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INHOFE: OK, our meeting will come to order.
The meeting today is going to receive testimonies from two great guys and we are really -- good timing for this event to take place.
They are Gen. John Hyten, Commander of the U.S. STRATCOM and Gen. Terry O'Shaughnessy, Commander of NORTHCOM. This committee's top priority is to support the effective and the implementation of the National Defense Strategy.
The NDS Commission, which we've had a hearing on already and it's -- I think it leads us in the right direction, it is the blueprint that we're using in this commission. They made it clear that maintaining and modernizing a nuclear deterrent is required.
While we ignored the nuclear weapons after the Cold War ended, Russia and China have focused on more and more nuclear programs. You know, we I guess assume that they weren't doing anything because we weren't doing anything at that time.
And then at last we maybe have fallen behind. Now we need to modernize all three legs of the nuclear triad as well as the warheads and infrastructure in the Department of Energy. We'll ask some questions about that, because there's a lot of comments around negating the necessity of the nuclearization and modernization that we feel is -- is necessary.
The president and the Department of Defense have also rightly identified space as a war fighting domain that is growing more important every day. Gen. Hyten, you are a career space professional and your command both direct and relies upon many space systems every day.
I look forward to hearing your views on establishing the U.S. Space Command as a full combatant command and also your thoughts on the new Space Force. We had a chance to visit in my office and I appreciate it and I know that you -- I've heard that you visited others too.
It is kind of a confusing thing when you talk about a Space Force and you talk also about the combatant command and part of (ph) the two are similar, so I'll have some questions along that line.
And Gen. O’Shaughnessy, you've operated -- your -- you have operational responsibility for the defense of the (ph) United States homeland, what an awesome responsibility that is.
The Missile Defense Review recently enumerated a number of challenges to U.S. missile defenses, including crews and hypersonic missiles. I am interested in your views on the most pressing priorities in the missile defense arena as well as what we should be doing to address them.
And lastly Gen. O’Shaughnessy, I'm eager to hear your assessment of the ongoing southern border deployment and how that might be affecting our readiness. It could -- some interpretations of what's happening down there say that that could actually improve our readiness.
So I'm anxious to hear your views on that. Senator Reed.
REED: Well thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, I want to join you in welcoming our witnesses, Gen. Hyten and Gen. O’Shaughnessy. We thank you and your families and the many men and women who serve with you to serve the nation and protect the nation, so thank you very much.
Gen. Hyten, first and foremost, we'd like to hear from you about the administration's decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with nothing to replace it.
I understand that Russia was in non-compliance and they're trying to also pose as a threat, but I believe a better path would have been to continue to pressure Russia back into compliance and add (ph) modifications to the treaty if necessary.
Treaties are a major component of our security strategy, we build and modernize nuclear weapons, but we also have treaties which prescribe numbers and use. Withdrawing from this treaty puts the extension of New START in 2021 on very shaky ground.
I'm interested in your view on this matter. The second issue I'm concerned about is Russia's successful launch of the long-range hypersonic weapon, which I understand will be nuclear capable.
China also has a multitude of similar systems, although not long range like those of Russia. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the capabilities of our near peer competition and what we need to do to counter these capabilities.
The third issue I would like you to address, the administration's Space Force proposal. I understand the importance of space and the need for additional focus and resources for that effort.
I'm also support of creating a full unified command for space, however I'm very dubious (ph) to the need to create an entire new bureaucracy of a separate service and all that entails.
I think it is inevitable that such a creation will distract rather than provide focus to the critical mission of space. I know you have studied this issue closely and I'm interested in your views in the pros and cons of this proposal.
Finally, Gen. Hyten, you are also responsible for the synchronization of global missile defense plans and operations. I'd like to hear your thoughts about the recently released Missile Defense Review and the department's plans for our current missile defense systems and how to address future threats. Gen. O’Shaughnessy, your mission is to protect the homeland, to deter and defeat attacks on the United States and support civil authority in mitigating these types of attacks and natural disasters.
We saw this demonstrated and DOD's supports of the states and territories affected by hurricanes and wildfires this past year, and we thank you and your command for your significant efforts.
You're also duel hatter as a commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, which brings unique responsibilities and partnering opportunities with Canada to deter and defend against advancing threats to our nations.
You're also responsible for the operation of our homeland ballistic missile defense system. We look forward to hearing about your priorities, further improvements for the ground based missile defense system and the context of the Missile Defense Review.
This is particularly important in light of the threat from North Korea and potentially Iran. Lastly, at a time when the National Defense Strategy and our intelligence community's annual worldwide threat assessment are stressing the absolute necessity of using scarce resources to meet the challenge of near peer adversaries like Russia and China, the administration is committing significant DOD resources and attention to what the president's taken to calling a national emergency at our southern border.
In fact, nowhere in these two documents I've referenced, the National Defense Strategy particularly, are migrant caravans or drug traffickers cross our southern border mentioned as threats to our national security.
Russia, China, cyber-security and a host of other items are in those documents, but nowhere is there a finder (ph) that calls for 4,000 active duty troops to be deployed to the southern border.
For comparison's sake, we have roughly 5,000 troops deployed in Iraq. I have yet to hear from witnesses before this committee who hasn't stressed the real threats we face and the need to restore readiness and provide modern facilities for our troops and their families.
REED: Instead, DOD is planning to reallocate funding that has been authorized and appropriated for installation commanders' top priorities in support of a wall that has no connection to a military threat and does not support military effectiveness.
I'll also add that is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection, not DOD, to patrol and enforce our borders. If this administration is serious about dealing with the drug epidemic in our nation, then it should probably fund these federal agencies and other associated federal agencies.
Gen. Hyten, Gen. O’Shaughnessy, again thank you for your service and please pass our regards onto the men and women that you lead. Thank you.
INHOFE: Thank you Senator Reed. Gen. Hyten, we'll start with you and then go to Gen. O’Shaughnessy, try to keep your statements within the realm of five minutes, your entire statement will be made a part of the record. We'll start with you, Gen. Hyten.
HYTEN: Thank you very much, Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Reed, distinguished committee members, good morning. It's an honor to be here today alongside my friend Gen. O’Shaughnessy and a continuing privilege to represent the 162,000 Americans accomplishing the missions of U.S. Strategic Command each and every day.
This is my third year appearing before this committee as the STRATCOM commander, and I appreciated the opportunities to meet with many of you one on one and to testify before you.
So I want to begin by thanking this committee for your enduring support to our national defense. The last time I testified before the committee, we had begun our 10th consecutive years under continuing resolution.
Not this year thanks to your leadership. I can't overstate the importance of an on time budget. The stability afforded with an on-time budget this year came at a critical time for us and had a positive impact on our modernization efforts and our overall force readiness.
STRATCOM is a global war fighting command and as part of the joint force, we're responsible for a strategic deterrence, nuclear operations, global strikes, base operations, joint electromagnetic spectrum operations, missile defense and joint analysis and targeting.
That's a big portfolio. They execute our assigned missions, the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians of my command operate globally across land, sea, airspace and cyber.
Our forces and the strategic deterrence, they provide, underpin and enable all joint force operations and are the ultimate guarantors of our national and allied security. So the most important message I want to deliver today is that I'm fully confident in our ability to preserve the peace and decisively respond in any conflict.
We're ready for all threats that exist on the planet today and no one should doubt this. Strategic deterrence is an active mission, it's not a passive mission. It's dynamic. Our capabilities must continue to evolve as the global threat environment changes over time.
With this evolution, the adversary's decision calculus changes, which drives modification to our deterrence approach. Today we're challenged by multiple adversaries with an expanding range of capabilities and we must adapt as well.
To effectively deter and respond if necessary in this multi-polar, all domain world, we must out-think, out-maneuver, out-partner, out-innovate our adversaries. Deterrence in the 21st century requires the integration of all our capabilities across all domains.
For over two decades, China and Russia have studied the way we fight, they study the American way of warfare, they've watched and learned how we train and fight. They understand the advantages we gain from integrating capabilities across all domains to accomplish our strategic objectives.
To counter our long health advantages, they're actively seeking to exploit perceived vulnerabilities and are directly challenging us in areas of long held strength. While our advantages are beginning to erode, we have not yet seeded the advantage, so my focus this year is to continue to focus on the operations and modernization of our nuclear capabilities, focused first on the nuclear triad of ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missiles] submarines and bombers to support a seamless transition as the department stands up a new space focused organization and to continue the implementation of my new responsibilities and the Nuclear Command, Control and Communications, NC3, enterprise lead and the operator and architect for this critical capability.
To be successful at everything that we do, we must recapture our ability to go fast, faster than all our potential adversaries, and that's my biggest concern these days. That means we must return the dynamic that made us the strongest, most technologically advanced military in the world.
But over my 38 years in military service, I've watched as our nation has collectively developed an increasingly unhealthy expectation of trying to remove all risk from everything that we do.
The challenge I've issued in my command is go break down the bureaucracy, takes some smart risk, informed risks, do this within the left and right limits I establish in commanders' intent, and it - and we have to move fast, it's critical if we're to stay ahead.
So, I'm very grateful for your support and helping us do just that. I look forward to an on time budget this upcoming fiscal year so we can sustain the momentum invigorating this department and our best in the world people, our best in the world commercial sector to go faster and innovate, to bring more timely and affordable solutions to our most pressing deterrence challenges.
It's critical because nuclear war cannot be won and therefore must never be fought. Therefore as to prevent war, we must be ready for war. Success means we've lived up to our motto, coined over 60 years ago in Strategic Air Command, peace is our profession. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today and I look forward to your questions.
INHOFE: Well thank you Gen. Hyten, excellent statement. Gen. O’Shaughnessy.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Thank you, and Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Reed and distinguished members of the committee, I'm truly honored to appear today as a commander of the United States Northern Command and the U.S. Canadian Bi-National Command, North American Aerospace Defense Command.
It's a pleasure to be testifying today alongside Gen. John Hyten, who's not only my good friend, but someone who I've admired and respected for so many years. U.S. NORTHCOM and NORAD are two complimentary but distinct commands driven by a single unyielding priority, defending the homeland from attack.
In this era of rapidly evolving technology and renewed great power competition, the need for an energized and active defense of the homeland cannot be overstated. Revisionist powers Russia and china have given every indication that their own security strategies are based on holding the United States at risk with both conventional and nuclear weapons, and they have signaled that we must anticipate attacks against our civilian and defense infrastructure in the event of a conflict.
Russia has modernized its aviation and submarine fleets and fielded long range cruise missiles designed to evade radar detection. Russia and China continue their efforts to penetrate our networks, while developing and testing hypersonic glide vehicles.
And both have also established a noticeably stronger foothold in the arctic, along the northern approaches to the United States and Canada. As a result, the strategic value of the arctic as our first line of defense has reemerged, and U.S. NORTHCOM and NORAD are taking active measures to ensure our ability to detect, detract and defeat potential threats in this region.
Our adversaries have engaged in deliberate focused efforts over a number of years to exploit our perceived gaps in a road many of the advantages previously afforded by our geography and technological superiority.
As a result, it is clear that our homeland is not a sanctuary. Our mission to deter our adversaries is dependent on our ability to detect and ultimately defeat potential threats to our homeland.
And I am grateful to the committee for the strong support of U.S. NORTHCOM and NORAD priorities along those lines of effort. Your support for fielding the use (ph) of radars for our aerospace control alert fighters and improving the capability and capacity of our missile defense sensors and interceptors clearly demonstrate our shared sense of urgency and resolve.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: In that same spirit we must take prudent (ph) steps now to ensure our next generation defensive capabilities to include a space sensing layer of space based missile defense sensors are not late to need (ph).
That effort cannot start too soon, given the fact that our adversaries are already developing and testing advanced weapons specifically intended to avoid detection in order to hold targets in the homeland at constant risk.
I sincerely appreciate the committee's work to provide much-needed predictability and stability with an on-time budget in FY 19. I'm also grateful for the committee's ongoing efforts to ensure that we avoid devastating, deep cutting impacts that a return to sequestration would bring to the Department of Defense. U.S. NORTHCOM and NORAD work every day with our partners to keep our citizens safe while confronting the challenges emanating from multiple approaches and in all domains.
I especially want take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the amazing men and women in the National Guard, who are great partners and critical in our ability to perform our missions. Whether intercepting Russian bombers off the coast of Alaska or providing much-needed support or federal law enforcement partners along the Southern Border, the airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines, coast guardsmen and civilians of U.S. NORTHCOM and NORAD are deeply committed to defending our nation and I'm honored to represent them today. Senators, we have the watch (ph). Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
INHOFE: Thank you, Gen. O’Shaughnessy.
