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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 21, 2016 10:00pm-12:01am EDT

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but a strong response to vladimir putin's aggression cannot come from america alone. with a flood of refugees pouring across its borders, nato has to step up. our nato allies not only need to reverse declining defense budgets and honor their pledge to reach the 2% target within a decade, they must also invest in critical military capabilities that further alliance interoperability. a strong nato is in america's national security interest. nowhere has that been clearer than in afghanistan. our allies have sacrificed blood and treasure fighting alongside us for 15 years. now the balance of our shared mission and indeed the fate of afghanistan hangs in the balance. the president has announced he intends to reduce u.s. forces in afghanistan from the current level of 9,800 to 5,500 by the end of the year. such reduction will have profound consequences, especially the end of the u.s. train, advise and assist mission and the highest levels of the afghan military. this is at the same time isil is now on the battlefield, al qaeda is resurgent, and the taliban is
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on the offensive. just this week, the taliban conducted a suicide bombing in kabul that killed over 60 people and wounded more than 300, most , of whom were civilians, including women and children. the 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 calendar base d withdrawal. the right answer is clear, but whatever his 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 force generation conference is in june, and the nato summit in warsaw is in july. at stake is whether nato forces will remain in western and northern afghanistan or whether those areas will be ceded to the influence of iran or criminal drug rings. have no doubt, nato will follow america's lead on troops in afghanistan.
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it's up to the president of the united states to show that leadership. general robinson, the committee looks forward to hearing your assessment of the threats the u.s. homeland that it is tasked to defend, especially the development of advanced missiles capable of carrying nuclear payloads by russia, iran and north korea. we'll be interested to hear your views on the importance of the u.s., mexico security relationship. heroin, largely produced in mexico, continues to ravage communities across our nation and demands a renewed effort to combat this scourge, both in our streets and at its source. we must reckon with the fundamental truth, that the real driver of drug trafficking is demand for drugs here at home. and 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 southcomm commander
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general john kelly recently testified about our southern border, and i quote, the border is, if not wide open, then certainly 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 d.h.s. along the border. during a recent visit i made in sierra visa, arizona, i observed the army conducting training missions with the u.a.v. fleet. despite the aircrews flying along the u.s., mexico border, the training missions were not being coordinated with the department of homeland security to surveil the border for drug trafficking activities. this is unacceptable. not only does military training in areas along the border benefit military readiness by providing realistic training in a real world operationally relevant environment it can
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also provide a vital secondary benefit to d.h.s. counterdrug and border security operations by increasing situational awareness. d.o.d. and d.h.s. should be working to ensure training missions for u.a.v. squadrons, ground sensor platoons and other units are fully integrated. general robinson, i look forward to hearing your views on how northcomm can contribute to enhancing interagency cooperation along our borders. senator reed. senator reed: i want to thank both of them for their extraordinary service to the nation and recognize your families that served along with you. i've had the privilege of knowing cindy scaparrotti for a number of years. thank you, cindy. general robinson, your father , george, was a career pilot. and your husband was born in woonsocket, rhode island, so you already got some momentum behind your nomination. thank you.
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the nominees who before us today have impressive records. general scaparrotti is commander of the united nations command, united states force career. previously served as director of the joint staff commander. international security assistance force. on and on. including command of the 82nd airborne division. thank you, sir. general robinson has been commander now of the air component of the u.s. pacific command. she has been vice commander of air combat command and a list of other important assignments so thank you. general scaparrotti, if confirmed you'll be command of the european command and nato's allied commander. you'll be asked to consider a diverse array of challenges in the u.n. security environment, including flows emanating from the conflicts in the middle east, north africa, the ongoing refugee crisis and the potential destabilizing effects and , aggressive behavior in russia, which the chairman has very accurately and thoughtfully pointed out.
