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SPEECH | Oct. 22, 2015

Naval Submarine League 33rd Annual Symposium

As Delivered Remarks, Edited for Clarity

Photos available

Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander: Well, it’s great to be here, and thank you, Admiral Mies for such a warm introduction. It’s sort of neat, [in] so many jobs I’ve had, in which Admiral Mies has been there to provide me sage advice. It’s sort of neat he’s also my chair of the Strategic Advisory Group that supports U.S. Strategic Command, so I can’t thank him enough in terms of things. It’s really an honor to be here today in the company of so many submariners, dedicated professionals, to our silent service, the best Submarine Force in the world.

As a submarine sailor it’s sort of interesting being stationed in the heartland of America many, many miles away from the ocean. It’s about as far as you can get and be in the United States. So it’s great to be a lot closer, about 1,400 miles closer to the ocean, so I feel better already.

I mentioned Admiral Mies and thanked him for introducing me, but also again for a world-class event, just looking at the agenda and knowing the good work that’s going on here at this Submarine League forum. But it’s also great to see the full power lineup of submarine leaders that are also here that have been quite frankly mentors for me throughout my career. Admiral Giambastiani, Admiral Kirk Donald (I don’t see him − there he is), and of course, Admiral Skip Bowman.

It is neat to have that much talent here in the same room. I know they know stories about me, so I hope those are top secret (and they keep a cover on it) so after that great introduction that Admiral Mies provided, you won’t think less of me.

But we all grew up somewhere and we all have to learn and go through training and what have you, and it’s just great, as I say, to have that full power lineup. There are just so many of you here, if I went through the roster of all of you that have touched Cecil Haney, we would be here about three hours, so I won’t do that. But I just want to give a shout out and thank you all, each of you, who have touched me in some way, shape or form throughout my journey.

To the Submarine League, it’s my sincere gratitude to you for both hosting this event, (quite frankly) and also your outstanding publication, THE SUBMARINE REVIEW. I’ve used it throughout my career after I was first introduced to it. And I would really say, those of you that aren’t familiar with it, it’s something I would say is neat to look at for the history and everything else that that periodical provides. If you’re not familiar with it, Google it and get onboard, that would be my comment.

But also, there are lots of spouses out here today and I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out for all the wonderful work you do for the Submarine Force, quite frankly. And Ms. Bonny would kick my butt if I didn’t ask you to stand up and be recognized today.

We all know we can’t get what we get done without your love and support in so many different ways. And finally, I want to salute the submarine veterans. There are many of you out there, but I want to highlight Captain Max Duncan. Where are you, sir?

He conducted patrols there in the famed USS BARB. As most of you know, that crew did some great work. They were sinking more enemy tonnage than any other submarine during World War II, disrupted Japanese shipping routes, and were the first submarine crew to fire a ballistic missile at an adversary target during the war.

It was great listening to Captain Duncan this morning, hearing it firsthand. So I hope many of you have had an opportunity to stop by and listen to his sage wisdom, but particularly about innovation, which we are about, we have always been about, as a Submarine Force. But to hear his incredible stories and not just read about them. So it was my first time meeting with you, thank you, sir, for all you have done and continue to do and the submarine vets you represent.

[This Symposium is honoring two Distinguished Submariners, Vice Admiral Carr and Vice Admiral Nicholson. Your legacies both included tours on the pre-commissioning unit of the USS NAUTILUS and onward to illustrious service within our Submarine Force and Navy,] so a lot of respect for all you have done and the legacy you leave as well.

The theme of this year’s symposium, Accelerating Innovation and Meeting the Undersea Capability and Capacity Challenges of the Future, could not be more relevant. I’m thrilled to be here to offer you some of my perspectives as the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command. It is amazing to consider the pace at which the geopolitical landscape has changed in just the past two years since I took command of U.S. Strategic Command.

I would argue that much of that change has been enabled by how readily available and relevant information has become. Take a look at or search the Internet for submarines, and you’ll see that the silent service isn’t as silent as it once was. I’m not just talking about news and commentary about our submarines and our forces, but also about those other nations, other partners, as well as our potential adversaries.

