Sen. Jack REED (D-RI) Chair for SASC: Good morning.
Today, the committee will receive testimony from Adm. Charles Richard, Commander at U.S. Strategic Command, or STRATCOM, and from Gen. James Dickinson, Commander, U.S. Space Command, or SPACECOM. I want to thank Adm. Richard and Gen. Dickinson for their service to our nation. I would also like to extend my thanks to the men and women serving under your commands, and their families.
Maintaining our nuclear deterrent and preserving our ability to operate in space are fundamental to today's great power competition with Russia and China. There is a reason we have asked the commanders of STRATCOM and SPACECOM to testify together today.
Until 2019, Space Command was part of Strategic Command. As Space Command stands up as an independent command, I would like to understand what gaps or seams remain exposed as this transition moves forward and ensure these gaps are being addressed.
In particular, Gen. Dickinson, I would like to make sure that SPACECOM is fulfilling the space and ground functions you inherited from STRATCOM with respect to missile warning and nuclear command, control and communications. Ensuring we can accurately warn both Strategic and Northern commands and our senior leadership of a missile attack on the homeland is of the utmost priority.
Gen. Dickinson, I understand that you're also responsible for integrating and tasking both ground and space sensors for better space situational awareness. In essence, your command has become the DOD sensor command. I hope you will share your vision to integrate this myriad number of sensors, which range from radars on the ground and at sea to sensors aboard satellites.
Finally, Gen. Dickinson, I would like to know how your command is standing up and how you are finding and retaining personnel with the specialized skill sets associated with the SPACECOM operations.
Adm. Richard, your command is undergoing an intense period of modernization that began with the ratification of the New START Treaty. This will be the third modernization cycle since 1960, as part of each leg of our triad ages out. I look forward to your views on modernizing the entire triad and implications of altering that plan, especially with respect to our near peer competitors.
In addition, I would like to know your views on the efforts by the National Nuclear Security Administration to recapitalize their infrastructure to handle uranium and plutonium. Some of these facilities date to the Manhattan Project and are single points of failure in supporting your mission. It is essential that we understand from you the impacts, if any, on your operations.
Finally, Adm. Richard, we have been informed that STRATCOM will require a new submarine warhead in the 2030s to replace one of the two you have now. The replacement warhead is a joint program with the United Kingdom, as their single warhead begins to age out and it is important to our NATO Article 5 commitments. I hope you will explain this system to the committee.
Thank you again for appearing today and we all look forward to your testimony.
REED: Before I turn it over to Ranking Member Inhofe, I would like to note for my colleagues that there will be a classified briefing immediately following this session in SVC-217 to continue our discussion.
Senator Inhofe, please.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also want to welcome our witnesses and thank them for their service.
Over the past few years this committee's top priority has been ensuring the implement – to implement the National Defense Strategy, which identifies competition with China and Russia as the central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security. I agree with that more so today than in 2018 when it was established.
If we are serious about the security of our nation, we've got to maintain the capabilities required to deter China and Russia. And we need to be realistic about the level of resources needed to make that happen, because we have not been in the past. Two critical pieces of those objectives are modernizing or aging nuclear deterrent and improving our space capability in an evolving contested domain.
Adm. Richard, as commander of the U.S. Strategic Command your primary job is to ensure that our nuclear forces continue to deter the most severe threats to the survivability of our nation and the security of our allies.
The – Adm. Davidson told us some pretty worrying things about Chinese nuclear expanses just last month. You've been a big supporter of nuclear modernization, and rightly so. We've delayed critical investments in DOD and NNSA for too long, and now we're almost out of time.
Gen. Dickinson, as the SPACECOM commander you are responsible for the planning and execution of the global space operations and missions. In most DOD wargames, the first acts of aggression from our adversaries occur in the space domain and directly impact outcomes. This makes improving our capability to fight and to win in space critical to deterring China and Russia.
Both of you are responsible for missions with zero margin for failure. But I am concerned that the administration's defense budget cuts may undermine your ability to develop those capabilities.
It'll be important for us to hear your best military advice as to what resources you need to accomplish this mission. And I look forward to your testimony.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Inhofe.
RICHARD: Chairman Reed, Ranking Member Inhofe, distinguished committee members, good morning. I'm pleased to testify with Gen. Dickinson today and appreciate the collaborative efforts our commands undertake in the defense of the nation.
I thank the president, Secretary of Defense Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Milley for their leadership and support to the mission of strategic deterrence. I assure you the command is committed to work the priorities set forth by the secretary to defend the nation, take care of our people and succeed through teamwork. We succeed each and every day through the teamwork of 150,000 men and women performing STRATCOM's mission, and I remind the command it is our diversity, resilience and professionalism that sets us apart and makes us even stronger. It is truly a privilege to represent them here today.
I also thank the committee for its enduring support to our national defense and active engagement and interest in the command's missions.
Strategic deterrence enables every U.S. military operation around the world. Every operational plan in the department, and every other capability we possess rests on an assumption that strategic deterrence, and in particular nuclear deterrence, is holding. If that fails, nothing else in the Department of Defense works as planned. STRATCOM sets the most foundational of operating conditions to allow the rest of the joint force to accomplish its mission.
And as a nation I’d assert until recently, we have not fully considered the implications of engaging in competition through crisis or possible direct armed conflict with a nuclear-capable adversary in nearly three decades. For the first time in our history the nation is facing two nuclear-capable strategic peer adversaries at the same time, both of whom have to be deterred differently.
Chinese and Russians advances are eroding our conventional and strategic deterrence. China, in particular, I submit cannot be considered anymore a lesser included case in this context. The remarkable expansion of nuclear and strategic capabilities is evidence of their drive to be a strategic peer by the end of the decade.
I would describe this as the strategic compliment to the conventional capabilities growth that's been reported by INDOPACOM. To me, they are at some kind of an inflection point and are rapidly expanding their strategic capabilities. This happened within the last year.
They are well ahead of the pace to double their stockpile by the end of the decade. And I further submit that the size of a nation's weapon stockpile by itself is a very crude measure of what they can do with that capability. To fully assess the China threat it is necessary to consider the capability, range, accuracy of delivery systems, command and control, readiness, posture, doctrine and training.
In the very near term China will possess a credible nuclear triad.
Rapidly expanding road-mobile capability. And these are intercontinental ballistic missiles on trucks that they drive around. It's a big country; they can be hard to find.
They're moving to solid fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles, silo-based. Very responsive compared to a liquid fuel one.
They're deploying a strategic bomber, and they possess now six second-generation Jin-class ballistic missile submarines and they're capable of continuous at-sea deterrent patrol.
Developing a dedicated nuclear command and control capability that includes launch under warning and launch under attack.
By these measures, China is capable of executing any plausible nuclear employment strategy regionally now and will soon be able to do so at intercontinental ranges.
I offer for China it's important to look at what they do, not what they say, and where they're going, not where they are. And I have no choice but to view China as a significant strategic threat and share Secretary Austin's assessment, China's the pacing threat for the nation and DOD at large.
RICHARD: Russia, however, remains the pacing nuclear strategic threat, aggressively engaged conventional and nuclear capability, development, modernization, and are now roughly 80 percent complete, while we are at zero. It is easier to describe what they're not modernizing – nothing – what – than what they are, which is pretty much everything, including several never-before-seen capabilities and several thousand non-treaty-accountable weapon systems. They have a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile that has the avant-garde hypersonic glide vehicle, Poseidon nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed underwater vehicle and the Skyfall nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed cruise missiles, examples of asymmetric strategic weapons capabilities designed to deter us and our allies, offset perceived conventional inferiority in an effort to terminate events on Russian terms.
So given all that, we can no longer assume the risk of a strategic deterrence failure in crisis or conflict is always low. The days of power projection in a permissive operational environment without regard to a possible nuclear response are over. This is why, as Secretary Austin justified during his confirmation, nuclear deterrence is our highest priority. Given that threat, the nation requires a fully modernized strategic force and supporting infrastructure. Every presidential administration over the past 60 years has reaffirmed a safe, secure, effective nuclear force most credible combinations of capabilities to deter strategic attack, assure our allies. Each element has unique capabilities, but it's the combined elements of the triad that allow us to execute our assigned national strategy.
We're at a point where end-of-life limitations and cumulative effects of underinvestment in our nuclear deterrent and supporting infrastructure against the expanding threat leave me no operational margin. The nation simply cannot attempt to indefinitely life-extend leftover Cold War weapon systems and successfully carry out the assigned strategy. They're at risk of losing credibility in the eyes of our adversaries, and if they continue to work at all, they will likely not be able to pace the threat that they're intended to deter.
I'll just end with, in particular, it's the nuclear weapons stockpile and supporting infrastructure I think is hitting the wall first. Without the recapitalization of the existing weapons we risk obsolescence and irrelevance, and we could reach a point where no amount of money will adequately mitigate the operational risk we'll be facing.
Final point: The nation has a long-standing, flexible-tailored strategy with a well-thought-out family of policies, capabilities and postures. I welcome and call for a strategic review, but I advise against any individual policy or capability decision made absent a complete understanding of the overall effects on that strategy, as it could risk a deterrence failure, which is the underpinning of everything we do.
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you again for the opportunity to be here today, and I look forward to your questions.
REED: Thank you, Adm. Richard.
Gen. Dickinson, please.
DICKINSON: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you, Chairman Reed, Ranking Member Inhofe and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee for the chance to speak with you today.
In describing the accomplishments of the nation's newest combatant command, I am pleased today to represent the nearly 18,000 military, civilian and contractor personnel supporting the United States Space Command's mission. In the United States Space Command, our powers absolutely are people.
DICKINSON: Having just finished the command's celebration of the Women's History Month, we proudly recognize our many female warfighters, one of whom – one of whom came from us from the 16th Space Control Squadron where she performed remarkably in our space superiority mission set. Another, an aviator, now part of the Navy's new Space cadre, built U.S. Space Command's analytic foundation for the development of our space architecture enterprise. A third – and a third established the Joint Fires element for our Joint Task Force Space Defense to integrate and synchronize space efforts for combatant commanders. And there are countless others that I can go on and on and on about this morning, but I will not because of time.
Our diverse force will continue balancing combat readiness and preparing for the future. We will provide our people a working environment and culture that allows them to thrive while reaching their full potential.
Our ideals reflect those of our oath to the Constitution of the United States. And we remain committed to providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.
Today, I will offer you some insights into our plans for the future, which are aligned with the president's new international strategic guidance. When I took command of U.S. Space Command last August, we were still filling out the structures of our new warfighting combatant command for space.
As I outlined in my written statement, we've made tremendous progress since then to include further development of our two functional component commands and establishment of all of our service component commands, significantly advancing warfighting capability in the space domain, all while continuing to support the joint force with exquisite space capabilities.
While largely focused from the geosynchronous belt to the last tactical mile on Earth, we are expanding our focus to keep pace with our nations' push into the Cislunar region and to the moon and Mars and beyond.
China's space enterprise continues to mature rapidly, presenting a pacing challenge for us. They invest heavily in space, with more than 400 satellites on orbit today.
China is building military space capabilities rapidly, including sensing and communication systems and numerous anti-satellite weapons. All the while, China continues to maintain their public stance against the weaponization of space.
Similarly concerning, Russia's published military doctrine calls for the employment of weapons to hold U.S. and allied space assets at risk. For example, similar to the Russian space-based weapons test in 2017, Russia recently conducted another test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon.
Additionally, the December 2020 test of a direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon demonstrates that even as Russia aims to restrict the capabilities of the United States, they clearly have no intention of halting their own ground-based or on-orbit counter-space weapons systems. Russia currently has close to 200 satellites on orbit and could double that by 2030.
In addition, to this activity on the part of our competitors, we are observing exponential growth in the commercialization of space. We currently track a challenging 32,000 objects in space; nearly 7,000 of those are objects are active or retired satellite payloads.
Among the roughly 3,500 active satellites, the three largest single constellations belong to the commercial companies, SpaceX's constellation for broadband Internet capabilities, Planet Labs' Earth-imaging constellation, and Spire Globe's (sic) space-to-cloud data and analytics constellation.
Overlaying this new global security landscape on the already complex operating environment of space demands a new level of awareness on our part. Given that the president's Interim National Security Strategic Guidance calls for, and I quote, ensuring the safety, stability, and security of outer space capabilities, USSPACECOM is focused on my number one priority of enhancing existing and developing new space awareness capabilities.
Space domain awareness gives us the insight into activity throughout the space domain, including potential adversary activities but perhaps more importantly insight into the intent of those potential adversaries, too.
DICKINSON: Space domain awareness provides decision-quality information to combatant commanders and the national command authorities to ensure we can provide viable military options with the appropriate decision space throughout the spectrum of operations from deterrence to warfighting.
