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SPEECH | July 27, 2017

GEN Brooks Remarks – USSTRATCOM Deterrence Symposium Keynote- July 26

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It’s my delight to be with you and I hope you’re enjoying your meal. I know I have the challenge of being the first speaker after lunch has been served, and that can have tremendous deterrent challenges that have to be undertaken. But actually I’m quite delighted to have the opportunity to address you as the first-day keynote speaker.


I’d like to begin by thanking General Hyten for convening this conference, but most importantly for extending the invitation for me to join you and the great U.S. Strategic Command team writ large, and the broader enterprise that is concerned and focused on deterrence. I’ve already found it valuable just in the short time I’ve been with you here yesterday and today to hear the various perspectives and ideas that can be brought to bear when we talk about deterrence.


So, I am honored to be able to provide my perspectives (and that’s really what these are) on the subject of deterrence. I do that as the commander of the United Nations Command, also as the commander of the Republic of Korea-United States combined forces, and also as the commander of all U.S. forces in Korea. And I will tell you that, in all three of those, we are actively engaged in preserving the deterrence we have already achieved, and also, seeking the deterrence we have not yet achieved. And I’ll try to talk to that.


I am going to share five observations with you on deterrence as I go through my remarks today and then after that engage in responding to your questions.


But before I do that, I do want to provide a little bit of context on the three commands I introduced just a moment ago.


Each of these commands are distinct. Each has a different set of roles and a different set of authorities. Let me give you a quick overview just for context. Some of you may have already heard this before, but some may have not.


First is the United Nations Command. UN Command is the oldest, established in 1950 by a United Nations Security Council Resolution. It remains under the strategic direction of the United States as the lead nation – that too was stipulated in the United Nations Security Council Resolution – and that’s executed through the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was the command that fought the Korean War as the primary combatant, fighting on behalf of and alongside the Republic of Korea, and it was this command that was the signatory to the actual Armistice Agreement forged in 1953.   


Since the signing of the armistice, UN Command has preserved that Armistice, and maintained control of the forces of all UN Sending States, the United States, and the Republic of Korea in all areas inside Korea. The Command has the purpose to prevent resumption of wartime hostilities. By 1978, UN Command released the warfighting control of South Korean and U.S. forces to a newly established command, the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command.


UN Command today still has relevance. That relevance is in preserving the armistice and in providing a home for international commitments in a time of crisis or war.


The second command is the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command, sometimes just referred to as CFC. Established in 1978, as I said, it is now the warfighting command of the Republic of Korea and the United States, and it is those two countries operating in combination. The ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command is the heart of the bi-national alliance.


That command receives strategic guidance and direction from both the President of the United States and the President of the Republic of Korea, through two different coordinating mechanisms.

The Combined Forces Command has a U.S. four-star general in command and a South Korean four-star general as the deputy commander. All the headquarters staff is built that way, with a primary and a deputy, led by one nation or the other, varying depending on the position. In wartime, the command controls the forces of the United States and the Republic of Korea, those that are not otherwise retained under national control.


U.S. Forces Korea, the third of the three commands, is a U.S.-only command with responsibility for all U.S. forces and activities in the Republic of Korea. It is the true expression of the United States’ commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea. It provides day-to-day senior military headquarters to represent U.S. interests with the South Korean government. That’s done in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.


Each one of those, candidly, is a full-time job. We have three different groups of staff –some of the positions are overlapped, dual-hatted or tri-hatted, and some of them are distinct, as we tried to clarify the nature of each one of those commands. And, to be sure, all three are involved in deterrence, which is our subject today.


One thing I didn’t mention for USFK, as a U.S.-only command, its strategic direction comes from a different channel than the other two. It is exclusively a United States chain of command, from the President of the United States through the U.S. Secretary of Defense and through the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, a geographic combatant command for the United States. The role, and that set of relationships, does not change in wartime.


Now on to deterrence. Let’s talk about deterrence for a few minutes.


In the Korean theater of operations our deterrence efforts continue to serve as a bulwark of regional stability, successfully preserving that 64-year old armistice that has prevented a resumption of combat operations.


Yet, the same efforts have proven insufficient to deter the broadening threats, particularly the development of intermediate range and intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as a weaponized nuclear capability.


That reality brings out the first observation – deterrence is a day-to-day competition, with specific application. And deterrence in one area does not equal deterrence universally in all competitive areas.


Different methods may be required to broaden the deterrent effect, and they have to be tailored to the threats that are emerging, while at the same time hanging on to whatever deterrent already exists.

Nations and actors choose to take or to not take actions among the various arrays of options contemplated, as well as being available to them. The capability and the usage are distinct from one another. And to be brought together, any nation or any actor must make a calculation.


