Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I would like to join you in welcoming our nominee. 

Vice Admiral Richard, thank you for your decades of service to our nation.  I also want to recognize and thank your family who are here today--your wife Lisa, and your daughters, Allison and Emily.  I know their sacrifice and support have made all the difference.  

Admiral Richard, you have an impressive record of service to our nation and I believe you are well-qualified for this nomination, with your experience as the Deputy Commander of U.S. Strategic Command and  also commanding our fleet of ballistic missile submarines. 

The Commander of U.S. Strategic Command serves as the principal military officer who advises the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on our nuclear deterrent and our global missile defense requirements.  As is often said, our nuclear deterrent must be safe, secure, and reliable.  You will be responsible for articulating the requirement for, and managing the readiness of, our nuclear triad, and its command and control protocols, to deter threats that are existential to our nation. 

Integral to the readiness of our nuclear forces is the ongoing modernization of our triad.  We are well into modernizing the sea and air legs of the triad, and we will soon begin modernization of the ground-based ICBM leg.  At this time, the programs appear to be on track, but I am deeply concerned about the potential risks of this simultaneous modernization of all three legs on the workforce and industrial base.  The chances of a delay in one or more programs is high, and we need a clear plan of how we will respond.  I am interested in your initial thinking on this issue and will be watching this modernization process closely.

U.S. Strategic Command is undergoing a number of organizational changes.  Three years ago, the Command had responsibility for nuclear, space and cyber operations, but now space and cyber operations have been shifted to other combatant commands.  And one of the consequences of these shifts is the grey areas around which command will be responsible for specific programs that have strong connections to both commands.   For example, our missile warning satellites, which are integral to our nuclear command and control architecture, are very important and must not be subject to any ambiguity in managing or sustaining them.  While these re-organizations are necessary for our long term strategy, they must be made slowly and carefully to avoid costly errors. 

In the area of missile defense, I will be interested to hear your views on the status of our homeland defenses and the steps we are taking to address the increasingly complicated threat from new technologies, particularly hypersonic missiles.

Admiral Richard, I again thank you for your service and look forward to the hearing.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.