COOPER: The subcommittee will come to order. First, I would like to ask unanimous consent that opening statements be inserted for the record. Hearing no objection, that will be done.
And second, I would like to ask our usual unanimous consent so that members of the full committee like Mr. Lamborn are also able to participate in the subcommittee questioning after a subcommittee member has had a chance to ask their questions. Hearing no objection--well, is the gentleman asking for a recorded vote?
The gentleman withdraws his questionable objection.
I would like to welcome the distinguished witnesses before us today. I apologize on behalf of the House of Representatives that this is getting such a late start, but you know that's business as usual here. So, since there are no opening statements, why don't we go ahead and hear from the witnesses?
We're lucky to have such a distinguished panel today, and I appreciate all the witnesses coming. But why don't we start with Secretary Trachtenberg?
TRACHTENBERG: Chairman Cooper, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the President's fiscal year 2020 budget request for nuclear forces. The 2018 National Defense Strategy recognizes today's increasingly complex global security environment, characterized by overt challenges to the free and open international order and the reemergence of strategic competition between nations.
For decades, the United States led the world in efforts to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately Russia and China have chosen a different path and have increased the role of nuclear weapons in their strategies, along with the size and sophistication of their nuclear forces.
For this reason, a robust and modern U.S. nuclear deterrent is necessary to ensure that the reemergence of strategic competition does not lead to conflict or escalate to large-scale war. Russia continues to prioritize high levels of defense spending to upgrade its nuclear forces and pursue advanced weapons specifically designed to counter U.S. military capability. Russia's nuclear modernization program covers every leg of its strategic triad and includes modern intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and long-range strategic bombers.
Russia's Minister of Defense has stated that, by 2020, 90 percent of the country’s strategic nuclear forces will be armed with modern weaponry. In March 2018, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia is developing even more new nuclear weapons capabilities. In addition, Russian--Russia is modernizing and expanding an active stockpile of approximately 2,000 nonstrategic nuclear weapons that can be deployed on ships, bombers, aircraft, and with ground forces.
China continues its expansive military modernization and remains focused on establishing regional dominance and expanding its ability to coerce U.S. allies and partners. Modernization of its nuclear missile forces include deploying advanced sea-based weapons, developing more modern road mobile and silo-based missiles, and testing hypersonic glide vehicles. The Chinese are also developing a new nuclear-capable strategic bomber.
And although we remain hopeful that negotiations with North Korea may produce a pathway to peace and denuclearization, North Korea's nuclear capabilities pose a potential threat to our allies and our homeland, and add to an already complex strategic picture.
The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review reflects the Department of Defense's strategic priority to maintain a safe, secure, survivable, and effective nuclear deterrent. Nuclear forces are the ultimate foundation of our nation's security. Our deterrent forces must be modernized to remain credible. Delay is not an option.
The highest U.S. nuclear policy and strategy priority is to deter potential adversaries from nuclear attack of any scale against the United States or its allies. However, deterring nuclear attack is not the sole purpose of nuclear weapons. U.S. nuclear forces are also intended to deter non-nuclear strategic attacks, assure allies and partners, achieve U.S. objectives if deterrence fails, and hedge against an uncertain future.
Effective deterrence of nuclear attack and nonnuclear strategic attacks requires ensuring that potential adversaries do not miscalculate regarding the consequences of nuclear first use, either regionally or against the United States. They must understand that the costs far-outweigh any perceived benefits from non-nuclear aggression or limited nuclear escalation.
U.S. nuclear declaratory policy is consistent with long-standing precepts that the United States would employ nuclear weapons only in the extreme circumstances to defend our vital interests and those of our allies. Our policy also maintains the long-standing approach of constructive ambiguity regarding U.S. nuclear employment that has helped deter potential adversaries from nuclear coercion or aggression.
A policy of no first use would undermine U.S. extended deterrence and damage the health of our alliances because it would call into question the assurance that the United States would come to the defense of allies in extreme circumstances. A no first use policy might embolden adversaries who may perceive it as a weakened U.S. resolve to defend our allies and vital interests with every means at our disposal. It may also undermine U.S. nonproliferation objectives if allies felt the need to develop or possess their own nuclear weapons for deterrence.
The 2018 NPR reaffirmed the conclusions of previous Republican and Democratic administrations, that the diverse capabilities of the nuclear triad provide the flexibility and resilience needed for deterrence in the most cost-effective manner. Each leg is essential, complementary, and critical to ensuring no adversary believes it can employ nuclear weapons for any reason under any circumstances.
Unfortunately, each leg of the triad is now operating far beyond its originally planned service life. Most of the nation's nuclear delivery systems will reach their end of service life in the 2025-2035 time frame, and cannot be sustained further. If not recapitalized, these forces will age into obsolescence.
Consequently, we must not delay the recapitalization of the triad initiated by the previous administration. The FY '20 budget request funds all critical DOD modernization requirements. The request for nuclear forces is roughly $25 billion, or roughly 3.5 percent of the overall DOD budget. This includes $16.5 billion to sustain and operate our nuclear forces, and $8.4 billion for recapitalization programs. The department's request to recapitalize the nuclear enterprise is about 1.2 percent of the total DOD budget request.
Mr. Chairman, I will--I am prepared to discuss arms-control at length, including the administration's position on both the INF treaty and developments with respect to the New START Treaty, but in the interest of time, let me conclude by stating that nuclear deterrence is the bedrock of U.S. national security.
Our nuclear deterrent underwrites all U.S. military operations and diplomacy across the globe. It is the backstop and foundation of our national defense. A strong nuclear deterrent also contributes to U.S. nonproliferation goals by eliminating the incentive for allies to have their own nuclear weapons. I urge the committee to support the important nuclear programs and funding contained in the President's FY 20 budget request.
Thank you again for the opportunity to testify, and I look forward to your questions.
COOPER: Thank you very much, Secretary Trachtenberg. Now we will hear from General John Hyten.
