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"Each leg brings a unique capability," USSTRATCOM commander shares viewpoints, priorities

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Christen Ornella
  • 20th Air Force Public Affairs
F.E. Warren Air Force Base had a unique opportunity to host Adm. Cecil Haney, commander, U.S. Strategic Command, for the second time this month.

Haney visited Warren at the beginning of December to meet with Airmen on duty, hear their thoughts and concerns and provide insight from a senior leader's strategic perspective. The purpose for his second visit was to continue that dialogue and deliver remarks at a ceremony where Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein assumed command of the 20th Air Force and Task Force 214.

USSTRATCOM relies on various task forces for the execution of its global missions, including space operations, information operations, missile defense, global command and control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); global strike and strategic deterrence, and combating weapons of mass destruction. TF 214 and 20th Air Force supports USSTRATCOM's deterrence missions by operating and maintaining the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missile force to deter regional and strategic threats from adversaries with long-range missile warfare capabilities.

Before the ceremony began, Haney sat down to share his viewpoints and priorities.

Q: You recently assumed command of USSTRATCOM. Tell me about your priorities.
A: My priorities are aligned with our Unified Command Plan responsibilities. First and foremost, my number one priority is to deter strategic attack against the United States, ensuring we have the requisite strategic nuclear capability that is safe, secure and effective. Also, it is important to partner with fellow combatant commanders in their commands such that we can have a synchronized approach to address issues across the globe in a combined fashion, synchronizing our planning together and our capabilities. Of course, addressing the challenges in space and building up our cyber capabilities are also top priorities. Finally, dealing with uncertainty is key. When you look at the world we live in, much too frequently we are surprised one way or the other, and how we get in front of it where we can and be ready for surprise when it happens.

Q: What is your take on the nuclear triad and how do the three components fit together to most effectively defend our nation?
A: The nuclear triad provides that unique capability for us to address the strategic nature of the world and to deter and assure threats now and into the future. The ICBM capability that we have, such as right here at F.E. Warren, is what TF 214 and 20th Air Force is all about. The ICBM capability provides the responsiveness because it is connected on a continuous basis through our command and control apparatus. Looking at the sea base, the survivable leg is executed by those ballistic missile submarines day in and day out. The flexibility and adaptability of our bomber leg is also the leg that can show when required or resolved in terms of its role in strategic deterrence.

Q: There has been much talk about doing away with a leg of the nuclear triad or maybe a squadron or wing. In your opinion, what is the most effective way to reduce the nuclear force to help meet the fiscal demands?
A: There has also been a lot of talk of the importance of maintaining the triad, and I don't want that to be lost. That was anchored in the Nuclear Posture Review in 2010. When you look at where our leadership statements have been made-- the President, the Secretary of Defense and others. The value of the triad has been articulated over and over. The desire and goal to reduce nuclear weapons across the globe has also been articulated, and I don't want that lost in the conversation as we look at the different legs we have. Right now we are working toward the New START Treaty guidelines and working its implementation in a very thoughtful and deliberate process. As we look at our nuclear weapons at large, any further reductions will require negotiations and a deliberate approach such that it can be done in a thoughtful manner because at the same time, we have other nations that are very involved in modernizing their capability. We have reduced significantly in numbers when you look at the 1960-1970 period to what we have today. I'm proud of the work that has gone on before me in establishing this New START Treaty. Then coupled with that, the work that must go on to ensure we have a safe, secure and effective force through our own modernization efforts is critical.

Q: Can you elaborate on resiliency and why it's important to you?
A: When you look at the ability to carry out the missions of U.S. Strategic Command and what we are responsible for, it takes the workforce of both our men and women in uniform and those in civilian clothes to really make the business happen. I am very excited about the talent that I have. I don't take that talent for granted. It's very important and mission readiness essential that we pay attention to our workforce and work with them for personal, individual resiliency, which ultimately results in team resiliency. That's the business of, in fact, understanding the individuals that work for us and providing the mechanisms and means in which they can be fully supported.

Q: One of your top mission priorities is to deter nuclear attack with a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent force. How do you as the commander lead USSTRATCOM to meet this goal?
A: My role here in leading a large outfit of very diverse, interconnected missions is through the leaders that I have, working to ensure they understand my vision and guidelines and working with them and through them to ensure that our unique workforce fully understands the direction we need to go, the importance and significance of this mission for our country. At the same time, I am making sure I advocate for the necessary support and resources that cover the span of those mission areas, including manning, training, equipping and exercising the forces so that we can have that safe, secure and effective deterrent.

Q: Is there anything you would like to share with today's nuclear force?
A: As we approach the end of 2013, I thank them for all the work they have done for our nation at large and for our joint military forces. I wish them all a very merry Christmas and happy holidays, a great New Year and nothing but safe travels and a relaxing time during this holiday period. I can't thank them enough for what they do day in and day out for this significant role we play for our United States and for our national security apparatus.