Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, U.S. Strategic Command deputy commander: Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Mr. Gosselin for the kind introduction. Gen. Natynczyk, Lt. Gen. Thibault, Honorable Lang, parliamentarians, military personnel, veterans, academics, ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to be here and speak to you today.
It is great to be back in Canada, this time representing Adm. Haney and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and civilians of U.S. Strategic Command. I say “this time,” because I was fortunate to spend two years in Winnipeg as the Deputy Commander of Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Region. Unfortunately, mon francais n’est pas bon.
My time in Canada was certainly interesting. The day I got there, Russia began flying missions close to the Canadian Border. While we’ve seen an increase in the headlines about Russian strategic bombers penetrating U.S. and Allied air defense identification zones, what I particularly remember from 2007 is how the Canadian forces demonstrated their agility of force and flexibility in getting fuel to their fighter aircraft.
U.S. and Canadian cooperation goes back well over a century. It is rooted in common interests. Since 1940, the Permanent Joint Board on Defense has provided policy-level consultation on bilateral defense matters. As World War II ended and the Cold War began, the U.S.-Canadian common interests led to strategic partnerships in NATO and NORAD. This relationship remains fundamental to our shared security and combined solutions to address threats across the global commons.
What a great opportunity to talk about the strategic environment and U.S. Strategic Command’s priorities and how our allies fit into that picture.
The Strategic Environment is complex, dynamic and volatile. The unpredictable security environment is compounded by the proliferation of advance and asymmetric capability, and the increasingly provocative behaviors of both state and non-state actors around the globe, whose behavior on the international stage warrants our attention. As evidence, just take a quick look at today’s headlines about events in places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the same time, we’re guided by the U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s five evolving challenges:
- Two - returns to great power; Russia and
- North Korea;
- And Violent Extremist Organizations
Russia’s new security strategy clearly underpins Moscow’s continued efforts to modernize and emphasize both conventional and strategic military programs; declare and, at times, demonstrate their escalate-to-de-escalate strategy; destabilize actions with Ukraine and Crimea; and violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and other international accords and norms.
Russia has also publicly stated they are developing counter-space capabilities and there is no shortage of news of their malicious activity in cyberspace, specifically their efforts in electronic warfare and spectrum control.
China continues to make significant military investments in their nuclear and conventional capabilities, with the stated goal of defending Chinese sovereignty. For example, China is re-engineering its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple nuclear warheads. It recently tested a hypersonic glide vehicle, continues to pursue prompt global strike capabilities, as well as offensive counter-space technologies, and exploit computer networks. They have also been working on advancing their JIN-class nuclear submarines and have recently reorganized their strategic forces. And finally, much like Russia, China has made great efforts to improve their electronic warfare capability.
Under Kim Jong-Un, North Korea continues to heighten tensions by coupling provocative statements and actions with advancements in strategic capabilities to include developments in road mobile missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missile technologies. They claim to have developed miniaturized warheads and successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. More recently, they demonstrated a multi-stage rocket launch to put a satellite into space.
Even with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we must be vigilant of Iranian actions.
As Canada knows very well, it is not just nation states. Violent extremist organizations have clearly demonstrated through barbaric behaviors they understand no boundaries and lack respect for international norms. Some have expressed desires to acquire weapons of mass destruction. The increasing globalization of space and cyberspace provides opportunities to these terror groups in areas such as their ability to access, use and encrypt communications, and leverage global navigation aids for their benefit.
As the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff has said, we must view threats in the context of transregional, multi-domain and multi-functional. We cannot look at future conflicts as being contained within borders or stove-piped domains inside of specific areas of responsibility. This requires a comprehensive, integrated approach to strategic deterrence assurance and escalation control.
U.S. Strategic Command's missions are transregional; they extend under the sea and to geo-synchronous orbit. Our nine Unified Campaign Plan missions may seem distinct and disconnected, but when seen as a whole, they are complementary and synergistic. Our missions include:
- Strategic Deterrence;
- Cyberspace Operations;
- Global Strike;
- Joint Electronic Warfare;
- Missile Defense;
- Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance ;
- Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction;
- Analysis & Targeting
Having each of these under U.S. Strategic Command is what allows us to address 21st century deterrence in a connected, holistic manner.
With that context in mind, U.S. Strategic Command has six overarching priorities.
