Stratcom stays prepared with ambitious exercises

The exercise program for U.S. Strategic Command encompasses all mission areas and every combatant command, according to the command's director of joint training exercises Partrick McVay.

McVay said that Stratcom conducts exercises as if it were fighting, requiring the integration of all capabilities it might be called on to provide. The capabilities include ballistic missile defense, cyber defense and space defense.

"We'd never do nuclear operations in a vacuum," McVay said. "It is never going to be just nuclear... It is going to be in space and in cyber, and we are going to have to use all our capabilities."

In most cases, Stratcom would support regional combatant commands, but eventually the entire U.S. military would need to get involved.

"It is an interdependent world, and no combatant command is going to be fighting the fight on its own," McVay said. "We are going to be interdependent, supporting and supported by one another."

McVay said it was important for Stratcom to establish important relationships now, before a conflict actually were to occur.

"If something happens in an area of responsibility and the first time our commander talks to their commander about what their requirements are in a crisis, that is not an optimum situation," McVay said. "That's why we do our exercise program with them: to establish those relationships and those linkages, so they can understand what our capabilities are and what Strategic Command brings to the fight in terms of space and cyber capabilities, (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and other support."

The ambitious exercise program maintained by Stratcom keeps it mission-ready, though its most important goal is to provide deterrence to stop conflicts from happening before they start.

"The optimum situation is that (Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Stratcom commander) never has to fight this fight, (and) we don't have to defend our space assets -- we don't have to fight off a cyberattack, we don't have to do a global strike against an adversary, we don't have to conduct nuclear operations -- (and) instead, we deter an adversary from taking the steps that would result in that," McVay said. "That's what strategic deterrence is all about, and the goal of everything we do here at U.S. Strategic Command."