WASHINGTON, D.C. —
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK): The meeting will come to order. I've already kind of explained the situation we have. You and I are both going to waive our opening statements, as are our witnesses, and then we get right into questions. I think we'll be fine with the votes coming up that way.
So that being the case, we'll go ahead and just start with questions -- and I only have one that I really wanted to get to. And I talked to both of you guys on other occasions about this, but what we ran up against, and this was kind of a surprise to a lot us, the NNSA's primary job is to build the nuclear warheads to meet the requirements of the Department of Defense. And earlier this year, when we heard that the NNSA budget had been cut, we called the DOD and asked them what they thought of it.
And to my surprise, when I got a hold of them, they said they didn't know because they don't get it until after -- after such time as -- actually, I think that Energy gets it first. And so they didn't have it, and that's something that (ph) -- I'm not sure how it happened.
Then I went back and I've talked to you folks about what are you really able to do if you don't hear about what the budget is before it's already signed off or in the process of being concluded? And that is something we have a concern about.
And then it reminded me, back when I first elected, and that was when David Boren (ph) had this job, and he called me -- I remember this, this is way back in 1994. He called me up and said, "Well, Inhofe, there's something I've been trying to get done for a long time and I failed. Maybe you can do it." And it was correcting this very problem that we're pointing out right now. So we may be addressing this.
So the question I would ask you on this is do you agree this thing ought to be changed? You got to be in on this thing to know.
You remember what we did earlier this year. We had to go in and talk to the president because they had dropped the budget down about 8 percent on NNSA, and nobody was aware of it except the Department of Energy. So we went and talked to the president and had a meeting and we brought it back up to just under the 20 figure. So that's what happened there.
Do the two of you agree that this is something that needs to be corrected after all these years?
USSTRATCOM COMMANDER ADM. CHAS RICHARD: Senator, one, I applaud yours and the committee's leadership in addressing the necessary resources for the nuclear weapons complex. That, along with nuclear command and control and recapitalization of the triad systems, are essential for maintaining strategic deterrence, which is foundational to everything else we do inside the Defense Department.
Chairman, you are well aware of the responsibility of the Nuclear Weapons Council to certify NNSA's budget and I have a role in providing a recommendation to the Nuclear Weapons Council to that end.
RICHARD: If there are weaknesses -- and you've described one -- in terms of our ability in a timely manner to do that, that is something that I will take up with the secretary to address how we might be able to do that better.
INHOFE: Why don't we do this for the record, start this discussion going and not try to do it under the timelines we're dealing with today? So I'll go ahead and (inaudible) bring it up.
Oh yeah, last summer the Missile Defense Agency canceled the program to modernize the ground-based interceptors that were up in Alaska. And due to technical failures the next-generation interceptor (inaudible) would not likely be filled until 2030. And I think that would be a good thing for you to answer on the record as to what about that gap? Can we handle that gap? As everyone up here is going to be interested in that, OK?
SEN. JACK REED (D-RI): Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Admiral Richard, I'm terribly concerned that there's been no significant effort to extend the New START agreement with Russia. And do you believe that New START Treaty gives you critical value in planning strategic deterrence based upon onsite inspections and declarations and if it is not extended you will be at a disadvantage?
RICHARD: Senator, as you know, New START Treaty has been valuable to this nation and to my command. The Russians are largely compliant with it. It does have the benefit of not only limiting the total number of strategic weapons to both nations' benefit and it has the transparency and confidence-building measures that you just described, all of which has been good for deterrence.
However, it does not address a very large class of weapons that the Russians have a significant advantage in, it doesn't constrain all those systems and it is a bilateral treaty.
Ultimately a decision to extend a treaty is a political decision. I do provide best military advice down the lines of what I just offered to my department to contribute to that.
REED: But I -- I -- if we do not do this, we will lose a great deal in terms of deterrence, in terms of -- just as I mentioned previously, signaling for the first time in 40-plus years there is no arms control regime in the world and that could lead to proliferation, not just eroded relationships between Russia and the United States.
And thank you, General -- Admiral, I just want to -- in the context of moving quickly. General O'Shaughnessy, one of the issues that came up in our discussions and also in your testimony is the threat of cruise missiles to the United States. And we -- we're configured pretty well, since the 1950s, for ballistic missiles, but cruise missiles and other hypersonic weapon systems are -- are more challenging.
Give us an idea of what you think you need to be effective to deal with this cruise missile threat.
USNORTHCOM COMMANDER GEN. TERRENCE J. O'SHAUGHNESSY: Thank you Senator for highlighting that important threat that we have facing us today as a nation. It's something we really have to invest in, in order to maintain our competitive advantage and our ability to defend this great nation over time.
Specifically, I think, as we look at the way we've been approaching the threats -- we've been looking at them from the ballistic missile standpoint, and then cruise missiles, counter-UASs -- and I think we have to look at this more holistically. And really, we need domain awareness over our entire territory and the approaches to it.
And then, if we're able to have that domain awareness with sensors from the undersea all the way up through space, we can then take that to be able to defend ourselves against all the threats, to include the cruise missile threat that you mentioned.
Some of the things that we are doing right now to get after that as an example of -- in this year's budget, we're increasing our domain awareness capabilities with sensors within the National Capital Region, for example, with our Wide Area Surveillance program.
We have money this year for over-the-horizon radars that will not only be helpful for the cruise missile threats, but also hypersonic threats. And we also have funding place for some additional radars to give the ability to truly see and understand the domain on the approaches to us, but this is just the start.
Senator, what I would say is, we have to invest into the future and understanding what is happening in and around our territory and really understanding our ability to have defeat mechanisms that can defeat these proliferated threats, such as the cruise missiles.
REED: Thank you very much.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back all my time.
INHOFE: Senator Fischer?
SEN. DEB FISCHER (R-NE): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Admiral Richard, you opening statement refers to an increase in both Russian and Chinese nuclear forces. On page four it states that China is likely to double the size of their stockpile by the end of this decade. And on page five it states that Russia's overall nuclear stockpile is, quote, "likely to grow significantly over the next decade," end quote.
Does our current program of record for modernization expand our nuclear forces?
RICHARD: Senator, it does not. We do not seek parity. And it's not only in the statement in terms of what they are going to do, we could also back up and look at what Russia, in particular, has been doing over the last 15 years to expand and modernize her arsenal, all while we just extended life extended systems that we already have.
So the recapitalization that we're asking for is one for one, we don't seek more -- we don't seek a greater number. We simply seek a sufficient number of capabilities to enable us to achieve national objectives.
FISCHER: I've been struck by the reception that this budget has gotten. Earlier this week a New York Times column summed up the budget's investment in nuclear modernization by saying, quote, "The president's spending proposal requests money for a new arms race with Russia and with China, and restores nuclear weapons as central to military policy," end quote.
The truth is actually the opposite of that. There's no policy change, as you stated, that relates to nuclear weapons in this budget. And it is Russia and China that are expanding their arsenals, while we are not. Is that correct?
RICHARD: Senator to -- I must confess, the whole concept that we're starting an arms race baffles me, in terms of no nation has done more than the United States to reduce the reliance on nuclear weapons, no nation has divested more nuclear weapons than the United States has.
We have waited 15 years, in some cases, to the absolute limits of what our systems will go before we simply sought to replace like for like inside our triad. So I don't understand where the concept of an arms race comes in. And you're absolutely correct, Ma'am.
FISCHER: Thank you. On page 12 of your prepared remarks you state, quote, "Our nuclear deterrent underwrites every U.S. military operation around the world and is the foundation and backstop of our national defense. I cannot overemphasize the need to modernize our nuclear forces and recapitalize the supporting infrastructure to ensure we can maintain this deterrent in the future. And I am concerned that the oft-repeated message of the need to modernize and recapitalize has lost its impact, and that collectively we have underestimated the risks associated with such a complex and time-constrained modernization and recapitalization effort. Even seemingly small issues can have a disproportionate impact on the force. We cannot afford more delays and uncertainty in delivering capabilities, and must maintain a focus on revitalizing our nuclear forces and the associated infrastructure," end quote.
I really appreciate your candor on this. As you know, we continue to hear calls to slow down, to cut funding, and to re-examine issues that have already been studied numerous times. And I appreciate your clear description of the urgency that we have. Do you have anything that you would like to add to that?
RICHARD: No, ma'am, other than...
FISCHER: I took the words right out of your mouth.
RICHARD: Yes, ma'am. We chose those very carefully to accurately describe the situation this nation faces, right? These -- these capabilities are foundational to our survival as a nation. It is a great credit that we've been able to take the -- and it's a once-every-other-generation responsibility to recapitalize the strategic deterrent.
