An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


SPEECH | Jan. 22, 2016

Center for Strategic and International Studies

(As delivered)

Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command Commander: Well, good morning, and thanks Dr. Hamre for that kind introduction. I'll be sure to tell mom she was mentioned here, and she gets disappointed because my most of my visits in and out of Washington D.C., I don't get to see her, but I do talk to her every evening on the telephone, so she helps me with my strategic thinking. I'm just ecstatic to be here today, to be here with you. It's really an honor to be here at this Center for Strategic International Studies founded by David Abshire and Adm. Arleigh Burke at the height of the Cold War, and with the simple, but urgent goal of finding ways for the United States to survive as a nation and prosper as a people.

It is interesting that this month commemorates the 20th anniversary of the passing of Adm. Burke, who, as some of you may know, was the longest serving chief of naval operations. Adm. Burke was a strong advocate of nuclear propulsion. It became standard for all U.S. submarines under his watch - a standard for which I am grateful to this day.

Adm. Burke was also responsible for enhancing the nation's strategic nuclear capability when in 1960, also under his watch, the submarine USS George Washington fired the first Polaris missile. That event, but more so the capability it represented, would become a symbol for Americans, America's nuclear deterrent.

So, I think it's highly appropriate that today we are not only having a discussion on strategic deterrent forces as a foundation for 21st century national security, but that we are having that discussion right here at CSIS.

To our other speakers today: Dr. Keith Payne, the Honorable Frank Miller, and Mr. Tom Karako, my sincere gratitude to you for shaping what I am sure will be a lively dialogue today.

Tom, my special thanks to you also for moderating today's events. I know you will ensure that we make the most of the time that we have together. And to this large audience, I salute your continued focus on our global security challenges with the events you host, including this one; and for the outstanding publications you put out, such as Project Atom, that ensure we can keep this important dialogue going.

Thanks also to the audience members who contribute to this dialogue. I am ecstatic to see this crowd, but also recognize individuals like Gen. (ret) Norty Schwartz. Sir, great to see you again here as well, and for the amount of mentorship that you have provided me over the years. Now, I could keep going on and on with other familiar faces, [but] I won't because that would make this a longer session than it is intended to be. And with the winter storm I am told is Jonas approaching, I don't want to be between you and your exit strategy regarding the associated snowstorm.

I have to admit that my travel team was a bit concerned about my strategic calculus being at this forum, particularly with those earlier predictions of what time the chaos was going to start. The last time I witnessed their concern associated with this was last January, and I had insisted that while we were traveling to France and the United Kingdom that we do a stop at Thule, Greenland in January, where we have one of our early warning radar sites. And they were very concerned with being stuck there and tried to talk me out of it. I insisted we went. Well, it worked then and I'm convinced we are all here now and it's working.

So let me get started. I thought I would share a few of my thoughts with you this morning on the strategic environment and how United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) fits into that picture, and three areas associated with readiness:

  • the sustainment of modernization requirements needed for a safe, secure, effective, and ready deterrent capability,
  • the budget, and
  • our most vital weapons system, our people.

So, let's start with strategic environment. Today, as you know, the global security environment is more complex, dynamic and volatile, perhaps more so than at any time in our history.

The dangers posed by this unpredictable security environment are compounded by the continual propagation of asymmetric capabilities and methods, the unprecedented proliferation of advanced capabilities and technologies, and the increasing provocative and destabilizing behavior on the part of both current and potential adversaries.

Just a glance at the headlines today will point to efforts supporting our coalitions in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan as we continue to address the campaign against terrorists including Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other violent extremists in other places about the globe.

At the same time, we have nation-states such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran whose behavior on the international stage warrants our attention. Today's malicious cyber and counter space activities are increasing in numbers and, of course, sophistication. Although we continued to work toward New START treaty limits, a number of nation-states are developing, sustaining or modernizing their nuclear forces and their supporting capabilities. With respect to Russia, I’m sure most of you have seen in the news Russia's new security strategy, and you see how Russia is using it, as a country works to emerge or reemerge as a great power.

