tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN October 21, 2015 11:00am-12:01pm EDT
here, i said you guys expect me -- i've got the biggest supertanker in the world and you expect me to run it like a skiff. and that's just impossible. senator kaine: let me compare your uncertainty. if he start of your testimony you talked about there can be a conventional wisdom you challenge, i know the world is more uncertain now, more dangerous than it's been, you walked through from world war ii to today and you pointed out decade by decade the challenges. while we may not be able to predict the next challenge, that there will be challenges. . you've testified that you don't think the oako account is particularly -- o.c.o. account is particularly good. it seems to me the mission of national defense is probably in real terms kind of more threatened by uncertainty here than uncertainty in the world.
bad things are going to the happen in the world and we know it and we're not necessarily going to stop that. we can predict that they will even if we can't predict the particular one. the uncertainty that we can fix here is the uncertainty of our own budgetary dysfunction. mr. gates: i sometimes say when i'm talking to groups at universities, i get asked, what's the biggest threat to the national security of the united states? i say fundamentally and i'm not kidding, it can be found within the two square miles that encompasses the capitol building and the white house. if we can't begin to address some of the tough problems facing this country, there is no single foreign threat that is more dangerous to the future of the united states than that. senator kaine: thank you, dr. gates. senator mccain: when you have the c.r.'s and sequestration that you mentioned and the uncertainty that it breeds, doesn't it over time have a
significant effect on morale and retention? mr. gates: absolutely. and i think if bob hale, who was referenced earlier, who was comptroller while i was secretary, bob wrote an article out the consequences for morale about all these changes and uncertainty and so on. people just get discouraged. i mean, they do all this planning, and then it all comes to naught. odierno and eral general amos before i left, i said, my biggest worry is how you -- as these wars ramp down is how you have given these young officers and n.c.o.'s amazing independence and opportunity to be entrepreneurial, innovative and
thoughtful and out there on their own doing amazing things is really the captains and the n.c.o.'s wars. i said, and if you bring them back to the pentagon and put them in a cubicle you're going to lose them. you're going to lose the best of these young people. i think the continuing uncertainty about the future -- i mean, pie lots join the air force to fly -- pilots join the air force to fly. people join the army to drive tanks and other equipment. people join the navy to go to sea, and when you tell them you're not going to train as much as you thought you were, you're not going to fly, you're not going to sail, you're not going to drive as much as you thought you were, i think there is a real risk that these uncertainties will lead to a bleeding out of some of the most innovative and desirable young people we have in the military who just frankly get fed up.
senator mccain: senator ayotte. senator ayotte: thank you, chairman. thank you, dr. gates, for your incredible record of service to our country. i certainly hope as you have rightly said to us today that we can come together to address sequester with a budget agreement that is going to make sure you have that certainty and that our men and women in uniform have that given the challenges we are facing around the world so they can plan and make the right decisions that need to be made to make sure that the nation is safe. i want to shift gears a little bit and ask on a topic, first of all, that i noticed an op-ed that you and secretary -- former secretary of state condoleezza rice wrote recently on the situation in russia and the engagement that russia is taking in syria to keep assad in power in cooperation with the iranians.
and wanted to ask your thought process about as we look at what russia is doing right now what you think that their goals are and also what you think we should be taking as steps. we recently had testimony before this committee from general keane and general jones, both very distinguished retired generals, and one thing they said really struck me that they believe that if we continue the current course with our interactions with russia they believe it could be the end of nato if nato doesn't further step up, also, to help address, not only this -- we think about what's happening in syria but also the situation with ukraine and what is happening in that region. so i wanted to get your thoughts on russia and where you think we should be stepping up. mr. gates: well, i had a number of opportunities to interact
with mr. putin when i was secretary. we actually had an interesting relationship because of our respective backgrounds in intelligence. i would sometimes remind him i was deputy director of c.i.a. when he was a lieutenant colonel serving in southern east germany. what putin has been most impacted by, in my view, was the collapse of not just the soviet union but the russian empire. russia's borders today are roughly what they were when atherine the great was emperoress. ukraine has been part of the russian empire for a very long time. putin is all about lost power, lost glory, lost empire. and he's not crazy.
