tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN April 21, 2016 9:31am-11:32am EDT
good morning meet this morning to consider the nominations for general to be u.s. european command and command of europe and general lori robertson to be commander, commander of north american aerospace defense command. we congratulate both of you on your nominations. we thank you for your decades of distinguished service to our nation and willingness to serve once again. of course, we know today would not be possible without the support and sacrifice of your family and friends, some of whom are with us this morning as is our tradition we hope you will take the opportunity to
introduce your family joining in today. general, you seek to lead a command very different from the one your predecessor inherited just three years ago. when vladimir putin invaded ukraine dismembering the heart of europe for the first time in seven decades, general breed love led with clarity and purpose. he pushed nato to adjust the scope, scale, and seriousness of the new strategic reality we face in europe, that will be the urgent and unfinished task left to you if confirmed. over the past two years vladimir putin has been learning from bloody experience in ukraine and syria that military adventure pays, that diplomacy can be manipulated to serve his strategic ambitions and that the worst refugee crisis since world war ii can be to divide the west
and weaken its resolve. the only deter rens that we seem to be establishing -- establishing is over our, indeed two years after russia invaded ukraine, the administration is still not provided ukraine forces for the legal assistance they need to defend themselves in which the congress has authorized for fear of provoking russia. this fear of es ska lags only encourages the kind of aggressive dangerous behavior we saw last week when russian fighter jets conducted simulated tax within 30 feet of the navy destroyer in international water and performed dangerous maneuvers of 50 feet and international air space. the european insurance initiative is a positive step, first step to re-establishing deter rens in europe but it's just that, a first step. russia is building an advanced
access area denial network to crimea to the eastern med mediterranean. it's at the highest level since the cold war. russia's military modernization and expanding operations demand a comprehensive review of u.s. forced poster in europe and the resource is necessary to support it. but a strong flood of refew nato has to step up. nato allies not only need to reverse declining defense budgets within a decade. it must also invest in critical security interest, nowhere has that been cleared in an afghan, our allies 0 f fighting
alongside us for 15 years now the balance of our shared mission and indeed the fate of afghanistan hangs from the balance. the president announced he intends to reduce u.s. forces from the current level of 9,000 such a reduction will have profound consequences, especially the end of the u.s. trained advise and assist mission at all, but the highest -- at all but the highest levels of the afghan military. this is at the same time isis is now on the battlefield, and the taliban is on the offensive, just this week taliban conducted a suicide bombing in cabos that killed over 60 people and wounded more than 300, most of whom were civilians including women and children. president has a decision to make. maintain or increase the current
level of u.s. troops given conditions on the ground or continue with a counter base withdrawal, the answer is clear. whatever is decision, the president needs to make it as soon as possible. the uncertainty surrounding america's commitment to afghanistan discourages our allies and encourages our enemies. nato's forced generation conferences is in june and the nato summit is in july. at stake is whether nato forces will remain in western and northern afghanistan or whether those areas will be seated to the influence of iran or criminal drug range. have no doubt, nato will follow america's lead on troops and afghanistan. it's up to the president of the united states to show that leadership. general robertson, the committee looks forward of hearing your assessment on threats of homeland tasked to defend of advanced missiles capable of
carrying nuclear by russia, iran and north kree yachlt we'll be interested to hear your views on the importance of u.s. mexico security relationship, heroin, largely produced in mexico continues to ravage communities across our nation and demands are renewed effort to combat discouraged both in our streets and in it's source. must wrecken with the fundamental truth that the real driver of drug trafficking is demand for drugs here at home. while it is clear the mexican government must do more within its borders, our government needs to finally get serious about border security. as former south commander general john kelly testified about our southern border, and i quote, the border is not wide open, open enough to get what the demand requires inside of the country. while border security is ultimately the responsibility of the department of homeland
security, i'm deeply concerned about the lack of coordination between d.o.d. and dhs along the border. during recent visit i made in arizona, i observed the army conducting training missions with its uav fleet, despite trying across the u.s. border, the training missions were not being coordinated with the department of homeland security to surveil the border of homeland activity. not only does military training benefit military readiness by providing realistic training in a real word, operation relevant environment, it can also provide secondary benefit to dhs, counter drug and border security operations by increasing situational awareness. dod and dhs should be working to ensure training missions for uav squadrons around pla platoons.
i look forward to hearing your views on north con can contribute to enhancing interagency cooperation along our borders. senator. >> thank you very much. welcome the nominees. thank both their service to the nation and recognize your families who served along with you. i've had the privilege of knowing cindy from the new years, thank you, cindy. and your father, career, thank you, sir, and your husband is a in rhode island, so you've got -- already got some momentum behind your nomination, thank you. the nominee, of course, today the record commander of the united nations command combined forces of the united states forces career, he's served as director of joint staff, commander, on and on including
of the a 61 division, thank you, sir for your service. he has been vice commander, air combat command, a list of other important assignments, so thank you. >> general, it's confirmed that you'll be commander commander. you'll be asked to consider diverse array of challenges in the european security environment including fighter flows emanating from the conflicts in the middle east and north africa. the refugee crisis potential and specter of continued aggressive behavior in russia which the chairman has accurately thoughtfully pointed out. you will oversee a shift in u.s. efforts in europe, in addition to the on going assurance efforts and allies and partners, we will be adding strategic investments to deter russian activities. the committee looks forward to hearing your views on these and other complex issues.
you'll also continue the important work uconn is doing with the government to identify military and security shortfall and strengthen the capacity to defend itself. and the committee would benefit, again, from your views in this regard. and general robertson confirmed your responsibility as north con commander will comprise defending the homeland which is the most important mission we have, including against us stars and crews and ballistic missiles, you'll have support in this mission, not only in terms of potential conflict, but also natural di asters which effect the country. you have to maintain close security as the chairman pointed out, mexico, in particular. and you will also be header of commander of norad by national command which is provide aerospace warning, control and maritime warning at a time when the arctic is becoming a rapidly
another area of operational activities for ourselves and for many others. we look forward to hearing your views on all these issues. and thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> as is custom of this committee, we need to ask some formal questions for the witnesses just respond by yes or no if you choose to. in order to exercise its legislative and start responsibilities important this committee and other appropriate committee of the congress you're able to receive testimony briefings and other communications of information. have you adhered to applicable laws and regulations governing conflicts of interests? >> i have. >> do you agree when asked to give your personal views, even if these views differ from the administration and power? >> yes. >> have you assumed any duties or undertaken any actions which would appear to presume the out come of the confirmation
process? >> no. >> will you ensure your staff complies with deadlines established for request and communications including questions for the record and hearings? >> yes, sir. >> will you cooperate in providing witnesses and witnesses briefers in response to congressional request? yes. >> will they protected reprisal from their testimony or briefings. >> yes. >> do you agree appear and testify upon request before this committee? >> yes, i do. >> do you agree to provide documents, including copies of electronic forms of communications in communications when requested by dually constituted committee or consult with do chee regarding the basis for any good basis denial in providing such documents? >> yes. >> general robertson, we'll begin with you, welcome. >> thank you, sir. good morning chairman mccain, ranking member reid and distinguished members of the committee. i'm honored to meet with you today as the president's nominee to be commander of united states northern command in aerospace defense command.
i would like to thank president obama for nominating me as well as secretary carter for the trust they've placed in me. it is my privilege to be sitting next to my dear friend and colleague kurt, an incredible leader. it has been an honor to work with him in the pacific these last 18 months. i also wish to thank my good friend add my rabbmiral for his outstanding leadership. if confirmed it will be a tremendous honor to build on his efforts in this extremely important position. >> i would like to introduce my father, george howard from jackson new hampshire, a 30 year air force vet rand and r four pilot. he also one on ones in vietnam. i've looked up to my father my entire life. >> i take it that his landing smashed a number of take offs. >> sir, he's here. >> i also my amazing sister carol, incredible nurse, mother and wife.
