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REED: Let me call the hearing to order. Good morning. The committee meets today to receive testimony from General Anthony Cotton, Commander of US Strategic Command or STRATCOM and General James Dickinson, Commander of USSPACECOM. Gentlemen, thank you for your service to the nation and please extend my thanks and thanks to all the members of the committee to the men and women serving under your command.
General Dickinson, I understand this is likely your last hearing before the committee as commander of SPACECOM. I want to thank you for your extraordinary leadership and particularly to the first years of this command as you establish the norms it'll carry it forward. Thank you very much, sir.
As in the past, we've asked the commanders of STRATCOM and SPACECOM to testify together. Until 2019, Space Command was a part of strategic command. Now, as SPACECOM stands up as an independent command. It is important to identify any gaps or seams that have emerged during the transition. On the global stage, Russia's illegal war on Ukraine has introduced risks to the nucleolus stability we have maintained for the better part of a century. Vladimir Putin's behavior has been dangerously reckless. In February, he suspended Russia's participation in the New START Treaty, the last remaining strategic stability agreement between our two countries. General Cotton, it is important to the committee to understand how this affects your planning and I hope to hear more about it in the classified session.
Further, Putin and his associates have made a series of nuclear saber-rattling statements to try to make the United States and our allies reconsider our support for Ukraine. That strategy has failed. The United States nuclear deterrent, the bedrock of our national defense is being relied upon more than ever and our extended deterrence for our allies has proven effective. This has made Russia think twice about escalating hostilities against NATO. We must be mindful, however, that as Putin’s conventional arsenal grows weaker, he may rely more on his nuclear arsenal.
I would welcome our witnesses' thoughts on how we can best manage this extremely complicated dynamic. Our other near-peer competitor, China, continues to advance its ballistic missile capabilities. In addition to expanding its field of hardened missile silos, the PLA is building new air and sea nuclear delivery platforms. General Cotton, you recently sent a letter to Congress reporting that while China has fewer warheads in the United States, it now has more launch platforms than we do. I would like to know the implications of this assessment.
Beijing's new land based silos along with the completion of its nuclear triad and nuclear command, and control, and communications or NC3, fundamentally changed the nature of his nuclear doctrine. This shift may have significant impacts on stability in the Indo-Pacific region, and should inform how we design our own nuclear strategy to protect the nation and maintain our extended deterrence and our commitment to our allies.
The United States is well underway in its cycle of nuclear modernization, a once in a generation effort to renew the aging legs of our nuclear triad. Each leg is the Major Defense Acquisition Program and I understand that the Air Force and Navy are encountering workforce and supply chain problems similar to other department programs and General Cotton, I'd like to know how these delays could impact your planning efforts.
Further, we're to ask for your views on the efforts of the National Nuclear Security Administration or NNSA to meet Defense Department requirements. In prior modernization cycles, the NNSA could rely on existing infrastructure, particularly with respect to uranium and plutonium to meet these requirements. That is not the case today as the NNSA has to recapitalize the very production facilities needed to provide finished nuclear parts. It is essential that we understand what impact this may have on your operations.
In the space domain, we are quickly gaining a clearer picture of the threats we face. With respect to Ukraine, we have learned a number of important lessons. For example, GPS jamming is now commonplace, and commercial space systems are regarded as enemy combatants by Russia. There are entire regions of Ukraine that are GPS-denied, and the conflict is creating unexpected consequences for commercial space operations.
General Dickinson, I hope you will share your perspective on using commercial space assets in a conflict as our current policy is ambiguous. Space Command's ability to warn Strategic Command, Northern Command, and US Senior Leadership of a missile attack on the homeland remains critically important. The committee would appreciate an update on the progress SPACECOM has made in assuming control of the missile warning and NC3 functions it inherited from STRATCOM. Are there gaps? And how can these gaps be addressed?
Finally, SPACECOM is responsible for integrating both ground and space sensors to achieve better space situational awareness, essentially becoming the Defense Department's sensor command. General Dickinson I ask that you share your vision for how to integrate this constellation of sensors, which ranges from ground and sea radars, to satellite senses, so that it provides the best support to the force.
Thank you again to our witnesses for appearing today. I look forward to your testimony and I would note for my colleagues that there will be a classified hearing immediately following this session in SVC-217 to continue our discussion. And with that, let me recognize the Ranking Member, Senator Wicker.
WICKER: Thank you, Chairman Reed. And thank you to our witnesses. I can think of no issue that demands the committee's attention more than the nuclear threat posed by China and Russia. Despite its significant setbacks in Ukraine, Russia remains a major nuclear threat to the United States. Moscow possesses a larger and more modern nuclear arsenal than we do. It can also build numerous additional nuclear weapons in short order. Russia has developed new nuclear weapons unlike anything in the United States inventory, including nuclear-powered, transoceanic, autonomous torpedoes, and intercontinental cruise missiles. These are weapons for which we have no defense.
The story out of China is also very troubling. Beijing is modernizing and expanding its nuclear force at breakneck speed, it will likely outpace the US in the early 2030s. The past 18-month period has given us a good idea of China's remarkable growth. Over that time, China's nuclear arsenal has doubled in size. The Chinese have blown a missile that can drop nuclear warheads from orbit anywhere on Earth, with virtually no notice and China has become the third country to develop a strategic triad of nuclear missiles, bombers, and submarines. General Cotton recently notified Congress that China now possesses more ICBM launchers, then the United States.
Just last week, news reports expose Beijing's purchase of 28 tons of Russian uranium, which can be used to further its weapons production. In the space domain, China and Russia are openly developing and testing counter space capabilities. Each country has dangerously taken out satellites in orbit, creating thousands of pieces of debris and space junk, hundreds of other satellites, and frankly, those brazen and irresponsible acts of aggression only scratched the surface of their real capabilities.
Given these threat conditions, one would expect a sense of urgency on the part of our government, a fundamental reassessment of our assumptions and realignment of our resources. Instead, the Departments of Defense and Energy repeatedly delay programs to modernize our nuclear deterrence and restore the basic industrial capabilities we use to produce nuclear weapons. The administration downplays the reality that space is a warfighting domain. Space contains real threats and adversaries, and it needs military solutions. Refusing to acknowledge and prepare effects our country's ability to be ready for a future war that would extend into space.
This administration needs plans and postures to account for the worsening security system. If we are to prevail in long-term competition with China and Russia. We need to commit today to a program of sustained innovation and investment. This morning, we will begin to receive budget summaries including the President's budget request. This request, once again, is likely not to keep pace with inflation and we already know of several significant shortfalls in naval shipbuilding munitions, and key investments in the western Pacific for example, to name a few.
I would look forward to working with my colleagues here in Congress on both sides of the aisle to build a bipartisan adequate strategy-based budget for the coming year. About this sense of urgency, I would like to hear from our witnesses about how this committee can help create a sense of urgency to act, to accelerate the modernization of our strategic arsenal and adapt our forces.
Thank you, Mister Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Wicker. General Cotton, please?
A. COTTON: Good morning, Chairman Reed, Ranking Member Wicker, and distinguished members of the committee. I appreciate this opportunity to testify next to General Dickinson and I thank the committee and Congress for its support to national defense. First, I along with my Command Senior Enlisted Leader, Sergeant Major Howard Kreamer, want to assure you and the American people that the United States Strategic Command is ready today, ready to defend our nation, defend our allies, and respond decisively if called upon.
The men and women of the United States Strategic Command are the foundation for the capabilities that underpin our nation's strategic deterrence. They do this in an environment that continues to grow complex and challenging. Russia's invasion of a sovereign Ukraine is an attempt to undermine the rules-based international order by conventional forces backed with nuclear saber-rattling. How this conflict unfolds and eventually ends will shape the strategic environment for decades to come.
We see the People's Republic of China continuing to rapidly expand its nuclear capabilities. The PRC's actions are wholly inconsistent with the long professed policy of minimal deterrence. I did report to Congress in January that the number of land-based intercontinental ballistic missile launchers in the PRC now out exceeds those that we have in the United States. Along with its significant modernization expansion of conventional capabilities, the PRC is also investing heavily in lower yield precision systems with theater ranges, a new generation of mobile missiles and hypersonic glide vehicles with Fractional Orbital Bombardment Systems. The PRC's nuclear modernization provided with an alarming number of offensive options that can negatively shape the environment before and during a crisis or conflict.
North Korea continues to be a rogue actor and poses a threat to the United States and our allies. North Korea conducted an unprecedented number of missile launches in 2022, and its new intercontinental ballistic missile, referred to as the KN-28, highlight that the security challenge continues to grow. We are meeting today's challenges with integrated deterrence. It's the cornerstone of the National Defense Strategy. Our unmatched network of allies is a key component of integrated deterrence and these relationships are underpinned by our extended deterrence commitments.
These commitments are enabled by a safe secure, effective and credible nuclear deterrent. The credibility of our extended deterrence commitments is not only part of the nation's ironclad commitment to our allies, but it's also essential in limiting proliferation of nuclear weapons. The nation's nuclear forces underpin integrated deterrence and enables the U.S., our allies, and our partners to confront aggressive and coercive behavior.
To ensure our continued ability to serve as the bedrock of integrated deterrence, we're recapitalizing every leg of the nuclear triad, and the nuclear command control and communication systems. Were also addressing electromagnetic spectrum operations holistically and developing concepts to deploy conventional hypersonic strike capabilities. We will need to continue partnering with industry to ensure flexibility, responsiveness and capacity during recapitalization and modernization to ensure we can sustain our current systems while the new ones are being delivered.
Finally, I will end as I started. Our people are the foundation of every capability that enables strategic deterrence. I'm proud to serve alongside the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and guardians, and civilians that make up U.S. Strategic Command. Thank you again for this honor. And I look forward to your questions.
REED: Thank you, General Cotton. General Dickinson, please.
DICKINSON: Thank you, Chairman Reed and Ranking Member Wicker. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the committee. It remains my distinct honor to represent the 18,000 military servicemen and women, civilians, and families of United States Space Command who are serving our great nation around the world today. Thank you for this opportunity to testify before this committee. I am proud to lead such a talented and patriotic group of joint space professionals. Their expertise, diversity, and creativity underpin our strength and effectiveness. Of all the elements of military space power, our most valued asset is and always will be our great people.
My provisional headquarters achieved initial operational capability in just two years and we will reach full operational capability through the disciplined initiative of our great people. Space power enables our way of life and as a critical component of our national security. I thank Congress for its support to advance America's primacy in space, we must maintain our position of advantage in the space domain and ensure it remains sustainable, safe, stable, and secure for all. The Joint Force relies on space based capabilities to project and employ power. China and Russia consider this dependency, a soft underbelly, and seek to exploit it. They intend to limit our access to space during crisis and conflict, and they are fielding capabilities to that effect.