You know, Gen. Hyten, there are two areas of disagreement that we've heard among our colleagues on both the House and in the Senate, and you've heard some this morning in our opening statements but one of them is the significance of nuclear modernization. Now, it's disturbing when we see others, some of our over adversaries -- peer adversaries, China and Russia have actually gotten ahead of us in some areas of artificial intelligence and hypersonics.
But in the area of nuclear modernization, I know that Jim Mattis, Heather Wilson and others have said that's the most significant thing that we could be doing. And yet, some are saying that that's an area where we could be making cuts at this time. I'd like to have you start off by addressing that, as to do you agree with the -- those who talk about the significance of that program? And make your comments on that and then I'll get to the second one.
HYTEN: So it is the most important element of our national defense.
INHOFE: The most important element of our national defense.
INHOFE: And we have to make sure that we are always ready to respond to any threat. I can do that today because I have the most powerful triad in the world; I have ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and bombers that are ready to respond any threat that comes.
And because of the capabilities of each leg of the triad, I have the ability to respond to any threat. We did a nuclear posture review, it was released last year. In it, it validated the need for triad.
Our adversaries have also recognized the need for a triad. They are beginning modernization of their programs as well. In fact, Russia started there modernization program in 2006, they're about 80 percent through completing the modernization of their triad. They'll be pretty close to being through by about 2020. And in 2020, we'll still be starting. That is not a good place to be from a national security perspective.
INHOFE: Well, that -- that's right. You -- you've actually jumped to the second area of disagreement is on the triad because several people have said that we don't need a triad, a three -- all three legs that would adequately be handled without all three, so just specifically on the triad element of the necessity of three -- the three legs.
HYTEN: I think that (ph) -- so when you look at the threat we face, the threat from the Russian triads, soon the threat from the Chinese triad, threats from North Korea as well, you have to look at the three elements of the triad.
The bombers are our most recallable element, they're the most flexible element triad. The bombers can be deployed and recalled by the president, deployed and recalled before they employ their weapons. They're the most flexible element. We can do almost anything with a bomber.
The submarine is the most survivable element, it allows us to hide from our adversaries and make sure we can respond to any surprise attack. And the ICBM is the most ready element to respond to a quick surprise attack and it also creates the most significant targeting problem for an adversary because there are 400 separate targets across the United States. All would have to be independently targeted by an adversary. That targeting problem is hugely problematic and creates a significant advantage for us.
So when you put those three together, you get this great operational capability (ph). But the other thing it provides for us is the ability to respond to a failure in any one of those legs. If you have a technical failure, an intelligence failure, I can cover it with another leg and that has happened during my tenure. And I never have put this nation at risk, because I have the flexibility in the triad.
And that comes to also, Gen. O’Shaughnessy, your -- that's a big deal to you too. And we look at what we've done with our aging system. We're talking about now getting into the modernized ICBM. I don't know how long that would take; some people say all the way through the '20s.
At the same time, you have our adversaries who have -- they may have been late in starting, but they're starting in a more modernized way. Do you agree with that? And so, they become a threat, even though right now today they may not be ahead of us in these areas.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Chairman, I would agree. And I think as the NDS articulates, the security environment has fundamentally changed and part of it's because of what you alluded to.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: And I think as we watch both Russia and China create success in some of their weapons programs and advancing the capabilities that they have are fundamentally changing, and not just in the ballistic missile side, but as you mentioned the hypersonics...
O’SHAUGHNESSY: And also in the cruise missiles. And it's not just the cruise missiles themselves; it's also the platforms that deliver those cruise missiles. They clearly invested very specifically with the ability to hold our homeland at risk, with things like submarines and the bombers that they've modernized with the low RCS cruise missiles that they can then launch.
Can’t expect to have success with 20th century technology against 21st century threats.
INHOFE: Which is what we've had. Thank you very much.
INHOFE: Oh, let me interrupt. Senator Reed, if I might (ph)...
REED: Yes, sir.
INHOFE: because we do have a quorum now. And I'll ask the committee to consider a list of 1,818 pending military nominations. All the nominations have been before the committee in (ph) the required length of time. Is there a motion?
(UNKNOWN): So moved.
INHOFE: All in favor say aye.
INHOFE: No (ph). It carries.
REED: Thank you.
INHOFE: Senator Reed.
REED: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gen. O’Shaughnessy, as I've indicated in my opening statement, I have concerns about the use of American military forces along the Southern Border and a hard time understanding the nature of an emergency that will require military forces, when nowhere in the National Defense Strategy, the worldwide national venture energy Worldwide Threat statement (ph) from the intelligence community, nor the statement from the commander of SOUTHCOM indicate that migrant caravans of civilians across the border are a military threat.
In fact, in your opening statement you say, and I quote, “The treats to our nation from our Southern Border are not military in nature,” close quotes. So just to be clear, in your professional opinion, does illegal crossing the border by civilians represent a military threat?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, first I would say first that I do think a secure border does reduce rest of the homeland. Now, specific to your question about is a military threat that is coming towards us, it is not a military threat but that's slightly different than the answer whether military should not be responding to the situation.
REED: Following-up, in your professional opinion again, would a wall be effective in defending a military attack on the United States?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, I would say that, again, I would -- that border security is national security. I do see that any barrier in place to secure our nation does have some ramifications to our ability to defend against a military threat as well. Right now, there's not a specific military force from the south that we are trying to take action against.
In this particular case though, senator, I would say over the last five months, I've spent a tremendous amount of time on the border, as you would imagine, working with our CBP[Customs and Border Patrol] partners. And in all of those trips and discussions, it has been clear to me that the Customs and Border Protection personnel very much value the board protection and seeing it, having the awareness, having some impedance -- whether that be a barrier, a wall, et cetera -- and then having the ability to respond to it. And that's been fairly universal as I've been doing my trips to the border.
REED: And they are civilian law enforcement officials who have a law enforcement mission and the context of their evaluation is based upon that law enforcement mission
O’SHAUGHNESSY: That is correct, senator.
You've mentioned many real threats that have been articulated in the National Defense Strategy, Russia and China in particular. Many of them really are not focused on our Southern Border, but our Northern Border, the opening of the Arctic operations by both China and Russia in the Arctic and, also, I think the -- maintaining the capabilities of NORAD. Those are multi-billion dollar tasks. And do you think they're of more military significance than any operation along the Southern Border?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, what I would say is those threats are very real. Those threats are what we are focused on with -- in both NORTHCOM and NORAD. Because we do see that, the evolving threat, as articulated within the NDS, very much is trying to take advantage of the northern approach. We have vulnerabilities there that we need to continue to close the gap on. And so that is a focus area for us at both NORTHCOM and NORAD.
REED: Thank you very much, sir. Again, thank you for your service.
Gen. Hyten, I just get a few minutes, but the issue of hypersonic weapons systems are increasingly critical to us. It seems -- and you -- from our perspective that our adversaries are shifting more into the hypersonic realm for many reasons. One reason is that our defense systems were built for ballistic missiles, not hypersonic missiles. Do you feel that in the short run, you can deter these hypersonic vehicles?
HYTEN: So senator, the hypersonic activities in both China and Russia are not the majority of their activities right now. The majorities are still the traditional ballistic missile submarine bomber threats that we can deter. I also believe that we have the ability to deter any adversary that would employ nuclear weapons against us.
My one concern in this area is that in order to effectively deter, you have to be able to see, characterize and attribute where the threat is coming from. And as our adversaries are moving into cruise missile technology and hypersonic technology that challenges our ability to provide those attributes of detection and characterization. We need to move in that area to sense the treat so we can effectively deter it.
REED: Is it your sense that -- now, let me ask a couple of questions because my time's running out. Is it your sense that they are looking -- they have, as we have, a legacy system of missiles, you know, medium-range, long-range intercontinental, but they seem to be moving with great energy into hypersonics so that could be the weapon of choice in the future?
The second part of that is that, as I understand it and you can clarify it, hypersonics are not governed by the INF Treaty. So that we could develop hypersonics and still remain within the treaty. So where are they going and can we do that without leaving the INF?
HYTEN: So they're clearly moving aggressively in the area of hypersonics. Their testing is fully integrated systems, long-range and medium-range, has been well documented. As opposed to -- what was the second part of the question?
REED: Second part was we can conduct hypersonic research and development (ph)...
REED: without violating the INF?
HYTEN: Right. That is correct.
So the INF Treaty says that it covers ballistic missiles and ballistic is defined as more than half the majority of the trajectory of the missile is ballistic. And the hypersonic missiles that we're talking about, less than half of that trajectory is ballistic, therefore, they're not covered in the INF Treaty.
REED: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Reed.
FISCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gen. Hyten, in your prepared remarks, you said the only way to change our strategic deterrent is to convince our adversaries to reduce the threat and this not occurring. China and Russia in particular are not only modernizing the traditional elements of their own triads, but they're also building a myriad of additional nuclear capabilities to threaten the United States.
In your comments to Chairman Inhofe, you explained the desperate need that we have for modernization and to continue with our triad, the importance that has for our national security and for the security of this world. I would ask you, are you aware of any intelligence or threat assessments supporting the courses of action that are called for from some that we need to unilaterally cut our nuclear forces?
HYTEN: I'm not.
FISCHER: Is it your view that taking that such actions would make us more vulnerable and reduce our ability to deter threats?
HYTEN: It would significantly reduce our deterrent.
FISCHER: We're looking at budget in the Department for nuclear forces and data plan for modernization. Some people consider it a wish list, just to give the Department everything that they desire. And no effort's been made to sort through things, to look at what we truly need to address the threats that we have, and I'm talking about need versus want here. That's not an accurate statement is it, that it's a wish list?
HYTEN: I look at our nuclear capabilities, our triad, our modernization program is the minimum essential capabilities required to defend this nation because we have to defend against the most existential threat. And Russia and China, and their capabilities are the most existential threat. So to me, that's the most minimum essential capabilities that we have to build. And even at the highest rate, it'll still be just roughly six percent of the overall Defense budget. I think we can afford that security.
FISCHER: And do you fully support the Nuclear Posture Review as it was put forward by the Department?
HYTEN: I do, ma'am.
FISCHER: And do you truly believe it is needed that we continue on a path forward to reach the goals of that Nuclear Posture Review?
HYTEN: I think it's essential. And if could comment on the Nuclear Posture Review, it -- I think it's very interesting to look at our approach defined in the Nuclear Posture Review and our adversaries approach. The elements in the Nuclear Posture Review that we have put forth all stay within our treaty (ph) responsibilities.
We don't recommend developing new nuclear-powered torpedoes, new nuclear-powered cruise missiles, we don't look at anything, we believe that we can secure this nation through the modernization of the triad and the addition of a couple of small elements to add to respond to specific threats, and in that case it's the low-yield nuclear weapon and the submarine-launched cruise missile, but that's a very measured response to what our adversaries are doing.
FISCHER: I appreciated your very clear and concise explanation of the importance and really the mission of each leg of the triad. And I'm very pleased that you made that clear and concise for the record today. Thank you.
I'd like to ask you a little bit about the New START treaty. In your opening statement, you note that Russia is developing and intends to deploy novel strategic with their weapons, like it is nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered underwater unmanned vehicle and intercontinental-range cruise missile, which Russia seeks to keep outside of existing arms control agreements. Do you believe that these new systems, if they are deployed, should be counted under a New START Treaty limitation?
HYTEN: So the way the New START Treaty is defined is that there's -- the New START Treaty over covers existing weapons, when it was put in place in 2011. That means it covers the ballistic missiles, both submarine and ground launch, it covers the bombers and the cruise missiles on the bombers, and the platforms that carry them.
There's also a clause in the treaty that says if somebody -- if one of the parties of the treaty sees the development of new strategic arms, they can come to the bilateral consultative commission and bring those things forward.
I have not seen that happen, but we see them developing capabilities outside of that treaty, which is concerning to me.
FISCHER: Do you believe a decision to extend the treaty should be made on its national security merits and Russia's behavior figures (ph) heavily into that evaluation with just the example that I gave you, that we need to be looking at these not just to renew a treaty?
HYTEN: I do, ma'am. I want Russia in every treaty, I want Russia in the INF Treaty, I want Russia in the New START Treaty, I support those treaties. But they have to be parties to those treaties.
It takes two to participate in a treaty at least.
FISCHER: And Russia has not been a party to the INF Treaty, is that correct?
HYTEN: Russia has violated the INF Treaty for five years now, and despite our best efforts, we have not been able to bring them into compliance. I've talked about that to the president, I've talked about New START to the president.