megan works here on the hill. finally the love of my life, my husband david. a retired two star reservist, fighter pilot, thunder bird pilot and retired airline pilot. i can tell this committee without hesitation that without his constant love and support, i would not be sitting here before you today. today we face a rapidly evolving and growing thread environment, both in the number of those who wish to do us harm and the complexity of tools at their disposal. our country faces many challenging threats from within and abroad, ranging from threats such as home grown violent extremist, cyber attack, trafficking of drugs and other elicit products by trance national criminal organizations, two threads posed by nation states such as russia, north korea and iran. and many experiences the pacific air force commander and the air component for admirable i'm aware of the tenuo wou-- defens
the homeland is sacred responsibility and number one mission of the department of defense. if confirmed i will work to uphold the faith of the american people have placed in these commands and ensure we remain vigilant and postured to out pace any potential threat. if confirmed i will also continue to develop strong relationships with our homeland partners and we're -- so that that we're prepared to provide defense support to federal, state and local authorities as requested when the american people need it the most. and if confirmed, i will further strengthen our outstanding friendship with canada, as well as growing our partnerships with mexico and the bahamas. i'm deeply honored and humbled to have been nominated for this position. . if confirmed i look forward to address the many challenges we face to defend our homeland and provide defense support for civil authorities. i look forward to providing candid views on issues and challenges and plan to provide you my best military advice.
i seek to establish a trusted relationship with each member of the committee. in closing i would like to thank you for your unyielding support you provide the men and wimt in uniform and civilian servants who protect our nation. they're motivated by duty, honor and call to service and deserve the very best our nation has to offer. thank you for supporting them and recognizing the invaluable role they play in safeguarding our nation and our way of life. mr. chairman, thank you again for the opportunity to be here and for the committee's consideration. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you and welcome to your family. >> thank you. >> general. >> general mccain, senator reid, other distinguished members of the services committee, i thank you for the opportunity to appear here today and i also wanted to thank you for the support that you provided to our service members, our department of defense today and their families who selflessly serve in the defense of our great nation and defense in our way of life. i would also like to thank the
secretary of defense and president for their trust and confidence and for nominating for me to be the next commander for united states european command. in particular, i would like to thank my wife cindy who is here with me today. she has been by my side for 37 years and been an essential part of my service. cindy has supported me during multiple deployments, carried ak -- cared actively and raised our children. like so many other military families they've given much so that we can serve. i'd also like to extend my sincere thanks to republican of korea and united nations command for contributing state for confronting a serious global threat in north korea. without doubt, my experience leading and working within this great alliance in the midst of security concern have prepared me for this next command, if confirmed. finally, i would be remiss not to acknowledge the general's
leadership as the president yukon commander. his leadership has been critical in meeting the many challenges in nato and europe and posturing the force for the tu which you are. the clothes allies reside in europe and uphold our shared democratic values. additionally transatlantic trade constitutes over half of the world's gdp. if confirmed, i will work diligently to confirm the transatlantic alliance. this is a pivotal moment within the european command area of responsibility. as it faces numerous threats and have a tee strategic challenges. resurgent russia's increasingly aggressive behavior often in violation of international law. furthermore, terrorism poses an immediate threat as a world witness with the recent tragedies in brussels, paris and ankara. and influx of refugees has
represented in develop graphic and humanitarian crisis testing the social fabric. and finally, israel continues to confront threats within and along its woborders. common threat is attempt to weaken our european partnerships. if confirmed, i will do all that i can to leverage the full spectrum of military, political and economic capabilities to address these critical concerns. it if confirmed, i look forward to working close hely with this committee with congress, with our civilian military leadership,t if confirmed, i lo to working close hely with this committee with congress, with our civilian military leadership, if confirmed, i looo working close hely with this committee with congress, with our civilian military leadership,if confirmed, i look working close hely with this committee with congress, with our civilian military leadership, and you'european al. if confirmed, i commit to service members and d.o.d. personnel that i will do all that i can to ensure the readiness for the mission and provide support that they and their families deserve. i look forward to working with this committee and congress to realize this commitment. i'm honored to appear before
this committee with general robinson. we've been serving together in the pacific for some time and she is a great senior leader and friend who has supported me and our forces to maintain the security of the republican of korea. i thank the committee again for the opportunity to appear today and look forward to your questions. >> thank you. general robinson, senator shaheen and senator and i ayotte who are here today will talk to you about the emergence of the states, incidences of drug overdose is in the view of some an epidemic. and that means that obviously or border is the transit oipoint f much of this. i was stunned that we're flying uavs, but we're not flying them
along the border, we're not coordinating with the border patrol. it's insane. so i hope that you will look at the whole situation of this border situation -- the whole challenge about this manufactured heroin that is coming across our border and killing americans in larger numbers to the point where i believe the governor of new hampshire said that it's an epidemic. so we have to do is lot more on the border. and we all understand we're not seeking military action on the part of our armed services, but there are so many ways that coordination can be implemented that is not being done today. i hope -- i'd like for you to send a written statement to the committee on what actions you think need to be taken to try to stem this epidemic killing so
many americans. >> senator, yes, sir, i will commit to you that i will do that. and i will also commit to you very early if confirmed that i will go down and look at the border so i understand it and put my eyes on it just as you have on several occasions and i will send and you written statement. >> i will be glad to escort you. >> i would be honored. >> general scaparrotti, thank you for your great work in korea. we're proud of what you've done and we have every confidence in you in your new assignment. there is a nato force generation conference in june. nato summit in warsaw in july. shouldn't we make a decision as to what our troops' strength level should be before those two conferences? >> sir, i believe we should come to terms with that before we enter those conferences and if confirmed, i'll do my best and
do an immediate review and present my best military advice. >> in afghanistan today, and i referred in my opening statement about this latest attack in kabul, in your assessment, is the security situation getting better or worse now that we have isis, we have al qaeda, and a declaration by the tell ban tal the fighting season has begun? >> sir, from what i've seen from my vantage point, it appears to be getting worse. if confirmed, i look forward to the opportunity to go back to afghanistan and talk to general nicholson who is doing a review, as well, and provide my advice. >> i thank you for that. so if we go down to 5500 as is the present plan, will there be no presence? >> i'm not sure about that plan at this point. but i know that at some point in time that was a part of the plan
and i think that the lack of our presence in the critical areas in the north and west that provide assistance and training to both the army corps headquarters and afghan national police are very important. >> four of the most senior officers in our military testified russia is the greatest threat to america. do you agree? >> chairman, i do agree. >> and "new york times" story this morning, russian submarine threat mediterranean north atlantic, are you concerned about sea lines of communications in the atlantic and suez? >> i am concerned. >> russian fighters made passes inside of 50 feet. you heard my opening statement. what should be our response to this gross violation of international law? >> chairman, i believe that from a military perspective, we should sail and fly wherever we
are allowed to by international that y law and we should be strong, clear and consistent in our message in that regard. >> this may sound a little tough, but should we make an announcement to the russians that if they place the lives of our men and women on board navy ships in danger that we will take appropriate action? >> sir, i will that should be known, yes. >> i thank you. squn general breed love said in march that less then 10% of surveil and isr requirements are being mets. if russia is our greatest threat, does that make any sense? >> sir, the actual allocation of intelligence surveillance and recon sans assets is a complex one. compared to what is -- looking at what is going on day to day. but i would say that given the threat in russia, it's obviously
a very high priority. and if confirmed, i'll review that and request the appropriate assets. >> i thank you, general. these are very interesting and challenging times. and this view of this member that you are obviously very well qualified, but i hope that this your present position you will demand that decisions be made that enable you to carry out your mission which is not the case in my view today. senator reed. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. let me begin by seconding the point that the chairman made that the decision should be made soon, not later. simply because there are operational considerations that will stretch over many months once that decision is made. and based on my visit in january, it seems that a stronger force rather than a
smaller force would be more appropriate. that's a view that i think you and general nicholson will consider. the issue of russia is obviously central, general scaparrotti. and the ukraine is an area of proxy conflict between the two. and my position is that we have to succeed there because if we succeed there, it will be the most effective way to dissuade any further we hopinging e aggr or stedesigns on others. your position on what we can did, what we're got doing? >> we've provided both training and assistance and defensive means to ukraine.oid, what we'r? >> we've provided both training and assistance and defensive means to ukraine.d, what we're ? >> we've provided both training and assistance and defensive means to ukraine.what we're got? >> we've provided both training and assistance and defensive means to ukraine. we've supported our allies in doing the same.
