Speeches

SPEECH | March 8, 2022

HASC-SF Subcommittee Hearing Fiscal Year 2023 Strategic Forces Posture Hearing, Mar. 1

COOPER:  (OFF-MIKE) Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The war in Ukraine is a tragic reminder of the importance of our work which, as I've always said, is arguably the most important and technical of any committee in the House. Vladimir Putin's recent announcement that he was placing his nuclear forces on alert made clear to the world the risks of miscalculation.

The written testimony today is voluminous, but I will ask the witnesses to shorten their verbal remarks to five minutes to make time for questioning and I'm hopeful that we can keep the open session as brief as possible so we'll have more time in closed session.

We read much in the testimony about new concepts, test beds, labs, initial operating capability and other jargon, but what America and the world needs right now is the capability to defend the free world. That means not just keeping up with commercial industry advances, but getting the Pentagon to be years ahead of industry. We must have the capability to meet and beat any competitor. Lord knows our defense budgets are the envy of the world. We need to get our money's worth with capabilities that are also the envy of the world.

Although our witnesses today are not responsible for development of space systems, they are responsible for operating our deployed capabilities and establishing requirements for what we will need in the future. I am thankful that we're finally moving forward to a more resilient, diversified space architecture, rather than simply replacing the aging big juicy targets currently on orbit.

There's much more work to be done, however, and our strategic posture must remain the top priority for the Department of Defense. I'm thankful that the Biden administration has stressed continuity with past strategic policy and the urgency of maintaining our nuclear posture.

We will move immediately to closed session upon conclusion of the open hearing, and I yield now to the ranking member, Mr. Lamborn.

LAMBORN:  Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding today's hearing. The backdrop of this hearing, as we all know, is Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which will be on the top of our minds for all of us here today.

Thank you to our witnesses, Secretary Baker, Admiral Richard, General Dickinson and General VanHerck for taking the time to be before us today.

In this forum a year ago, we all lamented the degree to which the global security environment was deteriorating. Admiral Richard, I recall that you went to great lengths, giving your best military advice as to how we must deter two nuclear peer adversaries at the same time. It was a sobering hearing. In just 10 months since that hearing, the global security environment has become exponentially worse. China and Russia are seeking to exploit our weaknesses, and we can't let our guard down.

As Russian forces massed on the Ukrainian border, Putin oversaw a strategic nuclear forces exercise designed to intimidate Europe and the United States. In his words, the intent was to threaten, quote, "consequences you have never faced in your history," quote -- unquote, "for anyone who tries to interfere with us," quote/unquote. The next day, as Ukrainian troops valiantly repelled Russian advances, Putin directed the elevation in the readiness posture of his nuclear forces. Russia is being run by a despot detached from reality with up to 2,000 nuclear warheads that are not accountable under the New START treaty. Russia may be willing to say, quote, "A nuclear war cannot be won, so it must never be fought," unquote, but I'd remind my colleagues, Putin also said he had, quote, "no intention of invading Ukraine", unquote.

Since last year, the strategic threat posed by China has also metastasized. We all know that China intends to have at least 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030. They've conducted a hypersonic fractional orbital bombardment test that surprised the world, and they have constructed new ICBM fields that are sprouting like weeds. These new ICBM fields, along with new Chinese road mobile systems and hypersonic delivery systems, significantly increased the number of targets STRATCOM must hold at risk, and they complicate the detection and warning problem for our missile defense capabilities.

And with everything else going on, North Korea launched a ballistic missile last week. It barely even made the news, but there is press reporting that the test had applications for a space-launched capability. If true, this represents a significant threat to our homeland, and the Missile Defense Review, which is coming out soon, must continue the long-standing commitment to outpace the North Korean threat to the homeland and get the next generation interceptor to initial operating capability as soon as possible.

And to complicate matters further, China and Russia have demonstrated ability and intent to weaponize and militarize space. Russia's recent anti-satellite weapon test generated debris that threatens human lives on orbit and shows that space is no longer free from threat and militarization.

China's demonstration of space warfare concepts is equally disturbing, as they recently demonstrated the capability to engage and remove satellites from their operational orbits. The open demonstrations of these abilities are intended as a direct warning to the West.

Secretary Baker, given these dynamics, I can't see how the Nuclear Posture Review could recommend anything less than the current Nuclear Triad Modernization Plan. If President Biden sheds or does away in any way with nuclear capabilities, as has been reported, I predict bipartisan opposition in the House and Senate that will override it and continue to fund these systems. This includes the sea-launched nuclear cruise missile, or SLCM-N, B -- the B83 gravity bomb, the W76-2 warhead. Not doing so will cause allies to question our strategic deterrent. That cannot happen, especially now.

And lastly, any weakening or changes in the U.S. Nuclear Declaratory Policy must be expressly taken off the table. Europe is embroiled in the largest war since World War II, and Ukraine faces an existential threat. We cannot risk dividing NATO at this precarious time, so I implore you, listen to our allies and maintain this current strong American-led strategic deterrence posture.

We can no longer attack our deterrence problems in isolation and it is vital that we provide to this nation the viable options needed to deter or defeat our adversaries across strategic domains.

Thank you, again, to all of witnesses for joining us. And I yield back, Mr. Chairman.

COOPER:  Thank you, Mr. Lamborn. The first witness is Secretary Baker.

BAKER:  Thank you, Chairman Cooper, Ranking Member Lamborn and distinguished members of this committee. I respectfully request that my written statement be taken for the record and I'll just do brief --

COOPER:  Without objection, so ordered.

BAKER:  -- opening remarks. Thank you. The Department acknowledges the challenging moment we're in as we witness the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Such actions highlight Russia as an acute threat, even as the Department continues to pace to the People's Republic of China.

Further, the United States faces a challenging security environment amid intensifying strategic competition, rapidly evolving domains of conflict, novel military capabilities and the growing assertiveness of our competitors.

Deterrence is challenged by competitor's grey zone operations below the threshold of conflict combined with increasingly complex escalation dynamics, which erode strategic stability.

We must diligently calibrate our strategic posture, which is underwritten by our nuclear missile defense space and hypersonic strike capabilities to these developments.

The forthcoming 2022 National Defense Strategy will detail the Department's strategic approach. At the core of the NDS lies integrated deterrence and this is a framework for working seamlessly across warfighting domains, theaters, the spectrum of conflict in close collaboration with all instruments of national power, our allies and our partners.

As such, the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review and the Missile Defense Review will be nested within the NDS. We recognized that we face an urgent imperative to sustain and strengthen U.S. deterrence and must bring together all available tools of nation power to do so.

Nuclear deterrence is the Department's highest priority mission. Our nuclear posture continues to be the backbone of our strategy to preserve peace and stability by deterring aggression against the United States, our allies and our partners.