Our strategic competitor’s irresponsible actions have transformed space into a highly contested domain. We must prevent today's strategic competition from growing into a conflict in space. We achieve this by deterring aggression, defending national interests, and if necessary, prevailing in any domain. US Space Command contributes to integrated deterrence by preserving freedom of action in space, and by providing critical support to the rest of the joint force. Our mission spans the spectrum of conflict and in every domain.
For example, we are creating concepts to further integrate space, cyber and special operations to generate asymmetrical variant advantages around the world. Additionally, our protect and defend mission involves all three segments of the space architecture, the ground, link, and space vehicle, an approach that requires and demands all domain solutions. So my command’s planning horizon is near-term. We must be ready to fight today, the threat will not wait.
To this end, we are leveraging the joint force, our allies and partners, to integrate and maximize the capabilities that we have today. At the same time, we look forward to the capabilities the services are developing for the future fight. As we observed in Ukraine, commercial space assets are a significant force multiplier. For years, our commercial mission partners have augmented our satellite communications and provide enhancements to our space domain awareness sensor network. Commercial integration is absolutely critical to our mission success. So today's hearing will emphasize the United States resolve to maintain our leadership and position of advantage in the space domain.
But before I address the committee's questions, I want to reiterate and emphasize to the American people my unwavering pledge that US Space Command will ensure that there is never a day without space. Thank you.
REED: Thank you very much, General Dickinson. General Cotton, we're facing a first in the history of the world situation of a trilateral nuclear competition at a serious level. As you've indicated, in addition to Russia, which has since the late 40’s maintained robust nuclear arsenal, China is expanding it to be a capability with additional missile fields, the Jin-class submarine and it's upgrading its H6 bomber to carry cruise missiles. How is STRATCOM adapting to this new trilateral nuclear competition?
A. COTTON: Chairman, thank you for the question. It's fundamentally based around our -- what we see is a sound strategic model and that's the triad. The ability for the triad and the systems that we have to be able to cover and understand how to cover and still offer options, flexible deterrent options to the President is key. So one, the triad is fundamental and foundational for that to happen. Two, I believe that we are going to have to have a conversation in regards to strategy and force posture. I am absolutely in a good place today with our systems and where we stand and foundational to that is the modernization of our current system. But to your point, Chairman, 2010 and the basis of which we did our modernization efforts was on a 2010 threat.
We're going to have to have that conversation to ensure that the modernization systems, the proportions of the triad, and other effects that can bring strategic deterrence to bear is right moving forward post-2030.
REED: Thank you, General Cotton. There's another issue that I'd like to touch upon with both you and General Dickinson, is that as the lead combat and commands for spectrum operations, General Cotton, you're standing of a joint electromagnetic spectrum operation center and there are several questions here. Given the amount of electronic attacks we're seeing in Ukraine as well as operations in Indo-Pacific, when do you expect the center to become operational? And also, your comments on the proposed sale of the S Band spectrum that is now being discussed?
A. COTTON: Sir, thanks for that question, Chairman. So as you know, the overall objective of the JEC is to raise overall readiness of the Joint Force and to prevail in that mission space. We're actually doing really good work and we're in the final steps -- actually working our way through the Deputy Secretary of Defense for her to sign out the memorandum and actions on the tasks that we have to move forward. So I look forward to seeing that pretty soon.
In regards to STRATCOM and how do we rely on spectrum, I'll say to you this way. EMS superiority for the employment of our forces, to maintain situational awareness, to assure communication through all domains, and assure PNT, position, navigation, and timing, is critically important for not only myself as a combatant command, but for all combatant commanders.
REED: And General Dickinson, again, your perspective on the value of the S Band to the military and also the knowledge that you and your colleagues in uniform have with respect to what parts can be shared or what cannot be shared.
DICKINSON: Thank you, Chairman for that question. So I would have to categorize it as it's foundational. That spectrum piece that you're discussing, you mentioned, is foundational to what US Space Command does, as we have the responsibility of providing space-enabled capabilities to the joint force. What I mean by that is PNT communications, missile warning, all of those types of capabilities that I'm responsible for providing are dependent upon the use of the spectrum. So as I look at it, I think it's foundational to it and in everything we do.
REED: So there would be a certain degree of risk aversion that you would bring to the -- disposing with that S Band at this point?
REED: That's fair, General?
DICKINSON: That's fair, sir.
REED: Thank you very much. Senator Wicker, please?
WICKER: Thank you, Mister Chairman. First, before I begin my questions, I want to thank Senator Fischer and King and recognize their bipartisan and significant work on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee. They are going to be very busy. And we're going to look to them in the future as we already have for leadership. General Cotton, we have a nuclear modernization plan, is that correct?
A. COTTON: That is correct.
WICKER: And when was it written? When was it developed?
A. COTTON: Probably in 2010 timeframe is when the modernization effort (INAUDIBLE).
WICKER: OK. Now, when it was developed, this trilateral threat that the chairman just talked about was not so significant, was it?
A. COTTON: China was seen as a nascent threat.
WICKER: So things are different now from the time that the plan was developed?
WICKER: OK. Is it a fact that since 2010, every Department of Defense and Department of Energy Nuclear Program has been delayed or reduced in scope?
A. COTTON: I don't know if I can go back to the timeframe of 2010, sir, but --
WICKER: For the most part, that's a correct statement (INAUDIBLE).
A. COTTON: It is.
WICKER: OK. Well, how are we going to meet the rapidly growing threats from China and Russia with a force that smaller and delivers later than we planned some 13 years ago?
A. COTTON: So Senator, I think the way I would couch that is the legacy system that we currently have is a credible system today. The fact that for -- since 2016, we've been modernizing that legacy system and are underway with that legacy system. I think what I would tell you is, I just want to ensure that the modernization programs that we have today, we have lost all margin and we must ensure that those programs are fully funded and executed, so I can have replacement and updated systems to the legacy system today to start.
WICKER: So has it made sense then that these programs, for the most part, have all been delayed or reduced in scope?
A. COTTON: Sorry, that's a policy question from that from my perspective as --
WICKER: But we rely on you for expertise and for advice. As to the policy --
A. COTTON: And we always forward, Ranking Member, we always forward our best military advice as well as our requirements on what we think and can meet the requirements of executing the objectives that are laid upon us by the president.
WICKER: OK. Your predecessor testified last year and agreed with nearly every other senior US military officer that we need to provide presidents with more nuclear options than we have today. Do you agree with that sentiment?
A. COTTON: I do agree with that.
WICKER: OK. And that -- let me ask you then about the way I ended my testimony where I said, I would like for you to share your feeling as to whether we should have a sense of urgency and whether we should communicate that to the commander in chief, and also to the American public.
A. COTTON: That is a wholehearted yes. We need to be able to articulate the sense of urgency to ensure that we can modernize the systems that we currently have funded and also look at future posture on what other things throughout the inventory, I would say, for affects, conventional and nuclear, to make sure that I can meet the objectives that are given to me for strategic deterrence to the president.
WICKER: And so we should make it clear to the taxpayers and the American citizens that we need to up our game in this regard.
A. COTTON: Continuing beating of the drum, so folks understand that our legacy systems need to be modernized. Absolutely, sir.
WICKER: Thank you, Mister Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Wicker. Senator Shaheen, please.
SHAHEEN: Thank you. General Cotton, General Dickinson, thank you both for being here this morning and for your service. General Dickinson, I liked your, "Never a day without space." And as you think about the challenges that Space Command is facing, what's your biggest concern with respect to readiness?
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. Let me just paint a picture of where the command is today. So we have -- within two years, we achieved initial operational capability on a very solid path to achieve full operational capability very soon. Resources, the department has done a great job, giving me the resources that I do and need, for example, the infrastructure where we are today, as well as the people, the personnel, which I said is the most important part of the command is our people. That is our asymmetric advantage, if you will, in the space domain as well. All things space.
So when I look at what we've done over the last three and a half years in terms of identifying requirements to the department, it has gone very well. We have deliberately and thoughtfully provided requirements to the department and the department is, in fact, giving us those resources. As I said earlier, the department works on five-year turns, if you will, with budgets, and bombs, and those kinds of things. Combat and commander, I look to what's happening today and I'm required to do that by the Secretary.
So when I look at that, to answer your question, I looked very hard at space domain awareness. And space domain awareness, how are we how are we doing that today? And so we are taking steps to make sure that we are leveraging sensors around the world that are US and allies and partners that traditionally haven't been used for space domain awareness but do have capabilities. We look at those particular assets and understand how we can pull them in and integrate them into comprehensive of architecture. And then we also looked at how do we develop the requirements to improve upon those in future years.
And so that is one way we were doing that, trying to solve that situational awareness or improve the situational awareness issue I have in the space domain. The second part of that is leveraging commercial companies. Commercial companies that want to participate in that with capabilities that they build themselves and provide that data to us. So through integration of nontraditional sensors, as well as commercial sensors, we are getting better at space domain awareness. But as the congestion in space continues to grow, we will need better capabilities.
SHAHEEN: Well, you mentioned the expertise of the personnel who work at Space Force and I understand that you have been successful in hiring a number of civilians to address the milestones that you've set. That's why continue to be concerned about the proposed relocation of Space Force to the Redstone Arsenal. When the Missile Defense Agency was relocated to Alabama and they lost 80 percent of their workforce who didn't want to leave and make that move, what would be the impact if you lost a significant portion of the workforce in a move of Space Force?
DICKINSON: Well, Senator, so today, as I mentioned, I've got a -- the command itself right now is about 62 percent if I count military, as well as Department of the Air Force civilians. I have got a contractor base too, in addition to that, that pulls us up a little bit over 80 percent in the total for the command. There's really no way to know how many of those civilians will -- would move to Huntsville, for example, until that decision is made. Lots of those folks are great civilian workforce. They have made life choices. And that's why they live, for example, in Colorado Springs. The military were soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and guardians, if told to move, we'll move, but there's really no way of knowing what percentage would actually move.
SHAHEEN: But the report that took a look at the space (INAUDIBLE) decision make some assumptions about what would happen if there were a move and what the impact of that would be, is that correct?
SHAHEEN: And is there a reason why that report is not available to the public?
DICKINSON: I believe the Department of the Air Force, the Secretary of the Air Force is doing some additional analysis before he makes his final decision. But to your point, ma'am, I would just offer that whether it's Colorado Springs or Huntsville, I think both those locations have the talent pool, if you will, of professionals, space professionals that could support the mission of the US Space Command. So again, I wouldn't know the percentage, but I do know that the work base, workforce that's available in Huntsville is very good as well.