he is very much an opportunityist. i think he has two basic strategic objectives. the first is to restore russia to great power status so that no problem in the world can be addressed without russia's involvement and without russia's agreement. and the second is, as old as the russian empire itself is to create a buffer of states friendly on the periphery of russia. and if he can't create friendly states then frozen states where the west can no longer expand its influence and russia can hold -- have at least a barrier and that's what's happened, if you will, in eastern ukraine. so i think those are his objectives and i think he will be very opportunistic in pressing those optives but at the same time -- objectives but
at the same time i don't think he's a manned man. if he encounters resistance, he will hesitate. he will pull back. and so i think he has seen an opportunity to cement russia's position in the middle east through helping assad. i don't think, as condi and i said in the op-ed, he's not particularly sentimental when it comes time for assad to go. putin will be happy to throw him overboard when it's convenient as long as russia has another person coming in who will be attentive to their interests and allow them to keep the naval base at tartus and their military position in syria. so the question then is, what do you do about this? and i think that -- and i guess one other thing i would add,
also in the back ever putin's heads, if he sees opportunities, if he has the opportunity to poke the united states in the eye he will never miss that opportunity. so the question is, how do you -- where do you resist him? where do you push? nd frankly, in ukraine putin has escalation control. he has -- he has a lot more forces on the ukrainian border than we or nato can put on the opposite side or are willing to put. we also happen to have a pretty dysfunctional government in kiev which makes our trying to help them even more difficult. so the question is then, where do you have the chance to establish some limits? and it seems to me one of those places where he's at the end of a long supply line and we have some real assets is in the middle east. and i think that there is an
opportunity to draw some lines in syria that -- let me frame it another way. i think we should decide what we want to do in syria, whether it's a safe haven or anything else, and basically say, just tell the russians, this is what we're going to do. stay out of the way. and if it's a safe haven and it's in an area that doesn't threaten assad's hold on power, then it seems to me that the chances of then challenging us are significantly reduced. but at a certain point -- first of all, i think we need to stop talking about whether these actions make them look weak or he doesn't know what he's doing or whatever. i think he knows exactly what he's doing. and at least in the short to medium term, he's being successful at it.
senator ayotte: thank you. senator mccain: fortunately he's in a quagmire. senator king. senator king: doctor, welcome. it's a delight. your testimony has been provocative in many ways. in fact, my first comment is you talked about the usia. we abolished it in 1998 and now its successor agencies, according to my quick calculations, about half the budget it had and yet one of the reasons we're having such a problem with isis is we're losing the war of public opinion, particularly in the middle east. that was a in retrospect a strategic error in terms of our ability to combat the idea which is a very important part of this conflict. would you agree? mr. gates: totally. i would run into people from pakistan to morocco and elsewhere and they would say they learned to speak english in a usai library.
we had a library in virtually every city of the world. these guys would go as kids and said we went there because it was the only building in town that had air conditioning. they learned to speak english but they also learned something about america. and these libraries and these activities were very important. obviously during the cold war we had all these capabilities, and it wasn't just usai. the soy had a huge covert propaganda going on. we infiltrated millions of miniaturizes of the gulag archipelago into the soviet it was a years and complementary overt and covert policy that extended the reach of the message that the united states wanted to communicate to other countries extraordinarily, and what we have now is a pale reflection of all of that. senator king: and that's essential the element of war we
are in now. mr. gates: absolutely. senator king: second point, you alked about how to fix the bureaucracy and what you were really talking about was leadership. organizational structure you can mess around with, you can change, and then we talked about the budget process. here we can change things, have a biennial budget, a different budget. we have a budget process -- pass authorization bills and then pass appropriations bills. we don't do it. wouldn't you agree it's really a failure of leadership, it's not a failure of structure or good intentions? mr. gates: it is -- it is a failure of politicians to do politics. politics is about leadership but also about making choices and making decisions. you know, one of my fampte churchill quotes is having -- favorite chump hill's quotes is having the ear to the ground is an awkward position which o--
to lead. senator king: going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm. [laughter] senator king: we had a very interesting hearing last week on the aircraft carrier and overruns. as we got into the subject, it became apparent that one of the problems was trying to cram a lot of new technology into an asset that's going to have to last 40 or 50 years. you can say the same thing about the f-35 or other new weapon systems. how do we deal with the problem of new technology which involves risk which involves time which involves mistakes and rework and yet we can't afford to be building obsolete weapon systems? do you see the challenge? let ates: well, i think --
me use an example from when i was secretary. i stopped one new bomber program because i thought it was headed down the wrong path. and i ultimately, before i left, approved the next generation bomber that the air force is bringing before you all, but i told them that they had to design it with a couple things in mind. first of all, they needed to be able -- we didn't want to repeat the b-1 or the b-2 bomber where, because we kept reducing the buy we ended up with 20 of them and so they ended up costing $2 billion apiece. so when we lost one on guam, that's 5% of our bomber force, and it's $2 billion. so i said, you got to build it, you got to design it so you can buy at least 100. and you have to keep the cost -- you have to start with technology that you understand.
