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SPEECH | Oct. 8, 2015

As Prepared Remarks from the Deterrence Seminar at the National Defense University

Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander: Well, good morning.  Chuck thanks for that kind introduction and for your leadership.

A special thanks to the National Institute for Public Policy and the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction here at the National Defense University (NDU) for co-hosting this event.

Ambassador Nesbitt, thank you for graciously allowing us to use your facility.

This forum, of course, would not be possible without all the groundwork done by Dr. Keith Payne, the NDU, and my Plans and Policy directorate.  Please accept my sincere gratitude for your efforts and for bringing together such a diverse group with a wide range of experience, both on the panel and in the audience.

To our speakers this morning -- Dr. Payne, Mr. Paul Bernstein and Ambassador Robert Joseph – I know you all have very busy schedules.  Thank you for taking time to lead what I know will be a rich discussion.

My thanks, also, to everyone for offering your perspectives here during this seminar, but also for being a part of the larger dialogue that occurs every day.

It’s always a privilege to be asked to speak.  Being back at the prestigious NDU, my alma mater, is a special privilege for me, and I thank you for the opportunity.  Given the theme of today’s gathering – Deterrence Imperatives: Capabilities and Education – I can’t think of a better place to be.  I hope this seminar is one of many to come.

We live in an increasingly connected world, and the speed and volume of communication often exceeds our capacity to digest the information.

It is amazing to consider the pace at which the geo-political landscape has changed -- in just the past two years -- since I took command of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) in November 2013.   I would argue that much of that change has been enabled by how readily available information has become. 

Although many of us in this room were thinking and talking about Russia, as a nation, we generally were not.  Today, not only has the context shifted considerably, but the sheer airtime and bandwidth devoted to news and commentary about Russia is staggering.

We have seen headlines of Russian strategic bombers routinely penetrating multiple U.S. and Allied Air Defense Identification Zones, and coverage of a number of destabilizing actions associated with Ukraine, Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea, and  its violation of the INF Treaty.

Russia has also publicly stated they are developing counter-space capabilities and we have seen enough news of their malicious activities in cyberspace.  As Director Clapper testified recently, Russia is “…establishing its own cyber command, which…will be responsible for conducting offensive cyber activities, including propaganda operations and inserting malware into enemy command and control systems.” 

Today Russia has established itself in Syria and is garnering national interest as it continues conducting airstrikes.  Just this past weekend the Associated Press ran an article describing those airstrikes as having a “perceived” impact of showing up the U.S. and “reclaiming its rightful place as a global power.”

Think about the implications of those perceptions to the interconnected information landscape.  Consider what our United Kingdom partners have described as “asymmetric warfare” when referring to the differences between what is observed and assessed when compared to what is said to have occurred.

It’s not just Russia, however. 

We see China pursuing regional dominance in the East and South China Seas.  As we saw at the beginning of September, China’s parading of their advanced missiles was intended to display their anti-access area-denial capability.

Like Russia, China has been busy in cyber.  Secretary Work recently testified, “Chinese cyber espionage continues to target a broad spectrum of U.S. interests, ranging from national security information to sensitive economic data and U.S. intellectual property.”

Last month, Presidents Obama and Xi recent met and “joint[ly] affirmed the principle that governments don’t engage in cyber-espionage for commercial gain against companies.”

Clearly much work must be done to achieve this.

It is an understatement to say North Korea’s behavior over the past 60 years has been problematic.  Most recently articulated in a reported essay written to honor the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Worker’s Party, Kim Jong-un calls for North Korea to “…strengthen nuclear deterrence while rigorously making war-fighting preparations involving the entire population.” 

I’m sure I won’t be the only one watching their activities in the coming days.

I haven’t touched on countries such as Iran, India or Pakistan, but these are just as critical to the deterrence equation we need to be thinking about as a community. 

In 2009, the President set a goal of world free of nuclear weapons.  He also said that as long as these weapons exist, the U.S. will maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent force. 

I take that one step further.  We must have a safe, secure and effective and “ready” nuclear deterrent force.  Therefore, this morning I would like to offer my thoughts in three areas associated with readiness:  the hardware, the budget, and our most vital weapon system, our people. 

