REED: I may call this hearing to order. Good morning. The committee meets today to receive testimony from Admiral Charles Richard, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command STRATCOM and General James Dickinson, Commander of U.S. Space Command or SPACECOM. Mr. Richard, General Dickinson I want to thank you for your service to our nation and I would like to extend my thanks to the men and women serving under your commands.
Maintaining our nuclear deterrent and preserving our ability to operate in space are fundamental to our long-term strategic competition with Russia and China. There is a reason we have asked the commanders of STRATCOM and SPACECOM to testify together. Until 2019 Space Command was part of Strategic Command. Now, as SPACECOM stands up as an independent command, I would like to know what gaps will seem to remain exposed during this transition and how they can be addressed.
Much has changed since our last hearing in 2021. Russia's ongoing unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine has shaken the international order that has maintained nucleolus stability for the better part of a century. Vladimir Putin's behavior has been reckless to a dangerous degree. Just prior to its invasion, Russia conducted a large out of cycle nuclear exercise.
And the Kremlin has since made a series of escalatory statements. Normally, Russia conducted nuclear exercises in the fall, and the United States conducts ours afterwards in a stable, predictable fashion. Not so this year. More than ever a nuclear deterrent, the bedrock of our national defense is being relied upon as we witness the realities of European conflict involving a nuclear armed nation. In the past year, we have also seen China developed three missile fields in hardened silos throughout the country.
This development, along with China's completion of its nuclear triad, and modernization of its nuclear command, control, and communications, fundamentally change the nature of Beijing's nuclear doctrine. We need to understand why China is undertaking this expansion. What it means for stability in the Indo Pacific region. And how we should adjust our own nuclear deterrence to protect our nation and uphold the fundamental extended commitment to our allies.
Similarly, over the past year, we gained a clearer picture of the threat we face in space, which has become a contested domain. In any future conflict, China will quickly extend its capabilities into space in a seamless fashion. Russia for its part, acted recklessly in November by destroying a satellite in space while building up forces on the Ukrainian border.
During today's hearing, we will discuss these threats and the nature of conflict we can expect in space in the years to come. In particular, General 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 importance. SPACECOM is also responsible for integrating a tasking both grounded space sensors for better space situational awareness, essentially becoming DoD sensor command.
General Dickinson, I asked you share your vision on how to integrate this myriad number of sensors, which range from radars on the ground, and at sea to sensors aboard satellites. General I would also like to know the progress that your command is making during it stand up and how you are finding and retaining personnel with the specialized skill sets associated with SPACECOM operations.
Admiral Richard, your commander is undergoing intense period of modernization that began with the ratification of the New Star Treaty. This will be the third monetization cycle since 1960. As parts of each leg of our triad age out. I'm interested in hearing about the progress of modernizing the entire triad and the 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 its uranium and plutonium handling infrastructure. Some of these facilities date back to the Manhattan Project and our single points of failure in supporting your mission. It is essential that we understand what impacts this may have on your operations. Thank you again for appearing today.
I look forward to your testimony. Ranking Member Inhofe cannot be here today. We anticipate he will return next week, but I would ask that his opening statement be submitted for the record. And without objection, so ordered. And I will also know from my colleagues that there will be a classified briefing immediately following this session in SVC 217 to continue our discussion. And with that, let me recognize
RICHARD: Chairman Reed, distinguished committee members, I am pleased to testify today with my fellow combatant commander General Dickinson. Before I begin, given the ongoing and historically significant crisis that's happening in Ukraine right now. I'm going to need to defer all questions regarding Russia and a number of questions related to our own forces to the closed session.
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. Ladies and gentlemen, right up front, I want to assure you that the 150,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Guardians, civilians of U.S. Strategic Command, as always are ready to execute our strategic deterrence mission.
Chairman Milley rightly stated, we are witnessing one of the largest shifts in global geostrategic power the world has ever witnessed. Today, we face to nuclear capable near peers who have the capability to unilaterally escalate to any level of violence in any domain worldwide with any instrument of national power at any time. And we have never faced the situation before like that in our history. Last fall, I formally reported to the Secretary of Defense, the PRC strategic breakout.
Their expansion and modernization in 2021 alone is breathtaking. And the concern I expressed in my testimony last April has now become a reality. I have previously emphasized our need to be able to deter two adversaries at the same time. That need is now an imperative. I've 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 is holding. And in particular that nuclear deterrence is holding. If strategic or nuclear deterrence fails, no other plan and no other capability in the Department of Defense is going to work as designed. The nation's nuclear forces underpin integrated deterrence. And enable the U.S., our allies, and our partners to confront aggressive and coercive behavior.
The strategic security environment is now a three-party nuclear near peer reality. Today's nuclear force is the minimum required to achieve our national strategy. Right now, I am executing my strategic deterrence mission under historic stress crisis levels of deterrence crisis deterrence dynamics that we've only seen a couple of times in our nation's history.
And I'm doing it with submarines built in the 80s and 90s, an air launch cruise missile built in the 80s, intercontinental ballistic missiles built in the 70s, a bomber built in the 60s, part of our nuclear command and control that predates the internet, and a nuclear weapons complex that dates back to the Manhattan era. We must modernize the nuclear triad. The NC-3, the nuclear weapons complex and supporting infrastructure to meet presidential objectives.
And while modernization must be the priority, please make no mistake STRATCOM forces are ready today. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
REED: Thank you very much, Admiral.
General Dickinson, please.
DICKINSON: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. And thank you, Chairman Reed and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. As always, I am honored today to represent the approximately 18,000 men and women of United States Space Command. We are a joint and diverse team of professionals who value the honorable service of everyone within our ranks.
Today, we are not only in full support of our joint forces globally, and NATO in Europe, but we remain hard at work building the command toward full operational capability. We are steadily building the capability and capacity in our headquarters and its composition reflects our joint combined and partnered approach to executing our critical mission.
As of this month, we have over 1,000 members assigned to our headquarters. Including civilians, contractors, active-duty personnel from all services, representatives from the interagency and service members from the National Guard and Reserves. We also recognize the vital importance of our allies and partners through the contributions of an assigned international general officer and two international liaison officers on our staff.
We are pleased to have all of them on our team. Responding to the threats to the U.S. and allied interests in the space demands the teamwork and expertise of every one of our people. We are prepared to execute our unified command plan missions and responsibilities. Yet acknowledged that the challenges from our competitors in the domain are substantial, and in fact growing. China remains our pacing challenge.
Current PLA development is directed towards creating a joint versatile, professional and lethal force capable of power projection globally. And the space layer is critical to their efforts. In 2021, the PRC increased on orbit assets by 27 percent. This increase brings their on-orbit satellite total from just over 100 satellites 10 years ago to more than 500 satellites today. The recent counterspace capability demonstrations include the DN-1 and the DN-2 direct ascent, antisatellite tests and a hypersonic glide vehicle test.
In October of 2021, the PRC launched their SJ-21 satellite described as a quote, "space debris mitigation," end quote satellite. In January the SA - SJ-21 docked with a defunct PRC satellite and moved it to an entirely different orbit. This activity demonstrated potential dual use capability, and SJ-21 interaction with other satellites and builds on the previous demonstrations in late 2016 potential dual use capability that we saw in the SJ-17.
Over the past two weeks, we have witnessed Russian aggression in Europe on a significant scale. Space is not a sanctuary from similar behavior. Russia is actively working to regain its prestige as the space power. The destructive direct ASAT (ph) test just this last November is an example of their activity. Space is no longer a sanctuary and U.S. Space Command stands ready to protect and defend the space assets of the United States and our partners and allies.
U.S. Space Command is committed to deterring the use of any space capabilities for nefarious purposes within the framework of the Department of Defense integrated Deterrence Strategy. Key to all of this is U.S. and allied space 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 the information from our intelligence agency helps develop an understanding of why things are happening, characterize intent, and provide decision advantages to our leaders. Our SDA capabilities are part of the broader resilience space architecture that enables command and control and provides the tools to sustain freedom of action in the space domain.
Within this broader resilient space architecture, SDA remains my top mission priority for U.S. Space Command. SDA provides the backbone of U.S. Space Command strategy for accomplishing our mission. That strategy sets the conditions to understand and attribute activities in space. This enables our mission to deter first, and when called upon to defend space capabilities and deliver combat power for the United States and our allies.
Our strategy has three main areas of focus. First, countering competitive influence. Second, strengthening relationships and attracting new partners. And third, building and maintaining a competitive edge. With continued support from Congress, U.S. Space Command will do all of that and more. U.S. Space Command is posture to protect and defend the space domain while ensuring continuous space effects are delivered to our joint and combined force.
I assure you here today that your Space Command is ready. So, on behalf of the most critical resource in our command, the soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, guardians, civilians, and families of the command thank you, Chairman Reid, and members of this committee for your support of our mission to conduct operations in from and to space.
I submit my statement for the record, and I look forward to your questions.
REED: Thank you very much, General Dickinson. And Admiral Richard I concur with your assessment that we should reserve questions regarding Ukraine and Russia to the closed session. So, I will do that. But let me begin with a question regarding the modernization of the triad and also the capabilities that the National Nuclear Security Administration.
You said in the past that we're at a point of no return. So, can you please elaborate a bit, particularly with respect to Minuteman-3, ICBMs, and the pit production capability at NNSA?
RICHARD: Chairman one I'm pleased to report based on what services and agencies are reporting that the overall recapitalization of the triad is on track. No margin is left but right now all of those programs are proceeding the way that is necessary for them to deliver capability on time to meet my requirements. The weapons complex is a different story.
And we have crossed one of those points about no return that I referred to previously. In that we now know we will not get 80 pits per year by 2030, as is statutorily required. And even unlimited money at this point will not buy that back. So, there is active work underway inside the nuclear weapons Council to you understand exactly how much of a delay we are going to have. How much of it can be addressed by funding?
A fundamental question we have to answer to Congress is to certify NNSAs budget. And we'll make another point here, which is we're not mitigating this problem. We have shot all the mitigation to get us to this point. It's the fourth time the nation has tried to recapitalize this pit production infrastructure. Now the question becomes, how much damage have we done? And what are the consequences of that?
And we're working to better understand that sir.
REED: Thank you very much, Admiral. Also, we're working on a nuclear posture review. I know you're deeply involved in that. And a key element is declaratory policy. What is our intention in terms of views, in terms of our strategy?