In order to most effectively accomplish our assigned missions, U.S. Space Command has assessed our current capabilities and developed the requirements necessary to expand that capability where needed to meet our mission imperatives. We have passed those requirements along to the services and to the Department of Defense in general.
Our intent is to build the appropriate space operational architecture designed to achieve full operational capability, backed by a team of warfighters who can outthink and outmaneuver our adversaries.
While engaging daily in a competitive environment, our primary goal remains to deter a conflict – to deter a conflict that begins in or extends into space. So with the help of this committee and all of Congress, we will achieve that ultimate objective and ensure that the United States and our allies will never have a day without space.
Thank you very much this morning. And I look forward to your questions.
REED: Thank you very much, Gen. Dickinson.
Before we begin, let me remind my colleagues that since this is a hybrid hearing we will not use the early bird rule. Instead we'll ask questions in order of seniority. They are five minutes rounds. Please stick as closely as you can to the five minutes. You'll see the timer before you. And I would ask all colleagues to mute their microphones when they're not speaking. Thank you.
Gen. Dickinson, let me begin with what I think is a fundamental question. As I suggested in my opening remarks, you could also be called sensor command as well as Space Command, because your responsibilities extend not only in a space-based sensors but also too many ground-based sensors and to integrate them into a system – a coherent system.
And so bottom-line question: what are you doing to ensure that missile warning infrastructure of radars and satellites are capable of determining whether there is a ballistic or hypersonic missile attack on the United States?
DICKINSON: Senator, thank you for that question. So what we are doing at U.S. Space Command over the past 20 months or so since we've stood up was looking at all the sensor – the entire sensor architecture worldwide and – in an attempt or – in terms of understanding what sensors we have doing what specific missions.
And what we've done over the past year or so has been – has taken – we've taken the opportunity to take terrestrial-based sensors that traditionally do missile defense type of activities from the different services, the Army and the Navy, and we've looked at them from the perspective of how can they can contribute to our ability to understand what's going on in the space domain.
And while this is just the beginning of it in terms of making those sensors interoperable in our architecture, we are driving towards the future where we'll actually have those integrated.
So in other words, senator, we're taking current capabilities that used to traditionally be missile defense and seeing if they have capabilities to help us in the space domain in terms of doing our space domain awareness type missions.
And as we look to further refine our requirements, adding requirements to those capabilities through the department to enhance their ability to do (ph) space domain awareness.
So we've had good success over the last 19 months in doing that. And we've demonstrated it a couple of times with regards to some of the actions that our competitors are – have been doing on orbit with a relative degree of success, but – so we've taken the first step.
The steps after that will be further integration of those capabilities, and again working with each of the combatant commands in terms of prioritization of those sensors to be able to do both space domain awareness as well as missile defense and missile warning.
REED: Thank you, General
Adm. Richard, why do we need to build a ground-based strategic deterrent rather than simply extend the life of the Minuteman-III ICBM?
RICHARD: So senator, it – the answer to that fundamentally starts with the idea that nothing lasts forever. You cannot indefinitely life extend anything and I cannot deter with the leftovers of the Cold War forever into the future. That's the fundamental reason here.
I am different from the other combatant commands in that I don't come up with my own objectives, they are directed by the president and it's interpreted by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman. So I have a stack of things I've been ordered to do.
I need a certain amount of capability to go do that, and I need weapon systems that will actually work and actually make it to the target. So there's any number of reasons.
The ultimate authority on whether or not Minuteman-III can be extended is the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief Staff of the Air Force as judged by the Secretary of Defense. So I'm not the ultimate authority on that.
I think we have repeatedly reported to Congress why it's not cost-effective to do that. And from my viewpoint, I'm not sure how they're going to be able to do it at all. It is in the details, what they are doing to keep that weapons system functioning. Remember, that is a '70 era's weapon system that I'm going to have to employ against 2030-level threats.
We are down two of a particular type of switch that is required to go in the launch control centers. Nobody knows how to make it anymore. It's obsolete. It's not worth a company to put their effort into that. They have repeatedly been pulling rabbits out of the hat to work through those types of issues.
A simple one, senator, is if you try to life extend a weapons system that was built before the invention of the Internet and then turn around and ask me why it's not cyber-secure I don't know how to retrofit a full cyber stack of capabilities forever into the future on a system that wasn't even designed when we had the Internet. So fundamentally, nothing lasts forever and we eventually have to get new stuff, sir. Over.
REED: Thank you, admiral. Just one final question in my remaining time, would a more robust arms control effort by the United States and obviously other countries – particularly (ph) the United States – compliment your mission to deter an atomic attack or a nuclear outbreak?
RICHARD: Absolutely, senator. I have said I'll support any arms control agreement. Less formally, I'll take all I can get, right. If we actually have arms control, and we're confident in it and it's verifiable, it reduces the threat and simply makes my job easier.
REED: Thank you very much.
Senator Inhofe, please.
INHOFE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I – in my office we talked about this, Adm. Richard, and I think you covered it so well in your opening statement. I keep thinking that I'm not sure what you might have left out. But you've done a great job.
We know what Russia's doing – we know what they've been doing. We know what China has been doing. North Korea now is presenting a growing risk to the United States and – and our allies. And yet, our nuclear forces are decades past their designed lives and will need to be retired soon.
So I just think it's important that when we are seeing our primary adversaries, as – as outlined in our NDAAs, that we're not doing what we should be doing. We are actually behind our primary adversaries.
And so, I'd like to have you restate – Russia, we know what they're doing. They've already modernized over 80 percent of its force. And China's nuclear programs are accelerating.
INHOFE: So I'd like to know how important is it that we complete the U.S. Nuclear Modernization Program as quickly as possible. You've outlined that we're not – and we – and where we are relative to our adversaries. But tell me how important it is that we do it now.
RICHARD: (OFF-MIKE) Senator, I – I will start with...
INHOFE: Mic – you need your mic.
RICHARD: I'll start with – I want to expand on one point. I said in my opening statement that China could no longer be a lesser-included case. And what that means is, they're at the point that what it's going to take to deter them is going to be additive to what we have to do with Russia.
I don't have the luxury of deterring one country at a time. I am expected to deter all countries all of the time.
And then on top of that, I don't have any remaining operational margin – right, there – we have exhausted the operational margin to allow us to delay this recapitalization as far as we win.
I think it's important to remember that a lot of the quantities that we're talking about in these requirements were set many years ago when the threat level was actually much more benign than what we have seen now.
And we have simply no – you're counting now on more and more things having to go right. And we're counting on more and more that we precisely understand the threat we're at. And that is a standard we have never allowed in our history to happen inside the strategic deterrent force.
And then the final point is we've never had to deter two opponents at the same time that are different. Most of our theory doesn't even account for that. We're working very hard on that, but that's why we have to have these capabilities in order to execute the direction the president gave me.
INHOFE: That – that's good. And I – I know there are a lot of people that are leaning on our president, a lot of anti-nuke people that are wanting to minimize the concern that we have and that we're expressing today.
One of the things is the no-first-use policy. Now, that's one that I can't remember one Secretary of Defense who shares – who doesn't share your view on the no-first policy. I mean, it's there; it's real. And so, what I think even Secretary Gates was quite outspoken in that area.
Can you think of anyone that doesn't have that policy?
One quick word then on no first use, since that's going to come up. That's going to be very prominently portrayed and discussed. And what's your feeling on that?
RICHARD: Well, senator, what I would offer on this is – and I've testified to this effect before. Look, a nation can have any policy it wants, right?
RICHARD: A nation can have any...
INHOFE: You did testify. You said, my best military advice would be to not adopt a no-first-use policy.
You're strong on that.
RICHARD: Right. And I still stand by that statement, and here's why: one, we've already run an excursion of what that would do to strategic deterrence. It would diminish it. You'll remove a level of ambiguity now that has a deterrent effect short of employment of nuclear weapons. We won't have that anymore.
That will be mitigated by the fact that nobody's going to believe it anyway, right. I won't be credible. We already have assurances that cover all but about 10 nations or so, half of which are our allies.
So you're only talking to folks who are probably not going to find it credible. It will have no more credibility than our current missile defense policies do.
The catch is that some of the allies will believe it. So it will have a corrosive effect on our assurance and extended deterrence commitments.
I think the Commander of EUCOM Gen. Wolters mentioned you'll get a mixed response. I think he's correct. But I don't see the upside to it is my point, and so I continue to recommend we not adopt that.
INHOFE: Yes, well, unfortunately I – my time is expired.
But let me just ask you, Gen. Dickinson, all these documents that we have here that directly address your – your area, do you think that those – that the 2018, that was back in 2018, that the NDS still accurately assesses the strategic environment as it pertains to space domain?
DICKINSON: Senator, I do. I do in fact believe it does because space is a war fighting domain. We have seen the activities by our competitors both Russia and China as they have expanding their capabilities in particular China in the space domain. We see their capabilities from direct ascent ASAT, anti-satellite capabilities to on orbit activities they they've done with that capability. And we've seen the increase or proliferation of their directed energy efforts in terms of electronic warfare and jamming – in terms of jamming as well as laser technology.
So I believe it is absolutely a war fighting domain that we need to continue to work very closely with.
INHOFE: Thanks, so much.
REED: Thank you, Senator Inhofe. Senator Shaheen, please.
SHAHEEN: Thank you and Adm. Richard and Gen. Dickinson, thank you for being here this morning and for your service.
Gen. Dickinson, I want to begin with you. The Air Force is currently responsible for space traffic management for both military and civilian satellites. And as we look at the proliferation of commercial satellites that's become more and more challenging with situational awareness. But over the next few years the Department of Commerce is going to assume responsibility for managing the civilian component.
Senator Moran and I, as the Ranking Member and Chair of the Commerce Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee have asked for additional information about the funding and personnel requirements that that kind of transfer would require. We have not yet received a definite answer from the Air Force about how much it spends on the functions that will be transferred to the Commerce Department.
The (ph) fiscal year 2021 Omnibus provides $10 million for the Commerce Department to begin to assume those responsibilities. Can you talk about this compares to what the Air Force is currently spending?
DICKINSON: Senator, thank you. The space traffic management, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, we on a daily basis we're tracking close to 32,000 pieces of debris, objects, satellites whether they're active or old dead satellites and that is quite a – that's a big mission area within U.S. Space Command.
Today that – the resources that I use on that provide a – what I would term a very administrative type of function in terms of identifying objects in space so that we're able to provide a secure and safe space environment for activities on orbit in particular the International Space Station, for example, in low Earth orbit.
SHAHEEN: I'm sorry to interrupt, but I understand that. I think that's a very important function, that's why we're trying to get some information about how much you're actually spending so we can figure out as we look at the budget for the Commerce Department. And I would say that I had a certain amount of skepticism about whether this should be moved to the Department of Commerce and there was a study done that came to the conclusion that maybe it does make sense to move that function there.
So do you know or can you provide this committee in the future with the amount of money that you're currently spending on that function?
DICKINSON: I certainly can. I can take that back and get you an answer from the Air Force on how they spend.
SHAHEEN: Thanks, very much. You also talked in your opening comments about the importance – you said power is our people and I certainly agree with that. But as we look at the proposed relocation of space command headquarters from Colorado to the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, I have some concerns based on our past experience with a similar transfer of operations from the National Capital Region to Huntsville, Alabama of the Missile Defense Agency.
In that move the agency lost 80 percent of its civilian workforce because employees refused to move. Do you have any estimate as to how much it's going to cost to move to Redstone from the current location? And how many employees you might lose in that process?
DICKINSON: Senator, so I don't have exact numbers on how – estimates on the cost for the move to Huntsville, that's actually being determined now by the Department of the Air Force as the basing decision authority. And for – with regards to the civilian workforce I would categorize that as – I don't have a good feel for that right now because it will depend. I think the military, we can all agree, we're somewhat nomadic and we move where the military tells us to.
When dealing with civilians and I've done that in two previous jobs at the Missile Defense Agency, actually, and my last job as Space and Missile Defense Command. It's a little bit different when you're talking about civilians. They've made life choices and where they're currently living. And so we will do everything we can to incentivize them to make the move. But I can't give you a percentage on how many that will be.
SHAHEEN: Well, Mr. Chairman, I would hope that we would get some more information before this proposal becomes final about how employees we might lose and about what the difference in cost is. Which I think is significant.
Adm. Richard, I was very pleased to see the new Biden administration agree to extend the New START Treaty for five more years. Can you talk about STRATCOM uses the information from New START channels? The inspections and data exchanges and how they are important to you?
RICHARD: (OFF-MIKE) Senator, we were also pleased to see the New START Treaty get extended and it is for that...
SHAHEEN: I can't hear.
REED: Your microphone, Admiral.