if confirmed, it will be my task to, one, review the situation there, but secondly, i believe that we should continue both assistance and aid in the kinds of assets that they need in order to defend their country, their sovereignty and we should continue building partnership capacity to help them do that on their own. >> one of the other aspects that you will confront, there are so many and mr. chairman touched on many of them, is the evolving hybrid warfare. activities from difficult to determine sources together with regular forces together are obviously conventional weaponry and traditional military forces. i presume that as you enter your responsibilities, you're going to be able to -- origin begin
retool nato to be superior in this hybrid warfare? >> yes, senator, i will. it's an important area, one that we're obviously challenged in today, not only in ukraine, but throughout three of the four flanks basically within europe and also globally. >> thank you. and general robinson, again, you have many responsibilities. one is you are responsible to the operation of the ground, national missile defense effort. we had testimony recently about the need to fly before you buy, to test these vehicles, not simply to just put them up and hope they work. also to invest in additional capabilities to discern targets and the concentration being at least initially on the west coast. is that something that you would support? >> yes, senator, i would support his priorities. >> thank you very much.
the other issue, too, and it goes to so much of what you do as coordination of other federal agencies, particularly the department of homeland security. and one of the issues we all face will be this trying to unwind sequestration, but the effects i would presume on your mission would be very difficult if not only d.o.d., but dhs was not released from the bound of sequestratio sequestration, is that correct? >> the effects of sequestration if it came back especially on the department for readiness and across the board would be concerning. >> one other of your responsibilities since your dual hat is a nor rack oig commander is advanced warning and the
ready nos iness to protect ours from any type of missile. you can give us a preliminary notion of authorize rad oignora? >> as we defend with the canadian partners to the north, i would continue to understand if confirmed where they are and what telling knowledges and things we are thinking to the future so that we can ensure both air and maritime warning to defend the homeland. >> thank you. thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, mr. chair. and thanks to both of you for being here today, as well. and i want to thank your families for joining us and being supportive and we appreciate your achievements, as well. so thank you for joining us today. general scaparrotti, i am glad to see an enhanced effort with eri. in the president's budget
request as i do believe russia is one of the greatest ex-sten shal threats to our nation. but i am concerned that rotating an armored brigade team through europe instead of permanently stationing one there fails to show our optimum level of commitment to our allies and to russia, as well. and furthermore as you know the national commission on the future of the army has suggested and made the recommendation that we include a forward armored bct in europe and i would like to know from you if you believe that rotating and armored brigade team through our reurop the right level of commitment or do you believe we should is one permanently stationed there? >> i understand the service's challenges in light of today's resources to provide a permanently stationed brigade at
this time. but i personally believe a permanently stationed army brigade in europe would be best. >> we have heard differing opinions on that. but i appreciate that. and also we did speak yesterday and thank you for coming by the office, i do appreciate it. in our meeting, i stated that i am concerned that putin and the assad regime has been weaponizing the migrants coming out of syria. and they're being used to destabilize the european union. and we have heard those comments from general breedlove, as well. and i admire him. over the past couple of years, it's been pretty easy for terrorists to negotiate. they have lines of communication through turkey who is a that i t nato partner.
and to plan attacks in europe and syria.i nato partner. and to plan attacks in europe and syria. do you think turkey is doing enough to stem that flow and cut the lines of communication to refugees and terrorists in to europe and can turkey did more and if so what do you believe they should be doing? >> senator, turkey as you stated is an important ally. a nato member that sits on the southeastern flank really i think at the nexus of the challenges you talked about. you have an aggressive russia that they have encountered the escalation personally. counterterrorism, the isil threat, syria and the refugee challenge that you talked about. it's important that they work hard to secure their borders, that they take part in the security operations that are ongoing to reduce the refugee
flow. and if confirmed, i will obviously make it one of my priorities to understand their challenges and what we can do to better help them in that regard. >> thank you, general. and i have been told that if the pentagon named operation atlantic resolve as an actual named operation, it could potentially enhance and make more effective the support and capabilities provided to ucom. can you submit to me that you will look into whether or not the naming operation atlantic resolve as an actual named operation through the joint staff for -- would allow ucom to more effectively assure our allies in the near and long term? >> yes, senator, i can commit to that. >> and can you also commit that if confirmed you will provide feedback to us whether or not the national guard state
partnership ram, another one of my favorite programs, could be expanded to more nations in the ucom aor to enhance our mail to mail cooperation and partnership between the ugs and european allies? >> yes, senator, i'm a great supporter of the national guard program and i will report back to you on that. >> thank you very much. finally general scaparrotti, do you think russia's use of hybrid tactics is making our life more challenging especially through briefly? just very briefly. >> yes, senator, they purposely keep it below the threshold that we would normally consider conflict. >> absolutely. thank you, general. thank you, general robinson. >> thank to you both of you for your service and congratulations on your nomination. and general robinson, i want to congratulate you this morning, too, for being named to "time"
100 most influential people in the world. we're very proud of you in new hampshire for your nomination for being named to "time's" list but also because you're a graduate of the university of n new hampshire. and general scaparrotti, having had a chance to meet you in afghanistan, i am not at all surprised to see that you have achieved what you have and very much appreciate that you are taking over at ucom at a very challenging time for europe. general robinson, i want to begin with you. what do you think are the greatest threats that are facing the homeland right now? >> ma'am, as general scaparrotti said, russia is the greatest threat facing the homeland, but if you look inside the united states, the concern becomes with
homegrown violent extremists. p so those would be things that if confirmed that i would continue to track closely. >> thank you. senator mccain talked about the challenge from the heroin epidemic that we're facing in new hampshire. i had a chance to visit the southern border last year and talking to cvp agents about drugs coming across the southern border, they said those drugs are going up 35 to the middle of the country and interstate 95 to new england. and can you -- i very much appreciate your agreeing to look at that firsthand and to make a written report to us. but can you talk about some of the things that north com can do to address that heroin epidemic? >> yes, ma'am. the epidemic is absolutely heartwrenching. and if confirmed, i know that north com will support federal agencies to provide military unique capabilities to support
the drug rob. and to take a look and see can we partner there and look at that. so those would be a couple of things that early on that i would be looking at if confirmed. >> general scaparrotti, i want to make sure i understooded what how you responded to senator ernst. you said you do believe it would be preferable to permanently station troops in eastern europe. did i understand that correctly? >> senator, if confirmed, i have to look at the services situation. i understand -- i request -- if confirmed, i would request force bring fwad and they determine how that's provided. but if i had the option of that or rotational brigade, i would prefer permanently stationed brigade. >> i've had a chance to visit with tisfinishes from baltic an
eastern europe a number of times and clearly they are very anxious to see a very strong united states and nato presence on the eastern border. so can you talk about why you chk a permanent brigade would be preferable to what we're currently considering with respect to rotating troops in and out? >> gentlemen, senator. i think a permanent brigade and i'm assuming if europe that we have the facilities that we could readily station those care for families, et cetera. but a permanent brigade gives you a brigade that establishes relationships with the supporting elements of all forces from the united states swemgs a lasting relationship with all of our am lies that they work with day to day. and that can be done over time better than a rotational force can for forly do it. it also developments relationships and operating procedures with all of those allies and with the forces that
are in europe. so primarily it's one that gives you a little more substance, a little more strength in relationship building and obviously a trained brigade with really less purchase would you deni turbulence. >> thanks. my time is almost over, butwoul turbulence. >> thanks. my time is almost over, but at both senators mccain and reed have pointed out and as you know very well and said in your testimony this is a very challenging time in europe, they have a number of threats from russia to the high grace crisis, can you talk about what else ucom can do to help reassure the europeans and help work with them to encourage stability there? >> senator, i think that ucom
under phil breed democratic love love is on the right track. he's emphasized collaboration, developing better information and intelligence sharing, close partnership with our allies where we assist each other in building capacity, building i interoperability. and i think if confirmed, i'll continue all of those things. >> thank you very much. >> general scaparrotti, in an interview this month a secretary general at nato said that nato has to be ready to deploy forces and to intervene again if needed. do you agree with that statement and how likely is it going to be necessary for nato forces to intervene and what is your
assessment of the capability of nato forces to come so? >> the purpose of the alliance is to provide a collected defense.come so? >> the purpose of the alliance is to provide a collected defense. and it has to go agile in its movement of forces. so i agree it has to be able to deploy forces throughout europe both as what is commonly seen as the threat on the eastern flank with russia, but also where necessary to assist allies in threats in the southern border to include terrorist threats, et cetera. i think nato is in a position today where we have capability, but obviously since the wail le summit, we realize there has to be change in order to meet the new environment that we see this europe today. >> and we're not completely ready to meet that new
environment as a may toe alliance, are we. >> nos, we're not. >> and the secretary general said this with regard to afghanistan. he said we have been able to prevent that afghanistan becomes a safe haven for international terrorists. do you agree with that is th? >> senator, i believe that we have changed the conditions in afghanistan, but i also believe we have much work to do to realize our objective of a stable gmic afghanistan that is no longer a safe haven. >> he said we've been able to build a national unity government. do you agree? >> i believe personally there is much work to do there, as well. >> he said we've been able to build an of a began national ar afghan national army and forces of 350,000 soldiers and personnel.began national
afghan national army and forces of 350,000 soldiers and personnel. >> yes, senator. i've taken part in the establishment of that army and i'm proud of the services and the service that i've had in afghanistan with afghan security forces. >> and he said we've enabled them to take over the security innt do you agree with that statement? >> senator, they are responsible for the security of their nation now. there is much work to do particularly when it comes to enabling c-2 and logistics and it's important that we continue that assistance to develop that capability. >> so what your testimony is that these accomplishments have in fact taken place, but there are still concerns and still real work to be done to solidify
them is th them? >> that's correct, sir. >> and do we risk losing these accomplishments by a further drawdown in american troops in afghanistan? >> sir, i believe strongly in the conditions that have to be met in order to meet a drawdown. so i believe in conditions being the driver, not time. >> and so are you prepared to say whether those conditions have been met? in other words, i'm echoing i think what our chairman and ranking member have said, does it make any sense with so much invested and so much accomplishments, does it make any sense for to us risk that by drawing down troops? >> senator, given my experience
there, all of the sacrifices we've made to realize our objective, i think that we need to keep toes objectives this mind and work hard to chief them. and any drawdown should be set on conditions to achieve our he said staoig states. >> we want to work with on you that and it seems to me that we risk tossing away hard-fought and hard-won gains. thank you very much. i look forward to your service. >> i want to thank both of the witnesses and your families for all your sacrifice. general robinson, i want to recommend to you a book to read in your new job. and it's called "dream land." it's about the heroin epidemic that is not only sweeping our country, but in particular, this focuses a lot on ohio and my
home state of indiana is right next door. and i just want to tell you always story. we have a small county in southern indiana, scott county, and a small town there, austin. 4200 people. in a town of 4200 people, you have 190 hiv cases that came from dirty needles that were passed around while using prescription drugs. and this epidemic has basically hallowed out and destroyed all of these families. and it spreads -- it starts with the prescription drugs and then it goes to the heroin, the back tar heroin that comes being a tros from mexico. and this book "dream land." helps to describe how destructive it is of these towns and of these families.
