Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to join you in welcoming our nominees and to thank them for their willingness to serve our country. I would also like to thank the family members, many of whom are here today, for their support and sacrifices.
General Raymond, you have been nominated to serve as the Commander of the newly re-established United States Space Command. The last nomination for a Commander of Space Command was General Eberhart in 1999, before the Command was disestablished in 2002. It has become very clear in the past few years that space is becoming not only increasingly important for our everyday lives, but also a contested domain where the United States may be challenged by our adversaries. As a result, Congress authorized a sub-unified command last year and the Committee believes that a full unified command is now appropriate.
Dr. Scolese, you are nominated to be the Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, or NRO. You are the first nominee for this position to appear before this Committee under a recent change in Senate rules, so welcome. You will add much to today’s discussion.
General Raymond, you are nominated to be the Commander of a joint command, conducting joint operations. Yet the overwhelming majority of personnel who work in space are members of the Air Force. I am interested in how you will meet the joint mandate of the Goldwater Nichols Act when almost all space activities will be occurring in one service.
Dr. Scolese, the NRO is the servant of two masters – the Secretary of Defense and our military forces, on the one hand, and the Director of National Intelligence and policymakers on the other. The NRO is also jointly staffed by DOD and the CIA. The NRO builds reconnaissance satellites, but the requirements for them are set by mission partners and users. The NRO operates satellites, but tasking decisions are made by NSA and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. I would like to hear how you plan to equitably meet the demands of both the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community.
An issue that will be paramount for both of you is Space Command’s relationship with the NRO. The Administration has proposed a space force and a unified space command because of the growing importance and contested nature of the space domain and the need for elevated priorities, unified command structures, and integrated capability development. But NRO remains independent of the Space Command and Space Force, leaving a seam in our national security space. Both General Raymond and Mr. Scolese, I am very interested in your views on how you plan to work together to overcome this seam, particularly as we look to a future where there may actually be conflict in space.
Another issue between Space Command and NRO is acquisition. Twenty years ago, General Eberhart did not believe that space acquisition was adequately coordinated with NRO, and unfortunately, I believe the same problems may exist today. In fact, NRO recently opposed the plans of the proposed DOD Space Development Agency. I understand that NRO wants to continue its mission to build reconnaissance satellites for the military. However, DOD’s leaders see an opportunity to solve pressing targeting and survivability challenges by embracing new commercial approaches to building very large constellations of smaller and far less expensive satellites. General Raymond and Dr. Scolese, I am interested in your views on how to ensure that DOD’s warfighting needs are met through innovative solutions while minimizing unnecessary duplication.
Again, thank you all for your willingness to serve our nation.