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you will oversee the shifts in those efforts in europe. along with our nato partners, we will be adding investments to deter further russian activities. the committee looks forward to your views on these and other complex issues. you'll also continue the important work that ucomm is doing with the ukrainian government to strengthen ukraine's capacity to defend itself. the committee would benefit again from your views in this regard. and general robinson, if confirmed, your responsibilities will comprise of defending the homeland which ultimately is the most important mission we have. including against such threats as cruise and ballistic missiles. you will have to support civilian authorities in this mission. not only in terms of potential conflict, but also natural disasters which affect the country. and you'll have to maintain close security operation ties
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with our neighbors, again, as the chairman pointed out, mexico in particular. and you will also be commander of norad. binational command with canada which is a mission to provide aerospace warning, control and maritime warning at a time when the arctic is becoming a rapidly another area of operational activities for the russians and for ourselves and for many others. we look forward to hearing your views on all of these issues. thank you, mr. chairman. mr. mccain: as is the custom of this committee, we need to ask some formal questions for the witnesses and just respond by yes or no if you choose to. in order to exercise its legislative and oversight responsibilities important to this committee and other appropriate committees of the congress are able to receive testimony, briefings and other communications of information. have you adhered to applicable laws and regulations governing conflicts of interest?
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>> i have. mr. mccain do you agree when : asked to give your personal views even if these views differ from the administration in power? >> yes. mr. mccain: have you assumed any duties or undertaken any actions which would appear to presume the outcome of the confirmation process? >> no. mr. mccain will you ensure your : staff complies with deadlines established for requested communications, including questions for the record and hearings? >> yes. mr. mccain will you corporate in : and give witnesses and briefings in response to congressional requests? >> yes. mr. mccain will those witnesses : be protected from reprisal for their testimony or briefings? >> yes. mr. mccain do you agree to come : to this committee? >> yes. mr. mccain do you agree to : provide documents, including copy of electronic forms of communications in a timely manner when requested or to -- requested by a duly constituted committee or to consult with a committee regarding the basis for any good faith delay or denial in providing such documents? >> yes.
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mr. mccain general robinson, we : will begin with you. welcome. ms. robinson: thank you, sir. good morning. i am honored to meet with you today as the president's nominee to be commander of the united states northern command and north american aerospace defense command. i'd like to thank president obama for nominating me as well as the secretaries for the trust they've placed in me. it's my privilege to be sitting next to my dear friend and --league, kurtz karate, -- colleague, 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 for his outstanding leadership in 39 years of dedicated service to our nation. if confirmed, it would be a tremendous honor to build on his efforts in this extremely important position. i'd like to introduce my father, george howard, from jackson, new hampshire, a 30-year air force veteran and rf-4 pilot. he also flew in vietnam.
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i've looked up to him my entire life. mr. mccain: i take it that his landings match the number of takeoffs. ms. robinson: sir, he's here. [laughter] also my amazing sister, carol. an incredible nurse, mother, and wife. my full of energy niece and her husband is here. megan works here on the hill. and finally, the love of my life, my husband david. a retired two-star reservist, fighter pilot, thunderbird pilot and a 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 threat 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 reats from within and abroad, ranging from threats such as homegrown violent extremists, cyberattack, trafficking of drugs and other illicit products by transnational criminal organizations, two, threats posed by nation states such as
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russia, north korea and iran. in my experiences, the pacific air force's commander and the air component for admiral harris, i'm intimately aware of the tenuous situation on the peninsula and throughout the region. and understand the potential threats posed to the security of our homeland. defense of the homeland is a sacred responsibility and the number one mission of the department of defense. if confirmed, i will work passionately to uphold the faith of the american people have placed in these commands and ensure that we remain vigilant and postured to outpace any potential threat. if confirmed i will also continue to develop strong relationships with our homeland partners so that we are 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.
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if confirmed i look forward to working this committee, to address the many challenges we face to defend our homeland and to provide defense support to civil authorities. i look forward to providing the committee with my candid views on issues and challenges and pledge to provide you my best military advise. i seek to establish a trusted relationship with each member of this committee. in closing i'd like to thank the , members of the committee and your staff for the unyielding support you provide the men and women in uniform and civilian service who protect our nation. these patriots are 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. thank you again for the opportunity to be here and for the committee's consideration. i look forward to your questions. mr. mccain: thank you. welcome to your family. general. mr. scaparrotti: distinguished members, i thank you for the
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opportunity to appear here today and also want to thank you for the support you provided to our service members, our department of defense civilians, and their families who selflessly serve in the defense of our great nation and in the defense of our way of life. i would also like to thank the secretary of defense and the president for their trust and confidence and for nominating me to be the next commander of the united states european command and supreme island commander. in particular, i would like to introduce and thank my wife, cindy, who is here with me today. she's been by my side for 37 years and has been an essential part of my service. cindy has supported me during multiple deployments, cared actively for our service members and families and raised our children, mike and stephanie. like so many other military families, they have given ch so that we can serve. i'd also like to extend my sincere thanks to the republic of korea and the united nations command contributing states for their steadfast cooperation and support in confronting a serious global threat in north korea.