so your colleague was talking about off-the-shelf hardware. i think if you look at the b-52 -- i was born and grew up in wichita. they built the b-52 when i was in elementary school and middle school. and they're still flying. now, there's not much original left in the b-2, but the point is those planes were built in such a way that we have been able to enhance their capabilities as new technology has come along for decades. that's what we need to do with the next generation bomber. it needs to be something we know we can get off the ground for a reasonable price and then as new technologies become available integrate them into that system. whether you can do that with an aircraft carrier -- i got into a huge amount of trouble with the navy league several years ago when i made the mistake of telling them at their meeting
we ought to think long and hard about the long-term missions of aircraft carriers. and particularly as china was working on their anti-axis area denial capabilities. but i think we need to think about these systems more in terms of how we can get the best technology we can that we have available, that we know works, build it and then enhance it as we go along. hat may not get you the most tremendously advanced capability, but you'll have a larger number. i mean, one of the reasons the navy ships are down so far is because each ship has become incredibly expensive. you know, old line is, well, we had a lot of quality. i mean, there's a lot of technological capability in these things.
another one of my favorite quotes from an unlikely source is joseph stalin who once said, at a certain point quantity has a quality all of its own. and it goes to the chairman's point, you can't have the same aircraft carrier in the persian gulf and the south china sea at the same time. so we got to figure out a way, you know, having the most advanced technological whatever in the world doesn't help you ch if you can only afford to build 20 of them. so better to have something that has somewhat less capability where you might be able to build hundreds. senator king: and modularize it in some way so you can upgreat, i think that's an important concept. thank you. appreciate it. senator mccain: in the defense bill, we do require studies on other platforms, maybe not do away with a carrier but certainly the dependency on one company building it as part of
i think contributes to the overrun problem. i think you would agree, dr. gates. dr. gates: absence of competition is never good. senator mccain: senator cotton. senator cotton: secretary gates, thank you very much for your lifetime service to this country. your actions saved hundreds if not thousands of troops of lives in iraq and afghanistan. appreciate it. in those many years as a leader and america's national security establishment, can you recall a time when our strategic interests were as threatened as they are today across the year asian supercontinent? dr. gates: i think we have -- as mentioned at the very beginning of my remarks -- every decade has had a variety of challenges. i think it's fair to say we not had as many challenges in as many and widespread parts of
the world as we do today that the occasions that that has happened have been pretty rare, i think. senator cotton: the one country that spans across the entire continent that has a global interest, you might say, like the united states is russia. given some of russia's recent provocations, not just in europe but in the middle east, do you think as part of defense reform we should relook at our basing structures in europe to include the possibility of moving permanently stationed troops to the front lines of nato, the ballotics if not poland? dr. gates: i think that -- i think we need to increase -- first of all, let me say i agree with the steps that have been taken to increase the presence of nato and u.s. forces in eastern europe, particularly in poland and in the baltic states. i think the idea of having equipment sets, as the pentagon
is thinking about, has a lot of merit in terms of having the equipment already prepositioned in europe. i think i would -- i think i would work very closely with ur nato partners in terms of the wisdom of having permanent u.s. bases in poland or in the baltic states. there is always the risk of taking a step too far and creating a consequence that you were trying to prevent in the first place. case of eastern ukraine, the russians have a lot more capability and a lot shorter supply lines in that area than we do, but i think enhancing the defensive patrolling out of the -- air
patrolling out of the baltic states, challenging russian aircraft when they come up and go beyond where they should go and having regular exercises in eastern europe, the truth is putin has provoked all of this. our allies, when i was secretary back in 2008, 2009 when we would propose -- when the united states would propose having an exercise in poland or in the baltic states, our nato -- our nato counterparts wanted no part of it. so one of the things putin has achieved is to create enough alarm in europe that our allies are now willing to participate with us in those kinds of forward operations. so i guess what i'm saying, i totally support advanced kit being over there. i totally support the rotational presence and increased presence of our forces and our nato forces on a rotational basis. i think whether you want to go to permanent bases is a tougher question.