What's your assessment of our extended deterrence commitment to our allies, particularly in light of the current hostilities, and any perception of changes in the declaratory policy?
RICHARD: Senator will offer that I have testified to this committee and others as to my recommendations with regard to possible changes to declaratory policy. Those have not changed. That was a part of my input into the Nuclear Posture Review. As you know, that ultimately will be decided by the President. We receive very clear feedback from the allies in terms of their opinion and the harmful effects on extended deterrence and assurance that changes would have.
That's one factor of many to be considered. I do think right now we're getting a very vivid example real world of the importance of extended deterrence and assurance. That if we want our allies to assist us in standing up to aggression, we have to provide that assurance to them, such that they're in a position to go after our mutual goals.
REED: Thank you, Admiral. General Dickinson. In some respects, you've been promoted to Sensor Command, as well as Space Command. Because you're - one of your first major tasks is to link sensors, both in space on the earth and below the sea. Can you give us an idea of what it will take for performance integration and where you might be now?
DICKINSON: Thank you, Chairman. So, we have made a lot of progress over the last two, two and a half years with identifying and incorporating sensors that we traditionally did not use for space domain awareness, missile warning, or missile defense in the global perspective. And we've really identified radar such as TPY-2s around the world, as well as BMD ships afloat, and Aegis Ashore sites as well.
And our goal is to link these sensors together from a terrestrial perspective. We add to those we have the UEWRs that we've traditionally used for NC-3 around the world for early warning. And brought all those terrestrial capabilities to bear, if you will, in terms of understanding what we see in the space domain. In addition to that, we're linking our space base assets.
In addition to that, bringing them into a common operating picture. We still have work to be done with regards to that, but we've made some good progress over the last two years, two and a half years. And we're working towards that - to the ultimate piece where we have one operating picture that has those sensors fused into it.
And that really kind of pulls in some of the work that the department the Air Force is doing with JADC2 and some of those ABMS efforts that are going on right now. And as you can imagine, Chairman that has a massive data burden, if you will. That has to be properly synthesized, properly organized, making sure it's cyber protected. So, you have a database or you have information that is authoritative and available at the speed of relevance.
REED: The backbone of this system is constant, uninterrupted encrypted communication between all your assets. Is that one way to look at it?
DICKINSON: That's one way to look at it. Yes, Chairman.
REED: And are we getting there?
DICKINSON: We're getting there. We're getting there. And like I said, those are, those are sensors that many of those sensors TPY-2s, BMD, HSBMB ships. Those sensors traditionally weren't required or expected to have a capability looking up in the space domain. But what we're finding out is those exquisite radars do have capability.
And what capability we need to add to that? We're identifying those gaps and requirements now that U.S. Space Command, and then putting that demand signal back onto those specific assets.
REED: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
Senator Wicker, please.
WICKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And General Dickinson and Admiral Richard, thank you very much for your service on a very, very vital part of our national defense strategy. Admiral Richard, the United States is currently engaged in negotiations with Iran on the Iran Nuclear Deal. Can you tell me are you being consulted about those negotiations?
RICHARD: Senator, I'm not. And that's appropriate. Right, my forces don't play a role in terms of were that treaty in our overall desire to avoid Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
WICKER: So, your experience in making our nuclear policy work is not deemed important to those who are negotiating how we go forward with Iran?
RICHARD: Senator, as you know, the - I don't enter into trea-ments (ph) or agreedies (ph). That's a department of state function. What I do is provide technical expertise, for example, I had my deputy commander as a part of the New START Treaty negotiation team. So that that team had immediate access to any operational implications of what they were doing.
While I'm certainly available to do the same thing for those negotiations. Currently, that's not needed.
WICKER: OK. Well, then I may not get an answer to this question. But it's a question that's on the minds of Americans today. We are told with relative certainty that the talks are going on, and that Russia is a part of the nuclear discussions between the United States and Iran about re-entering this nuclear deal.
Let me just say, Russia is led by the dictatorship and the kleptocracy of Vladimir Putin, a serial international war criminal. And it is astonishing to me that they would be anywhere near the negotiating room. In a process that might lead us to making concessions to Iran that we would not otherwise have made. You probably don't want to comment on that, I guess, Admiral.
RICHARD: Senator, what I would look forward to commenting in the closed session is an overall assessment of threats to the nation and how we're going to defend and deter against those.
WICKER: OK. Let me leave it at that. But I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, and my colleagues and to my fellow Americans, that it is highly troubling, I think to most Americans. That Vladimir Putin would have anything at all to say about any decision the United States would make about what is best for our people and our national security.
Considering the fact that he is, without a doubt, a serial war criminal. The distinguished Ranking Member of the - of this committee, Mr. Chairman, has suggested a question or two which I would like to submit on his behalf. Russia has a nuclear arsenal larger and more modern than the United States and currently threatened nuclear escalation during the invasion of Ukraine. Admiral Richard, we've heard for a long time how critical it is that we rebuild our nation's nuclear deterrent.
But we're still years away from fielding any new systems. How important is it that we accelerate the U.S. nuclear modernization plan as quickly as possible?
RICHARD: Senator, I'd offer three points on that and again, can go into more detail in the closed session. It is very clear that the absolute minimum that we need to do is to recapitalize the triad, the nuclear command and control, and the nuclear weapons complex. But there's two other questions we need to be asking ourselves along the way with that.
The threats are changing in a way that we have not seen in 30 years. We do not know the end points of where either of those other two are going either in capability or capacity. We're just now starting to work out what three party stability looks like. What three party deterrence dynamics works out. On top of that, we are learning a number of lessons in real time on how actual crisis deterrence works.
It is different from steady state deterrence that most of us have experience in. Those two questions, I think need to be asked much more frequently than we have needed to in the past. Followed with what is the capability, capacity, and posture we require from our strategic forces moving forward.
WICKER: And, Mr. Chairman, if you would indulge me for another moment with regard to a question that the ranking member has asked repeatedly in which deserves to be asked today. Admiral Richard, you have testified that you do not believe it is in the national interest the United States to change our policy with regard to No First Use, or sole purpose nuclear declaratory policy.
Would you explain why that has been? And is it still your position?
RICHARD: One senator, I have testified to that my position is unchanged. That, of course, will be decided along with a number of other factors. And we'll see what the answer is in the nuclear posture review. But fundamentally, I can go and a lot longer answer. But it's one, your adversaries won't believe you. So, it doesn't enhance deterrence in any way. But your allies will believe you and it's highly corrosive to your extended deterrence and assurance commitments.
WICKER: Thank you, madam - thank you, Mr. Chair.
REED: Thank you, Senator Wicker.
Senator Gillibrand, please.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Dickinson, I'm concerned that our lack of international agreements barring conventional weapons in space has led to a space arms race that threatens our civil and commercial systems in space. How much of a role is SPACECOM playing in developing international norms about the use of weapons in space?
DICKINSON: Thank you, senator for the question. So, in my job as the SPACECOM Commander, I work very closely with the Department of Defense. In particular, the policy folks in the Department of Defense in terms of working through those types of issues. What I have been charged to do is by the Secretary of Defense back in July.
Once he gave me a memo that outlined five tenants of responsible behavior for the Department of Defense. And so right now, we're working through how we implement that within the department. But to your point is that with those tenants become our base plate if you will. That we talk with the Department of Defense, and then subsequently they'd start talking with Department of State.
So, we have a kind of an indirect role that we start kind of from the combatant command up through the department, in that regard. But those tenants of responsible behavior, there are five of them. And I think they're very good in terms of outlining what we would expect, not only for the Department of Defense in terms of responsible behavior, but for our allies and partners.
And they - we've had a lot of good discussions on that in several different forums.
GILLIBRAND: Given the lack of codified norms in space, what in your view constitutes an armed attack in the domain? And how would you deal with a proportionate response?
DICKINSON: Well, Senator, I would say that, you know, these tenants, I think, outline kind of what we would think as responsible behavior in space. And as we look through that, how do we make sure that we are able to understand what that (ph). I think the first thing we have to look at is how well can we understand what's happening in the space domain.
As I mentioned in my opening remarks, my number one priority for the commander top priorities to be able to increase my space domain awareness. So, I can interpret and understand what those norms of behavior or those tenants are in space.
GILLIBRAND: The valley of death and acquisition references the transition from innovative small-scale projects to full scale funded programs. Which is often studded with budget challenges, risk mitigation and integration problems leading to immense waste. Innovative technology and the ability to quickly field the warfighter in space is critical to matching China's competencies.
In your view, is the use of other transaction agreements or OTAs, by the DoD being effectively implemented? And do we need more emphasis on non-federal acquisition regulation, contracting solutions?
DICKINSON: So, Senator I, in my role right now I'm a customer, if you will, for the United States Space Force and some other agencies. And I would categorize myself as a demanding customer. And I think we have to move very quickly in terms of building new and better capabilities for the space domain.
And so, I know that the Space Force and the Department of the Air Force are looking right now, in terms of how do they streamline those processes. In order to deliver capabilities to me on a much faster timeline.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you. Admiral Richard, JADC2 over the last past - over the past several years, DOD has worked on developing JADC2 architecture to speed sensor to shoot your (ph) responses and integrate communications across the services. In your view, how should DoD prioritize competing communications requirements for its future work?
And what role, if any, will artificial intelligence play in future non-nuclear command and control decision making systems?
RICHARD: Senator, I'd like to point out that one I am responsible for nuclear command and control from an operations requirements and systems integration piece. And in that responsibility, I am very familiar with what JADC2 is doing in conventional command and control. And in fact, was very pleased that a subset of what JADC2 is doing is for nuclear command and control.
The two systems have to be overlapped to a great extent so that we can have integration. And so, we are headed in the right path to make sure we take full advantage of the investments were making in conventional command and control. While recognizing that certain portions of nuclear command and control have to serve at a higher standard than we asked regular command and control.
And making sure we identify those and meet those requirements.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you very much, Senator Gillibrand.
Senator Tuberville, please.
TUBERVILLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thanks for being here today with such all the problems going on. General Dickinson Space Command is designated a geopolitical command. How do you plan to synchronize efforts with other geographic commands in a time of conflict? I mean, I'm sure you've worked on that.