First, deterring strategic attack against the United States and providing assurance to our allies. Strategic attack is one that has devastating and catastrophic effect on a population. While most have traditionally defined strategic attack as nuclear, it could also occur conventionally or through space and cyberspace.
U.S. Strategic Command, in conjunction with the other combatant commands and our partners and allies, continues to work hard in this area. Last year, as part of an exercise, our B-52s conducted training in and around the area of Goose Bay, Canada, with Royal Canadian Air Force units. These missions allow bomber crews to receive valuable experience in executing flexible, long-range global strike capabilities while working alongside Canadian and NORAD forces.
Similarly, two of our B-52s flew approximately 26 hours to participate in Trident Juncture, a multi-national exercise and NATO’s largest exercise in 20 years. Canada also participated in this exercise and, as the Honorable Jason Kenney has said, “Canada’s significant participation...ensures both Canada and the Alliance are well positioned to respond to any crisis in a shifting security environment.” Both of these exercises demonstrate the credible and flexible ability of our strategic bomber forces - demonstrating deterrence, assurance and readiness.
Our second priority is to provide the nation with a safe, secure, effective and ready nuclear deterrent force. Strategic deterrence capabilities are sometimes simply described as the platforms and weapons that comprise our visible triad. However, the triad is not enough. We must have intelligence and sensing for indications and warning; National Nuclear Command, Control and Communications; effective weapons and critical infrastructure to service those weapons; tankers to refuel the bombers; credible missile defense; treaties and non-proliferation activities; and trained and ready people.
Some of you may be following U.S. news regarding the need and the cost of sustaining and modernizing nuclear weapons. Let me make just a couple of points. For more than 70 years, thanks in part to nuclear weapons, the U.S. has deterred great power war between nuclear-capable adversaries. It is clear that, for the foreseeable future, other nations are placing high priority on developing, sustaining, and modernizing their nuclear deterrent forces. The U.S. is retaining only what we need under New START - this approach is not what I would call an arms race. Each leg of the triad provides a hedge against technical problems or changes in the security environment.
The weapons are also making news - the B61-12 is needed to continue enhancing the credibility of the security commitments to our allies, including Canada, and will replace four variants; and the Long-Range Standoff missile will preserve existing military capability in the face of evolving threats. The bottom line is, to continue deterring and assuring against nuclear threats, the U.S. cannot afford to delay sustainment and modernization programs.
Delivering comprehensive warfighting solutions is our third priority. To effectively deter, assure and control escalation in today’s security environment, threats must be surveyed across the spectrum of conflict. Escalation may occur at any point, in varying degrees of intensity, with more than one adversary and in multiple domains. This includes “below threshold activities” or those in the “gray zone” that should propel international action. Our actions, to include that with other combatant commands, our allies and partners must convince any adversary that they cannot escalate their way out of a failed conflict and that restraint is always the better choice.
Our fourth priority is to address challenges in space and cyberspace with capability, capacity, and resilience.
We all recognize an evolving and diverse space and cyberspace environment coupled with our growing dependency on these domains. Space is a critical capability to our nuclear deterrent mission. It is part of sensing and warning as well as National Nuclear Command, Control and Communications. Cyber security breaches cost global business more than $300 billion per year. Cyber ought to be a national priority regardless of where you live, regardless of whether you are in the military or in business. There are outsider and insider threats to all of our critical infrastructure.
To maintain access and peace in both space and cyberspace it is imperative that we work with and leverage the contributions of our key allies and partners to increase situational awareness. Allow me to give you a couple of examples where we are working very closely with Canada. We have more than 30 Canadian Armed Forces personnel embedded under our Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC-Space), across the U.S., who are working missile warning in support of NORAD-NORTHCOM, and space surveillance in support of U.S. Strategic Command and the joint forces at large. The Combined Space Operations memorandum of understanding, signed here in Ottawa in September 2014, allows space-related information to be shared between the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and, most recently, New Zealand. This provides nations a better understanding of the current and future space environment as well as strengthens deterrence, enhances resiliency and optimizes resources. Finally, U.S. Strategic Command now has signed Space Situational Awareness agreements with 51 commercial entities representing 18 nations, including Canada. Because of Canada and all of our Space Situational Awareness partners, last year the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) notified more than 620 owners and operators from 245 distinct organizations of close conjunctions. The JSpOC also received confirmation of 152 collision avoidance maneuvers, including the International Space Station.
