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Landon Lecture Series on Public Issues

The Landon Lecture Series
Kansas State University
Office of the President
Attn: Grant Hill

110 Anderson Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506


Navy Adm. Cecil Haney, Outgoing commander of the U.S. Strategic Command

Landon Lecture
Oct. 21, 2016

Good morning. Thank you, Gen. Dick Myers, for having me here and for your leadership here at Kansas State University, and also for that kind introduction.

Well, it's an honor to be here and introduced by an individual who's a truly remarkable leader and, as a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led us through the beginning stages of the global war on terror and tirelessly advocated for transformation of the military and support for military personnel and their families. So I would like a round of applause for Gen. Myers.

You know he's worked here, and I'm sure he's put a lot of passion and commitment to this university, but I was really thankful he came by the U.S. Strategic Command and was part of an ethics panel that we had there not that long ago. It's another one of my favorite subjects: the business of integrity and ethics, which I think is so important to the business. I'll also say that he is the only person that I've met that is a more avid Kansas State University supporter than one other person I know, and that's my executive assistant back there at U.S. Strategic Command, a Miss Valerie Meyer — not related but also a Kansas State graduate. She studied biology here, and she has been there much longer than my two tours. She has been in that front office of U.S. Strategic Command for about six different commanders. I couldn't bring her here with me because she's too darned important, and I needed to leave her there.

Well, I can thank also all the leaders who are here from a variety of different places, both working in academia as well as people like Dennis Mullen, Kansas Board of Regents and chairman of Steel and Pipe Supply, and of course, as was mentioned, Brig. Gen. Patrick Frank. Thank you for your leadership.

As I flew in this morning, I looked at the beautiful Flint Hills surrounding this campus, and I was reminded of when I first told my lovely bride, Miss Bonnie, that we were going to be stationed near Omaha at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. She asked me quickly, you know, what had I done wrong to be stationed so far away from the water. Well, after two tours in that Greater Omaha region, first as a deputy and subsequently as the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, I will tell you that my family has truly enjoyed our time there. And quite frankly we're a bit lamenting our plight because I will have a change of command on the third of November, and we will leave Nebraska to head back to home to the Washington, D.C., area. It's because we've met so many wonderful, patriotic friends and people there in that region and, quite frankly, you can really see the heart of the heartland of America through folks like yourselves that live here.

So I'll have to report back to Miss Bonnie that here in Manhattan I found a sea of purple as I can see here on the first row. I also saw the magnificent Bill Snyder Family Stadium and know many here are excited about tomorrow's homecoming game against the University of Texas Longhorns. So good luck in that endeavor. I hope there's a lot of strategic thinking and good associated execution of that planning to make homecoming an enjoyable event.

It is truly a pleasure to be here with you and as part of this prestigious lecture series — now in its 50th year — and to share with you some of my thoughts on strategic deterrence in the 21st century. Today's complex and multifaceted security environment involves nation-state and non-state actors that are challenging well-respected international norms and our democratic principles, given that our current and future leaders must be able to rapidly connect to and digest traditional and nontraditional reams of information integrated into historical and cultural models to stimulate critical thinking necessary to create timely operational and strategic options for national security decision-makers. They must have the capacity to understand advanced adversary perceptions and apply the knowledge to developing comprehensive strategies and plans, and with an ultimate goal of increasing decision space for our national senior leaders.

As such, I want to cover three things today regarding deterrence in the 21st century. First, our challenges; second, how we at U.S. Strategic Command are addressing these challenges; and three, where we need to work together to continue to address them — and you are part of that we.

Every day we see headlines pointing to our nation's efforts supporting coalitions in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots around the globe. As commander of the U.S. Strategic Command I am concerned about all of these. But I'm particularly focused on five evolving challenges. Sometimes we call it four plus one: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and violent extremist organizations. Today we, including 500 soldiers from the nation's 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, are part of an international campaign against violent extremist organizations and terror groups that are recruiting and operating across political, social and cyberspace boundaries, seeking to destroy our democratic way of life. Given what we have witnessed in this past year in places like Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels and Orlando, we must succeed in this campaign.