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. Absolutely. We do that every day. In particular, we've exercised it through many different exercises over the last couple years. I think we've had five major exercises, but to your point we do that each and every day. And the way we do that is when the U.S. Space Command stood up in 2019, we identified a gap if you will, within each of the combatant commands in terms of space expertise.
And so, one of the first things we did as we stood up was, we immediately started putting what we call Joint Integrated Space Teams, or JISTs within each of the combatant commands. And we kind of started out with INDOPAYCOM, EUCOM, CENTCOM, when we're working through the other 10 combatant commands now. But these elements at the beginning, we thought would have a planning-only function within these commands.
What we found out through day-to-day operations, and through exercises, and real world events is that it's more than just planning. It's more - it's planning, its operations, its intelligence. It's the integration of those capabilities within each of the combatant commands that provides that regional combatant commander space expertise. And the ability to leverage the space domain in order to meet their requirements for their either day to day operations or their plans.
TUBERVILLE: Thank you. Pretty complex, especially being new. Admiral, last year, you said quote, "for the first time in history, the nation is facing two potential strategic peer nuclear capable adversaries at the same time." But our nuclear posture, my understanding has been not about two threats. So, in your best military advice, should the U.S. consider changes to the size of its nuclear force in order to account for having now two peer threats?
RICHARD: Senator first, I've already re-postured it. And I'll be happy to give you some details of what we've done in the closed session. The answer is yes. Right? We do not necessarily have to match a weapon for weapon, right? The key is do you have enough capability to execute your strategy.
But it's clear that though, what we have today is the absolute minimum. And we're going to have to ask ourselves, what additional capability capacity and posture do we need to do based on where the threat is going? It's not all strategic. There is a significant class of theater threats, that we're going to have to rethink potentially how we deter that.
You have to deter them all the time. I don't get the luxury of having a priority to one and lesser to the other. You have to do them all at the same time. And we're learning a number of lessons in crisis dynamics, because we've so - had so few times in our history we've been in that. That those will need to be applied to, sir.
TUBERVILLE: How does the hypersonic missile now that we're seeing online. How does that change us, in terms of your thoughts on the timeframe of a threat? How quick we have to respond?
RICHARD: I look at hypersonic in two ways. One is the threat that it presents to us. And that fundamentally is a warning problem. In fact, the Chairman mentioned seems opening up with the establishment of Space Command. Actually, it is work the exact opposite of that. It's mentioned the sensor commander which is what I like to call it.
Technically in DOD, its sensor manager but sensor commander sounds better. The way Jim is integrating across missile defense, missile warning, and space situational awareness. He's producing a better outcome than what we had in the past. And I'm actually getting a better service because of his efforts in that. That's defensive. Offensive, I will be ready to put online the first day any service makes it available a hypersonic capability. I have work for it right now.
We've had requirements dating back 2016 and earlier. And I will put that to good use the first day any service makes it available in defense of the nation.
TUBERVILLE: Thank you. Now that we do have hypersonics just for my information. I'm sure we're changing protocol for our president, because it takes a good while to get all the factors done to get to a point where President can make a decision. Please, tell me, we are changing those protocols to answer a first attack?
RICHARD: Senator one, I think it will be important that as a hypersonic capability comes into the Department of Defense that we not label it as strategic, or theater, or tactical. We already have examples of platforms. My bombers are an example. I can use it strategically down one command and control and decision path like you talked about.
I can use them conventionally down another. I can give them to a geographic combatant commander for that commander's use. And I think we're going to want an equivalent flexible command and control structure for hypersonic.
TUBERVILLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Tuberville.
Senator King please.
KING: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Before beginning my questions. I wanted to respond to Senator Wicker. We have a national interest in Iran not obtaining a nuclear weapon. Russia has a national interest in Iran not obtaining a nuclear weapon. If in this particular case, we have an identity of interest, it would seem to me it makes sense to have both parties at the table.
We're not negotiating with Russia. We're negotiating with Iran. And if they can add weight to those negotiations, as they did in the initial negotiations. It seems to be that serves our national interest. Let me turn to General Dickinson. ISR is very important, generally. But let's talk - I want to talk about a war that's not in Ukraine. It's the war that's killing our people in Maine two-a-day.
And I refer to the international trade of narcotics. The question is, do we have sufficient space assets that can provide ISR and monitoring of drug shipments that can assist us in interdicting those drug shipments and preventing the death of our people? This is a war that's killing Americans in a large number every single day.
And to say we can't afford to watch what's going on with those shipments, particularly from Latin America and the Caribbean. It seems to me as a dereliction of our duty to defend the country.
DICKINSON: Senator, I would say a front I would say that's a little bit maybe out of my purview as a Combat Commander in the Department of Defense. However, I would say to you that watching the - to answer your question. I think when you look at the explosion in the commercial market in terms of ISR.
And quite frankly, some of the things that we've just seen in the Ukraine situation over the last couple of weeks. With regard to if you watch - we all watch TV, we see those images. You know, many of those, if not all of those are coming from a commercial company. And so, what's interesting is how much that commercial market has expanded exploded, if you will, to provide us additional capabilities.
And so, in other words, I think we have the right - a big enough commercial market that can satisfy that demand signal. And really for us in U.S. Space Command, with that augmentation, we're able to use our military type of ISR assets to do some other things.
KING: I hope you're right but the word that disturbed me in your answer was one of your first words. Which was its just not in my purview. That my problem. It doesn't seem to be in anybody's purview. We've got DEA, we've got DHS, we've got the military. And we've got people dying. And I would hope that you would consider discussing this question.
To me if this were an attack by another adversary on our country that was killing thousands of people a day, it would be within your purview. I'm suggesting it is within your purview. And I hope that you will review that. Let me ask a second question on your satellite capability. There's been a lot of discussion about resilience and redundancy.
How are we in terms of cyber resilience in terms of our space assets? Blocking of signals, stealing of information coming from satellites.
DICKINSON: Senator, so when we stood up the command in 2019, we made a very deliberate effort to make sure that we didn't add cyber on to the equation as we grew. We built it in from the very beginning as we looked at our organization. And so, from an organizational perspective, we've got cyber expertise and capabilities built within the command and that's in particular in the headquarters.
So, in the headquarters that I mentioned, I've got about 1,000 people now. Within that headquarters itself, I've got - I just established my Joint Cyber Cell within the command that is under my J-3 operations directorate. We've got an integrated planning element from Paul Nakasone CBERCOM, embedded with us.
And then two of my five service components are dual hatted as not only Space Command, but also CYBERCOM. So that's kind of the structural piece. We have...
KING: I would urge you to add to that structure, a red team. Ask Paul Nakasone to attack you and see how it goes. General Richards I'd make the same suggestion. General Richard, in a few seconds, I have left a major sort of strategic question. How would we respond under our current nuclear posture to a Russian use of a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine?
RICHARD: Senator, I'd be happy to answer that question in closed session.
KING: I thought that might be your answer. And I'll ask the question in closed session. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator King.
Senator Rounds, please.
ROUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, first of all, let me begin by saying thank you for your service to our country. Admiral Richard, I'd like a clarification, if I could with regard to Senator Gillibrand asked a question concerning command and control. And specifically, command and control between conventional weapon systems versus command and control for nuclear weapons systems. And you mentioned an overlay of the two with regard to JADC2.
Could you clarify a little bit the separation between the two that I think we always try to keep? Between command and control of conventional versus nuclear weapon systems?
RICHARD: Senator first, we don't always try to keep separation between conventional and nuclear command and control. You can. We never have. And we will never be able to achieve that. Strategic platforms are still platforms. They have to interoperate with other platforms to accomplish their mission, even for simple deconfliction purposes.
So, one we have to be able to tell an airplane where the other airplanes are, even if they're not on a similar mission. So, you have to have some overlap to do that. Two, it is to our benefit, where appropriate to use our conventional command and control to add redundancy and resiliency to our nuclear command and control.
You couldn't afford to build two completely separate systems if we tried to achieve that in the real world. The final piece though there is always a piece of nuclear command and control that has to go to a higher standard. Nuclear command and control have to be able to withstand the worst threats that we can postulate against it. Regular command and control don't, and that's why we separate it out.
We've always done that and we're going to do it to an appropriate degree going into the future.
ROUNDS: The reason for my question, with regard to clarification. Is that I know that we're very sensitive to where other nations may try to impact our ability to command and control our nuclear weapons systems. We have the same concern about interacting with other nations command and control.
Can you talk a little bit about the clarification between the two in terms of the interest in making sure that others aren't put on alert, because it appears that we're impacting theirs? And the same reason that we would have a concern about them impacting our ability and what that does, with regard to stability?
RICHARD: Senator first, I think it's important that I say here, and I'd be happy to go into a lot more detail in terms of closed session. Because of the - I would call it apprehension and valid concern over the security of our nuclear command and control, particularly the cybersecurity. Is our nation's nuclear command and control has never been in a stronger, more protected, more resilient lineup than it is today.
Based on some very good work operationally done over the last six to eight months. And I would love to go into more detail as to why I say that. As to your concerns about the strategic implications of threatening another nation's nuclear command control and vice versa. That is very well understood. That is very well factored in as we think through the overall effects that we're trying to achieve. And I do want to put one more caution out in terms of when we tend to use terms at least back at STRATCOM, and strategic stability.
Our basic definitions of strategic stability are probably out of date. They date back to the Cold War. They're two-party dynamics pieces. They tend to think of nuclear as the only major effect that has to be considered. When you move this into a three-party problem, it is a completely different set of effects, dynamics, that I think we need a lot of work to get into to understand how that works.
ROUNDS: Thank you, sir. General Dickinson in our ability to achieve and maintain a competitive edge in space relies heavily on a rapid capability development and eliminating acquisition bottlenecks. Can you discuss how you're partnering with commercial and interagency organizations to expand our space capabilities at the pace that we need them to be expanded?
And what steps have you taken to improve your acquisition process in order to onboard new capabilities at a faster pace?
DICKINSON: So that's really been one of the highlights with the command over the last couple of years is really the partnership we've had with - we have with the commercial industry. Two examples of that, one is that the two main areas that we work closest with the commercial partners right now but we're expanding that. Is satellite communications, and the other one is space domain awareness.
Satellite cable - satellite communications capability with our commercial industry has really been out at Vandenberg Space Force Base for years but has expanded. We've got 10 commercial partners right now as part of our commercial integration sell out at Vandenberg Space Force Base. And that's a great relationship in terms of how do we expand our capabilities and capacity in satellite communications domain or enterprise?