SHAHEEN: But am I correct that the workforce in Huntsville has not had the same expertise on operating satellites that the workforce in Colorado was had?
DICKINSON: Well, so the workforce that I have, ma'am, in the headquarters itself, the COCOM headquarters, we don't necessarily do that level of technical flying the satellites, if you will. That is resident within subordinate units within US Space Command and those units are not moving.
SHAHEEN: So they will stay in Colorado regardless?
DICKINSON: I'm sorry?
SHAHEEN: They will stay in Colorado, regardless of what happens with everybody else?
DICKINSON: So the only part of that basing decision that's under review right now for the decision to relocate is the headquarters, my headquarters.
SHAHEEN: Thank you. Thank you, Mister Chairman.
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator Shaheen. Senator Fischer, please.
FISCHER: Thank you, Mister Chairman. General Cotton and General Dickinson, before I begin my questions, I want to strongly encourage both of you to make greater use of the unfunded priorities list. That process helps you to convey your needs to Congress. The department's budget request is the product of a two-year long process. Many of the assumptions baked into fiscal year 2024 budget were made in 2021. The geopolitical environment has significantly changed over the last two years. This committee views unfunded priority lists as a valuable tool that allows us to make more responsible resourcing decisions based on the current needs that we have and the operating environments, so please use that tool.
General Cotton, in your recent letter to the committee, you noted that you have a capability gap that needs to be filled by a low-yield non-ballistic capability that can respond without generation. Would a nuclear sea-launched cruise missile fill that gap?
A. COTTON: Thank you for the question, Senator Fischer. To address the adversaries’ perceived advantage on limited nuclear use, when I was here amongst the committee and was tasked with the question, I said I owed you a response on being able to make that assessment on where we stood. I did a deep dive as soon as I took command and during that deep dive and review of our capabilities, I, in fact, in an agreement that there is a strategic gap or challenge when it comes to that regime. So I fully support the fact that -- and the support that we have with this committee in pursuing the opportunities to look at low-yield, non-ballistic, non-generating effects moving forward. Absolutely concur with that.
FISCHER: Thank you, General. And thank you for looking in that and getting back to us. I appreciate that sometimes, when you take a new command, I know you have a lot put on your shoulders in making sure that you have a full understanding of everything that you are in charge of and I appreciate you taking the time to get that to us. Last year, the administration sought to retire the B83 nuclear gravity bomb despite having no replacement program in place to address hard and deeply buried targets such as underground facilities in China and North Korea. What is your best military advice on whether the United States needs to maintain a capability to hold those hard and deeply buried targets at risk?
A. COTTON: Thanks for the question, Senator. I'll answer that in two parts. Right now, the B83 is still part of my arsenal with the NDAA language that limits the reduction of that. So I still have that capacity and capability, pending the results of the hard and deeply buried study, that the department is currently doing, of which we are a part, and are giving our inputs to that. That being said, we are going to have to figure out how we are going to continue to have capability that gets after HDBTs and what effects can actually do that. Whether conventional or nuclear, we're going to have to have a strategy to figure out how to do that. And I look forward to seeing what the study brings us from the department to make sure that we can close that.
FISCHER: When do you anticipate that study to be completed?
A. COTTON: Ma'am, I was told that we should see that in the spring.
FISCHER: Thank you. Could you please keep us updated on that?
A. COTTON: I absolutely will.
FISCHER: Thank you, sir. I appreciate the conversation that we had earlier this week on the importance of moving forward quickly with NC3 modernization and building out a roadmap with clear, achievable, near and long-term goals. Can you tell this committee more about NC3, the roadmap that STRATCOM is developing?
A. COTTON: Senator, I absolutely will and look forward to having that conversation not only in open but in closed session as well. The conversation that we had was one of the things, that was the second thing that I did upon taking command, was get with a team to understand how we take conceptual ideas and what might be seen as concepts, with all the dollars and support that we're getting from the Congress and turn those into what you have alluded to, a roadmap, that I can, you can and my bosses in the Pentagon can actually see in phases of what we're doing within NC3 modernization.
So what we're doing is we're translating what was once seen as a conceptual piece and talking through the concept. And now, we're having zero to five, five to 10, 10 to 15-year roadmaps where I can describe to you within those phases of time what's actually being done with the taxpayer's money moving forward to modernize the NC3 modernization program.
FISCHER: Thank you. I think it's extremely important to be able to have roadmaps, checklists to stay on time so that we can be prepared for the future. Thank you, sir.
REED: Thank you, Senator Fischer. And let me also join Senator Wicker in commending you and Senator King for your leadership with a strategic subcommittee. And with that, let me recognize Senator King.
KING: Thank you. Thank you, Mister Chairman and thank you for the recognition. In General Cotton, just a brief note, Sentinel, the replacement of the ICBM system, essentially from the -- literally from the ground up is one of the most important and also complicated and major development projects in the history of this country in terms of budget and schedule, and the necessity of getting this done. I want you to know that we're watching you because I want the contractors to know that you're watching them. I hope this is a high priority in terms of the management and implementation of that program, which is going to be a massive undertaking.
A. COTTON: Senator, thank you. And you're absolutely right, I'm watching the contractors and I'm watching the Air Force to ensure that we close that gap as well.
KING: Thank you. I want to talk about deterrence, which is really the basis of our entire strategy to defend this country. And we talked about -- you talked about Senator Fischer about communications NC3. It seems to me that NC3 -- I believe NC3 should be part of the triad. It should be the quad because it's really as important if our communication system isn't credible than our deterrent isn’t credible, which is what could lead to a precipitous strike from one of our adversaries. So I hope that you agree with me that -- and I don't want to make you go through, all you went through the senator Fischer, but NC3 security and absolutely zero defect reliability is critical to the deterrent posture of this country.
A. COTTON: Sir, it is the foundation of everything we do when we talk the triad. And I often use your slogan of saying that it's a quad, if you will, for NC3. One of the things that we're also doing is General Nakasone, is interwoven in everything that we're doing and his team at Cyber Command is interwoven in everything we're doing with current NC3, the legacy systems, as well as when we're building out the next generation of NC3. So security is fundamentally a --
KING: We put a lot of time effort and focus on cyber over the last few years. I'm a little worried that electronic warfare is over here and cyber is over here. Electronic warfare, the ability of our communication systems, of our satellites to -- we will talk about this, General, but that's a part of -- maintaining that as part of our deterrence strategy. It has to be.
A. COTTON: It absolutely is, sir and as you know, I am the lead command in ensuring that we get after the EMS problem and what we saw as an atrophy over the past couple of decades, not with the NC3 systems within the department and what (INAUDIBLE).
KING: No, but the whole system, electronic -- if there's a conflict, electronic warfare is going to be the first two hours or two days before anything else happens. Well, let me let me move from that to General Dickinson. Are we developing alternatives to space-based resources? For example, the simplest one to think of as GPS. We've got to be able to have ships and planes and troops for that matter know where they are, absent GPS, because I believe GPS will be one of the first targets in a conflict. I know you're not Navy, but I want ships to be able to do celestial navigation.
DICKINSON: Thanks, Senator. So to answer your question, so I do believe we will be degraded at some point in the GPS world, position, navigation, and timing. With that, I know there's efforts underway, even in my previous command before US Space Command, were looking to alternative PNT, alternative position, navigation, and timing, and how we can develop those types of capabilities. So that's the technical side of it. There are programs that are working on that right now. Obviously --
KING: I hope that's a high priority that -- we could have $100 million aircraft that gets lost because it can't navigate. We've got to have a high priority on having alternatives to GPS, it seems to me.
DICKINSON: Yes, I agree. And the departments are working on that right now. But what I would also offer to you, Senator, is efforts within the department and each of the services, to go back to how we used to do things. So when I was a second lieutenant many, many years ago, I had a lensatic compass and a map in my hand, many people did in this room, I'm sure. And so we can't lose that skill. We have to continue to train that skill. If you're on a Navy ship, I might get this wrong, you have a sextant that you can use to utilize stars to do your navigation. But I think we all have to prepare for that. And I know, for example, in the Army, if you go out to one of the CTCs or training centers, they're actually training in that kind of a degraded environment, because we know that we might see that and of course, we've seen that in Ukraine as well.
KING: Preparing and training are the key words. Thank you very much, General. Thank you both for your service. Thank you, Mister Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator King. Senator Rounds, please.
ROUNDS: Thank you, Mister Chairman. Gentlemen, let me begin by just thanking you and your teams for standing on the front line, and in some cases, having to make some very difficult decisions. I appreciate the work that both of you do. As you know, there is an effort and a significant discussion going on with regard to spectrum and spectrum sharing. It's important as a country, because there's lots of people that want 5G, it's critical to our country and to expansion. But at the same time, 5G means that there is parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, which have to be dedicated towards that. At the same time spectrum is limited. And part of what that limited spectrum is, is being used by the Department of Defense.
Over the years, there has been more and more of a move by folks who want to be able to provide more services to the general public to take parts of the spectrum that which is used by the Department of Defense. I'm concerned about this and as you know, right now, there is a discussion about that part of the spectrum that is between 3.1 and 3.45 gigahertz. There is a desire because this is a very desirable part of the spectrum. Now, on the political side of things, and we don't expect you to get into the politics of it, there is a real push to try to move some of that away from the Department of Defense on a shared basis. At the same time, there is a reason why the Department of Defense uses this part of the spectrum, and that it has some very, very special qualities.
I'm going to get into the part of this in which we need your professional military advice. And I'm making it that way, because there are folks that clearly understand the value of 5G who would prefer to have this moved in an expeditious fashion out and away from DoD uses, or shared uses, and into the private sector and I understand their desire to do so. But I believe that the national defense of this country is critical and must be maintained. So what I'm going to ask in terms of your professional military opinion, is to work our way through this in a discussion with me about the critical needs of this country for parts of the spectrum that could be at-risk if we make the wrong political decision.
I'm going to begin. General Cotton, within 3.1 to 3.45, and in very close proximity to that, is it true that we have significant radars that we have to maintain?
A. COTTON: That is a correct statement, sir.
ROUNDS: Is it true that those radars that we are dependent on, protect our country, Alaska, Hawaii, and the mainland, from the possibility of attack by aggressors with regard to a continental -- intercontinental ballistic missiles, short-range missiles, drones, all sorts or I would say, almost the vast majority of those types of weapons systems, including aircraft, that may very well be coming at us or directed at our shores?
A. COTTON: Senator, that's a true statement.
ROUNDS: If you were to lose part of this spectrum, would it be true or if they were to look at using part of the spectrum, would it be true that some of those radars that we rely on could be at risk?
A. COTTON: They could be at risk, sir.
ROUNDS: Thank you. General Dickinson, space is the name of the game for you, and you not only have satellites and so forth, you're responsible also for early warning in some cases as well, is that not true?