However, before I do that, I’ll begin with a brief overview of USSTRATCOM’s mission priorities, so you understand my perspective.

USSTRATCOM provides an array of global strategic capabilities to our joint military forces through nine Unified Command Plan assigned missions. 

At first glance, they may seem distinct and disconnected.  While each is unique, when considered as a whole – and connected when appropriate – they are complementary and synergistic.  Having these global strategic capabilities all under USSTRATCOM is what allows us to address 21st century deterrence in a very connected, holistic manner.

Of my six priorities, at the top is to deter strategic attack against the U.S. and to provide assurance to our Allies.  Also included is providing a safe, secure, effective and ready nuclear deterrent force. 

Despite having those nine mission areas (and six priorities) at my command, we can’t deter and assure on our own.  Building enduring relationships with partner organizations to confront the broad range of global challenges allows us to work together, and to synchronize as the military component of our whole of government approach, across the inter-agency, and with our Allies and partners.

My fourth and fifth priorities are addressing challenges in space, and building cyberspace capability and capacity.

Last, but certainly not least, is anticipating change and confronting uncertainty with agility and innovation.

While my remarks this morning will largely focus on priorities one and two, I want you to understand that, from my perspective, our ability to conduct strategic deterrence is more than the platforms and weapons that compose our visible triad.

To have a safe, secure, effective and ready nuclear deterrent, we must also have the appropriate sensing capabilities to give the indications and warning of missile and bombers threats.  We must have tankers to refuel our strategic bombers, as I know Chuck will appreciate, as a former KC-135 pilot.

We must have assured National Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NNC3) that allows us to move sensed information and to communicate from the President down to the warfighter.  We must also have a credible missile defense system, as well as trained and ready people.

The other piece I want to mention, before I get into readiness, is that deterrence is about conducting integrated and combined ops and activities and requires a comprehensive understanding and perception of the strategic environment from an adversary’s point of view.

It’s about communicating capability and intent.  Our actions must convince adversaries they cannot escalate their way out of a failed conflict, and that restraint is a better option.


We cannot deter and assure, however, if our forces are not perceived as ready.  Just as Presidents Putin and Xi, Kim Jong-un, and others must recognize that we are a ready force.  So, too, should our allies. Whether it’s B-52s conducting a 44-hour mission with the Royal Australian Air Forces, the SSBN USS WYOMING making a port call to Faslane, Scotland, or having our allies and partners observe one of our ICBM weapons tests – all demonstrate our readiness and commitments to deter and assure.

With that context in mind, it is clear that readiness is critical for credible deterrence and assurance. 


I mentioned readiness depends upon sustaining and modernizing our weapons and systems – both our hardware and people.  Let me start w/hardware and the capabilities we need now.

As you are aware, our nuclear weapons, their associated infrastructure, and their delivery platforms have already been sustained far longer than originally planned.  

As we decrease the number of platforms and warheads under the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the value of our safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent becomes more important -- both in terms of the assurance we provide our allies and partners and our ability to support our non-proliferation efforts.

While the U.S. is moving in the right direction, much remains to be done to recapitalize and replace our mature nuclear weapon systems and platforms.  Each has unique requirements, but all are aging and all require significant investment.

We have set upon a course to modernize the nation's NNC3 architecture to achieve robust and resilient 21st century communication capabilities that will effectively address a broadening range of threats and operational requirements.

USSTRATCOM is a full partner with the Air Force as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent moves from analysis of alternatives completion to concept demonstration.  We are approaching this as a fully integrated weapon system that spans the missile, command and control and support facilities. 

I am cautiously optimistic when I say that Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) is fully supported and I was really happy to hear the Secretary of the Air Force during her visit to my headquarters last week state that “we will have a LRS-B in the future.”  This program must continue as planned.

The Ohio Replacement Program -- which is also supporting the United Kingdom’s successor SSBN -- is on schedule to start the engineering and manufacturing development phase at the end of FY16.  It must remain on-track for its first deterrent patrol in 2031. 

We are beginning work ahead of schedule for the replacement Air Launched Cruise Missile.  We are also making great progress on the B61-12.  It is the future bomb for the B-2, dual-capable aircraft and next generation bomber, and is in the engineering phase with the first production planned for FY20. Both programs are key to carrying out our 3+2 warhead strategy.