So, the second observation about deterrence is this – deterrence is driven by self-restraint in the face of potential outcomes that comprise risks and rewards. When the rewards (in the form of expected aims) are deemed to be greater than the risks (which might take the form of unintended or undesired consequences) – self-restraint becomes relaxed. On the other hand, when the risks exceed the value of the reward, self-restraint is exercised more fully. Impacting that calculus between risk and reward is the focus of any effort to bring about deterrence in an adversary like North Korea, with its accelerating program of development and testing, often tied to key events that go beyond just testing and enter the domain of provocation.


The third observation about deterrence – there can be peril or perils in patterns. What do I mean by this? Creating a consistent pattern can actually provide a basis for predictable behavior that, through confidence building (which may be part of deterrence), might actually be useful. However, when that competitive relationship lacks trust, or is absent the mechanisms of communication (as many talked about this morning), and is competitive or actually hostile, predictable behavior can work against deterrence, particularly if the pattern signals a limited resolve to enforce the consequences of breaking the deterrence. Similarly, deterrence may be restored if one adversary is surprised by an unanticipated behavior on the part of the other, especially if the other is normally predictable, as long as the surprise does not lead to a miscalculation – a miscalculation of intent or a miscalculation of the nature of the danger that emerges.


So, with each one of these, I’m showing you the facets. There is no simple, straight line on this. There can be perils in patterns – use it to your advantage when it’s appropriate; beware of it when it’s not.


Observation number four – deterrence and compellence are different effects. In the case of deterrence, the object of deterrence has a choice to make, particularly in terms of risk and reward calculus. While in the case of compellence, the object is deprived of choice, deprived of alternatives, deprived of freedom of action or initiative. In the case of the North Korea, and particularly in its nuclear and missile programs, the international community is seeking deterrence – in other words, seeking a choice to be made by North Korea. Compellence, however, must remain an option if North Korea does not choose to be deterred instead. So at this point it’s a choice.


The fifth observation about deterrence. A credible consequence – in other words, a real capability to inflict cost if deterrence is broken – must undergird the conditions of deterrence. We heard that in some of the panels this morning about credibility, capability, agility, and communication. All these things are characteristics of deterrence. But there must be that credible consequence to breaking deterrence. This is the reason for our exercises in the Republic of Korea, the things we do with the Republic of Korea as an ally, the things we do with UNC Sending States who periodically come back to train and exercise with us. It is the reason for our strategic deployments of capabilities like those controlled by U.S. Strategic Command. And, it is the basis for our demonstrations, if we’re demonstrating a capability. It is to make absolutely clear, in at least one form of communication--a physical action, that there is a credible capability, and that there will be consequences of deterrence being broken or never fulfilled. In other words, there has to be something behind the rhetoric, or deterrence cannot be achieved.


To be sure, the competitive nature of deterrence goes in both directions. Remember my earlier point that self-restraint is the heart of deterrence in the face of assessed risks and perceived rewards. So the demonstration of resolve is in many ways a catalyst – in other words, it’s an activating agent – especially when coupled with the real capability. That catalyst of resolve, joined with real capabilities, provides the image of the credible consequences.

Many of us have studied war in its various forms and adaptations, and we can appreciate that war is a clash of wills. So is the competitive pursuit of deterrence. War aims to break the will of an adversary to resist the imposition of terms – to say this in short, it’s about bringing an adversary to his knees.

Deterrence aims to cause adversaries to reconsider their resolve to accept whatever consequences might emerge from their actions and to choose something less than having an adversary try to break their will – in other words, bringing an adversary to his senses.


So you’ve heard that description in other places – policy statements and others – that with North Korea, we’re not seeking to bring them to their knees, we’re seeking to bring them to their senses. This is about that balance between compellence and deterrence, between war and something that follows armistice.


In my three commands, we are part of this competitive effort in the pursuit of deterrence, and we do so with our ally the Republic of Korea. I’m so glad that Brigadier General Lee Jung-Woong is here from the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Hyten, I really appreciate your extension to the Republic of Korea the invitation to participate in this conference that’s so important. He’s a strategic planner in the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff and a very important partner in our efforts to think our way through these complex problems. Remember, the Republic of Korea, for which General Lee is a strategic planner, lives daily under the credible threat of North Korean attack. Daily. The Republic of Korea takes deterrence very seriously, ensuring that there is indeed a credible capability that exists to defend against that North Korean threat and to defeat it, if necessary.


Let me just talk about how that is manifested in the Republic of Korea. The South Korean government invests significantly in its own military capabilities, increasing its defense budget by four percent in 2017, to over $34 billion dollars, or just over 2.6 percent of their national Gross Domestic Product being spent in their defense. And, President Moon Jae-in, has highlighted his intent to have government stretch further, to 3.0 percent spending, if he can, over the next five years.