DICKINSON: That is true. I have a UCP responsibilities, the Global Sensor Manager.
ROUNDS: In those sensors, are there critical aspects that include very sensitive parts of the spectrum that are in or near this particular part of the spectrum?
ROUNDS: What would happen if you were to lose access to those or to be limited to those in terms of your ability to provide adequate warning, should an attack occur?
DICKINSON: It would be impacted, possibly degraded.
ROUNDS: If you were required to move away from the assets that you currently have in that part of the spectrum, can you give us any kind of an estimate as to the costs involved?
DICKINSON: Senator, I can't give you an accurate cost estimate. I would say, it would be very expensive.
ROUNDS: Thank you. General Cotton, are you familiar with the Aegis?
A. COTTON: I am, sir.
ROUNDS: Is it clear that the Aegis System has significant parts of its radar systems within this very sensitive part of the spectrum?
A. COTTON: It does, sir.
ROUNDS: Do you have any idea as to what the cost would be to try to move or to try to allocate spectrum away or in areas other than this if it's even available for the Aegis System that protects our coast?
A. COTTON: I don't have a cost, but I know it's extremely expensive.
ROUNDS: Thank you. Do you believe that it is very important -- and I'm going to ask this to both of you, and then Mister Chairman, my time, I realize is up, but I'd like to have this question. Do you believe it is important that uniformed officers of the Department of Defense have a say and are at least have an opportunity to express to those who make these decisions your professional military opinion about how serious the loss of these particular parts of the spectrum could be if the decision is being made to share or to release that part of the spectrum?
A. COTTON: I would at least like to have my best military advice heard.
ROUNDS: Thank you. General Dickinson?
DICKINSON: As a Combatant Commander, I would ask -- I would say the same thing, I would ask that my best military advice would be considered.
ROUNDS: Thank you. General Cotton, I'm just going to finish with this. Have you been able to offer your best professional military advice to anyone on the release of the spectrum to date?
A. COTTON: Sir, most of those discussions happened prior to December so I don't know what the disposition was done, but I haven't had that discussion since the command.
ROUNDS: Thank you very much. Look, I really appreciate this. This is a difficult situation because there really is going to come a point at which your professional military advice has got to be shared with those individuals that are looking at, making this decision that should not be made. And I'm just going to finish with this. I believe that it should not be made until after the study, which is being completed by the Department of Defense in the NTIA is completed. Would you agree with me that nothing should be done with this until after that study is completed?
A. COTTON: I agree and we are a part of that study.
ROUNDS: Thank you. General, would you agree with that?
DICKINSON: I would agree. And we are a part of that study.
ROUNDS: And do you believe that there should absolutely be an appeal's process that we have currently got in law? Should that be continued on in its current form? General Cotton?
A. COTTON: Yes.
ROUNDS: General Dickinson?
ROUNDS: Thank you. Thank you, Mister Chairman, for your patience.
REED: Thank you, Senator Rounds and just to make sure we are clear, the S Band is the band that Senator Rounds and I were both talking about. Thank you. Senator Gillibrand, please?
GILLIBRAND: General Cotton, the all domain anomaly resolution office was created to synchronize the Department of Defense efforts to study and assess unidentified aerial phenomenon. How is STRATCOM liaising with ARO to help the office do its job?
A. COTTON: So ma'am, I'm formerly UAP, so we are part of that along with other combatant commands. So, I have a team as well as myself and in the senior leadership positions, that liaison with that organization, as well as the other COCOM responsible for that, have responsibility.
GILLIBRAND: Great. And do you foresee that ARO needs additional resources, or additional sensors, or additional detection to be able to do their job more thoroughly?
A. COTTON: I would probably have to defer that to my partner in NORTHCOM, to be able to answer that question, so I don't know. With what I know, I don't have a good answer for you in that regard, ma'am.
GILLIBRAND: I'll follow up for the record on that. While Canada has promised to invest $38 billion over the next 20 years in NORAD updates, our radars in the North Warning System are pretty old and are in known locations. Can you update us in this setting on how you're modernizing our defenses in Alaska and north of our border?
A. COTTON: So if you're talking NORAD, NORTHCOM systems, I'd have to defer to NORAD NORTHCOM Commander.
GILLIBRAND: And then how was STRATCOM adjusting our missile defense capabilities to respond to the threats? You mentioned in your opening statement of hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles to the extent you can answer that in this setting.
A. COTTON: I would refer if we could, ma'am, in a closed setting to be able to address those.
GILLIBRAND: That's fine. General Dickinson, the Space Force is working on a commercial augmentation space reserve, which would give us a civil reserved space fleet if we needed one during a conflict or a crisis. How is SPACECOM supporting Space Force's efforts to build this reserve?
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. So that is a great initiative. I think it's a -- we need that, especially as I described earlier that are leveraging commercial industry to augment provide additional capabilities to us. The way we're working with them is as the combatant command warfighter, we're providing our perspective in terms of requirements for those types of relationships. In other words, we will have the operational piece in terms of what those contractors could or could not face in the space domain. So we participate in that way.
GILLIBRAND: As we plan for peer on peer or near-peer conflicts, we have been able to ensure that our forces know how to use our nation's capabilities and that they have the opportunity to train with those capabilities. But most of our space-based systems are classified as Special Access Programs at current classification levels are lower level commanders able to understand the full scope of capabilities available to the force and able to conduct military planning, with an understanding of space-based capabilities and limitations?
DICKINSON: So thank you, Senator. So over classification is a challenge within the department right now the one that we are aggressively working in looking at refining, if you will, to make sure that we can start bringing systems and capabilities to a lower classification level, so that we can optimize their employment as well as training of the operators and the forces that they support. So in other words, the classification, we look across those and are revisiting those, those documents those capabilities to see whether or not we can pull them down to a lower classification level. This also allows us to do more integration, better integration with our allies and partners.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you very much, Senator Gillibrand. Senator Ernst, please.
ERNST: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And thank you, gentlemen, very much for being here today. And, General Cotton, thank you for speaking with me last month regarding your commander's assessment, including on this SLCM-N. And I do appreciate the letter that you've responded with to the Chairman and Ranking Member affirming that SLCM-N offers additional options and supports an integrated deterrence approach.
So I brought a copy of the letter today. Really appreciate you responding to my colleagues and I. And, Mr. Chairman, I request that the general's letter be entered into the record.
REED: Without objection.
ERNST: And the President's budget request should reflect this assessment. We feel that that is very, very important. And, again, thank you very much for doing your commander's assessment.
General Cotton, the 2022 China military power report estimates that China will field 1,500 nuclear weapons by 2035, aAnd that rivals U.S. deployments under new start. And I know we've been hammering down on this. This is such an important topic for all of us.
Do you agree that we must reassess our strategic deterrence requirements given China's nuclear breakout?
A. COTTON: Senator Ernst, thanks for the question. Absolutely. I think we need to reassess our strategy or at least take a look at our strategy, our current strategy, and have a force posture conversation.
ERNST: Thank you. And after New START, the U.S. and Russia and, of course, China too, might be without Strategic Arms constraints, would you agree that the U.S. should prepare to upload its non-deployed nuclear weapons to shore up deterrence?
A. COTTON: Senator, I always have flexible deterrent options.
ERNST: Very good. I hope everybody hears that loud and clear. How quickly can we upload each leg of the triad?
A. COTTON: Ma'am, I'd rather have that conversation in close setting.
ERNST: Thank you. We look forward to that classified answer.
And, General Cotton -- and I'm just going to go into generals here kind of general answers. We -- because you are generals. We might need to consider additional measures to ensure the credibility of our deterrent. So in general, would you agree that placing a portion of the bomber force on day to day alert would increase its flexibility?
A. COTTON: As a former Joint Forces Air Component commander, I'd like to have that conversation in closed session because I can actually do that without putting them on alert.
ERNST: OK. And in general, would you agree that moving some of the ICBM force to mobile platforms would increase survivability?
A. COTTON: In general.
ERNST: In general. In general, would deploying SLCM-N and expand our at-sea deterrent?
A. COTTON: I think it would address our adversary perceived advantage of limited use.
ERNST: Thank you. And, in general, would deploying ground based, theater range nuclear forces, bolster our deterrent?
A. COTTON: I would like to talk to you about that one in closed session with you.
ERNST: OK. Well, I appreciate that. I think that it's important that we continue to have those discussions and understand what our flexibility and options are, as we continue to support our nuclear triad. So thank you very much for that.
And, General Dickinson, just in the time that I have left, in your efforts with a combined Space Operations initiative member nations, I did notice that you had met recently with space leaders from South Korea and Japan. How is the space integration improving with these non-Five Eyes members?
DICKINSON: Thank you for the question. That's a great initiative, the combined Space Operations initiative board that we have. We just met in New Zealand a few months back, and that's the Five Eyes plus France and Germany.
But outside of South Korea and Japan, in particular, we're very working very closely with them, in fact, to the point where we are doing exercises with them. So we have an exercise program called Global Sentinel, which is an unclassified exercise program where we do space domain awareness training.
And so they are included in that, plus 22 other nations as well. And that has been very successful. We also have the space force as well as U.S. Space Command have personnel serving on the peninsula now, not large numbers, but small numbers, but we're integrating with the forces, the Korean forces on the ground in Korea, as well as in Japan.
ERNST: Thank you. I think it's incredibly important that we continue to work with nations around the globe.
And, Mr. Chairman, I want to associate myself with the comments that Mr. Rounds had as well. I think it is very important that we listen to our military leadership, and based on your best military advice, make those decisions that are best for the defense of our nation. Thank you, gentlemen.
REED: Thank you, Senator Ernst. Senator Warren, please.
WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. So the Biden administration is requesting $835 billion dollars in the largest, one of the largest, Pentagon budgets in history. Despite that gigantic request, I'm expecting that we will receive a torrent of letters from the services and the combatant commands asking for billions more through the so-called unfunded priorities list.
That is the Pentagon's term for it, but I just call them wish lists. The DoD doesn't have to follow the same rules as every other federal agency, which is other agencies have to balance their must-haves against their nice to haves and come up with a budget.
Instead, each part of DoD also submits a second list of things that didn't go through the budget process that they still want funded. So in January, I sent a letter to Secretary Austin, along with Senators Braun and Lee and King, telling DoD not to send Congress any wish lists as part of this year's budget process.
Last year, some parts of DoD did not put anything on their wish lists. And so my questions today are about whether or not the two of you will choose that route this year. So, General Dickinson, you run Space Command, will you be submitting additional funding requests on top of the budget that DoD sent to Congress this morning?