We all want Russia in that treaty, we want them to participate, but if they won't we're tying our own hands to deal with the adversaries in the world, including China, who is not part of that treaty.
FISCHER: It doesn't help when your partner in a treaty is not in compliance and we remain in compliance.
HYTEN: Yes, ma'am.
FISCHER: Thank you, sir.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Fischer. Senator Shaheen.
SHAHEEN: Gen. Hyten, Gen. O’Shaughnessy, thank you both for your testimony this morning and for your service to the country. I want to begin my questions with you, Gen. O’Shaughnessy, because I understand that part of your responsibilities as the leader of a combatant command is to look at counter drug operations at our borders.
Is that correct?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Ma'am, what we do is we do support law enforcement agencies in a supporting role for some of the counter narcotics work.
SHAHEEN: And have you been made aware of any plans that would take money from what's being proposed already to fund the president's recent directive to reprogram DOD interdiction funding to pay for a border wall?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Ma'am, as you know, with the declaration of a nation emergency, hat is now being considered. The secretary of defense and I actually together with the chairman went down to the border this weekend on Saturday in order to see first hand -- the secretary to see first hand both what our troops are doing now as well as looking at the border and potential applications of DOD funding for the border to inform his decisions.
Those decisions and that is ongoing this week, and so at this time that is work in progress with the acting secretary of defense.
SHAHEEN: But do I understand you to say then that plans are being drawn up that would take money from those drug interdiction efforts to use for funding a wall?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: That is one of the options that is being looked at, it is premature at this time, and that work is being done literally as we speak.
SHAHEEN: Well as I'm sure you're aware, the opioid crisis in the United States has taken tens of thousands of lives. In New Hampshire we have the second highest opioid overdose death rate in the country.
So this is an issue that we care tremendously about and it's my understanding that most of the illicit drugs and -- that come into this country come through ports of entry as opposed to coming across the border in other places.
Is that what you've seen?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Ma'am, I've seen a little bit of both. What -- and there's been -- recently been a D.A. report that talks about the most common method of transportation through the secure -- through the borders is in fact through the POEs [point of entries], but it's most common not necessarily that all of it goes through there.
It further delineates and talks and I'll give an example of just this week when I -- twice I've been to the border and one of my trips there, what they talked about what the TCOs that run the migrants coming are the same criminals that also run the narcotics.
And what we're seeing now is a coordinated effort, for example, where they'll send a large number of migrants through over the border to take the border patrol agents off of the line and then they'll use that as an opportunity to bring drugs across the border while the border patrol agency are processing the migrants.
So it's a coordinated effort here that brings it all together that is very disturbing as we go forward.
SHAHEEN: And is it -- do you agree that it's helpful to have technology and more people at our ports of entry so we can better interdict drugs coming through there
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Absolutely, ma'am.
SHAHEEN: Gen. Hyten, I want to follow up on Senator Reed's question about hypersonic weapons, because I very much appreciated your strong statement that we are in a position to defend this country against all threats.
Does that include hypersonic weapons and there have been reports -- public reports that we don't have a defense against those hypersonic weapons?
HYTEN: So our defense against hypersonic is our nuclear deterrent. If somebody attacks us with a nuclear hypersonic capability, we have the ability to respond. Now it's important for us to be able to track that, to understand where it comes from, so if you look at the way a hypersonic missile works, the first phase is ballistic, but it's a fairly short phase.
That phase we will see, we will see the launch, we'll be able to characterize and understand it came from Russia, it came from China, but then from our sense of perspective, it basically disappears.
And we don't see it until the effect is delivered. We need to build sensors to be able to understand exactly where those things are going so we can better defend ourselves. You can -- you can't defend yourself if you can't see it. But -
SHAHEEN: And -- I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt, but do we have any sense about how much time we have from the point at which those weapons might be launched until when they might land in the United States?
HYTEN: So it's a shorter period of time, but ballistic missiles roughly 30 minutes, a hypersonic weapon depending on the design could be half of that depending on where it's launched from the platform, it could be even less than that.
So there's a lot of variables into that, but it is more challenging than a ballistic missile.
SHAHEEN: Thank you. I know that -- well the United States suspended its obligations under the INF Treaty, there's been some discussion about that. Can you talk about what our next steps might be to improve our position and to strengthen deterrents against Russia, China and North Korea?
HYTEN: So the -- I think the most important thing we can do is continue to modernize our nuclear triad. As long as we have nuclear capabilities that our adversaries cannot attack, they cannot take out and they cannot eliminate, we'll be able to prevent the use of nuclear weapons on our nation.
I remember when I interviewed for this job with President Obama and then I interviewed with Secretary Mattis after he took over, they asked me what is the number one reason -- what is the reason we have nuclear weapons?
And I said the reason we have nuclear weapons is to prevent people from using nuclear weapons on us. That's exactly why we have them and if you don't have a robust capability and our adversaries don't believe that you're willing to respond, then you run the risk that somebody will take that step across the line that nobody ever wants to experience.
That's why we have to make sure we modernize as we go forward.
SHAHEEN: Thank you.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Shaheen.
ROUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, thank you for your service.
I want to follow-up a little bit with regard to the nuclear triad and what makes it as important to us as it does today. Part of it is, is the reliability and when we start talking about the reliability of the nuclear triad, one of the areas that I think we've identified as being in need of updating is the nuclear command and control of the different portions of the triad.
Could you share with us a little bit about -- within, recognizing the setting that we're here, the weaknesses that we are trying to improve upon? And include within that, a discussion about the cyber threats that are shortcuts and that really do put our systems at risk today.
HYTEN: So one of the interesting things I've observed in my 27 months in command now -- so that -- that's a long period of time, two years and three months -- not one time in that two year, three months have I lost connectivity with the nuclear force. Can you imagine any other electronic system in the world where that has happened? That shows you how resilient, reliable and effective the current command and control system is.
But what concerned me about it is I really can't effectively explain that to you. Because it's been built 50 years ago through different kind of pathways, different kind of structures, we look at it hard each and every day and we know that those things are going to have to be replaced in about a decade.
And so the big challenges that we have is: how are we going to replace that old ancient thing that works so well that we know works, but won't work after about another decade? How do we replace that with something that works just as well and with modern technology when we have the cyber threats we have to look at? One of the great things about it being so old is the cyber threats are actually fairly minimal.
ROUNDS: Would it be fair to say that there is an hour that goes by in which our system of protection of our communication system isn't challenged someplace along the pathways?
HYTEN: We see, literally, thousands if not millions of attacks against our systems every day. Attacks is defined as an unknown activity trying to get into the network. It may not be an attack, it may be just a curious person but, nonetheless, we look at all those and make sure we defend those accordingly. So we see that broadly in the network side, it's much more secure in the nuclear side because much of that is closed off to the world.
ROUNDS: With regard to both hypersonics and as the item of discussion lately, the torpedo which is been discussed in terms of the Russian advancements, in both cases there's a question as to the vector that we receive them from. Both are capable of movement, changes in direction and so forth, which really changes the way that we defend North America because, in many cases, our defenses have been built on the closest or the most direct route from our near-peer adversaries into the -- into the North American continent.
Can you share with us a little bit about the needs, first of all, for the space-based capabilities that we're going to need in order to determine where hypersonics are at and so forth?
And second of all, Gen. O’Shaughnessy, I would just ask, can you share a little bit about the changes within threats that a torpedo that could get along our shorelines could do with regard to how we have to refocus our North American defenses as well? So really, two questions but, if you could each?
HYTEN: So real quickly, senator, when I was a young officer and the Soviet threat existed, we had big radars on our Southern Border. We had a radar in Georgia and a radar in Texas, Robbins and Eldorado, that were looking south for threats that we had to worry about.
When the wall came down and Russia became our friend, we dismantled those radars. So we have no radars that look south. We have built radars and we're building a radar in Hawaii, built a radar in Alaska to defend against the Koreans threat in particular, to make sure we can enable Gen. O’Shaughnessy's missile defense.
But there's not enough islands in the world to build a radar to defend every avenue, therefore, we have to go to space. And we can go to space, now in an affordable way with distributed constellations that can look down and characterize that threat in a global perspective, so we can see them wherever they come from. That's the direction we need to go.
ROUNDS: All that risk of cyber interference.
HYTEN: All that risk of cyber interference, which is the big challenge of the day.
ROUNDS: Thank you.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, sir.
As we talked about earlier with respect to the Arctic as the geography is no longer that it once was, I would say the same thing from the sea. It was a time where we, for decades, actually used the sea as a moat and really didn't have to worry from the threats directly coming against the homeland from the sea. That has fundamentally changed, as you were mentioning, relative to the weapons are being created.
Therefore, we need to go and invest ourselves in our ability to have first the domain awareness. And just as Gen. Hyten had mentioned, you have to see it if you're going to be able to react to it and ultimately defeat it. Right now, we need to invest in the IUSSS (ph), which is our under -- Integrated Undersea Surveillance System, which has atrophied as it relates to the continental U.S. and our ability to defend there. We need to invest in that now to be able to defend against these advanced threats that are coming from the -- coming from the sea.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Rounds.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you both for your service and for your very forthright and candid answers at this hearing. Gen. O’Shaughnessy, is there a national emergency at the border
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, the president has declared a national emergency on the border.
BLUMENTHAL: I'm asking you in your military opinion, does this nation face a national emergency at the border.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, senator. As the president has declared that national emergency, he has given guidance and direction down to the secretary of Defense and then the acting secretary of Defense. As that's happened, it's parlayed to me in the form of an execution order, which makes it very clear to me of my actions that I need to take as a result of the guidance from our senior leadership.
BLUMENTHAL: Did you recommend that he declare a national emergency?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Sir, I did not directly recommend either way, although I will say I have had...
BLUMENTHAL: Were you consulted before he did it?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, I will say, I have had multiple conversations, numerous conversations directly with the president with respect to the border. In addition, I've had multiple conversations as has had secretary of Defense and acting secretary of Defense has gone over to the White House for these conversations that happened. And I think, I feel very comfortable that, as the operational commander, that our perspective was considered as those decisions were made.
BLUMENTHAL: What is the threat to our national security that justifies declaring a national emergency, general?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Sir, what I see from my perspective is that a secure border will reduce the threats to the homeland.
BLUMENTHAL: That is a general statement. But what is it...
O’SHAUGHNESSY: It is, Senator.
BLUMENTHAL: Specifically at this moment in time that justifies declaring a national emergency?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, again, I would say that the president has made that declaration. We are responding to that declaration...
BLUMENTHAL: So you're saying, in effect -- I don't mean to be disrespectful -- that there's a national emergency because the president has there's a national emergency
O’SHAUGHNESSY: No, sir. What I'm saying is that my from my perspective, I get my orders from the secretary of Defense and the president. Those orders are very clear to me. And I am -- just like any other mission that I am given, when I get that legal order and I have the troops that are able to enforce that and take those actions, I do it with the same vigor and professionalism that I do for my ballistic missile defense, my operational vehicle (ph). Senator, I take that same look to the (inaudible)...
BLUMENTHAL: I understand that you follow orders, and you do it well, and you're proficient and expert in your duties, and I commend you. But you didn't recommend that the president of the United States declare a national emergency. And you have not given me, as yet, a specific fact at the border now that justifies declaring a national emergency.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, I -- spent a lot of time on the border over the last five months. Had very specific conversation with our lead federal agencies and in this case the Customs and Border Protection as well with the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary Nielsen on a regular and routine basis.
I will defer them with respect to the characterization of the threat, I will say we are trying to be a good partner to another lead federal agency as they take on this challenge.
BLUMENTHAL: I'm concerned, General, very frankly that this administration is politicizing our military and militarizing our immigration policy, in effect using the troops under your command as political props, both in terms of declaring a fake emergency, but also compromising our potential security by diverting them away from other assignments and missions that are absolutely necessary.
My understanding is that these troops were engaged in various readiness and training exercises at the time they were deployed. Is that correct?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Actually there's been quite a few different deployments in units within their, but to your point, some of them would. I will also say that many of the units they have deployed, especially the initial (inaudible) that went out, are actually doing exactly what their military skills are, military police doing military police business, engineers doing engineering business.
In fact many of them come back and talked about the readiness advantage they have for the way that they've been deployed. That said, readiness is a key concern of ours and mine in particular, and we will continue to look at the impacts to readiness as we go forward.
BLUMENTHAL: General, recently I think last week as a matter of fact, Undersecretary Rood and Vice Adm. Gilday testified that a minimum of $237 million has been spent so far on deploying both active duty troops and guard personnel at the border.
