power recently exceeded our own economy for the first time in history.

China is using that wealth to modernize its strategic forces including its mobile, intercontinental ballistic missiles and its ballistic missile submarine force.

Both Russia and China have made headlines associated with their activities using cyberspace capabilities, taking advantage of vulnerabilities in this international domain.  Both countries have stated their ambitions regarding counter-space capabilities, China having just last year demonstrated this with an antisatellite test. 

Given the international community’s dependence on space this is concerning, not just to the United States but to like-minded spacefaring nations that depend on unfettered access to space.  It’s not just Russia and China.  North Korea continues to advance its strategic capabilities, increasing tensions with threats of more nuclear tests, claiming to have possession of militarized warhead capability while parading around their rogue mobile intercontinental ballistic missile.

Even with P5+1 negotiations in progress, Iran recently launched a space platform that could be used for long range strike and continues other provocative behaviors as we have seen recently in the Straits of Hormuz.

We must get this right because Iran with nuclear weapons capability will be destabilizing to the Middle East.

Like North Korea, there are also public examples of Iran’s cyber activities and capabilities. 

While not adversaries, both India and Pakistan are also developing and modernizing their nuclear capabilities, and clearly a conflict between those two will have strategic effects.

Finally, we should not lose sight that our operating environment is flanked with violent non-state actors who would love and aspire to have weapons of mass destruction. These terrorist groups have demonstrated their barbaric behaviors that they understand no boundaries and lack respect for international laws.

So you can see, our nation is faced with many difficult and perplexing problems. This is why this forum is so important.  Our strategic arsenal is not about maintaining a Cold War posture.  Quite the contrary, it’s about addressing 21st century deterrence.

So is our strategic deterrent today adequate? Given the complex world and associated trends I just described, we must improve our capabilities and refine approaches to support an effective 21st century deterrent.

Today while we live in a world that has significantly decreased the number of nuclear weapons through verifiable and achievable treaties and policies -- and that’s a good thing -- we can’t take this for granted. Today we also live in a world in which strategic threats have increased, meaning we must deter multiple countries and simultaneously in multiple domains.  Yes, we can threaten in a strategic manner with cyber and counter-space capabilities, and this is why threatening those challenges in space and cyberspace capabilities are also a top priority.

Equally important is our ability to anticipate change and confront uncertainty with agility and innovation, forcing us to enhance our critical thinking ability. We must be thoughtful going forward as we continue to work on our nation’s goal of decreasing the role of nuclear weapons as part of our national security strategy.

Let me be clear. I’m not interested in an arms race.  I’m interested in strategic stability. Deterrence in the 21st century requires a holistic approach. It requires a safe, secure, effective and credible strategic nuclear deterrent capability, effective cyberspace policies and capabilities, and it requires resilience on our outer space capabilities. 

Now the President’s budget for 2016 supports the necessary improvements in each of these areas and provides the means to execute items that were so listed to go back to the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the 2011 Space Strategy, the 2013 Nuclear Employment Strategy, and of course as spelled out in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review.

Just as important as having the intellectual base that supports these strategic approaches, we have a number of intellectuals around the country from those that work within the Department of Defense and our government at large, our industrial partners, to those working in our national labs and of course in academia.  All are putting critical thought to these difficult problem sets.  And as evidenced by some of your writings, it’s great to know that many of you here are dedicated and focused on deterrence and assurance such as Dr. Paul Bracken, Dr. Jim Blackwell, and Dr. Robert Butterworth, just to name a few that are in the audience here.

While the foundation of the deterrence theory remains valid, it was founded on the notion of deliberate actors who consider cost and benefits of the decisions they are contemplating.

Can I have the first slide? I don’t have many.

However, to be effective in the 21st century we must address this across the spectrum of adversary challenges and across the spectrum of conflict.  This starts with friction and misconceptions in peace time that can result in a conventional conflict including counter-space and cyberspace attacks.  If the adversary has weapons of mass destruction, or more specifically nuclear weapons, it can include nuclear provocations and demonstrations.

While we plan hard to prevent a conflict getting to that stage, we want to ensure that any adversary who thinks they can escalate their way out a failed conflict understands they will not reap the benefits that they seek and that restraint is always a better option.

Clearly, this slide is a very simplistic representation as conflict may occur at any point on the spectrum for many reasons with multiple adversaries and multiple domains and various degrees of intensity.

So the challenge is, how do we get this right and develop the appropriate off-ramps to de-escalate the crisis in our favor? 

As you would expect, deterrence and de-escalation is not easy and it require an integrated cross-domain solution set using a whole of government approach and all of our instruments of power.  Tailoring our strategy of influence not only across the spectrum of adversary actors and threats, but across the continuum of time from peace time to crisis and conflict.

This must be done in a manner that maximizes our leadership decision space. So how do we get there?

First, we must address the threat environment holistically to take a tailored approach. We must know the range of strategic threats each pose to the United States and our allies and partners, and develop an ability to anticipate new threats and developing situations.