Now by virtue of the size of its nuclear arsenal, Russia poses an existential threat to the United States. They continue to modernize even though Russia faces some challenging economic sanctions. At the same time, Russia is building conventional military forces, investing in nuclear weapons — including those with tactical ranges — and is pursuing hyper glide vehicle technology.

With the current news of Russia penetrating via cyberspace our political mechanisms, Russia continues to engage in destabilizing actions in Syria, in Ukraine, developing counter-space and cyberspace capabilities and conducting activities below the threshold of the international community's alarm, all the while declaring and recklessly expressing its willingness to escalate if required. Having said that, Russia must understand it would be a serious miscalculation to consider nuclear escalation as a viable option. Russia will not achieve the benefits it seeks.

Moving on to the Asian Pacific: China continues attempts to advance claims over disputed areas, conducting unsafe intercepts in the South and East China seas. It continues to invest aggressively in its military, particularly in capabilities both conventional and nuclear that allow China to project power and deny access to others. Emphasized by its recent deployment of long-range surface-to-air missiles to the Paracel Islands, China is busy reorganizing its forces, having learned valuable lessons from watching the United States and our coalition partners, and is working to enhance their capabilities, particularly their strategic support forces. They are also pursuing conventional prompt global strike capabilities, offensive counter-space technologies, while exploiting computer networks.

China has the world's largest and most comprehensive missile force and has prioritized the development and deployment of regional ballistic and cruise missiles to expand its conventional strike capabilities against the United States' forces and bases throughout the region. They continue to field an anti-ship ballistic missile that provides it some capability to attack maritime capability in the Western Pacific Ocean, such as our aircraft carriers. Additionally, cyber operations from China are still targeting and exploiting U.S. government, defense industry, academia, and private computer networks. As the director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper, testified in March of this year and he said, "China continues cyber espionage against the United States. Whether China's commitment of last September moderates its economic espionage remains to be seen." China continues to employ a combination of government personnel, contractors, and loosely affiliated and ideologically aligned hackers augmenting their capabilities and challenging our ability to attribute malicious cyberactivity. These activities coupled with China's lack of transparency raise questions about its aspirations in the long run. 

Moving on to North Korea. Now I notice Dennis Rodman hasn't been connected to Kim Jong-Un recently. I'm not sure what's going on with that relationship. But North Korea's coercive, irresponsible rhetoric and actions undermine regional stability. Though North Korea is not yet an existential threat to the United States, it remains the most dangerous and unpredictable actor in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. Un's evolving nuclear weapons and ballistic programs and provocative behavior underscore the growing threat. North Korea continues to conduct nuclear test activities of grave concern to not just the United States but also the international community at large. Kim Jong Un and his regime have conducted an unprecedented two nuclear tests this year — conducting a total of five tests — and with the last month's assessed to be the largest one yet, violating international norms. Despite sanctions and the horrible conditions, Kim Jong Un's population lives in, North Korea continues to expand its stockpile of weapons-grade fissile material and is developing a submarine launch ballistic missile capability. They also continue in their quest for a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the United States and its allies and partners, as well as launching satellites into space using ballistic missile technology. These developments highlight North Korea's commitment to diversifying its missile forces and nuclear delivery options at all costs. Just as other adversaries have gone underground and rely on mobile capabilities, North Korea has an arsenal of mobile missiles, even a submarine, and uses its diverse topography to conceal its capabilities as well as its intentions. North Korea's willingness to ignore the plight of the people yet undertake provocative actions against Seoul, poses a serious threat to the region's stability and demands the international community's attention. As with Russia, North Korea must understand it cannot escalate its way to victory and the United States will take actions to assure our allies in the region.

Moving on to Iran: Their continued involvement in the Middle East conflicts and development of ballistic missile programs and cyberspace capability also requires our attention. Iran's current ballistic missiles are capable of striking targets throughout the region, ranging as far as Southeastern Europe, and they are likely to continue developing more sophisticated missiles with improved accuracy, range, and lethality. This past March the U.S. Department of Justice charged hackers associated with the Iranian government with taking concerted efforts to target U.S. infrastructure with distributed denial of service attacks against U.S. banks, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps internet, and a dam in New York. Iranian efforts in the cyberspace domain continue to evolve. While it appears to be following the mandates of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we will need to continue to watch Iran closely and remain vigilant for any shifts by Iran to depart from this agreement and develop a breakout nuclear capability.