I know Dr. Keith Payne and Dr. Frank Miller will talk a little more about the Russian strategy here today, but clearly, this thinking underpins the drive behind Moscow's continued efforts in:

  • modernizing both conventional and strategic military programs,
  • emphasizing new strategic approaches,
  • declaring, and at times demonstrating, their ability to escalate if required, and
  • conducting destabilizing actions associated with Syria, Ukraine and Crimea, while also violating the INF Treaty, Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty, and other international accords and norms.

Russia has also publicly stated that they are developing counter-space capabilities, and we have seen enough news of their malicious activities in cyberspace. As Director Clapper has testified, 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."

So, even with all this and despite assertions by some that the United States and Russia are in a nuclear arms race, there is continued progress in the New START business. By complying to a series of treaties, the United States has reduced its stockpile by 85 percent relative to its Cold War peak. Instead of dozens of delivery systems, we are well on her way to only four. We are retaining and modernizing only those systems needed to sustain a stable and effective deterrent capability. Given continued funding and authority, we are on track to achieve New START limits of 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed delivery systems by February of 2018.

That is not what I would define as an arms race. To date, in meeting treaty obligations, our U.S. Air Force has eliminated all non-operational intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos, and is in the process of replacing 50 intercontinental ballistic missiles into non- deployed status. All intercontinental ballistic missiles are now de-MIRV’d (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) and deploy a single warhead. The Air Force has also eliminated nonoperational B-52G-series heavy bombers, and is converting 42 B-52Hs to conventional only bomber missions. And the United States Navy is converting four launch tubes on each Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), removing 56 launch tubes from accountability under New START.

The benefit of the New START is that it engenders stability by maintaining rough equivalency in size and capability, and more importantly transparency via inspections. Furthermore, it helps assure our non-nuclear allies they do not require their own nuclear deterrent capabilities. However, in order to maintain strategic stability as we draw down our nuclear deterrent forces, let there be no doubt that the remaining systems must be safe, secure, effective and ready.

So what about China? It’s not just the buildup of features into larger landmasses in the South China Sea. It’s also the buildup of their overarching military capabilities to support their anti-access area denial campaign and quest for sovereignty in the East and South China seas. China continues to make significant military investments in their nuclear and conventional capabilities with their stated goal being that of defending Chinese sovereignty.

For example, China is reengineering its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple nuclear warheads. They recently conducted its sixth successful tests of a hyper glide vehicle, and as we saw in September last year's parading missiles clearly displaying their modernization and their capability advancements. China's pursuit of conventional prompt global strike capabilities, offensive counter space technologies, and exploitation of computer networks raises questions about China's global aspirations.

While China periodically reminds us of its “No First Use” nuclear policy, these developments coupled with the Chinese intentional lack of transparency on nuclear issues (such as force, disposition and size) can impact regional and strategic stability.

Moving on to North Korea. You know it's an understatement to say North Korea's behavior over the past 60 years has been anything but problematic. Under Kim Jong-un, North Korea continues to heighten tensions by coupling provocative statements and actions with

  • advancements in strategic capabilities,
  • claims of miniaturized warheads, and more recently claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test, and
  • developments in road mobile and submarine launch ballistic missiles technologies.

These actions not only show a distinct disrespect for United Nations Security Council mandates, they also show a lack of regard for regional stability.

And finally, Iran. Even with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we must remain vigilant of any shift of the Iranian actions regarding nuclear weapon ambitions and their ballistic missile programs, as well as their continued involvement in conflicts in the Middle East.

So, I think you would agree with me that clearly there is a lot going on here. While I won't go through the many other security concerns, the reality is that the strategic environment continues to increase in complexity.

Unlike the bipolar world of the Cold War, today's multi-polar world includes nation-states and non-state actors that are more akin to multi-player, concurrent potentially intersecting games of chess, challenging regional and global security dynamics.

Hence, I agree with Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen.] Joe Dunford who has said recently that we must view these threats in the context of trans-regional, multi-domain and multi-functional. In other words, we can’t look at future conflicts as being contained within the borders or stovepipe domains of specific areas of responsibility.

This requires a comprehensive approach to strategic deterrence, assurance and escalation control in the 21st century.

Now, as a functional combatant command, U.S. Strategic Command has trans-regional responsibility that extends from under the sea all the way up to geosynchronous orbit. While my nine unified command plan-assigned missions may seem distinct and disconnected, when you consider it as a whole they are complementary and synergetic. They include strategic deterrence, space operations, cyber operations, global strike, joint electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, countering weapons of mass destruction, and analysis and targeting.