And how we do that. The second one is space domain awareness. And really, that's been a rather new, about year and a half, two old. We've got a cell in Colorado Springs, that works for my Joint Task Force Space Defense in a Commercial Integration Cell. That really what it does is it provides to us what commercial space domain awareness capabilities can see around the world. So, they're looking up looking in the space domain for us, telling us what they see.
And we utilize that in addition to what we're doing with our exquisite sensor. So, the integration of those two enterprises Space Domain Awareness and SATCOM has been very, very powerful. It's growing so much now that we've had to develop a new commercial framework by which we can bring those partners on board and expand it even more.
ROUNDS: Thank you, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Brown.
Senator Kaine place.
KAINE: Thank you to each of you for your service. And, Admiral Richard, let me begin with you. You talked about how some of our defense concepts are a little bit outdated in your realm, because they were based upon kind of a two-party dynamic. And now we have to grapple with the three-party dynamic. I think it's even more complicated than that, because two of the three parties are now cooperating in ways that they hadn't.
I've often asked questions in this committee and in the Foreign Relations Committee about growing cooperation between Russia and China. And usually, folks on your side of the table tell me that I don't need to worry about it much, because there's so much historical animosity between Russia and China, that they're not likely to cooperate. I think we're finding that actually not to be the case, whatever the past is.
They're cooperating a lot more now. So, I'd like you to each tell the committee in your own domain, how are you planning to take into account the increasing cooperation between Russia and China in either the STRATCOM or SPACECOM comm areas?
RICHARD: Senator, first, I want to say I'm not going to tell you that I'm not concerned about that. I'm very concerned about what opportunistic aggression looks like. I'm worried about what cooperative aggression looks like. And so, one, this gets back to I have to deter all of them all of the time.
Which means every day we're thinking about their decision calculus, and what we have to do to influence so that basically, they say not today. And so, right now you have to look at what's happening in one place, and then walk over and see what that does to change decision calculus. And change your messaging potentially. Change your posture.
And that's just in the opportunistic frame. And then do you have the plans ready to understand what cooperative looks like? So, we do that every day, Senator?
KAINE: Great. General Dickinson.
DICKINSON: Senator, we look at it each and every day, just as Admiral Richard does. But in the space domain, we just have to look and see, how much more capability development that they've done just on orbit. We can go back to November just to look at the Nudol test. And then as I mentioned in my opening statements, the SJ-21, in particular. So just individually, you know, the growth of their capabilities on orbit is of concern.
And then when you look at from the civil perspective, the Chinese and the Russians have entered into a lunar station agreement that they're going to build a station on the moon. So, it's not just the military that we're looking at carefully. It's also kind of their civil peace as well by both of those nations.
KAINE: General Dickinson you you've segwayed (ph) into my next question. The civil dimension. So, there's been news recently that was sort of interesting news, kind of, in a way positive news. Elon Musk has been getting some press for his role in providing ground stations and internet coverage to Ukraine, with the Starlink satellite connection.
So that's positive. Russia has been trying to jam the signals and block coverage. That's made me wonder. There are non-state actors in space too, that can enter into contested environments. Describe the legal framework for commercial capability in space and to SPACECOM war games scenarios where private actors become involved in contested situations?
DICKINSON: We do look at that Senator and really to begin with, I think what we're seeing with Elon Musk and the Starlink capabilities providing is really kind of showing us what a mega constellation or proliferated architecture can provide. In terms of redundancy and capability.
But to your point, though, we work very closely in the - in our commercial integration cells with that very issue.
KAINE: Admiral Richard, one last question for you. I met last week with General Van Ovost of TRANSCOM, and we talked about future tanker requirements. It's my understanding that the airborne tankers that support the bomber leg of the triad, have a varying degree of EMP, Electromagnetic Pulse Hardening to include the KC-46.
So, talk to us about STRATCOMs role in shaping requirements for future tanker programs to ensure that EMP hardening is part of the DNA?
RICHARD: Well, Senator, you hit on a key point as I'm one of the customers of the tanker fleet. And in that I have certain requirements EMP protection, Electromagnetic Pulse being one of those. So, one is to clearly articulate the requirements. Two, is go see what we can do in terms of employment of our force to reduce that demand signal.
A great example I'd point to, and I would give credit to the Air Force is the re-engineering of the B-52s. The engines on those date back to the 60s and they burn a lot of gas. Re-engine, less fuel required, less tanker demand, and then what other efficiencies can we achieve. While still maintaining the flexibility and the signaling capability of the air leg, which is one of its prized possession or prized attributes.
KAINE: Thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
REED: Thank you, Senator Kaine. Since the quorum is present. I would now ask the committee to consider the following civilian nominations. The Honorable Robert P. Stewart to be Inspector General the Common Defense. Dr. Lester Martinez-Lopez to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. Mr. Christopher J. Lowman, to be Assistant Secretary Defense to Sustainment.
Mr. Peter Beshar to be General Counsel upon the Air Force. The Honorable Franklin R. Parker to be Assistant Secretary of the Navy Manpower and Reserve Affairs. Dr. Agnes G. Schaefer to be Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. Mr. Frank Calvelli to be Assistant Secretary, the Air Force Base Acquisition. We have reviewed these nominations with Senator Inhofe, and he concurs.
Is there a motion to a favorable report the seven nominations?
(?): So, moved.
REED: Is there a second?
(?): I'll second.
REED: All in favor, say aye?
REED: Motion carries. Thank you very much. And now let me recognize Senator Tillis, please.
TILLIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, thank you for being here and for your service. Admiral Richard, with - have you recognized any tangible operational changes resulting from Putin's announcement that they need to increase nuclear readiness? And have you seen any posture changes on the part of Russia or the PRC with respect to that?
RICHARD: Senator, I'd like to go into detail in that answer to that question inside the closed session. But if you'll allow me to make a broader point that I think relates. The scenarios that we are seeing right now, potential escalation, limited nuclear use in a conventional aggression scenario. STRATCOM has been preparing for this for years along with other combatant commands.
General Dickinson's command has been doing that. And so, we have rewritten deterrence dynamics theory over the years. We have new analysis that we're using. We got criticized for that. We got told that it was highly improbable or somehow self-serving for us to think our way through this. But we ignored that, such that to this point nothing has happened that we didn't anticipate.
We hadn't thought about and hadn't prepared for.
TILLIS: Thank you for that, with Belarus indicating their willingness to have nuclear assets deployed within their territory. How does that rethink our forward deployed capabilities in Europe?
RICHARD: Senator again, I respect your indulgence to allow me to answer that in closed session.
TILLIS: Thank you. General Dickinson, I want to talk a little bit about end strength. I think you're somewhere around 45 percent of goal augmented by reserve civilians and guard. But you're relatively new. So, what's the right timeline to get up to the desired end strength? And what kind of strategies are you putting together to make sure that we get there?
DICKINSON: Thank you for the question, Senator. So, you're correct. We're 45-50 percent strength with an augmentation of contractors. That get us up over like I said, in my opening statement to about 1,000. So, our strategy, quite frankly, is to get to the end strength as quickly as I can. We've worked with the Department very carefully in terms of how do we bring manpower, from certain fiscal years back to the left.
So that I can be at a, you know, at a reasonable strength here in a couple of years. But that is where we're going. And what we're trying to do right now is attract that talent that we need in the command. And that's both a balance between civilian as well as military. And in the civilian force that I have is Department of the Air Force civilians.
And we're working very closely right now and how to attract them. We've got some programs out there in terms of internship programs to bring young adults into the command with STEM technical type of degrees. And I've been very pleased with the military presence that we've had within the commands from this all the services.
The two biggest services that I have represented in the command right now. It's quite frankly, as you would expect, the Space Force and the Army. And so, bringing them into a joint command, building them to full operational capability utilizing exercises, and quite frankly, real world operations. So, we've had a couple of events over the last couple three years, if you will, that have really driven us to be very proficient in what we do. I'll just take the Nudol event, for example, back in November.
That for us, when I declared initial operational capability last August, was a direct result of having that talent and expertise within the command, rehearsed through processes and procedures and techniques that the joint world knows and recognizes. To the point where we can actually provide a strategic effect for our national level leaders, that is really the strategy going forward.
And right now, we've got an initial operational capability, which means we can provide those effects. But we're building out the capacity within the command so that I can do that more, more robustly.
TILLIS: Do you have sufficient authorities to be able to get to where you need to be within strength or resources?
DICKINSON: I do. I have the right authorities right now.
TILLIS: Admiral Richard just really quickly with advances, particularly with respect to China and hypersonic, and other capabilities. Is our current strategy mapping up against their emerging threats? Or do we need to rethink maybe how we counter threats 10 years, 20 years from now differently?
RICHARD: Senator, I'm conscious of the fact that the nuclear posture review and national defense strategies have not been promulgated. But I'm confident that we're going to have a good strategy. The question is going to be capability, capacity and posture and acknowledge those will not be static.
And we are going to have to think through those much more frequently than we needed to in the past because of the very threats you're referring to.
TILLIS: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
REED: Thank you, Senator Tillis. Senator Kelly, please.
KELLY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Admiral Richard, and good morning to you both. Thank you for being here Admiral, General. Admiral Richard, we've all been following reports of Russian attacks on Ukrainian nuclear plants and other very concerning developments in this conflict. Russia is now targeting civilians, probably out of frustration.
This should be and I think, is viewed as escalatory. It's clearly a war crime. I'm concerned about further escalation. And I understand the U.S. military has established a hotline, or direct communication channel with the Russian Military, particularly because Russia media and cyber actors have sought to spread disinformation, making reliable information hard to assess in real time.
It's my view that this direct military to military communication is critical to avoid misunderstandings that could lead to a dangerous military escalation between two nuclear - nuclear powers.
As this Committee knows well, in a crisis, decision time, time to respond to a nuclear threat is only a matter of minutes. Admiral Richard, I understand the hotline will be run out of US European Command, can you elaborate on how STRATCOM will remain in the communication loop of this hotline?
RICHARD: (Inaudible) Senator, a couple of points if I could, actually, you don't have to respond to threats, nuclear or otherwise in minutes, in fact, I'm not allowed to put the President in the position that he only has - or her to - minutes to respond, so I want to make sure everybody understands, this nation always has the time to make a fully informed decision on any action that it takes.
