WASHINGTON—Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney doesn’t deal in sound bites or bumper sticker sayings or elevator speeches, nor should he.
The world is a complex place, and as the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Haney must look deeper at the second- and third- and fourth-order effects of actions.
So asking him about current world events means a deep dive for this submariner.
Haney spoke to the Defense Writers’ Group yesterday and gave reporters a tutorial on deterrence and what the United States needs to navigate in an uncertain world.
Maintain, Modernize Nuclear Triad
He started with the need to maintain and modernize the current nuclear triad. Some say the full triad—bombers, ICBMs, and submarine-launched weapons—is too expensive and that one leg of the triad should disappear.
“We often see the argument about whether we can afford [the triad],” Haney said. “I would change it around a little bit and ask, ‘Can we afford not to modernize?’”
The Cold War ended years ago, but the world hasn’t stood still and other nations have nuclear weapons and they are modernizing them, the admiral said.
“It’s no longer just looking at two countries,” Haney said, referring to the nuclear weapons situation that existed between the United States and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Today, he said, China has launched a new ballistic missile submarine and is looking at multiple reentry vehicle improvements.
And, North Korea has a nuclear capability and may have miniaturized components to place aboard an ICBM, the admiral said.
Turning to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Haney noted that “we’ve seen him more recently with some kind of submarine capability and very recently parading around the intercontinental ballistic missile for all to see.”
In consideration of such potential threats, today’s world remains a dangerous and unpredictable place, the admiral said. “We can’t wish this away,” he said. “We have to have the requisite [deterrence] capabilities.”