Potential U.S. adversaries are modernizing, diversifying and expanding their strategic capabilities, resulting in growing risks. The PRC's ongoing ambitious expansion of their nuclear forces is a growing factor in how we assess our nuclear posture. The PRC is investing in a Triad, implementing a launch-on-warning posture with advanced command and control architecture and increasing its stockpile.

Russia's modernization of its nuclear missile space and hypersonic capabilities, coupled with its highly aggressive military behavior witnessed in its attack against Ukraine also pose a distinct and pressing challenge. North Korea remains a persistent threat and continues to develop nuclear weapons and associated delivery systems that threats its region and increase risk to the U.S. homeland.

Iran's pursuit of nuclear activities continues to be of deep concern. This year, the Department will release the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review as directed by the president. the NPR has examined opportunities to reduce the rule of nuclear weapons while maintaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent and a credible extended deterrent.

In order to do so we will continue to sustain and modernize U.S. nuclear capabilities. And as we develop and implement integrated deterrence nuclear weapons will continue to serve a unique role in our defense strategy.

Missile defenses contribute to tailored U.S. deterrence strategies and extended deterrence to prevent attacks from states like North Korea on the U.S. homeland and to protect our allies, partners and U.S. forces abroad.

We are seeking a layered and interoperable approach to address the growing number and type of missile threats from the unmanned system proliferated by Iran to the higher end hypersonic threats.

The MDR will provide a framework for U.S. missile defense priorities and a strategy for missile defense within integrated deterrence. It will also outline how the United States is integrating missile defense with allies and partners in order to strengthen international cooperation against shared threats.

In space, the PRC remains our primary long-term competitor, seeking to exploit our reliance on space-based systems and challenge our position. Russia remains a key U.S. competitor in the space domain as well, as it similarly seeks to undermine and exploit the U.S. in space.

Iran is continuing to pursue a space program which could short the pathway to long-range missile capability. We are focused on ensuring the capabilities and the architecture to deter, deny and if necessary defeat hostile actions in space, recognizing that a short access to space is critical for our approach across all domains.

The development of U.S. hypersonic strike weapons systems, all strictly non-nuclear is a Department priority. The combination of their speed, maneuverability and altitude provides clear and distinct operational advantages. The Department is working to identify and invest in the optimal mix of high and low ammunitions for deterrence and to ensure we achieve our objectives in conflict.

We are also developing the concepts of operations to employee these systems that address and minimize destabilizing risks. Transparency and dialogue with Congress remain critical to the evolution of this capability. I'd like to thank you for the support of the Department across all of these domains. And with that, I look forward to your questions.

COOPER:  Thank you Secretary Baker. Now, Admiral Richard.

RICHARD:  Chairman Cooper, Ranking Member Lamborn, distinguished committee members, first I want to offer my appreciation for the flexibility to all me to testify virtually with my fellow panelists. It's due to those unfolding events over the weekend I felt it prudent for me to remain at my headquarters here in Omaha. And, in particular, given the ongoing historically significant crisis in Ukraine I am going to defer all questions relative to Russia and a number related to our own forces to the closed session.

But before I begin, I want to thank Secretary Austin, Chairman Milley, for their continued support to the strategic deterrence and strategic defense of the nation as well as their overall leadership under some very trying conditions.

And, ladies and gentlemen, right up front what I want to assure is, is that my command, as always, is ready to execute our strategic deterrence mission.

Chairman Milley rightly stated that we're experiencing one of the largest shifts in global, geostrategic power the world has ever witnessed. Today, we face two nuclear capable, near-peers, who have the capability to unilaterally escalate a conflict to any level of violence in any domain, worldwide, with any instrument of national power. And that is historically significant.

Last fall, I formerly reported to the Secretary of Defense, the PRC's strategic breakout. Their expansion in modernization in 2021 alone is breathtaking. And the concern I expressed in my testimony last April has now become a reality.

I had previously emphasized our need to be able to deter two adversaries at the same time. That need is now an imperative. I said this before and I think it's worth repeating. Every operational plan in the Department of Defense and every other capability we have rests on an assumption that strategic deterrence and, in particular, nuclear deterrence is holding. And if strategic or nuclear deterrence fails no other plan and no other capability in the Department of Defense will work as designed. The nation's nuclear forces underpin integrated deterrence and enable the U.S. and our allies, partners to confront aggressive and coercive behavior.

The strategy security environment is now a three-party nuclear near-peer reality. Our existing nuclear forces are the minimum required to achieve our national strategy. We must modernize and recapitalize the nation's nuclear triad, nuclear command and control, nuclear complex and supporting infrastructure to meet presidential objectives.

And while modernization must be the priority, please make no mistake, STRATCOM's forces are ready today. Thank you. And I look forward to your questions.

COOPER:  Thank you, admiral. Now we will hear from General Dickinson.

DICKINSON:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. And thank you, Chairman Cooper, Ranking Member Lamborn and members of the HAS Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

As always, I'm honored today to represent the approximately 18,000 men and women of the United States Space Command. We are a diverse team that values the honorable service of everyone within our ranks. This month we honor the contributions of the women on our team as U.S. Space Command acknowledges and celebrates Women's History Month.

Today, we remain hard at work building the command toward full operational capability. We are steadily filling out our headquarters. Its composition reflects our joined combined and partnered approach to executing our critical mission.

As of this month, we have approximately 1,000 members assigned to our headquarters with 339 active-duty from all services, 227 from the Department of the Air Force civilians, 323 contractors, 44 representatives from the interagency, and 39 Reserve component personnel from the Guard and Reserve.

We are glad to have them all on our team responding to the threats that U.S. and allied interests in space demands with the capabilities and expertise of every one of our team members. We are prepared to execute our Unified Command Plan missions and responsibilities yet acknowledge that the challenges from our competitors in the domain are substantial and growing.

China remains our pacing challenge. PLA developments and -- it's directed to creating a joint versatile, power-projecting, professional and lethal force for the international stage and the space layer is critical to their buildout.

In 2021, the PRC increased on-orbit assets by 27 percent. Their recent counter capability -- their recent counter-space capability demonstrate -- demonstrations include the DN-1 and the DN-2 direct ascent anti-satellite tests and the hypersonic glide vehicle test.

In January, the recently launched SJ-21 space debris mitigation satellite docked with a defunct PRC satellite and moved it to an entirely different orbit. This activity demonstrated potential dual-use capability in SJ-21 interaction with other satellites.

U.S. Space Command is committed to deterring the use of these types of capabilities for nefarious purposes within the framework of the Department of Defense's integrated deterrence initiative. And if called upon, we are capable of providing options to protect and defend against such threats.