A few short years ago, although many in this room were thinking and talking about Russia, as a nation we were not. Today, not only has the context shifted considerably, but the sheer amount of air time devoted to news and commentary about Russia today is staggering. Russia is modernizing its nuclear deterrent forces and they’ve been very vocal about it.

Its strategic bombers routinely penetrate the United States and our allied air defense and notification zones. We have coverage on a number of destabilizing actions associated with Syria, Ukraine and Crimea, as well as the Russian violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and other international norms and accords. Russia has also put a number of new classes of submarines to sea.

But it’s not just Russia. China is re-engineering its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple warheads. At the same time, China continues with its aggressive activities in the East and South China Seas.

To say North Korea’s behavior over the past sixty years has been problematic is, of course, an understatement. 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 both road-mobile and submarine-launched ballistic missile technology.

In space, many nations have developed jammers and lasers that can disrupt key operations. Russia and China have recently demonstrated their ability to perform complex maneuvers in space, and both have acknowledged they are developing counter space capabilities. As such, our resiliency in space matters.

Similar to outer space, the cyberspace domain is also facing growing threats from a variety of different actors. Russia is establishing its own cyber command that is responsible for conducting offensive cyber activities. And China also has been extremely busy in cyber, as you know.

Secretary Work recently testified that, “Chinese cyber espionage continues to target a broad range of U.S. interests ranging from national security information to sensitive economic data and intellectual property”. We must be diligent in making our architecture and our operators more resilient, associated with cyber space. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Given that backdrop, though, let me offer a few of my thoughts in three areas associated with how we are addressing these challenges now and into the future. In particular, I will focus on readiness as it relates to hardware, the budget, and our most vital assets, our people. However, before I do that, let me see a show of hands of those of you that have in fact been to the heartland of America and visited U.S. Strategic Command headquarters.

This is an above average crowd.

Most of the time I ask that in settings, I get a few hands. So I will go over and give you an overview with that backdrop of what my priorities are, associated with my missions. U.S. Strategic Command provides an array of global strategic capabilities to our joint forces through nine unified command plan assigned missions. And while each of these missions are unique, when considered as a whole they are complementary and they are also synergetic. These global strategic capabilities under U.S. Strategic Command are what allow us to address, I would say, 21st century deterrence in a very connected and holistic manner.

My six command priorities reflect these missions. At the top is deterring strategic attack against the United States and providing assurance to our allies. This, of course, requires us to have a safe, secure, effective and ready nuclear deterrent force. However, we can’t deter and assure on our own. Building enduring partnerships and relationships with other organizations to confront the broad range of global challenges allows us to work together to synchronize as a military component with our whole of government approach. U.S. Strategic Command has hosted many allies over the past couple of years, but it was also fantastic getting to visit the French and the United Kingdom’s strategic submarine forces earlier this year as part of our commitment to supporting regional and global security objectives.

My fourth and fifth priorities are addressing challenges in space, building cyber space capability and capacity, and last but not least is anticipating change and confronting uncertainty with agility and innovation. That’s why I need you, sir, Captain Duncan, on my staff, given that earlier discussion we had. While my remarks will largely emphasize the first two priorities, understand that our ability to conduct strategic deterrence requires more than just platforms and weapons that comprise our visible triad of intercontinental ballistic missiles, our nuclear-capable B-2 and B-52 bombers and tankers that refuel them, and of course the ballistic missile submarines that I know this audience is well familiar with.

As important as these weapons systems are, they are not enough. To have a safe, secure and effective ready nuclear deterrent, we must also have appropriate intelligence and sensing capabilities to give the indications and warnings of incoming threats. Our submarines, the SSNs and SSGNs play an important role in helping us with some of that.