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. I will submit a list and there's a couple of reasons why we will. So being a combatant command, that's only about three and a half years old we are continuing to evolve. We are continuing to mature. I described a little bit earlier, however, getting more people or our infrastructure is growing. And what we have facing us right now is a very dynamic threat in the space domain, our pacing challenge being China.
And so with that, we find ourselves in a situation where we try to grow a little bit quicker. And sometimes when we do that, because of the threat, it'll cost a little more money and money that I haven't forecasted, because I wasn't able to look at that inside of the budget cycle. That's the first piece of that.
The second piece of it is, as I look to round out some of the capabilities that I need, specifically space domain awareness, we are finding in the commercial market, that there are companies that can provide that type of capability to us. And we are taking that capability in our commercial integrations strategy, and bringing those partners on board.
Sometimes I don't have that, how much that's going to cost in a contract inside of the two-year budget cycle that we're in. So those are some things that I'm doing that would be in my UPL. One would be, how do I grow my command faster to meet the threat? And second, how do I bring on capabilities that I might not have forecasted that I've come to realize --
WARREN: So the budget that has just been submitted this morning, you're telling me is already out of date for your command, and that you want to go outside the budget process, you don't want to have to do the 10-year cost estimate, you want to go outside that to just plus up your budget? Is that right?
DICKINSON: It is. The reason I would submit a new UPL is to make sure that I can grow as the threat grows --
WARREN: Well, but that's the point of the budget process is that you go to the Department of Defense, you say, here's how I need to grow, they give you a number, and then you make the appropriate choices within that number. And you're just saying they didn't give you a big enough number, so you want to do an end run in order to plus up your budget? Is that what you're saying, General?
DICKINSON: I'm saying that the space domain, the characterization of what I see going on in space, with the advancements and of the threat from the Chinese in space, warrant me to be able to account for that, inside of that.
WARREN: But that's the point of going through the DoD budgeting process. You've been given a number by DoD and you've just decided to go outside that.
I want to also be sure to get to General Cotton. You run our nation's Strategic Command, responsible for our nuclear weapons arsenal. Now, during your confirmation, you told me, quote, as the commander, my job is to ensure that I can execute my mission with the dollars I have been given.
General Cotton, same question to you as General Dickinson, will you be submitting additional funding requests on top of the budget that DoD sent to Congress this morning?
A. COTTON: Thank you, Senator. I think I had that caveat there too, as far as talking about emerging responsibilities and emerging threats. No different than what General Dickinson said. The two-year cycle, things change within a two-year cycle.
I've been asked this morning on how am I going to handle looking at the new emerging threats that we have just seen in probably the last 60 days of what's going on within the strategic threat picture. So right now, we're going to have to look to see if we're going to submit an UPL, to be able to get after some of the threats that we're seeing today.
I am responsible for EMS, the spectrum management piece. We are right there on the two-year cycle where we didn't do that two years ago for the '24 budget to understand how we're going to be able to set that up to be able to get after some problems.
So I stand by what I said. As a commander, I will always try to make sure that I can be able to do my job within my means, but I always, as all commanders, we all have emerging threats or needs that might change the calculus of what our previous budget (INAUDIBLE).
WARREN: Well, I appreciate that and I am out of time. But I just want to say, I think we should be asking DoD to write budgets that reflect their actual priorities, and that they should know as much about these emerging threats as the individual commanders do, and that we should not be doing a dual estimate here of budgets, where you have one number, and then you just come in and ask for a lot of additional money. I think that's wrong.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Warren. Senator Scott, please.
SCOTT: Thank you. I sympathize with what Senator Warren is saying. I mean, it's hard to figure out what the budget should be. And so they're ought to be a way what we know. We hear everything and then try to make a decision, so.
Thanks for what you do. Can you just talk about, first off, you know, you watch all the stuff that China is doing and we clearly -- the public should know, you know, the fentanyl coming across the border, the Chinese spy balloon, their surveillance with DJI drones, their TikTok and all that stuff.
So take if -- what could we do? What could the public do? And what should we do on things like that that would actually -- is there anything that we could do that would impact and make your jobs and what you're trying to do, as part of our defense easier? Both of you, thanks. Whoever wants go first.
A. COTTON: Senator Scott, thank you. I think, the advocacy for my portfolio, for example, the advocacy of the modernization of the nuclear triad, the modernization of the weapons complex, the modernization of infrastructure, those are the things that on the surface, I don't know that the American people will truly understand the effects of not having those things are, and the effects to the national security of our nation for not having those type of things.
So advocacy, in the public light from yourself, and others to be able to articulate the needs that we have, I think makes a big difference for us.
DICKINSON: I think it's advocacy and education and awareness of how important for my portfolio spaces to not only military operations, but just our way of American life, and really the global economy. So I think, you know, as we watched the Artemis 1 launch here not too long ago, and we see the excitement of going back to the moon and beyond, I think that really has motivated the American public and the world for that matter that we're going back to the moon and beyond.
But when you look at that, and you look at what the Chinese are doing today, with their own space station on orbit, their own ability to go to the moon, go to the moon and scoop up some rocks and come back demonstrating their technology advancements, we need to understand that that has a military application too and that the same assets or similar assets that we depend upon in everyday life here in the United States and around the world is dependent upon space, space fuels the economy, space fuels our lifestyles.
And I think just understanding that space is exciting from a civil commercial piece, we also need to be able to say it could be held at risk. And that risk is what I'm doing each and every day, is to try to mitigate that risk or reduce that risk.
SCOTT: So how can you or how can we or how can the Biden administration any of us take what we watch with Chinese doing every day that we all get to see, right? To do a better job of explaining what we need to do on a nuclear determent and what we need to do on space. How can we put those together where the public will get it?
Because you're right, it's going to be -- we got to advocate for this stuff. The public doesn't believe in it, it's going to be hard for us to, you know, to get the money to fund it, right? Because we're -- basically, we're representing people in our state. So what should each of us be doing better?
DICKINSON: I think talking about what they're doing, and for me, talking about what they're doing in space right now, in terms of, you know, you go back to 2007, when they conducted that direct-ascent, ASAT test, that test, we are still tracking more than 2,000 pieces of debris from a test that happened in 2007.
Though that type of messaging and that type of conversation where appropriate, I think, is very important to do. So, from my perspective, that's how you get at, a constant conversation about how are they improving in space.
A. COTTON: Senator Scott, from my portfolio, I think it's actually educating folks to understand that what does it mean when the Department of Defense says that China is a pacing threat? What does that really mean to folks that are in Melbourne, Florida?
Being able to describe that and understand what does that mean when we say that there is a nuclear breakout, and then in first time in the history of the United States, since the advent of nuclear weapons, that the United States has two nuclear peers. That's the education that needs to happen for our American people.
SCOTT: All right. Thank you. Thank you, Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Scott. Senator Kelly, please.
KELLY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Dickinson, since we left off with Senator Scott's question about your answer and a little bit about commercial space, I want to start there. So in February, the president of SpaceX revealed that the company had taken active steps to prevent Ukrainian forces from using Starlink technology with their drones.
SpaceX admitted they had not foreseen the weaponization -- their words, of their capabilities. And I was personally disappointed to see discontinuation of full services at such a critical time for Ukraine self-defense.
So, General, as SPACECOM moves forward in deepening its partnership with industry and foreign partners, how are you approaching the agreements with industry on military use of commercial capabilities?
DICKINSON: Senator, there's no question that SpaceX and Starlink system has been used extensively by Ukraine, and its response to the Russian aggression. I think the use of Starlink has been described in numerous media accounts almost since the beginning of that conflict. I think this demonstrates that commercial space capabilities can play a significant role in our modern high-intensity conflicts.
And the concerns I think SpaceX representatives recently expressed about Ukraine's use of Starlink, highlight the importance of shared understanding between commercial service providers and their customers and users. So these issues in my mind bear on contracts and all operational domains, not just specific to space.
KELLY: So do you feel there's a connection between the availability of this capability to our partners, being Ukraine in this conflict, and relationships we have with companies like SpaceX?
KELLY: And how are we going to ensure that DoD and our partners will have all the capabilities available throughout the range of military operations -- and if you have any specifics about this going forward, I'd love to hear them.
DICKINSON: Yes, there is an initiative that is working right now within the department, within the space force that is actually looking at what you just described there. How do we make sure during times of conflict that if we're relying on commercial companies for certain services, that they'll be available to us?
There are models like that right now, for example, the [craft, ph] model that we use in the department right now, the civilian reserve air fleet, you know, there are -- so that might serve as a model as they go forward in their work, and we participate, U.S. Space Command, in that process.
KELLY: General, I'm going to have my office follow up if you need assistance there. We're here to help.
DICKINSON: Thank you.
KELLY: And, General Cotton, in the year since Russia's unprovoked assault in Ukraine, the U.S. had been forced to rethink our nuclear posture and how we think about deterrence. Just a few weeks ago, Russia announced that it would suspend its participation in the New START Treaty, but even prior to that, I mean, we all knew that Russia was refusing inspection of nuclear facilities, which was a key condition of the agreement. And this behavior, along with increased Chinese aggression and the influence from China, but also North Korea's regular testing of ballistic missiles and Iran's, I would say undisputed, progress to enrich uranium, it underscores the importance of having strong deterrence.
The long-range standoff weapon, the long-range standoff missile system being developed by Raytheon in Tucson, Arizona, is going to play a critical role in the deterrence of our top four adversaries in the future. And the ability to forward deploy this missile on U.S. bombers sends a powerful message to our adversaries, but also our allies.
So, General, can you expand on why this is such a critical asset for our nation?
A. COTTON: Senator, thank you for the question. LRSO, is a replacement for the air launch cruise missile, which is the air launch cruise missile nuclear leg of our triad. That weapon is still a reliable weapon and it's a safe and secure weapon, but it's well past its life as far as capability to sustain, so we need to replace it with the LRSO.
And you're absolutely right. I'm quite pleased with what I've seen with the contract on the work that they're doing. It's fundamental, because that's fundamental to long-range standoff for the air leg of the nuclear triad.
KELLY: Well, thank you. And my understanding, without going into anything, you know, classified that we'll get more capability out of this weapon than we had with the prior, I think it was AGM 86. Was it?
A. COTTON: Yes, and we could talk more about that in closed setting if you like.
KELLY: Thank you and thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm going to submit another question for the record on traveling wave tubes, specific capability that we don't have a lot of depth in here in our industrial base. Thank you.
REED: Thank you, Senator Kelly. Senator Budd, please.
BUDD: Thank you, Chairman. General Dickinson, General Cotton, thank you both for being here today. In the last year, President Biden's defense budget was woefully insufficient to keep pace with China and Russia and also inflation. I think many of us are concerned with this upcoming budget, particularly when it comes to nuclear modernization.