Key to all this, you -- key to all of this is U.S. and allied superiority informed through space domain awareness, or SDA, capabilities. SDA helps us analyze, not just identify, what is occurring in space which, when combined with information from our intelligence agencies, helps develop an understanding of why things are happening in space.

SDA remains my top mission priority for U.S. Space Command. SDA provides the backbone of U.S. Space Command's strategy for accomplishing our mission. That strategy sets the conditions to deter first and, when called upon, to defend space capabilities and deliver combat power to the United States and its allies.

Our strategy has three main areas of focus. One is countering competitor influence. Two, strengthening relationships and attracting new partners. And three, building and maintaining a cooperative advantage.

With continued support from Congress, U.S. Space Command will do all of that and more.

So on behalf of the most critical asset in our command, the soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, Guardians, civilians and families of U.S. Space Command thank you, Chairman Cooper, and Ranking Member Lamborn and the members of this committee, for your support of our mission to conduct operations in, from, and to space.

I am submitting my statement for the record. And I look forward to your questions.

COOPER:  Thank you, General Dickinson. Without objection, your statement will be submitted in full for the record.

Now we'll hear from General VanHerck.

VANHERCK:  Chairman Cooper, Ranking Member Lamborn distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear today.

It's my honor to represent the men and women of United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command as we defend the United States and Canada in an increasingly complicated environment.

I'm also pleased to appear with Admiral Richard, General Dickinson, and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Ms. Baker to discuss the vital importance of integrated deterrence, especially as it relates to the homeland defense mission.

NORTHCOM and NORAD face the most dynamic and strategically complex environment in their respective histories. Both commands face multiple simultaneous challenges from strategic competitors who have openly declared their intent to hold our homelands at risk in an effort to advance their own interests.

Today strategic competitors, rogue nations, non-state actors possess the ability to strike institutions and critical infrastructure in the United States and Canada. To put it bluntly, our country is already under attack every day in the information space and in the cyber domain.

Our competitors, especially Russia and China, are spreading disinformation, actively sowing division and internal discord with the intent to undermine the foundation of our nation, our democracy, and other democracies around the world.

We're seeing this play out today with Russia's invasion in Ukraine. Meanwhile, those same competitors have invested heavily in conventional precision strike capabilities and advanced delivery platforms which Russia is currently displaying to the world.

In pursuit of their regional objectives, Russia and China intend to hold targets in the homeland at risk below the nuclear threshold in order to limit decision space for our senior leaders by threatening national critical infrastructure, and by undermining our will and disrupting and delaying our ability to project power forward in a crisis.

I want to be clear. I believe the strategic deterrent is the foundation of homeland defense. I also believe it is necessary for the United States to maintain a reliable and effective nuclear triad.

At the same time, I am concerned that our reliance on deterrence by cost imposition is currently overweighted and does not adequately account for the conventional capabilities our competitors have already fielded. The overreliance on -- this overreliance increases the risk of miscalculation and escalation because it limits our national leaders' options in crisis and in conflict.

Our competitors' advanced conventional capabilities make it necessary to move forward to a model of integrated deterrence that employs all elements of national influence, leverage allies and partnerships, provides leaders with a wide range of timely deterrence options.

We must continually demonstrate to our potential aggressors that they will not be successful in achieving their objectives by demonstrating homeland readiness, responsiveness, resiliency, and displaying a range of kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities to defend the homeland and respond to any potential threat or aggression.

U.S. NORTHCOM's support of civil authorities and security cooperation relationships with allies and partners are critical to that effort. As is NORAD's mission to provide warning and defend the approaches to North America.

The reality is that this strategic environment is the new normal. North America is and will be continually challenged day to day and in crisis. Our operating model that assumed we could project power globally from a safe and secure homeland is eroding and has been eroding for more than decade.

In order to provide national leaders with timely and informed options that they need to achieve favorable outcomes we must improve ability to detect and track potential threats anywhere in the world while delivering data to decision makers as rapidly as possible wherever they might be.

In pursuit of those goals, NORTHCOM and NORAD are focused on four strategic principles in our homeland defense design. All domain awareness, that's from undersea to on orbit and everything in between including cyber.

Information dominance, that's a use of advance capabilities such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze and process data much sooner and deliver that data, what I call decision superiority, to key decision makers in a timely manner.

And finally global integration; no problem is regional anymore they're all all-domain and global.

These principles are vital elements to integrated deterrence and they are critical to our nation's ability to deter in competition, deescalate in crisis and if necessary defeat in conflict. I continue to work closely with my fellow commanders including Admiral Richard and General Dickinson to services, the department and all of our interagency and international partners to defend our nation.

I'd like to thank the committee and all that you've done to support our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and our guardians. The FY '22 national defense authorization continues to advance our national defense priorities and the mission of Northern Command and NORAD.

However today's strategic environment calls for sustained, sufficient and predictable funding in order to prevail while presenting persistently operating under a -- continuing resolution has accelerated the erosion of our nation's competitive advantage over the last decade.

I join my fellow commanders, service chiefs and the Secretary in expressing our concerns and need to arrest this degradation by passing the FY '22 omnibus and restoring normal order to the appropriations process as a matter of national security.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to appear today. I look forward to your questions.

COOPER:  Thank you, General VanHerck. Let me just add an amen to what you just said. I would ask all members to keep questions as brief as possible during open session so that we can rapidly move to closed session.

I just have a few questions for Secretary Baker. I think and Secretary would agree that if a major nuclear power were to suddenly double the lethality of their nuclear component that would be a significant development, right?

BAKER:  Yes, Mr. Chairman, I agree.

COOPER:  It might even be what Admiral Richard calls a strategic breakout. So it's a truly alarming development. And I don't know what's in the nuclear posture review that's coming up but my guess is we're not going to advocate anything like doubling U.S. nuclear capability, right?

BAKER:  Mr. Chairman, I apologize, unfortunately I'm not at liberty to talk about the details of the NPR.

COOPER:  I'd be willing to be that we're not going to advocate that. So that's fine. But there was a "Washington Post" article that appeared last October that troubles me because it claims citing a national lab director, who's retired, that the United States has just doubled the lethality of its nuclear arsenal.

And there has been no denial from the Pentagon. Now I checked into to see if this claim was true or not and it seems by all authorities to not be true. We have not doubled the lethality of our nuclear capabilities.

So the continuing Pentagon silence troubles me. And I know that some folks like to appear 10 feet tall even if they're not but this doesn't seem to fit with clear and honest communications on nuclear matters.

So perhaps the Pentagon wants to discount the Post as a source, I can understand that but the continuing silence to me is nearly deafening. And I would hate for a near peer adversary to mistake the post article for something approaching truth and using that as an excuse to accelerate their nuclear development when in fact we haven't done a thing really.