senator cotton: another thing that vladimir putin has done, especially in the last month, display some of his advances in missile technology to go along with the things he has made. the united states has accused of russia in violation of the nuclear forces treaty. given that vladimir putin already has nuclear weapons that hold all of europe at risk, why do you think he would be considering developing such a missile, what does that tell us about the way he conceives his nuclear strategy as part of this overall security strategy? dr. gates: russian defense minister as early as 2007 approached me about doing away with the i.n.f. treaty. and he said, the irony is the united states and russia are the only countries that cannot have intermediate range missiles. he said, now, of course, if we do away with it, we would not put those missiles in the west. we'll put them in the south and in the east. meaning iran and china.
i wasn't sure i believed that at the time. but -- so they've been interested in getting out of this treaty for several years, and just as we unilaterally walked away from the a.b.n. treaty early in the second bush administration it would not surprise me in the least to see russia walk away from the i.n.f. treaty and have the opportunity to deploy more of these missiles. senator cotton: should we, a, consider their offer and abrogate the i.n.f. treaty and, b, regardless, should we consider the begin of new nuclear warheads that would be smaller, more versatile to counter the threat that vladimir putin is beginning to pose? dr. gates: theoretically my answer would be yes but i would say practically speaking i spent virtually the entire 4 1/2 years that i was secretary of defense trying to get the executive -- first, the executive branch and then the congress to figure out a way to modernize the nuclear weapons
we already have. that effort was a signal failure. so until -- if i have to have a priority on developing nuclear weapons, it would be to modernize the ones we already have to make them safer and more reliable rather than building new ones. senator cotton: thank you. senator mccain: senator donnelly. senator donnelly: thank you, chairman, and doctor, so much. as some with our b-52 crews recently, they enjoy flying them as much as ever and we want to thank you, also, because you are also a member of the indiana university family. and we are very, very proud of that fact. i wanted to talk to you for a second about some of the after-effects of so many of the battles we have been in and that is the veterans administration and the work together with the department of defense. and we've had glitches. things like sharing health records, aligning the drug formularies when the handoff comes, matching up disability
ratings. and i was wondering if in your time do you have any recommendation -- that you've learned any recommendations you have for us that can help make that transition better, that can help make d.o.d. and v.a. work together better? any gives you saw that you think, look, it still exists, how do we take care of this? dr. gates: i saw a lot of glitches. as i've said, if there's one bureaucracy in washington that may be even more intractable than d.o.d. it's v.a., and i would find repeatedly -- and i worked with two secretaries of v.a. that i thought were of very high caliber people. and they were very intent on helping veterans. the problem was that when we would meet, we and our deputies would meet and we'd agree to do things, it would all fall apart the second he and i weren't on
top of it. and i -- this is one case where i think i was better able in defense department to make sure things got done, but in v.a. and particularly under secretary shinseki, i just had the feeling that he was sort of on the bridge of the ship and he had the big wheel in his hands but all the cables below the wheel had been cut off to every other part of the organization and he was just spinning the wheel. we worked on electronic records , and frankly, a lot has been accomplished. not nearly as much as could have been, but i've just -- i had the feeling, first of all, these bureaucracies were at each other's throats over whose computer program they were going to use -- v.a.'s or d.o.d.'s, and we'd go back and forth on this and we'd get
briefings and so on and so forth. so i think the bottom line answer is to reaffirm what everybody knows, that is there are huge problems in dealing with these veterans' issues. my objective had been, i wanted he transition to -- forsch let's say a soldier to be seam -- for, let's say a soldier to be seamless when he passed from d.o.d. into v.a.'s hands because it was all done electronically and so on. and unfortunately we're just say -- we're just not there. i mean, my own view on these issues -- and i'm not an expert on veterans affairs -- but i think the idea of if you can't get an appointment at a v.a. hospital within a reasonable period of time, then you're automatically granted a voucher to get help from a -- from somebody in the private sector.