As we look in the rearview mirror over the last year and extrapolate into the future, our global security environment remains dynamic and uncertain. Some nation states are developing and modernizing their nuclear weapons capabilities.

Nuclear and non-nuclear nation states aspire to have or have demonstrated their ability to employ not just a variety of missile capabilities but also cyber, counter space and other asymmetric capabilities. We're also seeing our competitors and adversaries becoming increasingly more mobile, hardened and underground. Other trends include advanced missile capabilities and use of surrogates to avoid direct attribution, some striving to avoid that threshold of international intolerance levels. Similarly, we can expect an increase in the number of nations that may wish to deny the peaceful use of space. Adversaries and potential adversaries are developing — and in some cases demonstrating — disruptive and destructive counter-space capabilities. They are exploiting what they perceive as our space vulnerabilities, threatening the vital national, civil, scientific and economic benefits to the United States and the global communities.

Each of these trends creates significant uncertainty, and altogether they require constant collaboration with our allies and our partners to monitor, prepare, counter and defeat. The reality is that the strategic environment I've described is more complex. It's like a multiplayer chess game. Today we must view today's threats in the context of the trans-regional, multi-domain and multifunctional. In other words, the complexity of securing our nation's peace is not contained within borders or stovepipe domains of specific areas of responsibility.

So you might ask given all that, what are we doing about it? Some question whether deterrence is still relevant in today's world. I assure you, it is. Our strategic capabilities are used every day to maintain strategic stability.

Now strategic deterrence is a complex subject that is foundational to global security. It depends on the situation — and one size never fits all. It is founded in the understanding that no adversary can escalate their way out of a failed conflict, no adversary will gain the benefits they seek, and restraint is a better option. And, if necessary, we will respond in the time, and place and domain of our choosing. Any nation that thinks it can get away with a strategic attack on the United States of America or our allies must think carefully about its actions and potential consequences.

Now a strategic attack is one that has devastating or catastrophic effects on our population. I think we can all understand the impact of a nuclear weapon and what effect it would have. But it's also important to understand that an attack in space — given our dependencies across the board — or cyberspace can have a strategic attack effect.

Given all of these complexities and the interconnectedness of globalization, these strategic problems have global ramifications that require comprehensive solution. So as a functional or global combat and command, U.S. Strategic Command has trans-regional responsibility that extends from under the sea all the way to geosynchronous orbit. While my nine assigned Unified Command Plan missions include space operations, strategic deterrence and assurance, cyberspace operations, global strike, analysis and targeting, integrated missile defense, joint electronic welfare, combatting weapons of mass destruction, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Now these all may seem distinct and disconnected, but when considered as a whole they are complementary and also synergetic. And each mission under U.S. Strategic Command is what allows us to address 21st-century deterrence in a comprehensive and an integrated manner. U.S. Strategic Command capabilities underpin the foundational elements of deterrence, affording the United States the ability to maintain strategic stability, a must in this dynamic and uncertain security environment, and particularly as we address prickly areas associated with our national security.

U.S. Strategic Command is a war-fighting command and as such we focus on delivering comprehensive war-fighting solutions to other combatant commands. We work to understand deterrence mechanisms and to gain a deeper understanding of our adversaries or potential adversaries. We provide the nation with a safe, secure, effective and ready strategic nuclear deterrent force that is ready. We engage with the interagency and fellow combatant commands to facilitate resiliency in space and cyberspace, increasing deterrence. And in synchronizing these military efforts with other elements of what we call the DIME: diplomacy, informational, military and economic levers of power. And we are also investing to sustain and modernize the associated capabilities.