So I just want to get this on the record so that we can have clear communications with the world.

BAKER:  Mr. Chairman, I'm not familiar with the Post article that you referenced but certainly we will dig into it and I agree with you that when it comes to our nuclear posture and our nuclear capabilities we ought to be as transparent as we can be wherever we can be.

COOPER:  Thank you. Mr. Lamborn.

LAMBORN:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Admiral Richard, I'll just jump right in for the sake of time. I think it'd be a mistake to discard any of our nuclear capabilities in light of our two near peers and the nuclear build-ups and posturing that they're currently displaying.

If the United States were to just jettison any of these three following things, the nuclear sea launch cruise missile, the B83 gravity bomb or the W762 low yield submarine launch missile in the four -- in the upcoming nuclear posture review, what kind of message would that send to our adversaries and our allies?

RICHARD:  Ranking member, if -- if you would, given that that's a discussion of our own capabilities I'd like to differ my answer to that to the closed session, please sir.

LAMBORN:  Right there?

COOPER:  Yes.

LAMBORN:  OK. Let me ask another question then. Is it your best military advice that our missile defenses are matching the growing people's republic -- Democratic/Republic of North Korea threat?

RICHARD:  So Ranking Member, my best military advices here is that that very question is at the core of the missile defense review. It's a question of what is our national policy in terms of what we expect to do from our missile defenses.

My best military advice was applied inside the missile defense review and I think it would be best for that process to complete to give you the formal department answer on that, sir.

LAMBORN:  General Dickinson, reliable space launch options are critical to the continued success of the National Security Space Launch program and for assured United States access to space.

Can you outline the strategic advantageous that we have by having launch options on both coasts and what are we doing to protect these national missions given the fact that we have adversaries who are challenge our ability to operate freely in space?

DICKINSON:  So Ranking Member Lamborn, so if I understand your question correctly, it's about responsive launch as well as how we protect those types of capabilities.

LAMBORN:  Yes, and having east coast and west coast options.

DICKINSON:  Certainly. So I think from a perspective of a -- from a combatant commander perspective, having many different options available to us is very important. In other words, not just relying on one type of capability in this case, relying on the ability to rapidly or quickly respond to any events that we might have on orbit with the capability to put something else up in orbit to provide as resiliency and quite frankly redundancy.

Having them geographically separated obviously has some survivability benefits to that. So east coast-west coast. It also lets us -- allows us to deploy in different orbital regimes and in different slots, if you will.

And so from that perspective I support that. I think its part of a layered resiliency type of concept where we rely on that plus other things to make sure that we have resiliency in space and it was mentioned, I believe by Chairman Cooper in his opening remarks about a resilient space architecture.

And that's very important that we have that. That is part of it. The other piece in my mind is having a constellation of satellites or different types of functions; whether it be communications or ISR or missile warning that provide us redundancy and resiliency through numbers of satellites as opposed to just a few.

LAMBORN:  Thank you. General VanHerck, can you elaborate as to how China is developing its hypersonic capabilities in this open context and how does that compare with our own progress?

VANHERCK:  Ranking Member Lamborn, they're aggressively pursuing hypersonic capability tenfold to what we have done as far as testing within the last year or so, significantly outpacing us with their capabilities.

Ours we're picking up in the department. I'm confident we'll see when the budget comes out we'll see additional resources applied into the hypersonic area as well as in threat warning and attack assessment for those capabilities. Thank you for the opportunity.

LAMBORN:  OK. Thank you. And Secretary Baker, I imagine that the Department is diligently consulting with our allies and partners these days as Russia invades Ukraine and is threatening veiled threats or maybe not so veiled threats on nuclear action.

In these conversations have you found a single NATO ally that is advocating for us to change or weaken our nuclear declaratory policy?

BAKER:  Congressman, yes, of course we are consulting closely with our partners and allies on a daily if not more regular basis. The substance of those conversations is largely about the current ongoing events in Ukraine. But no, I can't say that I've found an ally who is urging us to reduce our nuclear deterrence.

LAMBORN:  Or our declaratory policy --

BAKER:  Yes, sir.

LAMBORN:  -- in particular.

BAKER:  Yes, sir.

LAMBORN:  OK. Thank you so much. Mr. Chairman, I yield back to you.

COOPER:  Thank you. Mr. Carbajal.

CARBAJAL:  Thank you, Mr. Chair. General Dickinson, U.S. Space officials noted recently that Russia will employ counter-space capabilities like jamming and spoofing of the global position system GPS and communication satellites in support of its Ukraine invasion.

In addition, the NRO director urged military and commercial space operators to prepare for possible cyber-attacks from Russia. These warnings are deeply concerning to me as I represent Vandenberg Space Force Base, home to the U.S. Space Command's combined CSpOC, Space Operation Center; which provides GPS, navigation, and space data that supports U.S., European command and partners and critical to our command and control of space forces.

With this increased threat of cyber-attacks and counter space capabilities, how is USSPACECOM working to sustain GPS and critical communications networks that support coalition partners.

DICKINSON:  Thank you, Congressman, for that question.

So, at U.S. Space Command, we prepare for that every day. That is of what we do throughout the command that you mentioned the CSpOC at Vandenberg Space Force Base.

Those guardians and warriors out there do that each and every day, ensuring that our global positioning satellites are state-of-the-art in our operational to include satellite communications that we provide, as well as missile warning. And so we continue to do that each and every day. We take various active measures to make sure that we are protecting ourselves and defending ourselves from cyber-attacks.

So, in my mind, we're -- we are in a position right now where I'm very comfortable with our strategic posture for the space enterprise in support of not only European Command, General Todd Wolters over there, but also the other combatant commands around the world. So, with our global mission, that's what we do each and every day.

CARBAJAL:  Thank you. To continue, General Dickinson, the Space Enterprise has increasingly become a contested domain as Russia and China continue to develop and build space capabilities. In this contested space environment, do you have enough resources to assure U.S. access and superiority in the space domain? And two, how are you leveraging commercial capabilities to build current and future capability gaps?

DICKINSON:  So our relationship with the commercial industry is advancing and developing and maturing very quickly. We have had a number of commercial companies. I think we're up over 100 that we work with right now at what we call our commercial integration cell that's out at Vandenberg Space Force Base.

So much so, that we are developing a new framework for our integration with the commercial industry, and we're doing that right now at the U.S. Space Command. Because we're finding that our commercial partners can bring a lot of capability very quickly to what we do each and every day, and that starts with satellite communications.

That's really been kind of our older relationship that we've had for many years but now it's expanding into space domain awareness that gives us commercial type of the products that we can use from the commercial perspective. And that's actually out in Colorado Springs where the headquarters is right now, and I think we've had Ranking Member Lamborn there.

