United States Strategic Command

"Strategic Command" redirects here. For other uses, see Strategic Command (disambiguation).
United States Strategic Command

The official seal of the United States Strategic Command.
Active 1 June 1992[1] to present
Country  United States of America
Type Functional Combatant Command
Role "Leaders in Strategic Deterrence and Preeminent Global Warfighters In Space and Cyberspace."[2]
Part of Department of Defense
Headquarters Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, U.S.
General John E. Hyten, USAF

United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands of the United States Department of Defense (DoD). It is charged with space operations (such as military satellites), information operations (such as information warfare), missile defense, global command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR), global strike and strategic deterrence (the United States nuclear arsenal), and combating weapons of mass destruction.

Strategic Command was established in 1992 as a successor to Strategic Air Command (SAC). It is headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base south of Omaha, Nebraska. In October 2002, it merged with the United States Space Command (USSPACECOM). It employs more than 2,700 people, representing all four services, including DoD civilians and contractors.

Strategic Command is one of the three Unified Combatant Commands organized along a functional basis. The other six are organized on a geographical basis. The unified military combat command structure is intended to give the President and the Secretary of Defense a unified resource for greater understanding of specific threats around the world and the means to respond to those threats as quickly as possible.


On 1 June 1992, President George H. W. Bush established the U.S. Strategic Command from the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and other Cold War military bodies, now obsolete due to the change in world politics. The Command unified planning, targeting and wartime employment of strategic forces under one commander. Day-to-day training, equipment and maintenance responsibilities for its forces remained with the Air Force and Navy.

As a result of the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, the Cold War system of relying solely on offensive nuclear response was modified. Shortly after a meeting between President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in May 2002, a summit was held during which both leaders signed a treaty promising bilateral reductions that would result in a total of 1,700 to 2,200 operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons for each country by the year 2012.

Space and Global Strike reorganization

The activation of the new USSTRATCOM took place on 1 October 2002. The merged command was responsible for both early warning of and defense against missile attack as well as long-range strategic attacks.

President George W. Bush signed Change Two to the Unified Command Plan on 10 January 2003, and tasked USSTRATCOM with four previously unassigned responsibilities: global strike, missile defense integration, Department of Defense Information Operations, and C4ISR (command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance). This combination of roles, capabilities and authorities under a single unified command was unique in the history of unified commands.

In 2005, after some consideration concerning the separation of the Joint Functional Component Command (JFCC) for Space and Global Strike missions, according to AirForceTimes.com[3] and InsideDefense.com,[4] General Cartwright began the process of separating the JFCC for Space and Global Strike into two individual JFCCs: a JFCC for Space (JFCC Space) and a JFCC for Global Strike and Integration (JFCC GSI).[5] U.S. Strategic Command officials were expected to deliver a detailed plan on the separation to General Cartwright for approval by September 2006.[6]

Some officials believed this would allow each to focus more effectively on its primary mission and allow the mission of space to have focused attention and be better integrated with other military capabilities. This comes after some concern by officials and lawmakers such as U.S. Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), an advocate for national security space activities, complained in a March 2006 memo to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about what he saw as a declining emphasis on space within the U.S. Department of Defense and specifically the way space has been organized at U.S. Strategic Command.[7]

As result of the separation, the Missile Correlation Center in Cheyenne Mountain AFS was broken into two separate entities. NORAD/NORTHCOM (N2C2) now controls the Missile and Space Domain (MSD) and JFCC Space controls the Missile Warning Center (MWC). They are both still located at Cheyenne Mountain AFS. It was expected that MSD would eventually move to Peterson AFB to join the rest of N2C2.

Mission statement

Gen. Curtis E. LeMay Building, U.S. Strategic Command Headquarters

The missions of U.S. Strategic Command are to deter attacks on U.S. vital interests, to ensure U.S. freedom of action in space and cyberspace, to deliver integrated kinetic and non-kinetic effects to include nuclear and information operations in support of U.S. Joint Force Commander operations, to synchronize global missile defense plans and operations, to synchronize regional combating of weapons of mass destruction plans, to provide integrated surveillance and reconnaissance allocation recommendations to the SECDEF, and to advocate for capabilities as assigned.

Subordinate Commands

Service components



Air Force

Primary functional units

USSTRATCOM exercises command authority over four joint functional component commands, also known as JFCCs as well as Joint Task Forces and Service Components. This combination of authorities, oversight, leadership and management is supposed to enable a more responsive, flattened organizational construct according to the commands leadership.

Task forces

USSTRATCOM relies on various task forces for the execution of its global missions. These include:

STRATCOM operational plans and contingency plans include OPLAN 8010-12.[14] William Arkin listed two CONPLANs in his 2005 book Code Names: STRATCOM CONPLAN 8022, Global Strike, November 2003, and STRATCOM OPLAN 8044, formerly called the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), April 2003.[15] He also said that prior to 11 September 2001, STRATCOM was responsible for one OPLAN. Foreign Policy magazine reported in May 2014 that the designation 'CONOP 8888' had been utilized for the unclassified end product of a training session on how to produce Concepts of Operation.[16]


In 2007, General Kevin P. Chilton took over command of USSTRATCOM. He served as the senior commander of the forces from the four branches of the military assigned to the command. His responsibilities include integrating and coordinating the necessary command and control capability to provide support with the most accurate and timely information for the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and to regional combatant commanders.

On 7 May 2009, Chilton stated that the United States would not be constrained in its response to a cyber attack, therefore demonstrating the utility of his command which combines cyber defense with global strike.[17]

List of Combatant Commanders
No. Image Name Start of Term End of Term
1. General George L. Butler, USAF 1992 1994
2. Admiral Henry G. Chiles, Jr., USN 1994 1996
3. General Eugene E. Habiger, USAF 1996 1998
4. Admiral Richard W. Mies, USN 1998 2002
5. Admiral James O. Ellis, Jr., USN 2002 2004
6. General James E. Cartwright, USMC 2004 2007
Acting Lt. Gen C. Robert Kehler, USAF 4 August 2007 17 October 2007
7. General Kevin P. Chilton, USAF 2007 2011
8. General C. Robert Kehler, USAF 2011 2013
9. Admiral Cecil D. Haney, USN 2013 2016
10. General John E. Hyten, USAF 2016 Present


A previous commander, General James Cartwright (2004–07) explored ways to incorporate communication technology tools, even including chat rooms and blogs, to introduce a collaborative element into what has traditionally been considered as a very centralized military environment. Speaking at a convention, Cartwright said,

Anything that comes off the face of the earth you have about 100 seconds to type it, figure out what it is, and act. I can't even get a phone call through that fast. But the national system is set up to have a phone conference about that. You try to do that in the middle of the night. You try to do that in the middle of the day, get people out of meetings. It's not possible. In that 100 seconds, what do we do when we get people on the phone? We describe what's going on so we spend most of the time in discovery rather than in options and activity and execution. We can't do business that way.[18]

See also


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