"Quotable: General Scaparrotti on deterrence and 'our strategic message',” publicdiplomacycouncil.org
Scaparrotti image from
Friday, August 12th 2016
On July 27, 2016, General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, spoke at the 2016 Deterrence Symposium. Here are excerpts from his speech that relate to information:
- Among our most significant challenges is Russia, which since 2014 has destabilized the European security system with an assertive behavior and provocative actions that challenge internationally recognized borders, norms and international laws.
- As a result of the changing environment, EUCOM together with NATO, has instituted a comprehensive shift from assurance to deterrence.
- I would like to highlight just four areas that complicate, I believe, the execution of our deterrent actions.
- First, and noted by Admiral Haney, is the speed and availability of information. Communication is a key component of deterrence, and today‘s information environment seriously challenges our ability to communicate capability and intent clearly and at the right time.
- Often our strategic message is stated with variance as a result of multiple voices, sometimes leaked at an inopportune moment, or obstructed by regimes that are difficult to penetrate or become distorted by an adversary‘s information operations.
- Consequently, this information environment has significantly reduced leaders‘ decision space. What was once days is now hours. The challenge is figuring out how to use the speed and availability of information to our advantage.
- Part of the challenge is that a demonstration to deter can be escalatory and may in fact be provocative in the mind of our adversary. On the other hand, we cannot allow our adversaries to exploit grey zones below the threshold of conflict. Getting this right, especially when we have difficulty communicating our intent and understanding our adversary, is an art. It‘s not a science.
- We also have to prioritize ways we can leverage the present information environment to better discern our adversary‘s intent, counter our adversaries‘ information operations and effectively communicate the alliance‘s strategic messaging to achieve deterrence.