So, in other words, the integration of commercial capabilities within U.S. Space Command helps us with what we were just describing in terms of providing resiliency, as well as redundancy in some of the things that we need and capabilities we provide.

CARBAJAL:  Thank you and I'll just remind us that to be able to achieve that commercial framework enhancement, we need to continue to invest in the infrastructure of those ranges to be able to achieve these goals. So that's something I've been also advocating for.

Secretary Baker and Admiral Richard, we all saw President Putin's unwarranted escalation of the Ukraine crisis by ordering Russian nuclear forces to be put on high alert. What steps are you all taking within the coalition to manage this unprovoked escalation?

BAKER:  Congressman, I would just say in this open session, you know, we are assessing President Putin's directive. At this time, as the secretary said, I believe last night, we are comfortable with our strategic defensive posture and I'll turn to maybe Admiral Richard if he wants to add anything to that.

RICHARD:  Congressman, one, that's part of why I'm in Omaha is a part of our ability to assess and be satisfied in terms of our defensive posture. I am satisfied with the posture of my forces. I have made no recommendations to make any changes and part of that is because right now all I'll say in open session is the nation's nuclear command-and-control is in its most defended, most resilient lineup that it's ever been in in its history.

And I'll be happy to go into more detail as to why I say that, as well as more discussion of what we see and what we're doing about it in close sessions, sir.

CARBAJAL:  Thank you. I'm out of time. Mr. Chair, I yield back.

COOPER:  Thank you, Mr. Carbajal. Mr. Books?

BROOKS:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Admiral Richard, always good to see someone from the Tennessee Valley out there. As you mentioned in your opening statement, in September 2021, you stated China to be in a quote, "strategic breakout," end quote. In February 2021, you wrote in an essay titled, "Forging 21st Century Strategic Deterrence" that you expected China's nuclear weapons stockpile is expected to double if not triple or quadruple over the next decade.

We've all been paying close attention to the conflict in Eastern Europe and Russia's recent movement toward a more aggressive nuclear posture. With what we know about these two adversarial powers is that in the best interest of the United States National Security to make changes to our Nuclear Declaratory Policy?

RICHARD:  Congressman, you know I've testified to that effect several times in the past and it remains my best military advice that changes would not have benefit to strategic deterrent, but would have a negative effect -- a significant negative effect on our assurance of our allies.

BROOKS:  More, specifically, how would a change away from strategic ambiguity affect our allies and what message does it send our adversaries?

RICHARD:  Well, it does certainly on -- does not help on -- has a very negative effect on the assurance of those allies and the bottom line in terms of any potential adversary, I don't think fundamentally, they're going to believe one way or the other what our policy is any more than not we do in some cases.

Again, that's my best military advice that's being addressed as part of the nuclear posture review. I know my place in the chain of command and we're ready to execute whatever decisions are reached. Over.

BROOKS:  Thank you, Admiral Richard. General Dickinson, good to see you, again. In your opening statement, you outlined China's intentions to obtain superiority in space. We know China has various abilities to conduct attacks on our satellites, including laser blinding high-powered microwaves, radio frequency jammers and ground-based missiles that can reach satellites in low Earth orbit.

Can you describe the problems we face and the challenges of responding to such attacks?

DICKINSON:  So, thank you for the question, Congressman. Good to see you as well. For U.S. Space Command, what we're working on right now is all those events that you just described, our ability to understand what those events are and our awareness of those events.

So one of the priorities or the priority within the U.S. Space Command right now is building out the capability to do space domain awareness so that I'm able to understand, interpret and characterize what is happening on orbit, and we are doing that through a couple of means.

One is we're looking at what our terrestrial-based radars can see in space. Some of those are the traditional ones that we've known about for many, many years and we've used those. Others are ones that we hadn't used before and that -- and that --and that role is doing space domain awareness. In other words, looking up to see what they can see.

So we, over the last two years, have been a lot of integration of those nontraditional space domain awareness sensors in order to understand better what's going on in the space domain, and that was highlighted for us, and we had the Nudol Test a couple of months ago where we were able to characterize for the National Command Authority what we saw in space.

So, in other words, battlespace awareness is key to what I'm doing right now to make sure that I can understand what's happening.

BROOKS:  Thank you. And this one will be for General VanHerck. Hopefully, I can get the question quick enough for you to answer. The Missile Defense Agency launched the Next Generation Interceptor Program to protect the United States against potential ballistic missile threats stemming from North Korea and Iran.

How is NORTHCOM continuing to work with MDA to ensure the NGI Program remains on schedule and will meet the need of the combatant command when it is delivered in a 2029 time frame?

VANHERCK:  Congressman, thank you for the question. I routinely meet and talk with Vice Admiral Jon Hill from MDA and stressed the importance of staying on time with delivery in 2028, if not sooner. They have structured the competition to reward filling quicker and faster to meet those demand signals.

So I'd like to reiterate I'm comfortable with where we are today and my capability to defend against the rogue actor that we're designed to defend against capacity and capability going forward could be challenged. And that's why it's crucial that we keep the NGI on time or bring it forward even sooner than 2028.

BROOKS:  Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

COOPER:  Thank you, Mr. Brooks. Mr. Garamendi?

GARAMENDI:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the meeting and Admirals, Generals, thank you for being here. My first question goes to Admiral Richard. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev said, "A nuclear war cannot be one and must never be thought." Is that your view?

RICHARD:  Congressman absolutely.

GARAMENDI:  Did your organization authorize the -- and pay for or authorize and then secondly pay for a guide to nuclear deterrence in the Age of Great-Power Competition, a document written by Louisiana Tech Research Institute?

RICHARD:  Sir, if you'd like I'll take that question for record. I don't know off the top of my head.

GARAMENDI:  It was distributed -- apparently, this was distributed to all of your commanders in your force.

RICHARD:  Certainly not under my direction, sir.

GARAMENDI:  Then you have no knowledge of this?

RICHARD:  No. The -- not from memory, but I'd be happy to go look into it for you, sir.

GARAMENDI:  I'd be happy for you to do that. And you believe that this was not distributed to the 30,000 people in the nuclear business.

RICHARD:  Congressman, I don't know the document you're referring to. So I regret that maybe I should have but I don't know the document you're referring to. I'd be happy to go look into it.

GARAMENDI:  Well, I will agree to your prompt investigation of it. It's a fascinating document, and apparently, it was distributed to most everybody in your organization and it simply says that we can win a nuclear war. Food for thought. So do you believe we can win a limited nuclear war?

RICHARD:  Actually, Congressman, I think my job is to deter limited use of nuclear weapons.