We had wise leaders back in the '80s who saw the need for this, leadership and resources. And we have benefited with no nuclear use for up to 42 years in some cases, with particular weapon systems, no great power war and the return on investment that we achieved.
The submarine is a great example, designed for 30 years, we thought that's what we were going to get, in fact, you wind up getting 42. What a credit to the people that designed it, built it, operated it, that we were able to take it out as far as we can. But in the submarine's case, we're literally reaching physics and engineering limits, such that you cannot extend it.
You can only take a piece of high-strength steel, pressurize it at great depths, then take that pressure back off before you just don't want to get in the tube anymore. And so, that's the limits that we have reached and it is our turn to provide that leadership for the next 40 or 50 years to give them the benefits that we've already received.
FISCHER: Thank you.
And thank you, General O'Shaughnessy, for your meeting with me yesterday. I would -- I would commend to my colleagues that they also contact you to have a classified briefing on what we need to do with our cruise missiles.
Thank you, sir.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Fischer.
Since a quorum is now present, I ask the committee to consider two civilian nominations, from (ph) a list of 871 pending military nominations. All the nominations have been before the committee the required length of time.
First, I ask the committee to consider the nomination of James McPherson to be undersecretary of the Army and Charles Williams to be assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment.
Is there a motion to favorably report these two civilian nominations out?
(UNKNOWN): So moved.
INHOFE: Anyone -- any opposition? And that does pass. I thought we had the other one on here for the 871.
INHOFE: We should have the other one on here, shouldn't we?
INHOFE: OK, yes. And then, finally, I ask the committee to consider the list of 871 pending military nominations. Is there a motion to favorably report these 871?
(UNKNOWN): So moved.
INHOFE: All in favor, say aye.
For those who may have come in a little bit late, we are waving opening statements. We're going to get right to the -- to the questions and we're going to adhere to the five-minute rule. Thank you very much.
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-N.H): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you both for being here and for your service. I want to follow up on Senator Reed's question about the New START treaty because, as he pointed out, and we are less than a year from its expiration. We could extend for five years without going through the whole Senate confirmation process.
And it seems to me -- while I recognize the concern that you expressed, Admiral Richard, that I have heard from other sources, about the fact that it doesn't encompass a number of other weapons, the fact is, we could extend it and work on those and other weapons at the same time without losing the important information that we are currently getting from New START.
So I wonder if you could describe how STRATCOM uses information from New START, such as through inspections and data exchanges, as you look at your day-to-day planning.
RICHARD: Senator, so that insight, right, gives us a much better idea of what the threat level is from the -- that particular class of weapon systems are, which enables us to do a very calculated and thorough job of determining exactly how we deter the use of that. All very valuable and helpful, right, so I would desire to keep those attributes. But I'm also required to do the same thing on the parts that aren't included in the treaty, so -- better for me if we could go down a path to address all of that.
SHAHEEN: Sure. But if -- but if we do not extend New START and it expires next February, you lose that information, is that correct?
RICHARD: That is correct, Senator.
SHAHEEN: I think this is probably for General O'Shaughnessy. Last August, 33 airmen from New Hampshire's Air National Guard spent several weeks on a remote Alaskan island near the Bering Sea -- I'm sorry, Senator Sullivan isn't here -- because they were part of a rotating group of airmen and Guardsmen who were helping to build a new home for group of indigenous people who have been displaced due to rising sea levels.
Can you talk about what you see from climate change and what -- what we're doing to try and shore up our infrastructure and to be prepared for the challenges we're going to face as climate change increases and creates more of these kinds of situations?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, what I would talk to is the importance of the Arctic, and specifically in this case Alaska, not only, as you mentioned, with the increased activity and the things that we are seeing and some problems with the erosion that are very real. They're real for both the military aspects as well as, of course, as you mentioned, the indigenous population.
One of the things that we try to do is we -- we partner, as you mentioned, with organizations that are tied to the indigenous people. For example, (inaudible) and AFN has been a great partner, because I think we have common challenges to which we might have common solutions. And so whether it's -- we went to Barrow, for example, and saw some of the erosion that is caused as the ice has -- has melted and now the waves are hitting the shore, that affects us and some of our radar installations just as much as it affects the local village.
And so we're trying to partner with the local communities to truly understand what is happening and the impacts. But we also see it because simultaneously this is a critical part for us for the defense of our homeland.
We look at it as an avenue of approach and we see the Arctic as an avenue approach to our homeland that we need to be able to defend. And we need to be able to operate out of.
And therefore you need infrastructure. You need the ability to actually bring your force in and sustain a force. You need to be able to communicate. You need to actually understand what's happening in that domain and have the domain awareness.
And so these are very similar, and we find multiple opportunities in some of the forums that we've led with our partners in both industry, local populations, local communities all the way down to the villages -- that we find these common approaches that we might be able to solve. We're working, for example, in communications that might help us with the proliferation of (inaudible) that would bring communication not only to us in the military but even to the remotest villages.
SHAHEEN: So, as you're looking at preparing budgets for future years, how are you factoring in the costs of those infrastructure needs that we have as we're seeing the impacts of climate change?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: And so, what we're doing, is we're trying to look at the infrastructure that we need, the infrastructure that we need to be able to defend our nation -- and this is actually not just with the U.S.; we're working in partnership with Canada especially with my NORAD hat on. We're very interested in the similar issues that we see from the Canadian front of having an infrastructure in place throughout the Arctic that will give us the ability to defend our nation. And in doing so, we have to have the sustainability of that infrastructure going into the future.
SHAHEEN: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Gentlemen, thank you for being here today.
And, Admiral Richard, I'll start with you. And as we continue the discussion about modernization, as it has been discussed, the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent will replace the Minuteman III as the sole intercontinental ballistic missile starting about mid-'20s. And Congress has appropriated the funds to do that for this fiscal year. But while the GBSD will enter service this decade, the Air Force will continue to sustain the Minuteman III into the 2030s.
This is an old program from the 1970s, and I think some of the silos date back to maybe even the 1960s. And I -- I am concerned about failure to modernize with our nuclear deterrent and I think that in the long run this will be a lot more costly, and makes it a risky gamble with our -- our national survival.
So, just, if you can, how are we balancing the maintenance issues that -- that will occur as we continue to hold on to the Minuteman III and talk a little bit about that? And are you confident then that as we move into the new system that the timeline is suitable as a deterrent?
RICHARD: Senator, the short answer is yes. It is yet another example of why we have no margin left, right, in terms of the need to recapitalize.
But in terms of sustainment of Minuteman III, I'm not sure that it is also recognized the extraordinary levels the Air Force went to to be able to accomplish that. Unlike a submarine, which is designed to have depot-level maintenance in it, the Minuteman III was not. It was designed to serve for a certain period of time and get replaced. And the Air Force went in after the fact and figured out how to take that and get a depot maintenance capability retrofitted into the weapon system that will then enable it to got 'til the crossover point.
I think it's a great credit to the Air Force they were able to accomplish that. And that's what gives me confidence, provided no further delay in GBSD, that this will work.
ERNST: Well, God bless the Air Force. You know their extraordinary effort and it just points to the fact as Congress, we need to be aware of these issues and make sure that we -- we stay on top of it.
And, General O'Shaughnessy, thank you for being here. I'm going to redirect and talk about something that hasn't been brought up yet.
At the SOUTHCOM posture hearing, I asked Admiral Faller about challenges with COCOM and interagency coordination to stop the flow of drugs and human trafficking over our southern border and entering into the United States. And it's surprising, but my home state of Iowa really sees one of the highest rates of human trafficking. And I know that there are many colleagues here that have those same concerns and same issues in their home states. And we have also felt the pain and the -- the pressure of illicit drugs that enter into -- that stream into our state.
And so what I'd like to hear from you is thoughts on how that interagency and -- coordination is going, the collaboration that you might have with SOUTHCOM, and what are the efforts that we see to push back on some of the flows of drugs and human trafficking?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you for highlighting that.
One of things that we do find is a very strong collaboration amongst the interagency. I think it starts with the Interdiction Committee and that is led, of course, by the drug czar and Admiral Schultz as the co-chairs. But it brings the entire interagency together with respect to the counternarcotics, counterdrug and the transnational organized crime and the aspects of that. And it's a great forum of which we all get together -- Admiral Faller's there as well as myself -- to really -- to really bring the team together, if you will.
In addition, as you mentioned, SOUTHCOM and NORTHCOM have a great relationship. In fact, Admiral Faller's actually my cousin, as it turns out. And so there's a great relationship there.