This synergism allows us to support our nation's security throughout the spectrum of conflict.

Now to those nine mission areas - I have six overarching priorities. At the top is to deter strategic attack against the United States, and to provide assurance to our allies. Also included is providing a safe, secure and effective and ready nuclear deterrent force.

We are a war fighting command and as such my third priority focuses on delivering comprehensive war fighting solutions.

My fourth priority is addressing challenges in space and cyberspace with capability, capacity and resilience.

Despite having those nine mission areas, we can't deter and assure on our own. So, my fifth priority is building, sustaining and supporting partnerships. We work together to synchronize as a military component of our whole government approach with other combatant commands, across the interagency, with our allies and our partners, as well as with industry and academia.

My sixth and final priority is to anticipate change and confront uncertainty with agility and innovation.

These priorities are not stove-piped, but [rather are] linked to contribute to delivering comprehensive approaches.

I hope that you would agree with me that achieving comprehensive deterrence and assurance requires more than just nuclear weapons systems. It rests on a whole of government approach and it includes having a robust intelligence apparatus; space; cyber; conventional; and missile defense capabilities; global command and control and communications; and comprehensive plans that link organizations and knit their capabilities together in a coherent manner.

Foundational to this effort is America's nuclear deterrent - a synthesis of dedicated sensors, assured command and control, a triad of delivery systems, nuclear weapons, enabling infrastructure, trained and ready people, and treaties and nonproliferation activities.

All remain essential to our national security and continue to provide a stabilizing force in the global, geopolitical fabric of the world. Now this also includes tankers to refuel our strategic bombers. They sometimes feel they get a bum deal that they aren’t mentioned a lot because we call it a triad, but they are essential.

I also reemphasize that we must have national and nuclear command-and-control and communications that allow us to move sensed information and to communicate seamlessly from the President down to the war fighter.

We must have an industrial base and infrastructure to support the nuclear deterrent enterprise. The other piece I want to mention, before I get into readiness, is that deterrence is about conducting integrated and combined operations and activities and requires a comprehensive understanding and perception of the strategic environment from an adversary's point of view. It requires foundational intelligence to have a deep understanding of the adversary, much more than the order of battle analysis and approaches.

It's about communicating capability and intent. Whether we are deterring aggression in space, cyberspace or nuclear, and no matter the foe, our actions and capabilities must convince any adversary they cannot escalate their way out of a failed conflict, and that restraint is always a better option. Our adversaries must appreciate that we are not limited to a single domain or axis.

So, how do we ensure that we will continue to deter our adversaries in a world where deterrence depends on the situation and one size never fits all? In a world where, to use a quote by the French strategist Raymond Aron, and sent to me by my good friend a former National University defense instructor and now a professional staffer on the Hill, Dr. Robert Soofer. He says, "there is no deterrent in general or abstract sense; it is the case of knowing who can deter whom, from what, in what circumstances and by what means."

It's about having ready forces that are properly manned, trained and equipped, and perceived as ready.

Now having command of the U.S. Strategic Command now for a little over two years, I am happy to say we've made tremendous progress throughout the nuclear deterrent enterprise from oversight to investment to personnel and training. Make no mistake, U.S. Strategic Command is a ready force capable of delivering comprehensive war fighting solutions for our Commander in Chief.

This is thanks in part to the leaders of the White House, the Congress, as well as the many push-ups done by both the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. Through such forums such as the Nuclear Weapons Council, the Nuclear Deterrent Enterprise Review Group, and various stakeholder meetings, we've made great strides in areas such as force improvement, readiness tracking, and resource commitments.

However, most of our delivery systems and the nuclear command-and-control communications architecture will be extended decades beyond their original expected service life, and must be replaced in that 2025 to 2030 timeframe.

Our intercontinental ballistic missiles, our B-52 bombers, and Ohio-class submarines were designed and fielded in the 60s and 70s and the 80s.

By comparison, and you might be surprised that as a four star my wife and I drive a vehicle that's 13 years mature - old by automobile standards. But it would be in what we would call a “spring chicken” category by our nuclear deterrent delivery system standards.

