Thank you, Senator Inhofe. I want to join you in welcoming our witnesses, Admiral Richard and General O’Shaughnessy. We thank you, your families, and the many men and women who serve under you, for their service and commitment.
Admiral Richard, first and foremost, we would like your views of the New START Treaty, which will expire less than a year from now. I would note it can be extended without Congressional approval, but I see no efforts underway by this Administration to ensure this extension.
In particular, I would like to know if you believe the Treaty aids you in determining the number of Russian strategic systems, such as ICBMs and SLBMs, and where they are located. I would also like to know if the Treaty’s inspection regime helps you in understanding new Russian weapons, such as hypersonic weapons, that are mounted on ICBMs. I am concerned that if we let this treaty lapse, it will be the first time in 48 years that we have not had some means to ensure strategic stability between U.S and Russian nuclear forces.
In addition, one of the ratification conditions of the New START Treaty was the certification by the President that we would modernize our triad of nuclear forces and their warheads. The treaty and modernization are linked and if the treaty were to expire, I am concerned about losing bipartisan support for nuclear modernization – an effort that will span multiple Republican and Democratic administrations into the future. I am interested in your views on this matter.
Another issue I am concerned about is Russia’s development and deployment of their hypersonic weapons and how these will change the strategic deterrence calculus. We are in an age in which these weapons are now becoming a reality and I am concerned about the implications for stability between nuclear armed nations.
Admiral Richard, you are also responsible for synchronizing global missile defense plans and operations. I would like to hear your thoughts about the Department’s plans for our current missile defense systems and how to address future threats.
Finally, Strategic Command is responsible for spectrum operations and electronic warfare. Studies are now pointing to the ability of our adversaries to use electro-magnetic spectrum operations or electronic warfare in an asymmetric fashion, making it a cost-imposing strategy in future conflicts. Many experts have stated that Russia and China’s ability to integrate electronic warfare into their force structure is well established. I am interested in knowing what your command is doing to ensure other combatant commands are able to employ the joint force using electronic warfare as part of their contingency operations plans.
General O’Shaughnessy, your mission is to protect the homeland, to deter and defeat attacks on the United States, and to support civil authorities in mitigating the effects of attacks and natural disasters. You are also dual-hatted as the Commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which brings unique responsibilities and partnering opportunities with Canada to deter and defend against advancing threats to our nations.
You are responsible for the operation of our homeland ballistic missile defense system. I look forward to hearing your views on the Department’s plan to improve the ground-based missile defense system with an interim “underlayer” approach while we work towards developing and deploying the Next Generation Interceptor. I would also like your assessment of where we stand with tracking and discrimination sensors – both ground- and space-based, particularly in light of the President’s budget request, which eliminates funding for the radar in Hawaii.
General O’Shaughnessy, your command will be in charge of coordinating any DOD support to federal agencies if the coronavirus were to become an epidemic here in the United States. This is a sensitive topic, which can cause anxiety, and it would be helpful for the Committee to hear the broad outlines of what your command is planning, in coordination with the interagency, if such an event were to occur. I would note that last year’s National Defense Authorization Act asked the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs for a report on any planning that is occurring with the combatant commands in the event of a pandemic. That report is due at the end of March and now has a heightened urgency.
Lastly, I remain concerned with the military utility of the ongoing deployment of active duty forces to our southern border and the impacts of diverting defense funds to build a wall. When we should be focusing on the challenges to our national security posed by near-peer adversaries like Russia and China, as directed by the National Defense Strategy, we are needlessly committing billions of DOD dollars in support of a wall that has no connection to a military threat and does not support military effectiveness. I believe that we all have a responsibility to ensure that our resources, both funds and personnel, are used wisely for the Defense Department’s highest priorities.
Admiral Richard and General O’Shaughnessy, thank you again for your service and I look forward to your testimony.