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SPEECH | June 23, 2016

Strategic Deterrent Coalition Symposium

(As delivered, edited for clarity)


Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command Commander: Thanks John [Freisinger] for that kind introduction. I have met many of you through tonight, and it is always a challenge when you come down with a little bit of the flu bug, but I have a rule that I don't shake hands when that occurs, so I hope you will forgive me for not doing the handshakes yesterday evening and today. I've been here in this New Mexico climate and feel like I'm getting much better, so I'll take all that in today before I depart. Well John, again thanks for that gracious introduction, and I really thank this whole team for being here today. Your presence speaks volumes for the importance of strategic deterrence and assurance; not just today, but well into our future.


Now, I hope all the dads in the audience had a chance to enjoy Father's Day. I was fortunate enough to receive the DVD titled,The Force Awakens. Now, unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to watch it on Sunday or Monday, but my daughter told me not to fret because she said I'm a better father than Darth Vader was to Luke Skywalker. I'm not sure if that was a compliment or not, but I better watch the movie and figure it out, I guess, so I can understand that better. 


It's always wonderful to be back here in the greater Albuquerque area, and this great state of New Mexico is truly a nucleus of intellect and experience. There is a lot going on here in the region that supports my assigned missions as the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, from the national laboratories, which I know two of them are located in the area, and the third, Lawrence Livermore.  And I know some of you are here: the Joint Navigation Warfare Center, Air Force Research Laboratory and the Sustainment Tactical Integration Cell and each of these areas, most of these areas, I'll l have a chance to visit today.  


I'd also like to give my sincere gratitude to the Strategic Deterrent Coalition for bringing together such a diverse range of experience: our congressional staff members, civic leaders, academia, government, industry and international partners.  So it's appropriate given the theme 'Partnering in Strategic Deterrence' that we have today.  This is an important priority for me and my top priority. Forums such as these are increasingly important to foster the exchange of perceptions and to have a rich dialogue, even if we don't agree on it all.


I was also encouraged by many of the youthful leaders and folks I saw last night and see today.  So if you're under 30, please stand up to be recognized. Thanks so much for being here and being a part of this. This is your future.

With that, I'd like to focus on a few things. Number one, I'm going to talk a bit about the threat, the strategic environment; two, the importance of maintaining strategic stability in the 21st century; and three, the need for appropriate investments in support of our strategic deterrent enterprise.


So, let me start with the strategic environment, which, as you know, is more complex, dynamic and volatile, perhaps more so than any time in our history. Just a glance at the headlines points to our nation's efforts in supporting coalitions in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots around the globe. I want to focus my remarks on the five evolving and major challenges: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and violent extremists.


Russia poses an existential threat to the United States just by virtue of the size of its nuclear arsenal that it continues to modernize, despite their associated trends.  At the same time, Russia is improving its conventional military forces, maintaining a significant quantity of non-strategic nuclear weapons without transparency, and aggressively pursuing other approaches such as hyper-glide vehicle technology.


Russia is engaging in destabilizing actions in Syria and the Ukraine, conducting below threshold 'gray zone' type activities and developing counterspace and malicious cyberspace capabilities, while also declaring and recklessly expressing their willingness to escalate if required. 


We need to just look back to 2015 when the Russian President admitted that he was willing to increase nuclear readiness during the Crimea crisis, or just last month when the Russian State Duma's defense committee chairman said that they would be willing to deploy nuclear submarines off the coast of the United States for deterrence. Let's not forget the significant number of long range strategic aircraft flights about the globe, including off our west coast, in recent years.


But Russia must understand that it would be a serious miscalculation to consider nuclear escalation as a viable option and that Russia will not achieve the benefits they perceive in pursuing such a plan.


As we have also seen in open sources, China continues attempts to advance claims over disputed areas in the South China Sea and, like Russia, is performing unsafe intercepts of military aircraft in international airspace. It is making significant investments in overarching military capabilities, including nuclear and conventional, as well as realignment of its command and control structure to support its anti-access, area-denial campaign.


They are also pursuing conventional prompt global strikeand hyper-glide sonic glide capabilities, as well as offensive counterspace and cyberspace technologies.  These activities, when considered along with China's lack of transparency, raises questions about their associated ambitions.


Kim Jong-Un continues to defy international norms and resolutions, as demonstrated by just a number of provocative actions here this year, including their fourth nuclear test. By launching satellites into space, they're also testing their ballistic missile technology, and we also see them active in submarine-launched ballistic missiles capabilities, as well as the intermediate-range ballistic missile, called the Musadan, and associated testing. North Korea's coercive, irresponsible rhetoric and actions undermine regional stability.


These actions are not only disturbing, they are flagrant violations of the UN Security Council mandates and show they have a serious lack of regard for peace, international norms and security for the broader region. As with Russia, North Korea must understand that it cannot escalate its way to victory and that the United States will take actions to assure our allies in the region.


