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News | Oct. 1, 2016

An Interview with Cecil D. Haney

By William T. Eliason Joint Force Quarterly 83

Admiral Cecil D. Haney, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command (DOD)

Admiral Cecil D. Haney, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command (DOD)

JFQ: As you have led U.S. Strategic Command [USSTRATCOM] for the past few years, how do you view the threats and challenges your command faces?

Admiral Cecil D. Haney: During my time at the command, the global security environment has become more complex, dynamic, and volatile—perhaps more so than any time in our history. The continued propagation of asymmetric methods, unprecedented proliferation of advancing technologies, and increasingly provocative and destabilizing behavior by current and potential adversaries are making threats today transregional, multidomain, and multifunctional. Some nations are investing in long-term military modernization programs, including capabilities that could pose an existential threat to the United States. A number of others are developing, sustaining, or modernizing their nuclear forces, including weapons and platforms that are mobile, hardened, and underground.

Russia is engaged in destabilizing actions in Syria and Ukraine, developing counterspace and cyber capabilities, and aggressively pursuing other approaches such as hyper-glide vehicle technology. At the same time, it continues to modernize its nuclear forces, even though Russia faces some challenging economic conditions. Qualitative and quantitative advancements in capabilities that are not accountable under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [New START] and in nonstrategic nuclear weapon systems, some of which have ranges or payloads comparable to New START–accountable systems, are causes for concern. These destabilizing actions are taking place at the same time Russia is declaring and recklessly expressing its willingness to escalate if required. By virtue of the size of its nuclear arsenal, Russia poses an existential threat to the United States. Russia must understand that it would be a serious miscalculation to consider nuclear escalation as a viable option, and it will not achieve the benefits it seeks.

In the Indo-Asia-Pacific, China is making significant investments in developing its overarching military capabilities, both nuclear and conventional, as well as realignment of its command and control structure to better support its antiaccess/area-denial [A2/AD] campaign. It is also pursuing conventional prompt global strike capabilities and offensive counterspace technologies while exploiting computer networks. Perhaps equally disconcerting has been China’s efforts to challenge territorial jurisdiction in the East and South China seas and its disregard for international norms and the recent ruling by the United Nations [UN] Convention on the Law of the Sea. Collectively, these actions only contribute to instability at a time of rapid globalization and increasing regional interconnectivity. These activities, coupled with China’s lack of transparency, raise questions about its aspirations.

North Korea’s coercive, irresponsible rhetoric and actions undermine regional stability. Kim Jong-un continues to defy international norms and violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions. North Korea’s persistent attempts to launch submarine-launched ballistic missiles and intermediate-range ballistic missiles underline this irresponsible behavior. It continues its quest to obtain a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the United States and its allies and partners, launch satellites into space using ballistic missile technology, and conduct additional nuclear tests. As with Russia, North Korea must understand it cannot escalate its way to victory, and the United States will take actions to assure its allies in the region.

Iran’s continued involvement in Middle East conflicts and development of ballistic missile programs and cyberspace capabilities require our attention. While today it appears that Iran is following the mandates of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we must remain vigilant for any shifts regarding nuclear ambitions.

Violent extremist organizations [VEOs] and terror groups are recruiting, financing, and operating across political, social, and cyberspace boundaries. Ungoverned or ineffectively governed regions remain incubators for those who seek to attack the world’s peaceful societies. We must continue to address their threat to our way of life through all of our levers of power while working with the international community.

Lastly, I continue to be concerned about the U.S. defense budget. As I have testified, I am pleased with the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2017, particularly in the areas of nuclear enterprise sustainment and modernization, space, cyberspace, and missile defense. It reflects the Nation’s commitment to modernization, a key part of our deterrence strategy. But there is no margin to absorb new risk. With the threat of sequestration looming in 2018, we cannot compromise the momentum we are establishing.