ERNST: OK, good. Sounds a lot like Iowa.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: And we see that we clearly have to work together as -- as we do this. And so we actually went down together to Mexico City to meet with the Mexican leadership, and especially looking at (inaudible) and the great work that they are doing to help with both the migration flow and the counternarcotics problem.
And then we right from there to Guatemala, and we were able to work the local Guatemalan officials and really see how do we stem this flow and how do we get to the roots to be able to stem that flow.
And so, I think it's those kind of relationships and that working together that's important. But it's also important what we're doing on our actual border.
And so, as you know, we are very active with respect to some of the work that we're doing to provide assistance -- we're not the lead federal agency but we provide great assistance, because we see this as a national crisis. 68,000-69,000 Americans killed last year, that is something that we have to be part of the solution and we are. We pulled over 5,000 hours in support of that last year. Over 2,000 man-days of intelligence analysis is one of the things that I think we bring as the military...
O'SHAUGHNESSY: ... that we can bring that expertise and bring that right to our interagency partners.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: And so what we continue to find those areas where we can bring that rig (ph) value to the interagency (inaudible).
ERNST: I appreciate it, so much. Thank you, gentlemen.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CN): Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you both for being here and thank you for you service.
Admiral, thanks particularly for your enormous contribution to our submarine force. I assume you continue to share the Navy's strategy and support it to achieve 66 submarines by 2048.
RICHARD: Senator, I do.
BLUMENTHAL: I'm somewhat disquieted, even dismayed, by the apparent change of pace in construction reflected in this budget, dropping one of the submarines that was planned for this year at the Electric Boat shipyard. Do you share that concern that we may be falling off the necessary pace?
RICHARD: Senator, one, I am pleased that the Navy is maintaining the highest priority on the Columbia-class submarine, which directly supports my mission set. And beyond that, I think that is just indicative of the difficult budget choices that Navy and the whole Department of Defense are having to make.
BLUMENTHAL: But those budget choices reflect priorities and the Virginia-class -- and I agree with you completely about the Columbia-class, and there's a lot of progress in the budget in that regard. But the Virginia-class is essential to our undersea superiority, is it not?
RICHARD: Senator, Virginia-class submarine is the finest submarine in the world.
BLUMENTHAL: And we want to continue to build more of them.
RICHARD: Absolutely, sir.
BLUMENTHAL: In that regard, I want to ask about hypersonic missiles which, in your testimony, you say quote, "ensure our deterrence and conventional power remains strong in the future." Are you satisfied with the investment that we're making in hypersonic missiles, given the Russians and Chinese investing so heavily in them? And that could be a question for both of you.
RICHARD: Senator, what I will start with, because there's two ways to answer -- there's two aspects to your question, one is offensive use of hypersonic by us and plus there is a defensive piece. And I'd remind everybody (ph), the Russians have publicly reported that they have hypersonics on alert now. And so this is a very real thing.
My command has had a longstanding requirement for conventional prompt strike that hypersonic technologies would be an ideal way to go accomplish that, and I think that enables me to better deter threats to this nation. And so -- also, I have responsibility for global strike already inside the Department of Defense and I think we would be an ideal command because we have concepts, command and control, ready to go to use that to the best advantage.
BLUMENTHAL: Are you -- are you satisfied, though, that we're investing sufficiently in all of the aspects of hypersonic, both offensive and...
RICHARD: Yes, Senator, I am. I was actually very pleased on the priority. It's in line with the National Defense Strategy in terms of the priority that this budget submission puts in that and a couple of other technical areas.
BLUMENTHAL: Are you concerned about a developing potential arms race in hypersonics?
RICHARD: Senator, no. Again, it is: do you have sufficient capability technologies to meet our national objectives? And I think we're on-pace to do that.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: And Senator, I would highlight on -- on defensive side, one of the key aspects, I think, is the space sensing layer and the importance that we invest in that and continue to invest, which we are. This budget includes that.
But we need to -- to continue to invest in that space sensing layer because -- as we go from a ballistic missile to a hypersonic glide vehicle, for instance -- it really changes the problem of maintaining custody of that weapon system throughout its entire flight. And the best way to get at that is a space sensing layer, so I strongly endorse continued investment in that for defensive.
And it's not just -- it's also about awareness because, unlike a ballistic missile where you know where it's going, the hypersonic glide vehicle, you don't necessarily know because it has the energy and ability to maneuver. And so we have to be able to keep track of that. And so, I can give the warning to Admiral Richard so he knows where that is going from the -- from the NORTHCOM and NORAD perspective.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, I agree with you that it introduces a potential game-changing technology and new challenges in terms of both defense and deterrence and offense. And I'd like to ask for more information, perhaps in a classified setting if we can arrange a briefing.
I am also going to submit for the record, because we're adhering strictly to time limits, questions on the threats posed by cyber. I understand there was a recent cyber-security conference that involved National Guard, which I'd like to learn more about, and also troops at the border. So I'll be submitting questions to the record on those two topics.
Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
INHOFE: (OFF-MIKE) Thank you very much.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Admiral Richard, I want to return to the budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration. The president's budget has it at just under $20 billion, are you confident that that is a sufficient number to proceed with nuclear modernization?
RICHARD: Senator Cotton, the short answer is yes. There's not a lot of excess margin in that number but it is sufficient. And I'll also offer that I have a very close relationship with NNSA. I just spoke to Ms. Gordon-Hagerty actually yesterday in a continuing series, and I point to that as an example of us are making sure that she has the right resources.
COTTON: And that -- if you take the warhead modernization program on the one hand and you take the triad modernization -- the delivery systems on the other hand, that is also a number that's satisfactory to keep those two things integrated over the next several years?
RICHARD: Senator, yes, again, with no extra margin. I would throw in nuclear command and control as the third piece of that that is -- also needs to be synchronized.
COTTON: I would as well, given the fact that we have woefully, woefully, undercapitalized our nuclear command and control and infrastructure over the last many decades. But one thing I hear you say, not much excess margin. To the extent that Congress doesn't meet that budget number of just under $20 billion, would we be introducing more risk into those programs for every dollar that we go below it?
RICHARD: Senator, yes. And in fact, we are close enough into this recapitalization that we can also give you a number where you start to see points of no return, right -- and they are not that far off, they're in the early '30s. That if we don't recapitalize now, we simply lose the fundamental infrastructure and capacity that, if we cross over, you can't recover for like a decade, no matter how much money you put at it. Those are -- those points are starting to come into view.
COTTON: OK. General O'Shaughnessy, I want to talk about the Wuhan coronavirus, and it is the Wuhan coronavirus, not some politically correct name that a bunch of politically correct bureaucrats at the World Health Organization have come up with to give you a sense of their misplaced priorities.
You were recently directed in your role as commander of the Northern Command, to begin prudent planning for a potential pandemic. I think it's very prudent to begin prudent planning. So could you talk us through what the role for Northern Command would be in such a situation and the extent to which you've already begun planning, or even exercises, for that scenario?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, sir.
So Senator, what -- what we're doing first in the immediate actions we've taken has been in support of the Health and Human Services with respect to housing some Americans coming home. And -- and I think we've -- right now, we have over 600 still in our facilities in support of both of the State Department bring in their -- their folks home as well as HHS. That has been going extremely well and we appreciate the close coordination through the interagency to make that happen.
It also is tied to 11 airports of which we have facilities that are on standby in coordinating (ph) with both -- in coordination with both Department of Homeland Security, as well as HHS and CDC, as you would imagine. And those ongoing collaborations continues to make sure that we are part of the support structure that we have here within the United States to be able to respond to this virus.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Now, to your point about the global aspects of this and our role at NORTHCOM, we are, as you would expect, doing the appropriate prudent military planning to ensure that we are able to respond. The types of things that we're doing is, for example, we're running a VTC every single day to make sure -- and that includes representatives from all around the globe, all the geographic combatant commands that are in there to make sure that we see what is happening within their regions. And then we are centrally managing that from our headquarters in NORTHCOM.
We are -- we have plans in place, as you would imagine, that look for what are the -- what is the scope that this go to potentially and making sure that we're not caught by surprise.
And so, both our role that we're doing in the day-to-day is very much informative to the role that we're doing for the planning and making sure that we are prepared for what -- the worst-case scenario that might happen and make sure that we're doing that globally, not just here in the United States.
COTTON: Thank you, General. I think we're still at only 14 cases in the Unites States that have been confirmed by public health authorities...
O'SHAUGHNESSY: That's correct, sir.
COTTON: Let's hope that remains the case. I think we're in a much better position than we were a few weeks ago when we had 20,000 people landing in the United States from mainland China every single day. So I commend the president and the administration for the travel ban put in place.