we have a small -- my hometowns we lost a 20-year-old and 19-year-old young man just from one of these parties. going to be a freshman at iu and freshman at ball state. and it happens in town after town all across new hampshire, all across cape cod, people think of it as a vacation place. cape cod has a heroin epidemic. and it's coming up from mexico. and we desperately need you to be the poents person in stopping this effort fp. >> thank you for that advice. i commit to you that i will read "dream land" independent of being confirmed. >> it is heartbreaking. >> yes, sir, it's hea heartwrenching. i commit to you that i will do everything to understand it and to work with dhs to do just what
you've asked. >> more than car crashes now, all the represe automobile related death, hire row win and prescription drug related deaths have rocketed past that. so we lose young person after young person. when i go to high school graduations and speak to them, i basically spend half my time begging them to keep an eye out for one another because there is so much back tar heroin coming across from mexico. >> and i agree with you, too, not only the heartwrenching deaths, but as you it does to f. so yes, sir. >> and general scaparrotti, it was a privilege to be with you in korea and you did such an extraordinary job there. the one thing you talked about afghanistan and the number 5500 has been mentioned by the chairman. the last thing i'd like to see and i know you would, too, is all the efforts for so many
years just kind of be thrown away because of a as ow number. and i know you said it would be conditions based. we want to be sure you give us your unvarnished opinion as to what needs to be done there. >> senator, i absolutely commit that if confirmed, i will do just that. >> thank you very much. as we look at what just happened with the russians recently, doing a barrel roll over one of our ships there, or over bone of our planes there, is there a point where this has happened time after time after time where we tell them in advance enough, the next time it doesn't end well for you? >> nor, i think it's important that we're as i sa strong,
clear and consistent with them. and we should engage and make clear what is acceptable. and then we have to enforce it. >> general robinson, what is your assessment as you take a look of the ballistic missile threat to our country posed by north korea and iran and obviously you willing significantly involved in provides answers for that and making sure we're safe? >> yes, sir. the north korea threat is real. right now it's a medium range, but they are trying very hard to be able to heat the homeland and iran continues to evolve its capability. and if confirmed, that will be a threat that i will continue to monitor very, very closely. >> thank you both very, very much for your service thank you
mr. chairman. >> thank you both for your distinguished service to the country. and i have to say, general robinson, i echo center shaheen's comments. we are so very proud of you in new hampshire as a unh grad and obviously as your stated residency of new hampshire. i want to thank your family, as well. and i want to thank certainly the colonel, colonel howard, for his service, as well, as a great resident of the state of new hampshire. wanted to ask you in the meeting that we had in my office, one of the issues we talked about with your responsibility for the southern bordered a r. as chander of north com is this idea of tunnels. in fact this morning as i'm looking at the news, we discovered that there are reports that u.s. authorities discovered a half mile tunnel under the border with mexico into san diego used to smuggle
drugs. as we think about the heroin and also fentanyl issue that is really killing people this new hampshire, i got an amendment in that focuses on cooperation with the israelis because they have the tunnel issue with hamas and hezboll hezbollah. so will you look at the it tunnel issue and how with can he develop better technologies to ensure that we're looking at not only how they're transporting it in traditional ways but also building these tunnels? >> yes, senator, i saw the article and it did remind me of the conversation that we had about israel and the technologies. and as we discussed yesterday, when understood that, it piqued my interests. so i will go down and look, understand the tunnel, see what they look like, understand the
technologies that we have and then understand the this i thth that israel is also teaching us. >> and in terms of the fentanyl issue, the synthetic that is almost 50 times more powerfulth that israel is also teaching us. >> and in terms of the fentanyl issue, the synthetic that is almost 50 times more powerful than heroin. new hampshire had last year 430 drug deaths, actually 160 of them are attributed to fentanyl. so in your role this addressing not only the border, but in dealing with mexico, what i'd like to also have you focus on is talking to the mexican government and obviously in these military relationships of how we can have them step up more on this enter diks issue. >> yes, i want to provide an assessment back to the committee of what we need do together more to support them. >> terrific.
thank you. general scaparrotti, i want to thank you for your distinguished service in afghanistan and i would like to ask if you confirmed for this important position, one of your roles not only serves as european commander, you will also serve as supreme allied commander of europe. and recently we head with the secretary general of nato and one of the issues he raised is that he believed that nato countries and nato as a whole should be more involved in the train, advise and assist mission in iraq to defeat isis. and do you agree that we should seek to get nato more involved in the train, advise and assist mission? obviously we all have a part in defeating isis begin the threats that this group presents to not onli the united states of america but himself europe with the recent attacks there. >> if confirmed, i will
obviously discuss that with the secretary general. it's a matter of policy within nato. but to give my personal opinion, i think that we have very strong and capable ale lies and the more allies that we have assisting us in iraq and other places around the globe where we have the same challenges is important and we should pursue that. >> and in terms of the russian threat, one of the issues, there was a recent article i think yesterday that talked about russian attack sub marines that i believe the chair than briefly touched on that are prowling the coastline of scandinavian, scott lac land and head terrainian sea. i wanted to ask you about the importance of our submarine fleet in terms of having the capacity with this russian threat, but obviously we know that the chinese are another issue in the south pacific. but yet our requirements for attack submarines were not keeping up with pace of what we see the russians doing. how important of an asset is
this in terms of combatting the russians in what they're doing right now? >> i believe that it's critical. we presently have dominance undersea. and i don't believe we should pace it, we should maintain that dominanc dominance. it's critical to our security. >> i want to thank you both for your leadership and distinguished service and especially your families, as well. we appreciate it. >> thank you very much. i echo the sentiments of the members of this committee and thanking you, general scaparrotti and general robinson for your service to our country and of course that of your families. and of course general robinson, it's good to see you. thank you for your services in hawaii and leading the pacific air forces and we're very proud of you as being one of the 100 most influential people in the
world. general robinson, you noted that one of the biggest concerns that you have is with homegrown violent extremists. what would be -- if confirmed, what would be the steps that you would take to protect our country against homegrown violent extremists? >> one of the things that is incredibly important in that is sharing of intelligence across all the agencies. so it would be important to understand that intelligence to share as we watch that. it's a very difficult threat to find and pay attention to. >> so any other steps that you would take to -- >> no, ma'am, if confirmed, that would be one of the things. it is one of my focus areas as i look back into the southwest border and defense of the home land that's one of the things
that i'm if confirmed will start looking, what are other things that northern command can do in support of all the interagency and whole of government approach. >> and i i think that that -- when you're dealing in this area, state and local law enforcement communities as well as the larger communities have to be brought in. >> yes, ma'am, in supporting them. yes, ma'am. >> i would want to continue to work with you on addressing these issues. >> yes, ma'am. >> general sdcaparrotti, epaa geep be our missile defense partnerships. what do you assess are the benefits of the epaa and how does it proceed correct strength project strength to our allies and of course to our adversaries?correct strength project strength to our allies and of course to our adversaries? >> lawyerin europe, we have a s
threat there ballistic missiles p. the phase adaptive approach is very supportive of the defense of not only our citizens and bases in europe, but also of our allies and partners in europe. i think it's critical and it's an important contribution then to our allies' defense systems and we should work for a layered inter-on thatable defense of europe and i believe it's the appropriate step to get that done. >> for general robinson, it was mentioned in our last north com hearing that china is moving in this direction. he testified if successful, they would be china's first sea-based strategic nuclear determent. and in previous hearings, the submarine capabilities of our
country have been highlighted as one of our cub's most valuable assets. what are the simply indications of a successful employment of this class of ballistic missile submarines by china and for what you can talk about in this setting how would this affect our capabilities especially in the asia pacific region? >> yes, ma'am. china continues to evolve other capabilities and they continue to be able to range further and further. so the more that they can range, then the more that it becomes a threat to the homeland both hawaii, guam and if capable further here to the homeland. >> do we need more submarines? >> ma'am, they are oare asymmet advantage in the pacific as we speak. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator graham.