Iran's continued involvement in Middle East conflict and its development of ballistic missile programs and cyberspace capabilities continue to require our attention.  While it appears to be following the mandates of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we must remain vigilant for any shift regarding nuclear weapons ambitions. 


Finally, we are part of an international campaign against violent extremist organizations and terror groups that are recruiting, financing and operating across political, social and cyberspace boundaries, seeking to destroy our democratic way of life as we've sadly seen in Paris, San Bernardino and, of course, most recently in Orlando.  We must be successful in our campaign against these violent extremist organizations.


Now, given the interconnectedness of the world today, there are global ramifications that require comprehensive solutions. Therefore, we must be thoughtful going forward because deterring in today's multi-polar world requires us to view threats across the spectrum of conflict, where escalation may occur with more than one adversary, and can be transregional, and can occur in multiple domains.


Strategic deterrence is a complex subject that is foundational to our nation's security. It depends on the situation, and we must master it to ensure that no adversary will gain the benefits they seek; no adversary can escalate their way out of a failed conflict, and restraint is always the better option; and that adversaries understand, that if necessary, we will respond in a time and a place and a domain of our choosing.


Deterring strategic attack on the United States and assuring our allies is my top priority. To do that we must have a safe, secure, effective and ready nuclear deterrent.  But I must caveat that some view our strategic deterrent capabilities as the platforms and weapons that comprise our visible triad. 


While all three legs of the triad are vital to our deterrence efforts, those capabilities alone are not enough. Often overlooked are those critical tankers that refuel our strategic bombers; effective indications and warning of incoming threats through our strategic space and terrestrial systems; assured and survivable national and nuclear command, control and communications; the necessary infrastructure to sustain reliable warheads; a credible missile defense system that defends against attacks from rogue nations; a resilient space and counterspace architecture; as well as a robust conventional force; and of course a comprehensive whole-of-government approach, which sometimes we dumb down in terms of the DIME: diplomatic, information, military and economic.


Additionally, verifiable treaties and policies are key to strategic stability. For example, New START promotes stability by maintaining rough equivalency in size of strategic nuclear forces, as well as transparency with a robust inspection regime.


While I won't go through all of my priorities, know that we are making substantial investments in space and cyberspace, preparing for the possibility that a future conflict may start or extend into these critical domains. 

So how do we deter our adversaries and potential adversaries?


Well first, we must have a comprehensive understanding of the strategic environment as perceived from an adversary's point of view. We must understand not just capability, but also intent, so that we can deny enemy action, hold critical nodes at risk and prevent misperceptions and actions from escalating. 


And I would say that it's been great having the leadership here, Dr. [Chaouki T.] Abdallah, the University [of New Mexico] provost, because one of the things I've tried to instill in my staff in working on this, is what's called an academic alliance program to get as many universities in our country working with us in the studies of deterrence and assurance mechanisms and methodologies to challenge some of our thinking as we go forward in this 21st century with the complex environment that I have described.


Second, I would argue that you can't wait for extreme circumstances but must be engaged throughout the spectrum of conflict to facilitate deterrence, assurance and de-escalation measures, using all of our levers of national power. Deterrence requires integrated and combined operations.


Third, we must have a whole-of-government approach, to include our other partners and allies, whenever possible.

Fourth, we must be clear that our nuclear deterrent at large remains a vital and central element of our national security.


Finally, we must have a credible and ready force. Make no mistake: U.S. Strategic Command is a ready force capable of delivering comprehensive warfighting solutions. But perceptions also matters.  Adversaries and allies alike must recognize the readiness of our forces.


Our strategic capabilities are routinely demonstrated and exercised. Today, we currently have three B-52s deployed to Fairford in the United Kingdom, integrating in multi-national operations to enhance the readiness and capability of U.S. and NATO forces.  We also have a number of B-52s out in U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility.  They are also providing a unique, conventional capability in our war against ISIS. In February, we successfully flight tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, and just this past week, we successfully flight tested two of our air-launched cruise missiles from B-52 aircraft.


Most in this audience, I know, are aware while we are making great progress, our delivery systems and our nuclear command, control and communications architecture are maturing.  They've already been, or will be, extended decades beyond their original expected life and must be replaced in this period between 2020 and 2035.


Our ICBMs, our B-52s and our Ohio-class submarines were fielded in that period between 1960 and 1980.  The extended service of our nuclear delivery platforms is testament to the efforts and ingenuity of our predecessors, especially those design engineers, maintainers and industry partners, but we are fast approaching the point where having an effective nuclear deterrent will be put at risk. 


This is critical in a global security environment where it is clear that other nuclear-capable nations are placing a high priority on developing, sustaining, modernizing and, in some cases, expanding their nuclear forces. The United States, however, is retaining and modernizing only those systems needed to sustain an effective deterrent. 


We have made considerable progress with U.S. and Russia force structure and nuclear weapon stockpile reductions.  By complying with a series of treaties, the United States has decreased its stockpile by some 85% relative to its Cold War peak. Instead of dozens of delivery systems, we're well on our way to only four. 


