University of Nebraska Omaha USSTRATCOM Fellowship Program Opening Remarks

By Admiral Cecil D. Haney | Omaha, Neb. | March 1, 2014

Thanks Bob for that kind introduction, and also for your distinguished service-- 33 years in uniform for our country, but also for your leadership here at the National Strategic Research Institute.  I can’t thank you enough for that.

It excites me to be here.  One thing, if you noticed in that resume that I still seek, is that I’ve only gone to military schools.  One of these days I am hoping to go to a university that’s not so military-affiliated, so I can have more diversity in that background, but still working on that.

Well, Dr. Pol thank you also for your remarks today and your leadership here.  Dr. Reed, the Senior Vice Chancellor here at UNO – where is Dr. Reed? And Dr. Smith-Howell, the Dean of Graduate Students at UNO, is also here I think.  Thanks for your leadership here, as well as the rest of the leadership at UNO and University at Lincoln and faculty members that were so recognized here. And of course, from my team and the fellows.

Well, welcome and thank you for your support and for taking the time out here on this rather warm, I mean chilly, day here as we celebrate our fellows and this continued partnership between US Strategic Command and the University of Nebraska.  It’s great to be here and what an honor to speak at the kickoff of this event, this inaugural event for this Graduate Fellowship Program!

Strategic Command’s nucleus is made up of very focused, innovative professionals that are dedicated to delivering warfighting capabilities to our nation.  Our fellows are part of this dedicated team that supports the critical missions of US Strategic Command day in and day out.  I can’t thank them enough for that service.

I am especially excited though about this program, because the areas that our fellows are working on are just essential to addressing today’s security challenges.  I don’t have to tell you that the global security environment is extremely challenging, and that it is becoming more and more complex, dynamic and uncertain than any other time in our history.  Advances of significant nation state and non-state military capabilities continue across the air, sea, land, and space domains—as well as in cyberspace. This trend has the potential to adversely affect strategic stability. 

As a result, the US of A must remain vigilant, capable and forward thinking.  Nuclear powers continue to invest in long-term modernization of their strategic capabilities.  Some nation state and non-nation state actors have goals of obtaining and proliferating Weapons of Mass Destruction.  World-wide cyber threats are growing in scale and of course in sophistication.  The space domain is becoming even more congested, contested, and competitive.  Social unrest, such as we see in Ukraine right now, and other Syria, and turmoil challenges peace and stability, and of course terrorism remains a concern.

So, there is an absolute necessity to focus our efforts on strategic stability – why the United States’ Strategic Command’s deterrence and assurance efforts remain critical to our nation’s security.

Now, my command has 9 diverse mission responsibilities, assigned by the President of the United States, that are strategic in nature, global in scope, and span from under the sea to geo-synchronous orbit.  As the Commander of your Strategic Command, my top priority is to partner though, with other Combatant Commands to deter and detect strategic attacks against the United States of America and our Allies, and defeat those attacks if deterrence fails. 

As I discussed during lunch here recently with the University of Nebraska President JB Milliken earlier this week, we are also engaged on a daily basis in a broad array of missions which are perfectly aligned with the research areas our fellows will undertake.

So what will these fellows be working on?  Well, under the mentorship of Dr. Mahoney and Dr. Simi, our fellows Susie Doyle and Brent Kenworthy will take the challenge of studying the nexus between cyberspace and Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction, looking for those connections among what may be viewed as seemingly unrelated areas. 

They will research areas such as the capabilities and resources needed to defend our nation’s critical infrastructure against both cyber and Weapons of Mass Destruction attack, as well as national and international implications a simultaneous cyber or Weapons of Mass Destruction attack will have on our US institutions.

Today, a Weapons of Mass Destruction-armed terrorist is one of the greatest potential threats we face today, and no region of the world is immune from potential chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear risk.  So, their topic could not better align with US Strategic Command’s work, because US Strategic Command is a global synchronizer for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction planning efforts, as well as deterring, and as necessary, defeating cyber-attacks.  Susie and Brent, I wish you the best here as you conduct this work and look forward to hearing from you!

Well, Dr. Dempsey and Dr. Fruhling will provide the guidance to Suzie Cole-Miller and Doug Ward in their examination of the cyber threats posed to the Department of Defense and National Security from social networking.  Based on their results, they will provide insight to Department of Defense leadership and courses of action on emerging social networking cyber threats.

As you are probably aware, the world-wide cyber threat is growing in scale and sophistication, with an increasing number of state and non-state actors targeting US networks on a daily basis. 