RICHARD: Sorry, you'd think I'd done this before. We were also pleased to see the New START Treaty be extended, right. And so you are pointing to one of its primary benefits in addition to the limits it's the transparency and the confidence now that we have in understanding what that piece of the threat looks like.
What I would further encourage is efforts to get a similar degree of control and accountability on the remainder of the Russian arsenal, all of which is something I have to deter.
SHAHEEN: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Shaheen. Senator Fischer, please.
FISCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen, for being here today. Adm. Richard, I'd like to thank you for your honesty and your bluntness of your opening statement in explaining the expanding nuclear programs of both China and Russia.
Last week the strategic forces subcommittee held a classified briefing on these threats and yet we continue to hear renewed calls for unilateral cuts to our nuclear forces, abandoning the triad and delaying or canceling modernization programs.
Sir, are you aware of any intelligence or threat assessments that would support these courses of action?
RICHARD: Senator, I am not. In fact the threat is only getting worse rapidly.
FISCHER: So it is your view that taking such actions would reduce our ability to deter the threats that we face?
RICHARD: (OFF-MIKE) Senator, yes.
RICHARD: Senator, yes. And it's not just the nuclear component. Part of what I'm trying to show is the relationship in all of our elements and national power and how nuclear underpins that.
FISCHER: What about the future? Because, as you know, the impact of cutting of modernization programs now it would be felt until the 2030s when our force begins to age out, as you spoke about, and replacements aren't ready. Do you see any reason to believe that the world is going to be a lot safer in 2030 and we won't need a viable deterrent then?
RICHARD: Senator, I see no indications of that. These – that will be an unprecedented threat that we face in 2030. Hopefully, perhaps we can change that trajectory. But I can't count on hope in terms of having the capabilities needed to do my mission.
FISCHER: Adm. Richard, what are your views on the current distribution of warheads across the three legs of our triad? Right now we see about 70 percent of our treaty-accountable warheads that are (ph) on our submarines. And if we significantly cut the ICBM leg as some advocates have urged, what number would go up further? And of course, our bombers are not on alert.
Do you think there are risks with leaning too heavily on one part of the triad?
RICHARD: Senator, the answer is yes and I'll give you just one example of that. What is not often recognized is we don't have a triad day-to-day. Right? The bombers are not available to us. We chose to take them off alert as a type of peace dividend after the Cold War. So day-to-day, all you have is basically a dyad.
Basic design criteria in the triad is that you cannot allow a failure of any one leg of the triad to prevent you from being able to do everything the president has ordered you to do that. If you don't have intercontinental ballistic missiles, we can't meet that criteria; you are completely dependent on the submarine leg.
And I've already told the Secretary of Defense that under those conditions I would request to re-alert the bombers.
FISCHER: And sir, you've also talked about counting the number of strategic nuclear warheads a nation has, that can be a crude way to measure their capability. Your posture statement mentions this as well.
Can you elaborate on why this is such an incomplete way to assess an adversary? And talk a little bit about the other elements that we need to also be considering.
RICHARD: Senator, fundamentally you don't deter by accounting. We don't hold up cards and say I have more, I win. It is important to know what they can do with that capability to understand operationally the threat that you face.
It is important to remember that both Russia and China have a unilateral ability to go to any level of violence that they choose to if they perceive that the stakes are high enough.
And there is a point beyond which unlimited conventional capability will not be a sufficient deterrent. And so, unless you have a strategic deterrent that will deter them from that, then everything else in the Department of Defense is simply going to get escalated past. And knowing what they're capable of doing is what causes you to come to that conclusion.
FISCHER: And our capability – our production capability is basically non-existent, isn't it? When...
RICHARD: Yes, ma'am. That's absolutely...
FISCHER: Especially when you compare it to China and Russia – can you speak to that?
RICHARD: Both China and Russia have significant capability in their nuclear weapons complexes – I can give you the numbers in a closed session – to produce more warheads.
We are just barely able, right now, to life extend our weapons. And we're just starting to get to the point – we use the two terms interchangeably – just to be able to re-manufacture the ones we have. We have no capability right now to actually make a new weapon.
FISCHER: OK, thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Fischer.
And let me recognize via WebEx Senator Gillibrand.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gen. Dickinson, I would like to turn to statements made by Secretary Blinken where he said that the United States will focus on, "Developing standards and norms of responsible behavior in outer space."
The DOD Defense Space Strategy also noted our need to promote favorable standards and norms of behavior in space. Can you please discuss SPACECOM's role in developing and practicing those norms and what you specifically believe those norms should be?
DICKINSON: Thank you for the question. So I – SPACECOM's role in that is, one is we are – our ability to understand what's going on in the space domain is fundamental to establishing and deciding what those norms of behavior are. I mentioned a little bit earlier the fact that our ability to increase our space domain awareness capabilities on orbit is very important to just what I described in terms of understanding what our competitors may be doing in the space domain.
I believe that on a military perspective that the norms of behavior and what we do in space is very important. That we have seen activity over the last 19, 20 months since this command has been established that has shown that we've had some behaviors in space that are inconsistent with providing a safe and secure environment for our military activities as well as our commercial. So in terms of norms of behavior and how we are working, we work very closely with the Department of Defense, in particular our OSD policy folks on determining our recommendations to that process.
Developing norms of behavior is a whole of government idea and approach if you will, that will dictate our approach on what those norms and behaviors should be. And in sum I would tell you that we have to have safe activities in orbit. We understand those buy (ph) space domain awareness along with what that means in terms of where folks put – where our adversaries, competitors put their space base capabilities and what they're doing.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you, in last week's Cyber Architecture Hearing, the sub-Committee discussed the interoperability between our cyber capacity and space operations. Given that your command and CYBERCOM are both operating in highly complex and ever evolving environments, how integrated would you say your efforts are with theirs? And how do you plan to maintain that high level of integration with CYBERCOM as the threat landscape continues to change?
DICKINSON: That is very important in terms of our integration of space in terms of cyber. We do that through several methods – several means, if you will. We've got a – Gen. Nakasone has provided to us, as he done to the Combatant Commands, a cyber-integrated plan in the element that is currently residing within my headquarters that provides us a very integrated approach to cyber and space operations.
In addition to that, we are standing up a joint cyber center within the command as we speak. And I also have, as a result of the command standing up, I've got five service components provided by each of the services to the Combatant Command. With two of those, my Navy element – my Navy component, as well as my Marine component, who are dual-hatted for me in space, as well as cyber.
So I have two service components where cyber is one of their core competencies along with space. And in addition to that, Gen. Nakasone has given me some support – or support from the 16th Air Force. So in other words, I've got three Gen. Officer Headquarters that provide cyber capabilities to me, I have an integrated plan to augment at my headquarters and I also have a joint cyber center. So I believe that we are very well integrated in terms of space and cyber type of operations.
And we're moving very quickly right now in terms of providing our requirements for activities in the cyber space domain, as well as Gen. Nakasone providing me with requirements with what he'll need in his mission areas as well.
GILLIBRAND: In your written testimony you've mentioned that our adversaries have taken a number of provocative actions in space in order to test us. One concern from the Pentagon's 2020 Defense Space Strategy was that it did not explain in clear full terms how we would deter our adversaries in space and I'm concerned an overemphasis in offensive space operations would destabilize space as a contested domain rather than deter our adversaries. What do you believe our best tools are to achieve deterrence in space?
DICKINSON: That's a great question. I would tell you that one of our biggest deterrence opportunities is with our allies and partners. We have, just since this command has stood up, we've seen a bow wave if you will of allies and partners who want to be a part of U.S. Space Command and part of this space enterprise.
And I think as we've seen in other domains, one of the greatest deterrents that we have is in our allies and partners and how we can all came together in a very coordinated and synchronized manner for deterrence. One example in particular was the messaging that we did last year, in 2019 and '20 with response – in response to Russian on-orbit activities as well as their direct ascent ASAT tests that they did last year.
And what I mean by that is when we developed our messaging strategy for that particular – for those events, we have tremendous participation and integration with our allies and partners that we've never seen before. So one of the powers of this command or one of the strengths of this command is that we are able to do that 24 hours a day in terms of holding our adversaries and competitors accountable in the space domain.
And our allies and partners provide a big piece to that deterrent message.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you. And, Mr. Chairman, I'll submit my questions for Gen. [Adm.] Richard for the record. Thank you.
REED: Thank you very much, Senator Gillibrand. Let me recognize via WebEx, Senator Rounds.
ROUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, first let me being by just saying thank you very much for your service to our country. Adm. Richards, I believe that our traditional national defense rests on a bedrock of the nuclear triad. I know that you get this a couple of time but just in plain English just so that folks that don't discuss nuclear triads on a regular basis, the hard working Americans out there that are wondering why we have out there, literally, hundreds if not thousands of nuclear warheads.
Can you explain to the average guy that is working out there why it is that the nuclear triad is so important to our national security and why it is critical to invest in its modernization?
RICHARD: Senator, the simple answer to that question is that if strategic deterrence doesn't hold then nothing else in the Department of Defense is going to work the way it was designed. That's it, plain and simple.
I get anxious that somehow – and remember, nuclear and strategic is two different things. All nuclear is strategic but not all strategics are nuclear. But we want to put it into a box by itself. It has its own threat, you can decide how credible you think that threat is and somehow there's this independent (inaudible) we can take risk over here and somehow that is not – has nothing to do with what the rest of the Department does, when in fact it underpins it and enables it.
Yes, we like to throw a lot of numbers around. Bottom line is what is available to the commander to deter and what am I deterring against. Right? We are treaty limited to 1,550 accountable nuclear weapons by the New Start Treaty. That's of – what's available to me to accomplish all the objectives the President has given me and the consequence of failure in this mission is enormous.
That's fundamentally what we're trying to accomplish, sir.
ROUNDS: And interesting that that particularly treaty applies to one of our adversaries but not necessarily to all of our adversaries, correct?
RICHARD: Senator, that's quite correct.
ROUNDS: So, let's just talk about one of those other competitors or challengers in this particular case. And I know that this may be one that may be difficult to do in open session, but can talk a little bit about what China's civilian nuclear production capabilities are when you – and whether or not we're factoring that in with regard to their ability to produce nuclear material and the number of warheads that they're capable of producing in a very short period of time. And I guess what I'm thinking about are the fast reactors that they have available to them right now.
RICHARD: Senator that is actually a great example of how rapidly China is changing or at least how rapidly we're figuring it out, right. So, the answer to your question is yes, but that is only as of about a week ago that we became aware of that and started the process to understand the implications of that.
Obviously, with a fast breeder reactor you're going to have a very large source of weapon's grade plutonium available to you. That will change the upper bounds of what China could chose to do if they wanted to in terms of further expansion of their nuclear capabilities.
We haven't yet run all the numbers. You're right, the answers would have to come back in closes session, but it's only been within the last week that we became aware that this limitation on them has changed in an upward direction.
ROUNDS: Thank you. Gen. Dickinson, we've been competing against our adversaries, air, land, sea, cyber space and now we see them most certainly challenging us in space. And while they may talk about having an interest in a military-free space or at least one in which we're not actively participating in a military matter in space, clearly the threats are there.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on our ability to defend against these new threats and what you need in order to maintain unfettered access in space. And do you currently have the equipment and the resources necessary to protect the assets that we have in space right now from the threats from both Russia and China?
DICKINSON: Senator, so I agree, Russia and China are proliferating in the space domain and I – it – one more than the other in terms of capabilities on space, not just numbers but capabilities as well. And that in particular is China. So, China is absolutely our pacing challenge right now in the space domain.
In terms of how I protect and defend on the – on orbit or in the space domain really boils down to my ability to actually see and understand what's going on in the space domain. So, in other words being able to use a combination of satellites as well as terrestrial assets to understand activities on orbit not only from an administrative perspective in terms of knowing where things are, but actually having the ability to analyze those capabilities to understand what the threat is or what those capabilities could do and their intent.
So, space domain awareness, again, my number one priority in terms of the command and we have identified that as a requirement that both the Department of Defense and the services as well. But in order to do my protect and defend mission I must fully understand what's going on in the space domain.
ROUNDS: Thank you. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you Senator Rounds. Let me now recognize Senator Kaine, please.
KAINE: Thank you Mr. Chair and Ranking Member Inhofe. And just to – today I'm going to be paying a complement to our staff at every hearing I'm doing. The staffs have really done a great job of putting these hearings together where we combine people attending in person and people, Senators and witnesses, attending virtually.
And I don't think we should take it for granted. So, I just wanted to offer my thanks to the hard work to make this challenging time work as seamlessly as possible. And to all the staff involved in that, thank you for that.
To the witnesses, thank you. My colleagues have asked very good questions, many of which I was going to ask. And I'm actually just sort of going to follow-up on Senator Rounds where he was ending with space awareness, Gen. Dickinson.
