F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --
The commander of U.S. Strategic Command visited F. E. Warren Air Force Base July 21, 2017, to discuss strategic deterrence and present the Omaha Trophy for Best Missile Wing.
General John Hyten presented the Omaha Trophy to Col. Stacy Huser, 90th Missile Wing commander, who accepted the award on behalf of the wing.
“It’s amazing to receive this trophy,” said Hyten, “But it’s even more amazing to earn it. And you guys have earned this trophy.”
Hyten mentioned a number of items that went into STRATCOM’s decision-making, noting operational excellence, local impact, and other awards earned by the unit and its Airmen.
The Omaha Trophy is awarded each year to U.S. military units in four official categories: Global Operations, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, Strategic Aircraft Operations and Submarine Ballistic Missile.
Following the presentation of the trophy, Hyten discussed the crucial importance of strategic deterrence to national security. Expounding on how the nature of deterrence has changed from the bipolar world of the Cold War to rogue states and unconventional combatants, Hyten explained that while some aspects have changed, ultimately the nature of deterrence stays the same.
“The capabilities of our nuclear deterrence are the bedrock of everything we do as a military,” said Hyten. “It’s the thing that keeps our adversaries from taking a step too far. Nuclear deterrence keeps the great power conflicts down and the horrible death and destruction like what was seen during World War II away from the world.”
While strategy is crucial, the execution of that ICBM strategy is the responsibility of the 20th Air Force and the missile wings like the 90th. Hyten mentioned that while the landscape of combat and deterrence continues to change, it falls upon the land-based ICBM to serve as the weapon most likely to scare potential adversaries.
“Deterrence in the 21st century is not just nuclear. It’s nuclear, conventional, space and cyberspace. It’s wholly different, the world we live in today,” said Hyten. “But without the nuclear capabilities operated out of here and the wings at Malmstrom and Minot, we do not have the capability to strike fear into our adversaries, and that is a capability we must have.”
In addition to the weapons themselves, deterrence requires full combat readiness of the Airmen of the missile wings. U.S. Strategic Command is a warfighting mission, Hyten said, and combat readiness is what ensures deterrence.
“The day our adversaries ever figure out we are not ready, is the day our deterrent is not effective,” said Hyten. “So these wings, this mission has to be combat ready, every day.”
Another important aspect of the nuclear mission, said Hyten, was the road toward the modernization of the nuclear infrastructure. Much of the equipment and network is decades old, and modernization and replacement of that infrastructure will be an important component to ensuring Airmen are capable of executing the mission of strategic deterrence now and in the future.
“We’re going to modernize the infrastructure and we’re going to replace the missiles,” said Hyten. “And, come the 2030s, we’ll have a capability that will last us through the century.”
Even in the current realities of unclear adversaries and nontraditional combatants, the men and women of the global deterrence mission stand ready to perform their duties, ensuring those adversaries long consider their efforts before taking a step too far.