But there are still around a million and a half Americans who traveled from mainland -- or a million and half persons who traveled from mainland China, starting in mid-November until the travel ban went into place.
So if we have even a fraction of what China reported, just overnight, of 14,000 cases -- which, I should add, were not newly discovered cases or the result of new scientific breakthroughs, but a political decision to finally start to get a little bit closer to the truth -- then obviously it's going to put a lot of emphasis and stress on the mission and the planning that you and your people have been doing. So thank you for that.
INHOFE: Senator Heinrich?
SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH (D-NM): Admiral Richard, congratulations on your assumption of command. And I'd be remiss if I didn't invite you back to Sandia and Los Alamos. I know you've been there before. But during your confirmation hearing, you agreed that restoring plutonium pit production at Los Alamos is the military's top priority; however, in your answer, you also stated that there are issues.
And now that you've had a little time to work with NNSA and get up to speed on that, I'd like to ask you to articulate what the specifics issues and impediments that you see in meeting the current goals.
RICHARD: Well, Senator, when I talked about the weapons complex infrastructure, the plutonium pit would be the first thing that I would call attention to in terms of our nation's ability to generate that number of pits. That is essential, simply for the sustainment programs, right, that we -- we desire to go do. And the -- the concern actually, again, was funding, right?
Step one is to provide adequate resources. And I'm -- I'm very confident, particularly in the near term at Los Alamos, right, that with adequate funding we can deliver the 30 pits per year by 2026. And I continue to work NNSA and Ms. Gordon-Hagerty to make sure the longer-term plan is also -- I have equal confidence in that.
HEINRICH: One of my concerns with regard to that is, if -- if we're going to do pit production at two locations and the intellectual capital is currently pretty much all at Los Alamos, not losing -- not poaching that capital to a second facility before we actually get job number one done. What -- do you share those concerns?
RICHARD: Well, Senator, I -- not only do I share them, but it is in the weapons complex and other areas writ large is that, do we have enough talent to be able to accomplish what we have to go do.
So I work with Ms. Gordon-Hagerty on her stack of responsibilities with regards to that, as well as we do a number things at U.S. Strategic Command to bring talent into the strategic deterrence area writ large.
I can give you a longer answer if you -- for a question for the record. But, for example, we have an academic alliance with over 70 colleges and universities, where we're trying to encourage people to come in and develop expertise in national security, strategic deterrence, and the weapons complex benefits from that.
HEINRICH: As you've articulated, we're -- we're pushing up against very thin margins on all three parts of the triad. What are the consequences for your command if any one of those legs experiences a significant delay? And how would you -- if that were to occur, how would you rebalance?
RICHARD: Senator, I want to thank you for that question. And -- and I -- I think we all well know the commanders of strategic command have been repeatedly asked that question over time, and part of how we got to the point that we're at was by doing operational mitigations to make up for a lack of earlier decisions to recapitalize.
We are very close to turning that rheostat about as far as it's going to go. So the last remaining things that I have, and they're -- you can refer to them as a head (ph) -- sometimes that is more thought of for the weapons complex, but the triad itself was built with an overlapping, interlocking set of attributes that are very complimentary and each leg makes up for the weaknesses in the other leg.
I would get to the point where I'd just have to start -- basically that's called inter-leg hedging, I have to start taking the attributes of the triad apart and I lose attributes along the way. So I can cross-cover with one piece of the triad on another, but I may lose the survivability of the ballistic missile summaries. I may lose the flexibility and signaling for the bombers. That's about what's left for us to do.
HEINRICH: Moving on real quick, I don't have a lot of time left. But you're familiar with my interest in hypersonics and in -- more broadly in just maintaining the R&D focus to have a third offset, whether that's through the lens of hypersonics or directed energy or, for that matter, artificial intelligence.
We're seeing a big bump in this -- in this budget in the area of hypersonics. That's a $3.2 billion overall number, it's a 23 percent increase. How's that money going to be spent so that, you know, when you're scaling that you're still efficient and spending it wisely?
RICHARD: Senator, that question would be best answered by the services that are responsible. All of them are working on it. I am pleased with the progress and I am working to make sure that when that capability is delivered, I'm ready to receive it with concepts of operation and command and control, and being able to immediately put it use defending the nation.
HEINRICH: Thank you, Chairman.
INHOFE: Senator Scott?
SEN. RICK SCOTT: (OFF-MIKE) Chair.
First, thank you both for your service. General O'Shaughnessy, I'm -- I think we've all been following what communist China has been doing around the world.
I'm from Florida. And so everybody in Florida is clearly watching what's happening in Latin America, and especially communist China's involvement in Venezuela but even in other countries with their investments. How -- how does -- and you know, what they're trying to do is build relationships and make people dependent on them. How does communist China's involvement in Latin America impact our national security?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Well, I think you bring up a good point, because sometimes it's easy forget about our own neighborhood as we look at this global competition that we're in with China.
Admiral Faller has done a really good job, I think, of highlighting that and the consequences thereof and the focus that we need to have, not only within the Department of Defense but as a nation, to that.
Of course, we also see it, for example, in the Bahamas, which is even closer to home, where we see China's trying to get an influence with one of our closest neighbors and great partners.
And so, I think we have to be cognizant of it. We have to think about it from the aspect of, what are the implications to us from a national security standpoint, and then what are the implications to us just as a nation, as we see this global competition playing out in our own hemisphere close to home.
SCOTT: Thank you.
Admiral Richard, do you think we have enough -- whether it's communist China or Russia in Latin America, do you think we have the right amount of assets there and the right amount of focus there, or do we need to put more focus, based on what they're doing, to try to have an impact close to our borders?
RICHARD: Senator, one, I applaud the chairman of the Joint Chiefs focus broadly on global integration. And when you take a global view of the competitions that we have, it drives visibility into those areas. So I think the Department is moving in the right direction to look at the totality of what we need to be concerned about and not just focus on one geographic region.
SCOTT: So Canada's about to make a decision on 5G, on Huawei and it's my understanding that the military establishment in Canada said that the Trudeau administration should not go forward with doing any business with Huawei with regard to their 5G. How would that impact our relationship with Canada if they do?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Senator what I would say is, clearly we see the security implications of 5G not only with Canada but with our allies and partners and even here at home, clearly we see this has a national security implications at large. And making sure that we, with all our allies and partners -- that they all go into any negotiations and ultimately procurement of infrastructure with clear eyes to truly understand what are the risks and then what can we do to mitigate those risks.
And so I think as we do continue to work with Canada, as a close ally and a partner that, just like we've done with other allies and partners, we need to make sure that we're sharing all of the intel that we have, which we are. And making sure that we provide them all the things that they need to make the proper decision and an informed decision to fully understand the risks that they take and ultimately the implications that, to your point, that we might have here at home with what we can share with them, how we would share it with them, and what the implications would be.
I think as we look at Canada with the NORAD aspect of that that becomes even closer to home because of our binational relationship we have with them. And making sure that we understand the rippling effects of potential security concerns relative to Huawei, 5G and we see it as very real concerns.
SCOTT: So what -- so knowing the risks, especially, like, with NORAD, what should Congress be doing to try to make sure that Canada makes the right decision and -- and to follow the lead of their military establishment that Huawei should not be a partner for 5G?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: I think the continuation of what we're doing already, which is the great conversations and dialogue that were having with our partner in Canada. Again, sharing the intel so that we make sure that they understand fully the risks that they might be taking on, and -- so that they can make a decision -- their own sovereign decision that they make.
But it's an informed decision, fully understanding the risks, the consequences, and ultimately what the rippling effects might be as a result of that, from a national security -- for their own security and then for us together as a binational organization, with NORAD is an example. And that as we are tied with North America, very much so (ph) the rippling effects through the -- through the binational, bilateral relationship.
SCOTT: All right. Thank you.
INHOFE: (OFF-MIKE) Senator Manchin.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank both of you for your service. I can only repeat to you what I have heard in talking and listening to people with expertise. And this is how they have kind of explained the Cold War coming to an end, and where we are today, and if we're on top of game or if we're ahead of game. That basically the United States in the '80s took the position to be very aggressive in some of the weapons we designed. Russia could not keep up with what we were doing. It kind of forced them into a system -- a situation where they had to evaluate: could we defend ourself against America with the superior weapons they've designed? That's what it -- was given to me in that -- along those lines.
Now, if you take it from the Cold War forward, have we still stayed on top of our game? It sounds to me as if hypersonic weapons and other future weapons have been more advanced by other countries, such as China, even Russia coming back into the scene in a really aggressive way, maybe North Korea to a certain extent.
And are we going to be able to deter them from moving forward because of our superiority or are we going to be paying a defense to catch up? So whoever -- however you can, help me with how to understand it better.