Given the significant unrest in addressing the cyber threat, as addressed in my posture statement with the Senate of Armed Service Committee recently, this could not be a better fit.  Suzie and Doug, best of luck to you in this critical research area. 

As you can see we have some very challenging problems.  So it’s good to see that the other fellows, such as Dan Gunn, Kayse Jansen, Blaine Fulton, Sarah Mussoni, Randy Eschelman, and Nate Arnold will be entrenched in areas such as intelligence support, deterrence operations, cyber activities, and technological singularity.  That one was even hard to spell!

They will incorporate behavioral science and military studies to understand the mind of the adversary; assess the growth in computational ability and prospective technologies on US national security and economic interests for the next 10-20 years; and identify implications for areas such as human intelligence and counterinsurgency operations given advances in sensing and tagging technologies.

These are challenging areas that require some in-depth analysis.  To address some of these challenges, we must stimulate the development of skills essential for critical thinking and develop men and women capable of intellectual leadership. These programs and partnerships are one way we maintain our intellectual edge.

Now I truly appreciate and value advanced education and believe that the education of America is an important national resource just as our military and our economy is.  So I can’t thank University of Nebraska enough for the work that gets done here for our country.   So, I would like to also take a moment to recognize the faculty mentors that have been paired up with our fellows, who will coach and mentor them for the next 13 wks.  So I know you stood up before, but how about standing up and this time why don’t we give them a round of applause.  Thank-you!

As the Commander of US Strategic Command, I can attest to the importance of investing in our education, in the education of our workforce.  As I look at my uniformed military personnel, as they arrive I rely on their military experience, subject matter expertise, their critical and innovative thinking and analysis.

Likewise, I rely heavily on our civilian employees.  Among other things they manage our finances, develop policy and strategic planning, deliver operational and technical solutions, provide intelligence, and acquire and maintain our weapons systems.  But, probably most important, is they provide our “institutional memory.”

Today, we have approximately 450 more civilians than uniformed members on my staff, resulting in increased responsibilities and leadership roles for our civilian staff, and a need for a customized graduate level program for emerging key leaders, civilian leaders that is.

Among Strategic Command…although Strategic Command has had a few civilian leadership programs over the years, this is the first time we have partnered with an external organization to develop our civilian leaders in-residence.  Opportunities for substantial professional education are rare—particularly for extended in-residence education that produces a synergy of learning that only comes from daily, face-to-face interaction with fellow students and faculty.  This program affirms our commitment to support the growth and development of our civilian workforce. 

I appreciate the tremendous support provided to US Strategic Command and the larger military community, from the vibrant community that surrounds us. The relationship we enjoy with educational institutions and local businesses offer incredible, mutually beneficial opportunities.

US Strategic Command and the University of Nebraska graduate fellowship program here, is the most recent example of a partnership that expands the scientific knowledge and technical expertise of our committed civilian employees, while furthering the US Strategic Command’s mission objectives and simultaneously strengthening those relationships with the educational community.  The, this partnership will give US Strategic Command civilian employees an opportunity to hone their already formidable skills, under the guidance and leadership of their faculty mentors.

So, in closing, I’d like to leave you with a quote.  Gen Eisenhower once said: “…there are many people who have the potential for leadership, just as there are probably many people born with the potential to be great artists that never have the opportunity or the training for the full development of their talents.”

So to the fellows—you’ve been afforded both the opportunity and training to develop your talents and you will work here with a faculty that has a wide range of expertise, many in critical areas related to national security.  I know this will be a challenging 13 weeks, three months.

And as you complete this program, you will be armed with new knowledge and experience.  You will have been exposed to so many critical areas that I have previously described.  You also will even take a trip, I’m told, to University of Nebraska Lincoln, to learn about space and cyber law, from the only college in the country that offers this expertise.

So thank-you fellows, for your participation in this very important program.  I am confident this program will help you and US Strategic Command in so many different ways.  I couldn’t be more proud of you and I look forward, as I discussed with you earlier, hearing about your results and your experiences.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but my hunch is that it will continue to grow in complexity.  This fellows program is a part of the solution—to create leaders that understand the problem sets of the 21st century, and you all will help steer us through this.

So thanks, both to the US Strategic Command team here and the University of Nebraska for coupling together to make this program get kicked off here.  I can’t thank you enough for that.  It is the right thing to do for our future civilian leaders, and of course for a grateful nation, that will be better for it.

Thank you.