We must have reliable warheads. And assured national nuclear command and control and communications connect our senior leaders and enable message transmissions from the President all the way down to the Warfighters, regardless of what depth they’re at. A credible missile defense is also a part of that solution. And above all else, our people must be trained and ready to maintain and operate and defend those weapons systems.

Readiness, then, is critical for credible strategic deterrence and assurance. Whether it’s USS WYOMING making its port visit in Faslane, Scotland here recently, or B-52s conducting a 44-hour mission with the Royal Australian Air Force, or yesterday’s successful intercontinental ballistic missile test, all demonstrate our readiness and commitment to deterrence and assurance. Although I will emphasize the hardware and capabilities needed for the submarine ballistic missile force, realize two things:

First, much remains to be done to sustain, recapitalize or replace our strategic deterrent forces, including the triad of delivery vehicles, their associated weapons and the weapons infrastructure, but also the national nuclear command and control and communications networks. Each has unique requirements but all are aging, and we are sustaining most of them years beyond their original service life. All require significant investments.

Second, as we decrease the number of platforms and warheads, as we look at the New START Treaty, the value of our safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent becomes even more important, both in terms of the assurance we provide our allies and partners, and our ability to support nonproliferation efforts. Today, we maintain 14 SSBNs. As the Ohio-class submarines continue to mature, their upkeep increasingly challenges our sailors and maintenance personnel to meet my operational availability requirements.

The Ohio-class will be operating for an unprecedented 42 years, six years longer than USS KAMEHAMEHA, previously our longest operating submarine. Some of you likely have served on her. I saw USS KAMEHAMEHA before she was decommissioned. Even though I wasn’t a crew member I can tell you she required a lot of care and attention. Her extended service, and that of our current fleet, is testimony to the efforts and ingenuity of our predecessors, especially those designers, engineers and maintainers. It also highlights the importance of maintaining those 14 Ohio-class submarines to continue meeting our nation’s strategic deterrent requirements.

So let me talk about the Ohio Replacement Program, which is also supporting the United Kingdom’s Successor SSBN program with a common missile compartment. While I salute the remarkable success of the Virginia-class program, I count on all of you involved in the submarine construction process to not only match that success, but to do better. That’s a hard thing to do, I know, but we need to do it.

To meet my deterrence requirements Ohio Replacement must remain on track for its first deterrent patrol in 2031. It’s on schedule to start the engineering and manufacturing development phase at the end of fiscal year 2016, but there is no margin left to avoid delay in replacing the Ohio-class submarines. Just as our platforms need updating, though, so too do our weapons.

As some of you know, the Trident II D-5 missiles have been serving our Ohio-class submarines for more than 25 years. An aggressive testing program has proven them to be extremely reliable. I salute the SSP team who recently celebrated their 60th birthday. Thanks to all the Navy’s technical upgrades and other life extension efforts, this missile will serve on the Ohio Replacement platform out to about 2042. Similar to the Ohio Replacement, delaying the development and building of this missile replacement will also create risks with our strategic deterrent capability.

Some of our warhead industrial facilities have been around since World War II. In fact, I was just at Savannah River National Lab early this week. The stockpile is the oldest it has ever been. Its average age is 27 years and growing. It is the oldest it has ever been, quite frankly, in the history of this business. The critical infrastructure that supports it requires investment. So I would surmise that overall we’re out of time, sustainment is a must, and recapitalization is a requirement.

I know all of you in here are fairly aware of our budget situation. For the seventh straight year the U.S. has again been operating under a Continuing Resolution, making it difficult for future planning. I agree with Secretary of Defense Carter’s comments that an extended Continuing Resolution or cuts from sequestration would cause us to make, quote, “irresponsible reductions when our choices should be considered carefully and strategically,” end-quote.

Our budget has a deterrent value, I would say, all of its own, and reflects our nation’s commitment to our deterrence strategy. We must have a synchronized campaign of investments supporting the full range of military operations that secure our national security objectives across the globe.

I voiced my support for the fiscal year ’16 president’s budget that’s still being debated. It provides key capabilities for our Department of Defense strategy, including the areas that I lead in nuclear, space and cyber space. But, it leaves no margin to absorb new risks.