Now some might think that our nuclear deterrent force is only about the triad of platforms: intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines, and nuclear-capable bombers. And while these capabilities are necessary, our deterrence is much, much more than just nuclear weapons and platforms. It includes and requires a robust intelligence apparatus, a space-sensing capability that provides indications and warning, along with land-based radars, national and nuclear command and control and communications, missile defense capabilities for rogue nations such as North Korea, conventional capabilities, verifiable treaties and comprehensive plans that link organizations in a coherent manner.

Each of these depends on successful operations in the space and cyberspace domains. In order to ensure strategic stability, we must be able to quickly fuse together intelligence and sensitive information, ascertain if it's an attack on the United States of America or an attack on one of our allies, a missile launch in a war zone, or an expected developmental test. And when required, we must move this information all the way up to the president of the United States when required to maximize his decision space. The communications mechanisms must be survivable and they must be enduring to ensure this assessment is not delayed and, again, to maximize senior decision-makers' space. Also to connect all of our operational commands together in a seamless fashion.

So it's interesting when we think back to the early 1990s and how we thought about space. Anyone who as read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," which I'm sure is on this campus reading list, you might recall the description that, "Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggling big it is." Today, though, this characterization of space seems to be amiss. The truth is in relative terms: Earth-centric space is quite small. Once thought of as a sanctuary, space is more congested, contested and competitive than ever, and it's becoming increasingly vulnerable. Today there are more than 60 nations operating in space and we can only expect that number to continue to grow. Similarly, we can expect the number of nations who may wish to deny the peaceful use of space to also increase.

I hope you get the picture of the interdependencies between space, cyberspace, missile defense and our nuclear deterrent forces in ensuring strategic stability from a military standpoint. Out deterrent forces stand at the ready and are critical in a global security environment where it is clear that other nations are placing a high priority on developing, sustaining, modernizing and, in some cases, expanding their nuclear forces. Our readiness and modernization efforts are key to ensuring current and future strategic stability for addressing a range of crisis we anticipate and those we do not.

Some in this audience maybe aware that while we're making progress, our delivery systems and our national nuclear command and control architecture is maturing. They have already been or will be extended decades beyond their original service life and all must be replaced in that 2025 to 2035 time frame because we've delayed their replacements. For example, our intercontinental ballistic missiles, our B-52 bombers and our Ohio class submarines that are off doing the deterrence mission today, well, they were fielded back in the '60s, the '70s and the '80s. By comparison now — and you might be surprised that me, as a four-star — I drive a vehicle that is 13 years mature, or old, by automobile standards today, but in my opinion, it's a real spring chicken by our nuclear deterrence delivery systems standards.

Now the car is still reliable. But it requires a little bit more maintenance to keep it that way. So needless to say — like our nuclear deterrence systems — my car has to have an impeccable maintenance record. Today that extended service of our delivery platforms is testimony to the efforts and ingenuity of our predecessors, particularly those designers, engineers and maintainers in industry. But we are fast approaching the point where we have an effective nuclear deterrent force that can be at risk. To be clear, however, baseline sustainment won't meet the future adversarial threats. We simply must modernize the development and fielding of our current modernization programs. Everything from space sensing, communications platforms, life extensions of our warheads, or ceasing to invest in the people who engineer and maintain and operate these systems will create an unacceptable increase in risks.

Equally, if not more importantly, delaying will directly affect our credibility and ability to deter and assure. And that can detract from our nonproliferation efforts. Usually when I get to this point in the speech I typically get the question, "Hey Commander, can we afford this investment?" And I generally reply, "Given the security environment and associated trends, and the importance of strategic stability, can we afford not to?"

Today, maintaining our strategic nuclear capability costs about 3 percent of our total defense obligation authority. In the '20s to '30s, as we began recapitalization in earnest, that figure grows up to about 6 to 7 percent. Now that's a modest price to pay for a deterrent capability against countries like Russia and others. I encourage our next administration to continue to support our current efforts. It reflects our nation's commitment to our deterrence strategy. If we are to meet future challenges, we must have a synchronized campaign of investments supporting a full range of military capabilities that secure our national security objectives. So, while I was pleased with the president's proposed budget for fiscal year 2017, I'm not pleased with the fact that we do not have an approved budget and continue to live with this thing we call continuous resolutions.

