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SPEECH | Nov. 16, 2015

TF-214 Change of Command

(As prepared)

Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander: Distinguished guests, congressional staff members, community and civic leaders, Mayor Kaysen, former commanders, family and friends, men and women of Task Force 214 and 20th Air Force – good morning and thank you all for being here.

In the aftermath of the horrendous attack in Paris, I know we all mourn the loss our oldest ally has experienced.  This serves as an example that the threats confronting our way of life must be addressed.

General Robin Rand, thank you for your leadership in the critical mission area of strategic deterrence of two thirds of our nuclear triad.

General (retired) Lance Lord, it’s great to have you join us and I thank you for your distinguished service to our nation.

Today is an exciting day as we recognize accomplishments and say thank you to Jack Weinstein – who will be promoted to lieutenant general later today -- and Patricia for all that they have done and contributed during their time here.  It is also great to welcome Major General Tony Cotton and Marsha back to the U. S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) family.

It is terrific to see some of our family members here.  Military life provides many opportunities, but those opportunities mean that our families also sacrifice.  I don’t take that for granted, and I appreciate the families for allowing our military members to serve and all you do to support them.

So, Samuel [Weinstein], I’m delighted to see you here.  I hear you are doing wonderful things here in Cheyenne.  Aaron [Weinstein], what a wonderful surprise that you and Shannon flew in to enjoy this special time with your father.  Sister-in-law Christine, it’s equally fantastic to have you here.

To the Cotton family, Joel and Sonja, thanks for being here to support your son-in-law.  Similarly, Arvin, Leslie, Wanda, Kevin, and Jeana, your being here means a lot to Tony and Marsha.

It’s fantastic to be back on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, given all that this team does for our country, its security, and strategic stability.  Your proud legacy includes the first successful test launch of Atlas to the emergency activation of the “ace in the hole” Minuteman I during the Cuban Missile Crisis to today’s role of Minuteman III.  For more than 57 years, our nation’s ICBMs have provided a continuous, around-the-clock, safe, secure, effective and credible strategic deterrent.

Of course, this mission doesn’t happen without an extraordinary workforce – some of whom are assembled here.  I’d like to salute the strategic warriors of TF-214 and 20th Air Force, from the senior leaders to the most junior Airmen and civilians, for all you do, day in and day out for our nation -- and particularly for your contributions which have enabled our world to prosper for 70 years without major war between great powers.

Now there are some who believe USSTRATCOM’s strategic deterrence capability is little more than an artifact of the Cold War.  Let me be clear.  The Cold War is over.  It has been for more than 23 years.  Today, our mission addresses a global strategic environment that is more diverse and uncertain than ever before.

Russia, for example, is modernizing its nuclear deterrent forces and accompanying that with increased nuclear saber-rattling statements.  China is modernizing its strategic nuclear platforms, and is re-engineering its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple nuclear warheads and to put to sea a new ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).

Under Kim Jong-un, North Korea continues heightening tensions by coupling provocative statements and actions with advancements in strategic capabilities, claims of miniaturized warheads, and developments in road-mobile and submarine-launched ballistic missile technologies.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.  The world is complex and dynamic.  Intent can change quickly, and our strategic deterrence mission underpins our global security.  Our adversaries must understand that they cannot escalate their way out of a failed conflict, should deterrence fail.

So given the complex world we live in, I am thankful to have had Jack Weinstein as my Task Force commander, overseeing the ICBM strategic forces.  Many times throughout his command of TF 214, he provided me an operational perspective and sage advice on a wide variety of issues.

Jack played a pivotal role in leading a cultural transformation across the missile community.

As I’m sure you will hear from General Rand, Jack was instrumental in reenergizing the warfighter focus – across “ops, cops, and maintenance” – by redefining training and education, placing more emphasis on crew experience, and fighting for essential equipment upgrades.

Jack, you have truly made a difference.  Perhaps the true testament of his leadership is what one of his Airmen said about him, and I quote, “General Weinstein was a significant driving force behind getting stuff done.  In other words, all the things we’ve complained about for years, he came in and started getting stuff done.”

Jack, I don’t think anyone can say it better than that.

Given Jack’s obvious talent, it’s no wonder he got a starring role as a TV celebrity.  Perhaps some of you saw him last year in the 60 Minutes news program, entitled “Who’s minding the Nukes?”  If you missed it, I encourage to you view it on YouTube.