HYTEN: Thank you very much, Chairman Cooper, Ranking Member Turner, distinguished committee members. It is an honor to be here today, alongside my fellow Department of Defense leaders. And it's also a continuing privilege to represent 162,000 Americans that accomplish the mission of my command, U.S. Strategic Command, each and every day.
I want to begin by thanking the committee for your enduring support to our national defense. The stability afforded through this year's on time budget came at a critical time for us, and I cannot overstate the enormous impact that it had on modernization efforts and our overall force readiness. I'd also like to express my gratitude to the Armed Services Committee for broadening our strategic deterrence in space discussions over the last few years, and bringing them to the forefront of our national dialogue.
Protecting Americans from harm is the single most important job of our government. The message we use--the methods we use must be the result of a robust debate and analytic rigor. Experts on all sides of the issue should be able to answer the tough questions that steer us to the best possible security solutions for our nation.
Now, the most important message I want to deliver today is that I am fully confident in my command's ability to preserve the peace and decisively respond in any conflict. We're ready, postured, and partnered for all the threats that exist today, and no one should doubt this. Our forces, our capabilities, and the strategic deterrence they help provide underpin and enable all joint force operations. They are the ultimate guarantors of our national and allied security.
STRATCOM's first priority mission, strategic deterrence, is not a passive mission. It's an active mission. It's dynamic. Our capabilities and posture must continue to evolve as the global threat changes. And the threat is changing, as Secretary Trachtenberg just described. Today we’re challenged by multiple adversaries with an expanding range of capabilities that we must adapt to overcome these new threats.
To effectively deter and, if necessary, respond, we must out-think, out-maneuver, out-partner, and out-innovate our adversaries. Deterrence in the 21st century is an active mission that requires integration of all our capabilities across all domains. For over two decades, China and Russia have studied our way of warfare. They understand and seek to counter our long-held advantages. They're actively exploring new methods to exploit perceived vulnerabilities, and they're directed--directly challenging us in areas of long-held strength.
My focus this year is to advance operations and modernization of the foundation of our national strategic deterrent, our nuclear triad. Our ICBMs, submarines, bombers, and the weapons they carry are unique and complementary. The triad complicates our adversaries' decision calculus and has been a proven deterrent for over 60 years.
I will also intensify implementation of my new responsibilities as the department Nuclear Command and Control and Communication, NC3, enterprise lead, while supporting a seamless transition as the department stands up a new Space Force organization as well.
A strong, continuing deterrent is critical to our nation's security. Nuclear war cannot be won, and therefore it must never be fought. And so, to preserve the peace we must be ready for war. Today we're ready.
I look forward to and on time budget for fiscal year 2020 so we can sustain the momentum invigorating this department right now. So, thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I look forward to your questions.
COOPER: Thank you very much, General. And now we will hear from Vice Admiral Johnny Wolfe.
WOLFE: Chairman Cooper, Ranking Member Turner, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the budget priorities for nuclear forces and for your continued support of the Navy's deterrent mission. I'm honored to be here today, and I respectfully request my written statement be submitted for the record.
Nuclear deterrence is the number one priority mission of the Department of Defense. The Navy's strategic systems programs, or SSPs, fiscal year 2020 budget supports the continued sustainment of that deterrent as well as the modernization efforts directed in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. Additionally, although not part of the strategic nuclear portfolio that I manage, the SSP budget request supports the hypersonic conventional strike program, an effort that leverages SSPs' unique and critical non-nuclear skill set that the workforce has refined over the last 60 years.
The men and women of SSP and their predecessors have provided unwavering and single mission focused support to the sea-based leg of the triad for over six decades. Now with a bow wave of development activities on the horizon, the organization must be prepared not only to support to today's deterrent, but to ensure it remains a credible and effective strategic weapons system into the future.
As the 14th director, it is my highest honor to represent the men and women of SSP, comprising approximately 1,700 sailors, 1,000 Marines, 300 Coast Guardsmen, 1,200 civilians, and over 2,000 contractor personnel. It is my most critical goal as the Director of SSP to ensure that they are poised to execute the mission with the same level of success, passion, and rigor both today and tomorrow as they have since our program's inception in 1955.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on behalf of those who make deterrence their life's work. I look forward to your questions.
COOPER: Thank you, Admiral. And now we will hear from Lieutenant General Richard Clark.
CLARK: Good morning, Chairman Cooper, Ranking Member Turner, distinguished members of the committee. On behalf of my wingman, Lieutenant General Arnie Bunch, and myself, thank you for the opportunity to discuss Air Force nuclear programs and policies.
The return of great power competition is increasing the significance of nuclear weapons in our ever-changing strategic environment. Our primary strategic adversaries are modernizing existing nuclear and conventional systems while pursuing new, disruptive technologies such as hypersonics, artificial intelligence, and cyber capabilities. And despite the efforts of multiple administrations to negotiate nuclear stockpile reductions and the role of nuclear weapons, neither of our competitors have followed our lead.
In light of this, the U.S. must maintain a credible nuclear deterrent to promote strategic stability, protect the nation, our allies, and our partners. Since the 1960s, every administration has recognized the critical role of the nuclear triad. The synergy of its three complementary legs ensures that we can deter strategic attack, assure our partners and allies, achieve strategic objectives, and hedge against future uncertainties.
Modernization and recapitalization are paramount if we are to maintain a credible deterrent in the evolving strategic environment. ICBMs deny the adversary the ability to preemptively destroy the U.S. arsenal with a small-scale strike. Replacing the Minuteman III with the ground-based strategic deterrent will provide a responsive, safe, secure, and accurate weapons system capable of holding adversary targets at risk.
Nuclear-capable bombers are the most flexible and visible leg of the triad. Modernizing the B-52 and fielding the B-21 ensures standoff and penetrating capability far into the future. Cruise missiles, such as the long-range standoff weapon, can penetrate advanced air defense systems, execute multi-axis attacks, and saturate enemy defenses. This weapon effectively extends the range of our bomber force, greatly complicating enemy defense requirements and costs.