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without that, my experience leading and working in this great alliance in the midst of critical security concerns have prepared me for this next command, if confirmed. finally, i would be remiss not to acknowledge the general's leadership as the present commander. his excellent leadership has been critical in meeting the many challenges in nato and europe and posturing force for the future. america's closest allies reside in europe and uphold our shared democratic values. additionally, transatlantic trade with europe constitutes over half the world's g.d.p. if confirmed, i will work diligently to preserve the transatlantic alliance and these vital american and allied interests. this is a pivotal moment within the european command area of responsibility. as it faces numerous threats and strategic challenges. first, the resurgent russia is contesting power with increasingly aggressive behavior that challenges the international norms, often in
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violation of international law. furthermore, terrorism poses an immediate threat as the world witnessed with recent tragedies in brussels, paris and ankara. third, the significant influx of my grants and refugees has resulted in economic, demographic and humanitarian crises that are testing the social fabric of europe. and finally, israel continues to confront threats from iran and from extremists within and along its borders. a common thread among these threats is the attempt to weaken our nato alliance and partnerships. i'm confident our unity will prevail. if confirmed, i will do all that i can to leverage the full spectrum of military, political and economic capabilities of our alliance to address these critical concerns. if confirmed, i look forward to working closely with this committee, with congress, with our civilian and military leadership and with our european allies to advance our national
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interests, defend the united states and ensure a free and prosperous europe. if confirmed, i commit to service members and d.o.d. personnel that i will do all that i can to ensure their readiness for the mission and to provide the support that they and their families deserve. i look forward to working with this committee and with 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's a great senior leader and friend who has supported me and our forces to maintain the security of the republic of korea. i thank the committee again for the opportunity to appear today and i look forward to your questions. mr. mccain: thank you. general robinson, senator shaheen and ayotte who are here today will talk to you more at length about this issue of the epidemic of manufactured heroin that is an emergency in their state and in other states, incidents of drug manufactured heroin, drug overdoses is in the view of some an epidemic. and that means that obviously our border is the transit point
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for much of this manufactured heroin from mexico. i was stunned down they were flying u.a.v.'s but not 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 -- this whole challenge about this manufactured heroin that's coming across our border and killing americans in larger numbers, to the point where i believe the governor of new hampshire said it's an epidemic. is that correct? so we've got to do a lot more on the border. and we all understand, we're not seeking military action on the part of our armed services.
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but we -- 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 which is killing so many americans. ms. robinson: i commit to you that i will do that and i'll 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. i will send you a written statement. mr. mccain: i'd be glad to escort you. ms. robinson: i'd be honored. mr. mccain: thank you for your great work in korea. we are proud of what you have done and we have every confidence in you, in your new assignment. there's a nato force generation conference in june, nato settlement in warsaw in july. shouldn't we make a decision as to what our troops' strength level should be before those two
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conferences? mr. scaparrotti: 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. mr. mccain: in afghanistan today, i refer to 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 taliban that the fighting season has begun. mr. scaparrotti: 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. mr. mccain: i thank you for that. so, if we go down to 5,500, as
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is the present plan, will there be no coalition presence in certain areas? mr. scaparrotti: 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 those critical areas, in the north and in the west, that provide assistance and training to both the army corps headquarters and the afghan national police are very important. mr. mccain: who are the most senior officers in our military testified russia is the greatest threat to america. do you agree? mr. scaparrotti: i do agree. mr. mccain: a "new york times" story this morning, a threat in the north atlantic. are you concerned about sea lines of communications in the atlantic and suez? mr. scaparrotti: i am concerned. mr. mccain: russian fighters made passes inside of 50 feet up.
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heard my opening statement. what should be our response to this gross violation of international law? mr. scaparrotti: i believe that from a military perspective we should sail and fly wherever we're allowed to by international law and we should be strong, clear an consistent in our message in that regard -- and consistent in our message in that regard. mr. mccain: 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 onboard navy ships in danger that we will take appropriate action? mr. scaparrotti: i believe that should be known, yes. mr. mccain: i thank you. a general said in march that less than 10% of ucom's intelligence requirements are being met. if russia is our greatest threat, does that make any sense? mr. scaparrotti: sir, the actual
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allocation of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance assets is a complex one. compared to looking at what's 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. mr. mccain: 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 in 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. mr. reed: thank you, mr. chairman. let me begin by seconding the point that the chairman made that the decision with respect to force structure in afghanistan should be made soon.