They were unable to provide a total cost estimate for fiscal year 2019, even though those deployments have been extended, correct me if I'm wrong, extended through September of 2019.
Can you give us a cost estimate?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, I will confirm that the deployments have been extended through the September of 19. The cost estimate, and specifically on the title 10 side, which is the part that's under my command and control was that the $132 million through the 31st of January of this year.
We'll continue to work with OSD, who is ultimately the one who is running the calculations with respect to the cost.
BLUMENTHAL: In connection with the declaration of national emergency and the diversion of money that is necessary to build a wall, have you made a recommendation as to military construction projects within your command that be stripped of funding to fund the wall?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Actually the actual funding is being worked by the secretary of defense as we speak. I did go down to the border, to El Paso area with the secretary just this last weekend so he would have an understanding both of the military aspects of what our troops are doing right now as well as be able to talk to the Customs and Border Patrol right, the folks actually doing the mission there and be able to take that into his calculations as this week he determines the funding that might be applied toward resourcing a wall or other efforts on the border.
BLUMENTHAL: So the money that we'll be taking from military construction projects under your command has not yet been determined as to what specifically and where it will come from.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: That is a true statement, sir.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Blumenthal. Senator Ernst.
ERNST: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you gentlemen for being here today. We truly do appreciate it. I appreciate for both of you your extreme professionalism in a very difficult time, so thank you very much for stepping up.
I do appreciate it. Gen. O’Shaughnessy, let's go back and visit a little bit about the National Guard. You happen to mention it in your comments and this morning we had our National Guard breakfast caucus.
A lot of our adjutant generals are here in town today and really excited to be here and speaking with all of their elected representation. Can you talk a little bit about how the National Guard fits into the overall force structure here in the United States and what type of missions are they engaging in?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, ma'am. Thanks for the opportunity to highlight the great partnership we have with the - with the National Guard. And I'll say certainly from the NORTHCOM and NORAD perspective, they are absolutely integral and core to every single mission that we do within our command.
And it goes all the way from whether it's the aircraft that are sitting or as we speak right now in - across the - both the CONUS as well as in Alaska, or whether it goes to the command and control that's part of that, whether it's the ballistic missile defense that we have in place, every mission set that we have right now, the act - the National Guard is actively employed in doing that.
And frankly, I can just tell you plain and simply, we could not do our mission set without the National Guard and their contributions.
ERNST: And we appreciate that very much. And we want to utilize them as much as we can, we do know that there are a number of troops that have been activated or mobilized for work down on the southern border.
We know that to be true. And I would just state that having served on the National Guard and responding to a number of different mobilizations, whether it's hurricane relief, whether it is working in flood situations or whether it's down on the border that our troops are actively engaging in their MOS [military occupational specialty] specific skill sets.
So if you're a heavy equipment operator, you are out there driving a dozer you're operating, if you're a truck driver, you're driving, you're actually doing those skills that have been assigned to you.
So thank you for highlighting that. I think it is great for our readiness to actually be able to engage in our MOS's, so thank you for that. I also want to go back, we've talked a lot with Gen. Hyten about modernization and our nuclear capabilities.
So let's focus a little more with you and what do you see the most pressing modernization requirements for NORTHCOM?
HYTEN: Yes, ma'am. Thank you for the opportunity to highlight this. And it's actually fairly similar, the first thing is domain awareness. Over the years, we - we have just let atrophy our ability to understand and see what is happening in and around our nation is done at the time for the right reasons because we had a sanctuary.
We had the ability to not have more advanced sensors and more advanced capabilities, but now that it has fundamentally changed based on the security environment, based on our potential adversaries, our peer strategic competitors that now have the ability to reach out and hold us at risk.
We need to fundamentally relook at the way that we're maintaining our domain awareness, and that can't be done with one single widget, one single particular program, it's going to have to be a family of systems, it's going to have to include both terrestrial based capability and a research and technology and terrestrial based, it's going to have to include some air domain advances in technology and capability.
But it's also absolutely going to have to include space and we really need to accelerate our work to put sensors in space that can help us understand the domain both in the sea, on the sea and in the air of the threats that are coming towards our homeland, in particular the arctic is an area that we really need to focus on and really look at investing.
That is no longer a buffer zone. We need to be able to operate there, we need to be able to communicate there, we need to have - be able to have a presence there that we have not invested in in the same way that our adversaries have and we clearly see - they see that as a vulnerability from us and whereas there is becoming a strength for them and it's a weakness for us and we need to change that - flip that equation.
ERNST: Yes, and you mentioned the arctic, and I'm sure that my colleague Senator Sullivan will have a lot of great questions there. But when we talk modernization, have we identified a system to replace the aging northern warning system?
HYTEN: Ma'am, we have a study that's going on right now, it's a bi-national study, it's being done by our air combatant command within the United States Air Force as well as with Canada. That is going to help us.
But I will tell you that that North Warning System right now, the last hardware insertion of technology was 1985. That needs to be invested in. And again, it needs to be part not just of advancing that, but also doing all the main awareness in addition to the terrestrial (ph) base.
ERNST: Yes, I appreciate that.
And Gen. Hyten, thank you so much for hosting me last year at STRATCOM. I really appreciated the tour and the time you took to educate me on your missions up there. Can you talk a little bit about the move that's ongoing at Offutt Air Force Base?
HYTEN: So senator, it's I'm glad to be able to sit here and say we're actually getting ready to move into the building. It's been a long time; it's a couple years late. The Guard did an amazing job. We brought in over 20 engineering and installation squadrons from the Guard to help us recapture some schedule. They saved over $70 million of the taxpayers' money and they saved us probably more than that in schedule.
So we're getting ready to move in. I think we'll be able to start next week and I hope to have the opening ceremonies this October. And that'll be a big day because we'll be able to do our mission even better. That will become the hub of nuclear command and control.
ERNST: Outstanding. Gentlemen, thank you both so much for your leadership.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Ernst.
HEINRICH: Gen. O’Shaughnessy, forgive me for jumping back and forth between Intel and this committee this morning. There's a little bit of the something going on over there as well. I wanted to return to something that Senator Blumenthal came up, and just make sure I have the correct information that you were not consulted by the White House before the decision to use military construction dollars to pay for the national emergency?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: No, sir. That was not my response. Specifically, we've been in dialogue. I've been in dialogue with the president all the way down for multiple occasions to include in coordination with the secretary of Defense. And that -- the actual decision of how that funding will be placed is actually what the secretary of Defense is actually working through, literally right now.
HEINRICH: Were you consulted before the announcement?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: With multiple dialogs, talking about the border, talking about the situation that we see...
HEINRICH: Is that a yes?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: The ability to have the operation perspective known was absolutely a present.
HEINRICH: My question is, were you consulted as to using military construction dollars as the source of funding to pay for the national emergency efforts
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, and in fact, with the secretary of Defense...
HEINRICH: And do you think that's a (ph) -- that's a decision you support?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: I gave my best military advice to the secretary of Defense to include going down -- physically going down with him to the border, so -- to make sure he understood the operational perspective.
HEINRICH: If those dollars do flow to that priority, rather than what they were appropriated for and authorized for, what impact with the cancellation of some of those construction projects have? Whether it is for military housing, or air-traffic control improvements, or even runway upgrades, what impact would that have on military morale
O’SHAUGHNESSY: I think right now, senator, that -- that's premature. I think as we look at it, that's exactly the types of things that the secretary is looking at. He's looking at it from what is the right balance, what is the right use of those funds, and what -- in fact, what would the correct funds be -- appropriate funds to use, given the direction that he has been given.
HEINRICH: Well, given the Constitution, I would suggest that's a job for Congress.
HEINRICH: Gen. Hyten, DOD's initial requirements for plutonium pits are to produce 30 pits per year at Los Alamos by 2026. Are you and NNSA still laser-focused on making that happen?
HYTEN: We are laser-focused on 30 by 2026 and 80 by 2030, and my requirement is that. I never said where they had to be done but if we don't get 30 in Los Alamos, we'll never get to 80.
HEINRICH: Right. If personnel and scientific expertise were shifted from one place to another during that effort, what would be the potential impact for the near-term goals
HYTEN: So I -- I've told the secretary of Energy as well as the administrator of the NNSA that we can't move anything out of Los Alamos into Savannah River that would take our eyes off of the 30 in 2026. And I'm going down to Los Alamos and sending my people down to Los Alamos to make sure that that focus is always there because, again, if we can't get to 30 by 2026 at Los Al (ph), we can't get there at all.
HEINRICH: Well, I appreciate your focus on this effort. It's very welcome and you're always welcome at Los Alamos, as you know. I also understand that the administration, Gen. Hyten, is currently reviewing whether it'll seek to extend the New START agreement that limits U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 treaty-accountable warheads with additional limits, obviously, on delivery vehicles. Is that information accurate? Is that correct?
HYTEN: We are looking at that. The president asks me about that every time I see him.
HYTEN: It's high in his mind. Again, the issue there is all (ph) the efforts that Russia has going on right now that aren't elements in the New START treaty, the torpedo...
HYTEN: Cruise missile, the hypersonics all aren't part of that treaty.
HYTEN: We believe that we would like to have all nuclear weapons as part of a future strategic arms treaty. That's my desire. So I want Russia in that treaty. I want Russia in the INF Treaty, but if they won't participate then we have a decision to make (ph)...
HEINRICH: No, I think (ph) -- I share that sentiment. And certainly, hopefully, we can move to a world where there -- where there's control on more weapons systems rather than simply getting rid of the tools that we have to, in theory, get something that's perfect and more inclusive. Does New START provide significant benefits to U.S. national security interests? And if so, what would you -- what would those be?
HYTEN: So no treaty is perfect and New START is certainly not perfect. But what it gives me at STRATCOM; it gives me two very important things. Number one, it puts a limit on the basics of their strategic force. So I understand what their limits are and I can position my force accordingly so I can always be ready to respond.
And maybe as important, it also gives me insight through the verification process of exactly what they're doing and what those pieces are. Having that insight through my forces and our partners is unbelievably important for me to understand what Russia is doing. But we don't have insight into all the other things that are going on right now. That'll be the challenge.
HEINRICH: If we were to lose that insight without gaining more global insight, would that be a step forward or a step back?
HYTEN: That's the balance that will be in the decision that the country has to make as we go forward on the benefits of New START. I would like everything on the table.
HEINRICH: Thank you, general.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Heinrich.
SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And gentlemen, thanks for your exceptional service to both of you on all the hard work you're doing. I want to talk about the Arctic and missile defense. But I actually wanted to just add a little bit to the exchange you had with my colleague, Senator Blumenthal, who I have a lot of respect for, I work with on a lot of issues.
But Gen. O’Shaughnessy, let me ask how many Americans were killed by drug overdoses last year? Do you know?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, senator, I do. The 72,000 in the last year and 70,000 in the year before.
SULLIVAN: So more than all the men in women killed in the Vietnam War, just last year, right, 72,000 Americans. OK?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: That's correct, sir.
SULLIVAN: And that's opioids, heroine, meth. How much of the heroine in America comes from Mexico?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Sir, there's a significant portion that comes up through the southern approaches.
SULLIVAN: Another - the number I've heard is over 90 percent.
SULLIVAN: OK, so if that's not an emergency, 72,000 dead Americans killed by opioids and heroin in one year, I have no freaking idea what an emergency is. So that's just my view on that. Do you have any comment on that? Is that an emergency, 72,000 dead Americans?
HYTEN: Sir, I would tell you that (inaudible) is a national issue that we have to take on with the whole of government approach.
SULLIVAN: Yes, OK, thank you. Let me talk about the arctic, by the way, Gen. O’Shaughnessy, I really want to commend you, you are by far and away the NORTHCOM commander who has actually put this on the radar as a serious issue.
Just today in your testimony about so many of the threats operating both in the arctic and passing through I think is a wakeup call. This committee has been doing a lot of work in that regard.
Let me ask a couple issues with regard to capabilities, the Russians have a polar - a fleet of polar ice breakers that are - is 40. They're building 14 more including nuclear powered ice breakers, weaponized ice breakers.
We're finally getting our act together on that, last year's NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] authorized six. This past appropriation's bill recently signed by the president has about close to $700 million on the first one.
But we have the required capabilities to answer the Russian and by the way Chinese challenge in the arctic, and if so, what more capabilities do we need?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, you start with ice breakers and I will highlight that as well. On paper we four ice breakers, in reality we have one that's actually at poor level. That particular ice breaker -
SULLIVAN: We assume one is broken, right?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Two, they're (inaudible) one is not - one is cannibalized and one is -
SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) in the early '70s.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Yes sir, they're 43 years old.