so that you will uck actually get treated quickly. but v.a. was as unprepared for long protracted wars as the department of defense was. they were dealing with basically their youngest people they were dealing with mostly were vietnam era people. so people -- the chairman reece and my age. and all of a sudden they had this gigantic influx of young men, mainly, who were grave ousley wounded and would need -- griefously wounded and would need help for years. senator donnelly: let me talk about one area you dealt with is trying to reduce suicide in active duty military. one of the areas that we're pushing on as well is to try to move decisionmaking down to platoon leaders and others who
deal every day with the soldier. do you have any additional recommendations that you think could make a difference in reducing the suicide rate? dr. gates: one of the things that we discovered -- and my guess is it hasn't improved much since i left -- as we went out to hire a significant number of mental health professionals to work in our hospitals, to work with wounded warrior units, warrior ransition units and so on, there basically weren't enough of those professionals for able to -- for us to access to be able to make as big a dent in the problem as we wanted. one of the ideas that i had that frankly i never got the chance to push was that just as -- just as there is legislation that if a young man or woman goes to medical school and is
willing to commit to some years of service in the military, the military will pay for their medical education. one thing you all might look at is whether that could be extended to mental health professionals as well. and it would be a two fer for the country. first of all, it would give the military more of these assets that we need, and so we could have people at almost every base and post but when they leave the military, fill a very real need in american society as a whole. senator donnelly: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. senator mccain: we'll take that suggestion onboard, mr. secretary. senator lee. senator lee: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, dr. gates, for being with us. i think you are somewhat uniquely qualified based on your experience as secretary of defense to testify and to give us advice on issues related to reform within the pentagon. we appreciate your service and your willingness to come back today. even though as you note in your book, it's not your favorite thing to testify at these
hearings and i can't blame you. a lot of military analysts have lamented at some length the growth over the past two or three decades of what they sometimes refer to as the military bureaucracy, referring, of course, to support staff and headquarter staff, whether they be uniform, civilian, contractors or a combination of the -- all of the above. and that a lot of this occurs -- this growth occurs at the expense of the military's core operational forces. so in other words we get a lot of growth, a lot of movement but not necessarily forward progress bus because we're not growing the military that does the work that the military's there to do. how much of this growth in headquarters and support services occurred as the united states became involved in the wars in afghanistan and iraq?
dr. gates: well, as your question implies, it began before those wars, but i think that the amount of money that egan to flow to the department f defense after 9/11 really, really removed any constraints for hiring additional people. so one of the things that -- as you're probably aware, couple of our commanders got into a t of trouble by giving interviews to various press outlets. they got them into trouble with the president. well, what i discovered is that several of these commands had gone out and hired contractors to provide them with public relations advice. this was not something that seemed to me that a combatant commander needed, but i --
senator lee: at least not for the purpose of fighting wars. dr. gates: so in 2010 we put some various severe constraints on -- in fact, we froze contractor -- the number of contractors and then put some -- put restrictions in place that would require the different parts of the department, begin reducing the amount of contractors. we also tried, as part of the overhead effort in 19 -- in 2010 when we found the $180 billion in savings in overhead, the measures that we were taking included a number of cutbacks in terms of headquarter staffing. i mentioned earlier we had a, as part of that plan, cutting 50 general officer slots. one of the things we discovered had been a grade creep so that
where you might have a three star commander of the air force in europe at one time you now had a four star so how do you push that back down because they all have, you know, if you go from three to four stars you get more staff and so on and so forth? i think we have a pretty good idea of how we can go after those kinds of -- that kind of overhead, but it requires, as i suggested earlier, it requires a continuing pressure on the institution and accountability of, you know, you said you were going to cut x number, have you done it? and if not, why not? senator lee: how about the -- how are these issues, meaning the relationship between the size of the dodd bureaucracy, how is -- the d.o.d. bureaucracy, how is the size of the d.o.d. bureaucracy related to the scope of the missions that we've become involved in around the world? in other words, if the united
states were to take either a more involved or a less involved role in addressing various crises around the world, what affect might that have on the headquarters and support structures for the military services in combat and commands? dr. gates: i think when it comes to headquarters, whichever way it went you could cut the numbers. senator lee: if you are taking a more involved or less involved role? so it need not leslie follow from a decision to get involved in a particular conflict that we have to grow the pentagon, that we have to grow the support staff or the military bureaucracy to a corresponding degree? dr. gates: that's my belief. senator lee: thank you, mr. chairman. senator cotton: senator bluten thall. senator blumenthal: thank you, senator and secretary gates.