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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. but that's a view i think you and general nicholson will consider and make a recommendation to the president. the issue of russia is obviously central. 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 hope, aggression or designs on other free nations in the area. your assessment of ukraine right now, what we can do, what we
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should do, what we're not doing? mr. scaparrotti: well, senator, as you know, we've provided both training and assistance in a defensive means to ukraine at this point. -- part. we supported also our allies in doing the same. if confirmed, it will be, you know, 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 their territorial integrity. and that we ought to continue building partnership capacity, to help them do that on their own. mr. reed: i think one of the other aspects you're going to confront, there's so many, the chairman touched on many of them, is this evolving hybrid warfare, which is a combination of initial cyber activities from undisclosed or at least difficult to determine sources, together with irregular forces, together with obviously conventional weaponry and over horizons certainly, traditional
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military forces. i presume that as you enter your responsibilities you're going to be able to -- or begin to retool, if you will, nato to be not only capable but superior in this warfare? mr. scaparrotti: yes, i will. i think 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. mr. reed: thank you. general robinson, again, you have many responsibilities. one is you are responsible for the operation on the ground, midcourse defense, national missile defense effort. an admiral was testifying recently very thoughtfully about the need to fly before you buy. to test these vehicles. not simply to put them up and hope they work. also to invest in additional
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capabilities to discern targets and the concentration being at least initially on the west coast. is that something that you would support? ms. robinson: yes, senator, i would support his priorities. mr. reed: thank you very much. the other issue too, and it goes to so much of what you do, is a coordination with other federal agencies. particularly the department of homeland security. one of the issues we all face will be this trying to unwind sequestration. but the effect i would presume on your mission would be very difficult if not only d.o.d. but d.h.s. was not released from the binds of sequestration, is that correct? ms. robinson: sir, obviously i appreciate the committee's bipartisan act in having us be able to have a consistent budget. the effects of sequestration would be, if it came back, especially on the department for
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readiness and across the board, would be concerning. mr. reed: one other of your responsibilities is the advanced warning and the readiness to protect ourselves from any type of missile. either high altitude or low altitude. can you give us any notion of your sense of norad's activities and what you intend to do to ensure that they can protect us? ms. robinson: sir, as we defend with our canadian partners to the north, i would go and continue to understand, if confirmed, where they are and what technologies and things we're thinking to the future, so that we can ensure both air and maritime warning to defend the homeland. mr. reed: thank you. thank you very much, mr. chairman. ms. ernst: thanks to both of you for being here as well. i want to thank your families.
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for joining you. and being supportive. and we appreciate your achievements as well. thank you for joining us today. general scaparrotti, i am glad to see an enhanced effort with e.r.i. in the president's budget request. as i do believe russia's one of the greatest existential threats to our nation. but i am concerned that rotating an armored brigade combat 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. furthermore, as you know, the national committee on the future of the army has suggested and made the recommendation that we include a forward armored b.c.t. in europe and i would like to know from you if you believe that rotating an armored brigade
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combat team through europe is the right level of commitment or do you believe that we should have one permanently stationed there? what are your thoughts on that? mr. scaparrotti: i understand the services' challenges in light of today's resources, to provide a permanently stationed brigade at this time. but i personally believe a permanently stationed armor brigade in europe would be best. ms. ernst: ok. we have heard some 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. i admire him. i think he's on to something there. i am concerned that turkey could do more to help stop the flow of
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refugees to europe. and as you know 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 nato partner, and to plan and conduct attacks in europe, as well as in iraq and syria. so, i'd like your take on if you think turkey is doing enough to stem that flow and cut those lines of communication, to refugees and terrorists and to europe, and can turkey do more and if so, what do you believe they should be doing? mr. scaparrotti: 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, they've encountered the escalation personally. counterterrorism, the isil threat, syria, and the refugee challenge that you talked about.