We must have a deeper understanding of our adversaries because we can’t just look at military doctrine and order of battle to determine how an adversary thinks or what his next move might be.  Because history has shown we may not get strategic predictions right.

We must continue to assure our allies through extended deterrence commitments.  To do so requires the United States to move forward with an effective and efficient way to sustain and modernize our nuclear capabilities, the associated infrastructure, the delivery platforms that have already been sustained much longer than initially designed.

Third, while strategic deterrence is underpinned and reinforced by our nuclear capabilities, we must recognize that strategic deterrence in the 21st century is more than the nuclear triad.  In today’s complex environment, an effective strategic deterrence requires a whole of government strategy that includes this rather long list that I’m going to go over so I can get clear here.

  • A robust and agile intelligence apparatus that can provide foundational intelligence and the necessary indications and warnings. 
  • A synthesis of the dedicated space and ground systems and sensors that provide critical early warning for missile launches and bomber threats. 
  • Assured national nuclear command and control and communications.  In other words, the ability to communicate those orders from the President down to the warfighters.
  • 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 space and counter-space capabilities.
  • Trained and ready people that conduct strategic operations in planning, synchronized treaties, policies and strategies, and of course the campaign plan that orients all of our assigned capabilities and activities toward a common purpose.

I know Sevy Wilson and Mike Connor will touch on sustainment and modernization efforts associated with the nuclear triad, but with the threat of sequestration we must get our investment strategy right for the long term, and we clearly need relief from the Budget Control Act.  Not just for our nuclear forces, but for also the critical space and cyberspace and command and control capabilities.

Finally, we must ensure service in our nuclear enterprise remains appealing to the talented people it requires, the people who work through the difficult and complex problems day in and day out, whether serving in our all-volunteer military force, in our government, as an industry partner or within academia.  I’m proud that my plans and policies director is working especially hard to establish academic alliances to further engage military and academic institutions to foster deterrence and assurance, thinking and research.  They worked with our local universities of course in the Omaha region and established great working relationships with the University of Georgetown and Stanford.  I recently visited both Stanford and Georgetown and today the University of Central Missouri.  I’m heartened by some of the young professionals I’ve had the pleasure of meeting that are passionate about our national security and are studying and contributing to refining the strategic deterrence concepts.

Now before I open the floor for questions, I want to again thank you for your efforts associated with our nation’s security and strategic stability. I am sure there will be productive discussions amongst you today. 

I personally had the fortune to have some frank discussions with three of the four horsemen recently. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. I spent two hours with him, very briefly.  Also Secretary of State George Schultz and former Secretary of Defense William Perry.  The basic tenets of their thinking remain applicable today.

What did they say?  In 2011 they said, “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.”

Following the New START Treaty Agreement, then in 2013, the same four stated, “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,” they said, “has the following prerequisites.  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 the articles I read these parts are not discussed when they quote the four horsemen.  We must continue to think about this, to address these strategic threats as I mentioned before in a holistic and thoughtful and meaningful way.  We must 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.

So I thank you for the opportunity today, for you to hear me out, and also to thank you for what you do day in and day out for our country.  Because it is people like you that make a difference.  We could not have the credible strategic capabilities of nuclear deterrence that we have today were it not for the men and women both in the military and in civilian capacities that work this 24x7x365 days out of the year.  We’re all one team, one sport in deterring and preventing major conflict.

By the way, I hear that we have some ROTC students here in the audience today and I would ask you to please stand.  [Applause].  Thank you for your commitment as well.  I thought I would highlight you and have you stand up so we could applaud you and perhaps encourage you to become strategic warriors in the business for the future as you get commissioned.  Thank you.

And perhaps the last thing I will say -- I guess I’d better stop here.  I’ve given you a mouthful and I’m interested in what questions you have for me.

Female Voice:  Mr. Bruce Christianson of Minot Task Force 21 will assist Admiral Haney with your questions.  Please write your questions on the cards provided and an usher will take them to Mr. Christianson.

Moderator:  I have one question to begin with here. That is, Admiral Haney gave us a lot of facts this morning and we wanted to confirm one thing, that on May 21st is it absolutely true that you’re traveling to Minot to award the coveted Omaha Trophies to the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing? I can answer that, though. 

Admiral Haney:  You can. I did have to shift that date and my team is working on that, but I told them the month of May and we will get to Minot in May.

Moderator:  The question to Admiral Haney is how can a safety and health professional help in the strategic deterrence business?

Admiral Haney:  The safety and health profession.  As you know, as we work around nuclear weapons we count on the safety and health professionals to monitor all of our activities in terms of ensuring we’re not exposing people, that we don’t have any particular environmental hazards that we have ongoing.  And particularly throughout my career I have spent most of the time, in fact I felt a little naked when I left operations or maintenance where I would wear a thermoluminescent dosimeter, TLD as we call it, because each one of those would record the radiation exposure I got through the business.