To meet the undersea capability and capacity challenges of the future, we must look for innovative solutions from the ground up. We have to repurpose capabilities and put them together in ways we’ve never envisioned before. We also need new solutions, looking at the Virginia-class, including Virginia payload module, sonar solutions and unmanned developments.

We know, as submariners, how to do this. Developing common technology in sub components in particular, with the Replacement Ballistic Missile, can benefit both the Air Force and the Navy, and is just one example of innovation that I’m going to count on in the future to help us cut costs. I challenge each of you to search for more areas where together we can and will make a difference for the future.

This brings me to my final point, education. In much the same way we sustain and modernize our platforms and weapons, we must also sustain and modernize our workforce. Deterrence isn’t easy. It requires a comprehensive understanding and perception of the strategic environment from an adversary’s point of view. It’s about communicating capability and intent, and convincing adversaries that they cannot escalate their way out of failed conflict. Our adversaries must know without a doubt that restraint is a better option.

Our people have to be strategic warriors capable of conducting integrated and combined operations and planning activities. We can’t just look at military doctrine and order of battle to determine how an adversary thinks or what his next action will be. To deter, we must be able to think through the unthinkable scenarios and have a deep, deep understanding of potential adversaries.

As history has shown, we can get strategic prediction wrong. This means having the right people in the right jobs at the right time with the right background and the right education. It means investing in the future of our professionals, both civilian and military, officer and enlisted, who operate, plan, maintain, secure, engineer and support our nuclear enterprise. It means developing the next generations of engineers, physicists, mathematicians, space operators, nuclear weapons, reactors, propulsion experts, and multi-dimensional strategic thinkers. In other words, we must enable and inspire and nurture the next William Raborn or Henry Kissinger.

At U.S. Strategic Command we’ve established an academic alliance program focused on developing a community of interest for deterrence and assurance in the context of national security. We’re now in partnership with some 17 universities and military institutions, and are looking for more to join us. Our scholars program at the National Defense University allows students to tailor their electives to focus on strategic policy and deterrence issues; and, of course, to come out to the heartland of America to visit with us.

The recently implemented Striker Trident exchange program enables Navy and Air Force strategic nuclear officers to gain an expanded view of the nuclear triad, as well as each leg’s respective role in our strategic deterrent mission. Commanders associated with that program have given me glowing reports of how well that’s going. There are a number of other initiatives, but we should always ask, are we doing enough to stimulate interest? Are we preparing our next generation to think about deterrence and escalation control and complex scenarios, scenarios involving conflicts extending simultaneously across multiple domains: nuclear, space and cyber space? Are we learning enough about escalation control in this 21st century?

As I’ve traveled and met with many of our Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and civilians, I know they are eager to learn and eager to be a part of our deterrence equation. This is why it’s so great to see that we have, for example, the junior officer panel that will take place this afternoon. That should be exciting. And I’m also thrilled to know−I think that there are a number of midshipmen here today. I know I saw some. Where are you at? Would you stand up and be recognized?

Thank you for coming. I know I met one of you that had a submarine ambition. I hope all of you do, and I hope the audience here will engage with you in meaningful conversation.

I was thrilled to meet, just recently, the award winners. Having talked to them briefly, I’m confident that our Submarine Force and our country’s future are in great hands. I can’t thank them enough for all they do and what they represent.

For 70 years our credible, safe, secure, effective and ready forces have enabled the world to be without major war between great powers. To ensure strategic stability, our adversaries and potential adversaries must know we are a ready force.

So I ask the following of you, as I wrap up here. One, understand that operational excellence and readiness matters. Your day-to-day professional operations are what I want countries like Russia and North Korea, etcetera, to have on their radar scope. Two, make the most out of our precious resources. Three, recognize the big picture and appreciate all the parts that make up our strategic deterrent. Four, be an active voice, spread the word on why strategic deterrence is important. Five, please take the time to salute and thank our strategic warriors.