thank you for your continuing service now. i wonder if you could talk a little bit about the connectivity between the department of defense and the v.a.. and i know this was an issue very much on your mind when you were secretary. from what you've seen, has there been improvement, for example, in the transfer of medical records, in the services that are provided to our military men and women when they are about to leave the military, could you give us your assessment? dr. gates: senator, we were beginning to make some headway electronic health records when i left. in all honesty, this is the area in the four years since i've been gone that i'm not aware of what's actually been done under my successors and with v.a., i would hope the
progress has continued, but i must say just based on what i read in the newspapers and what i hear from various veterans as i go around the country, i worry that they don't see a lot of improvement. blumblum i think you worry -- senator blumenthal: i think you worry for good reason so i appreciate that you do not have the same kind of access or involvement but i think your instinct and your observations are well taken that in many ways there has been very little progress in the years since you've left. and i think that the institutional barriers to progress really have to be broken down and reformed. we hear about reform. as i think you have observed probably in this very room on repeated occasions, nothing more important as a resource than the men and women who serve with all the equipment and the organization at the end of the day it's really the
rewards and incentives that we provide to our military men and women and the transition to civilian life is part of what we owe them and afterward the education and skill training and health care that they need. from your -- from your last four years in the civilian world, do you have any observation about how well our schools are doing in accommodating the needs of our veterans? dr. gates: as in the public schools or higher education? senator blumenthal: higher education. dr. gates: higher education. so i have affiliations with several universities. i'm the chancellor at the college of william and mary. i was president at texas a&m so i get down there from time to time. we have a community college in
our local -- in our local town in washington state, and just , i g those three examples think that these -- i think many universities and community colleges over the past few years have made extraordinary strides in reaching out to veterans. all three of the institutions that i just described have space allocated for veterans organizations. a lounge where veterans can go and relax together on campus. programs to help veterans. ways to get veterans together to give mutual reinforcement so that men and women who've been in combat in iraq and afghanistan have somebody to talk to other than an 18-year-old that just graduated from high school. i have the sense -- i read in the papers about all the
scandals in terms of misuse of v.a. funds and so on, but i think in terms of some of the for-profit schools and so on, ut my experience and what i've heard anecdotally, i talk to various universities from the most elite universities to the biggest public universities, i have the sense that they're totally unlike vietnam. these campuses are bending over backward to make veterans welcome and to -- and to help make them successful. senator blumenthal: thank you. i say your observation, i think, also are aligned with mine an dotally, i don't have numbers or statistics but peer-to-peer relationship and veteran-to-veteran programs where veterans can provide relationships and crisis intervention i think are increasingly common. plus, the oasis program you
described where veterans can go and find other veterans increasingly common as well. so thank you for being here today. dr. gates: thank you. senator cotton: senator cruz. senator cruz: thank you, mr. chairman. secretary gates, welcome. thank you for being here. thank you for your many, many decades of distinguished service to our nation and also to my home state of texas. it's very good to see you. dr. gates: thank you. senator cruz: i want to start by talking with you about morale in the military, which is a concern that troubles me greatly. the military times did a survey in 2009. they asked soldiers whether the overall quality of life is good or excellent. in 2009, 91% of soldiers said yes. in 2014, that number had dropped from 91% to 56%. likewise, they ask whether senior military leadership had their best interest at heart.
in 2009, 53% of soldiers agreed with that statement. in 2014, that number dropped in half to roughly 27%. do you share my concerns about declining morale in the military? and if so, what do you see as the cause of these challenges? dr. gates: i don't have any statistics, but i do have the morale t there is a problem, and i think it is -- i think it's due to several things. first of all, i think it is due the substantial and growing cutbacks in the number of men and women in the military. so people in the military now are less confident that they will be allowed to remain in the military, that in the force
reductions they will be turned ut in essence, be fired. and particularly for those who have some years in and probably have families, concerns about what they will do if because of force downsizing they end up out in the civilian world again. i think there's a morale problem that derives from a lot of the budgetary uncertainty in the sense that as i suggested earlier, people who joined the military to fly airplanes, sail on ships or drive tanks are finding they don't have the same opportunities to do that anymore. that's the stuff that made it fun and that was one of the things that encouraged them to stay. so i think that these and the budgetary uncertainties and so on are all part of a challenge for our young men and women in uniform.