So, General Cotton, other than budgetary constraints, we've talked a lot about that today, what barriers exist to nuclear modernization efforts?
A. COTTON: Senator, thanks for the question. I think fundamental to me is ensuring that we don't have any slips in any of the modernization programs that we have as far as timelines on being able to get to completion.
The industrial base and supply chain, we hear many people talk about that. It's a thing. And that is worrisome to me, because that's external to even, you know, what folks might think are technical challenges. But when you throw that on top of what we're trying to do, and what we're seeing, that becomes a challenge.
BUDD: Thank you. And for both of you, to the extent that you can discuss it in this setting, and maybe we'll hear more later on, how destabilizing is China's development, and this is a mouthful, but their nuclear capable hypersonic fractional orbital bombardment capability. And I know that's a concept that's been around for decades, but we're seeing with new technology, their redevelopment of that.
So are there certain systems? First of all, how destabilizing is that? And is there something that the U.S. should field in response?
A. COTTON: It is destabilizing. You're right. It's something that folks have been thinking through for decades, but because of the destabilization results of what that weapon can bring forth, others decided not to go in that direction.
I think for our perspective and Strategic Command, it's about warning. So, as my fellow COCOM commander in NORTHCOM and NORAD, will tell you that becomes a problem and being able to understand what your timelines are on -- when something is might be coming into the homeland.
DICKINSON: From my perspective as a global sensor manager, being able to see it is the first thing we have to be able to do. And so as I've mentioned earlier in a previous response, you know, these are emerging type of threats, if you will, that we need to be able to address. And so we're looking very closely at it in terms of how do we use capabilities that we didn't traditionally use for that type of activity, in this case, the fractional orbital bombardment capability. And do we have things that we can better leverage today to help us maintain custody, if you will, when it is in flight?
So for me, it's an area that I'm aggressively working today with assets that I have, and we're looking to the future to bring on increased capability?
BUDD: Thanks. We'll pick up the discussion of that in the other setting.
General Dickinson, how would you characterize the current resilience of our military satellite constellations? And what efforts are being made to improve resilience in the near and the short-term? And the concern is that because these systems are so expensive, we buy less of them, thus, making them more vulnerable? So if you would comment on that, please?
DICKINSON: Certainly. So, as I look at the architecture that we have today, and the resiliency of that architecture, we are looking at ways today that we hadn't looked at in the past in terms of making them more resilient.
So our ability to develop tactics, techniques, and procedures for our assets that are on orbit, in order to make them more resilient, may be able to move, maybe point in a different direction. There are examples of that, or actually doing -- so as I mentioned in my opening comment, Senator, remarks, that we look at it from a link, ground station, and satellite perspective. So those are the three segments.
And so in order to increase our resiliency, we look very carefully at how we can harden, not only the satellite vehicle, but the link to the ground, and then the ground station through cyber protection back to wherever the command and control facility is. So we look at it from that approach. How can we better, how can we increase the resiliency on orbit as I mentioned earlier, and then those two other links.
BUDD: Is there a scenario where you would have less expensive but so many -- more of them that would thus reduce our vulnerability?
DICKINSON: So as we go to the future, the department is looking very closely at doing mega constellations, if you will, similar to what we've seen with some of the commercial companies here in the United States, where we have thousands of satellites on orbit.
The resiliency there is very good in terms of thousands of satellites, not knowing which satellite does necessarily what function or the ability of that network to self-heal itself if you lose two or three or four of them.
This type of resiliency actually causes some of our adversaries to pause because it's very difficult to defeat something like that or even degrade it. So that's where we're going in the future and that's exactly what we need to be doing.
BUDD: Thank you both. Chair, I yield back.
REED: Thank you very much, Senator Budd. Senator Hirono, please.
HIRONO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, General Cotton and General Dickinson. Hawaii holds a strategic position in the Pacific with many integral Department of Defense equities, which makes the threat of missile attack particularly acute for the people of Hawaii.
I've been asking for many years now, how DoD will ensure Hawaii is defended from missile attack. And recently, the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation or CAPE conducted a study on how best to meet the current and future missile defense needs of Hawaii. I have still not received a brief on the results of that study or the department's plan for how it intends to protect Hawaii from all types of missile threats from current and future potential adversaries.
Is it fair to say that each of you has roles to play in missile defense? Yes. I'm not hearing any anything. Yes, you do, right?
HIRONO: It's fair to say. So can you just briefly describe what these roles are that you have a missile defense?
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator.
HIRONO: General Dickinson.
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. So in U.S. Space Command, I've got a responsibility to provide space enabling capabilities to the joint force, in this case, INDOPACOM. And that those space enabling capabilities are missile warning, as well as position navigation, timing, satellite communications and so those are the pieces that we provide to the missile defense architecture.
HIRONO: General Cotton?
A. COTTON: And for mine, ma'am. Thank you for the question. For us, above all else, it's about providing warning and future architectures in protection of the homeland. So that's the oversight that we have as far as homeland defense providing effective protection of U.S. against rogue nations.
HIRONO: So you both have responsibilities regarding missile warning. So I do have serious concerns that there is not one dedicated person in the Department of Defense with the responsibility to ensure that there is a plan for missile defense of Hawaii, as there are many roles and responsibilities doled out across the Department of Defense for this one issue.
And that is why I express frustration because every time I ask about missile defense for Hawaii, I don't get a response. So as we have seen in the continuing challenges regarding the Red Hill crisis, where there is not one ultimate person -- ultimately responsible over the planning and execution of an issue as it relates to what needs to happen with Red Hill.
And as to the lack of trust within the community that the military will get things right with regard to Red Hill, so there is room for mishaps to occur. So I await someone to tell me how Hawaii will be defended from missile attacks.
Moving on, to continue in the line of missile defense, there is robust conversation occurring in Congress to look for ways to more effectively use the microwave spectrum to support developments in wireless telecommunications technologies, while protecting national security.
The development of 5G communications will have a great impact on the U.S.'s ability to remain a world leader in both the commercial and defense spaces. The Department of Defense is currently conducting a study in conjunction with NTIA on how it can more effectively and efficiently use the spectrum and how spectrum sharing would impact current systems.
I believe this analysis will be critical to making an informed decision about this very important national issue and I believe it is critically important Congress extend the FCC spectrum auction authority until September 2023, while the DoD concludes this important study.
As I am sure you are aware, the current auction authority will expire tonight, March 9th, unless Congress agrees their short term extension. With negotiations ongoing, we should agree to a 60-day extension, at least in my view, and not less auction authority lapse.
So it is critical that DoD and NTIA thoroughly conduct the study contemplating all options, including vacating and sharing the spectrum band. It will be imperative that the study is not only comprehensive, but is submitted in a timely manner.
So clearly, I share the concerns expressed by Senator Rounds on this issue.
In the meantime, General Dickinson and General Cotton, what types of impacts do you anticipate the study will identify? And do you see opportunities for greater sharing of the spectrum for civilian usage? My time is up. So perhaps you can be very brief.
DICKINSON: Yes, Senator. So we are part of that ongoing study that the Department of Defense is doing. I can't -- I won't try to guess what the outcomes will be from that. I know as being part of that study that my concerns and my voice will be heard in that study in terms of how important that part of the spectrum is to my mission every day. And my mission every day supports the rest of the joint force as well.
A. COTTON: Senator, the same with STRATCOM, we are part of that team that's part of that study. So I'm awaiting the results of that as well.
HIRONO: It's going to be very important that the city gets done on time, because there are other things that are happening with regard to this issue, as you all know.
REED: Thank you, Senator Hirono. Senator Schmitt, please.
SCHMITT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I had a question, General Cotton, on modernization. Clearly, you know, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, we're very proud of that. I know you're very familiar and part of the nuclear triad and the B-2 stealth bomber.
I guess you mentioned one of your focuses is to make sure that as we approach this modernization, that there aren't any gaps along the way, and I think -- I guess the focus of my question would be, what is the level of concern that there might be, right? And what can we do to make sure that that doesn't happen?
So along the way as we move forward in this, what are some things to look out for and what can we be doing to help out with that?
A. COTTON: Senator, thank you for the question, and yes, the incredible men and women of the 509th there at Whiteman Air Force Base.
I think fundamentally as any -- if we start seeing delays of programs, and delays on getting to completion of a program, because what I don't want and what I have articulated is, I need to make sure, the B-2 is a good example, that I have sufficient forces in play all the time.
So even during the transition, we must ensure that I have the legacy systems in place where I can still present options to the president of the United States. If you start getting slips, then folks start saying, well, OK, so when can I start? Is there - when can I start divesting and do I slow down divestitures? What do I do about divestiture?
As a component commander, I need to make sure that I have those sources available. So I'm constantly watching to make sure that those future roadmaps of -- for your area, the bomber force, for example, for Columbia, for example, for ICBM, every portfolio that I own is being modernized right now.
So as we look to those and make sure that we don't build gaps because of delays and --
SCHMITT: Are you confident there aren't those gaps right now, in wherever we're at in that process with the one of your command?
A. COTTON: Well, as I said earlier, my bigger concern is what we're seeing with the industrial base and what we're seeing with the supply chain.
SCHMITT: OK. General Dickinson, I guess my question to you is on the space race. I do feel like whether it was the Chinese spy balloon, whether it's the fentanyl that's been mentioned, TikTok, the public is becoming much more aware right now, in real time, the real threat that China poses.
I mean, they are not messing around. They mean business and I'm a new member here. And the briefings that we've had in my two months here are sobering. And anyways, and that is a -- will be is, will be continue to be a big focus of mine and my office is to make sure that we're doing everything we can to be ready to challenge that threat.
I guess Senator Scott asked the question about what we can do. I want to drill down on that a little bit more specifically, what are two or three things that you don't think from a space perspective, you don't think that the public might be aware of as relates to China in space that are terrifying?
DICKINSON: A couple of things. If you just look at the sheer number of launches, space launches that they do in a year. That is a statistic that most people don't know. So I'll give you a statistic there. So in 2022, last year, there were 186 space launches, of those 64 were Chinese.
U.S. was 87. They were at 64, so just putting things on orbit, whatever they may be. They have rounded out their equivalent of our GPS satellite network. They call that the BeiDou, so they have accurate position navigation and timing capabilities worldwide.
If you look at the just the sheer number of satellites that are in orbit, and what their intended use is, everything from ISR satellites to communication satellites, to P&T satellites, so they are moving in a direction where they want to be a peer to us in terms of capabilities in space. We are still the best in space, but what we need to make sure is that that gap does not close, and that we continue to keep the gap or increase it.
SCHMITT: And I guess this final question, what are a couple of those capabilities you think outside of the launches? A couple of those capabilities that, again, most folks might not be that aware of.