Our strategic capabilities must provide not only our adversaries a complex deterrence problem but also options to the President if deterrence were to fail. I must point out that sustaining and modernizing our strategic forces supports the President’s nonproliferation goals, and modernization is in line with the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, 2013 Nuclear Weapons Employment Strategy, 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, and 2015 National Military Strategy. If we are to meet future challenges, we must have a synchronized campaign of investments supporting the full range of military operations that secure U.S. national security objectives. We need appropriations and operations for 2017, and we need relief from sequestration.

Due to the global nature of U.S. Strategic Command’s Unified Command Plan–assigned missions, we have a significant role working with the other eight combatant commands and the interagency community to address each of the five evolving challenges facing the United States: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and VEOs. It has been my privilege to lead the Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and civilians who support these missions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Ballistic missile submarine USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Kings Bay, Georgia, March 20, 2013 (DOD/James Kimber)

Ballistic missile submarine USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Kings Bay, Georgia, March 20, 2013 (DOD/James Kimber)

JFQ: Can you describe the relationship between the United States and Russia today, specifically your views of their nuclear and conventional force buildups, the role of missile defense, and the prospects for arms control agreements in the future?

Admiral Haney: The relationship between the United States and Russia is complex and multifaceted. It’s informed by both recent and distant historic events and differing worldviews between the two nations. Russia continues to challenge the international order, engaging in destabilizing actions in Syria and Ukraine. It is developing systems that breach the bounds of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and other international accords and norms, it is developing counterspace and cyber capabilities, and it is continuing to invest in the modernization of its nuclear forces. Russia has demonstrated its willingness to use military force and hybrid tactics to achieve its political goals of reestablishing a sphere of influence, undermining NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization], and challenging the bedrock principles of the international order: sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the inviolability of borders. As a combatant commander I must view these actions and behaviors as threatening not only to the United States but also to our allies and partners. To be clear, we have no interest in threatening Russian security. Its actions, which include probing and activities below the threshold of armed conflict, are destabilizing and pose increased threats to international security. We are responding with strong and prudent measures to defend U.S. interests:

  • Russia’s nuclear doctrine and rhetoric, which appear to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, show the difference between Russian and U.S. concepts of the use of force. They also bring to light concerns about Russia’s commitment to strategic stability.
  • Russia’s nuclear force and infrastructure modernization raise the possibility of both qualitative and quantitative advancements in its force structure.
  • From a conventional standpoint, Russia’s investments pose a threat to regional and strategic stability.
  • Verifiable treaties and policies are key to strategic stability. While to date Russia is adhering to its New START obligations, it has chosen to circumvent its Conventional Forces in Europe and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces [INF] Treaty commitments. Particularly in the case of INF, the manner with which it has violated its responsibilities calls into question Russia’s adherence to international law and norms of behavior. We encourage Russia to return to adherence to its treaties.
  • Historically, arms control treaties have significantly reduced the numbers of nuclear weapons in stockpiles. While I am hopeful that this trend can continue, it is up to Russia to return responsibly back to the negotiations. Arms control treaties contribute to strategic stability through transparency, confidence-building, and verification.
  • Effective missile defense is an essential element of the U.S. commitment to strengthen strategic and regional deterrence against states of concern. The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system protects the U.S. homeland against a limited intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM] attack from North Korea and potential future threats from Iran. Our missile defense capability is not about Russia nor does it pose a threat to Russia’s nuclear arsenal. Russia should understand this given our transparency of U.S. missile defense capabilities.
  • We would all like to see Russia work to emerge as a responsible player on the international stage.

JFQ: Given the rise of a more diverse set of threats from a number of states and potentially nonstate groups, how does the current triad of U.S. nuclear forces first fielded in the Cold War and your plans to modernize these capabilities address this different world?

Admiral Haney: The range of potential actors with nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them has increased since the end of the Cold War, but we must also address the rapid evolution of destructive counterspace and cyberspace capabilities. While not every attack in space or cyberspace is of a strategic nature, we must be able to deter strategic attack in multiple domains from multiple actors. We must be able to deter strategic attack from major powers while we also address threats from nonstate actors and regional states such as North Korea.