What’s been fascinating to me since I no longer wear those devices, I probably get more exposure now on all the flights I take going places as a combatant commander.  I used to joke with the crews of submarines that we got less exposure underwater than we did on the surface.

But there’s a lot of work that goes on in monitoring and ensuring that we get that piece right.

The other piece that I know there are professionals that I have worked with and continue to work with in ensuring we understand the effects of nuclear weapons and all the capability that it brings so that we understand it from our own plans, but also associated with consequence management.  That’s another part that is applicable here.

Hopefully I’ve answered that question.

Moderator:  The next one, Admiral, if you can address this. Can you comment on General Cartwright’s remarks suggesting that we should lower the alert levels of the nuclear forces.

Admiral Haney:  Those of you may know that General Cartwright was a former commander of your Strategic Command.  He actually propelled the organization in remarkable ways in terms of how we’re organized today in our joint functional component command and what have you in the different areas.  In fact, I met with General Cartwright probably about a month and a half ago.  We didn’t talk about this particular subject.  We talked about a lot of other things, so I was somewhat astonished to see his writings of recent associated with reducing the alert levels.  And in fact in one of the articles it sort of implied that we should do so unilaterally in terms of, that perhaps that would generate the behavior of others joining that band wagon.

I have a lot of respect for General Cartwright, but this is an area that I fundamentally disagree with.  When I look at where we are today in terms of across our forces, for example.  Bombers are not on the strip alert of the Cold War Days.  And even as you look at how we operate, all of our capabilities are significantly different and consequently there is assurety as well as insurance as far as the alert postures we’re in today.  We have to be very, very mindful of stepping away from that.  And in terms of even coming up with the schema that more than one country would join that band wagon, very similar to what the four horsemen said, we’d have to be able to verify that and if you can’t, it’s useless in my opinion.

So in order to have an effective strategic deterrent going into the 21st century, I really expect that we have to have our associated forces that are on a level of alertness while recognizing the only individual that can authorize us to do something with our nuclear forces is the President of the United States.  We have those associated assurance mechanisms in place to verify that he is the only one deciding that. To direct the launching of that kind of capability.

So there are no measures of effect in place to provide us the assurance in terms that we aren’t going to have some spurious launch. 

The article also referred to the fact that perhaps some cyber attack would take us off our game associated with that, but quite frankly, that’s something else to remind us we’re very, very, very closely aligned to prevent that from ever occurring.

So the checks and balances, more than one person control, et cetera, and then the business that you can’t authorize it except through the President of the United States, provides us that assurance.

And while we look at these schemas, we’ve got to look at it through the security environment I talked about. 

Some would say I’m perhaps a little long-winded in describing that.  Sometimes I do it via video.  Sometimes I do it with big pictures.  Because it’s a piece that we cannot just wish away in order to be effective in the 21st century and going forward.

Moderator:  Thank you, Admiral, for that answer. We have time for one more question.  Admiral, given that the Army does not employ a leg of the triad, of what value is it to instruct and indoctrinate Army officers about the nuclear enterprise?

Admiral Haney:  I should have brought a few more of my Army gang with me today.

The Army does a lot, quite frankly, in terms of strategic deterrence.  The Army, number one, in my opinion and no offense to Navy, Air Force, Marines, quite frankly, bring a unique skill set to my command and that’s in the planning area.  They are trained as critical thinkers in planning and they are used in working our associated operating plans in a big way.

My chief of staff of U.S. Strategic Command is an Army general, Major General Sonny Uberti.  That position has been Army as far as I can remember over time.

But let’s put it a little more personal to the younger side of the equation.  For example, the missile defense apparatus that we operate today, the Army plays a major role in that whether we’re talking Fort Greeley, what we’re doing there, to some of the folks I’ve visited in Guam in terms of the THAAD battery that we have there, for example.

Then when I go to space, it’s amazing to me in terms of the intricacies, the work that goes into space that’s being run by the Army side of our joint forces. 

Clearly we integrate it all together.  I think in each of our services as we bring our strengths together which we have been doing associated with our joint military operations, warfight all the way to a peaceful end of the equation; we’re all working this together as one team.

So the critical thinking that the Army team brings to the equation, both in strategic deterrence, nuclear, missile defense capability, in that regard, space, cyberspace, in terms of things, and also the business of countering weapons of mass destruction which is another mission in space I have.  But Army’s involved throughout all of that.  So I would encourage in particular young Army students here, even though this is a question I think by a lieutenant colonel, keep your aperture open in terms of things.  Cecil Haney here never envisioned being a deputy commander much less commander of U.S. Strategic Command in terms of things, and quite frankly, there may be a point in time where vice the chief of staff, that the Army is actually the leader of U.S. Strategic Command.  I’m sure we can say that’s a high possibility for our future.

So, quite frankly, I hope you got from that conversation the Army is intricately involved in terms of our strategic deterrent capabilities.