Nuclear command and control communications is the central nervous system of our nuclear deterrent. Like the triad, legacy NC3 systems are aging and require the persistent resourcing to sustain and modernize. It must link the President and the national leaders to the force all day, every day, under all conditions and without fail.
The U.S. requires the tools necessary to prevent the most existential threat to our survival as a nation. The flexible capabilities and complementary nature of the nuclear triad ensures the credibility of the U.S. deterrent while complicating the adversary's decision calculus. It is the backstop of U.S. national security. It is both necessary and affordable, and we must continue to support the critical role of the triad in defending our country and our way of life. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
COOPER: Thank you very much, General Clark and as you pointed out we also are welcoming Lieutenant General Arnold Bunch Junior with us today. Appreciate you're being at the witness table as well.
As I was walking into the hearing earlier one of the attendees in the audience said you have today in this hearing four of the most important people in the world and that might be a little bit of an exaggeration but it's probably not far from the truth because when it comes to determining the future of the planet, the degree to which you bear your heavy responsibilities it makes a difference. So thank you for joining us today.
I want to be as considerate as possible to my colleagues who have joined us instead of taking an immediate flight home so I will be very short in my questioning but I thought that in many ways the most important sentence in all the testimony was what Secretary Trachtenberg said: top of page 5 and he also said this orally. “We must not delay the recapitalization of the triad and our nuclear command, control and communication system initiated by the previous administration” and on behalf of the previous administration I would like to take that as a compliment that American nuclear policy has generally been characterized by continuity regardless of partisanship, regardless of politics, regardless of anything and that continuity is in many ways our greatest strength.
So I am hoping that even in this contentious political environment that continuity can be preserved. Now we don't want to just mouth the old boiler plate and we have a heavy obligation on all of us to teach new generations why the boilerplate was crafted to begin with and, on occasion, to improve the boilerplate but continuity is a great strength. So I'm hopeful that in this subcommittee's deliberations and in full committee deliberations we can bear those important principles in mind.
For some of my fellow subcommittee members who haven't had a chance to see the testimony there's a lot of information in here, in the written testimony which has of course been already accepted by unanimous consent for the record but appreciate the brevity of some of the presenters statements but the details in the testimony are sometimes awesomely important so I appreciate the hard work that was put into crafting the testimony.
I would like to now turn to my Ranking Member, Mr. Turner. Thank you for joining us and look forward to your questions.
TURNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your statement and dedication to this issue being bipartisan because it has, as you and I have said in Congress, since your second return--your second time in coming to Congress.
TURNER: Is that right? Right. When the chair was reelected, back to a period where he was not here, we were in the same class, so we have the same perspective of time period. And we've been here during Republican and Democrat administrations, Republican and Democrat gavels at the speakership and I join him in saying that this has been a bipartisan commitment to deterrence because this is about keeping us safe and it has kept us safe for years and I think as long as we continue to be committed to a nuclear policy that is focused on deterrence that we will continue to deter our adversaries or as we've heard from our presenters, great power conflict.
I want to welcome General Bunch you soon will be going to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as the head of Air Force material command. I look forward to you returning to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and your leadership there. Mr. Trachtenberg, I want to start with you. I've got two areas of questions and I'm going to ask your opinion and Gen. Hyten.
Two concepts that we are struggling within this committee are the--are the issues of low-yield nuclear weapons and no first use policy and there are concerns obviously that if the United States does not happen to deploy low-yield nuclear weapons that our adversaries would believe that if they had undertaken an attack with low-yield nuclear weapons against us that we might not retaliate because of all of our weapons being of such a large size that we would be deterred because we would be seen as escalating to their escalate.
We have a policy in war of trying to limit collateral damage, so I have two parts of my question. One, does it affect the calculus of our adversaries in a negative way that could put us at risk? And secondly, are there targets in which we might want to use a low-yield nuclear weapon for which a high yield nuclear weapon would be completely inappropriate understanding that obviously that it is the most destructive force unleashed by man and the collateral damage that would occur? And then Gen. Hyten if you would answer the same.
TRACHTENBERG: Well, Congressman, thank you. I couldn't agree more with you in terms of the emphasis on deterrence being key. The whole objective behind our policy of course is to prevent conflict and certainly to prevent nuclear war. So what we are doing and what we are proposing is entirely designed to reduce the risk of conflict by enhancing our deterrent through creating uncertainty in the mind of any potential adversary whether it be Russia or China or anyone else.
I happen to believe that the supplemental programs that we announced in the Nuclear Posture Review, in 2018, to include a low-yield ballistic missile warheads, is certainly designed to help ensure that no adversary believes that they would have at any point, any kind of advantage that they believe might be exploitable in a way where they felt that they could either initiate conflict or escalate conflict to the point where the United States might have to think twice about responding at all. So indeed the purpose of moving forward with those programs is ultimately designed to improve our deterrent and to enhance stability.
HYTEN: So, Congressman Turner, the--I think the most important element of deterrence is not our view but it's what the adversary is thinking. We always have to try to put ourselves in the position of our adversaries and we have to listen very closely to what they say and watch very closely what they do. And when we see statements as well as when we see them operate in the ways that you describe where they have stated they believe that employment of the low-yield nuclear weapon would not be responded to by NATO or the United States, that causes a concern and so the most important role of the low-yield nuclear weapon is to make sure that the adversary doesn't think that would happen.
So the first role of that weapon is a deterrent weapon, to make sure they don't cross that line. And in order for that to happen we have to be able to use that weapon in an appropriate way. We can't talk about what those would be here but the second part of your question was are there targets that we would employ them against and I'll just say for the record that yes, there is but we would have to discuss specifics in a classified session.
TURNER: Thank you. So secondly, would be the no first use policy. I was just at the Congressional dialogue at the Library of Congress that included author Michael--I'm going to slaughter this I'm sure - Michael Beschloss. Thank you. It is Beschloss? I have it right. The author of “Presidents at War” and he actually said something and I thought we should probably look at it in this committee.