Even as we adhere to our New START obligations and reduce the number of deployed warheads as well as deployed and nondeployed launchers, we must ensure that we have a credible strategic nuclear deterrent that has diversity and flexibility such that no adversaries can think that they will benefit from escalating to include the employment of a nuclear weapon, that it will be costly to them, and that restraint is a better option. Other nuclear-capable nations are placing a high priority on developing, sustaining, modernizing—and in some cases expanding—their nuclear forces. A safe, secure, effective, and ready nuclear deterrent is fundamental to our national security strategy and to deterring strategic attack on the United States and assuring our allies. This is why recapitalization of our nuclear-deterrent enterprise is my top priority. Our choice is not between keeping the current forces or replacing them; rather the choice is between replacing those forces or not having them at all.

Current plans to replace Minuteman III ICBMs are just in time. Recapitalization is necessary to ensure a viable, responsive ICBM force so future adversaries cannot launch a comprehensive counterforce attack by striking only a few targets. Our ballistic missile submarines [SSBNs] represent our most survivable leg. Recapitalization of the sea-based strategic deterrent is my top modernization priority as we cannot further extend the current Ohio-class SSBN.

Air-delivered nuclear weapons offer unique value in that they are readily capable of providing both strategic and extended deterrence. The B-21 bomber, long-range standoff cruise missile, and B61-12 gravity bomb will provide flexibility and provide the President tailorable options should deterrence fail. These capabilities will allow us to address a range of contingencies in highly contested and A2/AD environments.

Our stockpile is safe, secure, and effective, but we must proceed with planned life-extension programs as the average age of the stockpile is the oldest it has ever been. Like the platforms, our warheads require life extension as we are using a capability that in most cases is well beyond the intended design life.

While all three legs of the triad are vital to our deterrence efforts, those capabilities alone are not enough. Often overlooked are the critical tankers that refuel our strategic bombers; effective indications and warning of incoming threats through our strategic space and terrestrial systems; and assured and survivable national and nuclear command, control, and communications. Our strategic deterrent also includes the necessary infrastructure to sustain reliable warheads; a credible missile defense system that defends against attacks from rogue nations; a resilient space and counterspace architecture; a robust conventional force; and of course a comprehensive whole-of-government approach. All of these capabilities—along with continued investments in space and cyberspace—provide the tools the Nation needs for security in a dangerous and unpredictable world. At the end of the day, we must ensure that no nuclear-armed adversaries think they can escalate their way out of a failed conflict. They must perceive that restraint is the best course of action.

B-52H Stratofortress flies over Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, during training exercise, November 3, 2013 (U.S. Air Force/Brittany Y. Auld)

B-52H Stratofortress flies over Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, during training exercise, November 3, 2013 (U.S. Air Force/Brittany Y. Auld)

JFQ: What is your assessment of USSTRATCOM’s ability to gain and maintain situational awareness while effectively executing all your operations in space?

Admiral Haney: Increasingly contested, degraded, and operationally limited, space is vital to our way of life, and given the number of objects, including debris, that are in orbit today, it is important that we are able to have and share space situational awareness [SSA]. In concert with the Joint Space Operations Center [JSpOC] at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, the newly formed 18th Space Control Squadron performs the routine SSA mission, tracking more than 23,000 man-made objects in orbit every single day. Last year more than 1.2 million collision warnings were sent to satellite operators supporting 148 confirmed collision-avoidance maneuvers, including four by the International Space Station. Those numbers will continue to grow as more governmental, commercial, and academic entities pursue space capabilities. The JSpOC remains focused on delivering tailored space effects to joint and coalition warfighters. Under the leadership of my Component Commander for Space, Lieutenant General David Buck, USAF, last year the JSpOC supported theater operations 724 times and also resolved 245 instances of electromagnetic interference, ensuring persistent access to critical capabilities optimized to meet the demands of multidomain force projection.

We have various initiatives moving forward today to help improve our performance and understanding of SSA. These initiatives include organizational improvements, partnering, better technology, and data collaboration.