DICKINSON: Well, it would be ISR satellites, so they have observations in terms of being able to see around the globe in a persistent manner. And then the other piece is that position navigation and timing. That is PNT is a critical component of any military operation. And quite frankly, any commercial or civilian operation as well, having accurate PNT is very fundamental to that. And they have that.
SCHMITT: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Schmitt. Senator Rosen, please.
ROSEN: Well, thank you, Chairman Reed. I really appreciate you holding this hearing. I'd like to thank General Cotton and General Dickinson, for of course, your great testimony today and for your service to our country.
And of course, we have the Nevada National Security site, right here in Southern Nevada, and I want to speak a little bit about the upgrades that it needs.
So, General Cotton, I want to follow up on a question I asked at your nomination hearing now that you've taken command. It's an issue I've raised to the committee several times, at the Nevada National Security site, we oversee the stockpile stewardship program, principally the U1A facility, sat underground lab where scientists conduct the subcritical experiments to verify the safety and reliability of our nuclear stockpile without explosive testing.
So U1A is undergoing major construction. It's a project that will soon host the most capable weapons radiographic system in the world. However, NNSA currently faces significant infrastructure delays, including at the Nevada National Security site.
So how will the upgrades to the stockpile stewardship program like the U1A affect STRATCOM certification of the nuclear stockpile? And how are these infrastructure modernization challenges, overall, delay your impact to fully fulfill your responsibilities?
A. COTTON: Senator, thanks for the question and as I had said earlier to the committee, making sure that we have the proper funding, the proper insight on the modernization of the weapons complex with writ large, to your point, it's absolutely critical for us in a monetization of our programs when, you know, we've been talking about the weapons system platforms themselves. So that's going to be and critically important.
When we talk about NNSA and the challenges that they're facing in regards to infrastructure, I monitor that daily.
ROSEN: So that's how you're addressing these structural delays, just monitoring. Is there something else that you're not --
A. COTTON: I continue to push -- the requirement, ma'am, for pit production for me, for example, has not changed.
ROSEN: OK. Thank you. I'm going to move on to you, General Dickinson for us, cyber mission and, and space because we know cyber operations, you've been mentioning it, of course. They play a critical role, well, not just in our space capabilities, but honestly, I believe in every aspect of our capabilities. And we see our adversaries increasingly developing the counter space capabilities that really undermine our interests.
So, China, they've emphasized the offensive cyberspace capabilities that they are critical to their cyber warfare capabilities. Are you concerned about the increasing threat of cyber-attacks from China and how they could jeopardize the U.S. base operations?
You spoke about doing the constellation mode, some of the other things that you might be doing you can speak to in an unclassified setting. So are these some of the best tools you can use against to kind of counter the space cyber aggression, if you will?
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. So cyber-security is a top priority within the command because we understand the challenges and the threats, just as you mentioned there. The command is actively working cyber-security every day.
So as the command has matured, over the last three and a half years, we have built cyber protection in from the very beginning, an example of that we have a joint cyber center that resides within the command now that we have -- is that operational capability.
ROSEN: Are you using -- I'm sorry to interrupt. Are you using machine learning and artificial intelligence to maintain the digital superiority in the new centers?
DICKINSON: We use those types of capabilities to do as I described in terms of our JCC, Joint Cyber Center, as well as the new Space Force Delta 6 that stood up, that does cyber protection for our satellites, satellite communications, control networks, as well as the integration of general Nakasone's integrated planning element within my command as well. We participate in the greater cyber-security and the cyber deterrence process with USCYBERCOM, as well, through their cyber priorities effects list.
So, you know, every day, one of my top command priorities is doing, securing the terrain, doing the digital superiority, and part of that is making sure that we're hard in terms of cyber defense.
ROSEN: Thank you. I'm going to in the really quickly, and I'll probably take the answer off the record because I asked everybody this, STEM outreach programs. How are we going to reach these goals if we don't have the workforce, the pipeline, folks coming in or being trained?
And so I'll take it off the record as my time is expiring, but I want to know about your stem outreach efforts, particularly in cyber, how do you plan to grow them? How do you plan to retain good people, because it really is critical?
So thank you, Mr. Chair. I'll take that off the record. Thank you.
REED: Thank you very much, Senator Rosen. Senator Tuberville, please.
TUBERVILLE: Thank you, Chairman Reed. Generals, thanks for being here and service for all of you here in this room today.
General Dickinson, I know you talked about Starlink a little bit in Ukraine. Give your personal assessment of really how that's worked for Ukraine, and for all of us in the future.
DICKINSON: Thank you, Senator. So I think the lessons that I take from watching that capability by, the Starlink capability, is I think it demonstrates what those large constellations can provide in terms of thousands of satellites providing a service or a capability to a certain entity, in this particular case, Ukraine
I think shows the, one, is the maturation, if you will, of our commercial space industry and enabled to build something as technically sophisticated as that on scale and put it on orbit and maintain it. I think that is a big lesson learned or a takeaway for me from the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
TUBERVILLE: Thank you. General Cotton, a lot of people talk about tactical nuclear weapons, but don't know what that really means. If Putin were to use a tactical weapon in Kyiv, what damage would that do and what would be the fallout?
A. COTTON: Sir, so when we talked about non-strategic nuclear weapons, just for a definition, nonstrategic nuclear weapons are any weapons that are currently not under the New START Treaty. So for Russia, that's approximately 2,000 weapons. For the effects would like to hold off and have that answer to you during the closed session, if we could.
TUBERVILLE: OK. Thank you very much. General Dickinson, it probably wouldn't be. It'd be unfitting for me not to ask you about Space Command in your last hearing here. Since the senator from -- I mean, New Hampshire brought it up a little bit.
So, you know, we've heard a lot about, in the last few years, about basic decision of man headquarters. I didn't want to get back into this back and forth city, but when my colleagues bring it up, I want to make sure the facts are correct.
Gentlemen, 2019 Air Force identified six suitable locations for Space Command, is that correct? In 2020, when the Secretary of Defense Mark Esper testified before this committee instructed Air Force to allow for committees -- or communities to self-nominate, that resulted in Air Force examining 66 communities across any 26 states, correct?
DICKINSON: As best I can recall.
TUBERVILLE: It was an exhaustive selection process that weighed 21 different factors and involved site visits, interviews, inputs from up and down the chain of command. That process took eight months, correct?
TUBERVILLE: Which community ranked number one in that analysis at the end of the day?
DICKINSON: I don't recall exactly which one.
TUBERVILLE: I'll refresh your memory, Huntsville. Do you recall which base rank second?
DICKINSON: I don't recall.
Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, you recall. Third, you probably don't, which was Joint Base in San Antonio. Commander in Chief selected the location that the Air Force rank number one.
So yet, since the president selected Huntsville the location, the Air Force study ranked number one in January 2021, we've had two years of delay and the world is on fire right now. We need to catch up. The Colorado delegation asked for an investigative report and the GAO report on the process ironic, Colorado wasn't even second or third, but they asked for report.
So when the GAO examined this process, they said, I'm going to quote here, “the Redstone Arsenal rank is the highest scoring location and the valuation phase, highest rank location in the selection phase, and the location with the most advantages in the decision matrix.” Air Force officials stated that the decision to identify Redstone Arsenal as a preferred location stemmed from air force analysis showing it was the strongest candidate location.
So, you know, we've gone back and forth with this and I know Secretary Kendall is going back and forth on hopefully we get this done. Hopefully we get it done before your terms out. I know that we've got commercial people that are involved in this. I know commercial people are going to be hugely involved in Space Command in years and years to come. And we look forward to all that coming together in one location and very near future. And hopefully that's possible.
So, General, thank you for your service, really. Thank you for, sir, for what you've done for Space Command. You've been the only one there. You brought it from infancy. You've done a great job. Thank you.
REED: Thanks, Senator Tuberville. Senator Cramer, please.
CRAMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you to both generals for your service and for being here. I want to start -- maybe start and end with you, General Cotton.
I want to ask you, you know, during -- your predecessors had some luxuries you don't have, of course, they had six B-52 bases in the northern tier capable of taking off and landing that great big legacy machine. Six of them between Michigan and Montana. There are only two that remain that have the cement, and one, of course, is Minot, which you're more than a little bit familiar with, and the other being Grand Forks. The base in Grand Forks has narrowed the 300-foot wide runway to 150 by moving the lights in, but all the concrete remains.
As you look forward to -- and I was interested in one of your previous answers about LRSO, the importance of LRSO, and the legacy systems particularly in the context of a potential gap. But when it comes to bomber age of combat employment base that we've talked about a few times, how useful would more runway space be for the disbursement of those B-52s and maybe other large aircraft, especially while we still have some of them intact that could be, you know, prepared quickly?
A. COTTON: Senator Cramer, thank you for the question. And, you know, our baby the BUFF, the B-52, I just recently looked at an article that was published in Air and Space Forces Magazine that showing the testing that's underway for the reengineering of the B-52. So I'm knocking on wood that everything is going well in regards to CERP, the commercial engine replacement program, for that venerable, incredible machine.
To your point, you're absolutely right, you know, back -- we used to have numerous airfields throughout the United States of America that could act as dispersal sites for a lot of our strategic forces and weapons, not permanent locations, but a places where you can disperse.
Over the decades that has eroded, many communities will look and see and say, I don't understand why I have an 11,000 foot runway at my regional airport. And then it's no longer an 11,000-foot runway. So we're looking into it. I'm actually having the commander of Air Force Global Strike, take a look at kind of dispersal locations again.
Because now, once again, as we've been discussing, we have two near-peers, first time in the history of what STRATCOM has had to deal with. So we're looking into that right now, sir. So to answer your question.
CRAMER: No, I appreciate that. And as you know, the folks up in Grand Forks are capable of moving a lot of snow fast. So that 300-foot runway is ready to be deployed.
With regard to those two near-peer adversaries or threats, you know, China's capabilities, of course, are growing at an unprecedented pace, as you guys have already referenced. And Russia, of course, becomes more unpredictable and dangerous all of the time.
Some of the programs that were relying to maintain, that deterrence, were created with different threats in mind, obviously, or at least different scales of those threats. And I often joke with Senator King that the reason I accepted the ranking position on the Seapower Subcommittee was so I get my hands on the third leg of the triad.
But do you think -- are 12 Columbia class submarines enough? I guess that's the bottom line. And I know we have a lot of challenges, but given this threat, particularly from China, are 12 enough?
A. COTTON: Senator, thanks you for that question. I think it goes back to the original statement that I made in regards to -- I think we have to have a conversation and look at force posture, and force posture is all three legs of the triad to ensure that we have what we need moving forward into the 30s, 40s, 50s.