RICHARD: Let me start that...
RICHARD: ... in terms of, first, I go back to the -- that was a choice by China and Russia to develop those weapons, right. We certainly could have done that and, no, we did not. I think that their actions in many cases speak louder than what they tell us in terms of what their intentions are.
RICHARD: And again this is a competition, right, just like any other military competition. And I am confident that this nation has the ability to produce the capabilities we have to have. And for deterrence, again, the basic equation hasn't changed. Can I deny you your aim or can I impose a cost on you that is greater than what you seek? I can do that, if necessary.
MANCHIN: Admiral, I think, in general, both this -- the evaluation was given to me about the Cold War and the end of the Cold War. Is that accurate that we were just so -- we outpaced them so far that they had to come to the realization they could not compete and defend themselves?
RICHARD: Senator, what I would offer, I would break that into a conventional piece and strategic deterrence piece...
RICHARD: ... And on the conventional side of the house, in general, I would say that that is in the main correct, right.
RICHARD: And what we're able to do on the strategic deterrence side is hold strategic deterrence, right. The whole goal in strategic deterrence is for nothing to happen...
RICHARD: ... and we were successfully able to do that. So I would re-characterize that slightly in terms of a conventional force advantage that we achieved.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, what I would add to that though is, you fast-forward to today, what we do see is, our adversaries really investing in some of that conventional capability that does have the ability to hold us at risk. And we have to, therefore, be able to defend against it.
What I'm referring to, for example, is -- for example, Sev (ph) submarine that has very good capability that -- that carries cruise missiles, some of the long-range aviation like the bombers with...
MANCHIN: We have the USS West Virginia. I've been on it and spent some time with them. I appreciated it, you'll (ph) do an excellent job.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Sure. And so I think from our perspective we think a lot from the Cold War about the nuclear aspect and deterrence. I think as we reach today, we also have to factor in the conventional aspect of this. And having...
O'SHAUGHNESSY: ... peer adversaries that have the capability to reach out to us at home in ways that we didn't have in the Cold War that we have to factor into our defense...
MANCHIN: My final question would be, basically you're looking 30 years down the road, at least 30 years down the road for the weapon -- for the life of the weapons that we're -- and the defense that we're doing with our triad. Are we looking at what their capabilities, and where they're looking 30 years down the road too? And if they might be to the point to where they're advancing quicker, willing to make more sacrifices, spend more money to become an equal superpower?
The One Belt One Road, as far as I'm concerned, is China wants to be the only superpower left by 2050. I hope Americans understand that and I hope we in Congress understand it. That's what I'm concerned about. And I am determined in my life and for my children, whatever I can do and whatever decision can prevent that from happening because this is the greatest country on Earth. There's no doubt what their mission is, right -- what China's mission is?
RICHARD: Sir, not only do I agree, but -- I'll give you a quick example, Columbia's going to be in service until 2080, right. The Navy and the Submarine Force, and there's Air Force equivalent to this too, have long had very extensive programs that -- looking 30 years down the road. And they're physics-based, right -- they're not necessarily intel-based -- and looking at anything that could be developed into a threat so that we, in parallel, start working the countermeasure to that. And I have great confidence in those programs, they've served us well.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: And in my full (ph) time, I would just quickly say that that's why the NDS implementation, which very clearly focuses on this great competition and the competition with China in particular and Russia, drives us to make sure we do invest in those right resources that will allow us to compete appropriately going into the future, Senator.
MANCHIN: Well, it's my confidence in military leaders like yourself that give me the confidence for my children and grandchildren. Thank you.
SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Thank you Mr. Chairman. And thank you for your thoughtfulness and coming before us today. I want to talk a little bit about the hypersonics issues, circle back to that, because of Arnold Engineering Development Complex, which is there in Tennessee and, of course, they're very much engaged in some of the work that we are trying to do as we look forward. I actually had some people in the office yesterday and we discussed this and Arnold's importance to the Air Force.
But, one of the things that continues to come up as we talk about hypersonics is personnel and a trained workforce. And General O'Shaughnessy, I'd love to hear from you, do you think we have what we need to meet the demand as we move forward? And how do we go about backfilling that? How do you change recruitment in order for us to be able to backfill that?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Mrs. Pam (ph) thank you for highlighting that and I think it's a -- one of our things we look at. First, there's a capability, but then there's also a capacity.
And if you look at our entire defense industrial base, one of the things I think we have to really focus on is, are we able to both have the technology and then make sure we're taking advantage of the emerging technology in the appropriate ways, but also do we have the capacity of which to turn that into actual weapon systems that can be relevant on the battlefield.
BLACKBURN: I -- I'm glad you mentioned that, because I had noted, in 2017 at a hypersonics conference, I think the Chinese had like 250 papers and it was at 10 times what we had had.
And so Admiral Richard, as you look at this, are you attracting and training and retaining the experts that are going to be needed in order to -- to meet this need, meet the demand?
RICHARD: Ma'am, the short answer is, you are highlighting a challenge for the department across the board, it's not only in hypersonics that you talk about, but I could point to any number of other areas where we face an equivalent challenge.
I have been very pleased in the efforts, particularly by the services, to reach out, develop, attract and create this industrial base that we're going to have to have, not only for hypersonics, but for the capabilities writ large. They're working very hard on this.
BLACKBURN: OK, then human capital is one component, but then facilities, areas like Arnold Engineering are important. So, where are we on the sufficiency of our facilities and having what we need there?
RICHARD: Again, I -- I applaud service efforts to go after the capacity and the industrial base physical plan necessary to achieve the results that you're talking about. They're working very hard on both pieces of that.
BLACKBURN: OK. Then highlighting another area, let's move over and talk about electromagnetic spectrum. And, as you know, this is something where I've spent a good bit of time working on how we precede in this area, how we utilize so expertise when it comes to working in a contested E.W. environment. Do we have that? Do -- are we moving forward with the right type work? The visualization, the modeling, so that we're growing the expertise in this area?
RICHARD: So, ma'am, let me -- let me start that. And, Senator, one I applaud your interest and your leadership in terms of electromagnetic spectrum, right. That is yet another domain, not unlike space and cyber, that was permissive and we have freedom of maneuver for a very long period of time and that has changed.
So, it too has to have a certain level of expertise and the services are working very hard on that. For example, if you would allow me to have a Navy flashback for a second, and I'm joint commander now, but just left the Navy, the submarine force, which I recently commanded, has been an emergency flight (ph), wide open in trying to develop that expertise, to the point that we have restructured the electronic technicians rating to elevate greater numbers, better training, and I could go into more detail on that. You see all the services working like that right now.
BLACKBURN: Let me ask you this, are we at a point where we should develop a concept of operations for E.W.?
RICHARD: Yes, ma'am, you -- you hit on a couple of things that we have to continue to work on. There -- there are numerous concepts of operation.
RICHARD: To be able to knit them together in a whole is --
BLACKBURN: Right, but we need one overriding strategy --
RICHARD: One overarching piece --
BLACKBURN: -- and if you're reworking training and looking at a different utilization of expertise, then it seems to me we would be well served to move to one concept of operations that would enable each of our military divisions.
RICHARD: Senator, one, I not only agree, but I would also highlight another point you made earlier, that a key piece of that concept is going to be electronic battle management, electronic warfare battle management, the ability to visualize. We cannot be statically assigned anymore in our use of the R.S. (ph) spectrum. We have to be dynamic, we have to maneuver, and we're going to have to be able to visualize and understand it to accomplish that. The concepts will start from there.
INHOFE: Senator King.
BLACKBURN: Thank you. Yield back.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): Thank you Mr. Chairman. General O'Shaughnessy, one of the questions I ask quite frequently in these hearings is, what does China want? And I want to ask you pointedly, what does China want in the Arctic?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Well, thank you Senator for allowing me to highlight a little bit of the Arctic and the importance of the Arctic. And as I relates to one of our global competitors, and potential adversaries, I think it is important to look at what is --what is their desire in the Arctic.
What we see initially is clearly an economic desire, because of the natural resources there and it -- and they want to be able to be able to take full advantage of those resources. But, we also see activity, for example, the Xue Long, one of their supposed scientific research vessels that -- that potentially could be the precursor to increased submarine activity and those things from a more nefarious aspect.
And so -- so, we're looking at clearly to understand what is it they're trying to do, but from our perspective, we're concerned about that as an avenue of approach, we're concerned about that as a --
KING: They're clearly highly interested. I was at an Arctic conference in Iceland a couple years ago. There was a 40 person delegation from China and they've --they've designated themselves as a near-Arctic nation, which is like Australia saying that, you know, but there they are. So they -- they clearly -- now let me follow-up. There was a sentence in your -- in your presentation that got my attention.