We established the Joint Space Doctrine and Tactics Forum in 2015. I co-chair this forum with Betty Sapp, director of the National Reconnaissance Office. Having Ms. Sapp’s leadership emphasizes the foundational role that intelligence plays in detecting and characterizing threats to increase space collaboration and coordination between the Department of Defense [DOD] and Intelligence Community. As an example, we’ve worked to better integrate our exercise programs and wargames, share lessons learned from both experiments and exercises, explore doctrine changes, and enhance information and data flow.

We also stood up the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, in 2015. Also under the leadership of Lieutenant General Buck, this center combines the efforts of USSTRATCOM, Air Force Space Command, and the Intelligence Community to create unity of effort and facilitate information-sharing across the national security space enterprise in order to develop and maintain a common operating picture across communities of interest. This center is being developed to identify and address adversarial approaches challenging our on-orbit space operations to ensure this capability is able to continue to the support joint and/or coalition campaigns through advanced battle management command and control methodologies.

USSTRATCOM has SSA sharing agreements and arrangements with more than 50 commercial entities, 2 intergovernmental organizations (EUMETSAT [European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites] and European Space Agency), and 11 nations (Australia, Canada, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Germany). In fact, we currently have a number of allies and partners serving in critical crew and leadership positions in the JSpOC. Sharing SSA information and collaborating with other nations and commercial firms promote safe and responsible space operations, reduce the potential for debris-producing collisions and other harmful interference, build international confidence in U.S. space systems, foster U.S. space leadership, and improve our own SSA through knowledge of owner/operator satellite positional data.

We must also continue to seek innovative solutions with allies and our commercial partners to ensure that access to space operations remains available. These include active and passive protection measures for individual systems and constellations and a critical examination of the architectural path we must follow to ensure resilience and affordability in our space capabilities. Continued partnering with international and commercial entities is fundamental to effective space operations.

One tool we use to gain and maintain SSA is the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program [GSSAP]. The program achieved initial operational capability in October 2015, and USSTRATCOM is now operating two GSSAP satellites with two more currently maneuvering into position following an August 19 launch. GSSAP provides cutting-edge SSA capabilities that facilitate space-monitoring activities, contributing to global safety of spaceflight as well as the peaceful access to space.

Other advancements in technology include the Space Fence program, which will greatly expand the capacity of the U.S. Space Surveillance Network; investments in modeling and simulation that will increase our understanding of the space environment and adversary capabilities; and funding for satellite communications that are resistant to interference.

A Space Enterprise Vision has been adopted by DOD and the Intelligence Community that recognizes that the U.S. space enterprise is not resilient enough to be successful in a conflict that extends to space. It recognizes that acquisition and programmatic decisions can no longer occur in mission area stovepipes, but must instead be driven by an overarching space mission enterprise context. This vision is being used as we architect, develop, acquire, and operate our space systems.

To better address the challenges in space requires the integration of all source intelligence and sensing in such a way to improve indication and warning and time to execute response options if we sense our space capabilities are being threatened. The dynamic space common operational picture is being designed to allow effective command and control of space capabilities not only to attribute irresponsible behavior in space but also to allow adequate decision space for improved operational resilience.

These efforts, combined with experimentation and better training for our operators, will allow the maturity of our SSA and space control efforts to ensure space can continue to effectively contribute to joint and coalition force operations.

B-2 Spirit bomber provides vital support to U.S. Strategic Command’s global strike and bomber assurance and deterrence missions (U.S. Air Force/Joel Pfiester)

B-2 Spirit bomber provides vital support to U.S. Strategic Command’s global strike and bomber assurance and deterrence missions (U.S. Air Force/Joel Pfiester)

JFQ: How would you characterize your command’s ability to operate in cyberspace and the role of U.S. Cyber Command [USCYBERCOM] as the lead team in that fight?

Admiral Haney: Cyberspace underpins all of my mission areas and has become a critical facet of national power. Our primary focus for cyberspace operations within DOD is building the capability and capacity to protect networks, systems, and information; defend against cyber attacks; and support operational and contingency planning. Admiral Mike Rogers, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command, is my operational commander to execute those cyberspace missions tasked to me in the Unified Command Plan.