CRAMER: Since I have about half a minute left, I do want to ask both of you a really basic question that I know requires just a simple answer. And it's really in response to Senator Warren's line of questioning regarding the budget unfunded priorities. Do you consider national security as a like to have or a must have in today's threats? General Cotton first and then General Dickinson
A. COTTON: It's a must-have.
CRAMER: General Dickinson.
DICKINSON: It is a must-have.
CRAMER: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REED: Thank you, Senator Cramer. Senator Sullivan, please.
SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, good to see you, General Cotton, thanks again for coming to the Alaska Day event. The native people in my state were very honored by your presence. And I think it was a really good event. So thank you very much on that.
I wanted to ask you about the recently conducted CSIS Taiwan scenario war game that I'm sure you're familiar with. It recommended that the B-1s not be retired until the full complement of B-21s and modernized B-52s are fully on hand. Did you see that? And do you agree with that assessment?
A. COTTON: So I haven't seen the assessment that articulates the B-1 perspective.
SULLIVAN: What do you think about that general statement? I'm sure it's not the first time you've heard something along those lines. I think we need to look at that mitigating the risk of B-21 delivery time going to the right.
A. COTTON: Senator, I absolutely agree that -- and what I want to ensure is that we have enough of the bomber force available that's a legacy until we have a fair amount of B-21 brand-new modernized systems so, I don't see a huge dip in my capability and capacity moving forward.
SULLIVAN: OK. Let me ask another issue. I had a very senior U.S. Air Force officer when he was on his way out retiring, and he was talking about force posture for some of the strategic forces and mentioned and I wasn't pushing it, but he mentioned that with regard to looking at where the B-21 should be placed. That one place that would certainly get our adversaries' attention, particularly China and Russia, is having a certain element of those homeported in Alaska.
Given our strategic location, as you know, Billy Mitchell, called Alaska the most strategic place in the world and with B-21s in our closeness to Russia, and Japan, and Korea, and the Taiwan Strait. This was a recommendation that he thought made sense a lot of the INDOPACOM theater generals and admirals always talk about West to the International Dateline. I try to encourage them to not use that. It's kind of a lazy term. A lot of what's further north is actually closer to key theatres of engagement, whether or not your west or east to the International Dateline, it's all about miles.
And if you're north at times you're closer, for example, forces in Alaska are closer for the most part to key theater areas in Darwin, Australia. A lot of people don't know that. A lot of four-star generals and admirals don't know that.
So what's your thought about something like that in terms of force posture, especially as relates to near-peer, it's not even near-peer competition, it's clearly peer competition in my view now?
A. COTTON: Senator, thank you for that. We actually had a discussion about that in my last role as a commander of Global Strike Command in regards to, you know, I think from the location of where the forces are postured, I look to my JFAC, my Joint Forces Air Component commander, to figure out where they can best maximize where that would be.
As you know, we would always consider and have considered and do use the bases in Alaska for dispersal locations for our bomber forces even today, when we're doing our bomber task forces. So, you know that that's a conversation that think we should continue to have, but it would be with the Air Force and regard of location.
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
My final question I'm going to ask for both of you. I think the Chinese spy balloon has raised a lot of issues. But one of the issues that I know that General Vanherk is looking at and into his credit has been really pressing for a couple years now is domain awareness. Domain Awareness, particularly as it relates to hypersonics, to cruise missiles, and even to slow moving objects, a lot of our detection devices, and as you know, Alaska, again, is key here, because anything coming into the lower 48 to strike Chicago or New York City is going to come through the airspace in Alaska. But we've traditionally been focused on ballistic missiles tracking, and then bombers. So, how do we get on the whole issue of domain awareness as it relates to hypersonics, cruise missiles, and then even slow-moving entities like balloons, spy balloons.
DICKINSON: Senator, in my portfolio in terms of space domain awareness, that's a critical capability that we continue to look at, continue to develop requirements, and also continue to leverage assets that we haven't necessarily used in the past to do that very function. Of course, Senator, you know, you've got two great sensors that are in your home state, we're looking forward to the LRDR coming online here soon. That will be obviously a big asset in addition to our architecture itself. But I think as we look at the evolving threats that we're seeing now, you know, our approach has to be a layered approach in terms not only, particularly with missile defense, but also in sensing. So, one sensor doesn't do it all. So, we got to figure out and we are figuring out, where those gaps are, where those seams are, and how to get better at understanding the threat.
SULLIVAN: Great. Thank you.
REED: Thank you, Senator Sullivan.
Senator Cotton, please.
T. COTTON: Thank you, gentlemen, welcome back.
General Cotton, I can't remember if you've addressed this before at your confirmation hearing, but I've addressed it with a lot of your predecessors. So, I want to raise it with you again. Sometimes we hear criticism about our nuclear forces along the lines of that we shouldn't spend so much money on weapons that we never use. I sometimes point out that we don't actually spend that much money on our nuclear forces in the grand scheme of our defense budget, we do happen to be going through a somewhat expensive modernization right now. But in general, it's in the low single percentiles. I also point out that we actually do use our nuclear weapons. We've used them every single day since August of 1945, to deter the kind of war that we had from 1939 to 1945. Would you agree with that assessment?
A. COTTON: I would agree with that, Senator.
T. COTTON: That every single day, our nuclear weapons deter our adversaries, not just from nuclear warfare, but from the kind of conventional warfare that we saw so often in the first half, even in some cases, lower intensity level, the second half of the 20th century.
A. COTTON: I do agree.
T. COTTON: So, we have to have a credible nuclear deterrent to achieve those continued effects. Right now, we have one nuclear arms control treaty, in effect the New START Treaty, however, Russia has recently suspended its cooperation with that treaty. Is that right?
A. COTTON: They have suspended, yes, sir.
T. COTTON: What do you think are the prospects for Russia returning into compliance with that treaty, given their history of cheating on other treaties like the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty?
A. COTTON: I would hope that they would come back and try to get in compliance, but hope is not a plan.
T. COTTON: Right. So, over time, there's really no way to know if they're actually complying with the limits on warheads or delivery systems under that treaty.
A. COTTON: That's correct.
T. COTTON: I want to talk a little bit about Russia’s nuclear forces that are sometimes known as tactical nukes or non-strategic nukes or low yield nukes to whatever you want to call it, to put it simply, you know, small, smaller nuclear warheads, you know, maybe something akin to what we used to in World War Two, as opposed to four megaton city killers. Is that a fair characterization?
A. COTTON: That's correct. And to define it, non-nuclear strategic weapons are defined as any weapon that is not under the New START Treaty.
T. COTTON: Exactly.
A. COTTON: And that is about 2000 weapons.
T. COTTON: So, all these, all these weapons, whatever their yield, were not covered by the New START Treaty and therefore not covered by any treaty. Correct?
T. COTTON: Do you want to say how many of those kinds of weapons we have? If you don't want to in this setting, that's fine.
A. COTTON: We can talk about that in a closed session, sir.
T. COTTON: I think we have a little bit fewer than 2000 is the way I'd put it. And you might say, well, we have, you know, four megaton city killers, what do we need it? So, the logic here is that if all you have are giant city killers, and your adversary has thousands of smaller nuclear weapons, they might believe that they can detonate one of the smaller weapons and you won't retaliate, because you're not going to trade a four megaton city killer with a nuclear weapon that took an artillery battalion off the battlefield. Is that right?
A. COTTON: There's a potential for that exactly.
T. COTTON: Totally -- and Russia's totally unconstrained in building those and using them if they choose under arms control treaties. How many arms control treaties do we have with Communist China?
A. COTTON: Zero, sir.
T. COTTON: Zero. So, China is not constrained at all, in building every kind of nuclear weapon it wants. And in fact, it is on a crash course, especially in building missile fields in China. Is that correct?
T. COTTON: What do you think China's appetite is to enter some nuclear arms control agreements, say like the New START Treaty?
A. COTTON: I would hope they would want to come to the table, but my first comment stands.
T. COTTON: They haven't. Yeah, so hope is not a strategy. And they haven't manifested much desire to come to the table. Even if they did, do you think China would ever accept an arms control agreement that left them with fewer warheads and delivery systems than either Russia or the United States had?
A. COTTON: Now that I couldn't answer.
T. COTTON: I mean, if I were the leader of China, I don't think I accept that. And if you did assume that let's say China accepted some constraint, like the New START Treaty. That would mean by definition that China and Russia together had significant overmatch against the United States in warheads and delivery systems. So, I just think that the idea that we are restraining ourselves from building the nuclear forces that we need to deter both Russia and China is that is a height of folly, I know you're not responsible for that but I think your answers here have illuminated it.
General Dickinson I want to turn to you. I have a question about the commercial integration sale. I think as a security environment has grown more complex, it's necessary for our military to work with partners, to share information. Partners in industry share information and collaborate on new capabilities, you've led the way with your commercial integration sale. Could you just discuss the status of that sale and the successes you've had, and the lessons you've learned that we might build upon, especially in the other combatant commands?
DICKINSON: Senator to that is a bright spot within the command over the last three and a half years, we've taken our relationships with commercial industry and have expanded it. We've actually had such a bow wave, if you will, of commercial companies wanting to come participate with us and be part of the team, we've actually had to rewrite our strategy so we would have the appropriate framework in order to onboard commercial companies that want to be part of the command.
They perform two primary functions within the command from a commercial perspective. One is satellite communications, and the other one is space domain awareness. And so, currently, we've got 10 partners, commercial partners out at Vandenberg Space Force Base, traditional SATCOM type of capabilities that they provide to us. In Colorado Springs, we have what we call the Joint Task Force Space Defense Commercial Operation Cell. So, they are a group of contractors that provide space domain awareness, telescopes, if you will, radars that can look deep into space, and report back to us what they see. And that's actually been a very promising enterprise there as we continue to grow that. That is actually where we've actually had a lot of growth with our allies and partners.
And so, our allies and partners around the world want to participate in that particular space domain awareness function. And what's good about that particular capability is it's unclassified. So, our obstacles to classification barriers, et cetera, we don't see that with that particular cell. And it's growing, we're getting more and more partners into allies and partners as well as commercial companies. And we actually exercise that capability during exercise we call Global Sentinel, which actually has 24 of our partners and allies around the world that participate in that and we go through various scenarios on space debris mitigation. But it is growing, and we've got, you know, interest in the allies and partners to participate and contribute more to it.
T. COTTON: OK, thank you. Gentlemen, thank you both for your service and I thanks to you and all the troops who serve in your commands, what you do is deadly serious business.
REED: Thank you very much, Senator Cotton.
We will adjourn the open hearing and reconvene in SVC 217. Let's say in 15 minutes, so give everybody a chance to rest and recuperate. And also, we have to vote. With that, the open portion of the hearing is adjourned.