Given continued funding and authority, we are on track to achieve New START treaty limits of 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed delivery systems by February 2018.  Now, Russia is also working towards compliance, but clearly, future treaties must include Russia's nonstrategic nuclear weapons.


To date, in meeting treaty obligations, the United States Air Force has eliminated all nonoperational ICBM silos and is in the process of placing 50 ICBMs into non-deployed status.  All ICBMs are now de-MIRV'd [now no longer have multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles] and deploy a single warhead. 


The Air Force has eliminated all nonoperational B-52[G] heavy bombers and is converting 42 B-52H bombers to conventional only bombers. The Navy is converting four launch tubes on each Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and is removing 56 launch tubes from accountability under the treaty.

However, to plan for an uncertain future, the United States must execute a long-term strategy to ensure strategic stability.

In 2009, the President spoke, and he mentioned the fact that he desired a world free of nuclear weapons.  That's remembered in most circles.  But a lot of times, I find that what he said right after that sentence is not articulated.  He said as long as these weapons exist in the world, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal.  That part we have to continue to remember and continue to work on.


Our strategic capabilities must not only provide our adversaries a complex deterrence problem, they must provide options to our President should deterrence fail.  I must point out that sustaining and modernizing supports the President's nonproliferation goals, and our sustainment and modernization plans are in line with the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the 2013 Report on the Guidance for the Employment of our Nuclear Capabilities, the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review and the 2015 National Military Strategy.


So, to be clear, sustainment alone won't meet future adversarial threats. We simply must modernize. 


Our current plans to replace our existing Minuteman system are just in time. The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent is needed to ensure that an adversary cannot launch a comprehensive counterforce attack on the United States by striking only a handful targets.


The Ohio replacement program must provide maximum survivability out to 2080. It remains my top modernization priority, and we can accept no more risk or delays to this effort.


The B-21 replacement bomber program will provide flexibility while visibly messaging strategic intent and assurance.

While each leg of the triad provides a hedge against technical problems or changes in the security environment, the triad must have effective and reliable weapons.  Today our stockpile is the oldest it has ever been, with the average age of the warheads at 27 years and growing. 


As our warheads continue to age, our national laboratories are vital to us through the warhead surveillance program, the sustainment and life-extension programs to ensure our continued confidence in our weapons. I really salute what they've done with programs like the W76-1, which is out there operational today, and it remains on track.


The ingenuity of the labs have also been critical in progress made with the B61-12 gravity bomb, which will continue to underwrite U.S strategic and extended deterrence and will replace four of its current variants. 


Despite the many counter arguments, we must replace the aging air-launched cruise missile.  I hope in this audience I don't have to say that again: We must replace the aging air-launched cruise missile.  So this program called the long-range, stand-off cruise missile is integral to the long-term viability of the air leg of the nuclear triad. In the face of evolving threats, it, when combined with existing bombers and the B-21, will ensure effectiveness in the anti-access, area-denial campaigns against us and those environments, providing global target coverage and denying any adversary geographic sanctuary.


In early 2013, the Nuclear Weapons Council approved the 3+2 strategy, which defines the path forward for reducing the weapon stockpile consistent with our nonproliferation goals, as well as ensuring a capability well into the future. We must keep that 3+2 strategy on course.


We cannot ignore the fact that our warhead industrial facilities have been around since World War II or that we must continue to certify our nuclear stockpile, without end-to-end testing. 


Delaying development and fielding of any of these programs, including not upgrading our critical industrial base, will create unacceptable risk. Equally, if not more important, delaying will directly affect our credibility, our ability to deter and assure, and ultimately strategic stability.


Usually when I get to this point in a speech, I typically get the question: Hey commander, can we afford this investment? My reply is always the same: Given the security environment and the implications to strategic stability, we cannot afford to not invest in this capability. 


Today, sustaining our strategic nuclear capability costs about three percent of our defense total obligation authority. In the 2020s to 2030s, as we begin recapitalization in earnest, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that figure will grow somewhere between five to seven percent.  That's a modest price to pay for our deterrence and assurance needs and our ability to facilitate strategic stability.


As I have testified, I am pleased with the president's budget request for fiscal year 2017.  It reflects our nation's commitment to our deterrence strategy. I hope the Congress can get it approved. However, with threat of sequestration looming still in 2018, we cannot compromise the momentum we are establishing. If we are to meet future challenges, we must have a synchronized campaign of investments supporting the full range of military operations that secure our national security objectives.


In conclusion, understand that our nuclear deterrent remains a vital and central element of the United States and allied national security. Modernization is not only necessary to maintain capabilities for today's threats, it is necessary to ensure we have flexibility and options to address future uncertainty. 


Simply put: We are out of time.  Sustainment is a must.  Recapitalization is a requirement.


I look forward to your questions.  Thanks for your attention. Again, thanks to the Strategic Deterrent Coalition and the leadership team that stood up earlier for bringing us all together today. Thank you.