Second, for strategic purposes, we have long had hotlines between the United States and Russia. They date back to the cold war, they're still there. They're tested every day and those are still available to us. We are a long way from needing to use anything like that right now. And I would go into more detail on the rest of your questions in closed session, sir.
KELLY: All right (ph), thank you. And General Dickinson, we're currently you know, seeing reports of commercial satellite systems - you know, very effectively - you know, being used - you know, information for the Ukrainians - also for us, and these satellite systems are - you know, likely to be of interest to Russia too and how should they ultimately counter them in the context of this invasion.
And Russia's and China's anti-satellite capabilities have received a lot of attention in - in years with you know, a couple of anti-satellite tests, one before one of my space shuttle launches in 2000 - around 2008, but I want to spend a little time today discussing Iranian and North Korean anti-satellite capabilities that tend to get less air time, especially North Korea, who obviously has an intercontinental ballistic missile capability. Iran hopes to develop one.
One concern is that ICBMs can be used to create a debris cloud in low earth orbit and that could impact US satellites. General Dickinson, can you expand on how US Space Command is viewing both the North Korean and the Iranian capabilities? And how do you assess their willingness to target and impact US satellites in space?
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. First of all, I would just say that you identify a - a - a big problem, if you will, within the space domain. We just saw it a couple of months ago when the Russians destroyed - it conducted their Nudol (ph) test that left about 1,500 pieces of debris in low earth orbit that - that quite frankly, we're tracking every day now and we will continue to track that for years to come.
To your example, back before your flight, when the Chinese did that test, we still track objects today from that very test that - that - you know, quite frankly - and sir, you're an expert on this, is threat - it could be threatening to the International Space Station. And we do a lot of work each and every day, very closely with NASA to make sure that we look at that and make sure that the - the astronauts on the International Space Station are safe.
With regards to both Iran and North Korea, I would like to expand on that if I could, in a closed session.
KELLY: All right. Thank you, and I yield back the remainder of my time.
REED: Thank you, Senator Kelly. Senator Blackburn please?
BLACKBURN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and to each of you, I thank you for your service and I thank you for being here today with our questions. Admiral Richard, I do want to come to you first, I fully understand that there are sensitive matters that affect our government and STRATCOM has some of those, and we all understand it (ph) many times public comment isn't (ph) appropriate or productive.
However, we have to keep in mind that silence is also a message and a very strong one. And you've been an excellent outspoken commander of STRATCOM and you've been a wonderful advocate in the public venue for why we need to modernize our nuclear forces. And I think you've been the Commander we need at the time that we need him and we thank you for that, so I'm disappointed by the lack of clarity on answers that you have today.
And many of these are appropriate in an unclassified sphere and I was disappointed in the weekend's cancelation of the Minuteman 3 test because we only have four of those a year and I was disappointed to learn that STRATCOM has put out a schedule of tests to consider others for cancelation.
And I appreciate - I think we all do, that you have to be careful, especially at a time like this because of the message that our actions could send to Moscow, but this message of silence, coupled with inaction, in my opinion, does not project one of strength. It's not a message of deterrence, and I would probably venture to guess in your opinion it - your professional opinion it would question the judgement of such actions.
We have to be ready to respond to any threat, any place, anytime, and I - I think that we are facing two nuclear capable adversaries at this point. So, let's say (ph) speaking hypothetically, entirely hypothetically, what message does cancelation of a prescheduled routine test send to our adversaries?
RICHARD: Senator, let me offer first, that the test has been rescheduled, not canceled, and it will be important for us to go do that test. I want to acknowledge upfront that's an Air Force Service weapons test, it's done under their authorities...
BLACKBURN: Right (ph).
RICHARD: ... but it's very important to me and to the Air (inaudible) - that's a 50 year old rocket that we're talking about and as - as it ages, our ability to understand its performance is very important both for my operational planning as well as the effort the Air Force has to have to sustain it until we can get a replacement system.
My fundamental recommendation is that we maintain our normal set of operations. Day to day we very carefully craft a series of operations, activities and other evolutions that are designed to show our readiness. It's designed to maintain that readiness and it's designed to give us confidence in our forces. And so, in general, that's my recommendation under these conditions.
BLACKBURN: OK, then let me take it this way with you, then what impact does delay or reduction in funding - how does that affect the modernization and the implementation efforts that you need?
RICHARD: Ma'am, any delay or interruption in funding is one of the most corrosive things that we can do in order to enable those programs to stay on schedule, such that we don't have a diminishment in the capabilities required to execute our strategy. So, not only does it have a practical effect in terms of potential delays and the dates that we can have these systems, it is also a signal of a lack of will on our part - fundamentally, to defend ourselves.
BLACKBURN: So, you would see that as diminishing and not improving our abilities - capabilities?
RICHARD: Yes, ma'am.
BLACKBURN: OK. General Dickinson, I do have some questions for you, but I'm running out of time, I'm going to send these to you for answer, because I'm - I want to explore a little bit more the commercial opportunities that you have and how we can build off of some of the commercial advancements that are going to affect the space in your command.
So, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Blackburn. Senator Warren please?
WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Admiral Richard and General Dickinson for being here.
So, Admiral Richard, last year, you testified before this Committee that you hope the nuclear policy review would include looking at the wide array of capabilities we have in our arsenal, including space and cyber, in other words, our ability to deter adversaries is not only about nuclear weapons that we have, it's also about conventional weapons and other areas of strength.
And it sounds like the adoption of integrated deterrence that will be part of this review does precisely that. Was Strategic Command fully consulted and able to fully participate in the nuclear posture review process?
RICHARD: Senator first, I want to endorse the idea of integrated deterrence, that...
RICHARD: ... STRATCOM and previous commanders have been calling for this, the idea that you use every available instrument and not (ph) - and beyond the military to best deter your opponent and resolve political issues at the lowest possible level of violence. So, we are strongly in support of that.
Second, is to understand though that nuclear deterrence, in particular, is a part of integrated deterrence. They're not different things. In fact, it must - if you don't have the nuclear piece inside of it, the rest of integrated deterrence doesn't work because your opponent...
RICHARD: ... might be able...
WARREN: ... forgive me for interrupting, Admiral, I understand this, I'm just asking a question about process, was Strategic Command fully consulted and able to fully participate in the nuclear posture review process?
RICHARD: STRATCOM was fully involved in the...
RICHARD: ... nuclear posture review process up through the Secretary of Defense. I had a - plenty of opportunity to tell the Secretary personally - we led portions of the nuclear posture review, but beyond that, ma'am, I don't know.
WARREN: OK. Now, as we discussed last year, the nation's nuclear policy is up to the President and the Secretary and the goal of a nuclear posture review is to rigorously examine options to determine the proper role for nuclear weapons in our national security strategy. So, Admiral Richard, do you agree that the nuclear posture review benefits - let me put it this way, from hearing a wide variety of views to make sure that we are developing the smartest possible policy?
RICHARD: Senator, yes, and my responsibility inside that is to offer the operational implications to each of those wide range of views.
WARREN: OK. And do you think our nuclear policy should be informed by objective technical analysis?
RICHARD: Ma'am, we - we provide a lot of that objective technical analysis...
WARREN: So, you think it should be - it should be informed by technical analysis and a broad variety of views? We're in agreement on that?
RICHARD: Yes, ma'am.
WARREN: Good. You know, I'm looking forward to reviewing the nuclear posture review when it's released, but the reason I'm focused on this is because I have concerns about the process that produced it. Over the past year, the Pentagon has repeatedly pushed out and obstructed efforts to have more rigorous debates and analysis to support this review. And I just want to give one example of this.
The ground based strategic deterrent is a $264 billion program. I requested that DOD contract with a respected group of outside experts to determine the technical feasibility of extending the Minuteman 3 program instead of just buying expensive new weapons. I was then told that the DOD didn't have the contract authority to do so, and that's just simply not true.
It appears DOD simply didn't want to do a study that might show that a massively expensive nuclear spending program wasn't actually necessary. Now, my view on this is no secret, we must reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our defense strategy, it's dangerous and it results in a staggering amount of spending, more than $630 billion over the next decade.
But no matter what you believe about these weapons, our nuclear policy should be developed by asking tough questions, not formulated in an echo chamber.
So, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
RICHARD (?): Senator, can I suggest that I look forward to the nuclear posture review being published so you can see exactly how and what it concluded, but I will add thank goodness we have ICBMs right now - I'll explain more in closed testimony.
WARREN: So, I'm glad that you're looking forward to seeing the - the report. As I said, I am as well, but my whole point is that if we don't have a process that includes alternative points of view, a widespread point of view, then the product that comes from it is too likely to come from an echo chamber instead of being fully informed, and that's what troubles me.
RICHARD (?): Yes, ma'am.
REED: Thank you, Senator Warren. Senator Ernst please?
ERNST: Thank you Mr. Chair, and thank you, gentlemen very much for being here today. Unfortunately Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has really reminded us of the threat that's posed by our adversaries and a threat to our own international stability. We certainly can't take peace for granted, so again, thank you very much for your service to our nation.
If we could go back a little bit I - you know, I understand some of the discussion that's here, but if you could again, Admiral Richard, just please reiterate why we can't extend the life of the Minuteman 3?
RICHARD: Senator, there's a couple of reasons and there's one that I probably have not emphasized enough in my previous testimony. Any of our deterrent systems have to be able to operate in the threat environment that they face, fundamentally, they have to be able to pace the threat.
Minuteman 3, because it has been extended so long has basically no margin left to be able to pace improvements in other nations' defensive systems. That's on top of the cost benefit that we would achieve by changing to a new system, modern well designed, lower operating cost.
But I want to come back to for any of these weapon systems, with Minuteman 3 being the best example, it has to be able to pace the threat in order for it to deter anybody.
ERNST: And pacing that threat, but then also safety implications as well. You mentioned that the Minuteman 3 is 50 years old, but certainly there are - there are ways that we can modernize and (ph) not only impact safety implications going forward, but also work - workforce implications, maybe you could - could you speak a little bit to that as we're going through modernization efforts and how we would be able to as well, keep pace with the technology necessary to upgrade and modernize?
RICHARD (?): Senator, a common issue here is it's not just about modernizing a rocket, it's the entire weapons system. So, a key attribute the GBSD will bring is a much improved nuclear command and control system for that particular piece so that that alone is another significant reason that we have to go do that.