This additional spending, this additional emphasis, has taken the form of procuring advanced aerial platforms such as: the F-35 (the Joint Strike Fighter, as we refer to it in the United States) and the AH-64 Apache helicopter, the most modern variant of it—the Echo model; the enhancement of their ability to mitigate some of the North Korean missile threat with upgrades to their Patriot missile defense systems and contracting for the purchase of three Aegis-equipped surface vessel systems, coupled with the alliance decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery, the THAAD battery, into the Republic of Korea. All of this to enhance the Alliance ballistic missile defense. These capabilities invested in by the Republic of Korea will add to the ongoing efforts to reduce North Korea’s ability to hold the Republic of Korea, and the U.S. forces present, at risk.


This is that risk-reward calculus that we are describing. If there are fewer ways to hold an adversary at risk, maybe there are more ways to have a dialogue. Absent those things that lower the risk, it’s very challenging to have a dialogue, to have the communication that also is part of deterrence.

In this case, that’s a tough challenge because North Korea continues to defy international sanctions—that collective expression by the international community with its guidelines, with its norms. They continue to pursue their ballistic missile programs and continue to seek to mate the missiles with a nuclear payload. The North Korean program is accelerating in time, with nearly weekly tests becoming the new normal. In the past year alone, Kim Jong Un has test-fired 28 ballistic missiles – more than his father and grandfather during their entire reigns combined. He’s conducted two of the five nuclear weapons tests ever conducted by North Korea just in the last year. Kim Jong Un is seeking the development of a credible nuclear capability to deter—to deter—what North Korea perceives to be hostility against it.  


So, the regime seeks to be in a position to dictate its own terms internationally if it can sufficiently hold at risk the Republic of Korea, Japan, the full geography of the United States, and other countries in the region and well beyond the region. In other words, he is seeking deterrence.


Moreover, he appears to be seeking to preclude the development of cohesion among the five parties around North Korea (China, Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States). I tend to do this with my hand held out like this, like the five fingers of a hand. His actions intend to sow friction and fissures among the five in order to prevent them from coming together as a cohesive block, just as I did with my hand. He’s trying to prevent the creation of a closed fist against him, while trying to address the open fingers one at a time. This helps him to try to buy time for capability development. So that means we’re in a race, a race against time and a race that has a contest of wills.


This is the challenge. I’ve described the North Korea problem as a wicked problem. I shared this with some colleagues yesterday and I’ve shared in other places. This idea of a wicked problem is something that defies simple solution. Sometimes, we try to take too simplistic an approach or too direct an approach, it tends to make the problem worse. And I think that’s like righting North Korea when you say that. To address wicked problems, it is possible and I generally encourage people to think about three different steps. These are not necessarily sequential. These are actually three different methods -- is probably a better way to describe it.


First, don’t try to address the problem in the first order.  He wants to have missiles, we don’t want to have him achieve missiles, so let’s work against him achieving missiles. That’s the first order.

Rather, try to analyze and decide in the second order or the third order. Maybe it has to do with regional relationships, maybe it has to do with a different decision, maybe it has to do with the economy, maybe it has to do with internal pressures.


The second method is to harness the wisdom of the crowd. I have to give credit to the author, Mr. James Surowiecki, who wrote a great book called the Wisdom of Crowds. I ascribe to his concepts and thoughts, because I do think that there is wisdom in crowds that exceeds the wisdom of any one super-bright individual or even a small collection. Having a conference like this is one way to harness the wisdom of this crowd, this interested community that is focused on better understanding and better applying the principles of deterrence. So that’s the second way to try to address the wicked problem, to harness the wisdom of the crowd.


The third way is to innovate, to think differently about what it is you’re already doing and finding new ways to do it. Even if you’re after the same thing don’t expect to take same actions and get different outcomes. It’s far more likely that you’ll have success if you think about pursuing your aims and doing it in a different way. Candidly, harnessing the wisdom of the crowds tends to expose innovative ideas as well.


So we certainly are keen to hear your innovative thoughts and ideas as we try to work this wicked problem.


These are just a few thoughts on the topic of the day, the topic of the conference. I hope it helps you to digest your lunch. Sometimes, we have these kinds of conversations over a meal and they can create a bit of indigestion and you think about their complexity and the difficulty.

Truly, I hope that it helps you to frame your thoughts and your discussions throughout the rest of the day and throughout the rest of conference, and candidly beyond there in the conversations that will occur and the relationships that form in this conference, I hope what I’ve just shared helps to stimulate that as well.


Thank you very much for your time and attention. If you’re ready we can transition to questions and answers. Thanks very much.

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