She's still reliable, my car is that is, in particular I get to this next part - that my car requires more maintenance to keep her that way. In fact, in my car’s relatively short lifespan, there have already been nine recalls, seven defect investigations, and a few major repairs.

Now needless to say, like our nuclear deterrent systems, my car has an impeccable maintenance record. In fact, I drive my bride nuts because no matter how busy we are, we never miss a scheduled service.

Imagine the maintenance logs of our B-52 bombers after 60 years, the intercontinental ballistic missiles after more than 45 years, and the Ohio-class submarine after 30 years. The difference in maintaining these critical weapon systems and platforms and modern automobiles is that the automobile industry, in general, is not structured to maintain our vehicles for as long as we have maintained our nuclear triad and its associated weapons and infrastructure.

Today, the extended service of our nuclear deterrent platforms is testimony to the efforts and ingenuity of our predecessors - especially the designers, the engineers, and the maintainers.
One thing though was certain, the upkeep of our nuclear delivery platforms increasingly challenges our airmen, our sailors, our maintenance personnel to meet my operational availability requirements.
For now, I will continue to sustain that 2003 vehicle which has been so wonderfully reliable, although in truth I didn't realize there was these nine recalls --perhaps it is not as impeccably designed as I thought.

But, clearly this vehicle does not have to operate under the challenging conditions in the environment that our strategic deterrent force has to. And even still, eventually I’ll have to replace that car.

While that may be a vastly oversimplified comparison, there are marked similarities in the way we must think about how we invest in our nuclear deterrent.

Whether it's:

  • our responsiveness and dispersed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles promoting stability,
  • our ballistic missile submarines providing survivable deterrent capabilities from the depths of the ocean, or
  • our dual-capable B-2 and B-52 bombers demonstrating deterrence and assurance, no more noticeably than that recent B-52 flight over South Korea signaling resolve and demonstrating United States ironclad commitment to our allies in the Pacific
  • or the ability to provide assured communication from the President down to the war fighter,
  • or a stockpile in its infrastructure that is the oldest it has ever been, and much like the rest of us, will only continue to age.

We are fast approaching the point where we will put at risk our safe, secure, effective and ready nuclear deterrent, potentially jeopardizing strategic stability. We must not let our deterrence capabilities be determined by failure to sustain and modernize our forces.

This is critical in the global security environment, where it is clear that for the foreseeable future other nations are placing high priority on developing, sustaining and modernizing their nuclear deterrent forces.

The ground-based strategic deterrent must replace our Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system, and ensure an adversary cannot launch a comprehensive counterforce attack on the United States by striking only a few targets.

The Ohio replacement program is necessary to provide maximum survivability.

The long-range strike bomber must provide the flexibility, visibility and ability to forward deploy in support of our extended deterrence commitments to our allies.

Now while each leg of the triad provides a hedge against technical problems or changes in the security environment, the triad must have effective weapons. The B61-12 is needed to continue enhancing the credibility of our security commitments to our allies, and will replace four of its current variants. The long-range strike option, cruise missile, must preserve existing military capability in the face of evolving threats.

As such, we must stay on track with our 3+2 warhead strategy which defines the path forward for synchronizing required delivery platforms and weapon sustainment and modernization programs, and provides an opportunity to reduce the weapons stockpile consistent with our nonproliferation goals.

Delaying development and fielding any of these programs would unacceptably increase risk to our nation's strategic deterrent capability. Equally, if not more important, delaying would directly affect our credibility and ability to deter and assure.

We are out of time, sustainment is a must, recapitalization is a requirement.

I know you are well aware of our current resource environment. While many talk about sustaining and modernizing our nuclear enterprise in terms cost, which is important in this fiscal environment, it is imperative that we expand the conversation to seriously consider the value derived from investment over the long term. Our budget has a deterrent value 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.
Our choice is not between keeping the current forces or replacing them. Rather the choice is between replacing those forces or risk not having them at all.

As a nation, we need continued investment in our nuclear deterrent forces, foundational intelligence, nuclear command and control communications, space, cyberspace, missile defense and personnel development programs.

Without timely investment, we risk degrading the deterring and stabilizing effect of a strong and credible nuclear deterrent force. Similar to how the U.S. analyzes the budgets of other countries, our adversaries pay close attention to we backup our words with resources.