Canada has been vital in these efforts. For the first time at the JSpOC, a foreign military officer - Canadian Lt. Col. Van Der Laan - was certified as the Chief of Current Operations. This was a significant move in our continued partnership and alliance with Canada.
In terms of cyberspace, our primary focus is building capability and capacity to protect U.S. Department of Defense networks, systems and information. By the end of FY18, we will have more than 6,000 dedicated, cyber professionals with the authority, skills and resources needed to ensure that our combatant commanders and policy makers have a range of options to apply across the spectrum of conflict.
It requires us to work together in collaborative ways. In 2016, U.S. Cyber Command will be focusing on how we can work together with key allies. As Adm. Rogers, the U.S. Cyber Command commander, would say - cyber is foundational to all of us, particularly as we look at norms of behavior and deterrence in cyberspace. So it is great to have Canadian Armed Forces personnel embedded in U.S. Cyber Command, enhancing the military-to-military relationship, providing the Canadian Armed Forces with increased awareness of U.S. cyber efforts and complementing the already strong relationship. Additionally, a Canadian brigadier general serves as the Vice Director for training and exercises.
Along with the challenges we face in space and cyberspace, the challenges we face in the electromagnetic spectrum tie them together. The critical dependence of our weapon systems and sensors on the electromagnetic spectrum, coupled with its congested nature, requires an aggressive approach to ensure our freedom of action. This includes understanding how our forces, allies and our interagency will operate in a contested environment. Just last month, U.S. Strategic Command hosted a table top exercise on the continued development of the electromagnetic spectrum Battle Management System, where Canadian officers - the only allied nation in attendance - provided critical viewpoints on how this system must include allied capabilities.
Building, sustaining and supporting partnerships is our fifth priority. Defeating our adversaries across the spectrum of conflict requires working together, synchronizing efforts across the U.S. whole of government, our interagency and with our allies and partners. Our annual command and control exercise is a perfect example of working closely with NORAD, Canada and other allies to think through scenarios and potential outcomes. Last summer we hosted our annual U.S. Strategic Command Deterrence Symposium, where we explored a broad range of deterrence issues. This event has opened doors for other collaborative engagements including a table top exercise, academic exchanges and the Gen. Larry Welch Deterrence Writing Award. Of course, having a liaison officer, Col. Kevin Bryski, in our headquarters is a critical link on Canadian doctrine, training and organization. He is very passionate about representing Canadian Armed Forces equities to U.S. Strategic Command and Adm. Haney often refers to him as a member of his A-team.
Our sixth and final priority is anticipating change and confronting uncertainty with agility and innovation. If we are to detect and deter strategic attack, we must think about “unthinkable” scenarios. Wargames and exercises are clearly one element but we must also have a deep understanding of our adversaries. Additionally, just as we sustain and modernize platforms and weapons, we must sustain and modernize our workforce. We need “chess players” who can operate in a multi-dimensional environment.
Ultimately, U.S. Strategic Command’s priorities are designed to guide our thinking in meeting mission requirements while minimizing the chance of being surprised. We must be prepared and ready to respond to future conflicts that are likely to be trans-regional, multi-domain, and multi-function.
This requires us to work closely with our whole-of-government, interagency, as well as with our allies and partners. We must get to the point we can have unprecedented sharing, which is especially important because, in today’s interconnected world, the speed of information is greater than the speed of engagement and the speed of narrative. Whatever gets out first has the advantage and it is often hard to change the narrative. Canada has been and continues to be an invaluable ally. From World War I to Korea to today’s challenges, the U.S. and Canada have stood side-by-side. There are many, many more examples of the U.S. and Canada working together that I did not have time to mention, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and countering weapons of mass destruction, just to name a few, where Canada is a critical partner.
There are many common interests between our great nations, and I look forward to enhancing and expanding our partnership with Canada in all domains, especially as we look at “National Security Strategies & the Future of Conflict.”
I know Adm. Haney is very appreciative of the interoperability between the U.S. and Canadian forces, and he asked me to pass on his sincere thanks for your strategic partnership and alliance. As he often says...we can’t do it alone!
Thank you and thank you again for inviting me to speak.