1.21.10 - REMARKS BY GENERAL GENE RENUART at the 38th IFPA-Fletcher Conference on National Security Strategy and Policy, Washington, DC
Thanks, Dr. Perry. I appreciate the invitation. Look, I was going to start out with a really detailed set of opening comments, but I see Jack Catton is back there and I don’t want him to fall asleep after a little bit of a break. So, I’m actually going to start out with a very short video. I’m debuting this with you all, so afterwards if you want to give me some critique, that would be very much appreciated.
And then I will talk a little bit about some of the unique elements of air, space and cyber in the missions of homeland defense and civil support. I will talk a little bit about a unique way to support the operations in Haiti that maybe traditional airmen wouldn’t normally expect. I won’t take away from Duncan [Gen McNabb] but I think there are some unique partnerships that have been built out of necessity that have been worth mentioning here today.
So, if magic will happen as it should, can we run that video? [VIDEO CLIP]
So in the midst of all of that, where does an airman fit in? Where does a sailor fit in? Where does a Marine or a Soldier or Coast Guardsman fit in? Where do our civilian partners fit in? And I think the answer is “yes” in all of those. We have a unique skill-set that you grew up with. You’ve been trained, educated, and practiced in the art of joint warfare. I’m going to put a little twist on that as we spend a minute or two here to talk about a sort of joint warfare in the homeland.
I’ve been in this job about three years, and I think the world is about tired of me and will send me out the door in May or so. But over that three year period, I’ve learned some pretty good lessons about how a whole-of-government approach has to work. So, I would like to spend a minute or two talking about that. When you think about defending the homeland, certainly as you saw there [in the video], it is about some of those traditional missions that we would expect. Air defense -- we’ve been doing that for 52 years as a binational command with the US and Canada -- focused on a variety of external threats, but not exactly focused on an airliner being hijacked and flown into a building.
So we’ve had to evolve that traditional defense mission to look at air traffic inside the borders of our country as well as outside. We sort of envisioned the maritime defense of our nation as something that is done in other theaters. We certainly know of great historic battles…naval battles that have occurred in World War II. We know of the operations that we conduct in other theaters today -- in CENTCOM, PACOM, and others.
But we don’t traditionally think of maritime defense as interdicting freighters at sea that may have a weapon of mass destruction, sponsored by terrorists. We’ve had to evolve that concept of maritime defense to something more akin to maritime homeland defense. We partner with civilian agencies -- the Department of Homeland Security and Law Enforcement -- as well as the US Coast Guard, as DHS’ maritime arm, in partnership with the United States Navy to ensure that we can create layered defense for our nation starting as far away as the Indian Ocean or the Persian Gulf or the Straits of Malacca.
We ensure that the layers of defense come all the way here to the ports of our nation. In that, there is an inherent partnership with other nations, with other military capabilities, and, in fact, with the private sector. And Duncan [Gen McNabb] is a big player in that regard.
We’ve seen the development of rogue nations and their desire to field long range ballistic missiles. Certainly North Korea and Iran come very much to the forefront in how they play in international politic as they pursue, at least, the capability of delivering a nuclear weapon. So, a missile defense system was developed over time to thwart that threat against our nations. We [USNORTHCOM] operate that. I’m not sure people would have assumed that we would be operating ballistic missile defenses from our own shores to defend our own homeland.
So those traditional homeland defense missions had to morph as we applied that air, space and maritime capability to our homeland. We’ve added partners that we historically didn’t expect to have a military role with. Mexico is a perfect example. Mexico is fighting a very significant battle against drug trafficking organizations within their own country that has reached forward to the United States in ways that are unprecedented. We build capacity to be able to find, fix and target those kingpins -- those leaders of drug trafficking organizations.
Frankly, they are murderers who will hold families at risk, who will hold the relatives of those lost in battle to make a point. It is a very different kind of enemy than Mexico ever would have expected to fight. We find ourselves as a partner with them. So building partnership capacity has come very close to our nation and continues to be one of the principal roles that we have played in US Northern Command. Increasingly sharing the common operating picture of air and space situational awareness is something that is valuable to Mexico in that fight. The delivery means of the drug trafficking organizations morph, if you will -- going from sea, to air, to land, back to sea. They have demonstrated the ability to be very agile in changing their delivery means and strategic approach.
We’ve also had to absorb areas that we really, again, didn’t think we would spend a lot of time in. I know Senator Begich spent some time talking to you about the Arctic. I’m pleased to see that he’s read the paper that Chris Miller and his team put together when he was a slave in our camp before coming to the Air Staff. I think he made the point that the Arctic is an area that has strategic significance for the U.S., for Canada for sure, but for the other nations of the Arctic and the Arctic rim as well. Yet, we have not well-developed our thought process about how we engage and discuss how we operate in that area.
I think that for those of you that use Air Force, Navy, or Coast Guard equipment in that region, you know that we have probably not configured ourselves terribly well to operate in Arctic conditions. We have to do that in the future because I think we will see increasing relevance of that region to us, both in terms of a security environment -- and also as an economic, and even a tourist environment.