He said that in the Korean conflict that there was a period of time which North Korea and China perceived that we might use nuclear weapons in that conflict and that because of their concern that it affected the outcome and the behavior of North Korea and China and that at some point in the conflict they learned that we had decided not to, thank God, because obviously it would be an inappropriate use, but they had learned that we had dismissed that nuclear weapons would not be used and it affected the conflict negatively for us. Our adversaries became more emboldened.
So my concern with no first use is, again back to what you were saying Gen. Hyten, what is in the minds of our adversaries. Mr. Trachtenberg, Gen. Hyten, could you tell us as Michael [Beschloss] has, what effect that might have on our adversaries? Thank you.
TRACHTENBERG: I would agree with you Congressman Turner and I would also agree with Gen. Hyten in terms of what matters most is what's in the mind of our adversary. Further, I would agree with Chairman Cooper when he spoke about the continuity in U.S nuclear policy.
One of the continuities in our policy has been that the United States has not adopted a no first use policy regardless of administrations because, among other reasons, we extend our nuclear security guarantees so-called nuclear umbrella or the extended deterrent to allies. We do that in order to assure our allies that the United States is willing and able to defend their security under the most stressing of conditions, that we will be able to do that.
As I said in my prepared statement, the concern I have with a no first use policy is that it may cause others to believe that we are backing away from some of our assurances to allies and partners and may reduce the level of uncertainty in the minds of potential adversaries and cause concern in the minds of some of our allies. And so for those reasons I think a no first use policy would be destabilizing rather than stabilizing.
HYTEN: I think Chairman Dunford said it well on Tuesday when he said that anything that simplifies an enemy's decision-making calculus would be a mistake and that's exactly what this would do. That would create an environment where an adversary could think that crossing the line would be okay and that the United States would not respond to whatever the situation was.
I think the current policy is exactly right. It's been that way through multiple administrations. I think it's important to continue that policy. It improves our strategic deterrent, it improves the support that we give to our allies. When I travel overseas the extended deterrent message, I bring from the United States is hugely powerful to our allies that have chosen not to build their own nuclear weapons and to trust that the United States nuclear umbrella will cover them.
TURNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COOPER: I thank the gentleman. Now we will hear from Ms. Davis.
DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to all of you for your dedicated service and the way in which you've conducted yourselves over the years. We greatly appreciate it.
I wanted to follow up on that discussion because maybe I'm here as a little bit of a doubter and probably represent a good number of people who are really quite sophisticated enough to enter into this discussion and see that from their vantage point as well. So I continue to be unconvinced of the value of low-yield nuclear weapons as part of our arsenal.
I would like to ask you and you have certainly addressed this Mr. Trachtenberg and Gen. Hyten particularly but can you tell us on a personal level how did you arrive at that position and if you have someone who looks at you in the eye and says okay, so what’s next? How does that what's next--how is that addressed by our current stockpile? It calls into question use after that and what's next?
TRACHTENBERG: Well if I might, Congresswoman, first of all let me say I appreciate the opportunity to engage in this discussion. It is very important and I understand there are differing views among people who have followed this issue for many years.
I do have to come back however to the view--it is my personal view that when we are talking about such serious matters of nuclear deterrence it really is very critical for us to try to assess as best we can how an adversary or how a potential adversary views the issue. We have tried to look at, for example, Russian military doctrine, statements, military deployments, capabilities, investments, exercises and I have to say that what we have seen--what I have seen certainly in recent years has given me significant pause and concern in terms of how I think the Russian Federation actually views these issues of deterrence.
And therefore I look at the issue of, say a low-yield ballistic missile warhead, as something that I believe would be useful in trying to at least close a gap in capabilities that I think Russia may be looking at as affording them some kind of advantage that they could use to either engage in nuclear coercion or some time--some type of aggression. So I'm looking at it from the standpoint of how I think the other side may be approaching this and what we might be able to do in order to best make them think twice about the course that they may be on as a result.
DAVIS: What comes next and maybe for all of you too, what?--quickly.
HYTEN: So, ma'am, when I looked at it, I looked at it just from a threat perspective as a commander of the nuclear command of our country, I have to look at the threat and then I have to make sure that my command is best posture to respond to that threat as I could and then when I looked at it in the Nuclear Posture Review, we saw a threat that was out there that we didn't have all of the capabilities that we thought we needed to respond to that.
We already have some low-yield nuclear weapons in our arsenal. They are in the air leg of the triad. They are not in the submarine leg and they are not in the ICBM leg. We felt like we needed a small number of immediate response capabilities to do that but it's also interesting to note that our low-yield nuclear weapons will all be inside of the New START Agreements, almost all of the Russian nuclear weapons are outside the New START Agreement, building on platforms that aren't accountable.
We will actually, when we remove the weapons--the big weapons from the submarine and put small weapons in, we are going to have still the same number of weapons. They will just be a smaller yield. But we think that smaller yield actually gives us a better chance to deter our primary adversary and I think what comes next is that this puts us in a very good place that we can deter--if this was the Cold War we would be going back and we would build all of the things that the Russians are building now nuclear power torpedoes, nuclear-armed torpedoes.
If we have them in the past, more capabilities that you are speaking of, would we have used them? At what time?
HYTEN: If they worked, we wouldn't have used them. The whole goal of these weapons is to not use them. It's a dichotomy that's hard for many of our fellow countrymen to understand but the key is by being ready, by being obviously ready, and communicating that to the adversary, they will not cross the line and we will not have to use them. If we are not ready someday that's when I get concerned that somebody will cross that line.
DAVIS: I think my time is up so I can't go to the rest of you but thank you very much for being here.
Thank the gentlelady. Mr. Bishop?
BISHOP: I thank you and I think our witnesses here. You are basically all saying the same thing. I guess one of our task is to tell the other 427 members who aren't here is exactly what you guys are saying.
I do have a couple of questions. General Clark if I could start with you almost a parochial one. Has the Air Force ever considered directing the two GBSD Prime contractors to utilize both suppliers of these solid rocket motors for the program development in production? And if so, would there be a benefit or a programmatic challenge of doing that approach?