We have – we had a posture hearing SOUTHCOM recently and Adm. Faller talked about the lack of dedicated ISR. He's not unique in that. Any time we have a posture hearing with combatant commands this is a very common theme.
Sometimes it makes me think of the – you know, the old joke about the CEO that said I gave my legal counsel an unlimited budget and they overspent it. I think the demand for ISR is sort of endless, but ISR is so critical, obviously, to our combatant commanders really getting a handle on and successfully executing any missions that they have.
I have a large collection of commercial satellite providers in Virginia who when these issues come up they often say that they think they can provide ISR to combatant commanders in a way that would complement and combine with our DOD ISR capacities to help us out.
And so, Gen. Dickinson, I'm kind of interested to hear your perspective on whether commercial satellite providers could be woven into the architecture of ISR to be provided to combatant command in a way that would be helpful? Or do you see challenges or limitations that would make that difficult?
DICKINSON: Thank you Senator. I – I'm an advocate for the commercial ISR capabilities. I think when we look at the total, as you mentioned, the ISR requirements that we may never have enough and we'll always ask for more.
I agree with that comment, particularly as we look at some of our competitors, in particular China and how they're developing themselves into a global projection capability around the world and the fact that out ISR or our ability to see them and understand what is going on, not only them but other competitors as well, is very, very fundamental to our military operations.
And I think the intertwining or interweaving the commercial industry into that is absolutely necessary and I think gives us a great advantage. I will tell you right now that we do rely on commercial ISR in terms of what we do each and every day in U.S. Space Command. So, I look forward to that. It's very exciting to watch to see how the commercial market, not only when ISR but other space capabilities is actually developing, maturing and in my words kind of exploding.
I mean, if you just look at SpaceX for example with the Starlink constellation, where they're able to put out 60 satellites on one rocket – one rocket shot to build a constellation of now I think over 1,300 satellites in low earth orbit is amazing and really shows what the commercial industry can do in support of the space domain operation. So I agree, I think it should be part of the – or it is today and it should continue so.
KAINE: Gen. Dickinson, I'm heartened to hear that. And I will just conclude and yield my time back by saying that Senator Gillibrand's question about creating norms in space becomes very important. The more we use either state-based satellites or commercial satellites, nations all over the world are doing it, the more the prospect of collisions and then space debris affecting everybody else's investments become a real challenge.
It's hard to imagine us continuing to be vigorous investors in space satellites all around the world without some kind of international norms where these investments are protected. And so, the DOD's involvement along with other parts of the U.S. government in creating those norms is really important. And I was glad to hear your answer to Senator Gillibrand on that topic as well. So with that, thank you.
And I yield back, Mr. Chair.
REED: Thank you, Senator Kaine.
Let me recognize Senator Ernst, please.
ERNST: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And gentleman, thank you so much for being here today and sharing your testimonies with us.
Your commands do represent very crucial capabilities for our national defense, so thank you, again, for your input as we continue to develop different policies, whether it's strategic nuclear deterrence or, of course, space. So making sure that we have the – resources necessary is extremely important.
And recently, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday recently said, "We need to innovate and we need to modernize. Early adoption of emerging and disruptive technologies as well as the need to protect our infrastructure and technologies from strategic competitors is absolutely critical." I believe that's true, not only in the Navy but also to our nuclear and space programs.
So Adm. Richard, as we are looking at the modernization of our nuclear triad – again, going back to those resources – there is going to be a tremendous price tag. I think we all recognize that.
But can you discuss for us the margins for delay and the potential costs that we would face if we try to spread out these recapitalization efforts over a period of years within the nuclear triad, not really getting to the heart of the issue?
RICHARD: Senator, one, thank you for the question. And two, what I would start with is we don't have an opportunity to spread these costs out, right. We have life extended to the maximum extent possible.
So to maintain the level of defense that we have historically assumed in this mission – right – to not take any further risks in this area, I need the first of these recapitalizations to start showing up on time. We don't have any further opportunity to do that.
And I do want to present that we can afford this as a nation, right. The dollar amounts we're – we only do this every 40 years. If you look at the context of what these decisions are in costs relative to all the other things this nation chooses to spend its money on, these are trivial compared to that. This is a choice this nation makes as to how much risk it wants to take in this mission area.
We – I think this is exactly what Secretary Mattis meant when he said, we can afford survival.
ERNST: I think that is so brilliantly put. And not only can we afford it, we must afford this. I think that's a great way to say that, admiral.
So talking a little bit more about the ICBMs, and if we are allowing the ICBM leg to atrophy such that it's no longer a credible leg of the triad, what would that then mean to Russia and China, but also for our allies? And can you describe how our allies would react if we no longer had that viable ICBM leg?
RICHARD: Senator, let me put it this way in terms of what it would do relative to Russia and China. I said that China is not yet able to execute every plausible nuclear employment (ph) strategy at intercontinental range.
If I was to build a list of the top five things the U.S. could do to accelerate China becoming a strategic peer of ours, number one or number two on the list is to get rid of our ICBMs. Because you will have solved a problem that they can't currently solve right now. That would be the implication for that.
And they can do the math and our allies can do the math. And they will see that we are not backing up our words with our actions. We will lose credibility, and it will affect our extended deterrence and assurance.
ERNST: Thank you, sir.
And Gen. Dickinson, as well, as we talk about, you know, congestion in space, there are over 50 different space-faring nations and a number of space ventures, as you outlined in your opening remarks. Those will continue to climb. So the risks and opportunities – what are those risks and opportunities that space congestion presents to the command and how do we overcome that?
DICKINSON: Thank you. So the risks to the command are that it's becoming more congested.
In terms of what I mentioned with the – you know, the over 1,300 satellites, which is a good thing in terms of, you know, a free market economy, commerce – space commerce, but it's becoming a more challenging problem.
So the risk becomes that it could become more – it could be more unpredictable in space, more things to look at, more things to make sure that don't collide as they are in each of the orbits.
And so – but the benefit to that, I think we can see – you know, the world economy in particular for space is booming. And so we need to do that, but that's – we need to look at it as a domain like we've looked in other domains in terms of how do we manage that to make sure that we have a safe and secure space domain.
ERNST: Yes. Thank you very much.
And I yield back. Thank you, Mr. Chair...
REED: Thank you, Senator Ernst.
Let me recognize Senator King via WebEx.
KING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gen. Dickinson, I'd like to follow-up on Tim Kaine's questions a little bit about the security of our space assets. It seems to me that in a conflict, the very first thing that an enemy will try to do is a major cyber-attack and to try to blind us.
Senator Kaine talked about commercial satellites. Is redundancy itself a strategy for protecting the assets? In other words, lots and lots of small satellites rather than these large, multi-billion-dollar satellites that we traditionally depended upon, but a redundant constellation of small satellites that would be harder to disable because – do you agree with me that going after our satellites would be one of the first things an adversary would do in a conflict?
DICKINSON: Thank you, senator. So I would – my opinion on that is, I believe, the small satellites – many satellites in orbit provides us a very redundant, resilient capability that would be very difficult to degrade once we have it established.
It'll provide us the ability to do many different types of missions, whether it's communications, whether it's ISR, whether it's missile warning. Those types of activities, I think, will absolutely be more redundant, more resilient if we have a – what I would call, a mesh network, if you will, in a constellation.
In terms of what would happen first, I believe we are in competition each day, both space and cyber. And for us, our ability to compete on a daily basis in the competition phase is very important in what we're doing.
And that could very well be the first that you mentioned, could be a cyber-attack followed by something in space. But we're watching that each and every day. And like I said, I think, in terms of the redundancy that is a great technique or opportunity.
KING: Thank you.
Adm. Richard, one of the scariest terms I've heard recently is escalate to de-escalate, which I understand is a stated policy of the Russians in terms of the use of tactical nuclear weapons in order to shock everyone into backing off. Is that something that concerns you in terms of our relationship to Russia and their relations to nuclear weapons?
RICHARD: Senator, yes. The short answer is yes. Actually it maybe thought of more as escalate to win but not to mince words. And so the whole idea here is for that and anything other else they consider doing to show that that won't work, right. That the cost that we could impose are greater than what they may gain by attempting that strategy. That is the essence of deterrence here.
And in fact the introduction of the low yield ballistic missile weapon, I remind we have always had a low yield capability inside the arsenal. We just added one now that has a much higher probability of facing the threats that we have today. We think that that has successfully improved deterrence against that very strategy.
KING: Well to go back to Senator Rounds question, the fundamental strategy here and a lot of people, we've gone 25 or 30 years and not thought too much about nuclear weapons but the whole idea is that those other countries that have nuclear weapons know that we do too and that we have the capability to inflict enormous damage on them if they use the nuclear weapons. That theory of deterrence has worked for 70 years.
I take it from your comments that you believe modernization is critical to maintaining the credibility of the deterrent. It's not a deterrent unless your adversaries believe it will work. And that's the – isn't that the essential case for modernization?
RICHARD: Absolutely, sir. And fundamentally a deterrent is not credible unless the opponent or the other side does the calculation and comes up with we can either deny that, missile defense is a good example of it, or we can impose a cost. It doesn't have to be a nuclear cost. We are thinking very hard, we're the only nation that can go all-domain worldwide. I applaud the Secretary's efforts at improving cross domain deterrence but in the end, given the threats that we face, there has to be a nuclear component to it because we don't have a combination of other things yet that can deter that.
KING: Well the fundamental theory is that you have nuclear weapons in order to never have to use them. That's what it's all about isn't it, Admiral?
RICHARD: It is and I have said that before and that it's the only weapon system you don't have to pull the trigger on for it to work. The mere destructive potential of the system changes the way people think. It changes the decisions that they make. That's what we mean by we use it every day.
KING: A very quick question, I'm out of time, but very quick question. If there were some serious threat, how long would it take to get the bombers aloft?
RICHARD: Sir, it's a short period of time, I'd prefer to answer that in close session, if I could?
KING: We'll follow-up later. Thank you, very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator King. Senator Cotton.
COTTON: Thank you, gentlemen, for your service and for your appearance. Adm. Richard, I want to speak about the nuclear posture review which is underway as is the custom of new administrations. I'm concerned that low level political appointees, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State may be subverting (ph) the integrity of Secretary Austin's review earlier this month.
Those political appointees gave an interview in Japanese media implying the reduction of funding for our nuclear forces and perhaps even the enactment of a sole purpose nuclear policy. Neither of those appointees of course have been confirmed by the United States Senate. Were either you or Secretary Austin consulted before they made these public comments?
RICHARD: Senator, no. No one STRATCOM was or myself was consulted.
COTTON: Do you believe that it would be in the best interest of our nation to go to a sole purpose nuclear policy?
RICHARD: Senator, no. I think again that that would remove a level of ambiguity that has had useful deterrent value to us. We have never as a nation chosen to do that.
COTTON: And that would undermine our ability to deter for instance chemical or biological attacks if we used a sole purpose policy?
RICHARD: That we would – by policy we would not consider a nuclear response to those types of threats.
COTTON: Do you think allies like the United Kingdom or Japan would like the United States to move to a sole purpose policy?
RICHARD: Sir, in the end I'd have to deter – defer to OSD policy but my indications, conversations is there would be apprehension. It would depend on exactly how we worded it.
COTTON: Yes. OK, thank you for that. I hope the integrity of that nuclear posture review is not subverted by low level appointees who have never been reviewed by the Senate. I want to move to China, I know you probably touched on some of these points but I think there's a few questions that are more vital today. We know what Russia has, we know the threat Russia poses. They've posed it for 60 or 70 years.
But I think China is a menacing and rapidly growing threat both in terms of the quantity and the quality of their nuclear forces. Give us a sense just how fast they're increasing the quantity of their nuclear forces?
RICHARD: Senator, I just gave an order at STRATCOM two weeks ago that any threat brief or any brief that is discussing China that is more than a month old must be updated with our intelligence folks because it's probably out of date. I can't get through a week right now without finding out something we didn't know about China.
COTTON: And in terms of the quality of these forces, it's true that they're moving rapidly towards having a functioning nuclear triad just like the United States and Russia. Which is to say bombers, submarines and missiles, is that right?
RICHARD: Senator, that's correct.
COTTON: And on those ground based forces, in some way their quality is more survivable and less detectable than ours since they're moving towards say solid fuel rockets which give you less warning since you don't have to stand up the missiles and fuel them with liquid fuel or road mobile and rail mobile missiles which can be moved around on the back of a tractor/trailer or train, something this country doesn't use, is that right?
RICHARD: Senator, that's correct. The road mobiles of both Russia and China are challenges to make sure that you can maintain accountability of them.
COTTON: Hard to find a tractor/trailer with a missile on it in a country the size of China, which is as big as the United States, right?