Since its stand up 6 years ago, USCYBERCOM has made great strides in developing, integrating, and synchronizing cyberspace operations into our day-to-day activities and in support of the combatant commander’s objectives. We are building up robust Cyber Mission Force [CMF] and Cyber Protection Teams with the authorities, skills, and resources to protect our networks against a maturing set of cyberspace threats. We’re also working to ensure we can better sense threats and malicious activities, taking a layered approach to resilience and emphasizing individual cyber hygiene, all critical to the defense of our networks. In other words, the Nation and every combatant commander can now draw upon CMF teams to achieve cyberspace effects and support their myriad operations. One example is where our CMF teams are conducting cyberspace operations to support U.S. Central Command’s mission to degrade, dismantle, and ultimately defeat ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant].

JFQ: Which challenges has USSTRATCOM had in two areas that are critical to the joint force: intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance [ISR] and electronic warfare?

Admiral Haney: Combatant command ISR requirements continuously outstrip Service supply, creating a situation where difficult operational tradeoffs between the commands must be made on a regular basis. This is becoming even more important as we face transregional threats that challenge our current geographic command and control constructs and management processes. We are also working to create the right balance of ISR capabilities and determining what our future ISR capabilities should look like. We’ve spent the past decade or more building an impressive fleet of ISR forces geared toward counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in a permissive environment. We are balancing maintenance of these forces while developing future capabilities to operate in an A2/AD environment.

One of the critical abilities necessary for joint force success is operating in a heavily contested electromagnetic spectrum [EMS] environment. The joint force commander requires the EMS to enable success in all warfighting domains. We are working hard to integrate modern electronic warfare with new ISR, cyber, and space capabilities to support our joint and coalition forces. Our current efforts in this area support counter-ISIL operations in theater, which stimulated a new focus on the integration of nonkinetic planning, targeting, and execution processes. Additionally, USSTRATCOM is leading implementation of the Chairman’s Joint Concept for Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations to enable operational planning and battle management of the EMS.

JFQ: In congressional testimony and in press conferences recent you spoke about the concepts of deterrence and assurance in the 21st century. What are your views on how deterrence and assurance have changed over time and whether they are well understood in today’s context by the joint force and national civilian leadership?

Admiral Haney: Strategic deterrence remains a complex subject that is foundational to global security. It depends on the situation, and one size never fits all. Yet it is bounded by the understanding that no adversaries can escalate their way out of a failed conflict, that no adversaries will gain the benefits they seek, that restraint is always a better option, and that, if necessary, we will respond in a time, a place, and a domain of our choosing.

Today’s world is not the bipolar world of the Cold War. Deterring in today’s multipolar world requires us to view threats across the spectrum of conflict where escalation can occur with more than one adversary and can be transregional and can span land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace domains. Given all these complexities and the interconnectedness of globalization, these strategic problems have global consequences that require comprehensive solutions.

Deterrence remains a fundamentally human endeavor—it is about having a safe, secure, effective, and ready strategic capability and the will to use it. For U.S. Strategic Command to deliver strategic stability, we must enable a comprehensive approach to strategic deterrence, assurance, and escalation control.

Figure. Spectrum of Conflict with Nuclear Adversary

To address the spectrum of conflict (see figure), we must have a comprehensive understanding of the strategic environment as perceived from an adversary’s point of view. We must understand capability and intent so that we can deny enemy action, threaten the important areas the adversary values, and prevent misperceptions and actions from escalating. We must have a deep understanding of the adversary. And we can’t do this alone.

Building deterrence and assurance capacity in today’s challenging geopolitical landscape requires a collaborative effort; we must have a whole-of-government approach that includes our allies and partners.