>> some say that we need to get out of mof manato or limit -- >> turn your microphone on. >> it's on. >> senator, i think you asked that some have said that either we need more participation or payment into nato, is that -- >> that we need to get out of nato. that it's obsolete. >> senator, i personally believe that that i toe is critical to our interests and in our defense. >> in 0 seconds, why? >> because we have very close ties, they're our longest allies and we have 50% of the gdp that goes through there, one of our most important markets. >> you agree that other countries should contribute more to nato's overall budget? >> yes, i do. they should meet the commitments. >> did you believe russia is trying to basically fracture europe? >> i do. >> do you believe putin would love nothing more than the
united states to withdraw from nato? >> yes, sir. >> do you believe that everybody it in the baltics that would be a very dark day for them if america withdrew from nato? >> yes, sir. >> so putin would be the biggest beneficiary of a breakup of nato under the current construct? >> yes, sir, i believe putin is deliberately trying to -- >> do you think isil would benefit from the breakup of nato? >> yes, sir. >> do you think the taliban would benefit from the breakup of nato? >> yes, sir. >> all right. if the president goes down to 5500 u.s. forces in afghanistan, do you believe nato countries will respond in kind by reducing their commitment? >> sir, i think given my experience there, that they most likely follow our lead. >> have you known of one country to get to our right when it comes to afghanistan? >> no, sir. >> so do you agree that any
withdrawal in afghanistan should be conditions based? >> i do, sir. >> so i just want to say for the record, to the president, you ignored sound military advice when it came to iraq to keep to residual force. the rest is history. you turned down the advice of your entire national security team to help the free syrian army when it would have mattered in syria. you drew a red line against assad. you did not follow up when gadhafi was taken down by his people. lea please don't repeat these mistakes by reducing or forces in afghanistan because you will get the same result, probably worse. that's just my editorial comment. in terms of budgets, if we go back into sequestration mode, what would it mean to our presence in europe. >> it would have an immediate impact on the forces that we have there today and i believe that it would potentially put at
risk the forces that we plan to rotate today to reinforce our posture. and certainly it would impact the readiness of our remaining forces to come to europe if deterrence should fail. >> would it be an encouraging sign to russia that we're less committed to europe? >> it would, sir. >> general robinson, what would sequestration do to your ability? >> it would affect the readiness of the force and our ability to invest in capabilities to defend the homeland. >> you can give me some examples of what we would lose some will te in terms of capabilities? >> depending where we are with sensor development or hit to kill development,will in terms of capabilities? >> depending where we are with sensor development or hit to kill development, those would be two capabilities. >> is the threat to the homeland declining or increasing? >> the threat to the homeland is increasing. >> is the threat to our partners in europe and our interests if europe declining or good increasing, general scaparrotti?
>> it's increasing, sir. >> you can think of a worse time for the american congress to cut the military's budget to historic lows given your time in service? >> no, sir t. we need to reinforce our capabilities. >> do you agree, general robinson? >> i do, sir. >> thank you both for your service. >> senator kaine. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i just want to associate myself with the comments of senator graham and the chairman. and several others. particularly as you go to this nato meeting, this summer that will be so important in europe. it would be a great mistake in my view to not hain taken a level of force in afghanistan that is necessary to support the afghan security forces and the problem is this decision has to
be marronebly soon because we're not going to go from 9800 to 5500 in a couple of days at the end of the year. the process has to start this summer and i think it will be a mistake given that the taliban served notice that they don't view this struggle as over by any matter or means. so i hope that as you work with the nato allies, the message will come back from them and to the president that we need to maintain a significant force and a significant -- with the authorities necessary to adequately support our nato allies and the afghan security forces. secondly, gijust want to associe myself with comments made by border and drug epidemic. since this meeting started, six people have died in the united states of drug overdoses just since we sat down here an hour
and five minutes ago. and that is a definite threat to the homeland. and to the extent we don't want to mill tarrize the border, but to the extent we can coordinate better, utilize the resources that you will have general in your capabilities to work with our civilian authorities, that is i think a very high priority. general scaparrotti, one of the things that is concerning me about europe is that what we're seeing in ukraine is a new kind of hybrid war. with in-dinlg necessary people, some russian troops, we're not talking about armies and tanks coming across the border in a conventional way. do with -- are we developing a strategy and doctrine for dealing with what is essentially a new kind of war? because my concern is that what
we're seeing is a practice for something similar for example in the baltics. >> yes, senator, i know that just from personal experience that ucom, socom as well as the other co-coms have gather and we're studying hybrid warfare. it presents a problem because it's intended to be below the level that we would normally consider conflict, so it challenges the norms that we have been used to. >> what is an act of war. >> that's correct. and it challenges the authorities that our forces have in order to react. so we are working on how best to handle this, the authorities that doctrine and capabilities in order to deal with this type of conflict. >> let me ask of both of you, the chairman recently mentioned, chairman of the joint chiefs recently mentioned that he would like to see an update to goldwater nichols to ask the for
the real time need for the co-coms to be in communication with the president in case of an emergency. we've been talking a lot about goldwater-nichols throughout this year in preparation for our national defense act coming up. what is your thought about the relationship of the co-com s to the chain of command, to the presidency, what do you see as -- either one or both of you as potential improvements to the goldwater-nichols organizational structure? >> senator, i'd like to first say that gold water-nichols has produced the officer that i am today and the makignificent military that we have today.wat produced the officer that i am today and the magnificent military that we have today. i do believe given the change in our strategic environment particularly in the last three or four years that it is time to do a review. with reference to your specific
question, i don't know that there is a need for the change. i report to the second of defense if confirmed and the president. but i think what we need in this environment is we also-of-and i think what general dumford was suggesting, we need ability to have agility in our decision making and the deployment of assets. very few of these challenges today are limited to one co-com. they're multiregional, multifunctional, multidomain. >> so we have to be sure that our organizational structure allows that agility. >> and the authorities, as well. >> general robinson, your comment. >> i agree with general scaparrotti 100%. the acts is 30 years old and the strategic landscape has changed. and the most important part out of all of this is the agility
and at to work with each other. >> my time sis up, but i hope yu will supply your thoughts in writing after the hearing and having people of your experience and wisdom would be very helpful to us. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. the questions i was going to ask were pretty much asked by senator graham. and i would just ask you, general scaparrotti, in your memory, in your history and service, have you ever seen a time when this country is more threatened than they are today? >> no, sir, i haven't. >> general robinson, all you have to do is repeat the performance you gave us in this new position and you'll do a great job. i want to mention a few things here just to make sure since i wasn't here until just now, i was in another committee, to make sure they're in the record. first of all, due to proliferation of technology, the
number of countries possessing ballistic missile capability continues to increase with the weapons becoming more complex with counter pleasures greater ran measures great are range and being a tes. it was testified last would he be nearly 30 countries possess missile capability with approximately 50 different variants and 13 intermediate range and eight various under development. since signing the iran deal which was a disaster, iran has conducted at least three sets of tests on nuclear capability, bhal police tipal police tick test, the lisaest had quote israel should be quiped off the earth unquote and had a rask nge up to 1250 miles. centcom commander testified that iran has been more aggression suffer since the nuclear deal. i think we all understand that.
and on 9 february james clapper assessed, quote that north korea has already taken initial steps toward fielding the k and 08 road mobile icbm. let me ask you, general robinson, we talked about this before, number one, do you think there should be a restructuring because of some confusion as to who is this charge of homeland security, do you think that changes should be made? >> sir, i know if confirmed as the commander of north com that i work closely with the interagency, department of homeland security. if confirmed that would be something -- >> so you would be in constant contact with them? >> yes, there is constant coordination. >> in light of everything that i said about the threat that is out there and the comment by general scaparrotti, are you confident in the intelligence that we're getting on north korea's and iran's capability?