You mentioned workforce, the GBSD - and I'll defer to the Air Force for the specifics, GBSD requires a lot less number of people to operate it because it has modern methods of maintenance and sustainment.
Remember, Minuteman 3 wasn't designed to be modernized at all. The Air Force did heroics to reverse engineer the ability to do that on a weapon system only designed to be in service for 10 years, so there's a number of these benefits the nation will achieve if we modernize the intercontinental ballistic missiles.
ERNST: I appreciate that. And you've also spoken to the fact that not having a stable - stable appropriations, stable budget, how that has impacted negatively the modernization effort, so I just want to reemphasize that that we really need to do our work as Congress and make sure that we get back into regular order.
So, Admiral, what is your assessment of the capability and ability of our domestic supply and production chains to produce our nuclear cores?
RICHARD: Senator, one it would be best for me to defer the specifics of an answer to that to the people that actually buy this stuff, that's the services and the agencies, but bottom line is that's a very big concern that we have let (ph) across the board, our industrial base atrophy and - and we will need to take steps to restore capability and capacity in any number of areas, weapons complex, nuclear command and control delivery systems.
It's just (ph) that we have a - a robust resilient defense industrial base that's able to produce the capabilities that commanders like I will have to use to defend us.
ERNST: And just in the remaining time, I really appreciate that - there's the need to really modernize out there. I know there's a number of different opinions on this Committee as we come to nuclear strategic deterrence, but the fact that we should have regular order in the way we do appropriations so that we can continue to modernize, if that is the - the directive that comes from this Committee and from the administration, but then also the workforce that goes with that as well.
I think there are a lot of issues that comes to this discussion today, we're just very grateful to have you there and - and working on these issues with us. So with that, I'll yield - yield back. Thank you.
REED: Thank you very much, Senator Ernst. Senator Shaheen please?
SHAHEEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Admiral Richard, General Dickinson, thank you both for your testimony this morning.
General Dickinson, I want to follow up on the conversation that has come up in several questions around the proliferation of debris in space. It's my understanding that the current collision screening notification criteria were developed over a decade ago, is there an effort underway now to update that criteria? And who's in charge of that? And when do you expect that to happen?
DICKINSON: Thank you for the question, (inaudible) - just to the - if I - right upfront just talk about the size of the debris and how much that is growing, just to give you a statistic or a feel for that, back in 2019 when the command stood up, we - we tracked on a daily basis about 25,000 pieces (ph) - objects in space. Today, in 2022, it's almost 44,000, so we have seen obviously a tremendous growth in things that we have to track each and every day around the globe.
And - and really you know, we've - we've seen, with the nudol (ph) test, for example, back in November how that can expand quite quickly. So, the process that we use today to do that is - is done out at Vandenberg Space Force Base by the 18th Fix First Base (ph) Control Identification (ph) Unit out there.
And the - the algorithms and the C2 that they use has been upgraded, and so we - we look at that each and every day into how we are able to identify and work with NASA to make sure that we're able to identify potential issues with the International Space Station and its safety.
SHAHEEN: But you're looking only at the International Space Station?
DICKINSON: No, we're looking - so, ma'am, we're looking at all the debris up there in terms of being able to provide that information out. That's just one area that I highlight because it has such visibility on it.
SHAHEEN: And am I correct that there is specific collision screening and notification criteria that you're looking at?
DICKINSON: Yes, ma'am. So, there is - and we - we work very closely with not only NASA, but we also look - work very closely with our commercial partners as well. We have agreements with about a - over 100 companies right now. What we have - what we call a space situational awareness agreement, and that agreement allows us to share that information with them.
So, for example, if you're a commercial company that has satellites on orbit, we will let you know or we will let them know if there is a issue that we project with a (ph) potential debris.
SHAHEEN: Well, I guess what I'm trying to figure out is is this criteria that's updated on a regular basis? Do you all do that? Does somebody else do that? How is that then notified - how are other companies and other countries notified about that?
DICKINSON: So, we do that, that's on a website that we have and it's (ph) called spacetrack.org, where the unit out in Vandenberg Space Force Base updates that routinely with information that we have, that we're gathering from our - our sensors, and through our analysis process.
SHAHEEN: OK. I want to switch to a more mundane topic, because I certainly share the urgency with which both of you talked about the challenges we're facing from both China and Russia, and we've had a number of conversations on this Committee about whether our decision making process should be more efficient, should we address procurement, how do we - how do we address what we're seeing happening in China and Russia with respect to their increasing military capability?
Although, we may want to raise questions about Russia after Ukraine, but - but I raise this in the context of the proposed relocation of Space Com Headquarters from Colorado to Alabama. Because I'm puzzled, given the urgency, given the challenges of setting up this new command of the fact that you're still only in about 50 percent capacity in terms of the staffing that you need, why we are going to spend several years now, trying to move SPACECOM to a new location?
It's going to take us, as I understand a year and a half before we actually even know whether Redstone is a potentially appropriate location, because of environment concerns. Are we reassessing that decision? Why are - and my understanding also is that it will take us until 2026 to actually move Space Com to that location if the assessment proves to be that that's an appropriate location?
So, help me understand why given all of our urgency and all of the decisions that we need to make, we're going to spend the money and the time to relocate Space Command to a totally different place?
DICKINSON: So, ma'am, there's - there's two - Senator, there's two ongoing efforts - I'm sure you're probably aware, the DOD IG is finishing or conducting their evaluation along with the GAO. Both of those are moving along, and I'm looking forward to the completion of those two - those two efforts.
For me, the - it is not necessarily about the location, it is about the decision. So, in other words, (inaudible) I need a decision as soon as I can possibly get one so that I can build to full operational - operational capability as quickly as possible.
We have a - we do have competitors that are moving very quickly. Those competitors aren't necessarily waiting for me to breach FOC or full operational capability, so I need a decision. And based on that decision, I'll do whatever I need to do to make sure that I can achieve my mission.
SHAHEEN: OK, just - I'm out of time, but I just want to follow up one point on that, if you were going stay in your current location, do you have any sense of how long it would take to settle in, to do any renovations that you need to do there versus moving to a new location in Alabama, and how long that would take and the cost of that?
DICKINSON: So, we - so we are in the process right now of building the infrastructure that we need to do the mission that I've been given today. And we're - we're moving in that direction.
I would say we are a couple three years away from full operational capability.
SHAHEEN: Wherever you're located?
DICKINSON: Wherever I'm located.
SHAHEEN: And is that based on the number of personnel you have to hire?
DICKINSON: It's based on many things, Senator. One is personnel, the other has to do with expertise within the command, attracting the right expertise within the command and making sure that I have completely - have trained those processes and procedures within the command to be able to do the entire mission set that I've been given.
REED: Thank you, Senator Shaheen...
SHAHEEN: Thank you (ph).
REED: ... Senator Fischer, please?
FISCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Admiral and General for being here today. One of the reasons we've never adopted a no first use policy or made a soul purpose declaration is the real threat of the strategic non-nuclear attack.
President Obama's 2010 nuclear posture review states the following, "there remains a narrow range of contingencies in which US nuclear weapons may still play a role in deterring a conventional or CBW attack against the United States or its allies and partners. The United States is therefore not prepared, at the present time, to adopt a universal policy that deterring nuclear attack is the sole purpose of nuclear weapons."
Admiral Richard, chemical and biological threats are sometimes treated as an afterthought, how has the risk of major non-nuclear attack changed since 2010 and has it decreased?
RICHARD: Senator, first it has certainly not decreased. You are correct that that often gets overlooked, at least in public discourse. I will tell you as a part of the nuclear posture review, that was looked at very closely, and I look forward to the publishing of the nuclear posture review to show you what the result of that analysis was.
FISCHER: Thank you. Also, those who favor reducing the size for our nuclear forces often argue that non-nuclear capabilities, such as space and cyber capabilities can be substituted for nuclear weapons without diminishing our ability to credibly hold targets at risk, deter adversaries and assure our allies, what are your views on this idea?
RICHARD: Senator, what I'd offer is one, I applaud efforts - that's fundamentally - you're getting after some of the capabilities that are used inside integrated deterrence, and we applaud that effort. But I need to be clear about something here, which is there is no other capability or combination of capabilities that gets anywhere close to the demonstrated destructive potential of a nuclear weapon.
That's why it's integral to integrated deterrence - and then with that foundation, with that backstop, you then use every other capability in our disposal to deter the opponent.
And important point here, Senator if I could, when we are talking about issues between nuclear capable great powers, it quickly becomes less about an order of battle comparison and who wins the fight and quickly becomes more about who judges greater stake and who's willing to take greater risk to get it. Integrated deterrence sets us up very well to resolve issues like that.
FISCHER: And our threats are only increasing, we've - we've already brought up that we have two peer competitors when it comes to the threats that we face now. How - how do you think we can get that message across to the people of this country so that they have a more complete understanding of the threats we face and what we must do to protect this homeland and also to offer assurances to our allies?
RICHARD: Senator, I'd offer that our opponents' actions are speaking to us much better than anything I can say in words. I think it's important for us to understand we don't know how far China is going to go and Russia is also expanding, but also we're seeing demonstrations of how you can use these capabilities coercively.
We are so trained in thinking that all we do is deter. I don't think that we fully understand or have thought about, in a long time, what the coercive use of these capabilities looks like, and were getting real world demonstrations of that right now.
FISCHER: Admiral, you quote China's strategic breakout in your opening statement and you note that "the PRC likely intends to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030, greatly exceeding previous DOD estimates". As concerning as that is, it only captures, I think part of the problem. I know there's not a lot you can say in this environment, but do you believe it's wise to assume that China's nuclear forces will stop expanding when they reach that point?
RICHARD: Senator, I'll tell you - I told my staff that whatever the time estimate that the intelligence community gives you on anything from China, divide it by two and maybe by four and you will get closer to the right answer. So, no, I don't know that we have any idea of what the endpoint and/or speed.
When I first testified here, we were questioning whether or not China would be able to double that stockpile by the end of the decade, they're actually very close to doing it on my watch, and I think we need to factor that into our calculations as we think through what we need to defend ourselves.
FISCHER: And as we look at China's breakout or we look at the continued growth of Russia's no strategic arsenal, obviously nuclear threats are still growing. Do you - we are not trying to match any adversary system for system, but at the same time, an imbalance in forces does undermine our strategic stability, isn't that right?
