By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 30, 2013 – Calling the pursuit of nuclear weapons by violent extremists and nuclear weapons proliferation the greatest strategic threats to the United States, Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney told Congress today he will make providing a safe, secure and effective strategic nuclear deterrent his top priority if confirmed to lead U.S. Strategic Command.
Haney, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet and Stratcom’s previous deputy commander, told the Senate Armed Services Committee he will do everything in his power to ensure a ready nuclear force that provides strategic deterrence for the United States and its allies.
That, he noted, includes continued modernization of the nuclear triad and the warheads, platforms, sensors and industrial base that supports it.
“As long as other countries have nuclear weapons, we are required to have a safe, secure and effective means to address that,” he said.
Haney also vowed to continue vital Stratcom support to ongoing combat operations being conducted by U.S. Central Command and other combatant commands.
Haney recognized the pace of technology, particularly in the space and cyberspace realms, and the need to maintain a strategic edge in support of the United States and its global interests.
So another top priority, he said, will be to preserve U.S. access to and freedom of action in space, as outlined in the new National Space Policy. This vast operational area is “competitive, congested and contested,” he said, but provides capabilities vital to situational awareness and other capabilities the joint force requires.
Haney also emphasized the importance of partnership and cooperation to ensure the cyber capabilities military operations require.
“Addressing the cyber threat is critical to our national security,” he said. “Intensive and extensive cooperation across the whole of government and the governments of our allies, partners and friends is required to prepare for and respond to these developments.”
Asked his views about elevating U.S. Cyber Command, currently a subunified command under Stratcom, to a separate combatant command, Haney said he is open to consideration, but believes the current structure “is working in a very synchronized fashion.”
“I am a fan of a command and control structure that allows us to win,” he told the panel, emphasizing the importance of Cybercom’s continued alignment with the National Security Agency.
“That synergy is so important,” he added.
Adaptability will be vital as the United States faces ever-changing traditional and nontraditional threats that pose challenges to U.S. global interests, Haney said.
“Our potential adversaries have studied the U.S. way of warfare and are actively developing asymmetric responses,” he noted in his written statement, submitted for the record. “We will need flexible and adaptive capabilities to respond to unknown abilities.”
Haney said he looks forward to working with Congress to address the strategic threats and challenges facing the nation. “They are complex and compelling, and Strategic Command plays a key role in each,” he said.
“Complex threats provide opportunities for terrorism and raise significant security concerns,” Haney added.
Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, the current Stratcom commander, told reporters last week the command that has matured over time as it adopted additional missions.
“I think it is a better command to take on the challenge of the nation’s strategic deterrence,” he said during a Defense Writers Group breakfast.
“Our approach today is to tailor deterrence to specific actors. One size no longer fits all,” Kehler said. “The nature of the threat has changed pretty dramatically. … The threats we face today are not the same, so this command can’t be the same.”
Kehler said he has full faith in his former deputy’s ability to assume Stratcom’s reins.
“I think he will inherit a command that has come a long way in the last eight or so years -- a long way,” he said.