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Haney: Strategic Deterrence More Than a Nuclear Triad

By Cheryl Pellerin, DoD News, Defense Media Activity.

Washington D.C. – (DoD News) – January 15, 2015 – The United States’ strategic deterrent includes a triad of nuclear delivery platforms, but other critical elements range from intelligence and missile defense to space and cyber capabilities and a capable workforce, Navy Adm. Cecil Haney said here today.

Adm. Cecil D. Haney addresses guests at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay in Georgia

The commander of U.S. Strategic Command spoke on strategic deterrence in the 21st century during a discussion moderated by Thom Shanker of the New York Times and hosted by the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

Strategic deterrence includes a robust and agile intelligence apparatus, a synthesis of dedicated space and ground sensors that provide critical early warning for missile launchers and bomber threats, national nuclear command and control and the necessary infrastructure to sustain nuclear weapons without fully testing the warheads, the admiral said.

Other parts of deterrence are a credible missile defense system that defends against limited attacks from rogue nations, cyberspace and space capabilities, trained and ready people, a campaign plan that orients assigned capabilities and activities toward a common purpose, and synchronized treaties, policies and strategies, Haney added.

A Whole-of-Government Approach

“This is not just capability but a whole-of-government approach that requires our attention and the necessary resources,” Haney said, adding that the Nuclear Deterrent Enterprise Review Group recently established by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel provides important support for the nation's deterrence.

Even in an era of significant resource constraints, the nation must get 21st century deterrence right, Haney said, and must make clear to adversaries or potential adversaries that restraint is always the better course.

“It will require us to work together as a team, as partners -- the government, the private sector and academia,” he said, “to shape policy that will have a meaningful impact on our national security.”

Haney recalled President Barack Obama’s 2009 Prague speech, in which Obama publicly stated his goal for a world free of nuclear weapons, and said the new START treaty between the United States and Russia -– formally called Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms -– is an effort to work toward that goal.

Deterrence Can Fail

“The president's 2013 Nuclear Weapons Employment Strategy and strategic documents such as the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review and the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review make it clear that as long as nuclear weapons exist,” Haney said, “the United States must maintain a strong and credible safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent and … be prepared for the possibility that deterrence can fail.”

Of the multiple states around the globe who have nuclear weapons or aspirations of acquiring them, the admiral mentioned Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

Russia has had more than a decade of investments and modernization across its strategic nuclear forces, he said, adding that the U.S. approach to dealing with Russia in this context today is not about continuing the Cold War.

“This is about emerging capability at a time of significant concerns about Russians' execution of their near and abroad strategy,” Haney said, adding that Russia has significant cyber capability.

A Time of Significant Concerns

Russia also has significant cyber capability and Russian leaders have publicly stated that they are developing counter-space capabilities and that Russia’s armed forces have anti-satellite weapons and conduct anti-satellite research.

China also is modernizing its strategic forces, the admiral said, by enhancing silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, conducting the first fleet tests of a new mobile missile and making progress on a successor expected to be another road-mobile ICBM capable of carrying multiple warheads. China is also testing and integrating new ballistic missile submarines, providing that nation with its first sea-based strategic nuclear deterrence, Haney said.

“As I'm sure you're aware,” he told the audience, “they're also developing multidimensional space capabilities supporting their access-denial campaign. But with more than 60 nations operating satellites in space, it's extremely problematic to see China conducting missiles designed to destroy satellites.”

North Korea continues to advance its nuclear ambitions, the admiral added, and Iran has made no secret of its desire to acquire nuclear weapons.

21st Century Deterrence

Haney said, “21st century deterrence must be tailored to specific adversaries and threats, and in an integrated manner, so we can predict what deters and what prevents escalation.”

Haney’s top priority is to deter strategic attack and provide the nation with a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent force, but he’s also interested in international partnerships and promoting innovation for future capabilities.

In the past year he’s had meetings with defense ministers of South Korea, France and Australia, a former Japanese defense minister, the United Kingdom’s vice defense chief, and five partners involved in space-sharing agreements.

In October, he said, “we conducted a command-and-control exercise designed to train our Defense Department forces and access our joint operational readiness across all my mission areas with a specific focus on nuclear readiness.”

Assessing Joint Operational Readiness

Stratcom did this in conjunction with U.S. Northern Command, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and Canadian partners in exercises that included Vigilant Shield, Positive Response and Determined Dragon.

Another of Haney’s high priorities is bolstering Stratcom’s ability to anticipate change and confront uncertainty with agility and innovation.

“Last summer we cut the ribbon at U.S. Strategic Command's War Gaming Center back there at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, to help enable and challenge our thinking with the ability to look at alternative scenarios, some plausible today and some unthinkable tomorrow,” the admiral explained.

“We need to grow innovative leaders, identify new operational concepts and continue to develop cutting-edge technology so we can continue to evolve our ideas on how to deter our adversaries and potential adversaries and, of course, assure our allies.”

Finding Problems, Plucking Them Out

But Haney said the nation would not have a credible strategic deterrent today if it were not for the men and women, military and civilian, “who conduct and contribute to our strategic deterrence mission day in and day out, across all areas. From under the sea to geosynchronous orbit, they are making concrete contributions to our security 24/7, 365 days a year.”

About the much-publicized problems over the past year with some members of the nuclear force, Haney said that when such problems are found, no matter where they are, “we pluck [them] out of our system … and get through some root-cause analysis to figure out what we should be doing associated with that particular problem.”

He added, “When you look at 90 percent of our team, [they] come to work every day to do the right thing, passionate over the mission.”

In any organization, the admiral said, “You have to continue to work on that other percentage of folks … and in this case I'm very happy that we found the problem, eradicated the problem from our system and went to work with this Nuclear Enterprise Review business to work on those problems.”

Charged About the Mission

Haney said he spent 2014 traveling and meeting with all of those involved in the strategic deterrence mission.

“I can say unequivocally that those folks are fired up and charged about the mission,” he said. “I think the rest of us need to support them in how we talk about it and associate it with the plans we have now.”

The admiral added, “I am proud of working with those great Americans.”

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)
Contact Author

Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).