Finally in the past year we have observed signs of nascent, but growing strategic operation between China and Russia, including combined bomber patrol last July and Chinese participation in multiple Russian exercises. I find that very important and -- and -- and concerning. Expand on that a bit please.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Sir, this was a -- not particularly a concern. The Arctic -- but I will get back to the Arctic in the answer. What we do see is --
KING: But, the Arctic is one of the places where they may well find common bond.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Absolutely. And that's where I'll go back to and where I have some concern there. One of the things we do see is Russia actually has more advance operational capability, with respect to the long range bomber force, and -- and as -- and as we see them very routinely flying in and around our -- our aid (ph) as an example.
As we see them working with Russia and China together, we have concerns as we just look at that capability if they were to work together they could potentially advance China's ability in that regard. Clearly in the Arctic, we also see the potential if they work together, but I think there's a little bit different approach because clearly Russia has concerns about China infringing on them from an economic standpoint, yet nonetheless we see Russia with some very significant...
KING: Russia is being very aggressive in the Arctic in terms of icebreakers, airstrips, I mean, that's a big part of where they're putting some of their major investments.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Exactly. And so that's where I was going with this answer is that we can actually see the potential for China to leverage Russia's capability and capacity and understanding to develop China's role (ph).
KING: Do you have adequate sensors to determine if something is coming over the top.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: We do not, sir.
KING: And that's a -- that's clearly a gap that needs to be addressed.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: It is, senator.
KING: Let me -- in a couple minutes -- this is -- this hearing seems to be the hypersonic hearing, and I think that's important, and the budget is important, the additional resources. But we are behind. I mean, Russia China are fielding hypersonic missiles now and aren't we four or five years from there? And my concern is that some of that research should be going into defense because right now hypersonics are really a nightmare weapon for an aircraft carrier, for all kinds of target. So are we going to put some money into how to defend ourselves against the hypersonics, admiral?
RICHARD: The short answer is yes, and I think you see the budget priorities that are being developed to do just that. But I will also go back and offer particularly for Russia and China, we are defending today by deterrence, right? I can impose a cost on them that I think they will find unacceptable to deter their use of them (ph) or any of their other novel weapon systems.
KING: How -- how do you deter? If -- if we get into a conflict -- I mean, I don't understand deterrence when they use a hypersonic to take an aircraft carrier in -- in the strait between Iceland and Scotland.
RICHARD: Sir, I have any, I'd have to go into a classified session to give you details of options that I could provide to address that.
KING: Well I just hope that that 23 percent budget increase, part of that goes to -- goes to defense. Finally, very briefly, can hypersonics be nuclearized -- can a hypersonic missile carry a nuclear warhead?
RICHARD: Senator, absolutely, yes.
KING: And so is this really Triad 2.0, because this is a different -- it's not a ballistic missile, it's not a submarine, it's not an aircraft, or it could be I guess all three of those. But clearly we need to think about hypersonics in terms of the triad, in terms of our strategic...
RICHARD: Senator, absolutely. I will offer that it is not our policy or intent right now to nuclearize hypersonics. Other nations can choose to do what they wish in that area. And yes, right, this is -- this is the competition, this has a lot of similarities and introduction to the air continental ballistic missile back in the late 50s and early 60's and we're ready to address it.
KING: Thank you. Thank you very much gentlemen and I appreciate your testimony.
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (D-ND): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank the both of you for your service and for being here. I was going to start, Admiral Richard with a question about the GBSD, and you answered it beautifully for -- for Senator Fischer and in your statements. But -- but just -- I'll just emphasize the importance of doing all we can to keep it on track, if not, even escalate a little bit, that is reflected of course in the budget, and we appreciate that. I want to ask both of you some questions about the standing up of space forces, starting with you of course Admiral Richard, given your -- the unique relationship between StratCom in space -- and space capabilities. And -- and first generally ask you, are you comfortable with -- with how it's going in terms of the -- the standing up of space force? And what and how are you communicating with space force in terms of helping them be successful in -- in training, equipping, manning the force?
RICHARD: Senator, I would draw distinction between space command , doing operational command and the space force. My relationship is much more with space command. And senator, I would describe it as, we're the proud parents, right? We -- we're where those responsibilities came from, I am delighted of the decision the nation and the department has made, and it's putting unnecessary attention to our freedom of maneuver in action inside space. General Raymond and I speak frequently, we're setting up a set of warfighter talks here in the very near future. And I am encouraged across the board that it improves mission performance overall, particularly as responsibilities as the sensor manager, looking across as missile warning, missile defense and space situational awareness. The nation wins because we're more effectively utilizing our assets.
CRAMER: Very well said. And General O'Shaughnessy, so again, same -- basically the same as you (ph), obviously the relation between space command and StratCom is special, but yours is awfully important as well.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, thank you, senator. And what I -- just I am excited about both -- both the spaceport and U.S. space command. I think we're already starting to see some of the -- the benefits of this and I think we as a nation are very fortunate to have a great American, Jay Raymond, leading both of these at this time and -- and really charting the course that these will take going into the future. Specifically, for us, for homeland defense, from the NORTHCOM role, we are very much tied to from the U.S. space command side, relative to those sensors, the very sensors that Admiral Richard mention, are the ones we're using for her own homeland defense.
And the second aspect as look at war fighting is as space a domain of war fighting that occurs, and we are now -- we're talking about that in really relevant ways, and clearly from homeland defense aspect, that has significant consequences. And then from a U.S. space force excited about the potential there, as that's now been stood up of how that's going to allow us to really focus like a laser on space going into the future.
CRAMER: Well just following up little bit on that, one of the -- one of the challenges I think of course is actually manning, training, equipping this -- this force. I think the services all have -- all play a role in that, which I think is somewhat unique to the -- to the way space force have been designed to be successful, and I certainly look forward to anything that you can -- can add to that discussion as well. And then -- and then as long as you're going (inaudible) as I run out of time, I'm going to want you answer that, if you have more to say about it. And then actually ask you about northern tier bases, of course I have three of them in North Dakota, and what -- what we ought to be looking for in terms of capabilities to meet a potential Arctic conflict and -- and make sure that -- that we're in sync with the strategy.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Well I start first on the space force, clearly the intent is -- is not just a pulling away from just United States Air Force, but actually looking at what -- within the Department of Defense, where our -- where our space experts and how do we actually bring them into the of the space force as well. That aside, relative to your question on Arctic, we're -- we're actually excited about some of the things that we're actually doing. Right now in your state, to support our Arctic operations clearly, we see the future and our defense of our nation is very are critically dependent on our ability to operate in the Arctic, our ability to have domain awareness.
So some of the things we're doing with over the horizon radars, critically important for us to have the domain awareness, that understanding of what is happening on the approaches to our nation and -- and in cooperation with Canada through North America is critically important. And whether you're talking hypersonics and the (inaudible) radar is a great capability against the hypersonics, so we can maintain the custody, or whether we're talking about the cruise missile threats and the bombers, those are all played because some of the work that we're doing within your state.
CRAMER: Well said, and I appreciate both of you. I yield back, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. GARY PETERS (D-MI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Admiral Richards and General O'Shaughnessy, your command areas play a very important role in defending the United States from the threat of ballistic missiles. And I know that the Missile Defense Agency's budget request discussing a layered approach to homeland defense as the underlay to the current ground based midcourse (ph) defense system that protects the continental United States. Specifically the MDA request discusses EGS and THAAD as potential options for a layered homeland defense approach. But I'm also interested in the potential for transportable ground based interceptors or other systems that can serve as an underlay to existing GMD system and add flexibility and depth in a cost effective way.
AS you know MDA has completed an environmental impact statement of three location to host a potential third GMD site, including two fields at Fort Custer in Michigan, which were identified as the least expensive and least environmentally impacted site. But the question for both of you is can you please discuss how you view the potential of a layered homeland missile defense system and what role would the three locations, which MDA has already studied play in this layered system?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Senator I'll start with this. First of all I'll talk to one of the reasons that this demand signal was there is we look at the cancellation of RKB and the resulting timeline between now and when an NGI next gen interceptor could fielded. We have very significant concerns about that from NORTHCOM. We've been working closely with both MDA as well as OSDR&E Dr. Griffin and I'm pleased to announce now that we've actually, we're bringing time in as a variable within that discussion. And so what we're trying to do, we can't wait 10 years to get the next gen interceptor fielded, we're trying to bring that left. And so I think what we'll see is the RFP actually gets released. We are actually looking to bring time left and get that fielded faster and I think we're in a good position there.