SULLIVAN: Have you ever seen those ice breakers?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: I've been on the Polar Star.
SULLIVAN: They're a disgrace to the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, aren't they?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, sir. And just this year alone, for example as the Polar Star was going down to Antarctica, she had multiple major casualties, to include the propeller shaft seal that went out that ended up in flooding, it's incinerator actually caught on fire, so there's a fire and flooding on that ship.
SULLIVAN: Yes, I commend the men and women on the Coast Guard who try to keep that ship afloat, but it is a disgrace that you put men and women wearing the uniform of our nation on a ship that is that old and dangerous. But I interrupted you, please go on.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: So on that regard, we're working closely with the Coast Guard and of course the U.S. Navy who's helping the Coast Guard get the six ice breakers, three that - at least three that'll be polar capable ice breakers.
And those are absolutely critical for us as - even within the Department of Defense, even though it's ultimately for the Coast Guard to be able to clear the access for us to be able to have operations in the arctic.
So that is a high priority for us in U.S. Northern Command.
SULLIVAN: Let me ask another question, again this committee's focused a lot on the arctic, which I appreciate, in a bipartisan way we mandated this strategy that had to come out of DOD.
Two years ago we mandated the concept of a strategic arctic port. The sector of the Navy recently testified that we need a strategic arctic port to protect our interest in the arctic. Do you agree with him?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: I had a conversation with the secretary of Navy just last week on this regard. Clearly what we need, I'll use an example, we have a requirement for fuel north of Dutch Harbor.
Right now we don't have access to that, the Nome or deepwater port if we were able to make Nome into a deepwater port would serve that requirement.
SULLIVAN: So you think we need that, the way he said that?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: I think we need to ultimately have the ability to have the infrastructure that allows to do (ph) the operations a deep-water port would certainly be part of that going forward.
SULLIVAN: Gen. Hyten, let me ask you, you've been a great advocate on missile defense. The Trump administration recently put out its missile defense review. The president actually announced it at the Pentagon with the vice president, Secdef -- the secretary of Defense. Again, this committee's been doing a lot of work in regard to that.
Do you agree with the priorities outlined in the Missile Defense Review? And can you just briefly talk about how -- what more -- what other areas we need and how Alaska is the cornerstone of our nation's missile defense in terms of LRDR radar, missile shields and other areas that we need to continue to build on?
HYTEN: So I agree with the findings of the Missile Defense Review. The thing I liked most about the Missile Defense Review, it wasn't just a ballistic missile defense review, it was a missile defense review looking at the entire spectrum of capabilities that we have to have, not just against ballistic missiles, but all the missile threats that we face. It talked about getting left of launch as well as the response after the launch.
When you look at Alaska, all you have to do is look at a globe, and look at where Korea is and look at where the United States is and you understand how important Alaska is. That's why we're putting the long-range discrimination radar in Alaska. That's why that's going to be a critical portion.
I continue to look at the radar architecture and be concerned about vulnerabilities in that architecture. And that's why I think we need to augment the ground element, as Gen. O’Shaughnessy talked about earlier, with the space element and then defend that space element as well. That will allow us to see, characterize and hopefully discriminate the threat so we can make more efficient use of our interceptors in Alaska.
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Sullivan.
PETERS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And gentlemen, thank you for your testimony. I just want to pick up on a comment made my colleague Senator Sullivan about Coast Guard icebreakers. And I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to mention we have a very aging fleet in the Great Lakes, as well.
In fact, I was on a Coast Guard ship earlier -- or last week, and it was well over 50-years-old. You can only keep those things running so long. And you start running out of bubblegum and tape and you need to have it replaced. And so hopefully we'll be able to recapitalize that fleet in much broader way.
Gen. O’Shaughnessy, you have a very big responsibility and an important one with very large AOR [area of responsibility]. I'm sure you have a lot of sleepless nights thinking about the various threats. What do you believe is the most significant threat to your AOR? We've heard a number of different ones here today, but I'm just curious as to the one that you think most about.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, I think right now it's -- in the near term is Russia.
As we look at the advancement that Russia has made and -- where it's not only the capability and the capacity that they have, but it is also the investment they make, the training they're doing and the patterns of behavior that clearly show they intend to not only hold us at risk, but in conflict they would actually take action. Not even on the conventional side as well as on the nuclear side, potentially.
And it's not just a cyber threat. This is a kinetic threat with the cruise missiles that we talked about. And we need to invest in our ability to defend if we're going to be able to maintain her ability to defend. And that is something that I think we need to have a sense of urgency on.
PETERS: Well, I appreciate that. And that is our number one threat to the homeland in your estimation. However, we just recently deployed the troops to our Southern Border. That, and then as you know, we have a national emergency that was declared on February 15th.
My question to you, general, is that you sent -- or we sent troops to the border last October and into November, could you tell us how the threat environment has changed from November to February? Have you seen an increased threat?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Well, first I would say for specific clarification (ph) of the threat, we rely on our Customs and Border Protection personnel and in close cooperation with them, and so I would defer the specifics of the actual threat to them. What I will say is the dynamic that we are seeing, where the response that we did in October was to a very large caravan.
And we were required to -- tasked, through a request for assistance from the Department of Homeland Security, to respond very rapidly. And we did so and I'm very proud of the response that was made with our military members taking the orders they were given, the mission that they were giving (ph) and execute it with the professionalism that you would expect of our military members. Over time...
PETERS: From that point forward -- I apologize, general...
PETERS: But from that point forward, what has happened since then to now? What have you seen?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Sir, we have seen the caravans are not as large but they're still out there. And I'd use the example of a couple of weeks ago where we had to respond to Eagle Pass, where we had migrants show up there where the Customs and Border Protection asked for our assistance again to be able to harden the port of entry and provide them assistance in their ability to respond.
PETERS: Well, I think we all agree that border security is incredibly important. I don't think you'll find any disagreement of anybody on this committee. I sit on the Homeland Security Committee as well, it's simple -- it's clearly a nonpartisan issue. We all believe that borders must be secured.
It's a fundamental aspect of our government to keep the homeland safe. The question is usually how do you do that in the most effective way and understand that we have to do it in a way that is respectful of taxpayer dollars as well. And so that, I think, is really the crux of what we're deciding right now.
You mentioned that you were part of the consultation with the administration, as to the need for a national emergency. I assume because of your repeated trips down to the border, you have seen significant gaps from Customs and Border Patrol. However, as you mentioned earlier in your testimony, the DEA has come up with a report that shows that most of the drugs, for example, that are coming across the border are coming through ports of entry.
They're not folks walking across the open desert. And if they are, there're probably much more effective ways to track those folks down, either with the unmanned aerial vehicles, sensors, National Guard troops -- and I understand those National Guard troops to use Department of Defense drug interdiction program money to go down there. And yet, now I hear that that drug interdiction money may be diverted to something else.
Could you explain why you think drug interdiction money is simply not an effective way of dealing with drugs coming across the border and we should look at other avenues?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, what I would say is that we've been in consultation with the secretary of Defense on exactly these issues.
We have, with our role within U.S. NORTHCOM, we have JTF North for example that is dedicated to the counternarcotics mission. That gets funding through the 284 money that you are -- you're alluding to.
That is something that we are articulating up to the secretary of Defense, with the aspect of saying we want to preserve that ability for that particular permit (ph). As just an example of what the inputs the secretary of Defense is getting as he works through what is the appropriate way to work the funding and what is the appropriate (ph) response from the Department of Defense to this demand (ph) signal.
PETERS: So you're recommending that that money stay in place? That would not be diverted?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: I'm talking about very specifically the U.S. NORTHCOM perspective of a very small sliver of the overall funding piece that needs to be considered within the broader context of -- of the requirements that the secretary of Defense has been given.
PETERS: Great, thank you thank.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Sure (ph).
INHOFE: Thank you.
HAWLEY: Gen. Hyten, Gen. O’Shaughnessy, thank you for being here, thank you for your exemplary service and thank you for the service of the men and women under your respective commands.
Gen. Hyten, I want to go back and talk about something you've touched on several times already this morning, the need for the modernization of our nuclear arsenal. But -- and I want to focus in on, in particular, one aspect of that as it relates to low-yield tactical nuclear weapons.
We know that Russia and China, our two peer or near-peer competitors, have been investing significantly in these types of weapons; Russia, for instance, in anti-ship cruise missiles, nuclear torpedoes, nuclear depth charges; China, other weapons designed -- nuclear weapons designed for regional conflict like the DF-21, DF-26 ballistic missiles. Can you -- and for these reasons of course, the Nuclear Posture Review that was released February called for the -- for us, the United States, to deploy new low yield technical warheads.
Can you explain -- do you agree with that assessment by the national -- the Nuclear Posture Review and can you explain why this type of weapon might be important given the strategic choices that we're now facing?
HYTEN: I -- Senator, I do agree with the Nuclear Posture Review, I had a lot of input into the creation of those recommendations. The thing I like best about the Nuclear Posture Review and our National Defense Strategy is it's a threat based document, and when you have a threat and you have a threat specifically in Russia, which is my biggest concern with low yield nuclear weapons, where they have deployed an order or magnitude more of those than we even have in our inventory.
We need ability to quickly respond to that and provide the president a spectrum of options in order to do that. Now we have low yield nuclear weapons in the air leg of our triad, but not another leg of our triad.
And I talked about the attributes before about timely responsive -- we want to make sure the president always has a responsive option to respond. So we're recommending that, but it's important to note that it's inside the New START Treaty.
Russia is building those outside the New START Treaty. We're going to take missiles off of the submarines, take big weapons off the submarines, put little weapons on the submarines, put it back on.
We'll still have 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons, but the total yield will be smaller. I don't think that is escalatory in any way, I think that will allow the president to have options to manage the threat effectively.
HAWLEY: Yes, thank you for that. I wonder if you could go on, Gen. Hyten, and just explain how it is that deploying new low yield nuclear weapons can -- if we do it effectively, we do it right, actually reduce the risk of nuclear (inaudible).
HYTEN: Because the adversary watches just exactly what we have, and they look for gaps. And if they think they can deploy a nuclear weapon and get away with it, they very well may do that.
So if they -- the Russian doctrine is escalated to win, and if they execute that doctrine as they've said and I have to believe them at their word, if they execute that doctrine as they've said and they may consider if something is going bad on the battlefield somewhere to deploy a low yield nuclear weapon, and the United States won't respond because if we do that we have to respond with a high yield nuclear weapon, they might take that chance.
But if they see we have a low yield nuclear weapon, they won't go that direction. That's the whole theory of deterrence is if they see an effective response to that, they will not use that weapon.
HAWLEY: Given that, what roles, General, what place do you think that the use of these technical low yield nuclear weapons ought to have in our own sort of strategic doctrine. I think you've touched on it, but explain a little bit more.
HYTEN: So the most important thing to realize is their deterrent weapons, the first use of a deterrent weapon is to make sure the weapon is not used against you. Now in order for that to happen, the adversary has to look at that and see a rational response, that would be the second priority is to use that in response to that option.
The goal of that weapon is to make sure that weapon is not used on you.
HAWLEY: And this is particularly important, isn't it, General, as we face peer competitors -- near peer competitors who may well have significantly larger conventional military forces than we do, and so that we don't find ourselves in a position where a disadvantage that we may have with conventional forces tempts aggression, is that fair to say?
HYTEN: So I never want to be at a disadvantage in any element of our architecture. It all -- I mean I think it was Senator Inhofe, Senator Reed talked about disadvantages or places our adversaries are ahead of us.
As far as I'm concerned, that should never happen in the United States of America. But it is happening. So I never want to be there. On a conventional side, we are still the most dominant conventional force on the planet, and if we can move our capabilities into an operation, we will dominate the battlefield today.
That's where the threat of low yield nuclear weapon becomes at risk, because an adversary may see the opportunity to deploy conventional forces and have that short term advantage, but eventually that advantage will turn and that's where that escalation risk is exists and we have to be able to respond.
HAWLEY: Very good, thank you so much, General. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Hawley. Senator Kaine.
KAINE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks to our witnesses. I want to return, I'm sorry that Senator Sullivan left, I want to return and say that 72,000 deaths -- overdose deaths is an emergency.
Forty-thousand people died in 2017 by gun violence in the United States, murders and suicides. That would seem to me to be an emergency. The question isn't whether 72,000 drug deaths or 40,000 gun deaths are an emergency.
The question is should we allow a president to unilaterally declare an emergency and to take $6 billion out of the Pentagon's budget to apply to a situation, Gen. O’Shaughnessy, that you said the threats to our nation from our southern border are not military in nature.