RICHARD: And both countries are very good at hiding them.
COTTON: And you spoke something a few moments ago I just want to point out, that you said that eliminating our ground-based missiles would be one of the best things that China – that could happen to Chinese planners (ph). And is that because the number of our missile systems complicate their targeting?
RICHARD: Senator, that's correct. It would solve a problem right now that they don't have an answer to.
COTTON: Which is to use a colloquial term, the missile synch (ph). With all of our – I know you may not like to use that term, but with all of those missiles that we have our in the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain states, just the sheer quantity of targeted sites if you're Russia or China is very complicated to hit?
RICHARD: It certainly requires a scale of attack that is – makes it very obvious what's going on. And part of why I don't like the term "missile synch" is there's a lot of things where we have forgotten how we got here. And example is, bolt out of the blue, right. Highly improbable, we all agree with that. We would be the first to tell you that. We look at this risk every day, but we forget why it's improbable, right. We made it improbable as a nation. We invented the ballistic missile submarine, we invented launch under warning, launch under attack. It's improbable because it probably won't work.
If you – we can easily take steps to make it more probable if we forget what it is that got us here.
COTTON: That's right. And that would be the case not just if you just took the radical step of eliminating an entire leg of our Triad, the ground-based missiles, but even if you substantially reduced the number of ground-based missiles. Is that correct?
RICHARD: Senator, fundamentally I've got to have enough capacity, right? And I'm now about to face an additive threat from China. These numbers that we have were based on a threat situation from years ago. So, I'm apprehensive right now – well, I certainly need everything that's in the program of record if you want to do what the president ordered me to.
COTTON: So, I'll just conclude with a point out to make, we hear from some misguided and misinformed people on the left who might want to eliminate a leg of our Triad or eliminate entire nuclear forces, this fanciful idea that somehow we can rid the world of this weapon system.
It's often said we spend so much on weapons we never use. To the contrary, we spend very little on these nuclear forces as a percentage of our defense budget, certainly as a percentage of our overall economy. And second, we use them every single day and we have used them every single day for 76 years to deter another war like the terrible wars of the first half of the 20th century.
REED: Thank you Senator Cotton. Via WebEx Senator Warren.
WARREN: Thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you to our witnesses for being here. Well, President Biden has expressed some concerns about the need, that affordability and the safety of the Trump administration's nuclear weapons policy and for good reason. The previous administration's modernization plans including items like a new sea-launched cruise missile and a low-yield warhead. Like any new administration the president's team is taking some time to conduct its own review.
So Adm. Richard you're the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, whose job is it to determine the nuclear policy of the United States? Your job or the president's job?
RICHARD: Senator, it is the president's job. I am obligated to provide my best military advice.
WARREN: I appreciate that. Do you agree that the new administration should be allowed to conduct its own review and that it shouldn't feel obligated or pressured to rubber stamp the previous administration's plans?
RICHARD: Ma'am, I absolutely agree with that. I also request an opportunity to make sure that that review, and in fact I would broaden it. I again state that I think it is a mistake to think of deterrents in pieces, that nuclear is somehow separate from conventional, is somehow separate from space and cyber. You have to look at all of that. And I'd ask that it be fully threat informed and that I have an opportunity to provide the operational implications of potential policy choices.
WARREN: OK, but if you're going to do the operational part here and the president does policy part. I appreciate your saying this because you made some comments early in January that puzzled and frankly concerned me on this score.
On January 5, after President Trump had lost his bid for reelection you told some reporters that the purpose of a forthcoming Biden administration review of nuclear weapons policy should be, quote, "Validation that we like the strategy that we have." It also sounded like to me that you were saying that there we was no reason to change course. You stated, quote, "This nation has had basically the same strategy dating back to the Kennedy administration."
So now it's your job to provide input and to recommend options to the president and the secretary if you're asked, but that doesn't mean making public comments to try to box in the president's decision making.
I understand that you believe that you're operating well within the scope of your responsibilities, but I'm concerned and I want a commitment from you that you're not going to infringe on or undermine the administration's review. Do I have your commitment on that?
RICHARD: Senator, you absolutely do. And my reference to our strategy was not in relation to any one administration. I also said I can trace the lineage of our current strategy back to the Kennedy administration. The nation can have any strategy that it wants and then that leads to a commensurate need for a stack of capabilities, policies and postures to execute that strategy. I would –
WARREN: I appreciate that. I appreciate that –
RICHARD: – just like to make sure that the nation understands the risks it's taking in those decisions.
WARREN: And I appreciate that you will make that risk clear so that the president and the secretary can work together to make a decision on this. You know, we're currently spending $44.5 billion a year on nuclear weapons and I know that STRATCOM likes spending that money, but I don't.
The purpose of the ongoing review is to, quote, "Reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our defense strategy." I agree with that goal and I think it is incompatible with that staggeringly high level of spending.
Every administration makes strategic decisions about our force structure and modernization and when it comes to nuclear weapons those decisions carry tremendous weight. As STRATCOM Commander your role is to support the U.S. Nuclear Doctrine that is set by the leaders elected to grapple with those decisions, not by military officials alone.
So, I look forward to seeing the results of the administration's review and I know you'll swiftly implement whatever they determine. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you Senator Warren. Senator Tillis via WebEx. And now Senator Cramer.
CRAMER: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you Generals both for your service and for being here. And I might just – well I guess I feel compelled to follow-up on what Senator Warren was just talking about.
One of the things that I have found frustrating often times is that that the self-governed in this country don't know what we know and a lot of times that's OK. But a lot of times it's not so OK. So generals, both of you, I appreciate the fact that you're both able to travel a lot throughout the country.
You've both have come to my state in your current positions and that you both are willingly to speak openly but always, always respectfully about the threats that we face, because quite honestly I think one of the great threats in this country is when the people that assume we know what we're talking about aren't aware of the threats. So, thank you for doing that. A well informed self-governed country is the best.
I guess I don't feel the need to ask any more questions about whether you supported Triad versus something else Admiral. I appreciated your opening statement as well as your answers to several question reaffirming the importance of all three legs of the Triad.
We've talked a lot, you've answered questions specifically of course about the ground-based strategic deterrent and appreciate that. And the fact that that delay in modernization will cost both money and perhaps security. So let's move over to the LRSO. You know, our B-52s are incredible weapon especially, especially in the hands of our great airmen like we have in Minot.
But I am afraid that we'll be risking too much and asking too much of those airmen if we take away the LRSO and get it off-track. So if the LRSO was canceled or delayed beyond the service life of the legacy air launch cruise missile do you think our air leg of the triad would be viable or would it be compromised?
RICHARD: Senator, the short answer is no. The bottom line is that without an LRSO you in effect don't have an air leg or you have at least put it back to sort of a 1950s version of an air leg with much less capacity than they had back then.
Now I do want to go a bit further, it's not only that it's almost a miracle that they ALCM flies. I think my predecessor, Gen. Hyten, testified to that a couple of years ago. To think that a weapon system designed to go against Soviet analog defenses is going to be able to get through sophisticated Russian and Chinese defenses I think is optimistic. And the ALCM on its first day wasn't good enough for what we asked – are going to need for it do today.
I can give you the details on that in closed session. It was designed for a different era, I need a modern weapon in order to do what I've been ordered to do.
CRAMER: With limited time I wondering which of these last questions I want to ask. But I'm going to go – I'm going to continue on with strategic deterrent commander and I know you're acutely aware that U.S. – credible U.S. nuclear deterrence relies on uninterrupted nuclear command control and communications, NC3 system. And that the mission depends on secure operational technologies as well.
The recent hack of the Florida water treatment facility certainly highlighted the cyber vulnerabilities of our OT (ph) system, a threat that's only exasperated when you add in the NC3 component. Can you update the committee on efforts of STRATCOM to ensure that cyber protection to both the infrastructure and NC3 are on-track?
RICHARD: Sir, that's a very extensive answer of the things that we're doing. I'll answer this, that I have a separate responsibility as the commander of the nuclear enterprise center with department wide responsibilities for nuclear command and control. Fundamentally I am confident in our NC3 cyber resiliency. It exists in relative isolation, it has tremendous redundancy, it gets the best intelligence. We have an intelligence fusion center, thank you Congress for directing that, Gen. Nakasone.
So everything that Space Command just mentioned that they get support for we get that and additional abilities to maintain the standards here. The number on thing I need to do to be able to say that in the future is that I have to modernize this system, right. I have to get it out of legacy modes of operation in order to pace this threat going in to the future. But I'm confident today.
CRAMER: To both of you and we'll start with you, Gen. Dickinson. In addition to the bomber wing and the missiles wing at Minot, of course, North Dakota contributes by having the 10th Space Warning Squadron at Cavalier and this is a good opportunity for me ask both of you, again starting with Gen. Dickinson – yes, Gen. Dickinson, how do the two commands work together to enhance the credibility of U.S. deterrence against adversaries who are competing with us really in every domain?
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. So that missile warning architecture is a very integrated capability within U.S. Space Command. We provide that missile warning to U.S. Strategic Command on a daily basis and we work very closely together. I mean in Gen., as you know Senator, you know, we respond out of U.S. Strategic Command when we stood up U.S. Space Command. And so our daily interaction, our daily operations together is very nested and synchronized.
CRAMER: I thank both of you. Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Cramer via Webex. Senator Manchin.
MANCHIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it. And thanks to both of you for you service to our country and the commitment by your families for this service. I think they need to be commended also.
The first question I want is and will go to both of you, but Adm. Richard, with the current and planned advancements in missile technology such as hypersonics from our adversary's defense of the homeland can no longer be taken for granted. So my question would be, Adm. Richard, would you tell me about the adequacy of our current missile defense batteries like the ground based interceptors, the PAC-3 missile and our Aegis Ashore platforms?
RICHARD: Senator, while I would in the end defer to the operational commanders of those systems, for example, for ground based inceptor that's Northern Command. However from my vantage point in terms of my mission sets and my overall responsibility in missile defense for advocacy and operation support, we have an adequate missile defense today. We do need to make sure that we pace it into the future against the threats that we're seeing.
And the number one thing that I would prioritize is both the ability to warn and the ability to track birth to death because it's not only the defensive pieces to it that's missile defense. On the missile warning side I need to be able to posture forces and posture people in advance of the threat or I have to take other operational decisions over.
MANCHIN: And to Gen. Dickinson, if you could tell me how STRATCOM and SPACECOM are working to integrate future missiles defense technologies like a space sensor layer with our current systems to maintain global awareness and the quickest reaction possible to these threats?
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. So we work very closely hand-in-hand with E.O. (ph) strategic command and all the other combatant commands in terms of integrating, as I mentioned earlier, in terms of taking existing terrestrial-type radars that have not necessarily been used before, particularly in the space domain. But in this particular vignette with hypersonics.
We continue to look at the integration of those assets and we're also working very closely with the missile defense agency and growing capabilities on orbit that will help us address that problem with or our dilemma with hypersonic weapons.
MANCHIN: And to Adm. Richard, your testimony states that the next generation of deterrent forces must encompass responsive weapon systems, world-class personnel, resilient infrastructure and diligence and informed decisions. Can you describe the steps that you have taken or relationships that you have established to ensure the timely and efficient flow intelligent in order to provide decision makers with accurate timely information that's going to be needed to make these decisions?
RICHARD: So a number of steps, again I am fortunate in terms of the priority that is given to strategic deterrence intelligence needs by the intelligence community. I have a number of relationships and a number of liaisons. I mean as one example I have 300 defense intelligence agency personnel assigned to STRATCOM headquarters as part of our ability to go do that.
Additional we have a specific stack of strategic intelligence requirements that have been given to the intelligence community and I receive great support in terms of that. Senator, if I could real quick, I just want to add going back to the missile defense piece, because it's been asked a couple of times.
We are very satisfied with the way that Space Command has taken over the missile – the sensor commander function, right, but utilizing sensors across missile warning, missile defense and space situational awareness. I'm actually getting better missile warning data and the nation is getting better utilization of the assets that it purchased.
MANCHIN: Well, I'll go right into Gen. Dickinson as well. I know the availability of speed and communicating data are and always will remain a vulnerability for our forces. And with the ease of optical or tight beam communications utilizing lasers in a space environment that speed is increase substantially.
So the question would be, that is very impressive, but how in space – how is SPACECOM working to bring that speed of communications back down to earth as we may speak?
DICKINSON: So Senator that is a – that is what we're currently working with. I think we – some of the work that Gen. VanHerck has done in all-domain awareness, I fully support the efforts that he is undertaking as well as the department in terms of increasing our ability to communicate at speed so that we can make the proper decisions at the proper time.
That is a – what we are doing at U.S. Space Command is kind of looking at the current command and control systems that handle these volumes of information and we are looking at ways that we can integrate those capabilities to provide an all domain capability where we can see and do and act what with speed and of relevance to the situation at hand.