and then the final one that i mentioned just a few minutes ago and that is you go particularly the ground forces. you go from mostly young men who have been out in iraq and afghanistan and on these deployments, they have this great sense of camaraderie and brotherhood with their fellow soldiers and marines, they've been given a lot of opportunity to operate independently and in an entrepreneurial way and be innovative and so on and they're being brought back and put in cubicles and asked to do power points. so i think all those things together probably are having a real impact on morale. senator cruz: you know, in my view another factor that's contributing, in addition to everyone you just -- every one you just discussed, is having a commander in chief that fails to set clear objectives. in particular, an objective of indecisive ly
military conflicts that we are engaged. in your book "duty," you stated that president obama didn't appear to believe that his own strategy for afghanistan and the middle east would work. is that still a concern you share? dr. gates: well, what i wrote about and what concerned me was that my belief that if a commander in chief or a secretary of defense is going to send a young man or a young woman into harm's way, they need to be able to explain to that young person in uniform why that mission is important, hy the cause is noble and just why their sacrifice is worthwhile. and that was, i think, the
easiest way to put it, that was not a speech i heard the president give. enator cruz: sadly it was not. one final question. the budget request that you proposed in fiscal year 2012 called for $650 billion in the base budget for fiscal year 2016. that was the last pentagon budget that was directly derived from the threats we face. by any measure, the world i believe has become much more dangerous today than it was in 2012. do you agree with that assessment, and do you view billion line of $615 as a reasonable baseline given the growing threats in the world? dr. gates: i would say i've been out of this for four years
but i would say certainly the number of challenges that we face in a variety of places in the world are more complex and more difficult than when i put together that f.y. 2012 budget. i have seen several assessments by analytical groups that i respect that are nonpartisan that basically say that the congress and the administration should go back to that f.y. 2012 budget as a base for going forward. and i respect the views of those who say that and i therefore think that probably would be a good idea. senator cruz: thank you very much. senator cotton: mr. secretary, if you said at the beginning, the least sin share is mr. chairman, i'm ready for your questions. perhaps the least welcomed statement is i have a few more questions. just two, though. when we were talking earlier you said that theoretically you
think we would need to modernize our nuclear warheads, build new ones, maybe smaller, more versatile. that's a debate we can have. but practically you had the devil's own time of just modernizing the warheads that we had. why do you think that is? dr. gates: well, to be honest about it, there's a great deal of resistance both within the administration, this administration and here on the hill to allocating the funds for modernizing our nuclear enterprise. at a time when the -- sort of the political aspiration is to get rid of nuclear weapons, the -- it was seen as the u.s. trying to improve or enhance our nuclear capabilities. when in reality what we were proposing was not any additional nuclear weapons but
simply rather trying make the ones that we already have more reliable and safer than the very old designs that we have deployed today. it's a very expensive proposition but i actually allocated within the defense budget about $4.5 billion that would go to the nuclear enterprise at the department of energy. but at the end of the day it all fell apart but it was part of the deal actually that was made with the passage of the most recent strategic arms agreement, part of the deal that was made was that we would modernize a good bit of the nuclear enterprise in exchange for support of going with the newest arms control agreement. the trouble is to the best of my knowledge, and i say i've been gone four years, to the best of my knowledge there is no forward progress on that modernization effort. senator cotton: sint you pursued that effort given the
political head winds you think there are things more important than a safe, reliable nuclear deterrent for the president to have. dr. gates: there is nothing more important than that. senator cotton: the goldwater-nichols act improved the quality of strategy policy plans and military advice for civilian leaders. do you think the organization set up by goldwater-nichols provide you with the best possible ideas, options and advice while you were secretary of defense? dr. gates: i would say that the policy papers and the planning that i received both from the office -- from the undersecretary for policy under both president bush and president obama were first rate led -- that organization was led under president bush by eric edelman, by michelle under president obama. and i thought i got very high quality work from them. on the military side, i got very good planning and very good advice from the joint staff and from the combatant
commanders. i think that the one place where the gap between resources and strategy begins to diverge is every four years when we do the quadrennial defense review. and too often the quadrennial defense review, which is kind of what our strategy ought to be to implement what our military approach ought to be to implementing the president's national security strategy gets divorced from the budget realities. and therefore i think that reduces the value of the quadrennial defense review. and we did the one in 2010. we tried to bring those two back closer together, but we didn't entirely succeed. senator cotton: thank you. mr. secretary, thank you, snot just from me but on behalf of all my colleagues and the citizens we serve but most importantly the men and women of our armed forces who you led 4 1/2 years at war and whose lives you saved. this hearing is adjourned. dr. gates: thank you.
