3 November 2016
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2016 — U.S. Strategic Command remains the bedrock of American security, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today during the organization’s change-of-command ceremony at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
Carter officiated as Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney handed the flag to Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten. The secretary praised the men and women of the command for their efforts, and said that funding and resources are on the way to ensure the nuclear mission remains viable.
“America’s nuclear deterrence remains the bedrock of our security, which all of you ensure here at Stratcom,” Carter said. “As you do so, you manage uncertainty, prepare for change, and perform your duties with the unparalleled excellence we expect of you. I couldn’t be prouder of what you’ve accomplished. And you’ve done all this thanks to the wisdom and leadership of Admiral Haney.”
The command supports every DoD mission, in every region and in every domain, Carter said, noting the command is a linchpin to America’s military effort and deterrence around the world.
“You underpin our nuclear deterrence, enable precision-guided munitions and navigation with space capabilities, and experiment with new warfighting strategies in emerging domains to prepare us for whatever the future might bring,” the secretary said.
Carter praised Haney for his level-headed leadership, noting the admiral has ensured a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent force while paving the way to its future, “and by collaborating in new and innovative ways with our intelligence community on space issues.”
Stratcom’s commander also serves as an ambassador in uniform, and Haney has reached out to allies, academia and industry, the secretary said.
It is no secret that in the aftermath of the Cold War, the United States underfunded the nuclear mission, Carter said. “We’re determined to correct that now,” he said.
Carter spoke about the nuclear and space missions the command oversees. The nuclear mission is the highest priority mission in the military, he said.
“That’s because you deter large-scale nuclear attacks against the United States and our allies,” the secretary said.
“You help convince potential adversaries that they can’t escalate their way out of a failed conventional aggression. You assure our allies that our extended deterrence guarantees are credible. And if deterrence fails -- though we hope it never does -- you provide the president with options to achieve American and allied objectives -- all to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons ever being used in the first place.”
This means, Carter said, that the nation must recapitalize the nuclear triad and all the capabilities that make it run. “We must continue to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent,” he said.
That process has started, Carter said. “We’re beginning to correct for decades of underinvestment in nuclear deterrence -- dating back to the end of the Cold War, when the United States believed it would be safe to allow funding for the nuclear enterprise to drop, and it dropped dramatically,” he said.
The recapitalization is about sustaining deterrence in a world very different from the Cold War. “From ballistic missile submarines to ICBMs, from bombers to air-launched cruise missiles, we’re replacing many aging nuclear weapons delivery systems because if we don’t, we’ll lose them, which would mean losing confidence in our ability to deter -- something we can never afford,” the secretary said.
The U.S. military is investing in long-range standoff weapons, replacing nuclear air-launched cruise missiles, the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement program, and the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program, Carter said. The recapitalization program, he added, includes investments in nuclear command-and-control, communications, and intelligence capabilities.
“As many of you know, that includes satellites, radar systems, ground stations, command posts, control nodes, communications links, and more -- which are critical to assuring nuclear command and control, and providing us with integrated tactical warning and attack assessment,” Carter said.
The department is also investing in the people who make the nuclear enterprise run, the secretary said.
Nuclear deterrence relies on maintaining capabilities in space, Carter said. He praised Hyten for the expertise he brings to the job from being commander of Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “The truth is, space is woven into every aspect of our military operations -- conventional and nuclear alike,” Carter said. “That’s why we’re making sure -- and making it known -- that our space capabilities are as resilient and assured as our nuclear capabilities.”
The secretary closed saying he knows Stratcom has faced tough times, but Haney has left it in better shape than he found it, and he expects Hyten will do the same.