So the question that Congress and the Senate's going to grapple with in the next couple weeks is will we allow a president to declare that drug overdose deaths are an emergency, but the threat isn't military, instead we'll take $6 billion out of the Defense budget to deal with it.
Because if we set that precedent, I could certainly foresee a day when a president's going to say 40,000 gun deaths a year are an emergency, and why don't we take the money out of the Pentagon budget to deal with that.
If we let the president take $6 billion out of the Pentagon's budget to deal with a non-military threat of drugs, then you guys are going to see money taken out of your budget for other emergencies as well.
And that's the vote that we're all going to be casting in the next couple of weeks. Gen. O’Shaughnessy, I applaud the honesty or your written testimony, it's 23 pages of testimony.
The first section of it is threats, five pages, you identify six threats, nothing to do with the southern border. The second section is defending the homeland, eight pages of testimony, four different domains.
The last is southern approaches, and you acknowledge that it's not a military threat. We do -- and you focus in your three paragraphs of testimony on illegal narcotics. So the question we're going to have to vote on is do we want the president to take Pentagon money for a threat that you acknowledge is non-military in nature?
The president proposes $6 billion, the first chunk is $2.5 billion of drug interdiction money, and the Pentagon account on drug interdiction doesn't have $2.5 billion in it. Right now ABC News this morning article, one of the two Pentagon funds the Trump administration plans to tap to help secure the southern border after declaring a national emergency has nowhere near the $2.5 billion that's projected for use.
It has $85 million, not $2.5 billion, it has $85 million that's available and so the Pentagon is saying that they're going to have to reprogram or shift money from other accounts into the account to make the $2.5 billion.
I gathered, Gen. O’Shaughnessy, from your testimony earlier, you do not yet know where the Pentagon plans to find the money to shift into the drug interdiction account to then take to use for the president's emergency.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: That's correct, Senator, and that's beyond the purview of U.S. NORTHCOM, that's something that OSD is working with joint staff.
KAINE: Within the Pentagon but not NORTHCOM.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: That's correct.
KAINE: Secondly, I want to make sure I understand your testimony, so that's the $2.5 billion -- the $2.5 billion to be taken is a fund that has $85 million, and so there's apparently an attempt to shift other Pentagon monies into it, we don't yet know where they'll come from.
The second chunk is $3.5 billion out of MILCON, military construction projects. Gen. O’Shaughnessy, in NORTHCOM I gather there are ongoing military construction projects as well as projects that you would like to do either are further out or not yet funded, correct?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: That's a true statement, senator.
KAINE: And I gather from your testimony you have not yet been asked to provide a list of NORTHCOM MILCON projects that you would propose or you would propose or you would recommend to be reduced, eliminated or delayed, is that correct?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: We are actually working very closely with the secretary of Defense's office with respect to the prioritization of that, not necessarily specifically related to this issue, but we have had communication with him with our prioritization of those MILCON projects (ph)...
KAINE: OK. I want to make sure I understand this. Obviously MILCON is obviously going to have a list of MILCON projects...
KAINE: because we're working on the NDAA and that will be in it. So you'll always have a list. But have you been asked specifically in connection with this proposal to take $3.5 billion out of MILCON, give us your recommendations as the NORTHCOM commander about projects that should be reduced, eliminated or delayed?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Again, senator, I believe that's the process that's actually gone (ph) this very week. And that's why I was really pleased that the acting secretary of Defense took the time to go down and see firsthand and then have a personal insight as he works through those very difficult challenges and decisions that he will make as he ultimately responds to direction from the president.
KAINE: So that -- just complete because I'm done (ph) -- have you made recommendations or not? Has NORTHCOM made recommendations about MILCON projects that should be reduced, eliminated or delayed?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: We have not specifically to this particular effort as of yet, but it is still premature and pre-decisional at this point.
KAINE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Kaine.
BLACKBURN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you all for being here. I know that the hypersonics have been discussed. And Gen. Hyten, I wanted to come back to that issue. It's important to us in Tennessee because of Arnold Air Force and the work that has been done there. They've been a, really, a key contributor, if you will, to our nation's aerospace program. They're very important to us in Tennessee and we are pleased that they're there.
And you've discussed some of the program and the advances there, the operational capabilities. But I want to come back to one thing that they have mentioned a couple of times and it is having both the talent and the numbers of individuals to really push forward into the hypersonics and into that capacity -- and Gen. O’Shaughnessy as you said, 21st century warfare and having brought us there (ph). So let's take just a minute to focus on the talent and the numbers to deliver on that mission.
HYTEN: So senator, Arnold Air Force Base is a treasure to this country. The wind tunnel capabilities that they have there are unique and they allow us to do things that we really can't do anywhere else. We have a challenge at Arnold, and across our DOD labs and across our Department of Energy labs in attracting, recruiting and retaining the kind of engineering talent that's required to move these kind of programs forward.
What I've learned, though, is when you can explain to the youth of America the kind of work that you can do by coming to places like Arnold, they will come. They will come because they love to do that kind of fascinating work. That's the same with Los Alamos, or Livermore, or Sandia, or Rome Labs (ph) or any of our national labs.
The key is then to be able to retain them because they'll be trained, and they'll learn unique skills, and they can go out and do anything. So we have to make sure that we have the compensation that matches with their talent, that we compete with the civilian sector in doing that, but the most important thing is we can provide them fascinating work.
The one challenge I would say that we have to work at together, and the Department of Defense is looking at this, Congress is looking at this, is the time it takes some of the employees to get their clearances has been very de-motivational for new employees. And it's causing some of them to leave because it takes years, in some cases, for them to get the high-level security clearances to work those issues.
Now, the secretary -- Secretary Mattis, now Secretary Shanahan, have looked at this issue directly. And they're working it directly with the broader government. But that is an issue that we want to continue to take on.
BLACKBURN: OK. Kind of in the same vein, let's talk about USSPACECOM and that capacity, that mission, the transition of that mission. How are you approaching this so that going from STRATCOM to SPACECOM, that is a seamless transition and that we keep our focus on those threats that are coming to us that we're going to need to -- the adversary threats we'll need to address?
HYTEN: So pieces to the answer that question, senator, is that, number one, I'm still the senior military person in space, still serving active duty. And so, I care desperately about space.
But as the commander of Strategic Command, space will never be my number one priority; in fact, right now it's about number three. The nuclear modernization and operations is number one, nuclear command and control is number two, space is my third priority.
And the importance of space in today's day and age, that's not good to have that priority. So we need a command that focuses on that. And the commander of that command, whoever that person is, he or she must have a focus on space 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. And that's why we're standing up a Space Command.
One of the ways we're going to make sure we do that is -- because I was around when we transitioned the old U.S. Space Command to U.S. Strategic Command in 2002, now we're kind of going back the other way. And I watched us almost break the space mission when we did that because we just, you know, haphazardly slapped billets and said these 500-and-plus billets are going to move from Colorado to Omaha and, I'll just say, the people didn't come with them automatically.
So we're going to continue to perform a lot of the mission for Space Command in the STRATCOM headquarters. It'll be Space Command East; Omaha is east in this case if it's in Colorado. If it's in Florida, it'll be Space Command West. If it's in Alabama, it'll be Space Command West.
Wherever it ends up, we're going to continue to support that because we don't know the final destination of where that's going to be. So we can't break the mission, because we have threats to deal with today. So we'll make sure we cover both of those issues in dealing with the standup of Space Command.
BLACKBURN: OK. My time is expired and I'm going to submit for the record QFR [question for the record] for you on supply chain integrity dealing with the space systems. And I thank you each, for your service and for being here today.
HYTEN: Thank you, ma'am.
INHOFE: Without objection, it'll be a part of the record. Thank you.
WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you both for being here today. Senator Heinrich asked about New START and I just want to go back and dig a little deeper, if I can, on that. Gen. Hyten, in March 2017, you testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee and you said, and I quote here, "I've stated for the record in the past, and I'll state again, that I'm a big supporter of the New START agreement." Is that still your view?
HYTEN: I -- it is still my view. I said it multiple times; I'm a big supporter of the New START agreement. I want ideally, in my view, all nuclear weapons to part of the next phase of New START, and not just the identified weapons that are in the New START treaty now.
WARREN: Good. Can you say a word -- I understand you would like to see an expanded New START -- can you just say a word about why you think New START is so important?
HYTEN: It gives me two things at STRATCOM, number one it gives me a cap on their strategic base line nuclear weapons and their ballistic missiles, both submarine and ICBM, as well as their bombers.
So I understand what that is and - and also just as important, it gives me insight into the - through the verification regime to their real capabilities. That - the INF Treaty, for example, doesn't have a - a verification regime anymore, the New START Treaty does, which gives me insight into the Russian capabilities.
Those are hugely beneficial to me, they just have to be balanced against all the other things Russia are doing outside of the treaty.
WARREN: Right, actually can you just say a word more about that, about the inspection process and what benefit that gives to the United States?
HYTEN: So both Russia and the United States as party to that treaty have the ability to declare a New START inspection, the Russians can land in our country and I get a notification that they've (ph) landed at a port of entry somewhere.
San Francisco is one that they land at frequently. And then once they land there, they can declare wherever they want to go in this country to look at our nuclear force. We have the same ability in Russia, to land at a port of entry in Russia and then go wherever we want to look at their capabilities.
They open it up to verify that the right number of weapons are there, the right kind of weapons are there, that gives us insight into those capabilities, gives them insight into our capabilities and improves our overall strategic stability.
WARREN: And so I presume based on what you said that if we either lost that capacity or the capacity was greatly diminished, that you'd like to try to find another way to be able to conduct that same kind of inspection and know what's going on in this setting.
How confident are you that we could replace those inspections, the data exchanges and the notifications that are not in New START with other verification tools in a timely and cost effective manner?
HYTEN: So we have very good intelligence capabilities, but there's really nothing that can replace the eyes on, hands on ability to look at something. And so we - we have to do that.
But there's elements that they have that aren't element of the New START Treaty that we don't have this insight into. That's what (inaudible).
WARREN: I understand that you want to see this expanded, I'm just trying to hang onto what we've got and then talk a little bit about the expansion. Let me just ask, in your view would it be easier or harder to provide an effective deterrent without a verifiable arms control agreement such as New START in place?
HYTEN: So I believe in any situation I can foresee in the next 10 years, I can provide an effective defense, as long as I have a capable triad with the weapons that we've defined.
WARREN: So -
HYTEN: I get concerned 10 years and beyond that with torpedoes, with cruise missiles, with hypersonics, that they could go a completely other direction that we would have a difficulty.
But I don't have any problems standing here and saying I can defend this nation today and I think the commander after me can. But I worry about the commander after the commander after the next.
WARREN: So is it - the question I'm trying to ask though is about - is it easier or harder when you've got the tools available to you in New START?
HYTEN: Well it's absolute - today it's absolutely easier.
WARREN: As easier - that's the part I'm going for, this is a part of what you're able to accomplish. Do you support the extension of New START?
HYTEN: So I've stated for the record in the past, I haven't changed my opinion, I support New START. But I want - but you have to have a partner that wants to participate in New START.
WARREN: Fair enough.
HYTEN: And if - it's like - it's going to be like INF, we have to have a partner that participates. It's a two party treaty, and if - and if the Russians continue to build the capabilities outside the New START Treaty that aren't accountable and won't come to the table under the treaty, which we - there's a - an album (ph) in the treaty says that there's a new arm - a new strategic arm that appears, they should bring that to table and discuss it.
If they wont do that, then that's - that causes me to have concerns (inaudible).
WARREN: And I appreciate that. I think you're exactly right when you identify who's going to come to the table. As you know, New START expires in just two years. The administration has already ripped up the - another nuclear arms treaty with Russia, the INF Treaty, and it appears to be running out the clock on the New START without any plans for a follow-up agreement. If this happens, this is going to be the first time since 1972 that there are no arms control agreements between the United States and Russia.
My view is we have a moral and strategic responsibility to do everything in our power to prevent a new nuclear arms race. And at a minimum, I think that means working with Russia to try to get back to the negotiating table, try to get them back into compliance with the INF Treaty and working on a New START treaty. This just seems to me to be commonsense arms control and to make America safe (ph)...
HYTEN: So I pay close...
WARREN: Thank you.
HYTEN: attention to what the State Department is doing and they're reaching out to the Russians. And the Russians are not answering favorably.
WARREN: Well, I hope we can get them to the table and I'm glad to hear that you're in favor of that. Thank you.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Warren.
CRAMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, generals -- both of you, for your service and for your testimony today. Since we talked a couple of weeks ago, Gen. Hyten, I have completed my tour of bases in North Dakota; I went to all of them. And I want you know that, while Minot and Grand Forks were grateful, Cavalier was especially grateful that you asked specifically about them. And it was very good.
And I will tell you, I'm new to this committee, as you know. And I've sat through enough briefings that have made me adequately frightened, but I feel much better having gone to the bases and including our National Guard, ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] and Global Hawk bases, it's fantastic.
But with regard to modernization, Gen. Hyten, I agree with you. I -- that -- that one of the things that concerns me is not so much a capability of modernizing but the speed with which we are, you know, able to do it. And when we think about the history of, you know, 60 years ago being able to build in 5 years -- not just develop but, you know, create, produce hundreds of ICBMs, that -- that -- that -- I don't even know if we could do that today. The timeline scares me.
Do you have any specific thoughts on the bureaucracy itself and how we can improve the bureaucracy? And then, as I always like to say, what we as policymakers can do to help either knock down the hurdles or send the right signals so that we can meet the timeline that is facing us.
HYTEN: So senator, thanks for going Minot, Cavalier and Grand Forks. They're pretty special places. And when you see the people, you should feel very, very good about this country. They're amazing people.
But when you look at -- when you look at the challenges that we face in the future, I think Senator Peters asked Gen. O’Shaughnessy what kept him awake at night and Gen. O’Shaughnessy answered Russia.
What keeps me awake at night, mostly, is actually ourselves because somehow we've lost the ability to go fast. I don't know where we lost that but somewhere we lost the ability to go fast. And we better regain that because right now, we're dominant. And I can guarantee you today that STRATCOM can keep this nation secure, but we have to make sure that's the case.
So we have to figure out how to go fast again. And so I can give you a lot of recommendations, I'd be glad to do that offline. But I'll give you one here. And the one recommendation I have is that we have to once again empower the people that actually build stuff.
We have to empower in the -- in the military the O-6 program directors -- that's colonels and Navy captains that actually build things. Over the last 25 years, we've taken all the authorities away from them. And in many cases, they're not even staying in the military anymore. They go out to do other things in industry.
But those engineers that want to go build things, that's what built this amazing force that I get to command today. So we have to go back again and do everything we can to empower, down at that level, them to make the decisions; how to spend the money, how to deliver the capability, how to test the capability, all those kind of issues.
Because they'll do it more efficiently than when they have to go through 18 layers of bureaucracy above them -- and, oh, by the way, if they do fail we will fire them and find somebody else. That's the other thing that is beneficial about having the authority in the right place, now you know who is responsible. So right now it's almost impossible to tell who's even responsible because there's so many layers of bureaucracy.
CRAMER: So can Congress do something about that or is this?
HYTEN: So Congress has started down that path.
Your committee as well as the House Armed Services Committee in the in the last two years have made significant improvements in moving things back from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, back down to the services. I've now watched the services both on the Air Force and the Navy side, which are mostly in my command -- I don't watch the Army as close, move things back out again to the O-6s.
So continuing that process, continuing to look at that through this committee and to push those authorities back down, I think that is the biggest thing that would help.
CRAMER: Gen. O’Shaughnessy, could you comment on, I guess, the same basic principles within the context of your command? Because again, having been in Grand Forks, and Cavalier and even Fargo, frankly, with the Happy Hooligans and their ISR work, I find some of the greatest innovators in the world and I just want them to be empowered.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: I absolutely agree with everything Gen. Hyten said. And as you alluded to, you know, I think we have to change the way that we're thinking about advancing our capabilities. And we can't go about it the way that we have in the past if we're going to keep pace with our adversaries.
CRAMER: Maybe just in the remaining seconds, Gen. O’Shaughnessy, I would ask for one clarification with regard to the debate about the Southern Border and your role in advising or in, you know, in -- and providing consultation to the president. Do you feel like you and the others, but you specifically, have been adequately listened to, and that the information, and intelligence and insights that you've provided to the president and the others around him have been appropriately taken in and considered before making this whole-of-government decision?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Thank you for asking that, senator, yes. Yes, I do. I believe through a variety of forms (ph), whether it be directly with the president, or whether it be through the secretary of Defense with the chairman, whether it be actually going hands-on and actually seeing what's going on there, I feel very comfortable that the best military advice has been -- from U.S. NORTHCOM has been put forward and has been in the proper forms (ph).
CRAMER: Thank you.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Cramer.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time today, and your testimony and your willingness to answer extensive questions. Gen. Hyten, in your testimony, you discussed the effectiveness of our legacy nuclear command, control and communications systems and the need to pursue updates to meet evolving needs.
Can you discuss the implications for building a new system in light of the rapid -- rapidly changing technologies like A.I. [artificial intelligence], quantum computing and machine learning? And also, could you elaborate, to an extent that you're able to in an open setting, are we building an adaptable architecture with the workarounds necessary to, you know, to adapt to future tech and modernization?
HYTEN: So senator, over the last six months, I've dug into that very deeply, much, much deeper than I would ever expect a combatant commander to have to do that. That's because on the 3rd of October, the secretary of Defense put me in charge of the nuclear command and control enterprise.
And I'm responsible for operations requirements and system engineering of that enterprise now. And so I felt the need to go out and look at how we're doing today, and I understand that pretty well. But then I have to define now, how we're going to do it in the future in this very challenging cyber threat environment that we're walking into.
So I have some ideas. I've formed those ideas as I've gone through. It -- basically the broad base structure of that idea is to -- is develop a number of pathways for a message to get through that is so nearly infinite that nobody can ever figure out exactly where it is or deny the ability for that message to get through. That's the way to do things in the future and I think we'll have the means to do that. I'd have to talk about in a much more classified level to get to -- into the details.
So I've gone out to industry, I've gone out to the federally funded research and development corporations and I've asked them to come in with ideas. Just last week, they delivered those ideas to me. We're going to now evaluate those ideas and come up with a broad based set of mission needs that we need to explore.
And then I'll work back with industry to figure out how to do that. And then the services, the Army and the Navy in this case, will actually.
DUCKWORTH: Have you thought about also going out to some of our national laboratories? I know they fall under the DOE. But you know, in Illinois we have both Fermilab and Argonne with quantum computing capabilities, currently pretty high up on the spectrum of quantum computing capabilities, but without major investment we're going to fall behind with that.
HYTEN: You bet. And -- and I have gone to the national labs.
I went to the national labs, the federally funded research development corporations, the university-affiliated research corporations, all those elements looking for best ideas. And I did that individually because I found when I brought everybody together in a room the answer ended up looking like it used to. And when I kept everybody separately, everybody had very, very innovative answers.
So now, we're going to have to figure out how to capture this innovation and move forward effectively. But I have reached out to the DOE labs as well as the UARC and the FFRDCs.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
I also want to delve a little deeper with both of you into something Gen. O’Shaughnessy mentioned in his written testimony. General, when discussing the potential cumulative effects of the Chinese and Russian advanced threat technologies, such as hypersonics and cyber efforts (ph), and you mentioned here, you said, and I quote, "Collectively these advanced technologies could be capable of creating strategic effect with non-nuclear weapons, potentially affecting national decision-makings and limiting response (ph) options in both peacetime and crisis."
Now, I'm -- we're very focused and we've had quite a discussion today on nuclear strategic deterrent at the moment, which, to be clear, I don't have a problem with. I, in fact, do think that we need to modernize our nuclear arsenal. But my concern and question for you both is around our own non-nuclear strategic deterrence.
Would you increase investments on our end, whether it's in hypersonic, cyber, conventional prompt global strike weapons, other new technologies, in an effort (ph) to reach a level providing a credible deterrent against Chinese and Russian activities, as we suggest they may be attempting with us? And how do we balance that with the real need to continue our investments in the nuclear realm?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Sure. And thanks for the opportunity to respond to that question because I think it is really -- it's right in line with the NDS. And as the NDS has articulated, the changing security environment one of the things that's really fundamentally changed is the strategic deterrence as it applies to the conventional aspect.
And so as we look at that, as Gen. Hyten mentioned, the cost imposition -- in other words, we have to be able to impose a cost if we're going to be able to deter. But there's also, especially on the conventional side, there's -- you have to be able to actually them their objectives. And so, it's a combination of both of those together, imposing costs, denying their objectives, and then be able to credibly communicate that to them so they understand that -- that from a deterrence standpoint that it -- there's (ph) absolutely not even worth going down that path.
And so in order to do that, though, it's going to take an investment in just the areas that you mentioned. We have to have our own hypersonic capability and we also have to have the ability to defend against those advanced threats.
DUCKWORTH: And we're able to reach those capabilities if we make these investments?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: The "if we make those investments" is the key part of your statement. Yes, ma'am.
DUCKWORTH: Gen. Hyten.
HYTEN: And I agree with Gen. O’Shaughnessy. That -- I think one of the most important things you said though is that you recognize that the strategic deterrence in the 21st century is wholly different than it was in the 20th century.
It's not just about nuclear weapons. It's multi-polar now. It's not just the Soviet Union. It's Russia, China, North Korea. You have to worry about all domains. You have to worry about nuclear, space, cyber and conventional, and you have to figure out how to integrate all those together.
We've -- at STRATCOM, we've formed an academic alliance with 35 different universities to try to get them to start thinking about what is really needed in order to do this, not just the technology side, but a policy and a strategy side as well.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you, general.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Duckworth.
PERDUE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
And thank you, gentlemen, for being with us today. Gen. Hyten, I love the way you summarize this. Every time you come before us, you just get right down -- you do what my wife asked us to do when we were raising kids, major on the majors. And thank you for that.
But recap: triad, command and control, and Space Command are your top three priorities. I want to focus on the first one. You're facing five threats across five domains. I couldn't agree more that it's an integrated effort now; it's not just about the nuclear capability.
Given that though, you're -- the most salient comment I've heard today is we've lost our ability to go fast. I lived in Asia, I've worked in China a good bit in my career and I can tell you, they can beat us to the corner (ph) on every single development; with our technology, with their technology, it doesn't matter.
I want to focus on one part of our nuclear triad and I want to get to a second question very quickly. The Ohio-class has served us well for decades, four or five decades in many cases, but it's aging. And I know we've got the Columbia-class coming. Secretary of Navy Spencer said recently, "The Columbia-class submarine is the most important acquisition program the Navy has today." Do you agree with that, sir?
HYTEN: I do. And I can't tell you how thankful I am for Secretary Spencer and CNO Richardson both making that statement and putting that as a priority.
PERDUE: So we're going to procure, as I understand the schedule, the first Columbia-class in FY 21 and it'll take us until FY 31 before that first delivery will be taken in the first sea -- I guess trial will be done on that boat. Is that right?
HYTEN: Operational capability by then.
PERDUE: So how long does it take China to do the same thing?
HYTEN: Actually, on the submarine side, it's been taking them about just as long.
PERDUE: But that's going to change between now (ph)...
PERDUE: and 2031, is that correct (ph)?
HYTEN: That will change, because you understand that we're experienced in submarines and China's still fairly new in developing those capabilities.
PERDUE: Can you give us an update on the development of that Columbia-class effort? And is 2031 still an appropriate date to expect on that (ph)?
HYTEN: So I've done a deep dive look into every element of the triad, again, kind of an odd thing for a combatant commander to do, but it's because I'm so concerned about it. I want to look in depth into that issue.
So I've gone with Admiral Caldwell, the head of Navy Nuclear Reactors, up to the shipyard at Electric Boat and done a deep dive. And when I went through that, I have to be honest, senator, I was very concerned because there was so little margin in the overall schedule. And then over the last year, as the Navy has informed you guys, we've had some issues with welding of...
PERDUE: The missile silo in particular, right?
HYTEN: The missile tubes, absolutely. And because of that, a lot of that margin that was not too much before is even less now. It's still on the positive side, but if you're 10 years away, and you're eating margin and not putting margin in that causes me concern.
PERDUE: Can you take a question away for the record to help us understand what we could do to shorten that gestation period?
HYTEN: You bet, I -- I'd be glad to come talk to you or take it for the record, either one.
PERDUE: And I'd like an update on the Hong-20. This is the new long-range nuclear bomber, which effectively will give China now their first true triad capability...
PERDUE: if I understand that correct.
HYTEN: Absolutely. And that discussion is better to have in a classified setting.
PERDUE: I appreciate that. And we'll -- I look forward to that.
Gen. O’Shaughnessy, I was just at the Southern Border. I agree with everything you just said, I know you were just there. I personally believe that we've got a human tragedy going on at the border, with people coming from all parts of the world, not just Central America. But the bigger crisis is the drug traffic that's coming through there.