As we look at having a credible strategic deterrence capability, understand that we at U.S. Strategic Command don't do this alone. I fundamentally believe we must have a holistic approach that integrates military effects with all of our instruments of national power. This requires a synchronization of what we call the DIME, as we explained earlier: diplomacy, informational, military and economic levers, which together deter our adversaries and assure our allies and partners.

The military piece, of course, I'm a part of. In other words, we must pursue a proactive, whole-of-government approach to deterring that includes our allies and partners in our efforts with ready efforts in all domains. Otherwise, we're just playing defense — and it's not just about defense. We must have offensive capabilities. And I'm sure tomorrow — and probably Bill Snyder's thinking about it now — that the best defense sometimes can have a hole in it and it can't win the game by itself. So as commander of U.S. Strategic Command, I have six priorities. The first is to deter strategic attack against the United States and providing assurance to our allies. The second is to provide the nation with a safe, secure, effective and ready strategic nuclear deterrent force. And third is to deliver comprehensive war-fighting solutions. Fourth is to address the challenges in space and cyberspace with capability, capacity and resilience. And my final two priorities are building, sustaining and supporting partnerships, and anticipating change and confronting uncertainty with agility and innovation.

Now I want to focus one of these two for the remainder of my time here because it's where I think we can work together to address the challenges I've laid out earlier.

Deterring in today's multipolar world requires us to view threats across the spectrum of conflict where escalation may occur by more than one adversary and can be trans-regional and multi-domain. Given all of these complexities and the interconnectedness of globalization, these strategic problems have global ramifications that, as I mentioned before, require comprehensive solutions. If an unforeseeable event occurs and deterrence fails, we must be able to provide relevant options to de-escalate the conflict in our favor. That requires us to have a deep, deep, deep understanding of our adversaries and potential adversaries and know the range of strategic threats that each pose. We need to know how they think and how they perceive our actions and our messages so that we can better anticipate and address developing situations. At U.S. Strategic Command, we aim to work seamlessly then with the other combatant commands across our federal government, with allies and partners, with the commercial sector and with academia to apply the scope of the U.S. Strategic Command portfolio toward a synchronized pursuit of national objectives — building, sustaining and supporting partnerships so that we can better understand the strategic and the regional environment and successfully develop effective strategies.

Similar to the way Kansas State operates with its military and veterans' enterprise by engaging a whole-of-university approach to education, research and outreach, building deterrence and assurance capacity requires talented people, whether they are serving in our armed forces, in our government, or as industry partners, as well as in academia. As leaders, we must ensure that we are developing the talent that will assume the mantle as the geopolitical landscape continues to change and evolve. 

I emphasize anticipating change and confronting uncertainty with agility and innovation because I believe sound decision-making requires thorough analysis to prioritize our activities with a flexible, agile and, of course, adaptable thinking. In my almost four decades of service to our nation, I have seen a tremendous amount of change. It is interesting when I boarded my first submarine, our focus was on one threat rather than the many I outlined for you today. We faced a specific nuclear threat. Now we face multiple actors with weapons of mass destruction, with nuclear weapons. And only seven nations were capable at the time frame of launching satellites into orbit. Today, more than 76 entities have launched almost 18,000 objects into space. Also, right before I entered the Naval Academy, I was a glorified keypunch operator on a mainframe computer — what most of our young folks in this audience can't even envision today with our smartphone and superior technology at our hands.

But with all this we still have to be thoughtful as we go forward. Our country needs professionals who can think deeply and strategically, voice an educated opinion, coherently document those thoughts, and drive effective solutions. We need individuals who are willing to develop and stretch their intellect well beyond one-dimensional thinking. We need leaders who do not become static and who search for and recognize signals of change and then find connections and solutions that are seemingly impossible. 

We need chess players who can operate in a multidimensional environment with multiple activities taking place simultaneously on a board where they may not fully understand the rules by which multiple adversaries are playing. We must be able to maintain situational awareness of what matters and act where necessary. We need to inspire and develop the next Thomas Schilling or Henry Kissinger to address 21st-century deterrence, assurance and escalation control issues.