GARAMENDI:  Then you have no opinion upon the question I just asked you?

RICHARD:  My point is...

(CROSSTALK)

GARAMENDI:  ... and you can...

RICHARD:  ... my job...

GARAMENDI:  ... win a...

RICHARD:  ... my job is to deter limited nuclear use, and if deterrence fails to restore that deterrence.

GARAMENDI:  I think we probably ought to get to a classified. I yield back.

COOPER:  Thank you, Mr. Garamendi. Mr. DesJarlais?

DESJARLAIS:  Thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you all for being here today. Admiral Richard, I know you've indicated that you would like to speak further about the B83 nuclear-capable hypersonic weapons and the W76-2 low-yield in a close setting. In light of the conversation if you wouldn't care to share with the committee, can you explain how the W76-2 strengthens our nuclear deterrent and what gap is the U.S. deterrent business capability fill?

RICHARD:  Fundamentally, Congressman, what that enables us to do is to deter limited low-yield and/or combinations of that threats from our opponent. I'll go into more detail in the classified session, sir.

DESJARLAIS:  OK. And both Russia and China have war-fighting plans that utilize low-yield weapons, correct?

RICHARD:  Congressman, better if I answer that in a closed session.

DESJARLAIS:  OK. I'll move on. General Dickinson, I know you are eager to get the permanent location for U.S. Space Command settled. Can you discuss briefly how this long ground (ph) of process has affected your ability to reach full operational capability and what it would mean if you had to restart for the third time a search for a permanent location?

RICHARD:  So thank you, Congressman. When I look at declaring IOC about a year ago last August 2021, that was a milestone within the command as we were able to have enough of the experts that I need on the team to be able to generate those types of strategic effects that we saw when we were able to characterize the Nudol event a couple of months ago.

So we're on our way to full operational capability. Where I see it right now is I'm looking forward to the results and the conclusion of both the DOD-IG evaluation that has been done, as well as the GAO audit that has been -- that is ongoing. Those two assessments -- I'm confident that they'll be done soon.

And I look forward to the final basing decision, whatever that might come out of that -- out of that process. And so for me, it's about the decision like that. I have a decision -- once I have a decision, then I can do the appropriate planning to make sure that I've got the right types of people in the organization to bring me to where I am today, which is IOC to full operational capability.

And really just based on the challenges that we are articulating from the Chinese and the space domain, we need to do that sooner rather than later.

DESJARLAIS:  All right. Thank you, all. I look forward to continuing these discussions in a closed setting. I yield back.

COOPER:  Thank you, Mr. DesJarlais. Mr. Morelle?

MORELLE:  Thank you, Mr. Chair. And thank you to the panel for being here and for your service to the country. I just want to talk briefly about the Mission Stockpile Stewardship Programs which this committee has to continue to support and, specifically, it signs efforts to ensure a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent.

These programs already make stockpile management and modernization successful. I'm very proud that in my district is home of the NNSA-Funded Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester, which plays a unique role of both conducting world-class stewardship science and training the next generation of scientists that support the readiness of your important critical mission.

I am concerned -- I remain concerned that NNSA does not request the adequate resources for the Stockpile Stewardship Program considering our reliance now and in the foreseeable future on science to ensure the safety and readiness of our deterrent force. So I wanted to if any of you could comment on the importance of these science programs to the mission that you have before you.

RICHARD:  Congressman, I'm probably the most appropriate person to answer that question. I think you know I am required by law annually to do an assessment of the stockpile, and yes, recently as -- late last November, certified the safety, security and effectiveness of our nation's nuclear weapon stockpile.

Based on how stewardship program that you talked about is a key element of the ability to make that certification which fundamentally this is about confidence in the stockpile. That's fundamentally where it comes down to. But that's not the only element that goes into this, right?

In order to have that confidence, in addition to a Stockpile Stewardship Program, you have to have a flexible and responsive stockpile itself which requires us to modernize those weapons, and you have to have a resilient and adaptive infrastructure, all of which require adequate funding to NNSA.

Of course, we're statutorily obligated as a part of a Nuclear Weapons Council to do an assessment on the budget as a whole, as well as some individual pieces. That process is ongoing. In fact, we're very close to our annual certification. I'd offer that the relationship between NNSA and DOD or DOE and DOD writ large is never been better or at a high watermark with regard to that.

Intended to keep it that way and then you'll see a formal answer from the department as to the adequacy of the NNSA's budget shortly.

MORELLE:  Thank you. If I could -- Admiral, thank you for the response. Regarding the People's Republic of China, during last year's posture hearing, you stated that is important to look at what they do, not what they say and where they are going and not where they are.

That's almost prophetic considering last August, the PRC has successfully conducted a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile test that traveled around the world and the PRC simply dismissed it as a routine spacecraft experiment as I -- as I remember.

This demonstrated an intercontinental capability. It's obviously deeply concerning to all of us. Do you believe that the U.S. current investments in the ongoing Nuclear Modernization Programs will provide sufficient capabilities for the U.S. to remain a credible strategic deterrent to our enemies and to our allies?

RICHARD:  Congressman, of course, I'm waiting to see what the budget looks like just like everybody else is. I'm confident that it will, in the main, but there's an important point here that you bring up about China and it applies to others as well which is we don't know the endpoint of where China is going in terms of the capabilities it's developing and the capacities that it's developing.

And while I'm very confident, we're going to wind up with a very good strategy. I think it will need to be a question that we continue to ask ourselves as we see where China goes as we see where others go. What are the overall capability and capacity that the United States requires in order to execute that strategy against a changing threat?

And we're going to have to ask that question much more frequently than we have in the past. Over.

MORELLE:  Thank you, Admiral. Mr. Chairman, I yield back my time.

COOPER:  Thank you, Mr. Morelle. Ms. Cheney? Ms. Cheney, are you still with us? If not, who's next on the list?

(UNKNOWN):  I guess, she's...

COOPER:  She's come, OK, OK. Ms. Cheney?

CHENEY:  Thanks. Sorry, Mr. Chairman. I will reserve my questions for the classified session. Thank you.

COOPER:  Thank you, I appreciate your consideration. Mr. Langevin?

LANGEVIN:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Can you hear me OK? Very good. I want to thank our witnesses for their testimony today. If I could, Ms. Baker, I'll start with you. Can you update us on the status of the testing infrastructure for hypersonic programs of record?

BAKER:  Yes, Congressman. Thank you for the question. I can assure you and ensure the committee that we have made substantial investments in the test infrastructure both air and ground in order to accommodate hypersonic testing and other advanced technology testing that we anticipate will be coming down the road. Happy to get you more detail on that if that's of interest.