So we're – you're looking at existing command and control architectures that we can leverage. We already have a very robust one in the space domain, but we continue to look at how we can leverage all of them together in an all-domain fashion.
MANCHIN: OK, I just want to thank both of you. Adm. Richard and Gen. Dickinson, thank you both for your service again and thank you for being here today.
REED: Thank you Senator Manchin. Let me now recognize via WebEx Senator Tillis.
TILLIS: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, thank you for being here and your years of services.
Adm. Richard I want to start with you. I was in the – in the committee room when you gave your opening statement and towards the end you were talking about how we're losing our advantage and you went on to say that we could reach a point to where no amount of money would allow us to catch back up.
Would you go back and give a little bit broader context to the specific areas that you think that threat is real? And maybe over what sort of timeline if we don't have adequate resources or authorities that we could reach that tipping point?
RICHARD: So Senator what drives me to say that in the opening statement is the observation that we have delayed this recapitalization so long that we're getting to points, key pieces of infrastructure or key talent areas, human talent areas where we have had not to something in 30 years. The best examples are on the weapons complex side of the House right now. There will be more in the delivery system in the command and control to shortly follow.
And it's a situation that we don't normally face as a nation. Normally when we make a decision and if we find out we were wrong we can come back two or three years later and buy it back, we can change our minds. If we have to write a bigger check we try to avoid doing it, but at least we can.
We are now at the point that if we lose some critical pieces of infrastructure or we lose some key talent bases, a specific example would be how you make a nuclear reentry vehicle heat shield, right? We haven't done it in 30 years and you'd think we'd never done it before. If we lose those talent bases you can't buy it back. It will take 5 to 10 years to either retrain and redevelop the people or rebuild the infrastructure. We don't normally face decisions like that.
TILLIS: Thank you. Gen. Dickinson, you mentioned 32,000 space objects out there, I think you said somewhere on the order of about 7,000 are operational. I've been reading a lot of articles on space junk and the dangers that they can pose to the International Space Station, commercial assets.
How much of solving that problem our emphasis on it and how many resources are actually dedicated to that? I think Senator Shaheen touched on it, but is this the threat that I perceive it to be based on publications over the last month or so?
DICKINSON: So Senator that – that is missionary within the command that we do every day. It is about 32,000. It grows as we see in the commercialization, if you will, of space with the multiple soiling (ph) companies now moving into the space domain. That is something that we do and we do a very good job at that in terms of making sure that we are able to predict where we may have a problem with either a conjunction or a collision on orbit.
We have a very close relationship with NASA, to your mention of the International Space Station, very close working relationship where we provide them with that information and they use that information to do – take whatever actions that may feel is appropriate to maintain a safe environment for the astronauts and cosmonauts onboard the International Space Station. But it is one that we spend a lot of time doing each and every day.
TILLIS: Going forward I've followed Starlink since they first sent up the first dishwasher sized satellites to provide broadband, ubiquitous broadband. I read a report earlier this week that while they're topping 1,000 on orbit now their goal is to have over 40,000 on orbit.
How are we working with – in the commercial space to make sure that we're sequencing more objects in space with the goal of not making it more difficult for you to do your job? To what extent would you play a role, if any, in the commercial decisions in permitting to allow more to on orbit that create a more complex challenge for you?
DICKINSON: So Senator, my responsibilities lie in predicting and understanding where those objects are or the satellites are. The actual interaction with a commercial company on how they should conduct a space launch or on-orbit activities with their satellites really kind of goes back to a licensing capability or licensing process that I believe the FAA actually conducts with each of those companies before they launch.
TILLIS: Then my remaining time kind of curious about how SPACECOM and STRATCOM are going to work together to create a credible U.S. deterrent, particularly when we seem to be challenged in every domain. So how are you two – how are your two commands working together to face up against those threats?
DICKINSON: So Senator, I'll answer that first then I'll turn it over to my shipmate here, Adm. Richard. But we work every day with that. And one of the notable things within U.S. Space Command is the stand up of our joint fires element within the command that actually does deterrent type of work in terms of the space domain.
But we are very integrated with the rest of the combatant commands to include U.S. Strategic Command in that daily activity in terms of deterrents not only the space domain, but in all the other domains. Because as the Secretary of Defense has told us to do is that deterrence is not just one domain, it's all domains, all the time. And so our synchronization coordination of those activities, in particular on-orbit and then for the other pieces, the other domains is very fundamental. But our relationship with in synchronization with U.S. (inaudible) – U.S. Strategic Command is very close.
TILLIS: Thank you.
RICHARD: Again, Senator, if I can just add, not only to endorse everything that Gen. Dickinson just said, but Chairman Milley and Vice Chairman Hyten have made it really clear it's not just our two COCOMs [combatant commands], it's all COCOMs. Right? We are driving hard towards global integration both in planning and operations. We see that as a necessary way forward into the future.
TILLIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Tillis. Let me know recognize, Senator Rosen, via WebEx.
ROSEN: Thank you, Chairman Reed, and Ranking Member Inhofe for holding this important hearing. I'd also like to thank Adm. Richard and Gen. Dickinson for testifying today, and of course, I'm grateful for their service to our country. But I'd like to speak a little bit bout explosive nuclear weapons testing, because last May the prior Administration was reportedly considering resuming explosive nuclear weapons at the Nevada National Security Site.
The only facility in the nation equipped to accommodate underground nuclear testing. Now this is for the first time since 1992. Nevadins (ph) does not want to return to a time when explosive nuclear testing was allowed in our state. It puts the health and safety of Nevadins (ph) in jeopardy.
So to prevent this outcome Senator Cortez Masto and I introduced legislation requiring Congressional approval before any future explosive nuclear weapons testing were to take place. So, Adm. Richard, you told the Senate Armed Services Committee last year that there's no condition under which it would recommend the need for renewed nuclear testing.
Can you confirm for me, please, today that there is no current need for a resumption of explosive testing in Nevada or elsewhere to ensure the reliability of our nuclear arsenal.
RICHARD: Senator, as you know I'm obligated by Congress to report on my assessment of the combat readiness of the stockpile that includes an assessment on the need for nuclear weapons testing. So you are correct, I have certified the stockpile, I do it annually in writing and I have stated that there are no identified conditions at this point that would require nuclear weapons testing to restore that confidence.
But I further stated in it that I am concerned about the nations test readiness and that I endorse the Lab Director's calls in NSA Nuclear Weapons Labs for a national review of our test readiness to understand where we sit.
ROSEN: Thank you, I'd like to build on that and ask if you agree that a resumption in explosive nuclear testing, which would violate long standing international norms, might provide other nations with the incentive to resume their own explosive nuclear testing activities and more broadly would impact global peace and security. So, how – what are you thinking in that realm?
RICHARD: Ma'am, I would defer the political implications of a nuclear weapons test to OSD policy or the State Department. I think from a technical standpoint, a bigger driver in terms of any nation's decision to conduct a test has to do with what level of confidence do they have that their nuclear weapons will work to their standards and what other mechanisms they – they may have, in other words, how much confidence do they want and by what means do they want to get it?
ROSE: Thanks, I'll move on but I'll just reiterate, we want no nuclear explosive testing in Nevada or anywhere across this country. But I'd like to build now on what Senator Gillibrand spoke about earlier, a cyber-mission in space. It's no secret, of course, our adversaries see the value of space as a domain, developing counter space capabilities to undermine our interests.
So this week I plan to introduce with Senator Blackburn, legislation to build a civilian cyber security reserve to ensure additional cyber capacity at our times of greatest needs. So, Gen. Dickinson, does the newest branch of the Military – do you currently possess the necessary workforce to fulfil your cyber mission effectively? And how can we help support your needs in growing the workforce?
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. In terms of the cyber piece that you mentioned earlier, I would – I would say that's probably Gen. Jay Raymond's avenue or area in terms of what the service, the Space Force, provides.
But as a Combatant Commander, I can tell you that I've got the resource I need right now and I'm confident in our ability to protect my space mission areas, my critical space mission areas that I do each and every day. And my relationship with cyber command in terms of working Paul Nakasone and his team is very close. And as the newest Combatant Command I've gotten resources that I've determined I need in order to have a resilient cyber capability or protection within the – within the mission areas I would have today.
ROSE: Well, thank you. I – I was able to, last year, pass the promote – to the help get the Promotes Act passed which has a junior ROTC Stem track now and we hope that will help grow our young men and women as they join JROTC early to help build all of our capabilities and technology in the military. Thank you, I yield back.
REED: Thank you very much, Senator Rosen. Let me recognize, Senator Scott. Please.
SCOTT: Thank you, Chairman. Adm. Richard, I read your Op-ed from February and appreciated your candid assessment of the challenges we face, basically (ph) regarding communist China. Have you seen anything with regard to behavior, military spending and posturing public statements that leads you to believe that communist China has any interest in cooperating with other countries in nuclear weapons?
RICHARD: Senator, I have not. They have a very opaque policy that makes it difficult to determine anything about what their intentions are but I have certainly not seen anything that looks like cooperation.
SCOTT: If we don't spend sufficiently to modernize our nuclear forces and communist China achieves its goal of having an effective nuclear triad by the middle of this decade, what do we face in terms of defending U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond?
RICHARD: Senator, it would be two things. One of which is in the – is they could use those capabilities coercively in a way that could limit our decision space in crisis. Additionally it will rip out the underpinnings by which all the rest of our forces are employed. Right? We would not be able to deter China from escalating right past us if the stakes were high enough in a crisis or conflict.
SCOTT: So the value of having forces in South Korea and Japan would be – just wasteful? And there would be no ability to help them?
RICHARD: We would be the first to tell you that those forces are important, but you have to backstop them with a strategic deterrent to dissuade the opponent from doing something like that.
SCOTT: Okay. Thank you. Gen. Dickinson, are we on pace given what we expect from the President's budget to be able to defeat Chinese and Russian goals in space? There's no question they each want to dominate in this area. And do you believe that we will be able to stop them given our current spending plans and policies?
DICKINSON: Senator, I think at this point we're on a glide path to that capability. Our ability to protect and defend on orbit is that those capabilities and capacities are growing and I think that's very important as we – as we look to the future. But to answer your question, I think were on a glide path.
SCOTT: So do you – do you believe going forward that we're going to be expected – if the President's budget does not have much of an increase in defense spending do you think we're going – that's going to be enough to be able to pursue the goals that you have?
DICKINSON: Well for the command over the last year we've done our first analysis of the requirements, if you will, for the combatant command and I've delivered those requirements to the Department of Defense as well as the services. And in those requirements I've identified my priority in terms of developing better space domain awareness in terms of being able to understand what's on – what's happening in the space domain to characterize that and understand what our adversaries and competitors are doing there.
So in terms of the budget for this year I think that it is satisfactory for what we're doing right now.
SCOTT: Adm. Richard, do you think we're clear enough about our relationship with Taiwan and our interest in making sure they remain independent of Communist China?
RICHARD: Senator, ultimately I would defer to the Department of State and OSD policy in terms of what is the best course of action there. What I am committed to doing is making sure that the U.S. military has the ability to set the appropriate operating conditions and deter Chinese strategic capabilities to allow us those options for the rest of the force and the nation.
SCOTT: So if we're in – if we're in the position that we believe that we can deter them from doing something, why are they doing all the flyovers now? Why is Communist China doing – taking the aggressive action they are taking against Taiwan right now?
RICHARD: Sir, fundamentally I would defer to – you'd have to ask China that question, right. But that is a point that gets back to deterrences linked, right. We have to pay attention all the way down into thresholds below conventional armed conflict to make sure that we are putting these things on the right trajectory in the long term.
SCOTT: I want to thank both of you and thank all the men and women that serve with you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you very much, Senator Scott. Senator Kelly, please
KELLY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Adm. Richard, thank you for your testimony, Gen. Dickinson. I'd like discuss for a couple minutes the ground base strategic deterrent effort. The program to replace the Minuteman III and its commanding control system is significant. Often large programs like this are threatened when there's budgetary pressure.
Now my understanding is that there's not a cost effective way to modernize the Minuteman III and that the 60 year old missile needs to be replaced. Can you explain in detail, Adm. Richard, why that is? And what new capability are we going to get with GBSD?
RICHARD: Senator, first I'd offer the department has sent several pretty detailed reports to Congress that go into that and so I would refer to those. The biggest picture, I need a weapon that can fly and make it to the target. Minuteman III is increasingly challenged in its ability to do that. There is almost no possibility of an upgrade on that relative to the threat.
In particular I would draw attention to the cyber capabilities, right. Minuteman III is a very old system that we have to be able to cyber defend and the GBSD will come with a great improvement inside its cyber defenses as well as the overall operational availability, redundancy and reliability of its command and control.