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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. ms. ernst: thank you, general. 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 capabilities provided ucom. and if you are confirmed, then can you commit to me that you will look into whether or not naming operation atlantic
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resolve as an actual named operation through the joint staff would allow ucom to more effectively reassure our allies and deter russian aggression? in the near and long term? mr. scaparrotti: yes, i can commit to that. ms. ernst: can you also commit to me that if confirm will you provide feedback to us whether or not the national guard state partnership program, another one of my favorite programs, could be expanded to more nations in the ucom a.o.r. to enhance our partnership between the u.s. and our european allies? mr. scaparrotti: yes, senator, i'm a great supporter of the national guard program. and i will report back to you on that. ms. ernst: thank you very much. finally, general scaparrotti, do you think russia's use of hybrid tactics is making our life more challenging, especially through nato? very briefly. i am running out of time. mr. scaparrotti: yes. they purposely keep it below the threshold we would consider conflict. ms. ernst: absolutely. thank you.
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ms. shaheen: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to 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" most 100 influential people in the world. ms. shaheen: being named to the -- we are proud of you in new hampshire because of your being named to the list. but mostly because you're a graduate of the university of new hampshire. so congratulations. 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
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the homeland right now? ms. robinson: as we talk -- 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. so those would be things that, if confirmed, that i would continue to track closely. ms. shaheen: 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 c.b.p. agents about drugs coming across the southern border, they said those drugs are going up interstate 35 to the middle of the country and interstate 95 to new england. 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 northcom can do to address that heroin epidemic?
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ms. robinson: yes, ma'am. the epidemic is absolutely heart wrenching. if confirmed i know northcom , will support federal agencies to provide capabilities to support the drug problem. to take a look and see if we can partner and look at that. to take a look at where we can partner. so those would be a couple of things that early on i would be looking at if confirmed. ms. shaheen: thank you. general scaparrotti, i just want to make sure i understood how you responded to senator ernst. you said that you do believe it would be preferable to permanently station troops in eastern europe. did i understand that correctly? mr. scaparrotti: senator, if confirmed i've got to look at the services situation. i understand, you know, i
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request, if confirmed i would request a force-like brigade and they determine how that's provided. i think if i had the option of that or rotational brigade, i'd prefer a permanently stationed brigade. ms. shaheen: i've had chance to -- a chance to visit with officials from the baltics and from eastern europe and clearly they're very anxious to see a very strong united states and nato presence on the eastern border. so can you talk a little bit about why you think a permanent brigade would be preferable to what we're currently considering with respect to rotating troops in and out? mr. scaparrotti: i think a permanent brigade, i'm assuming in europe that we have the facilities that we could readily station those, care for families, etc., but a permanent brigade gives you a brigade that establishes relationships with the supporting elements of all forces from the united states, as well as a more permanent relationship and a lasting relationship with all of our allies, that they work with day to day.
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that can be done over time. better than a rotational force can potentially do it. it also develops 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 and relationship building. and obviously a trained brigade with really less turbulence in terms of you can establish their families are with them. ms. shaheen: thanks, i appreciate. that my time is almost over. but as 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 migration crisis. can you talk about what else ucom can do to help reassure the
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europeans and help work with them to encourage stability there? mr. scaparrotti: senator, i think that ucom is on the right track. the general has emphasized a very close relationship, collaboration, developing better information and intelligence sharing, close partnerships with our allies, where we assist each other in building capacity, building interoperability. and the exercise of forces in training. finally, he's begun the proper planning that will reflect the change in the environment there that's taken place in the last two years. i think if confirmed i'll continue all of those things. ms. shaheen: thank you. thank you very much. mr. wicker: in an interview this month, secretary general stultenberg, nato secretary general, said that nato has to be ready to deploy forces and to
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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 assertion of the capability of nato forces to do so? mr. scaparrotti: i think, first of all, that the purpose of the alliance is to provide a collected defense within europe. and to do that today it has to be agile in its movement of forces. so i agree that it has to be able to deploy forces throughout europe. both to what is commonly seen today 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, etc. i think nato is in a position today where we have capability,
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obviously since the wales summit, the purpose has been to develop those capabilities, because we have realized that there has to be change in order to meet the new environment that we see in europe today. mr. wicker: we're not completely ready to meet that new environment as a nato alliance, are we? mr. scaparrotti: no, we're not. mr. wicker: he also 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? mr. scaparrotti: 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, democratic afghanistan that's no longer a safe haven. mr. wicker: he said, we've been able to build a national unity government. do you agree with that?
