Stratcom Commander: Military Coming to Grips With Multidomain Battlefield

The multidomain battlefield requires a degree of integration that the U.S. military is coming to grips with, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said here yesterday.

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten spoke about the struggle to adapt to the multidomain battlefield at the Air Force Association’s annual meeting.

Stratcom has its headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, which once was the headquarters for the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. SAC had the nuclear bomber and nuclear missile mission for the country. Its motto was “Peace is our profession.”

Hyten resurrected the SAC motto when he became commander, but he added ellipses at the end to remind possible adversaries that if “they don’t want peace, we can go a different direction,” the general said.

At its heart, the command provides for strategic deterrence and nuclear operations. The command oversees 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons and is the most powerful command in the world, yet those weapons alone do not deter “everyone from everything,” Hyten said.

Since the command formed in 2002, a number of missions migrated to it, Hyten said. “Space came in, network operations came in, cyber came in, countering weapons of mass destruction came in, [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] came in, missile defense came in, electronic warfare came in, analysis and warfare came in,” he said. “We formed all these functional commands for all these things. When I got there, we were down to 18 different components under Stratcom.”

This has changed, and now ISR is under the Joint Staff, and countering weapons of mass destruction is now under U.S. Special Operations Command. U.S. Space Command will be a global command in the future.

Strategic Deterrence Across All Domains

The changed environment requires a change in strategic deterrence to cross all domains, Hyten said. “The most important priority is to prevent the use of nuclear weapons on our country or allies and prevent the creation of catastrophic space or cyberspace actions that damage our nation,” the general said. “That requires the integration of all capabilities – nukes, global strike, cyber, conventional – all to deliver our deterrent effect.”

Hyten added that he also wants to know how this shift affects the current military command structure.

“We have five global combatant commanders and six geographic combatant commanders,” the general said. “And those five global combatant commanders, to one aspect or another, can deliver global fires. Cyber Command [and] Space Command will be able to deliver global fires. Stratcom will always be able to deliver global fires, both conventional and nuclear. [U.S. Transportation Command] enables everybody to deliver global fires.”

Currently, these fires are delivered around singular events in an environment where the United States is not threatened in all global domains, the Stratcom commander noted. “In the future,” he added, “there may be a fight that goes on in space and cyberspace – globally – involving special operations, involving Cybercom, all at the same time. What is our doctrine for integrating the global fires of this nation and providing that in support of a geographic combatant commander somewhere?

“We actually are just trying to figure this out right now,” the general continued. “That’s multidomain operations at its core. How do we integrate that so we can deter our adversaries? How do we integrate to deliver global fire on the battlefield of the future? Global fires, theater fires – they all have to be integrated in timing and tempo. That is unbelievably difficult.”

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