Given all this, I believe joint professional military education [JPME] must include course material on strategic deterrence, assurance, and escalation control. It must challenge our thinking regarding the spectrum of conflict for an adversary or competitor that has nuclear weapons capabilities and/or other weapons of mass destruction as well as significant counterspace or cyberspace capabilities. We must understand that the intertwined nature of these threats and our methodology to counter them is not limited to a specific domain. We must understand the difference between conventional and nuclear deterrence and what it takes to maintain strategic stability, even during periods of friction and/or conflict.

JFQ: As a graduate of the National War College, how has your experience with JPME affected your views on the value of jointness and the need for the Services to effectively work together as a joint force?

Admiral Haney: When I completed JPME, the last thing I thought was that I would become a flag officer, let alone the commander of U.S. Strategic Command. I can’t tell you how important it is to develop critical thinking skills and a questioning attitude. The National War College helped me hone those skills and taught me the value of motivating my leadership team to challenge my thinking. Whenever I conduct a meeting today, whatever the subject, I look for individuals who challenge traditional thinking, regardless of rank. My JPME experience, including the various case studies covered as part of my education, further inspired me to continue to learn while ensuring that the lessons of history are incorporated in our planning and operations to include how we have to deal with uncertainty as we digest reams of information and a variety of intelligence sources. I also learned the importance of interagency, allied, and partner contributions.

Decades of joint military operations and warfighting have become part of our culture. We must have a joint force to address the five challenge areas facing DOD today—Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and VEOs—as well as the ability to operate across the spectrum of conflict against adversaries or potential adversaries that have weapons of mass destruction, cyberspace, or counterspace capabilities.

Our national security challenges require us to integrate all elements of national power, which is helped by the work we’re doing to integrate not only our joint force, but also across the entire U.S. Government and with our allies and partners. We must improve our abilities to use information and intelligence at the speed of conflict and integrate all levers of national power into a comprehensive national campaign, rather than a collection of disjointed efforts.

I’m very proud of how far our military has come in taking the Goldwater-Nichols [Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986] standard and developing this kind of education, but there’s still work to do. Recently, 18 members of my command completed a satellite JPME Phase II course at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to enhance their understanding of the joint environment and to use their knowledge to tackle today’s threats. This was the first satellite course offered at a nonmilitary academic institution, and partnerships like these are exactly what we need to further develop the joint force.

I tell those coming out of JPME to apply what they learned, to continue their education, and to grow with each tour. They should use their knowledge of Service, joint, and combined environments to better plan and assess operations in the future. I also stress the importance of developing critical thinking skills and an inquisitive, questioning attitude. Our military and our nation benefit from strategic thinkers who can drive innovative solutions toward the diverse problem sets we face.

JFQ: What success have you had in developing and sustaining relationships with organizations outside of DOD to include other U.S. Government agencies, international partners, and academia to assist USSTRATCOM as it evolves?

Admiral Haney: For the past 7 years, U.S. Strategic Command has hosted an annual Deterrence Symposium here in Omaha. This July, we had more than 650 participants, a diverse and talented audience of allies, partners, international experts, U.S. Government officials, think tanks, academia, national laboratories, industry, and media. The benefit of this and other deterrence forums is to challenge our thinking and build greater understanding as we enable strategic stability.

We also host a USSTRATCOM Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance, currently with 31 members, including Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Stanford University, Yale University, the University of Nebraska System, and a host of other military and civilian academic institutions. The purpose of the alliance is to build a community of interest focused on the themes of national security and deterrence and assurance to leverage expertise and research and encourage development of deterrence professionals to meet the Nation’s need for future generations of leaders to address these challenges. More importantly, this alliance provides a forum for communication and collaboration. The full list of Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance members can be found at <>.

The command’s exercise program has proved critical in our efforts to refine solutions for the whole-of-government response to challenges presented by the evolving security environment. Within the exercise framework, senior Department of State, National Security Council, OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense], and Joint Staff participants join with combatant command staffs to debate and discuss security challenges from multiple perspectives rather than only a DOD-centric point of view. As we look at these global problems, we’re pairing together so our tier-one exercises are connected to one or more other combatant commands, and we continually collaborate closely with our Intelligence Community partners.