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mr. scaparrotti: there is a national unity government. i believe personally there's much work to do there as well. mr. wicker: he said, we've been able to build an afghan national army and security forces of 350,000 soldiers and personnel. mr. scaparrotti: yes. 350,000 have 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. mr. wicker: and he said, we've enabled them to take over the security in afghanistan themselves. to what extent do you agree with that statement and is that another area where there's work to be done? mr. scaparrotti: senator, they are responsibility for the security of their nation now. -- responsible for the security of their nation now. there's much work to do. particularly when it comes to enablers, c-2 and logistics. and it's important that we continue that assistance to develop that capability.
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mr. wicker: 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 that correct? mr. scaparrotti: yes. mr. wicker: and chairman mccain and senator reed have touched on this, in their statements and questions, do we risk losing these accomplishments by a further drawdown in american troops in afghanistan? mr. scaparrotti: 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. mr. wicker: 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 many accomplishments, does it make
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any sense for us to risk that by drawing down troops? mr. scaparrotti: senator, given my experience there, all of the sacrifices that we've made to realize our objectives, i think that we need to keep those objectives in mind and work hard to achieve them. any drawdown should be set on conditions to achieve our end states. mr. wicker: we want to work with you on that and it just seems to me that we risk tossing away hard-fought and hard-won gains. so thank you very much. i look forward to your service. mr. donnelly: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank both of the witnesses and your families for all your sacrifice.
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general robinson, i want to recommend you to a book to read in your new job. it's called "dreamland." it's about the heroin epidemic that's not only sweeping our country, but in particular this focuses a lot on ohio. and my home state of indiana is right next door. i just want to tell you a little story. we have a small county in southern indiana, scott county, and a small town there, austin. 4,200 people. in a town of 4,200 people, you have 190 h.i.v. cases that came from dirty needles that were passed around while using prescription drugs. this epidemic has basically hollowed out and destroyed all of these families. and it starts with the prescription drugs.
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and then it goes to the heroin. the black tar heroin that comes across from mexico. and this book helps to describe how destructive it is of these towns, and of these families. we have a small -- my hometown, we lost a 20-year-old and a 19-year-old young man, just from one of these parties that they were at. going to be a sophomore at i.u., going to be a 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 point person in stopping this effort. ms. robinson: thank you for that advice. i commit to you that i will read "dreamland," independent of being confirmed. mr. donnelly: it's heartbreaking. ms. robinson: yes, sir.
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it's heart wrenching. as the senator mentioned, the epidemic that's happening in new hampshire, in my state of residence. i commit to you that i will do everything to understand it and to work with d.h.s. to do just what you've asked. mr. donnelly: we see -- more than auto crashes now, more than car crashes, automobile-related deaths, heroin 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's so much black tar heroin coming across from mexico. ms. robinson: i agree with you too. not only the heart wrenching deaths, but as you mentioned what it does to families. , yes, sir. mr. donnelly: thank you. general scaparrotti, it was a privilege to be with you in
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korea, and you did such an extraordinary job there. the one thing you talked about, afghanistan, and the number 5,500 has been mentioned in , afghanistan. -- mentioned by the chairman. the last thing i would like to see, and i know you would too all the efforts for so many , years, just kind of be thrown away because of a number. as opposed to what conditions require. i know you said it will be conditions-based. we want to make sure you give us your absolutely 100% unvarnished opinion of what actually needs to be done there. as you take a look at it. mr. scaparrotti: i absolutely commit to you that if confirmed i'll do just that. mr. donnelly: thank you very much. as we looked at what just happened with the russians recently, you know, doing a barrel roll over one of our ships there. or over one of our planes there.
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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. mr. scaparrotti: senator, i think it's important that we're, as i said, strong, clear and consistent with them. and we should engage in and make clear what's acceptable operations of both of our forces in close proximity. i think once we make that known we have to enforce it. mr. donnelly: 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're going to be significantly involved in providing answers for that and in making sure we're safe. ms. robinson: yes, sir. the north korean threat is real. right now it's medium range. but they're trying very hard to
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be able to hit 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. mr. donnelly: thank you both very, very much for your service. thank you, mr. chairman. ms. ayotte: thank you, chairman. i want to thank both of you for your distinguished service to the country. and i have to say, general robinson, i echo senator shaheen's comments. we're so very proud of you in new hampshire as an u.n.h. 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. i wanted to ask you, in the meeting that we had in my office, one of the issues we talked about was your responsibility for the southern border. as a commander of northcom.
