U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) commander, and representatives from the command hosted Dr. Hank Bounds, University of Nebraska president, and more than 20 senior leaders from the university to discuss USSTRATCOM’s global missions and promote military-to-university cooperation and innovation.
“Developing and maintaining partnerships with security experts from academic institutions enables USSTRATCOM to view the strategic environment from a different perspective and adjust our decision calculus accordingly,” Haney said. “We are excited about opportunities with prestigious universities, like the University of Nebraska, in which we cooperate, exchange ideas and share information.”
Hosting the delegation supports USSTRATCOM’s Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance, which started in Oct. 2014 to stimulate new thinking and develop future generations of deterrence practitioners. Since then, 20 local and national universities have joined the alliance, including the University of Nebraska campuses.
Alliance members support USSTRATCOM and the program by promoting research topics within their departments; participating in workshops, speaking engagements and panels; and populating an electronic database with research papers and proposals on subjects related to the command’s global strategic missions.
“The mission space for STRATCOM is very broad,” said Dr. Bounds. “If it were just cybersecurity, it would be enormous; if it were just combating weapons of mass destruction, it would be enormous; if it were just nuclear proliferation, it would be enormous; but they have all of those areas.
“I think it’s just really smart of the Department of Defense to think about how they link up with intellectual power across the country,” he added. “They’re not just linking up with us, they’re linking up with universities across the nation and bringing the best thinkers to bear on all the issues that our nation faces.”
Haney opened the discussions by presenting a command mission brief, in which he described USSTRATCOM’s nine Unified Command Plan-assigned missions and his priorities as commander, which include building, sustaining and supporting partnerships.
“When you look at the global, multi-faceted issues we face around the world, you don’t have to do everything at the highly classified level,” Haney said. “Being able to tap into the resources and experience of our partners from the University of Nebraska is huge.”
The delegation, which consisted of more than 20 University of Nebraska senior leaders from its four campuses, also received a tour of USSTRATCOM’s global operations center and held discussions on strategic deterrence, cyber responsibility and collaborative research efforts with subject matter experts in the command.
Dr. Bounds said the Academic Alliance could help develop a program to train people who can work in a world that is “increasingly complex.” He added that USSTRATCOM and the university “recognize the importance of working together and working in each other’s back yard.”
“We have individuals who are expert in everything from extremist organizations to nuclear proliferation,” he said. “I think it’s really important to recognize that we have that expertise and deploy it in a way that can help secure our national defense.”
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Hinson has first-hand experience on both sides of the DoD relationship with academic institutions. In addition to his current role as the founding executive director of the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska - one of 13 University Affiliated Research Centers (UARC) in the nation - he is also a former USSTRATCOM Deputy Commander.
Hinson said military organizations have collaborated with academic institutions and UARCs as far back as World War II. He noted the importance of receiving an “academic perspective” in key areas of interest.
“I think the academic community brings a different insight to what technology is out there versus what the military has to deal with on a day-to-day basis,” he said. He added that while academic research often aligned with DoD priorities, the formation of UARCs “opened the umbrella” for the university to gain better awareness of research requirements.
Haney echoed Hinson’s comments on the UARC and emphasized the program’s importance.
“The UARC program is critical to USSTRATCOM. We depend on our partnership with NSRI and the academic community to generate relevant and timely research solutions that directly impact our operations and ultimately, national security.”
At the conclusion of the visit, Haney expressed his gratitude to Dr. Bounds and the visiting delegation.
“I appreciate Dr. Bounds’ obvious commitment. Bringing such a large team here to U.S. Strategic Command, to get a deeper understanding of what we are and the multi-faceted nature of national security as a whole, is good for not just the university, but for our country,” Haney said.
One of nine DoD unified combatant commands, USSTRATCOM has global strategic missions, assigned through the Unified Command Plan, which include strategic deterrence; space operations; cyberspace operations; joint electronic warfare; global strike; missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; combating weapons of mass destruction; and analysis and targeting.