You know what was neat about this job? I actually had two different times to sit down with the great Henry Kissinger over an hour each and really discuss and debate with him our methodologies today associated with deterrence. It's great to see that individual at his tender age — and I'll just leave it at 90-plus — that engaged; the number of trips he's made to Russia and China, for example.

Our security challenges also require the integration of diplomacy, informational, economic and industrial innovation. We still have much, much work to do. We must ask ourselves, how do we deter one without provoking another? Are we thinking about our actions from the perception of our adversaries? How do we communicate our intent and our resolve and readiness in this age where the speed of information is so dramatically faster than it was, for example, during the Cold War?

The answers to these questions start with this institution — yes, Kansas State University — and with the people in this auditorium. Kansas State University fosters a high-velocity learning environment and helps to create leaders who not only understand the challenges associated with the world we live in today, but who can develop and apply solutions. Therefore, we need you. I am proud to count Kansas State University as a member of our deterrence and assurance academic alliance — an alliance built on a common community of interests focused on themes of national security deterrence and assurance designed to leverage expertise and research on these concepts, and to encourage the development of dedicated professionals to meet the nation's need for future generations of leaders to address these challenges. I was really excited earlier this year when we were able to bring — remember, we now have about 31 academic alliance higher-level institutions that, in this case, came to U.S. Strategic Command. We ran a war game — same war game we ran at a classified level at an unclassified level — and I won't tell you the difference between the results, but it was great seeing those intellectuals and their professors really dabble in this in a big way. I hope U.S. Strategic Command can count on this university's participation and leadership in this partnership as well as our 2017 Deterrence Symposium.

Well, in closing, I'm honored to represent all those who carry out the variety of missions assigned to U.S. Strategic Command and all here who support those missions. Having visited our space, cyberspace, missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces across the globe — yes, all the way from the Middle East to all the way down to New Zealand — I can't say how proud I am of this group of dedicated professionals, both in and out of uniform, who get the work done 24/7. They deserve our unwavering support. And once again, I'd like to recognize the participants in this room from government, industry, academia and media who are aggressively working solutions and supporting what we do for our nation in supporting democracy.

Ladies and gentleman, the goal of deterrence is peace. Peace is achieved through strength. Strength is all of us working together to prepare for this uncertain world we live in.

Now I'd like to salute first the students who are here — or who are watching this. Whether you are studying agriculture, political science, engineering, biology, international affairs, I salute you for taking this endeavor seriously and learning as much as you can while you're in this environment.

You never know where you will use this sometime in the future. I salute those of you that are part of the ROTC units here, and I understand we also may have some Kansas University ROTC students here. Thank you for volunteering to wear the uniform and to be part of the greatest military on the planet. I also salute the professors and the researchers. I was so pleased to read about Dr. Briana Goff, for example, receiving this award called the Outstanding Civil Service Medal from Gen. Milley, the chief of staff of the Army, back in the middle of September. It is my understanding she launched this Institute for Health and Security of Military Families and does a lot of work in that area. So I hope she's listening or you all will tell her how proud I am of her as the first Kansas State University faculty member to receive this award.

I also was surprised to find here in the group the associate professor for landscape architecture and regional community planner, Miss La Barbara Wigfall. I've gone to church with her parents back there on the East Coast when stationed at the Pentagon. Pretty neat to see that connection here. But all of the professors associated with what you do here are very important. Just listening to the chair of the mathematics department talking about this textbook thing that's being worked here so that you can have more virtual textbooks without that high-dollar cost that I know I'm paying for my young son who's in college as well. Maybe I need to get him to transfer.

But for all those Big Red One soldiers at Fort Riley close here and deployed, duty first. For all those from the university, I would embarrass myself or you by attempting to Wabash Cannonball, but I will say, Go K-State!

Thank you all for what you do in support of our nation. I fundamentally am a big believer, in addition to the military, the business of what we do in learning — academia — is a national asset for the United States of America. Thank you again for this invitation to speak, and I'm happy to take questions.

Adm. Cecil Haney
Landon Lecture
October 21, 2016