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is this idea of the 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. and as we think about this heroin and also fentanyl issue, which a very synthetic drug that's really killing people in new hampshire, i got an amendment in that focuses on cooperation with the israelis because they have the tunnel issue with hamas and hezbollah. and admiral gortney had said that was a very helpful, cooperative effort. i would like to ask you, as you go to the southern border, will you look at this tunnel issue too and how we can develop better technologies to ensure we are looking at not only how they're transporting the heroin and fentanyl over in traditional ways, but also building these tunnels? ms. robinson: yes, i will do that. i saw the article this morning
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and it did remind me of the conversation we had about israel and the technologies that they had. as we discussed yesterday, when i understood that, it peaked my interest. two things, i will go down and look, understand the tunnels, see what they look like, understand the technologies we have and the things that israel is teaching us what they've learned. ms. ayotte: terrific. in terms of the fentanyl issue, this is a synthetic that's almost 50 times more powerful than heroin and it's being manufactured in mexico. if you look at new hampshire had last year 430 drug deaths. actually 160 of them are attributed to fentanyl. in your role in addressing not only the border but in dealing with mexico, what i'd like you to focus on is talking to the mexican government and these military to military relationships of how we can have
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them step up more on this interdiction issue. ms. robinson: yes, ma'am. early on i do want to meet with my military count parts, understand what they are and also provide an assessment as i mentioned to the chairman, back to the committee of where i understand there and what we need together more, to support them. ms. ayotte: terrific. thank you. general scaparrotti, want to thank you for your service in afghanistan and i would like to ask you, if confirmed for this important position, one of your roles, not only serving as european commander, will you also serve as the supreme allied commander of europe. and recently we met with the nato secretary general. the committee did. 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 so do you agree with the secretary general, that we should seek to get nato more involved? the train, advise and assist mission?
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obviously we all have a part in defeating isis, given the threats that this group presents to not only the united states of america, but also europe with the recent attacks there. mr. scaparrotti: senator, if confirmed i'll obviously discuss that with the secretary general. it's a matter of policy within nato. but to give my personal opinion, i think we have very strong and capable allies and the more allies 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. ms. ayotte: terrific. thank you. in terms of the russian threat. one of the issues -- there was a recent article i think yesterday that talked about russian attack submarines that i believe the chairman briefly touched on. that are prowling the coast line of scandinavia, scotland and the mediterranean sea in the north atlantic. i wanted to ask but the importance of our attack
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submarine fleet. in terms of having the capacity with this russian threat, but also obviously we know that the chinese are another issue in the south pacific. but yet our requirements for attack submarines, we're not keeping up with pace the what we see the russians doing. how important of an asset is this in terms of combating the russians and what they're doing right now? mr. scaparrotti: i believe that it's critical. we presently have dominance undersea. i don't believe we should pace it. we should maintain that dominance. it's critical to our security. ms. ayotte: great. i want to thank you both for your leadership and distinguished service and especially your families as well. we appreciate it. ms. hirono: thank you very much. i echo the sentiments of the members of this committee and thank you, general scaparrotti and general robinson, for your
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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 years of service in hawaii and leading the pacific air forces and of course we're very proud of you as being one of the 100 most influential people in the world. general robinson, in response at that to a question, you noted that one of the biggest concerns you have is with homegrown violent extremists. if confirmed, what would be the kind of steps or the steps that would you take to protect our country against homegrown violent extremists? a concern i share with you. ms. robinson: one of the things that's incredibly important in that is sharing of intelligence across all the agencies. so it would be important to understand that intelligence to share and support d.h.s. and federal law enforcement agencies as we watch that. it's a very difficult threat to find and pay attention to.
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ms. hirono: so, any other steps that you would take -- ms. robinson: 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 the defense of the homeland, that's one of the things that i will start looking. there are other things that northcom can do in support of all the interagency and the whole of government approach. ms. hirono: and i think that when you're dealing in this area, the state and local law enforcement communities, as well as the larger communities, civilian communities, have to be brought in. ms. robinson: yes, ma'am. and supporting them. yes, ma'am. ms. hirono: i would want to continue working with you on addressing those issues. ms. robinson: yes, ma'am. ms. hirono: general scaparrotti, the capabilities of the european phase adaptive approach or epaa, deepen our missile defense partnerships and assurances with nato. what do you assess are the benefits of the epaa and how
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does it project strength to our allies? and of course our strength to our adversaries? mr. scaparrotti: we have globally, particularly in europe, a serious threat from ballistic missiles. 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 i think the an important contribution then to our allie'' defense systems and we should work for a layered, interoperable defense of europe. i believe it's the appropriate step to get that done. ms. hirono: thank you. for general robinson, the admiral mentioned in our last northcom hearing that china is in the process of operationalizing its first viable class of ballistic missile submarines.