But that brings you to a part of that mitigation as the threat continues to advance is this layered defense concept which we very much support and you see money in the budget this year for. The initial concept to your point was to bring in as an under layer the ability to use, whether it be a THAD modified potential with an additional boost capability or whether is be an SM32A missile that we could use in that regard. Is existing capability that we could bring into the homeland defense architecture to provide that ballistic missile defense. But the fall on to that is, okay, we will understand using that existing capability but what is a capability we could actually develop that might not be what we need to deploy overseas but we could use specifically built for a homeland defense and that gets into the point where the next iteration of the layer defense might be individual weapon systems that are designed to be fielded within the continental US and in Alaska to defend the United States using maybe the technology that's in our current systems but portrayed a different way.
And I think all the work that's been done with all the continental interceptors sites will go into potentially where we could put those, how we do those. So I think it's just part of the information that we now have as we look at this new approach with both the current GVI (ph), the NGIs as layer defense with current system additional system informed by some of the work that we've done to include within your state.
PETERS: Great. Thank you. Admiral do you want to add anything?
RICHARD: Just very quickly, the missile defense is deterrence by denial. And we have a very clear national policy on what it's designed for and what it's not designed for. And so everything General O'Shaughnessy just talked about, not only allows him to execute his mission responsibilities but it is a part of a tailored (ph) deterrence strategies that I'm required by the Nuclear Posture Review to develop. And so that's precisely the path I think we need to go down. I would throw in sensing is also a key piece as both of us have talked about.
PETERS: One final question and I'm the Ranking Member on Emerging Threats and Capabilities Sub Committee and this committee and one area that I've been focusing on are some of the ethics associated with the military application of artificial intelligence and automation in particular. And I know there are a number of ethical concerns related to these weapons and I think the dilemmas represented by the threat that you both identified in your written statements of Russia's nuclear capable autonomous underwater weapon the Poseidon. And I know what the threat is is all up to debate to talk about. But if we face time sensitive threats in the US (inaudible) are we at a tactical disadvantage if we require human involvement in our decision chain where our adversaries may no do that?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, I'll take that. What I would say is what we have to get away from is what we now have is either the human in the loop or sometimes the human is the loop in some of our systems to a human on the loop. And what that'll allow you to do is actually make those decisions at the speed of relevance because what can and should be done by machines and by AI and leveraging that will be done by that. But it will identify those key areas where we humans have to be the ones ethically, morally making those decisions. And so I think human on the loop is a concept we need to apply to leverage that capability while not preventing ourselves from operating at the speed of relevance.
PETERS: All right, thank you.
INHOFE: By the way, we've been notified the first vote is underway. So we're going to try to get to everybody here. Let's try to keep our remarks very, Senator Hawley.
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Than you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you gentlemen for being here. Admiral, let me start with you. As you know we are the proud home in Missouri of the Whiteman Air Force Base and the B2 Bomber. Let me ask you about the Air Force's budget request and the funding cuts for the B2 Defensive Management System. Does that decision cause you any concern about the B2's ability to operate in high end treat environments to the end of its service life?
RICHARD: Senator, I think that is a great example of some of the difficult decisions that we're going to have to make and trading or balancing near term risks for long term risks. And so overall the Air Force is way ahead on the bomber program, Bomber Roadmap, I think it's referred to. I endorse, I think that it is a very thoughtful approach. And the loss of the Defensive Management System we will accommodate that risk for the greater gain the Air Force is going to provide overall.
HAWLEY: That sounds like a yes to me. Do you think that there is a risk that it will, there will be some detriment to its ability to operate in high end capacity.
RICHARD: There is. But I can manage it.
HAWLEY: What else do we need to ensure that the B2 maintains its ability to operate in those environments if this decision goes forward?
RICHARD: That is part of the planning that I have to do. So we will use operational mechanisms compensate for technological abilities of the aircraft. I retain full confidence that the B2 can do the missions that I'll ask it to do.
HAWLEY: Great, well I'll be following up with you on that. General, let me turn to you for a second. Russian bombers make regular visits to our coastlines we know. What role would you say that the F-15EX could play in protecting our homeland against these and other threats in the decades that are coming?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: One of the things that we do see is it's not only the increasing frequency but also the complexity of how they're maneuvering and the missions that they're flying. Some of it has to do with where we would need to go to intercept them based on the length of their missiles that they carry. The range that the missiles now have for example the ES23 (ph) is an example of a long range missile. But that means we want to intercept them further out. Right, we want to go further so we can not only get the missile we want to hit the bombers, right? So they never actually get the launch down.
And the F-15EX brings us that. It brings us that extended range that we can get with the F-15EX As well as a much significant improvement in the number of missiles it can carry. So we see this (ph) from a homeland defense aspect we see that new platform as being well suited for the homeland defense role in both our counter cruise missile defense, our counter airborne threats such as the Russian bombers.
HAWLEY: Great, that's great to hear. Admiral, let me come back to you, let's talk a little bit about nuclear policy. Are you confident that Beijing would stick to it's no first use, it's announced no first use policy if there were a conflict with the United States?
RICHARD: Senator, I think I could drive a truck through that no first use policy.
HAWLEY: And, why do you say that? I mean, why is that the case?
RICHARD: In other words, and I'm not trying to be flippant on a very serious matter, right? The number of situations where they may conclude that first use has occurred, right? That don't (ph) mean our definition of first use, and really I should back up. They are very opaque about what their intentions are, they're very different from the Russians. We have very little to go on in terms of how they interpret that relevant to what we see from the other competitor.
So, what constitutes first use? Where might they say (ph) -- we're not a -- that's our territory, right? Therefore it doesn't count as an attack against you. And more broadly, right, I mean the Soviet Union had a no first use policy I don't think we took great comfort in that either. And so these, the declaratory policy things that -- not helpful in my mission area to deter (ph).
HAWLEY: That's very helpful, and I think it's a great point for those who had advocated no first use policy on our end, as to why that that would be, I think, a very serious strategic mistake.
Let me give you, Admiral, still on the same subject an opportunity to clarify something a senior U.S. official recently was reported as saying and I'm quoting now, "the sole reason the United States has nuclear weapons is to prevent others from using nuclear weapons." That doesn't seem to be exactly what our declaratory policy is, can you clarify what our declaratory policy is?
RICHARD: So the nuclear posture review lays it out very clearly in terms of our strategic capabilities are designed to deter a strategic attack on the United States which can be nuclear, but I think it wisely acknowledged the fact that it now may be possible to have a strategic attack against our vital interest that is non-nuclear particularly in space and cyber.
HAWLEY: Right. So we will only consider the employment of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend our vital interests, or those of our allies or partners -- and those circumstances could include, as you just said significant non-nuclear strategic attacks, is that correct?
RICHARD: Yes, Senator.
HAWLEY: Am I getting that correct -- great. Admiral, I've got another question for you about the W76-2, I'll submit that for the record because I'm about out of time.
RICHARD: Yes sir.
HAWLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
INHOFE: (OFF MIKE)
SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you both for your service, in particular Admiral Richard as a -- one Alabama native to another could I thank you for your service, Alabama is very proud of you and so is the University of Alabama -- roll tide, I just thought I'd throw that in real quickly. I know you appreciate that.
The other thing that folks in Alabama are particularly proud of these days is our 117th Air Refueling Wing, which as you know, won the prestigious STRATCOM Omaha Trophy this past year and I want to take the opportunity to congratulate Colonel Scott Grant, the commander there. Just done an amazing job, Command Chief Master Sergeant Davis and the other airmen.
I think sometimes our National Guard unit's going to get overlooked in the scheme of things, and I so much appreciate them. Winning that award is the first time a (ph) guard unit has won that. Can you talk a little bit about the critical role that the unit plays in the strategic deterrence mission that we have?
RICHARD: Senator, I would just highlight that's a very competitive award, speaks highly of that wing's ability to compete in that broad a competition. Air refueling is vital, right? I'm not an airmen but no gas, no bumps (ph). And so it is critical to my mission set, for the bomber leg to have adequate tanking capacity.
General O'Shaughnessy will tell you here in a second, it is equally critical in his areas for homeland air defense, and it's something we pay very close attention to in terms of having capability in the right priority to meet those missions.
JONES: Great, well thank you. This past Monday the president's budget request and the briefings that we've got indicated that the Air Force intends to divest several aging air craft, namely the 17 B-1 bomber, 16 KC-10 tankers, 13 KC-135 tankers -- and to replace the tankers, the budget asks for 15 KC-146s but those are not going to be fully operational for another three years.
