Stratcom provides support against multiple U.S. security threats

Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, recently said that while Stratcom used to handle nuclear threats alone, the agency's role has changed as new threats have emerged.

In the past, Stratcom was referred to as "nuclear command," because the combatant command previously only handled the threat of nuclear events. In last eight years, the DoD expanded Stratcom's responsibilities to encompass more missions that affect every combatant command.

"While my No. 1 priority as long as nuclear weapons exist would be to deter a nuclear attack on the United States and our allies with a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent force, there are other things that concern us today as well," Kehler said.

During a testimony before the Senate and House armed services committees in March, Kehler described unprecedented global volatility including cyber activity, the Syrian civil war, North Korea's nuclear activities and actions by violent extremists. Stratcom has been adapted into the global synchronizer for all combatant commands and for the deterrence of all weapons of mass destruction.

"Our fundamental mission has remained the same, but it is about deterring a strategic attack that is broader than a nuclear attack," Kehler said. "The tools that we would use to do that are broader and more inclusive than ever before in our history."

Kehler said he thinks that all adversaries of the United States can be deterred, but the challenge is figuring out how. Relying on the intelligence community is one way to better understand potential adversaries and influence their actions.

"This gets back to some fundamental issues for us about being able to understand our adversaries better and understand our mission context better," Kehler said. "It is about being able to take this multitude of tools that Stratcom has been given, because that is why we were given them: to try to come up with these tailored ways of applying these tools so we achieve the deterrence benefit."