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you can watch the senate armed services committee hearing again anytime on our website c-span.org. we are leaving it now for live coverage of the house as they begin work on debt prevention and washington, d.c. school voucher bills. also, initial debate on a domestic minerals bill, and later this afternoon a bill providing a waiver for a medicare and medicaid program
that provides long-term care to persons 55 and older. live coverage on c-span. house republicans met earlier today. mr. boehner: today, the president has on his desk a bipartisan national defense authorization bill. the bill provides our troops with the resources they need to keep america safe. it meets the funding levels that the president requested. yet, the president has vowed to veto it. why? because he wants to stop and spend more money on his domestic agenda. it's time to put our troops first, it's time to stop playing political games. iranian terrorists soon are going to have access to billions of dollars as a result of the president's nuclear deal. it's no time to block funding for our troops in the critical mission that they have ahead.
mr. mccarthy: good morning, all. quickly give you a little snapshot we have this week. we have a lot of stuff going on. there are a couple bills i want to highlight. i want to highlight one of the bills the speaker has fought for his entire career. many of you have children and others. it's no longer what you become, it's the opportunity your children have. and there's one unique thing about america that every generation has improved on the generation before it -- that we care for those that maybe have less than us. an idea that you have a low-income student doesn't get held back, has the opportunity of a choice maybe to go to a private school that somebody else with income could. we used to have that in washington, d.c., something that the speaker had worked on. when the president came in he changed that. so we'll pass that bill this week. we'll also take up tom mcclintock's bill to make sure a default prevention act that we do not default on any of the
principal, our interest payments. we know we would never want to do that. there is one bill that you'll have the chairman come up from armed services, mac thornberry. this is a bipartisan bill. it's the national defense authorization act. it has a history of being bipartisan. the speaker did an enrollment assignment, sending it to the president. never in the history did we have a president say he wanted to veto something of this nature on something that's not in the bill. we should never get to the point in this country where we play politics with our troops. this deals with the future. it deals with the security. it also deals with the payment of how we treat them. i know there's problems in washington, but it should never get that low. i hope the president reconsiders. ms. mcmorris rogers: -- >> yesterday we sent president obama the national defense authorization agent. this bill was worked through
the committee process. chairman thornberry and so many others worked in a very bipartisan way to put together a bill that not only makes sure that our troops are properly funded, increases their way, makes sure that guantanamo bay inmates are not sent to america and given american rights, does so many other things to protect america's safety abroad where there's incredibly dangerous world. mr. scalise: actually gives real tools to our allies like the ukraine who want to push back against russia's aggression. this bill was a strong bipartisan bill that deserves the president's signature, not the threat of a politically charged veto. the president needs to reconsider his veto threat. do what's right for our troops and what's right for america's national security and sign this bill. we're also going to be voting later this week on the reconciliation legislation. this is a bill that we worked through going back to january when our members came together
and recognized that with a house and senate majority, we had the first time since 2002 to pass a budget that actually gets to balance but also to give us that tool of reconciliation which alaos us with 51 votes -- allows us with 51 votes in the senate to do that. we've come together in the house to bring a bill to the floor that actually dismantles obamacare and defunds planned parenthood, allowing us with 51 votes in the senate to send that bill to the president's desk. so i'm looking forward to a very strong vote in the house, would urge the senate to follow suit and go through their process and send that bill to the president's desk, a bill that really restrengthens the priorities of the american people, would help get our economy back on track and set some really good priorities for our country. ms. mcmorris rogers: this week the house and senate sent the defense bill, as you've heard, to the president's desk.
it was bipartisan and it is legislation that we pass every year to fund our military. this legislation is essential when it comes to providing a strong national defense that keeps us safe, that equips those that are in harm's way and also supports the families of those military service men and women. for the men and women at fairchild air force base in eastern washington as well as bases all around the world, our priorities should be to give them the equipment and the resources that they need. i also co-chair the military family caucus, and i hear regularly from military families concerns about whether they're going to be able to make ends meet at the end of the month and whether or not they're going to be able to juggle the demands when someone is deployed. when someone joins the military, it's not just a job. it is a -- >> you can watch the remainder of this g.o.p. meeting at
creerp.org. we leave now for live coverage of the house as they work on debt prevention and washington, d.c. school voucher bills. also, initial debate on domestic minerals bill. later this afternoon, a bill providing a waiver for a medicare and medicaid program that provides long-term care to persons 55 and older.