CLARK: Sir, thank you for that question and that is under consideration right now. I would have to defer however to my wingman, General Bunch, who is our acquisition expert and he is involved heavily in this process. So General Bunch.
BISHOP: I thought we were the only ones that deflect but go ahead General Bunch please.
CLARK: Yes, sir. I am learning.
BUNCH: So, sir, we are in those discussions right now. We are weighing out the cost and the schedule and the performance, technical risk associated to the programs. If it were to go to and direct that we had to use each of these solid rocket motor producers we are also weighing that against the risk to the industrial base. We are having those ongoing dialogues within the department of defense and then once we look at that the equation and where those risk are as the acquisition part of this team, we have to go back to the “requiror” [sic] part of this team, Gen. Hyten, and explain what those risks are - both from a performance and a schedule and a cost and how that plays out on a timeline so that we can determine if we can meet his requirements. So that debate and discussion is ongoing right now.
BISHOP: You are still in the process?
BUNCH: Yes, sir, we are.
BISHOP: When you get done with that, I would like to actually know the response of that process.
BUNCH: Yes, sir, we will.
BISHOP: Gen. Hyten, either you or the Secretary let me ask the same thing. CBO, bless their hearts, have put a 30 year score on GBSD, our nuclear policy, and it has been described as eye-bleeding. Any time there is a 30 year score, whoever's doing that uses an eight ball and an Ouija board, but what I would like to ask you is obviously I have questions in the methodology of CBO but they have both tried to conduct the modernization and operations in the same number. So if I could have you kind of divest those, tell me what would the operation number simply be, or I'm sorry the modernization number simply be, and perhaps even as a percentage of our overall defense budget?
HYTEN: So I will start, Secretary, if that's okay. So the specific numbers are in my prepared statement and we will get you the exact numbers if you'd like for the record but broadly speaking at the height of the buildout of our nuclear capabilities it would add up to about our numbers say 6.4 percent, the CBO said 7 percent of the entire defense budget which means 93+ percent of the defense budget would be available for other things and this is the most important item in our defense budget. I think that's a reasonable thing. You talk about operations to …
BISHOP: Well, I think you just said the next question which is if it 6 or 7 percent is that worth the cost?
HYTEN: I think former Secretary Mattis said it right: America can afford survival - and this is about our nation’s survival. We have to look at it that way and go down that path. Now inside that roughly 6 percent that we get to, at the height of it a little over 3 percent would be in modernization and a little under 3 percent would be operational sustainment and I have the specific numbers in my prepared statement.
BISHOP: We will get them from there. I thank you and suppose just for a second that we do something really silly around here, and we postpone funding of this. We push it to the right. Can you tell me quickly what would be either, you know, mid or long-term financial or programmatic significance of any kind of delay in that funding?
HYTEN: As Chairman Cooper pointed out, and so did Secretary Trachtenberg, this modernization program started in the last administration, but it started late. We should have started a decade ago.
My biggest long-term concern is at STRATCOM. I am not concerned about anything today, actually. I'm ready to respond to any threat anywhere. But I'm concerned 10 years from now, unless all of these stay on track, that a future STRATCOM commander will sit in front of you and say I'm concerned about the readiness of my force, because the submarines will deliver just in time. When Ohio goes off, Colombia comes on. When GBSD, comes on, Minuteman goes off.
BISHOP: So, 2035 be out of the question if we--if we keep pushing to the right?
HYTEN: You can--2030 is the date where we have to have these come online. And everything right now delivers just in time.
BISHOP: Can I ask just one last favor? GBSD is a terrible name that has no beauty. It sounds like one of those medical diseases you try and eliminate.
Minuteman, that's cute. Come up with a better name. And the other problem I have is simply, if we're going to argue first use, we already used it. We've done that historically. Get over it. Let's get on with that issue.
HYTEN: So, I concur with the name. It's just horrible. It's--and I--and I would--
BISHOP:--And I keep getting--
HYTEN: --Encourage my Air Force to come up with a name for that program.
BISHOP: Get that before the numbers.
HYTEN: Yes, sir.
BISHOP: Thank you.
COOPER: Thank the gentleman. The next questioner will be Mr. Brooks. He's gone. Mr. Rogers?
ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gen. Hyten, in the past outside advocates have argued that the LRSO is destabilizing. What's your thought?
HYTEN: We've had nuclear-powered cruise missiles or nuclear -- cruise missiles for a long time, not nuclear-powered cruise missiles, but nuclear-tipped cruise missiles for a long time. We’ve also had conventional cruise missiles for a long time. We've had them for years, decades. It's never been destabilizing before. I don't know how it's destabilizing now.
It's interesting to note that the Russians employed cruise missiles in Syria. Somehow, we weren't concerned that they were deploying nuclear weapons into Syria, and we didn't respond like they were deploying nuclear weapons into Syria.
Cruise missiles have been dual-use capabilities for a long, long time, and nothing changes in 2019 that wasn't the same in the last century. It's the same structure. I don't believe they are destabilizing.
ROGERS: Excellent. General Clark, in the beginning of the GBSD program, my buddy's favorite name, did the Air Force do an assessment on the service life extending of the Minuteman III versus the GBSD, and which is the most cost-efficient way?
CLARK: Yes, sir. Thank you for that question. We did do an analysis of alternatives on GBSD. And considering the continued sustainment of Minuteman III was one of those alternatives that was analyzed, and it is less cost-effective to try to extend the life of Minuteman III.
We have several of the components that are becoming obsolete. The propulsion system, the guidance system, even the ability to provide the solid rocket motor fuel, we only have one more opportunity to do that for these weapons. After that, we have to--will have to buy a new weapon.
And as Gen. Hyten stated, if we continue to push this decision down the road, these systems that are part of the overall system start to come off. The missile comes offline, and then it costs us even more money to recapitalize and modernize. So, our best alternative, as Gen. Hyten stated, is to recapitalize now. We will sustain Minuteman III until GBSD comes online, but we are right at the point of being able to make that happen now, sir.