I am very proud of how he represented USSTRATCOM’s deterrence and assurance mission, reminding Leslie Stahl, and all the viewers, that we use our nuclear weapons every single day protecting our nation and providing assurance to our allies.

While he didn’t win an Emmy for his performance, he does get a four-star rating for operationalizing a 24-hour command center -- improving information flow between the war-fighting units and USSTRATCOM, providing me (and in turn our senior leaders) situational awareness on any status impacting our ability to execute ICBM operations.

Part of deterring and assuring is also ensuring the readiness of our forces.

The credibility of our forces exists through the perception of our “observed” readiness.  Under Jack’s leadership, TF-214 conducted seven successful test launches, including one last month.  Borrowing the term of a recent tweet, this “arc of deterrence” truly demonstrated the credibility of our ICBM force and the validity of our strategic deterrent.

We also just finished up our annual Global Thunder command and control exercise where Task Force-214 validated their combat effectiveness.  Jack and his team showed that America’s ICBM force is ready, 24/7.

It’s no wonder you have been Secretary James’ “go-to” guy on all ICBM matters or that you have been chosen as the first three-star to lead Air Force A10 –  the strategic deterrence and nuclear integration office.  That’s a big deal, and I know you will continue to be a strong advocate for our strategic deterrent mission.  Like most of our nuclear triad of platforms, our ICBM force is in need of modernization.  We have very little margin if the follow-on system, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD, is delayed.

As the Airman said, “you got stuff done.”  We still have more “stuff” to do, and I look forward to our continued work.

Jack and Patricia, I can’t express how proud Bonny and I are to have served with you and we are both grateful for your contributions not just to our ICBM mission but also in supporting the stellar professionals and the families of Task Force 214.

Patricia, you will also be sorely missed.  The love and concern you provided our Airmen, your leadership and mentorship for the spouses, as well as volunteering at the Warren ICBM and Heritage museum has not gone unnoticed.  I thank you for your patriotism and your continued support.

Although you are leaving behind the warm hospitality here in Cheyenne and the “front range of the Rockies,” I know you are looking forward to heading back east.  I wish you both the best.

Jack, I hear that you’re a “foodie,” so as a person who likes to seek out gourmet culinary experiences, I’m sure you are eager to enjoy some D.C. delicacies.  Although, from what I’ve seen of Pentagon tours, if you are not careful, I suspect some of your meals in D.C. will likely be coming from a vending machine or one of the many food courts in the Pentagon.

Tony, you are, of course, no stranger to the strategic deterrence missions of USSTRATCOM.

Having worked with you on several space issues and initiatives, I know you are a strategic thinker.  Your contributions to the Joint Space Doctrine and Tactics Forum (JSDTF) and the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSpOC) were absolutely on point and will help us address the challenges in space both today in the future.

For those who don’t know General Cotton, he comes with an impressive resume, packed with extensive leadership and operational experience.

He is incredibly personable, genuine, and approachable.  He is known for being clear in expectations, fair in decisions, and always giving accurate and calm feedback.

I am pleased to have you leading the world’s best ICBM force.  I’m positive you will continue the momentum Jack has set in motion.  Marsha, Bonny and I welcome you aboard the USSTRATCOM team.

Jack you have, and Tony I am confident you will, continue ensuring the relevance and future of our ICBM force through improved readiness, motivated personnel, and fostering a continuum of force improvement and strategic thinking.

During a recent trip to the Air Force Academy, a young cadet asked me if ICBMs were still relevant today and into the future.  I assured that cadet – absolutely!

Tony, know I am counting on your leadership and strategic deterrence thinking to ensure that today’s ICBM force remains ready and that you will develop our Airmen to be the command chiefs and squadron commanders when we bring GBSD on line.

While our mission is “incomprehensible” to some, there should be no doubt that ICBMs, as the most responsive leg of our nuclear triad, remain especially relevant in light of today’s geo-political environment.

As Secretary Carter said earlier this year, “even though nuclear weapons are not in the news every day, thank goodness, they remain the foundation of our security.”

Thank you all.  May God continue to bless these leaders, our all-volunteer force, and the Unites States Air Force, and the United States of America!