So those are some of the challenges that we see and we face every day. We’ve evolved our forces to be able to better deal with those environments. Then you take those traditional, defensive kinds of things that I discussed and overlay the need to be responsive to our citizens. You know, the last scene in that video is a family in the sunset. We talk about defending what you value most. The nature of this command is that our customers, our responsibility, really -- our honored debt to the nation -- is to make sure that those families can continue to have that kind of an environment to work, live, and play. When disaster strikes, we are in a position to assist them -- and do it very rapidly.
Now, that comes at a price. We are obviously involved in Afghanistan and Iraq and other places around the world. We cannot lose our focus on the Pacific Rim. I know that if Admiral Willard were here, he would continue to stress the importance of engagement with our partners in the Pacific. We have some real significant relationships that have grown strong over time. Certainly our traditional friends, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia and many others…Malaysia, Indonesia -- but we also see the emergence of China in very different ways.
Part of this conference is to talk a little bit about cyber. I think those of you who operate in that domain every day know that China is a player there. China is a player in space -- whether it is countering or looking for vulnerabilities that we might have, or demonstration of an anti-ballistic missile / anti-satellite capability, which they have. So they are a developing force that has to be reckoned with. It is not just doing it in a force-on-force traditional Cold War style. In fact, that is probably not the right way to approach it. It’s in fact, now, finding the way to engage on the one hand and deter on the other hand. That’s an interesting dynamic that has developed and it is not just unique to the Pacific.
So we see a complex world, a world in which threats come from irregular means. Terrorists move through the gray areas that are the seams of our combatant commands and our country’s boundaries. Terrorists know no rules. They care less about the value of life. And so the complex challenge of defending the homeland is made more difficult by the transnational nature of some of these unique organizations that have found a way to operate in the world of cyber, in the world of illicit trade and trafficking routes and others -- to hold free nations at risk and to hole free peoples at risk.
Those are the sorts of things that we deal with every day. I think the important element of success is to grow all of you [airmen] in a way that allows you to operate in this complex military environment. Many of you have been to the schools -- you drank the “DIME” Kool-Aid. We live in an environment where “Diplomatic” and “Information” and “Economic” partner side by side with the “Military.”
I was just at the State Department today waiting for the Chief of Mission get together for the Western Hemisphere and one of the ambassadors was fussing at me a little bit. He said, “You military folks, you are out there everywhere. You are militarizing foreign policy -- stop.” What we are trying to do is cooperate in an environment where none of has all the skill sets. But let me make a point to you, Mr. Ambassador, today we are sending more men and women in uniform to the “Harvards” and the “Johns Hopkins” and the “Georgetowns” and the “Columbias” and the “Yales,” not to study military science -- but to study political science and to study international relations. We are now sending more officers from our military to language training and to cultural awareness training than at any time in our history.
So, let me talk to you about our commitment to the DIME and encourage the State Department and others to ramp up that kind of capacity. By the way, all of us need to advocate for the appropriate funding of our State Department friends so that they can continue to grow that capacity over time. We need folks who can operate in cyber. The old guys up here are not the right people. In fact, looking at the audience, you all may be too old, too. [Laughter] We must grow that young cyber warrior who is digitally agile, who can operate in that domain in a way that is sort of unbound by our traditional paradigms, and who understands that to be successful in cyberspace you’ve got to be a bit nonconventional. That’s the future for us. That’s what this 21st century is going to hold. I think for many of us, we are handing you off a problem that is going to grow and diversify in geometric proportions. You will get the joy and opportunity to lead in that kind of environment.
I do want to make one other point -- and it is back to a quick lead into Haiti. When Haiti occurred, Doug Fraser gave me a call and he said, “Hey! We’re [USSOUTHCOM] not configured as a command to do large-scale disasters. You guys [USNORTHCOM] are configured as command. You do that every day. Can you help us?” And, of course, we said, “Absolutely.” So today, US Northern Command, has about 125 of our staff deployed forward into Florida, some with FEMA and DHS, some with CDP -- and then about 97 or so in Doug Fraser’s headquarters, providing him with that disaster response expertise.
My interagency, two-star civilian is there. My Marine J-4, one-star, not only was there but now he is forward running the logistic operation in Haiti for General Keene. My standing Joint Force Headquarters -- we basically gutted the Headquarters and sent all 60 members down to SOUTHCOM -- and they are the future ops cell. They are the future planning cell that is operating for Doug Fraser in Miami. So for us, it made sense to put that capacity forward and to give him that surge to be able to deal in that environment.
It’s what we trained to do. I think that out of this, one of the lessons will be, we have to think about supporting / supported relationships in a very different way. Glenn Spears, who is the AF South Commander, turned around and said, “We need to build a RAMC process. I’ve got nobody to do that with.” And so I chopped Gary Dean, my JFACC over to Glenn Spears and said, “Do whatever he needs for you to do.”
So, the RAMC function for AF South, sits in the AF North AOC -- the SAR planners, the JPRC-Forward, all of those things are things that we pushed to AF South to build capacity on a very short notice. I think those are the kinds of models that we are going to have to use in the future. I would suggest that if something of this nature occurred in Africa Command today, you might have a need to do that same thing.
We have to think very differently about the way we structure our joint combatant commands and how we partner with each other in crisis to be successful.
On that I will stop and turn it over to Duncan.
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