KELLY: Well, thank you. And the Russians have been modernizing their systems. Can you highlight some of the – some of the upgrades that they've been making in delivery system, command and control and their warning systems, just top level?
RICHARD: I mean, Senator, they across the board are operating new equipment. They're on their second generation of a new ballistic missile submarine. They have a new ballistic missile for that, it's quite capable. They have a very impressive solid fueled intercontinental ballistic missile, brand new. They have new road mobile missiles. They have up-gunned their bombers, they have new weapons off their bombers.
This is in addition to the novel capabilities that I described in my opening statement. They have new command and control, they have new warning, they are exercising at a level we haven't seen since the Cold War; President Putin plays in those exercises. And we're seeing readiness levels like we've not see before. So this is an across the board comprehensive improvement in their strategic capabilities. Again about 80 percent complete right now.
KELLY: And on the B61 Mod 12 program underway, going to give us more accuracy of smaller CEP for that weapon and that weapon system. Do you see this mod of the B61 being able to last here for the next 20 years or so? Or do you see a point where we're going to have to find a new air launched ballistic bomb?
RICHARD: So for the B61, right, I do think that modernization program will serve us well going into the future. That's a gravity weapon, as you well know, and that is in particular of importance to NATO in terms of our extended deterrence and assurance commitments. So I am satisfied that that weapon system is going to serve us well.
KELLY: Thank you, Admiral. And Gen. Dickinson, when we spoke last week we discussed the importance of cooperation and communication with other space fairing nations to deal with the common challenges that we face with orbital debris. A challenge I had to deal with myself personally on a number of occasions. These communications are critical for advance warning as well as test launches with competitors like Russia and China.
I want to, just in the remaining time, in your view how good are the current structures for communications with Russia and China concerning orbital debris but also in – when they launch unexpectedly could be to put payloads in orbit? And if the communication systems are not adequate what could we do right now to improve those?
DICKINSON: So, Senator, we – as I mentioned earlier -
KELLY: Microphone, please.
DICKINSON: So we communicate with our competitors in terms of what's going on in the space domain. Could it be better? Yes, it could be better. But we communicate to them electronically through a website called Space dot – Space.org that has a catalog or has information on there that we can alert them to a potential collision in space. And so we do communicate that way. But I do believe that we could improve upon that as we go forward.
KELLY: And that would be true for a test launch as well?
DICKINSON: Yes, it would be for test launches as well so that we can make sure that we understand intention as well as what activity they may be doing in the space domain so that we can ensure that we provide a safe environment for space operations.
KELLY: Thank you General.
REED: Thank you Senator Kelly. Senator Peters, please.
PETERS: Thank you Mr. Chairman. And to both of you, thank you for your testimony here today and your service to our country.
Gen. Dickinson, in your opening remarks you addressed space situational awareness in the context of your work with the Department of Commerce at its open architecture data repository. So my question to you is could you ever foresee Space Situational Awareness being a wholly commerce function with Space Command playing a supporting role? And if not, why?
DICKINSON: I think as we look to the future and really the current situation that we have now, as I mentioned 32,000 pieces of debris, objects on orbit, as we move forward I do believe that we will see that as a – or we should see that as a purely administrative type of function in terms of tracking objects in the space domain.
My job at the U.S. Space Command is to not only understand that, but also to be able to characterize what we're seeing in the space domain so that we can understand what our adversaries intentions may be and their capabilities. But I see in the future that as we move towards that that could be a wholly administrative type function, similarly to what the FAA does right now in terms of making sure the air domain is safe.
PETERS: So that would be a commerce function and you would be supportive of that as long as you're playing the role that you mentioned?
PETERS: On the same topic the – in 2020 alone the – and I think Senator Kelly mentioned his involvement with it in space as well, but the International Space Station had to perform three maneuvers to being hit by space debris. Has the command – you command undertaken any initiatives to contend with space debris by participating in commercial efforts such as the ELSA-d launch that occurred last month?
DICKINSON: We're looking at those types of opportunities right now because that could contribute to our ability to understand the domain better.
PETERS: Very good. And as – well Gen. Dickinson another question for you, much like the economy at large, our operations in space are going to be facilitated not by just the purchase and the operation of hardware, but also the utilization of services that will allow us to maintain a robust presence in space.
For example, in Michigan we have a company called Atlas Space Operations in Traverse City that's involved in assistance of launch operations, communications and other types of services and they're doing very innovative work in that area. Under your command how is SPACECOM utilizing private sector partners and provide a variety of these kinds of capabilities?
DICKINSON: So Senator, we out at Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is part of the U.S. Space Command, we've got a commercial integration cell where we are working every day with the commercial industry in terms of understanding capabilities that they're bringing online as well as on-orbit type of activities. I think we have close to 90 different companies that we work with out there.
PETERS: Great. Adm. Richard, in your opening remarks you described the submarine launch nuclear missile as necessary to address regional deterrence challenges from both China and Russia by increasing the flexibility.
In your words, quote, "Providing a more credible deterrent and limited attack against the United States." Could you explain what you mean by, quote, "more credible." And as a submarine launch cruise missile fill a capability gap to our extended deterrents?
RICHARD: So sir when I say more credible that was in relationship to the low yield submarine launch ballistic missile aspect of that. You can't deter if you can't get to the target and that weapons system has a better ability to do that, makes it more credible in the eyes of the other party.
The second part on the sea launch cruise missile goes after more the large disparity that we have in non-treaty accountable weapons between us and the Russians. I use that term very specifically.
Sometimes they're used as strategic versus non-strategic. I think that distinction is increasingly irrelevant at a large number of so-called non-strategic weapons are a direct threat to the homeland in addition to our forces regionally and to our allies.
The sea launch cruise missile would give us an ability to not rely on host nation support and give us an ability to again provide an effective counter to the disparity that we see in non-treaty accountable weapons.
PETERS: Well as you know very well deterrents depends on capability, on credibility and communication. And when a Virginia class submarine launches a Tomahawk cruise missile into Syria, for example, China, Russia and other nuclear powers can now credibly recognize that such launches are carrying conventional munitions.
If – my question is, if attack submarines require the capability to launch nuclear weapons, then does that mean Beijing and Moscow will need to worry about every missile launch within the range of their territories? And are you concerned therefore that this added ambiguity might lead to some sort of miscalculation?
RICHARD: Senator, what I would offer is I think that it is a fundamental error to try to determine what the payload is on any weapon system by assigning it to a particular trajectory. You can make any trajectory carry any payload.
The nation has long had a cruise missile – nuclear cruise missile capability. Russia and China – or Russia has it today. So, the idea that we will somehow sort out what a threat is based on its profile I think is a flawed idea to begin with and we certainly don't characterize anything based on the flight profile coming at us.
PETERS: Great. Thank you Admiral.
REED: Thank you Senator Peters. Let me recognize Senator Sullivan, please.
SULLIVAN: Thank you Mr. Chairman. And gentlemen, thank you for your service and your testimony today. I was in a hearing last week, oversight hearing and one of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle was kind of putting out this number of 10 percent – his estimate – of the military was extremists, racists.
I think in my experience, I'm still serving in the Marine Corps Reserves, that number is absurdly high. It wasn't based on any data. That would make about 200,000, 250,000 members of the active force supposedly fitting within that category, which I think is a disparagement of our men and women in the military.
I got a little heated in that hearing last week because I was really tired of hearing about what supposedly is all the bad things about the members of the military when I think it's some of the finest young men and women in America serving, volunteering to serve. Is that your experience, 10 percent, 1 in 10, 250,000 active duty forces are somehow extremists, racists?
It's an absurd number, but it goes thrown around in the newspaper and I'm trying to get the men and women like you who've serve for decades to kind of give me your view. And Admiral, Gen., I know that's not the purpose of the hearing, but I think it's really important, particularly for the men and women that you're leading and that we have oversight of, to let them know that we don't think that a huge majority of the force is extremist. Obviously, some of my Senate colleagues do which is absurd, can I get your view on that...
RICHARD: Let me go first on that. One, I am very confident that the number of extremists in my forces is zero. And I...
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
RICHARD: Let me explain why I say that. The Department has made it clear for decades that we don't tolerate that. My forces are a little bit different, we have certainly done everything that Secretary Austin has told us to do. He has made it very clear what the standards are, but it's reiterating the standard.
Every person in my organization has to have a security clearance for starters. Right? And when you fill that form out, and I've been filling it out for 40 years, there's an extensive battery of questions designed to get after that very point. And then somebody goes and investigates you, and then they go talk to all your references and then they go talk some more, hunting for that very thing. We don't care what the source of extremism was, those date back to – communism was actually what they were looking for when I first came in and today they'll even look at your social media.
If you can't pass that bar you – I don't even see you. And on top of that in my forces we have a personnel reliability program so you now have peer monitoring brought in and a number of other standards. So if there are extremists in my organization, one, they hide it very well. And two, it's just a matter of time before I get them.
SULLIVAN: So, you're saying you agree with me. That these are some of the best men and women in America and to be besmirched by the media or a Senator of 10% is ridiculous.
RICHARD: Sir, I will just explain what the standard is that we upload. It is contrary to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It is essential for good order and discipline. And my forces meet the highest standard of that that DOD requires.
SULLIVAN: Great. Gen., your views on this? I know you have a lot of experience given your decades in the U.S. Army.
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. So, in my organization, a very similar organization to U.S. Strategic Command. So space, as we all understand and know, we've talked about it many times in terms of the classification or security clearances that are required in my organization to be able to do the things that we do in the space domain and terrestrially.
And so we have the same rigor in terms of the questions that are asked during their security clearances in terms of getting them to the proper clearance level so they can perform their duties within my command. I will tell you right now that we have done everything that Secretary Austin has asked us to do in terms of training and awareness, but in my organization I would say that number is zero.
And we are very keen and aware of those types of activities or what would lead to those and we understand that very well. And so in terms of years of experience, yes, I would tell you in – in formations that I've had throughout my career I have not seen that. So I believe it's close to zero in my organization if not zero.
SULLIVAN: Thank you, but nothing nearing 10%, ridiculous, in my view. But obviously you guys – you gentlemen would agree. Let me just ask on final question, Admiral, it's for you. As the North Koreans continue advancement of their weapons systems, what can we do – are you concerned it's going to outpace our ability to defend the U.S. homeland? I'm talking about the GBI system. And what can we do to accelerate the development of the next generation interceptor? And does it make sense to have 20 empty silos right now at Fort Greely?
RICHARD: Senator, one, I think the nation has the right standard and policy when it comes to missile defense relative to rouge threats with North Korea right now being the defining example of that. Obviously that is something that we may go and review but right now I would start off with I think that's the right pace. We will have to pace that threat.
I certainly support Northern Command's requirements to be able to do so and would look for the Department, understanding resource limitations and other mission sets that are in competition, for us to maintain that standard in terms of our missile defenses.
SULLIVAN: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Sullivan. Senator, Blumenthal, you have the floor. Senator Blumenthal.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you both for being here, thank you for your extraordinary service. Adm. Richards, we've interacted before at a number of submarine related events and I thank you for your service, particularly in that area. And Gen. Dickinson, thank you for embarking on this very promising, important new area.
At a recent hearing, I expressed my concern about white supremacist actions and extremism in our military and I want to just be clear, that I said at a prior it was a very small percentage of troops potentially that were involved in these activities. I am sure it is well under 10% as I believe I indicated then, but I believe that any percent of white supremacist or violent extremists in our military is intolerable and unacceptable. I hope you both agree.
RICHARD: Senator, I certainly agree with that. Right? That extremism – you are either on team constitution or you are not, and if you are not you have no place in our military.
DICKINSON: Senator, I agree as well. There's no place for it in our military today.
BLUMENTHAL: As you know better than all of us, Gen., much of the operational information utilized within SPACECOM remains very highly classified and it’s often restricted in terms of access. And I have been an advocate in many other areas of sharing more information with the American public so that they understand the threats and the risks in this area. Right now I think there is almost no awareness among the American people. What can be done to make the American public better informed and aware of the challenges, to use a euphuism that exists in your domain?
DICKINSON: Senator, thanks for that question and I – I would say that's probably, in my words, one of the most visible things that U.S. Space Command has done over the last 20 months. In that, we have been able to articulate and call out some of the activities that we've seen in orbit that we would determine at a minimum, dangerous. At a maximum or at the other end of the scale, as threatening. And what I'm describing is what we've seen over the last year, 2019 and 2020, with the on-orbit activities of the Russians in terms of conducting an on-orbit anti-satellite test, as well as a ground based missile anti-satellite test that was threatening or was demonstrating as capability that they have. And so in other words, Senator, our ability to be able to discuss that like we do in many other domains; air, land and sea is very important to what we do. And really working very closely with the intel community we have been able to do that.
