Navy Adm. Charles A. Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, speaks at a press conference following Richard’s assumption of command of Stratcom in Omaha, Nebraska, November 18, 2019.
A few words to start off with. One, I maybe on a personal note, I can’t tell you how delighted my wife Lisa and I are to be back in Omaha. It is a fabulous place. I think some of y’all actually were there during the change of command speech, and I tried to capture a can-do spirit and a welcoming attitude that is here in Omaha, particularly in Nebraska, in general. And that little sea story I told about the flooding and what it looked like from the outside in. Very appreciative of that. And being that I am a southerner, but given it’s my third time here, I now know what those little poles are on the fire hydrants, so I think I’m fully qualified to go through a Nebraska winter. But I am honored beyond belief and humbled beyond belief to be taking over command of the 150,000 professionals that are US Strategic Command. And in all of the footsteps I’m following, of General Hyten and the commanders that came before, this command is on a superb trajectory. I wanted to make it clear that we are not changing the priorities for command. Above all else, we will provide strategic deterrence. If that fails, we will provide a decisive response, and we’ll do so with a trained and combat-ready force. There are a number of things that are in progress right now that I think it is essential for the nation that we see through to completion. This command and control facility might be a perfect example of that. I can’t give you a better example of the commitment this nation has to this mission set. This is the finest facility of its type in the world. And it’s the beginnings of a long road of modernization that we’re gonna have to do if we’re gonna maintain this foundational capability that is as essential, as Admiral John Richardson said, to our survival as a nation and make sure that that’s solid. That’s not the only thing we have to do. We have to make sure that General Raymond, at U.S. Base Command, gets everything he needs to take that command to full operational capability. We have a number, we have to continue to modernize the triad. You heard me say in the speech, our only other choice is unilateral disarmament. And every one of the other initiatives that are in progress, we have to complete. So I couldn’t be more excited about being here, it is a fabulous day, and I think I’m ready to take your questions.
[Woman] Sir, we’re gonna start with Bryan.
[Bryan] Welcome back to town, Admiral. So I thought the story was interesting that there was an exercise going on at the dedication. Two things, did you step in there and monitor at all, and I suspect that that’s probably a not-so-subtle reminder of the type of the good work done here.
So I wasn’t doing them here, I will tell you it hasn’t been that long since I got from Norfolk, and in my second day before taking command I was in the other building doing those exercises, getting myself back up to speed.
[Male Reporter] Sir, General Milley mention that, because of your background, you’re in a good position to identify gaps and seams that may need some additional work in the next few years? Can you talk a little bit about maybe some of the areas that, maybe some new areas, that you plan to emphasize in the next?
I think that the key to that is where we’re going in the future. We are in competition right now. We are facing threats in a way that we have not seen in decades. So it is pacing those threats, looking at the way we are being challenged, and making sure that we have the right answers to maintain strategic deterrence in changing conditions.
[Male Reporter] You mentioned that one of your goals, when you get here, is to get this facility into full operation. What do you see as the biggest challenge in that as you step into your new role?
The-this is the most sophisticated and capable facility of its type any in the world. And we set a demanding standard for the performance of the facility. So, as you know I’ve said, it’s got to be perfect, right? So, we are going to make sure that it is fully ready to go. That testing is in progress right now. I have great confident that we’ll work through it. I guess, if you need a little bit more personal motivation, I’m not moving, there’s 2,000 people already over here, about 1,000 more to go, but I’m not moving across the street until all that testing is complete, right? It’s not going to be too much longer, we’ll be ready. We’ll all be here.
[Male Reporter] So, the nuclear recapitalization continues. There’s a whole lot of weapons systems begin modernized all at once. Are there any in particular that you would be really concerned to see the work lag behind.
I’ll tell ya, I love all the children, right? You have to have all of the triad to provide the flexibility, capability, and redundancy. I think the nuclear posture review got this exactly correct. So, no, we have already answered that questions in previous years by picking and choosing stuff to get us in the position that we’re in. So, we have used most of that margin. We need it all to come through, and come through one time. And this nation is capable of doing that. I would like to start shifting this conversation to what’s it going to take to get it to all come in on time instead of asking about what we’re going to do when it comes in late.
[Male Reporter] Admiral, what is the number one challenge facing our country today? Is it the established states or is it the rouge states, or non-existent states?
It is the ability to move fast. Right? This nation used to move much, much faster in its ability to go accomplish a program or go accomplish an objective. It’s a competition. If you could move faster than your competitor, you have an advantage. That’s what I’m most – if you want – I don’t stay awake at night very much, right? But when I do, that’s what I’m thinking about, is how do we move at the speed. You heard the names of the great leaders that the foundational capabilities this nation is built on. They knew how to move fast. The nation did; we need to get back to that.
[Male Reporter] What does this mean to you personally to be appointed to this new position?
It is incredibly humbling, right? That I look at these iconic commanders of US Strategic Command. I’ve had a picture of Curtis Lemay on my wall for five years alongside Admiral Hyman Rickover to remind what right looks like. But I also say that I have been preparing for 37 years for this moment, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to take us to the next step.
[Male Reporter] What do you think the public doesn’t understand the Strategic Command does that probably should know?
I would take that more to, I worry that we take strategic deterrence itself for granted, right? The benefits, the fact that, chairman Milley talked about, we have not had great power of war since 1945. That was not an accident. That was over 4,000 strategic deterrent patrols. That was innumerable hours in missile silos and in uncountable sorties and command and control and bomber aircraft. That’s what caused that to happen. I am old enough to have done a duck and cover drill. Are you – have you done a duck and cover drill?
[Male Reporter] No.
Right. We used to think about that. I remember, I was kindergarten, I’m not that old. I do remember wondering what is this desk going to do for me, right? But we did that. My kids have never thought about something like that. I think that’s the ultimate sign of success in this missionary. We have removed that from the American psyche, and I worry that we don’t remember the effort, and the commitment that it takes to make those statements true in the future.
[Male Reporter] Sir, I was wondering, Offutt has been through a lot. We had this brand-new facility here that just got online but there’s an awful lot of work that’s got to be done in the next few years, and also you’re going to be losing the runway here for a period of time. I was wondering how STRATCOM might be affected by being all this otherwhere going on at the base, and how concerned are you, also, about the threats like we saw with the flooding this last year.
Well, one advantage of having been here before is I know the close relationship that Strategic Command has with the 55th Wing and the Air Force more generally. So, I have confidence that the Air Force will work through these challenges. STRATCOM in particular has, uh, that partnership enables us to know what we can and can’t do, and we have thought very hard about how to modify our operations so that we have minimum impact and can complete our mission while continuing to be good tenants to the Wing.
[Male Reporter] You went into a little bit already but have been here before, obviously, what did you learn in those experiences that now prepare you for your new role?
It was the way STRATCOM operates. In that unique – it’s like I wanted to come back. I’ve just not seen a place that almost whatever you throw in front of this command they will improvise, adapt, and overcome and find you a way through it. And I think that is a part of being in the heartland, right? I think that comes in part from the Omaha, Nebraska and just the basic way the Midwest culture is. I wanted to be a part of it.
[Female Mediator] Anything else?
[Male Reporter] Are you worried the budget might be hurtful for military. I know both of you guys kind of, in jest, but there was some truth to that.
Well, look, I like the way former Secretary of Defense Mattis said, “this nation can afford survival”, right? It is just a questions of what we’re going to spend our resources on, and I think this is a good investment. All right. Well, I thank you very much for your questions. I look forward to seeing y’all as the first time of many I’m sure, and it’s great to be back.
[Male Reporter] Thank you, officer.