ROGERS: When is it supposed to come online?
CLARK: We start coming online in the early 2030s. And by the mid '30s, we are complete. And I'll turn it over to General Bunch.
ROGERS: We're going to pass the date of the end of service life for those that are online. So, we just--
BUNCH: --Congressman Rogers, can I add just one--
BUNCH:--Item into that?
BUNCH: I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean to interrupt you. I apologize. It's a great question.
Our IOC right now for GBSD is 2029. That's when we reach the initial operational capability, and our full operational capability is 2036. So, we are tracking exactly as Gen. Hyten said. We need these by 2030. We're right on the timeline. That's why it's so critical that we continue to execute these programs the way we are.
Then one other item I would add to what my wingmen said here is, even if we did the slip on the Minuteman III, there are requirements that Gen. Hyten has that we do not believe we would be able to meet. So, it's not just about the cost. It's about the ability to meet the warfighter requirement that were also weighed into that decision. We did the analysis of alternatives.
ROGERS: Right. Admiral Wolf, can you talk about what the Navy is doing with the PEO Columbia class to better integrate the work you are doing in the SSP with the overall program? What's your assessment of the pace of the Columbia replacement?
WOLFE: Yes, sir. So, Columbia, although not in my direct portfolio, we stay very, very close on the development of the Columbia class submarine. That is still on plan. As a matter of fact, if you look at what the CNO has just published in his design for Superior 2.0, it actually--he challenges that program to pull the Columbia left and get it out sooner, per Gen. Hyten's point of, you know, we are line on line right now.
So, that program is moving forward. Obviously, I know Secretary Geurts has briefed you on they've stood up a separate program Executive Officer specifically for Columbia because this is the Navy's number one acquisition program. And so, that's for the submarine.
From our perspective, what we are doing on the weapons system, we are on track for both modernizing the Ohio weapons system, which will then go on the Columbia so we will not have two populations. So, all of those efforts are on track right now, sir.
ROGERS: Excellent. Thank you all for being here, and thank you for your service to our country. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
COOPER: I think the gentleman. Ms. Horn?
HORN: Thank you, gentlemen, for being here today, and want to echo Mr. Cooper's comments and everyone's comments about the importance of making sure that we are creating consistency in prioritizing.
So, I want to continue along that line of questioning, and hope you can help me understand a few things. Given that we don't have unlimited funds to do all that we need to do, and I'm sure we could continue to invest in more things, in making our choices, can you help me understand a little bit more on the--I know we've been talking along the lines of the current low-yield weapons and the modernization and transitioning to the new ones, that--that distinction of if there were any pathway to draw down one or transition to--between the two, and that--Gen. Hyten and Mr. Trachtenberg?
HYTEN: Ma'am, one of the good things about the low-yield nuclear weapon, its nomenclature is the W76-2. It's actually just a modification of the W76-1 that has been going through a production line in the Department of Energy for the last few years.
And as they are approaching the end of that, the only thing we had to do to build the W76-2, the low-yield nuclear weapon, was make what--you know, they are nuclear weapons, so there's nothing minor about a nuclear weapon. But in the realm of the work that is done at the Nuclear Weapons Lab, it's a fairly minor adjustment to that weapon to make it a low-yield nuclear weapon.
That work has begun this year. That work is underway right now. That budget is a very small amount of the overall budget to get to that. And then the employment on the submarines is actually a straightforward process.
As we build out the submarine--as we go through, we can talk about how we do that in the classified world. But as we--as we go through that, we'll just take this weapon, put it into the missile. And we still have to load the missile just like you always do, so there's really no cost delta there. In the overall scheme, it's a very small number.
TRACHTENBERG: Congresswoman, I would agree with you in terms of the necessity of prioritization. And obviously, this is something that the department looks at very carefully. But I would echo Gen. Hyten's comments as well in terms of looking at the low-yield ballistic missile warhead, the program as relatively inexpensive, vis-a-vis other programs.
We have asked in the fiscal year 2020 budget for about $19.6 million to pursue that program. We do think it is a reasonable investment to make for the ultimate objective of enhancing our deterrent against what is the most destructive potential possibility that we can think of.
HORN: Thank you. And following on with that--that line of prioritization, with our current challenges--this is clearly an incredibly critical area. But with our current challenges in the rest of our strategic space, missile defense, new technology development, space, and the growing number of adversaries and the attention and the money and the development that they are putting into this, can--I would just like to hear from both of you, and if there's time anyone else, about what you see as the right balance between investments in those critical areas so that we don't lose our strategic advantage there, and here in the nuclear arena, please?
TRACHTENBERG: Certainly, Congresswoman. I do think that we certainly have attempted to strike the right balance in our investments going forward. And I think the budget request that has been submitted to Congress reflects our prioritization based on our assessment of what the--what the right balance is.
We have, of course, focused on readiness but also on modernization in this budget. You are exactly right to note that adversaries and potential adversaries have been moving forward with advanced technologies at quite a rapid pace. We all know that technology advances quite substantially very rapidly.
We believe the investment priorities we have set out, at least in terms of our recapitalization of the nuclear force, some of the supplemental capabilities that we have been speaking about that were reflected in the Nuclear Posture Review, as well as in the Missile Defense Review and some of our missile defense since priorities, reflect not only an appreciation but an understanding that we need to invest more in terms of the advanced technologies not only for ourselves but also to counter the investments that potential adversaries are making in those technologies as well.
HORN: I think my time has expired, so I'll defer to the Chair.
COOPER: The gentlelady's time has expired. The gentlelady from Wyoming?
CHENEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And thank you to all of our witnesses for being here today. Gen. Hyten, thank you very much for hosting me at STRATCOM recently. It was a very useful and informative day spent there, so I appreciate very much your taking the time to do that.
I wanted to ask you first, Gen. Hyten, about pit production, and if you could talk a little bit about sort of where we stand and specifically what's driving the requirement for the 80 pits per year that we're seeing now.
