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SPEECH | Oct. 22, 2015

Defense Writers Group Opening Statement

(As prepared)

Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander: Well good morning, and thanks for inviting me, for this particular opportunity. I want to thank each of you for what you do, your interests and your coverage of defense. I think that""s important for our country.

As I hope you know, detecting and deterring strategic attack against the United States of America and assuring our allies is a top priority for me as the U.S. Strategic Command commander.

Maintaining strategic stability is of course multi-faceted and a complex challenge requiring a whole-of-government type response.

Simply stated, strategic deterrence is about communicating capability and intent.

At the end of the day, our actions must convince any adversary that they cannot escalate their way out of a failed conflict, and that restraint is a better option.

I appreciate the opportunity to give you a few of my thoughts.

First, I want you to know that from my perspective, our strategic deterrence capabilities are foundational to our national security.

Deterrence is more than just the triad of ballistic missile submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and bombers, as well as the refueling tankers that are part of it. But to have a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent, we need appropriate intelligence and sensing capabilities to give the indications and warning of incoming threats. We must have assured national and nuclear command and control and communications to enable the President to communicate all the way down to the warfighters, if required. We must have reliable warheads and a credible missile defense. And underpinning these capabilities is the critical infrastructure.

Above all else, our people must be trained and ready to maintain, operate, and defend those weapons systems.

So why do we need a strategic deterrent?

Some equate U.S. Strategic Command""s strategic deterrence capability as simply holding on to the legacy of the Cold War. Let me be clear. This is not about the Cold War. The Cold War is over. This is about addressing a global strategic and security environment that is more diverse and uncertain than at any time in our history.

Nation states are developing and modernizing their nuclear capabilities. Weapons and platforms are becoming more mobile, hardened and are going underground. Some nation states are developing and exercising counter-space capabilities, including the ability to perform on-orbit complex and unscheduled maneuvers. There is no shortage of headlines, of course, regarding malicious cyber activity.

Perhaps more concerning is the effect of our adversaries"" rhetoric and misinformation tactics. Think about the implications of those perceptions.

The credibility of our forces exists through their observed readiness. To effectively deter and assure, others must perceive and recognize that we are a ready force.

Whether it""s B-52s conducting a 44-hour mission with the Royal Australian Air Force, or the SSBN "" the ballistic missile submarine "" USS Wyoming making a port call to Faslane, Scotland, or yesterday""s successful intercontinental ballistic missile weapons test "" all demonstrate our readiness and commitment to deterrence and assurance.

However, our nuclear weapons, their associated infrastructure, and their delivery platforms have been sustained far longer than originally planned. While we are moving in the right direction, much remains to be done to recapitalize and replace our aging systems. Each has unique requirements and all require significant investment.

While these nuclear capabilities reinforce today""s deterrence strategy, activities in space and cyberspace can also have a strategic effect. Readiness, then, also includes ensuring resilience of our space and cyberspace capabilities.

Now our budget has a deterrent value all of its own and reflects our nation""s commitment to our deterrence strategy. On many occasions I""ve voiced my support for the President""s budget for 2016. It provides key capabilities in the Department of Defense strategy, including nuclear, space and cyber, but it leaves no margin to absorb new risk. As a nation, we simply cannot afford to underfund our strategic capabilities.

However, for the seventh straight year, the United States is again operating under a continuing resolution, making it difficult to plan for the future.

Budget stability is integral to strategic stability.

My final point is about our Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and civilians that I have the honor to lead.

As I travelled to such areas as Thule, Greenland; Clear, Alaska; Minot, North Dakota; Kings Bay, Georgia; and many other places across the United States and around the world, I can tell you our people are dedicated and passionate strategic warriors. We owe them the resources required to remain ready to fulfill meeting our nation""s current and future challenges. Before I take your questions though, I again want to thank you for informing the public about our missions.