RICHARD: Yes, ma'am. And said another way, I think it emboldens coercion and aggression.
FISCHER: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Fisher. Senator Rosen please?
ROSEN: Thank you, Chairman Reed for holding this important hearing. I'd also like to thank Admiral Richard, General Dickinson for testifying today and for your service to our country, thank you.
I want to return now to the major role that Nevada plays in the capabilities and safety of our nuclear arsenal, specifically at the Nevada National Security Site, because we need some infrastructure upgrades in order to continue to complete - do our mission.
And so, Admiral Richard, since 1993, the Nevada National Security Site or we call it NNSS has overseen the Nuclear Stockpile Stewardship Program, principally at the U1A facility. It's an underground laboratory where science - scientists conduct those subcritical experiments to verify the reliability and effectiveness of our nuclear stockpile.
This is the only - the only facility in the country where this is done and U1A is undergoing major construction projects that will soon host our most capable weapons radiographics system in the world. Of course, I visited NNS a few times. I am very proud of it - that it contributes to the certification of our nuclear stockpile.
However the NNSA (ph) faces several challenges as we have seen and you've testified to to its modernization programs, including significant infrastructure delays, which you note in your testimony dates back to the Manhattan Project era. And Nevada National Security Site is no exception. Unfortunately, Chairman Reed, Nevada National Security Site is larger than all NSA sites combined and is the equivalent in size to the state of Rhode Island, I might add.
REED (?): Thank you.
ROSEN: ... we have a vast amount of infrastructure to build and maintain. So, Admiral Richard, can you please speak to how upgrades to the stockpile stewardship program like the U1A affects STRATCOM's certification of our nuclear stockpile and - and how do these delays impact your ability to fulfill your responsibilities?
RICHARD: Senator, first I would put the stockpile stewardship program on the list of things that make me proud to be an American. That we actually figured out how to do that such that we were - relieved ourselves of the need to actually conduct nuclear weapons testing.
But what I think's important to understand is that alone will not give us the confidence that we have to have in our weapons. That's what this fundamentally comes back to are you confident in your stockpile and your deterrent (ph), because that underpins credibility, which is needed to deter.
There's two other things we have to do in addition to the good work in the Stockpile Stewardship Program, one of them is you have to have a flexible and modern stockpile, which means we need to move past life extensions, which we've been doing for 30 years and move into refurbishments, which is where NNSA's (ph) about to go.
And the second one, it goes back to the infrastructure you're talking about, you have to have a modern, responsive and resilient infrastructure, and we have delayed too long, in my opinion, giving NNSA (ph) the resources necessary to do that piece. All three of those are necessary for us to have the confidence we need to conduct my mission.
ROSEN: Thank you. Speaking of mission, we have cyber mission and space and cyber I (ph) could talk all about workforce, the workforce challenges that we have developing that. Senator Ernst brought that up.
But as we see what's happening, particularly in the Ukraine, are you concerned, General Dickinson, that the increasing threats of cyberattack from Russia could jeopardize our US base operations? Do you anticipate - maybe you can't speak of it here - we'll talk later, about space cyber aggression as the war on Ukraine continues to go forward?
DICKINSON: Well, thank you. And we - I will provide more in a closed session, but I - I will for you - for here to this morning is just to echo what Admiral Richard said in terms of posture. At this particular point, what - I support Admiral Richard in a lot of things that he does in terms of his nuclear command and control and I'm very - I'm very satisfied in the posture that we have today with respect to space as well as cyber.
We have taken a lot of effort to ensure that we are cyber hardened and that we've got the right types of experts looking at our systems, our vital space systems. But I can provide more to you in a closed session.
ROSEN: Thank you. I appreciate that. I know my time's almost up. I do want to talk about workforce development. I've been lucky enough to have a junior ROTC STEM bill pass, which means our youngest folk - youngest kids - kids in high school, they have a - a track for joining Junior ROTC to put them into STEM professions in the military.
It's really important, we'll talk later about developing that workforce. I'll submit it for the record, but we really need to up our game there as well to be nimble and modernized.
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
REED: Thank you, Senator Rosen. Senator Cramer please?
CRAMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and thanks to both of you for your service and for being here. And Admiral Richard, let me just say, as others have said, one of your strongest qualities has been your - since I've known you anyways, been your forthrightness and your clarity. But I have to say, in the moment that we're in right now, I especially appreciate your boldness and clear (ph) - we need to hear it - the people we work for need to hear it.
I also have to complement you on your composure, being able to sit through - through some of this. The suggestion that there hasn't been enough variables or - enough (ph) varying opinions to - to - to commit to $630 billion over 10 years to the most important deterrence to aggression in the world is frightening enough, but it's galling in the context that around here, some people think nothing of spending trillions of dollars over the course of 10 months of 10 weeks, or even 10 days, based on the opinion of one person at HHS, and I'll leave it at that, so congratulations on having compose - composure as well.
I - I do want to get back to the - an issue that Senator Blackburn raised with regard to the postponement of that ICBM launch - as you can imagine, those of us in North Dakota pay close attention to those things. I appreciated your answer, particularly your commitment that it is only a postponement, that it is now rescheduled, did you agree with that postpone - postponing that if - if I might ask?
RICHARD: Senator, I had an opportunity to directly advise the Secretary of Defense among others. I think it would be best if I left that advice private between him and I.
CRAMER: I understand and appreciate that - because it seems to me that reality is now clashing with some people's fantasies. And I appreciate you raising the reality of the moment. You - you said it well a little bit ago when you said our opponents' actions are speaking as loudly as anything that we could probably say.
General, I wanted to talk a little bit about - I want to bring it home a little bit as well, you of course, are very familiar - you and I visited the very old parks radar station, the Cavalier (ph) radar station, now a Cavalier Space Force station, it seems like last month, but I think it was probably a year or two ago, you - as you know, we have this - this very important early warning system. It's designed to of course, warn us early in case something's coming over the Arctic, now it of course, has been monitoring space as well.
You have - you have talked about the need for decision superiority - that was I think, something you - you referenced or talked quite a bit about over the last couple of years. I'm just wondering if the parks (inaudible) at Cavalier Space Station that relies on this very old technology if there - if there's modernization opportunities for - for - or decision superiority as well that we should be talking about?
DICKINSON: Senator, thank you. And I did enjoy my trip up there. I think it was over a year ago, maybe two years ago now. But certainly that particular sensor and all of those early warning radars are very critical to our overall architecture to be able to provide that missile warning, missile defense and space domain awareness - so critical to provide that very decision space to our - our national level leaders.
So, in terms of - of - of what that capability is today, we continue to look at that through a lifecycle management and really I work very closely with the Space Force, because they're - they're ultimately in charge of those upgrades and the modernization of those assets. What I do is I identify whether or not we have a gap or a requirement that would need that. So, we're working very closely with them.
And we're looking at the entire architecture, not just necessarily one asset, because as we look at - to the future, it will not only be a terrestrial based type of capability that - that is up there right now, but we'll look at a space capability too that augments that, so we have a layered warning capability globally.
CRAMER: I think, Admiral, you had mentioned earlier - maybe both of you have talked about - and throughout this hearing the - the delay or interruption in funding a modernization, what that - what that means, the kind of signal that that sends, the practical functional consequences of that, let me ask this, if we were in this place - able to get our act together, if we were able to have enough consensus and realization that modernization is not just important, but critical, and if we were to have the political will, would it even be possible to not only not delay, but even accelerate any part of modernization if we were able to make that case?
RICHARD: Hey, Senator, I would - you know, defer to the services to give you the specifics of that. But I think you're hitting at - we need to ask questions differently. We used to ask what's it going to take, and we have gotten into the habit of saying how are we going to mitigate our assumed delay or failure. We used to ask the question the other way around - that's how we got to the moon by 1969...
CRAMER (?): Yes.
RICHARD: ... we need to get back to understanding the operational risk is on par with programmatic and technical risk, reverse the way we ask questions and get back to producing capabilities the way we used to.
CRAMER: Appreciate (ph) - thank you both. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Cramer. Let me recognize Senator Tuberville for the purpose of unanimous (ph) consent request.
TUBERVILLE: Oh, thank you very much, just real quickly, you know, I'd like to correct for the record, the remarks that my colleague from New Hampshire - and I appreciate General Dickinson being a bipartisan approach here on the movement of Space Command from Vandenberg to (Inaudible) in Alabama - the recent release draft environmental study found "significant impact on social economic conditions and environmental justice" at Vandenberg.
By contrast, the study found the - no significant environmental concerns at Redstone. So, Mr. Chairman, I'd just like to submit this study to the - to you for the record, and correct that as we go along.
REED: Without objection.
TUBERVILLE: Thank you.
REED: Thank you, Senator. (Inaudible) Senator Peters, please.
PETERS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And gentlemen, thank you for being here today - your testimony thank you for your - for your service. General Dickinson, your posture statement provided a very detailed account of the - the significant progress that SPACECOM has made with - with some partners and allies all - all over the - the - the world.
And (ph) the illegal and unjust Russian invasion in the Ukraine has certainly renewed NATO's sense of purpose, I would think we'd all agree on that. It's very encouraging to see and has driven some of our key allies to make some sorely needed changes, I think, in their security posture.
My question for you, sir, is with this increased appetite for defense cooperation around the free world, what should we be doing in the coming years to expand on this even more in the space domain?
DICKINSON: Thank you, that is one of the highlights in the Command I think in the last two - two and a half years is our ability to work with our allies and partners. It has really quite frankly exploded in terms of these - of our partners coming to - coming to the tale and wanting to be part of the efforts that we're working around the world.
An example is our combined space operations group that we have called CSPO (ph), just signed a vision statement that came out a couple of weeks ago but that's an example of the growing, if you will, the expansion of our partnership.
Just as an example, there's three different countries right now that have actually stood up their own US - or their own version of Space Command. So, the enterprise itself is growing and the - the willingness to work is just like we've seen in other domains, for example, so air, land and sea.
But they're really coming and we're working closely together and it's probably - when you look at our integrated deterrence strategy is one of the pillars of that is being able to leverage our allies and partners in not only situations we're seeing today, but ones that we do each and every day.
