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​Global Thunder, the Defense Department’s annual command and control exercise, kicked off on Monday. The training exercise includes several components and task forces, and is designed to assess joint operational readiness and validate US Strategic Command’s ability to identify and mitigate attacks across all of its mission areas, with a focus on cyber, space, missile defense, and nuclear readiness, according to a release. “The United States’ ability to maintain a safe, secure, effective, and credible nuclear deterrent is foundational to our national security and contributes to the security of our allies and partners,” STRATCOM Commander Adm. Cecil Haney said. “This exercise, and our continued focus on maintaining key capabilities and skills, ensures USSTRATCCOM’s strategic forces remain ready, 24/7, providing flexible and credible options for the President and the Department of Defense.” This year’s Global Thunder is being held in conjunction with Vigilant Shield, a North American Aerospace Defense Command and US Northern Command homeland defense exercise.