HYTEN: So, thank you. It was good to have you at Offutt. Thank you very much for coming and spending time at STRATCOM. We've had a little water there since you were there, but STRATCOM is doing fine. The base has got some serious damage, but STRATCOM is a pretty amazing command. We're doing just fine.
When you look at pit production, I think it's important to realize the United States really hasn't been producing plutonium pits for quite a while. We've been using old plutonium pits to refurbish and build--even the new weapons are using old plutonium pits.
What I'm concerned about from a STRATCOM perspective is look in the out years. When we get into the future, we could be dealing with hundred-year-old plutonium pits sometime. And we don't really know what a 100-year-old plutonium pit looks like.
Now, plutonium has a very long half-life. But I've looked at the plutonium pits. I've looked at that structure, and I'm concerned about building new weapons that will have 100-year-old plutonium pits. I think that's just a risk that the United States should not take.
We need to reinvigorate that process. And so, we've gone through a detailed analysis with the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense, but STRATCOM's been in the middle of it, to look at exactly what we need. And we have some very specific numbers. The minimum requirement is, by 2030, we need a plutonium pit production capacity up to 80 across the enterprise. Well, the first step to getting that is 2026. We need 30 a year by 2026.
Those first 30 will happen at Los Alamos. We have a plan with the Department of Energy that we support that will get to 80 at both Los Alamos and Savannah River in South Carolina to get to what we need for the future. But that will put us on a sustainable path through this century to make sure we have the right infrastructure for our future nuclear stockpile.
CHENEY: And I'm hopeful that--it's too bad we weren't able to get NNSA here today to talk to us about this. I--we will follow up with them. When you look out what we're doing right now to get to the 30 by 2026, what's your sense of the progress we're making? Are you comfortable that it's sufficient? Are you--what's your feel about that?
HYTEN: So, I'm comfortable that all energy is being put on that. I still worry about that because it--it's going from zero to 30. And 30 doesn't sound like a big number, probably, to many in the committee. But going from zero to 30 is a--is a huge step because plutonium is a very difficult material to work with.
And so, we watch that very closely. And I have a stockpile assessment team that I send to Los Alamos. I have my staff go to Los Alamos. Because I have to certify the nuclear stockpile every year, I probably spend a lot more time down deep in the technical weeds than most combatant commanders do. But that's one of the most important things I do is certify the nuclear stockpile, and I have to understand where that is.
So, Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty and I have a very, very close relationship, and we're working hand-in-hand to make sure that we can deliver that capability the nation needs. But it's going to take a lot of work to get there.
CHENEY: Thank you. And then turning to our space sensor layer, the Missile Defense Agency, we've talked in this--in this committee, and certainly we provided an increased $73 million last year for that. But now this has appeared as the top issue on the unfunded priorities list for MDA. Could you give us a little bit of enlightenment in terms of what's happening there, and what exactly the Department's doing in response to the hypersonic and ballistic defense based spending?
HYTEN: So, Congresswoman, in my letter to Congress this week, I also noticed that I'm watching closely the space layer of our missile defense capabilities as well. I watched it from a STRATCOM perspective though, because the thing that enables our deterrence is the fact that we can see any threat from wherever, and we can characterize it, attribute it, and then respond to it, if we have to. That enables our deterrent.
We need that in the space sensor layer. And we appreciate very much the $73 million that Congress appropriated last year. That is now transitioning into the Space Development Agency. Dr. Mike Griffin has that responsibility. We are pushing hard to make sure there's $15 million in the budget this year for sensor technology. There is a DARPA program that's looking at that. Dr. Griffin's got to integrate all those things together.
We certainly are hoping for increased funding this year, but the Department has to make difficult decisions as we go through. But Dr. Griffin has got his job this year, putting all those pieces together and having a good plan for this Congress next year.
CHENEY: Thank you, General. My time's expired.
COOPER: The gentleman from Colorado?
LAMBORN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for all the witnesses for being here and for your service to our country. Admiral Wolfe, regarding our hypersonic weapons programs, I've got several questions. I hope these haven't already been asked. I was out of the room at another committee hearing, but I'm back now so I'd like to pursue this line of reasoning a little bit.
Some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have worried about the potential for miscalculation. They worry that the Russians or Chinese won't be able to tell the difference between a sub-launched hypersonic and a sub-launched nuclear weapon. So, you as someone who has worked on both types of systems, can you help clarify key observable differences that would help put our minds at ease?
WOLFE: Yes, sir. Thanks for the question. So, at the unclassified level, what I will tell you is, is that there is no doubt when a--when a weapon initially comes out of a submarine-launched--a submarine, they look very much the same when they come out.
But I will tell you is, because of the difference in a hypersonic and a ballistic missile, that quickly for--anybody that can see it, can quickly tell that they are not the same. That's the first issue. If you look at the size of the boosters that we're talking about, the signature is much different. When you look at the flight profile, they quickly diverge between the two. That's the first key issue from a technology perspective.
Second is, if you look at where we believe a conventional hypersonic would actually be deployed, it would be in a much different area than where SSBNs deploy. So, that would be an indicator. And thirdly, which is also key to that, is there is no plan to put a conventional weapon onto one of our strategically loaded SSBNs. So again, you will have separation from those two.
LAMBORN: Okay, thank you. And Admiral Wolfe and Mr. Trachtenberg, what are the operational advantages of a land-based versus a sub-based hypersonic weapon?
TRACHTENBERG: The operational advantages of a land-based vice a sub-based hypersonic weapon, I think in terms of the operational details, I’ll defer to Admiral Wolfe on that. But obviously, much depends on the--on the basic mode of the weapon itself and where the weapon is based.
So, depending on where we would--where we would look to base a hypersonic weapon against a particular threat, I think that would factor into the operational characteristics of what we--
LAMBORN: --So, geography, geography?
TRACHTENBERG: That would be one factor, yes, sir.