PETERS: Great. Great. General Dickinson, as you know, on March 3rd, Russia stated that they'll halt the delivery of the RD180 engines that are used by some US defense industries as part of the Atlas 5 (ph) launch system. While - while it certainly appears that that - this development will not significantly hinder any launching operations, I think it certainly underscores the - the importance of supply chain integrity - semiconductors, for example are a known liability all across the many domains.
So, my question for you, sir, is are there additional space specific material or technologies supplied by either Russia or China that could result in degraded military readiness if withheld?
DICKINSON: Not that I'm aware of.
PETERS: Great. Admiral Richard, you indicated in your posture statement that while STRATCOM academic alliance is a - an excellent asset, with over 80 - or excuse me, with over 70 academic and industrial partners, "it's only a fraction of what is needed to reinvigorate research and analysis for deterrence concepts".
My question for you, sir is what additional ways can we leverage the power of American and allied defense industry and academia to maintain our strategic edge?
RICHARD: Senator, first beyond the academic alliance, what we did at STRATCOM was put together an analytic agenda, what are the key questions that we need research done on, three party deterrence dynamics would be a - a excellent example of that so that we can harness the power of the Department of Defense and the nation more broadly - think your U Arch (ph), your FFRDCs, other places where we can do that.
But even that, this is bigger than one combat and command. I think this is a broader Department of Defense or national issue. I am reminded, this nation invented the entire RAND Corporation to do not much more than think through deterrence back in the cold war. We face an even bigger problem - I think it's going to need an equivalent national level response.
PETERS: Great. Great. Well (ph), I agree. Admiral Richard, you outlined how establishment of the Joint EMS Operation Center will facilitate joint electromagnetic spectrum operations throughout the Department of Defense and combat and commands, but as the electromagnetic spectrum is just as - is just as vital in terms of homeland security, how do you see the Joint EMS Operation Center working with non-DOD agencies as well?
RICHARD: Senator first, I applaud where my department is going and in understanding the importance of electromagnetic spectrum and the fact that we can't take it for granted anymore. It is a contested, congested space.
Our responsibility - and there is a EMS superiority strategy that our Secretary just signed out (ph). We're responsible for a piece of it - you're hitting on that. We're the operational proponent. And so first, we work to make sure that the standards and certification inside the Department and (ph) our forces are sufficient. We're moving out on that.
We provide support, and we're doing that right now in electromagnetic spectrum operations, but fundamentally what I do is come back in and provide the operational consequence of programmatic decisions - those (ph) changes - those decisions to our benefit.
PETERS: Great. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Peters. Senator Scott, please.
SCOTT: Thank you, Chairman...
COTTON: change their no first use policy like that, can they?
RICHARD: Senator, yes. And I put no more credence in that than I did in the Soviet Union's no first use policy.
COTTON: All right, admiral. Earlier this year media report suggested the Biden administration wanted to cut two nuclear systems from America's arsenal. These are so-called non-strategic nuclear weapons, weapons with smaller explosive yields designed often to be used against military formations. Is this reporting accurate? Were there discussions to cut the Whiskey 76-2 and the Sea Launch cruise missile, also known as the slick 'em in (ph)?
RICHARD: Senator, all the capabilities in our deterrence portfolio were examined inside the Nuclear Posture Review. Those are included in that, and I look forward to the results of the NPR to see what the decisions were.
COTTON: When is the MPR going to be released?
RICHARD: Senator, I'd have to defer you to OSD for that answer.
But I do want to make a point about those capabilities in particular, which is every capability that is in the U.S. arsenal is there for a reason. It is designed to produce an effect against an assessed threat. If we don't have a capability, the threat that drove it to be there still exists. And so, we either as a nation have to choose to take the risk that we can't achieve that effect, or we have to go find another way to go do that. And that is something we're going to continue to have to do even after we finish the Nuclear Posture Review. I can give you more details, sir, in a closed session.
COTTON: Thank you. I agree with that. And I agree that we are to a degree self-deterring while we're letting Russia run wild on non-strategic nuclear weapons. Yet, we are considering cutting our own.
I want to turn to the canceled test in recent days. Admiral, it's correct that we have routinely conducted unarmed tests for our Minuteman III missiles and that we give Russia advance notice for those tests, correct?
RICHARD: Senator, that is correct. For a long time.
COTTON: And they're retaining their schedule well in advance, correct?
RICHARD: Yes, they are, sir.
COTTON: We canceled one of those in the last week, correct?
RICHARD: Senator, we rescheduled it. So...
COTTON: OK, so let me ask you this. These tests are a critical part of keeping our nuclear deterrent healthy and viable, right?
RICHARD: Senator, that's a 50-year-old weapon we're talking about. I need those tests, actually. And I want to acknowledge the Air Force test for us to maintain confidence and the reliability.
COTTON: And so, we can -- you can say we reschedule it, but there is a -- a detailed and long-standing testing schedule. So, what we really did was cancel it. Did we cancel that test because we didn't want to, quote-unquote, "Escalate with Russia?"
RICHARD: Senator the -- we are trying very hard not to send any escalatory signals at this point. My recommendation, in general, has been to maintain our routine normal scheduled operations. I think that we are all very familiar and that is the best posture for us to be in. We very carefully think through those to maintain our readiness and to maintain our training and demonstrate that. So, my recommendation overall is that we maintain that cadence.
COTTON: I'm glad you recommended that. Do you know who above your rank decided not to accept that recommendation for this test?
RICHARD: Senator, I would like...
RICHARD: ... maintain private my specific recommendations in this case.
COTTON: OK. I'll just say that there's nothing escalatory about long-standing, long-scheduled, routine tests that Russia knows about in advance. And it's just another example of how we have mistaken actions that would have de-escalated this situation rather than escalated it. This is not within your combatant command. But if we had been sending all the missiles to Ukraine over the last five months that we've been sending on an emergency basis, for the last two weeks, I know that some people in the White House feel that that might cause Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. But how foolish does that look now? And I think it also is a bad signal not to continue our routine nuclear testing.
REED: Thank you, Senator Cotton. Senator Hawley, please.
HAWLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen, both for being here. Thank you for your service, as always. Admiral, if I could start with you. Just a basic question here. You're just testifying to Senator Cotton. China's a nuclear power, right?
RICHARD: A near-peer.
HAWLEY: That Russia's a nuclear power.
RICHARD: Yes, sir.
HAWLEY: You were just amplifying to Senator Cotton your testimony about China being in the midst of a strategic breakout. We see Vladimir Putin making now explicit nuclear threats. Is this a good time to weaken our own nuclear deterrent?
RICHARD: Senator, recapitalization of what we have today is the absolute minimum that we need to do. And we're going to need to further ask ourselves if anything else in posture capability and capacity is warranted based on change in threat and what we're learning out of crisis deterrence dynamics right now.
HAWLEY: Absolute minimum, you testified that. I think that's very important. Am I right in thinking that our nuclear forces remained the bedrock of our strategic deterrent?
RICHARD: Not only our strategic deterrence, senator, but it is integral and foundational to integrated deterrence.
HAWLEY: Including our ability to project power and to manage escalation beneath the nuclear threshold? That's what you're talking about, I think.
RICHARD: Senator, no other plan on no other capability in the Department of Defense is going to work if I can't maintain strategic and nuclear deterrence.
HAWLEY: Very good.
Let me ask you about something you wrote in your testimony; you said prioritizing the crucial NNSA infrastructure modernization programs is the best and only option to pace projected threats and sustain strategic deterrence. We've got in my state, the state of Missouri, we've got the Kansas City National Security Campus, which supports the nuclear deterrent. We're very proud of that. Can you explain why it is important for us to fully fund NNSA infrastructure modernization?
RICHARD: Senator, we have reached the point where we can no longer deter with the leftovers of the Cold War, we have life extended them to the maximum extent possible, we must now start to recapitalize remanufacturer those that require a very robust infrastructure. We have gone far -- we're 10 years behind the point where we needed to start recapitalizing the infrastructure, and that's in NNSA and actually the rest of the complex. And the consequences, we simply won't have the capabilities that we're going to have to have to deter the threat environment we're in.
HAWLEY: Very good. Thank you for that.
You told me -- switching back to China, admiral, you said during an appearance before this committee in 2019, to me that China had the capabilities required to threaten or to actually use nuclear strikes to compel the United States to surrender in a potential war over Taiwan. We know that since then, China has continued to -- you were just testifying to this. China's continued to develop its nuclear forces in theater, and Chinese strategists are showing interest in changing their doctrine and also in need for lower-yield nuclear weapons in order to increase the deterrence value of China's force. Is it fair to say that China's ability to engage in limited nuclear employment at the theater level is growing?
RICHARD: Senator, not only yes, if you'll ask me that in closed session, I will give you a very vivid example of what that could do to us.
HAWLEY: Very good. Why our limited -- if you could just explain for us why our limited nuclear options, like, for instance, the supplemental capabilities endorsed by the '18, the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, why are those so important for deterring China? Or, for that matter, any other adversary that wants to use non-strategic nuclear weapons to coerce us?
RICHARD: Limited nuclear use is deterred differently than the way you deter the classic large attack. And it's designed to make sure that the opponent does not think that there is some threshold below which they could use the nuclear effect, leaving us with a disproportionate response that ultimately winds up self-deterring us.
HAWLEY: Very good.
General, let me switch to you just in the -- in the time I have remaining here. Thomas Sugar is an analyst, and others have shown that the PLA is preparing to engage in at large scale preemptive strike operation at the outside or would be prepared to engage at the outset of any conflict over Taiwan, that we may find ourselves in an attempt to cripple our ability to project power in the western Pacific. It seems to me we've got to assume Beijing may be incentivized to strike preemptively in space as well. Which brings me to my question, what are the most important things that Congress can do this year to support SPACECOM's efforts to bolster the resilience of our architecture in space over the next five years?
DICKINSON: Well, thank you, senator. So, it boils down to -- Admiral Richard touched on it; it is that predictable funding. So, when I look at the size of the enterprise and the requirements and the capabilities that we need, it all boils down to having a consistent stream of funding that will allow the Space Force and the other services to provide the capabilities that I will need.
HAWLEY: Very good. My time has expired. Gentlemen, thank you both again for your testimony. Thank you for your service to this country. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, admiral. Thank you, general. The open portion of this hearing will adjourn, and we will reconvene in SVC 217 in approximately 15 minutes, so that would be an 11:50 by my watch roughly. This portion is adjourned.