>> sir, given high recent experience and time that i've spent in the pacific and focus on north korea, i'm confidentre experience and time that i've spent in the pacific and focus on north korea, i'm confident and comfortable with the intelligence that we're getting. i would have to come back to you about iran because i have not been focused thereto give you an accurate answer if confirmed. >> i've never been all that confident. it's kind of a scary thing. we know all these things that i mentioned, that's the reality. that is today. general scaparrotti, let me ask you a question, i've been concerned for some time about the capabilities. a lot of our friends who historically always on our side are now kind of in a position with russia due to the fact that they control the russia and iran between the two of them control the capabilities, energy capabilities that we have in this country. now we have passed the lifting the ban and unfortunately the ban was lifted at a time when
the price of natural gas was down so low, it didn't have the results that we anticipated and we hoped would be there. but what is your thinking right now about the capability that we're going to have -- how is lifting this ban going to help us in some of these areas that we'd like to be working with us as opposed to russia? >> well, senator, we've talked about the hybrid warfare that russia practices. they use all the instruments of power to influence our allies and particularly the use of energy. and it's to our benefit i believe to assist our allies in any way that we can to relieve them of that dependence as much as possible on russia and that and of russia to use that as a form of coercion. >> to you believe -- i think you just said this in a different way. to correct the situation, to be able to allow them to get their energy from us, that this is a
great national security benefit we would have when that happens? >> senator, i haven't tell offed into this as a policy issue, but to me, it is reasonable that it if we could provide energy to m regionable if we could provide energy to them it would assist them and us in our security. >> i appreciate it. thank you. >> thank you mr. chair, many of my questions have been answered. one topic for each of you. general scaparrotti, you were asked about turkey and border control. i want to get into a different question. they're an important nato ally. i would like you to talk about the complexities of dealing with turkey given the internal politics with concerns about the kurds. they've been wonderful partners for the u.s. in the anti-isil mission in iraq and kurdistan and iraq have had a good relationship with turkey. and we've found partners with
kurds in syria. that has created tensions with turkey. we can't abandon a strong anti-isil partner that has been very, very valiant as the kurds in northern seyria. we need them to help us in the anti-isil fight. how do you see your role in u conso we can keep up the partnership with the kurds alive and manage that relationship with our nato ally? >> i think you outlined the challenges there very well. they are very important ally. if confirmed, obviously i'll build a close relationship with their military leadership and with my intent their civilian leadership as well. they look at counterterrorism and they look at the pkk as the threat. we talk counterterrorism and primarily we think about isil. so i mean it's those dynamics
both of us have to realize our interests. and find areas commonly we can work together. in turkey's case there's areas where we can support them and encourage them to help us in the overall effort. within the southeast flank of nato. >> general robinson, you talked about the agility and the ability to work together in response to senator king's question. i'm really interested in the seem between north com and south com. some of the other questions about drug trafficking there some of that originates in mexico. but much of it originates in south america. whether it's drug trafficking, human trafficking, migrant flows that are driven by violence. that border between mexico and the countries to the south is important. talk about the kind of working relationship you would hope to
form with the admiral on that border between north com and south com. >> that's an incredibly important border. the more we can push everything down towards that border. guatemala and belize, the less the people will migrate across our southern border between us and mexico. we are very good friends. and if confirmed, i know that he and i will dialogue on a very regular basis to work together to insure that seam is as seamless as possible. it is incredibly important that we do that. and that we work together to support the mexican military in their efforts with that southern border. >> all right. thank you very much, thanks mr. chair. >> thank you mr. chair. it's been a great confirmation hearing. i appreciate both of you all's service and general robinson, your service of 34 years, i know
you're a resident of new hampshire. i'm not rushing you to retire. when you do i hope you'll consider north carolina as a winter home. i lived in new hampshire, i guarantee you the winters are better. one quick question for you. the -- i want to go back. i sometimes think that we lose sight of the fact of the number of victims that have been victims of narco terrorism. we're talking about the opioid epidemic today. we have to recognize that hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives because of the activities that are flowing between south com and north com. i'm not going to go back and cover the landscape again except to say it would be helpful for us to shed light on. if you were to equate this to what we're dealing with in the middle east, we have a lot of specific targets that we could go after that we simply don't have the resources to go after. we know a lot of times where they're starting, where they're ending and we simply do not have the resources to intradict as
many as we could. do you agree with that? what kinds of things could we do to step up our game there? not at the expense of other important priorities. this is a important priority it's killing more americans than any other terrorism activity going on today. >> if confirmed, as -- i think it's incredibly important for me to understand the border. i think it's incredibly important for me to walk the landscape and also if confirmed very early on, too, as i work that, is to work with agencies and interagency to understand the problems you're just talking about. intradiction is important and i know getting after the networks is important. and so where is the interagency, there is dhs, law enforcement agencies trying to get after that. for me to understand that and then if confirmed, to be able to support their activities. >> that's great. within an area of your purview i'm glad you recognize that working with the mexican military and recognizing much of the pressure on the northern
border of mexico can be relieved by taking care of the challenge on the southern border of mexico. that can only come with good partner cooperation. so i appreciate your commitment to looking at that. to me it's one of the most pressing things we need to do in this atmosphere. general scaparrotti you mentioned about stepping up our partner relationships with europe. can you give me just a brief synopsis of the state of our partnerships in terms for a mill to mill relationship? in terms of their countries specific efforts to budget and fund the things we need to do to make it very clear to russia this will not end well if they continue their aggression? thirdly, just the general messaging within the region or the words that the countries are conveying to their people and the region consistent with what you think our objective should be in that area. >> well, senator, first with
respect to our partnerships, we've got very strong allies in europe. i've served with many of them. as you know they provided about a third of the force in afghanistan and suffered a thousand casualties right alongside of us. i think that's an indication of just how good they can be and the -- what we share. i do believe that there's a part of the alliance and as partners we should meet our commitments and provide our fair share of the defense. because we do, we are strong -- >> do you feel they have work to do there? >> we do have work to do there. as i understand it, out of the alliance of 28 there's five that have 2% or more of the gdp and nine that have increased their spending. as you know from the summit and looking forward to the warsaw summit that commitment is one of the things we're focused on. in terms of the communication, i
feel confident to say those that are on the eastern flank are communicating very seriously about the need for strength and defense in light of russia. >> probably because of the imminent threat. >> because of the proximity. i think that's true with the remainder of our allies as well. however, to the south you've got a different but just as important threat. one of the important things if confirmed i need to do is recognize all of our threats and help our allies to be unified. >> thank you. and closing i want to associate myself with senator graham's comments. also just make the point -- because people watch the hearings and take a lot from them. i don't think that there's any serious discussion among any member of congress that would suggest that anyone thinks a withdrawal from nato makes sense and that the rhetoric and the political circles now should not be confused with anything we would seriously consider. i find that unimaginable.
thank you all i look forward to supporting your confirmation. >> it was pointed out to us in a meeting that 9/11 was an attack on the united states of america, not a european country. and they joined and over a thousand of the young men and women that have come from those countries have been killed in action. when we talk about how much money that they haven't spent, we should keep the pressure on, i don't think we should forget that over a thousand of their young -- i think all young men have given their lives because of an action that was taken against the united states of america. senator? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank both of you for your service. and for being here today. i want to follow up, general scaparrotti on senator cain i've been concerned also with the kurds. our support of the kurds.
