By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2013 – Recognizing that members of U.S. Strategic Command “have chosen a career where there is no room for error,” its new commander is fostering a command culture that demands integrity, encourages leadership and teamwork, and inspires trust.
Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney arrived at Stratcom last month to a full plate of responsibilities he said demand the best of what every member of the command has to offer.
“You cannot micromanage the entire span of work of U.S. Strategic Command,” he told American Forces Press Service. “When you look at the number of components and task forces it is very important not to hold back the leadership we have here, across the board.”
Haney, who previously served as Stratcom’s deputy commander, is well-acquainted with the talent pool that supports nuclear deterrence and other missions related to space, cyber, missile defense, and intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance.
“What our command brings is a pool of some incredibly talented individuals, both in uniform and in civilian clothes, with vast experience,” he said. “So my style is to embellish their capabilities and to leverage them so everyone can work together for the whole in terms of getting to those issues.”
A U.S. Naval Academy graduate and career submariner, Haney challenges command members to recognize the key roles they play in the overall mission. “The business of developing and harnessing and nurturing effective teamwork has been how I have grown up in the military environment,” he said.
At all-hands gatherings and other forums, for example, he often asks the leaders among the group to identify themselves.
“And I expect to see all the hands raised, because in this business we have folks at all levels contributing to our defense apparatus in a big way,” he said. “It requires teamwork and each and every individual, working together, in order to make the capabilities we have work.”
Haney rarely passes up an opportunity to sing the praises of his people. “Their passion and dedication for the work is one I do not take for granted,” he said.
Almost immediately after returning to Stratcom, Haney set out to thank members of the nuclear force at Minot Air Force Base, N.D.; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; and Navy Submarine Base King’s Bay, Ga., for the often-unsung contributions they make every day.
“What I have found is a very positively motivated nuclear force that is focused on the job at hand. They were all very positive about what they were doing,” he said.
Some, he acknowledged, had taken to heart the negative perceptions generated when news broke that some nuclear missile crews came up short on evaluations. “When I met with them, their concerns were all about how they can get better, and not resting on their laurels,” he said.
Haney said these isolated cases overshadow the stellar performance the entire nuclear force exhibits 24/7, 365 days a year.
Noting the extremely high standards that nuclear forces are held to, he said it’s not unexpected that all units may not achieve the maximum scores every time they are evaluated. “Given the scrutiny that we provide this business, and the fact that we are holding the bar so high, consequently, from time to time, you would expect us to have some negative results — but not on a continuous basis,” he said.
The goal, Haney said, is for units to apply the lessons learned through this process quickly so they can meet the standard when they are inspected next. Ensuring that happens depends on leadership across the command that emphasizes accountability and responsibility at every level, he said.
Haney underscored these principles in his first combatant commander guidance memo, issued in the first weeks after he arrived at Stratcom’s headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.
“This organization has a long-standing and well-earned reputation for operational excellence,” he told the command. “You are respected across the nation for the work that you do.”
As he laid out his priorities for the command, Haney emphasized his expectations for every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, civilian and contractor that make up Stratcom’s staff.
“We stand at the top of the integrity, ethics and standards pyramid,” he wrote, reminding them that they represent the command through their actions.
“The rules apply to all of us, and you set the example for others,” Haney added.
The admiral said he entrusts his staff to provide him with the best recommendations and feedback possible, urging detailed and well-researched staff work that considers the “so what” of an issue.
And for those who might hesitate to act when confronted with unfamiliar or gray areas, Haney made clear that he expects staff members to be willing to think for themselves. “You don’t need my permission to do your job. I have complete confidence in your abilities,” he assured them. “When in doubt, make an informed decision now and we will sort it out later.”
Haney emphasized the importance of collaboration and information sharing that supports without delay the decision-making process.
“Teamwork is essential to success,” he said.
“In today’s uncertain times, I can think of no more focused, innovative and professional group to deliver critical warfighting capabilities to the nation,” Haney said in closing. “You are all vital to the command and mission. I am humbled by the culture of excellence you have created and I am tremendously honored to serve alongside each of you.”
(Follow Donna Miles on Twitter: @MilesAFPS)
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