To that end, budget stability is integral to strategic stability.

Now this brings me to my final area, people. In much the same way as we sustain and modernize our platforms and our weapons, we must also sustain and modernize our workforce. We must invest in the future of the professionals, both civilian and military, who operate and maintain, secure, engineer and support our nuclear enterprise.

We need individuals who are willing to develop and stretch their intellect beyond, well beyond, one-dimensional problems. We need “chess players” who can operate in a multi-dimensional environment with multiple activities taking place simultaneously, on a board where they may not fully understand the rules by which our adversaries are playing.

Capturing attention outside our community, however, requires innovation. Some of you have heard our Secretary of Defense talk about building a “force of the future,” that will allow our personnel to gain skills and experiences that they can bring back into the military.

One part is getting them into programs, but the second part is how do we, for example, pique the interest of people like Lt. Col. Demetrius Walters, a fellow here at this center, or Lt. Cmdr. Eric Little, a fellow at the Mitchell Institute, such that they request to follow-on assignment to U.S. Strategic Command. Over to you Demetrius.

And how about our PONI, the Project On Nuclear Issues, that you just heard Dr. Hamre talk about, those scholars? It is great to see Matt Costlow working so closely with Dr. Payne, but are we doing enough to keep those scholars interested in the long-term?

As a command, U.S. Strategic Command is also working in this area. For example, we’ve established an academic alliance program focused on developing a community of interests for deterrence and assurance in the context of national security.

We are now partnered with some 20 universities and military higher education institutes, to include places like Stanford, Georgetown, National Defense University, as well as several of our own local Nebraska universities. You'd be surprised that the intellectual base that I have there in the local community - University of Nebraska at Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Creighton [University] just to name a few.

Tomorrow, we will kick off the third of our 13-week fellowship programs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, aimed specifically at providing professional growth opportunities for my civilian workforce.
In March, the University of Nebraska at Omaha will also host the inaugural deterrence and assurance workshop aimed at bringing some of these professionals together to talk deterrence and assurance topics. They've also managed to secure an alumni, you may recall the former Secretary Chuck Hagel, to speak there.

Recognizing that we must have a deeper understanding of adversary intent and perceptions, we are engaging with the interagency and academic partners in sponsoring a series of what I call a deep dive intellectual sessions to understand this better.

There are many more that I could mention, but the bottom line is this: as a whole are we doing enough to stimulate interest in this nuclear enterprise, deterrence theories, escalation control theories? Does that interest range from high-end academics to educating and informing the men and women who operate, secure and maintain weapon systems and platforms, and 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 - in some cases, unthinkable scenarios, and encouraging them to develop integrated plans during peacetime so that they can continue executing deterrence and thoughtful arms control agreements?

How do we accelerate this understanding and approaches to the multi-domain strategic problems that involve nuclear, counter space and cyber adversary operations, involving multiple actors?

In other words, are we inspiring the next Tom Schelling or Henry Kissinger to address 21st century deterrence, assurance and escalation control issues?

Now, there is no doubt for 70 some years thanks in part to our credible nuclear forces that the United States has deterred great power war against nuclear-capable adversaries. It's impressive to see today's systems working well beyond their expected service life, but of course we can’t rely on that forever.

We must modernize the force including the people to ensure this force remains capable of delivering strategic stability and foundational deterrence well into the future, even as we pursue third offset strategic choices. There are many who voiced concern regarding affordability of the recapitalization programs, but I would argue in this era of explicit and emerging security threats to our nation and its allies, how can we afford not to?

The readiness of our weapons systems in our budget and our workforce is critical to providing this nation a safe, secure, effective, and ready strategic deterrent to provide the President of the United States options should deterrence fail.

Our nuclear deterrent remains a vital and central element of the United States and allied national security. It supports the President's non- proliferation goals and our sustainment and modernization plan is in line with the 2015 National Military Strategy, the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, the 2013 report on nuclear employment strategy, and the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review.

As Secretary of Defense Carter reaffirmed before Congress back in December, nuclear deterrence is "the bedrock of our security, and therefore having an effective, modern, safe, secure nuclear deterrent is absolutely critical."

Thank you for your time, and I will look forward to your questions.