Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding today’s hearing, and I join you in welcoming General Hyten. We are grateful for your service, and for the dedication of the many men and women who serve with you.
General, in a speech you gave earlier this year at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation you talked about the enormous responsibility you have assumed in ensuring our nuclear deterrent is capable of deterring threats that are existential to our homeland. It is a sobering responsibility to be the one who will give advice to the President on the options before him and then be the one who must direct the execution of those options and we appreciate the skill and fidelity you bring to that task.
The President has directed the Department to conduct a nuclear posture review to outline our strategy and posture. I look forward to considering that review when it is completed. The last one was done in 2010 and the threat environment today is considerably different. The most significant developments are Russia’s nuclear modernization and its bellicose threats about its nuclear capability, and the significant advancements made by North Korea in its nuclear and missile programs.
But there are other troubling advances. China is fielding its own SSBN that will patrol the Pacific, which will hold most, if not all, of our homeland at risk. In addition, Pakistan and India continue to develop their nuclear capabilities with tactical and long-range missiles, which in some cases reach well beyond their borders affecting nations to which we have made security commitments.
In other words, General Hyten, while Russia, with its near-peer nuclear standing is, and should be, the focus of the next nuclear posture review, the landscape is quickly shifting. It has become multipolar, and how we structure our deterrence and the military options are changing rapidly.
Finally, we are now coming to grips with our own nuclear modernization. Because of the existential threat it deters, there has been bipartisan support for modernization of the nuclear triad in this committee. I am hopeful that this consensus continues because this is a 20-year acquisition program extending well beyond this and future administrations.
Let me touch on a few other topics:
In the area of space, we will value your expertise to develop long-term requirements and plans to counter the asymmetric threats to our space assets. I assume that will be discussed further in tomorrow’s closed session.
In the area of missile defense, you are responsible for synchronizing global missile defense planning and operations. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the state of our homeland and regional systems. The Administration has called for a missile defense review, which also needs to address the topics contained in a provision of the FY17 Defense Authorization Act, which include left-of-launch missile defeat capabilities, cruise missile defense of the homeland, and the role of deterrence in missile defeat policy. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this review and the ongoing improvements to our interceptors, sensors, and command and control system.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to the testimony.