Some of our warhead industrial facilities have been around since World War II.  The stockpile is the oldest it’s ever been, with the average age of our warheads more than 27 years, and, much like the rest of us, they will only continue aging. 

Delaying development and fielding of any of the programs would unacceptably increase risk to our nation’s strategic deterrent capabilities.  Equally if not more important, delaying would directly impact our credibility and ability to deter and assure.  We are out of time.  Recapitalization is a must and is required now.


I know you are all aware of the budget situation.  For the seventh straight year, the U.S. government is again living under a continuing resolution. 

I agree with Secretary Carter’s comments that the delays resulting from either an extended continuing resolution or cuts from sequestration represent “managerial inefficiencies are wasteful to the taxpayer and dangerous for our national security.”

From my perspective, this is particularly concerning because some of USSTRATCOM’s most important weapon systems are in need of costly upgrades.  A continuing resolution really hinders the work and initiatives we need to move forward on.  It creates uncertainty in planning efforts that our country cannot afford to ignore. 

Our budget has a deterrent value all of its own and reflects our nation’s commitment to our deterrent strategy.  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 across the globe.  As a nation, we need continued investment in foundational intelligence, NNC3, space, cyber, missile defense, and personnel development programs.  

Without timely investment, we risk degrading the deterring and the stabilizing effect of a strong and credible nuclear deterrent force.  Similar to how the U.S. analyses the budget of other countries, our adversaries pay close attention to how we back up our words with resources.  To that end, budget stability is integral to our strategic stability.


This brings me to my third and final point.  In much the same way we sustain and modernize our platforms and weapons, we must also sustain and modernize our workforce.  We must value and invest in the future of the professionals -- both civilian and military -- who operate, maintain, secure, engineer, and support our nuclear enterprise.  We also must develop the next generation of multi-dimensional strategic thinkers – or in other words, we must enable, inspire and develop the next Thomas Schelling or Henry Kissinger.

Capturing interest outside our community requires innovation.  I know Paul will discuss education in more detail, but let me just highlight a couple of efforts going on at USSTRATCOM.

The NDU USSTRATCOM Scholars Program is a new initiative this year.  I look forward to hearing about how our scholars have tailored their electives, to focus on strategic policy and deterrence issues reflecting my mission areas.

USSTRATCOM also established an Academic Alliance Program.  It is focused on developing a community of interest for deterrence and assurance in the context of national security. We are now in partnership with 17 universities and military higher-education institutions.

We have a number of other initiatives – from newcomers briefings, lecture series, and a Nuclear Commander’s Course – to hosting a small number of Air Force, Navy, and Marines (from a variety of programs) to participate in small group discussion on deterrence and planning.

Understanding that we must have a deeper understanding of adversary intent and perceptions, we are engaging with the inter-agency partners in sponsoring a series of deep intellectual dives to understand this better.

We’re getting ready to start a new cycle of roadshows, where our headquarters staff are communicating with our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and civilians what USSTRATCOM  does on a day-to-day basis and why the work our forces do is so important to our national security.

There are many more that I could mention, but the bottom line is:  As a whole, are we doing enough to stimulate interest in the nuclear enterprise – ranging from high-end academics to educating and informing the men and women who operate, secure, and maintain our weapon systems and platforms, to those who are key to our deliberate and crisis action planning?

Are we collectively engaging our replacements in purposeful discussions at all levels of their professional development?  Are we preparing them to think through complex scenarios and encouraging them to develop integrated plans during peacetime so that they can continue executing deterrence?  

Deterrence isn’t easy.  It occurs along the spectrum of conflict, across our whole of government, and involves our elements of national power.

For 70 years, our credible, safe, secure, effective and ready forces have enabled the world to be without major war between great powers.

It’s impressive to see today’s systems continue to work well beyond the expected service life, but we can’t continue to rely on that.  We must modernize the force, and we must educate and inform the various publics on the importance of investments in these much-needed programs.

There are many who voice concern regarding affordability of the recapitalization programs, but I would argue, can we afford not to?  The readiness of our weapons systems, our budget, and our workforce is critical to providing this nation a safe, secure, and effective and ready strategic deterrent.

I will stop now for your questions.