Additionally, we have steadily grown allied participation in exercises from observer status to individual participants to dedicated teams designed to reinforce each other’s capabilities. For example, Nimble Titan, the premier strategic and policy level–focused missile defense event, includes some 27 nations and international organizations. It provides participants valuable opportunities for multinational discussions, experience, and information-sharing, as well as command and control procedures that enhance synchronized missile defense capabilities.

To give you an example of our partnerships in space, we work hand-in-hand with both the commercial sector and our allies through the combined space operations participant group, which meets at a variety of forums throughout the year. I can’t say enough about these forums. Moreover, our commercial partners share requisite information, so we can be more efficient and effective as we look at challenges in space.

I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made, including the progress of our allies and partners, in a number of our tabletop and annual exercises to gain invaluable insight from their knowledge and perspectives. For example, in the past year, one of our ballistic missile submarines—the USS Wyoming—ported in Faslane, Scotland, validated operational objectives while demonstrating the close U.S.–United Kingdom defense relationship and our commitment to broadening our understanding of our respective forces and challenges.

As I’ve said many times, the global security environment that we operate in is the most complex we have ever witnessed, and we can’t tackle the challenges alone; we must continue to build and enhance our partnerships across the spectrum.

Unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during operational test on February 20, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force/Michael Peterson)

Unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during operational test on February 20, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force/Michael Peterson)

JFQ: You grew up in Washington, DC, during the Civil Rights era and reached the top level of leadership in our military. What insights about leadership have you gained from your personal and professional experiences?

Admiral Haney: My mom and dad, who had no college education, valued education and challenged me and my siblings to get one. As we grew up in humble surroundings, my mom in particular taught me to do all that I could, to value working hard, and to appreciate the importance of taking advantage of opportunities. She also instilled in us the art of patience.

As such I grew up with a perspective of being a lifelong learner. The Navy provided me an opportunity to grow and learn from each duty station and has afforded many wonderful educational and training opportunities. My Navy nuclear propulsion and submarine background taught me to have a questioning attitude and the importance of understanding the details behind procedures and methods. Growing up in DC, I saw the Civil Rights Movement firsthand, and I believe this experience has helped me to value the contributions from the entire team and to understand the importance of diversity in team building.

After graduating from Eastern High School in DC, I was privileged to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. This environment gave me the opportunity to apply to the nuclear submarine field. My education at both the Naval Postgraduate School and the National War College provided me not only a well-rounded education but also a chance to attend advanced education with international students as well as individuals from the interagency community.

The combination of Service and joint education, training, and operations allowed me to have a broad perspective. I also benefited as much, or more, from the people I have had the pleasure to serve with, work with, and for—mentors, seniors, peers, and subordinates.

I have also been fortunate to visit many places from other countries and operational units to our national laboratories to places such as Gallup from the commercial sector. A few years ago, I was privileged to tour Nagasaki’s Peace Park, a vivid reminder of the events of August 1945. I also visited numerous locations of the various island campaigns of World War II, such as Tinian’s North Field, Midway Atoll, Corregidor, and the Marshall Islands. From a visit to the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, the Panama Canal, to various countries in Europe, the Middle East, and the continent of Africa, each opportunity to visit and get a live view of the complexity of so many different nation-states has helped shape my perspective of the challenges facing different parts of the globe.

Just the opportunity to work first-hand with key allies and partners in so many jobs has given me a vast perspective of issues as seen by other nations as well as the understanding of how coalitions are extremely valuable in addressing the complex regional and global challenges of today.

Working at U.S. Strategic Command twice, getting to lead a joint task force in the Pacific, and working for the OSD Comptroller broadened my understanding of joint operations. This built on the JPME I experienced.

Each opportunity has presented me with an opportunity to learn and grow. I would encourage all of our joint force members to make the most out of the opportunities and adventures their military careers provide. I couldn’t be prouder of our joint force and the contributions they make to our collective security. They are the most prepared and professional force in the world. JFQ