WOLFE: Yes, sir, I would agree. And of course, it's all about access and it's all about the - the target set that you need to go after. I will tell you there are advantages to both, which is why it's part of what we’re doing with our memorandum of agreement in the Department of Defense. We are commonly developing this technology between us, the Army, the Air Force, and even the Missile Defense Agency for just the basic technology. So, I think again, it gives you a portfolio of options with that weapon.
LAMBORN: Okay, thank you. And lastly, Admiral Wolfe, we just had a closed briefing with you on hypersonic weapons but the organization and budgetary lines are still unclear. How much are we--how much is the DOD asking for hypersonic weapon development in this year's budget? And how much of that are you responsible for and what are the specific milestones you want to reach, for what you can say in this setting?
WOLFE: Yes, sir. So, from a DOD perspective, I don't have the overall DOD number, so I'd asked that we take that for the record and get back to you--
WOLFE: --With the DOD line. From a Navy perspective, my budget request in '20 is $593 million. And what that does is it continues the effort that we started in FY '19 for both getting to additional flight testing of the actual hypersonic body itself, to continue to prove the technology. It continues the development effort for the booster, which the services will use for that weapon. And then it also continues the integration onto the platforms, the studies for which platforms it will be deployed in the Navy, and to then start that integration into those platforms.
LAMBORN: And do you have any particular milestones that you would like to reach, or is that still to be determined?
WOLFE: So, obviously getting to key flight test is critical, and that's about all I could say in this forum, sir. You know, in a classified forum, we could talk about what we're planning and when we're planning on doing it, yes, sir.
LAMBORN: Certainly. Okay. Thank you. And once again, thank you, all five of you, for your service. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
COOPER: Thank the gentleman. I think all members of the committee have had a chance to ask a question. If anyone has a pressing question they'd like to follow up on, I'd be happy to yield to you. Otherwise, I'll conclude the hearing with an opportunity--Miss Davis?
DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just very briefly, could you just clarify for me that the Pentagon had proposed funding in the 2020 budget for the low-yield SLBM. Is that in the OCO budget?
WOLFE: Ma'am, I'd have to go check. I don't believe it's in the OCO budget. If I look at my line, it's rolled up into other efforts that were doing for RDT&E. But I'd have to take that for the record to actually verify that. That's for the low-yield. There are other parts of my budget which are in the OCO line, yes, ma'am.
DAVIS: Mr. Trachtenberg, where is it?
TRACHTENBERG: No, I believe that is correct. I believe that is correct, Congresswoman. But I would want to confirm that for the record.
DAVIS: Correct that it is not in the OCO budget?
TRACHTENBERG: That is my understanding, but I would like to confirm that.
DAVIS: Okay. Apparently somebody saw it there.
HYTEN: And ma'am, the actual weapon itself is in the Department of Energy budget.
DAVIS: Okay. Okay. All right, because obviously there are concerns about its use where the OCO budget is used for it. Okay, thank you very much.
COOPER: I thank the subcommittee members for their questions. So, I think the only major topic that hasn't been touched on is the Space Force, and I would like to give Gen. Hyten a few minutes here to summarize his ideas for the Space nuc.
HYTEN: Thank you, Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity. I think there's a couple things I'd like to share with the committee. I think first and foremost, I appreciate this committee taking on space as a warfighting challenge a couple years ago, and I very much appreciate the President weighing in and talking about space as a warfighting domain.
It is a place now that we conduct military operations. It's a place that our adversaries are building capabilities and deploying capabilities to threaten us in space, and we have to deal with it seriously.
I think the most important thing we can do in the near-term is to stand up a new unified command, moving space out from under my command, out from under U.S. Strategic Command, and creating a new U.S. Space Command focused 100 percent of the time on the space problem, because I've been in the space business my whole life and I love the space business, but I'm the STRATCOM commander, and space, at best, will never be higher than my third priority.
It has to be nuclear first, nuclear command-and-control second. Space will never be higher than my third priority. I get to spend so little time on space because I have to focus on the nuclear capability. We need a commander focused on space all the time, and that commander was nominated this week, General Jay Raymond. And I hope the Senate takes up that nomination quickly.
The second piece is the Space Force. The President said we need a structure inside the Pentagon focused on space all the time, and I support that structure. I have to admit I had some concerns when we were talking about a separate service, separate and distinct from the Air Force. But when the President made the decision and said it's got to be under the Air Force, I'm all in.
I think the Vice President said it exactly right. He said creating the Space Force within the Air Force is the best way to minimize duplication of effort and eliminate bureaucratic inefficiencies. That's what the President and the Vice President told us to do.
Now, I understand in meeting with many of you over the last 24 hours that there are some concerns about that. But I just want you to know, from my perspective, if you see any bureaucratic inefficiencies in there, if you see any duplication of effort, I would support just taking that stuff out. We need a streamlined focus.
The problem were trying to solve is, there are so many people in the Pentagon that are in charge of space. We need one person in charge of space that will then organize, train, and equip forces for the new U.S. Space Command. That's the structure that has to be out there. I think the President's vision is right, and it's also very similar to where this committee was, starting as long as two years ago. I think somewhere we can come to agreement on what that is, and create that structure that will allow us to deal with the space problems we need in the future.
So, thank you very much for letting me talk about that.
COOPER: The gentleman from Ohio?
TURNER: I just want to thank the Chairman for asking that question. That was a great answer, Gen. Hyten. I greatly appreciate it. I think that really is going to help our debate here. And obviously, you know, we look to your expertise because it's real application of what's happening. So, thank you for that answer. And Mr. Chairman, thank you for asking that question.
COOPER: I thank the gentleman. If we could get your answer on a YouTube video and require all of our colleagues in the other body to watch that, I wouldn't even mind if it was set to music or something like that.
Anything to induce them to watch that would be helpful.
TURNER: Just--like, could we put an emoji in the background of you dancing?
COOPER: No, no, no, perhaps John Lewis. He has a very good dance.
But there are few more important topics than this for this Congress, so I appreciate your weighing in.
I would like to thank all of the witnesses for their excellent testimony. The subcommittee is adjourned.