i know the iraqi kurds and the northern syrian kurds seem to be valiant fighters. we don't seem to be second guessing are they going to turn on us, give our weapons to somebody else. that's the only group i know we haven't had that concern with. but with the concern that we have of the turks, how they're looking at our relationship, are we not giving the support to the kurds that we could even more? and basically, do the iraqi kurds, are they still satisfied with the one state solution and having everything come through baghdad? or are they still what we understood was very frustrated with that? >> senator, i don't know the answer to that particular part of your question, the last part about their satisfaction. if i could take that for the record. >> you could take that for the record. just to find out where we stand there. they've been very cooperative.
only take so much if they're not getting the support. and if they rely on the dysfunction of baghdad right now getting the goods they need and the arms they need to help us defend the terrorists. i think it would be a shame not for us to make sure they get it directly. >> to the first part of your question i agree they've been one of the best combatants we allied with in our fight in isil and syria. if confirmed i'll work closely with the combatant command and socom in support of that. >> general robinson, i was recently -- a year ago down in argentina. at that time i think the president was christina kirschner and she's been replaced by president mockery who i understand is more pro u.s. than she.
and we were having trouble with a lot of meth, a lot of drugs coming from argentina. our officials were complaining we got no cooperation. do you know has that been strengthened? as the new president make a commitment to help us fight this drug trade? >> sir, i don't know the answer to that question right at the moment. but i will commit to you is my relationship with kurt tid, as we work together from south com and north com if confirmed to watch that. again, to push things down as far as we can on the southern border. >> you can't go any further south than argentina. if you could get that information it would be very helpful. our people are very frustrated. we're getting no help at all and they were letting it come through. >> yes, sir. >> back on senator cain asked you about nato. i think the frustration all of us agree that nato, we should all be a part of nato. the bottom line is in
frustration we know the sacrifices they have made and they have come to the aid to the united states and have not made a commitment. the 2% of their gdp. but there is no quid quo pro. no penalty for that. do you believe there's a way we could hold them more accountable if they are not coming up to the 2%? >> sir, i think that's a question, you know, for the alliance. and north atlantic council to wrestle with obviously if confirmed, i'll have the ability to give best military advice to the secretary general and the council. and as i said, i do believe that within the alliance the commitments that we make are very important for the strength of the alliance. >> general robinson, on the ballistic missile defense, and most importantly with canada, i understand they're going to
engage again, be involved in the missile defense? >> sir, from what i read, they're in the process of talking about what they're going to do with that. if confirmed early on, i will engage with my canadian counterparts and my canadian chain of command and see where they're going. >> if they do join our efforts, would that reduce our missile defense responsibilities to the north or would they only be reinforcing our current defenses? how would that play towards what we're doing right now? >> sir, i don't have that right now. if confirmed that's something i will look into early on. >> okay. i had one more i think real quick for general -- russia, the whole thing i think senator donly talked to you about the russia flyover. were we in the right to shoot down if we desired to do so with their aggression? >> sir, not knowing the complete
circumstances, i really can't answer that this morning. >> as far as the justification -- i know turkey's taken action against russia before and i think russia would understand turkey would continue to take action. i think there's a concern we won't and they wanted to see how far we could go. i'm not advocating we should have shot the plane down. i understood that secretary kerry described it as a reckless provocative and dangerous act. he was not wrong in saying the u.s. ship would have been justified to shoot down the russian plane. >> yes, sir. i just don't have the detailed information to make that call. i would say it's absolutely reckless and unjustified and very dangerous. when you've got, you know, our operations going on as well as was -- >> do you see russia pushing the envelope? is russia pushing the envelope to test the western resolve or united states resolve?
>> i think they're pushing the envelope in terms of our resolve. they're pushing the envelope in terms of international norms and international law purposefully. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> general scaparrotti, do you think we need to establish and implement more robust roe's with regard to our navy? this isn't the first time that it seems roe's were very week, obviously, we had navy sailors taken hostage by iranian -- in the gulf. what do we need to do here to bolster this and send a message that we're going to act more forcefully? >> sir, i think that, you know -- i'm not sure that roe that our forces are operating under at this present time. i mean, the exact rules of engagement. if you look at our rules of
engagement generally. joint staff rules of engagement. they always have the right of self-defense and act in self-defense. i'm confident that they knew that and if it was a security concern that our commanders know they have the right and they can take that step, i think more what i would say to you is they have to have the guidance of the chain of command in order to know, understand and fully have confidence that they can take steps and specific scenarios. >> if confirmed will you take a look at that issue, the issue of our roe's that are leading to these kind of aggressive behaviors both in the baltic sea and the gulf? >> yes, sir. >> both of you have enormous areas of responsibility in terms of geographic sceope. one place you overlap is the arctic. we've had discussions much more growing strategic importance in
terms of shipping lanes, in terms of resources and in terms of russian military buildup, snap exercises that we saw tens of thousands of russian forces twice last year. one of the concerns i have -- i just passed out something, it's reflected in the chart, stha -- in order to address some of the challenges we have operational seams in the arctic where north com is the advocate for the arctic area, u com contains a threat to the region and pay com controls most of the forces. i'd like to ask one hypothetical. we talk a lot about ops, if russia decided to deny u.s. shipping in the arctic region which is growing, which commander would respond to that threat? >> sir, this gets at the issue that we talked about earlier
about most of our threats today are across the boundaries of co-comes, if it were u.s. com's area i would take the lead and the others would primarily be in support of that. >> but if it were shipping in the baring strait. this goes to the seams issues. last year, we actually had an amendment that addressed this and had the secretary of defense to focus on the operational seams with regard to putting together an arctic strategy. if confirmed will you focus on trying to address this co-com operational seam that certainly can be worked through but seems to be a challenge? >> if confirmed i commit to you that i will focus on the arctic. i will -- it's a complex place. it's becoming much more
congested. and i will focus on understanding comprehensive what that is, along with admiral harris and come back to you and talk about what should we do. >> general scoprrap rotty. >> yes, sir i will. >> last year it focused on the secretary of defense because of the issues and the growing threat. being required to develop an arctic strategy and new operational plans that reflect the new situation in the arctic. if confirmed will you work with osd to make sure that those requirements from the congress are fulfilled? >> yes, sir, i commit to you to come back and talk to you what i learn. >> yes, sir i will. >> let me talk just very quickly on the european reassurance initiative. general scaparrotti, we've talked about that. i think a lot of us are
supportive of that. but, you know, a lot of the focus as you mentioned is in the east. do you believe that that eri should have a focus? it's not just east, but certainly in the north where some of our allies and friends have very significant concerns about russian threats and aggression? >> yes, sir, i think that eri needs to look at the entire threat. and the entire threat as well as it needs to be joint in nature. there are other areas that we need to look at, if confirmed i will look at as i move forward. >> thank you. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you. congratulations on your nominations and general robinson to your landmark nomination. i hope it will see speedy confirmation of your both. general scaparrotti i want to return to a question a few senators have addressed about
russian aircraft flying by our ships and our aircraft in northern europe. i know you're not aware of all the circumstances to specify a response. but does activity like that call for some kind of a response? >> yes, sir, it does. it endangers our crew members, our ships. and it does require a response of some type. >> is that because with no response it emboldened putin's russia to probe further? >> i think they need to understand what's acceptable. we're flying and sailing in international waters in the baltic for instance. and we have every right to do so. >> need that response be symmetrical must we fly by their ships or aircraft? >> as we look at options we should keep everything on the table. >> and that -- whatever the
response may be, even if it's not a public response, vladmir putin needs to understand it is a response? >> yes. >> i want to turn to a topic we've discussed previously. cluster munitions and the coming ban of cluster munitions that have a dud rate below 1%. what is your understanding of how many munitions in the inventory fail to comply with that date's policy? >> i couldn't answer that accurately. i will tell you my experience with the munitions i have in korea. i would use just about all of my clustering munitions for use i have stock piled up today. >> what is the department of defense's current policy or plan to address this problem? >> today, there are studies ongoing. and some assets available that in the future with programs of purchase that could begin to
replace those. some of the munitions don't have the same lithality. presently for those that are not in visioned, that are assets we know -- munitions we know we could build, we don't have a plan to replace them in the numbers we need. i would say that's true in korea because i'm very aware of what our requirements are. >> is one of those possible solutions airbusting traditional dumb bombs and using -- >> that's an option. >> would that be an option that lacks the lethality -- >> if you were to use unitary munitions to replace a cluster munition, you have to fire three to five munitions in place of one. and so just logistically it