LANGEVIN:  It is of interest. I'm particularly interested in the -- in the wind tunnel is that part of the infrastructure upgrade you're talking about or is that outside of your purview?

BAKER:  Congressman, I'd -- just to make sure I got my facts straight, take that for the record and happy to get back to you with a little bit more detail.

LANGEVIN:  OK. Thank you. Are there any other any additional investments required beyond those mentioned in the science and technology or testing and infrastructure MILCON unfunded requirements submissions?

BAKER:  Congressman, this is something that we've looked at over the course of the National Defense Strategy and NPR, MDR process, and we are working closely with our colleagues, other components of OSD to make sure that what is included in the budget request -- the forthcoming budget request reflects that need.

LANGEVIN:  Good. Well, you're going to have substantial support from the Hill. They upgraded that infrastructure given the fact that we are behind right now on developing hypersonic weapons.

So, Admiral Richard, I'll turn to you. Electromagnet -- electromagnetic spectrum operations underpin nearly every aspect of U.S. military operations from command-and-control to electronic warfare to sensing and seeing. Surely, our adversaries, however, recognize U.S. military's historical advantage and seek to deny the use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Russia in particular, it has invested heavily in this area, as we've seen leading up to the recent conflict in Ukraine. The Department of Defense, obviously, must be structured to ensure dominance in this area. In fact, the 2021 NDAA required its RAPCON transfer its responsibilities for electromagnetic spectrum operations to another entity within the Department of Defense.

Can you please provide an update on the status of these efforts and your -- and share your thoughts on where the department -- where the department, this critical function should rest?

RICHARD:  Congressman, one, I'm pleased to see that my department has finally understood the importance of us being able to operate an electromagnetic spectrum and I was very pleased to see the department released the electromagnetic spectrum superiority plan which has a detailed implementation plan that we're executing.

One of my direct responsibilities inside that is to stand up a two-star directly reporting to me organization designed to be the operational proponent. And so before those responsibilities -- strike on responsibility -- transfer anywhere which is still an open question, I think is my responsibility to get the operational house in order, basically, fix it and then have it in a position where we might consider transferring it to another combatant command.

Fundamentally, my job here is to be the operational proponent to make sure the standards are correct, to make sure certifications are correct and then to make sure that the operational implications of the programmatic decisions we make are considered. I'm going to fix it first and then we'll figure out if anybody else needs to have it.

LANGEVIN:  Thank you. Thank you, Admiral. We look forward to the outcome of the -- you fixing it and see where that lands and then where we'll go from there. So, I'd be following that closely. But thank you for your answer.

General Dickinson, I've long said that we'll never fight another war without the involvement of cyber, and the same is true for space. Can you discuss the cyber resilience of our space architecture?

DICKINSON:  Thank you, Congressman, for that question. So the cyber resiliency, what's unique about the U.S. Space Command is as we formed and organized ourselves, we started out by embedding cybersecurity right from the very beginning.

So, when I looked at the command right now, we just established our JCC or our Joint Cyber -- Joint Cyber Center within the command that is responsible for looking at the systems within the architecture that we need to defend. So that was starting point number one.

The second piece is our relationship with USCYBERCOM and General Nakasone and his team which has embedded a small element within U.S. Space Command and vice versa. I've inserted or established a cadre within his command as well, and when we look at the service component C across U.S. Space Command, two of my five service components are dual-headed as both space as well as cyber.

So, giving all to that synergy, if you will, with cyber, we are taking it -- we've taken a very deliberate look at how do we protect our space architecture from cyber activity. So I'm confident right now that we're making great strides in that regards and that we are, in fact, is I believe as Admiral Richard said at our highest posture at this point.

LANGEVIN:  I'm encouraged by the answer. Thank you, General and my time is expired. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.

COOPER:  Thank you, Mr. Langevin. Mr. Waltz?

WALTZ:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Chairman Dickinson, good to see you Ms. Baker. Quick question for you on spaceguard, I don't think there's a full appreciation for how valuable the guard is to the current mission. Just a couple of quick data points, Alaska provides 80 percent of the 24/7 combat mission-ready space warfighters for the Upgraded Early Warning Radar.

New York provides a surge capacity to the NRO's Ops Center of Ohio direct support, the Combined Space Ops Center, Florida State that I am proud of -- to come from. They provide a rapid mobility surge to war space electronic warfare capability. My understanding is that the White House would like to move all of these missions into U.S. Space Force by 2025.

I think you would -- would you agree, General Dickinson that the guard brings a significant private sector capability is kind of a bridging function and, obviously, they're more cost-effective or at least they're less expensive than their active-duty counterparts. Would you agree with both of those assertions?

DICKINSON:  Congressman, thank you for that question. I am a big proponent and fan of the Reserve Component, in general, both the National Guard and the Reserves which you just stated in terms of the talent and expertise that they bring from the civilian sector is powerful. And as U.S. Space Command stood up two years ago, we actually had over 140 Reserve component -- guard and reserves show up at the front door and say, "I want to be part U.S. Space Command."

It has been that Reserve Component C that was in the command at the beginning and exists today that gives us that combat capability that allowed us to go quick.

WALTZ:  That's great, and I know and the case of Florida, in particular, coming from the big space companies putting on that uniform surveying and then going back and forth to the private sector has certainly been valuable. Would you support absorbing those missions in the active-duty spaceguard and requesting the funding for that -- for structure?

DICKINSON:  As I said, Congressman, I think the guard brings in the Reserves bring a lot of capability to us and I mean...

WALTZ:  Just in interest of times, General, sorry, Ms. Baker, any comments there?

BAKER:  Congressman, I think the question of the spaceguard is a little bit out of my policy job jar. So I'll defer to General Dickinson.

WALTZ:  No worries. I think it's worth noting that the Guard Bureau has aligned the spaceguard forces under a National Guard Bureau Space Directorate for a relatively, in the big picture of things, de minimis costs. And my understanding, that director can be converted in Space National Guard.

We established in the House version of the F.Y. '22 NDAA, look forward get that across the finish line that this Congress tactically a responsive launch, general Congress has supported this effort. There was a successful demonstration the ability to rapidly reconstitute degraded systems from our relatively limited launch sites.

I think you'd agree was important. In fact, some have said, it's key to deterring near-peer competitors. But despite this, neither the requirements nor funding for this important responsive space launch missionary had been identified by the Space Command or the department. Do you expect that to happen in the near future?

DICKINSON:  Congressman that is part of the requirements and the concepts that we're looking at it at U.S. Space Command now in terms of how to build that resilient architecture in space.

WALTZ:  Do you see this tactical responsive launch as a key component? Do you expect request funding towards it?

DICKINSON:  I see that as a capability. A, one of the capabilities that we should have in order to do that rapid replenishment of capabilities on order in the addition to constellations that have many satellites, and it -- that constitute the -- make it constellation if you will.

