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US Strategic Command launched Global Thunder, its yearly full-scale nuclear command and control exercise, on Monday, announced command officials. "The United States' ability to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent is foundational to our national security and contributes to the security of our allies and partners," said Adm. Cecil Haney, STRATCOM commander, in the command's Oct. 17 release. "This exercise, and our continued focus on maintaining key capabilities and skills, ensures USSTRATCOM's strategic forces remain relevant and ready, 24/7," he added. Global Thunder is timed to integrate with NORAD and US Northern Command's air, missile, and homeland defense Exercise Vigilant Shield, according to the release.