creates a problem as well. we need to develop effective munitions that meet the law. my recommendation would be in the interim we retain the cluster munitions we have today. >> are you aware of any u.s. produced solution to this problem? >> i'd like to take that for the record. i'm aware of some solutions we're working -- when you say it's u.s. produced, i'm not exactly sure, you know, who is working on those products i'm aware of. it's best i take that so i can also answer it in a classified form as well. >> thank you. this, obviously, of most famous concern on the border between north korea and south korea. given russia's recent probing, throughout eastern europe and the middle east, how important is this issue for you in the new job after confirmation some. >> it's very important. i would point out that russia has used cluster munitions in
the ukraine themselves. with great effect. >> i thought so. vladmir putin and many other analysts in russia often cite historical grievances in their activities in places like the ukraine and to bolster themselves domestically. they cite three in particular. the collapse of the warsaw collapse, the collapse of the soviet union and nato expansion into those historically russian dominated territories. do you think that's a fair account for what's happened in the post cold war era? >> sir, if i'm following you i would say it's clear that putin, i believe, i can't say it's clear, i believe that putin's view is is that russia is being constrained by the international norms. international norms established by the west and predominately the u.s. it's from that view that he has,
i think, set out deliberately to challenge those norms. to disrupt our international order, globally. wherever he has that opportunity. >> given that countries like poland and latvia and lithuania and estonia have chosen freely to join nato. do you think there's any truth to his claims these are lands that are traditionally oriented towards the east? >> well, he certainly claims that. but as you know, we believe and many of these countries desire to be a sovereign nation and make their own choices the type of government they have. that's what we've supported as a part of our values and we're support of today. >> he makes the claim this is an aggressive action towards russia and could threaten their sovereignty. has nato been investing in large scale rearmaments of the kind
that would launch a massive land invasion of russia? >> no, sir. and as you know, nato for nearly 20 years reached out to russia. with the idea they could become a part of the security that nato proceeds to all of europe as a partner. and they've refused that hand at this point. >> to look at the claim from the other direction has russia been investing in massive defensive build ups building ditches on its border with nato to forestall the nato invasion of russia? >> the modernization of their forces is significant. it's developing incredible capability we've seen on display. with their first out of area deployment into syria for instance and the weapons systems they deployed there. if you look at the area access or denial, those areas a 2 ad
they've established, i think there's ample evidence of that. >> based on the historical record as well as their own investments it suggests to me that vladmir putin's narrative about the west is maybe another classic russia campaign. thank you. >> general breedlove said he anticipated further russian military activity in ukraine. do you agree with that assessment? >> sir, the indications i've seen, i believe that's true. >> so do you believe that we should be providing defensive weapons to ukraine? >> sir, i believe that we should provide the weaponry we believe they need to defend their sovereignty and that they're capability of using. >> their need and could use
javelin? >> sir, i think that there's a requirement for an anti-tank weapon like javelin in their situation. >> thank you. general, i hope that you will give some urgency to the issue that you and i discussed earlier and that is concerning the troop strength numbers. all these things take planning, they take execution. now we're looking at a couple of months from now. i hope you'll make that a very high priority. general robinson i'm glad you're going to go down to the border. you'll find this type of the year it starts getting very warm there. and you'll also find it's very hard on personnel sometimes to sit in a vehicle on the border next to a fence in 115 degree heat. that efficiency declines rather
rapidly. and that's why we have to emphasize technology. i hope that at your first opportunity you'll go see secretary johnson and so that we can better coordinate our activities on the border with secretary johnson. the answer to this both whether it be the epidemic of manufactured heroin or whether it be people or whether it be. the possibility of a terrorist which increases coming across our southern border can only be defeated by technology. we need to have the ability to detect those tunnels. the israelis i understand have that capability. and capability exists. we're not going to stop the tunnels and they are myriad, believe me, over the years. just by observing.
we have to have the kind of technology which exists. i also believe that it's very important that we understand that a lot of this manufactured heroin is coming across our ports of entry, not necessarily by the traditional ways because small amounts can be concealed. again, that is technology. so we have -- with the rise of isis, we have an additional threat on our southern border. and that's the threat of terrorist as coming across. and so your involvement with full respect, is dramatically increased. so i hope you'll understand here we have the threat of terrorism and we also have a flood of
manufactured heroin and children who come from the three central american countries. and also put enormous strains on our capabilities on the border. one program, amongst others i hope you'll look at is that guard units from states all over america have come to arizona to train unarmed but providing manpower and capabilities that are much needed so i would say, obviously, you need to go to the border, but i would like to see close coordination between you and the secretary of homeland security so that we can use the best talents that we have. have no doubt this is a crisis in the northeast and midwest, the drugs alone. not to mention the threat of terrorists coming across our
border. if those threats are true, i believe they are, then your involvement is greater than it has been in the past. senator king, did you want to -- senator blumenthal. >> thank you, senator mccain. i want to emphasize how important senator mccain's comments are in those who are engaged in our states. it's affecting the quality of people who are available to you, our military, doing your job very actively and responsibly in recruiting new men and women to join your forces. this public health hurricane is undermining the recruiting
effort insofar it diminished the quality of people who are available to fight in our moi military. tearing apart families. causing heart ache and heart break. and i released last week a call to action with 23 specific recommendations focusing on healthcare, on law enforcement, on overprescribing of pain killers on a variety of areas where i think the nation needs to be mo to do more and do it better. i've talked about the intradiction challenge. and it's not within the ability of states to do, but it has to be part of our national mission. every bit as vital to our national defense as the other missions you have. so i want to second what my colleagues have said. i'm not the first. but i want to emphasize the
point that senator mccain has made so eloquently. i want to go to another topic that you have also been asked about. gener general, i'm very concerned about our submarine undersea force. you're aware of it. you've been asked about it. the continued building of our virginia class at the rate of two of year will collide financially with the ohio replacement program. in my view we need to continue building those two virginia class submarines every year. "the new york times" story that's been mentioned to you in the course of this morning is only the latest evidence of the increased emphasize of our
adveadve adversatories. i think in the course of that article one of the comments from one of our military leaders was we are back to in a sense the cold war competition undersea. i would like to know your views and general richardson if you want to comment, you're welcome to. whether this program continuing our building of two virginia class submarines every year with the ohio replacement are important, in fact vital to our national defense. >> yes, senator. i defer the numbers et cetera to the services responsible for that. but i can say personally i think that we have dominance under sea today. it's our advantage and very important that we continue to maintain that advantage. particularly in light of the
challenges you noted. i think both of those improvements to our submarine classes are necessary. >> sir, i would just echo what general scaparrotti said. >> i know -- i've heard it said from that very place, from others general robinson, and i know that you share the views strongly we should have superiority in this area. i think the specifics are very important. it's not enough to generalize about it. i hope when you say you'll defer you bring both of you a life long expertise and experience to
these views that i think are very very important for our civilian leaders. >> sir i probably misspoke and said i agree with what general scaparrotti said. i apologize if i said i defer. >> no, i think he said he deferred. and i guess what i'm asking bluntly is that you not defer. and i know that's also easily said than done. i have such respect for both of your views i hope our civilian leaders hear them. and i hope that you will emphasize that this asymmetric advantage in undersea warfare is vital to our future. so i think i've talked enough and i defer to you, general robinson and general -- >> sir, if i could be clear.
what i meant by that was it's a service decision. but i assure you that if confirmed, i will be clear in my advice and needs to the cno with respect to those programs. particularly after i have a close look, if confirmed as the u com commander of my needs there. >> i appreciate your views, thank you very much. thank you for your service to our nation. >> very briefly, general scaparrotti talking about the undersea capability and the increase in russian submarine activity. i was in iceland last fall and was struck wiby what a strategi place. it's one of the most strategic places on earth. we're putting p 8's back in there. i hope that might be an area you will be an active consideration of further reinvigoration of that capability subject, of course to the working with the
people of iceland. but it sits right astride the greenland iceland uk gap. and it's -- as i say, i can't imagine a more strategic place. i hope we can focus some attention there. the facility is amazing. and i think it would be one that would be -- we would do well to do some concentrating on. >> i agree with your concern and i agree with the importance of the location and our capabilities in that gap that you described. >> mr. chairman. >> look forward to moving your nominations through the united states senate. this hearing is adjourned. >> thank you, chairman. >> thank you chairman.