So in terms of classification and being able to declassify that so that we're able to communicate and talk not only with – to the American public about it but also our allies and partners around the world to make sure that we understand what they're building and what their future intent could be.
BLUMENTHAL: That was my next question, do you think that there are procedures for declassifying information that make our ability to share information with our allies and partners (inaudible)?
DICKINSON: So we're – Senator, we're working that everyday. Just that the fact last year that we were able to come out publicly and describe what I just mentioned about their on-orbit activities is a step – a big step in the right direction. We continue to work within the department as well as within the intel community so that we can continue to do that and do it more frequently.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Blumenthal. Senator Hawley, please.
HAWLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen, both of you for being here and thank you for your many years of service to our country. Admiral, can I start with you and I want to talk a little bit about the B-2, Whiteman Air Force in my home state of Missouri, of course it's proudly home to the B-2 Bomber.
In your testimony we wrote that the B-2 and I'm quoting you now, "is the only heavy payload penetrating stealth bomber in the world. Able to hold at risk heavily defended hard deeply buried targets." I just wanted to give you an opportunity to talk about why this is so important for our strategic deterrence? And what it is we need to do to ensure that the B-2 continues to be effective until the B-21 comes fully on-line?
RICHARD: Well, sir, that's summarized it in terms of that is the only capability that we have to hold certain targets at risk that are very important in our ability to deter that, right. The – it is known that that weapon system can do that. That changes decision calculus of people that we're trying to deter.
And so I applaud Air Force efforts, right, to maintain the B-2 all the way through with its full range of capabilities while simultaneously taking all the steps necessary to bring the B-21 in on time, such that the nation maintains this capability going into the future.
Remember, in addition to its penetration capabilities one key aspect that the bomber leg adds is its flexibility, the fact that we can move it all over the place that provides a deterrent benefit. It certainly provides assurance to allies. You see us doing that with these forces today. And it's signaling; it's visible, right. We can directly show our – it's the best way we have to directly show our resolve as a nation by what we do with this piece of the triad.
HAWLEY: Very good. Thank you. Let's talk about China a little bit. You said earlier today that what it's going to take to deter China is going to start to be additive to what we have to do with Russia. Could you just elaborate a little bit on what you mean by additive?
RICHARD: So fundamentally I am required to deter all nations that I'm assigned all the time, right. I don't get to do it one at a time. And I have an obligation such that we are able to meet all the objectives simultaneously with everybody that's involved. Until recently it was pretty reasonable to assume that with the margins, right, for uncertainty that are built into our strategic forces it would reasonable to assume you had sufficient residual capability to deter any other lesser included case.
That's about to no longer be true and that's what I'm talking about. I can give you some specific numbers in a closed session, Senator.
HAWLEY: Very good, thank you for that. Tell me this, what do you think that China's progress from a nuclear dyad to triad says about their view of a no first use policy?
RICHARD: Senator, that along with everything else in my mind is fundamentally inconsistent with a no first use policy and the implied minimum deterrent strategy. But maybe more importantly than independent of what their intent is, it certainly gives them the capability, if they choose to to any number of possible employment strategies. So even if that was the basis of the decision it still allows a very large range of possible employment strategies independent of why they got it to begin with.
HAWLEY: Very good. Admiral, tell me many of those who advocate for shrinking or eliminating our ICBM force are also strong proponents of international arms control. And I'm just wondering from a defense point of view is it your view that cutting our ICBM force would help or hurt our negotiating position in future arms control negotiations with Russia or China?
RICHARD: Senator, the way I approach that is fundamentally that negotiation is the responsibility of the Department of State with input from OSD policy. And I would defer to them on what the best negotiating strategy is. I just have to look at what the actual capabilities are now and what I have to have to deter that. So my strong advice is to – arms control would be excellent – if additional arms control would reduce the threat. Get the arms control in place first before we then decide to take reductions in our capability.
HAWLEY: Let me ask you one final question here in my final seconds about the danger of a simultaneous conflict. In your testimony you wrote that prudence dictates military planners consider it an (ph) account for the complex threat environment enabled by the strategic cooperation of Russia and China. Tell me how you're thinking about the threat of simultaneous conflicts in both Europe and Asia and how that informs your thinking and what we going to need to maintain strategic deterrence in the coming years?
RICHARD: Deterring opportunistic aggression going into the future will be a challenge that we haven't faced on this scale in a long time. So if we're engaged in one theater other folks sensing opportunity. And it's not only for their own individual aims we also have to think through what they might do in cooperation with each other. Because while they both have different national aims both of them are inconsistent with us. And it is to both of their advantage for us to potentially get constrained in a particular area.
So it's not only opportunistic it's in combination. This is a – this three party world that we're in is something we have never faced before and we have a lot of work to continue to do to think our way through that.
HAWLEY: Thank you very much for that and your testimony. I'll have some questions for you, Gen., for the record. Thank you for being here and your service. Thank you, Admiral. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Hawley. Senator Blackburn via Webex.
BLACKBURN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you all for the time today to talk a little bit. Gen. Dickson – Dickinson, I want to come to you. SPACECOM, the southeast is home to three of our nation's top 12 university programs for aerospace engineering. So we are very excited and think it's appropriately placed having SPACECOM there in Huntsville. We look forward to hosting this in the future and hearing more about SPACECOM.
And I appreciate some of the vastness of your area of operations and it really is quite literally limitless. And I see a range of reach in space and look forward to that.
So let me ask you this, is there a role for SPACECOM in traditional departments of commerce and transportation-like functions, such as the shaping the domestic ecosystem of space activity, space traffic management, launch licensing and other space activities, because we know that certainly the Chinese are already working on this?
DICKINSON: Senator, I think – I think what you just described is appropriate. I think as we look at the rapid commercialization of space just from the United States perspective in terms of numbers of capabilities and satellites going into orbit, that the actual administrative piece to that, which is the licensing and those types of functions absolutely are part of the whole government type of activity.
For me at U.S. Space Command my job is to make sure that I provide that secure environment through my ability to understand what's going on in the space domain in terms of what our competitors, potential adversaries are doing there, in terms of characterization of that and understanding what their intentions might be.
BLACKBURN: Where are you in working with the Department of State and our partners and our allies to create norms of behavior in space to include beyond near-earth orbit?
DICKINSON: Senator, I work very closely with OSD policy and the Department of Defense on helping to characterize maybe what we would think would be norms of behavior. But, the work there is actually with the Department of State and how they're characterizing that.
My job in U.S. Space Command is to make sure that I provide them that type of information that would show them or illustrate to them what those activities or behaviors would be on orbit in terms of our adversaries and competitors.
BLACKBURN: OK. Now, if there were to be a conflict that began in or either transitioned to space, how do you interpret your current responsibilities to defend U.S. commercial assets?
DICKINSON: So, my protect and defend responsibilities in the space domain are one of my fundamental mission sets for this command. And I do that in a number of ways. One, is understanding the environment.
Two is communicating that to a, in this case, a commercial entity so that they're aware of that and we do, we're integrated very well with our commercial – some of our commercial partners out at Vandenberg Air Force Base and one of my subordinate commands. And so we work every day to do that. But we would do that in a timely manner so that we are able to make them aware of activities.
BLACKBURN: And so you believe these responsibilities are appropriate in scope and scale?
DICKINSON: So Senator, I would take that in terms of my responsibilities and direction from the National Command Authority on which assets in particular to protect in that case and in terms of the resources, I have resources today that are growing in capacity and capability over the next few years to help me (ph).
BLACKBURN: OK. And then when it comes to development and enhancement of our space-based sensor layer, what would you say is the top threat that we should be hedging against and what should be our priority investment to counter that threat?
DICKINSON: So the pacing threat – the pacing challenge for in the Space domain is like it is in the other domains which is China. And they are growing capability and capacity over – as we have seen over the last several years. If you look at the vast – just the gross number of satellites that the Chinese have today based on what they had just 10 years ago, they've gone from a little – back in 2010 they had about 70 satellites on orbit, today they have well over 400.
And so we know that that is growing in capability and capacity to probably be over 1,000 here by 2030. So they are the pacing threat for us on – in the space domain just as they are in other domains.
BLACKBURN: OK. I have a couple of questions for Adm. Richard, I will submit those as a QFR. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you very much, Senator Blackburn. And now let me recognize and salute the patience of Senator Tuberville.
TUBERVILLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. I know they are getting tired. They look hungry and they need to go to the restroom probably so I won't be that long. First of all thank you for your service. I can't imagine starting a new team from scratch, I can't imagine that, I never had to do it football. And just had 120 players and Gen. you got your hands full and thank you for your service and an important service.
And, admiral, I like your forcedness in terms of hey, we need to modernize at the end of the day. You've had a team for a long time or we've had a team that's getting old and we need new players and we need new equipment. And I like what our secretary says, we can afford survival and he's exactly right. With all the money we're spending we can afford it.
Growing up we were all in the space race, Gen., and we're in a new one now. It's competition that we've got to win. The Chinese have weaponized space sadly. Many in our country don't understand that American life depends on our secure and reliable access to space; whether it's the GPS in our phones or watching a football game.
Adm. Richard, you're a native of the great state and Gen. Dickinson I know you worked at Huntsville as Army Missile Command. And you both understand first hand that Alabamians stand firmly behind our men and women in uniform. Alabama industry stands behind our military. Alabama and Redstone Arsenal are ready for Space Command but many people in this room probably don't understand Redstone. Redstone's been involved with space operations for 70 years.
NASA's only facility on a military base is the Marshall Space Flight Center. The largest consumer of space products is the U.S. Army and Army Missile Command and has been at Redstone Arsenal since it was established in 1962. Space technology won't just be developed by the government. To outpace China and Russia, which is going to be a challenge, we need private industry.
The area around Redstone boast 800 suppliers and contractors building the very latest in space technology. I was at Redstone three weeks ago and Redstone was – has the land for Space Command to grow as your mission expands. It's dedicated 64 acres behind the fence as Space Command, and the base has temporary spaces for you right now if needed.
So, Gen., I'm looking forward to calling you – call the great State of Alabama your home. And Admiral, you're welcome to come anytime.
Gen. Dickinson, thank you for your productive call last week. My colleague asked how much of the civilian workforce we might move to Huntsville. I'd like to follow-up on that question. First, how much do you – do (ph) your civilian workforce have you hired? And how many people do you intend to hire in the future?
DICKINSON: Senator, about – my approved manning document is about 60 percent civilian. We – to date we've hired probably about not quite a third of that into the command. The command right now is about a third of what our end strength will be. So we're a little over 600. Some of that's contractors, some of that's civilian and some of that's military.
And so as we look – as we look to the future we are – we are absolutely looking at incentives that we can provide to our civilian workforce. They are absolutely the bedrock of the command today and into the future. And so we'll look at how we can try to incentivize our civilian workforce in terms of making the – making the move to Alabama. But I can't give you – like I said earlier, I can't give you a prediction of what that percentage will be. There's a lot of factors that going into it.
What we can do though is try to incentivize them through motivation in terms of wanting to work with the command and some other things that we'll consider as well.
TUBERVILLE: Well we're proud that the Secretary of Air Force selected Alabama as the home for Space Command. And how do you see the National Guard implement into that at all? Do you at all in the future in Space Command, the Space Force?
DICKINSON: Senator, as we speak now, the reserve component is a very important part of the U.S. Space Command. Matter of fact when we stood up or we established about 20 months ago one of our biggest elements or components within the command was the reserve component. It was the reserves and the National Guard.
That's a very important part of the command. They bring a great deal of expertise and knowledge to the command. I see that in the future too. We will always, as part of Space Command, have the reserve component as an element within the command.
TUBERVILLE: Adm. Richard, Russia and China are prioritizing investments to compete and win across the range of strategic capabilities especially with regard to nuclear and space capabilities. Do you believe we're behind the curve?
RICHARD: Senator, I have what I need today to deter. To do what the President has asked me to do. But I need it modernized, right. There's no remaining margin. We cannot extend or delay any of the modernization programs for me to continue to say that in the future.
TUBERVILLE: Do we have the technology we need?
RICHARD: Senator, yes right now. The one area that we are working the hardest on to make sure we're fully taking advantage of new technologies is in the nuclear command and control system. We've got the next years locked in pretty tight trying to make sure that we take full advantage of technological development both from the commercial sector and the government sector will be keys to improving that in future iterations.
TUBERVILLE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Tuberville. Gentlemen, thank you for your testimony. We will now close the open session, adjourn as quickly as possible to SBC217 for the classified section. And I have a conflict with the appropriations committee. If the Ranking Member arrives first he will begin the initiation of the questions. With no other business before the committee in the open session, I adjourn the hearing.