The first thing I want to get on the record though, there have been three places where a wall has been built, California, Arizona and Texas. And in those areas, the numbers I see is that human traffic across those border where that barrier is placed dropped 95 percent. Do you agree with that?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, I do. And I would -- I would just add, again, that within the last week, I've been twice to El Paso meeting with the sector chief, meeting with the individual Border Patrol agents. And they confirm exactly that, is when the -- when a barrier is in place, as long as it has cover, in other words you're actually having some sensing of it, and it -- and you have the ability to respond to it, it's -- it totally changes the flow.
And they can funnel it into the areas that they want to. And CBP personnel too, in-person (ph), talked about the effectiveness as part of their family of systems.
PERDUE: Sir, thank you for the -- your troops help down there. I saw some of those troops and the -- and the support that they're giving CBP is really remarkable.
I was in McAllen sector in Texas; it's the most active sector we have now. So what we're doing is put barriers up, we pushed the activity to other sectors. So I went to the -- what I think is the most active sector. They were telling me that an individual coming across the two cartels in Mexico that are at war, controlling that particular sector are very powerful. It's about -- they pay $8,000 per person through -- to the cartel to come through.
The people that were arrested the night I was there on patrol with the CBP had no money in their pocket, not a dime. They each had a burner phone with one number in it and it was for a support person in the U.S. that was part of the infrastructure here.
My question for you is, can the U.S. military on the drug side of this, if it's $2 billion effort -- or business with regard to the human traffic, it's more than a $30 billion (ph) just in that sector for drugs coming through. There were more fentanyl that came through that sector last year, enough to kill every man, woman and child in America.
My question, sir, is what can the U.S. military do there that's within the realm of your responsibility as protectors of our country?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, sir. Thank you for the question and to allow us to highlight some of the efforts that were -- are ongoing and we'll continue.
Our JTF North is actually about 190 individuals that are focused just exactly 100 percent on this. Some of the things we're able to provide are especially important is the intel aspect, understanding the networks.
We understand networks. We've been doing this for decades overseas. We understand how to get to the networks and then partner with our law enforcement agency partners to be able to actually get after those networks in ways that they may not have worked their way through. And so it's been very powerful having our intel folks as part of this.
We also bring unique military capability that we are applying, whether it's the use of our Fort Huachuca unmanned aerial systems or whether it's our ground sensor platoons that deploy in there for training. Those are all additive to the capability of our -- to partner with our law enforcement agencies that have proven to be quite effective.
And really from the dollar perspective of what we spend and what we get out of them, a very effective use while getting training. Our ground sensor platoon that deploy there, they're doing exactly what they're going to be asked to do if they deploy over to the Middle East, et cetera. And they're doing it in an (ph) environment with a thinking adversary that really apply -- allows them to get ready and increase their readiness in the way that we're currently applying them.
PERDUE: But with all of that activity, CBP, the military, all of our U.S. activity, with all our technology and everything else we're only interdicting about 10 percent of the drugs coming in. Is that correct, sir?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: That -- that's roughly correct. And it obviously depends exactly where you're talking about. That's -- broadly, that's the correct number, sir.
PERDUE: Thank you, sir. Thank you both.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
INHOFE: OK. Thank you, Senator Perdue.
JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I thank you for being here today, and for your service and for all of those behind you for their service. I apologize for not being here as much, but we have several hearings going on today.
Gen. Hyten, I know there has been a lot of questions and answers about the INF Treaty and the pull out of the INF Treaty. So I won't, kind of, rehash all of that. What I'd like to ask though is there -- is there -- have we done everything that you would advise in order to bring Russia to the table on the INF Treaty?
HYTEN: So I think that's a very difficult question for me to ask because I don't have the whole picture. I don't know everything the State Department has done. I understand my discussions with the president. I understand that the State Department has worked that issue.
So as far as I know, we've done everything humanly possible to try to bring Russia back into that. Every time I talk to the president about it, I want Russia in that treaty. But if they won't comply then we don't really have a treaty.
So from my perspective, I think we've done everything humanly possible but I would say that there's still time that Russia could come to the table and still participate in that treaty. I would hope that that happened but I don't think that's very likely right now.
JONES: Do you have any other -- any specifics that you would recommend...
HYTEN: I was thinking about that...
JONES: that haven't been tried already?
HYTEN: I was thinking about that as you went though the question, senator. And I can't think of a -- I think you just have to ask again and again.
I think we've shown the intelligence to our NATO allies. You've seen the NATO allies come out and understand that that system that is in violation of the treaty is in violation of the treaty, I think all our NATO allies agree with that. For whatever reason, Russia does not want to play in that situation. And if they don't want to come to the table, they're not going to come to the table.
JONES: Yes (ph). Thank you. Thank you for that.
So Gen. O’Shaughnessy, obviously there's also been a lot of questions and answers about the border and the national emergency. And I think you testified earlier that whenever there is something coming from the president you -- whenever -- I think your testimony was when you get a legal order from the president you act.
And my question is, with regard to the national emergency declaration, did you or anyone on the staff that you know off evaluate the legality of the order regarding the national emergency on the Southern Border?
O’SHAUGHNESSY: Sir, that's beyond the -- the purview of NORTHCOM I would say. But for -- just for -- for clarity though, since the actual declaration of the -- a national emergency, there's been no specific tasking that's come down to NORTHCOM post that declaration.
What we had was the -- we were actually executing those orders and direction that we were given prior to that declaration that those troops are now showing up on the border, but that order was given and the request for assistance was given from the Department of Homeland Security to the Department of Defense prior to that declaration.
JONES: All right. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, I think that's all I have. Thank you very much.
Thank you, gentlemen.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Jones.
Well, first of all, thank you very much, both of you, for the very concise way in the -- in which you answered some pretty difficult questions and I appreciate that very much. Was there anything else that has not -- that you'd like to bring up that you didn't have the opportunity to do for clarification, either one of you?
HYTEN: So senator, I would like to -- you mentioned a few things at the beginning that you wanted to make sure we addressed today. And I went down the list just a minute ago and we've talked about everything on your list except the space force. And I think there's -- I'd just like to make a few comments on that.
INHOFE: OK. I do appreciate that. In fact, both of you may want to do that because my question was there is confusion out there when we're talking about the space force, where that fits in all of this. And you'd -- the two of you would be the logical ones to ask. Thank you very much.
HYTEN: So senator, the space force is structured to be the organize, train and equip element for our space capabilities. Right now, the space capabilities are broadly in the Air Force, but they're also across the Army, the Navy and other Defense agencies as well.
When we look at the problem, there's really two issues. After Goldwater-Nichols, the -- the military services are now responsible for organizing, training, equipping forces but not fighting. The fighting is done in the combatant commands.
Gen. O’Shaughnessy and I are -- represent the combatant commands, so we're responsible for fighting. That's why, in response to questions earlier, the need to stand up a U.S. Space Command focused on the warfighting problem in space is what that command is doing.
Which leaves the question, are we properly organized, training -- organized to do the organize, train and equip mission for the space mission. And the president has said, because of the importance of that warfighting domain, we are not. And we should consolidate all those capabilities from across the Department into a single space force.
And I give the president and the vice president big credit for not creating a department of the space force at this time, but putting that capability in the Air Force, because I was very concerned about creating excess bureaucracy, so was the president and so was the vice president. And by creating a department of the space force, it's just not sized right now in order to do that. It will be some day, but it's just not reached that point right now.
But the legislative proposal should come to you shortly. There will be some issues that we'll have to work out with you, and we'll work those together. But I just want you to know that I support the concept of the space force inside the Air Force that the president is now pushing.
INHOFE: Yes, you are right. I had brought that up, both in my opening statement as well as initial questions. And my concern was that we wanted two things answered before you actually get into a new bureaucracy, one is what the costs are going to be, one, would it be (ph) more efficient. And I think you've answered both of those and I appreciate that very much.
COTTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, gentlemen, apologize for my tardiness. It's been a fun-filled morning of committee hearings all across the Senate. Gen. Hyten, each leg of our nuclear triad has its own value. Is it -- is it fair to say that our ballistic missiles have strength in numbers?
HYTEN: That's one of the big values of our ballistic missiles. Four hundred ballistic missiles create a huge targeting problem for any adversary. The only way to get after 400 hardened nuclear missiles is with a whole bunch of incoming weapons. And if you decide to attack those, you then you pretty much are guaranteeing that we'll attack back. That's deterrent in a nutshell and that creates a huge element of our deterrent process.
COTTON: Sometimes referred to as a missile sink (ph) for the enemy?
HYTEN: It would be a missile sink (ph). It would be a weapons sink (ph). It would be a very, very difficult target to impact.
COTTON: I have heard proposals from some in Congress and in Washington, suggesting that we ought to eliminate our Minuteman III fleet and cancel the replacement for that fleet. If we were to take that step to unilaterally cut over 400 ballistic missiles and command centers, wouldn't it be like giving the Russians and the Chinese 400 free warheads to target something else in the United States or around the world?
HYTEN: I don't understand how, with the threats that we face today which are growing not shrinking, we would make a decision today as a nation to lessen our overall strategic deterrent. That makes no sense to me. And my best military advice is that we do not do that.
COTTON: One common argument I hear in defense of that position is: you know, why do we spend so much money on weapons we never use? It's not that much money. I mean, it's only -- what -- three to six percent of the budget, depending where -- of the Defense budget, depending on where we are in the cycle. Wouldn't you say though that we've been using our nuclear weapons every single day for 74 years?
HYTEN: We use them every day. And I -- and, senator, the people that say that, I actually find that a little bit insulting, because the men and women who go to work every day, underneath the water, underneath the ground, in the air, that provide that strategic deterrent, they are doing the mission every day.
It is the most active mission. Strategic deterrence is not a passive mission. Deterrence doesn't exist just because you have 1,550 deployable nuclear weapons on the New START treaty; you have to do that mission every day. And that's what the men and women of my command do and they're proud to do it. And so it is an active mission the -- one of the most active missions that we have.
When you send a nuclear submarine out with 160 sailors onboard, do you think they're thinking of themselves as a passive functional mission? No, they are an active warfighting mission.
COTTON: And the whole point of our nuclear deterrence, the way we use that force is not to launch and detonate those missiles but to stop our adversaries from launching and detonating theirs to begin with.
HYTEN: You know, Secretary Mattis asked me: what's the use of nuclear weapons, why do we have nuclear weapons? And the answer is to prevent others from using nuclear weapons on us. But in order to do that, you have to be ready. It's the Washington analogy. The best way to avoid war is to be prepared for war. If you're not prepared, you run the risk of an attack.
COTTON: And if Russia or China, or perhaps Russia and China combined had clear demonstrable nuclear overmatch against the United States, there's no doubt who would win if there were, in fact, a nuclear exchange. What impact would that have on the conventional forces and the strategic thinking of those nations as against the United States and our allies?
HYTEN: I -- you know, in my opening statement for the record, I said that nuclear war can't be fought -- can't be won; therefore, it must never be fought. Therefore, we must be ready to fight it every day. That's the way I look at it. That's a complicated thing for some people to understand.
But if you're not ready, somebody could take a step over the line. If there is an overmatch, somebody could think they could get away with it and that could create the worst day in the history of the world, the worst day in the history of our country. We never want that to happen. And in order to do that, I believe in peace through strength, not peace through unilateral disarmament.
COTTON: If you were sitting in your position or in the head of state position in a country like Japan or South Korea that depends on the extended deterrence of the United States, and the United States weakened its nuclear triad or even eliminated one of their legs, what kind of influence would that have on your thinking?
HYTEN: What I'd be concerned about from a U.S. perspective is that would cause some of our allies to decide they need their own nuclear deterrent. One of the goals we have as a country is to eliminate the proliferation of nuclear weapons, not just in our adversaries but around the world.
A world with a fewer nuclear weapons is a better world, but we have to be able to defend ourselves. And so we want our allies to understand that we can defend them too. That's what extended deterrence is all about and that means you have to be ready to support their contingencies as well.
COTTON: Thank you, general.
I understand that some opponents of our nuclear force, or critics of it, say that we shouldn't start a new arms race or be engaged in an arms race. I'll simply observe, based on what you've said here today that it's much cheaper to win an arms race than it is to lose a war.
HYTEN: Yes, sir.
INHOFE: Great. Thank you, Senator Cotton.
I thank both of you. I'll repeat what I said earlier. This has been a really enlightening session and you've been the right ones to be at -- at the today (ph). So thank you very much.
We will -- are adjourned. That was good.