So with the delay in the operational capability status of the KC-46s does this in any way -- does this divestiture of these legacy tankers pose any kind of threat to the reliable in-air refueling capability of the joint force and I'll ask either or both of you that question.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: I'll start Senator, and say in this year's budget I think our United States Air Force made some difficult decisions in how do we get to the future faster? This isn't just one of those decisions, we were trying to get -- divest yourselves of legacy platforms whilst moving to the future, in this case the KC-46.
And so, whilst yes there will be an impact in the short-term to the availability of tankers, we will be able to mitigate our way through that, we still are working closely, in fact I talked to the TRANSCOM commander just yesterday about this. I believe we'll be able to mitigate that going forward but it is crucial that we are able to get to the KC-46 and multiple other modern platforms that the Air Force is trying to get to.
JONES: Great, well thank you. Thank you both for being here. Mr. Chairman, in the interest of time I will yield back. Thank you.
INHOFE: Appreciate it. We'll (ph) now recognize Senator Sullivan, at the conclusion of his remarks we'll be adjourned, Senator Sullivan, when you're ready (ph).
SEN. DAN SULLIVAN (R-AK): Thanks -- thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you gentlemen for your service. General O'Shaughnessy, I particularly appreciate your testimonies, probably the most comprehensive, insightful description of our strategic interests in the Arctic that I've seen and your testimonies say the Arctic is a new frontline of homeland defense -- it sounds like you're saying that the Arctic and Alaska are no longer a sanctuary from which we can safely project power, but it's more of a battle space area, is that correct and what are the implications from your mindset as a NORTHCOM commander?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: That's exactly correct, Senator, and as always I find myself well aligned with you (ph), relative to the importance of the Arctics (ph) not only from the strategic location that it is but now to your point it is clearly an avenue of approach to our great nation and as we look at what needs...
SULLIVAN: That impacts all nations.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: It impacts the whole nation, absolutely. And so as we look at now Alaska, where for -- I'll just use the Russian long range aviation, we look at whether it be hypersonics or whether it be the cruise missiles that can be launched from that long range aviation, we clearly see that avenue of approach as being critical so we have to one, have awareness of what's going on in that space, and then we have to be able to defend in that space.
And the time that will be required to respond is short because of the pure geography, and so I think what we really need to think about in Alaska is how do we invest to have that awareness, that domain awareness -- having the right sensors and ability to understand what's happening, but also the ability to defend immediately.
And what are the systems that we could invest in that would allow us to have that persistent defense in Alaska, because it is key terrain that will be important to us as a nation in any conflict whether that be with Russia or China going forward.
SULLIVAN: Thank you. Let me go in to a little bit more detail, you know, it seems from -- whether it's Secretary Pompeo's speech in Finland at the Arctic Counsel, major publications like "New York Times," "60 Minutes," you know, there's a lot of discussion about the great power competition in the Arctic, I appreciate Senator King highlighting that in his questions for you.
You know, unfortunately this Committee has observed that the Pentagon is the organization that sometimes seems the furthest behind, with the exception of certainly your great advocacy General O'Shaughnessy. In your personal opinion, and the advocate for the capabilities in the region, what specific capabilities are you advocating for to ensure that we can both protect the homeland in these avenues of approach that you talked about, but also to continue to project power from Alaska to not just PACOM, but EUCOM, StratCom, and if you can talk on JPARC and even OCONUS KC-46 deployments, that would be hopeful as well, in terms of capability.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Thank you, senator. First, I'd say we have to complete the next generation Interceptor. We have literally holes in the -- in the ground right now that we need to fill with capabilities, so we need to bring that left and we need to bring that as fast as possible. We need to augment that with additional ballistic missile capability that we could put in Alaska, whether that be SM-32As (ph) ways, whether that be the potentially THAD deployments there. We need to bring that into Alaska and we need a sensing capability that will be persistent, that will steady-state that will always be there. That we have the technology today, we just have to deploy it to Alaska.
Second thing I think we need, and I would applaud the Air Force for moving the additional 5th gen aircraft, the F-35s to (inaudible) is -- is now truly the 5th gen center of excellence, and therefore you need a place to train. And so I think continued investment in the JPARC range is critically important, not only for 5th gen, but for the Arctic and Arctic edge(ph), upcoming exercise we have a great participation, for example from the Marines, I think is critically important, because the joint force needs to train in Arctic conditions. I make the -- the observation that we can deploy a force anywhere all over the world, and we can train that force very quickly and have them out the door in a matter of days. You cannot do that to the Arctic.
If you are not training, if you don't have the right equipment and if you are not versed in the operating in the Arctic, you will not effectively be able to operate there, and our adversaries are operating there and therefore we need to be able to there as well. To your point, it is now battle space and so we need to be able to operate in Alaska in the Arctic in cooperation with Canada from the NORAD side. And so I think continued investment. The tankers are important because it's a strategic place where you can actually get to the European theater quicker than you can even get to the South China Sea from Mainland -- from Alaska. And therefore I think having that as a center where we have robust anchors is important. As well as the entire joint force, I think just continuing to be able to operate.
SULLIVAN: The secretary of Defense said that you collocated the over 100 5th gen fighters that we're going to have in Alaska with the OCONUS deployment of KC-46s (ph), it would show that our adversaries -- that we would have extreme strategic reach, whether in PACOM or EUCOM. Do you agree with that?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: I do believe there's a powerful synergy of bringing together the 5th generation with additional and modern-day tanker capabilities.
SULLIVAN: Let me ask one final question for both you -- actually just two real quick ones. In our office call, you talked about your number one unfunded priority for some type of space-based communications for the Arctic. Can you just briefly touch on that?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Thank you Senator for allowing us to highlight that. One of my main concerns in the Arctic is communication. Basic communication that we normally use satellites for becomes challenged above about 65, even harder above 70. One of the things we find is the commercial technologies there, and so we've been working with commercial companies over the proliferation of LEO (ph), and finding ways that we might be able to bring that ability to have essentially broadband conductivity anywhere, for example within Alaska, and that is a huge implication for us to be able to operate, if we can connect the force in areas that today we can't connect the force, even through our commercial partners. And so whether it's One Web (ph), whether it's Starlink, we think, for example, in some our partnership with Starlink over the last several experiments that we've done, for example, (inaudible), where we are able to show our ability to connect that force with her satellites are -- this is not hypothetical this is satellites that are in orbit today.
SULLIVAN: So -- but it's your -- it's your it is your number one unfunded priority, because that is not just protecting the comms in the Arctic, that protects the whole homeland in terms of the avenue approach concern that you talked about.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: That's exactly right, senator. It is my number one priority to have Arctic comms and I think the proliferation of LEO (ph) and a Starlink or a One Web (ph) type solution is the way to get it fastest.
SULLIVAN: Final question for both you gentlemen, and it's just a quick answer on this. But I have been frustrated with Undersecretary Griffin, you know, I think we're seeing really smart guys in the Pentagon making dumb decisions. Let me give you one; it was already briefly touched on. This committee has worked really hard in a bipartisan way with the administration fully supporting it to build up our missile defense. There's now been a decision recently despite the fact that we just built 20 new silos at Fort Greeley, to make those empty for the next 10 years. I can't think of something that is unequivocally more -- that's just going to harm our readiness in terms of missile defense. I mean, there's no dispute about that, 20 empty silos for 20 years. How do we fix that, gap-fill that, and correct what to me seems like a -- just a -- kind of a boneheaded decision at the upper levels of the Pentagon?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Senator, first I will say that the unfortunate decision to cancel the RKV (ph) was the right decision is made at that time.
SULLIVAN: But do you agree to have 20 empty silos?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: No sir, where I -- where I am very dissatisfied with that is it going to take us 10 years to -- to actually produce the -- the next gen Interceptor. And so we've been working very closely with MDA and Dr. Griffin personally, met with him on Monday, I'm pleased to announce that we are -- we are going to bring us left. The way we'll have to do that, is we'll have to find some trade space, but we have to put time as an important part -- because our adversaries are not waiting.
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Our adversaries are building (ph) capability and capacity, and so we have to be able to respond. So we're going to insert time into this so that we're going to have trade space develop so we can bring up -- we can bring missiles to put in, interceptors to put into those holes sooner.
SULLIVAN: Thank you. Admiral, any views on that?
RICHARD: I would just say the General O'Shaughnessy described that very well. We both have our role in setting the requirements for missile defense. Those requirements are valid, General O'Shaughnessy just laid out how we're going to meet those.
SULLIVAN: Well, I believe this committee will be supportive of any role that we can play and support to help fill that gap, which I think is important for the nation's missile defense overall. Thank you very much gentlemen. We all appreciate your testimony. This hearing is now adjourned.