WALTZ:  I couldn't agree more and I think as we move towards a resilient architecture, we have to be prepared if we start losing assets. How are we going to rapidly replace? And just in that limited time remaining in the public session -- oh I think we lost Admiral. I didn't -- I wasn't expecting that. And I think I will reserve my time then for the ...

COOPER:  Thank you, Mr. Waltz. Mr. Panetta?

WALTZ:  ... classified session.

PANETTA:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just briefly, so we can get on to the classified session. I'm aware that Joint-All Domain Command and Control, JADC2 is key to integrating Missile Defense Systems, as is harmonizing our efforts with allies and partners. But I'm also aware of how challenging missile defense roles can be especially if they've broken up under the unified command plan.

That being said, I was just wondering, General Dickinson or General VanHerck, can you just kind of give a description of how we're trying to improve interoperability among the combatant commands, as well as our allies in our communication networks in order to bolster missile defense systems?

VANHERCK:  Congressman, I'll take that question. I'm General VanHerck.

(UNKNOWN):  I'm Senator...

VANHERCK:  There's multiple efforts ongoing to improve collaboration and coordination. I'll talk about one that I'm currently doing that we just finished and we're going start, again, on information...

(UNKNOWN):  Getting trouble getting in here where they...

PANETTA (?):  Hold on. Mr. Chairman, can you tell Mr. DesJarlais to mute themselves.

COOPER:  Mr. DesJarlais, can you mute your microphone, please?

PANETTA (?):  Thank you. Please continue, General.

VANHERCK:  Yeah, thank you. So the one that we're working on in our headquarters, it involves all 11 combatant commands. This is called Global Information Dominance Experiment. And it's about taking data and information from all domains from global sensors around the world to include allies and partners, to include the missile defense capabilities that you mentioned and sharing them through a Cloud and utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence to process it in a real-time.

And that gives you the ability to collaborate amongst the various functions to include intelligence, operations and logistics to be able to develop a picture, develop options and evaluate whether those options are realistic. The deputy secretaries done an outstanding job by providing forces at each combatant command and funding to additionally work on integrating these capabilities across the combatant commands or AIDA effort.

And so we're probably partnering with the Department of Commands to get after what you're talking about.

PANETTA:  Outstanding. General Dickinson, do you have anything to add to that?

DICKINSON:  Thank you, Congressman. I would just add that Glenn has done a great job in terms of inclusiveness on some of these experiments that we have done that he just outlined and it's equally as important that we're incorporated or integrated into those efforts in terms of missile warning, as well as space domain awareness.

So, as we move forward, one of the priorities for U.S. Space command is to make sure that we have digital superiority and part of that is being able to integrate those very complex missionary so that we have one common operating picture that we can all look at in order to make decisions and recommendations to the national level leadership.

PANETTA:  Great. Gentlemen and ma'am, thank you very much for your service and your time today. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.

COOPER:  Thank you, Mr. Panetta. Mr. Horsford?

HORSFORD:   Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Dickinson, it's good to see you. I appreciated the opportunity yesterday to discuss the importance of tactically responsive space launch capability with you, and as the combatant commander responsible for the space domain, your perspective is invaluable as the joint force works to build this capability.

I'm glad to be working with Congressman Waltz, and I know we led a letter requesting about the funding. So I look forward to working with you on that. I wanted to talk about the nuclear posture review and test readiness though. From 1951 to 1992, nearly 928 explosive nuclear test were conducted at the Nevada National Security site which is located in my Congressional District.

Since the test moratorium went into effect in 1992, NNSS has continued to play a vital role in maintaining the safety and reliability of the nuclear deterrent through NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Programs. Today, scientists at NNSS used -- use advanced methods to conduct subcritical experiments that ensure the readiness of the nuclear stockpile. These experiments are safe to the public and the environment and provide decision-makers the information and data needed to have no doubt in the readiness of our nuclear deterrent.

The F.Y. '22 NDAA included $135 million to further expand Stockpile Stewardship Programs to construction in NNSS U1a Complex providing high-skilled high-paying jobs to the community in a highly advanced scientific capability to the NNSA. Every expert and commander that I've discussed the issue with has agreed that the experiments conducted at NNSS and across the NNSA Enterprise provide an extremely high degree of competence in the Nuclear Stockpile.

However, I understand that NNSA still has a requirement to be able to conduct an explosive nuclear test within 12 months if ordered to do so by the president. I remain deeply concerned that any such test would not only be belligerent and unnecessary but likely conducted at NNSS. Even the remote risk of such a test is unacceptable to my constituents.

The Trump administration's 2018 Nuclear Posture Review stated that the United States will not seek ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and that we will not resume nuclear explosive testing unless necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal.

So, Secretary Baker, do you agree that current methods of Stockpile Stewardship ensure the safety and effectiveness of the nuclear arsenal and will be ongoing nuclear posture review reverse the Trump administration's opposition to ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?

BAKER:  Congressman, thank you for the question. Let me just say that I think the Stockpile Stewardship Program is one of the remarkable successes of our -- of our nuclear architecture over the last 30 years. The work that is done in terms of scientific analysis to allow Admiral Richard to have that assurance of our -- of our -- of our nuclear enterprise is absolutely essential.

It is the policy of this administration to support efforts to bring into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It is also the policy of this administration that we will not change our unilateral moratorium on testing.

HORSFORD:   Thank you. Admiral Richard, as the combatant commander responsible for the nuclear deterrent, are you confident that NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Programs will continue to provide you certainty that the nuclear deterrent is safe and effective?

RICHARD:  Congressman, as you know, I'm required to formally report that assessment in writing in last fall as a part of my overall stockpile assessment. I did in writing state that I saw no conditions necessitating consideration of a return to testing. But what I would offer is that stockpile stewardship alone is not all that's necessary to make sure that we have confidence that we do not need to go do a test to restore that confidence.

It's not only stockpile stewardship. I have great confidence in the program, but you have to have a flexible and modernized on inventory stockpile which requires NNSA to hold to its requirements with the programs and you have to have a flexible and responsive infrastructure which is also necessary.

So, as long as NNSA continues to meet DOD requirements, then I will have that confidence. If not, it would require revisiting. Over.

HORSFORD:   Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.

COOPER:  Thank you, Mr. Horsford. Mr. Moulton?

MOULTON:  Mr. Chairman, I defer my question for the classified session.

COOPER:  Thank you. I appreciate the gentleman's consideration. Mr. Khanna?

KHANNA:  Mr. Chairman, I defer my questions.

COOPER:  I also welcome your consideration.

Then we will move post-haste to the classified session. This portion of the hearing is adjourned.

END