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you were asked some questions relating to what russia is doing. but china is moving in this direction. he testified that if they were successful, they would be china's first sea-based strategic nuclear deterrent. and in previous hearings, the submarine capabilities of our country have been highlighted as one of our country's most valuable assets. what are the implications 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? ms. robinson: yes, ma'am. china continues to evolve their capabilities and they continue to be able to range further and further. so the more that they can range, then the more it becomes a threat to the homeland. both hawaii, guam and then, if capable, further here to the homeland. ms. hirono: do we need more submarines? ms. robinson: they are our
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asymmetric advantage and they're an advantage in the pacific as we speak. ms. hirono: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. mr. graham: thank you. i thank both of you. general scaparrotti, some say in america that we need to get out of nato or limit our participation. what's your response? >> turn your microphone on senator graham. , mr. graham: it's on. mr. scaparrotti: i think you asked that some who said that either we need more participation or payment into nato -- mr. graham: we need to get out of nato. that it's obsolete. mr. scaparrotti: i personally believe that nato's critical to our interests and our defense. mr. graham: in 30 seconds, why? mr. scaparrotti: we have very close ties, their our longest allies and we have one of our
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-- we had 50% of the gdp that goes through their one of our , most important markets that go through there. mr. graham: you agree that other countries should contribute more to nato's overall budget? mr. scaparrotti: yes. mr. graham: do you believe russia is trying to fracture europe? mr. scaparrotti: do i. mr. graham: do you believe that putin would be love nothing more than the united states to withdraw from nato? mr. scaparrotti: yes. mr. graham: do you believe that everybody in the baltics, it would be a very dark day for them if america withdrew from nato? mr. scaparrotti: yes, sir. mr. graham: putin would be the biggest beneficiary of a breakup of nato? mr. scaparrotti: yes. i believe he is deliberately trying to -- mr. graham: do you think the taliban would benefit from the breakup of nato? mr. scaparrotti: yes, sir. mr. graham: all right. if the president goes down to 5,500 u.s. forces in afghanistan, do you believe nato countries will responds in kind
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-- respond in kind by reducing their commitment? mr. scaparrotti: sir, i think given my experience there, they most likely follow our lead. mr. graham: have you known of one country to get to our right when it comes to afghanistan? mr. scaparrotti: no, sir. mr. graham: do you agree with me that any withdrawal in afghanistan should be conditions-based? mr. scaparrotti: yes. mr. graham: i just want to say for the record, to the president, you ignored sound military advice when it came to iraq, to keep up the 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 qaddafi was taken down by his people. along with nato's help. please don't repeat these mistakes by reducing our forces in afghanistan, because you'll get the same result, probably worse. that's just my editorial comment.
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in terms of budgets. if we go back into sequestration mode, general, what would it mean to our presence in europe? mr. scaparrotti: it would have an immediate impact on the forces that we have there today. and i believe 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 it should fail. mr. graham: would it be an encouraging sign to russia that we're less committed to europe? mr. scaparrotti: it would. mr. graham: general robinson, what would sequestration do to your ability to defend the nation's homeland? ms. robinson: it would definitely affect the readiness of the force and our ability to invest in capabilities to defend the homeland. mr. graham: can you give me examples what have we would lose in terms of capabilities? ms. robinson: depending upon where we are with sensor development, or hit to kill development, those would be two capabilities.
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mr. graham: is the threat to homeland declining or increasing? ms. robinson: the threat to the homeland is increasing. mr. graham: is the threat to our partners in europe and to our interests in europe declining or increasing? mr. scaparrotti: increasing, sir. mr. graham: can you think of a worst time for the american congress to cut the military's budget to historic lows? given your time in service? mr. scaparrotti: no, sir. this is the most challenging time i've seen and we need to reinforce our capabilities. mr. graham: do you agree with that? ms. robinson: i do. mr. graham: thank you. thank you both for your service. mr. king: thank you, mr. chairman. meteoric rise. [laughter] 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,
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that's going to be so important in europe. it would be a grave mistake in my view to not maintain a level of force in afghanistan that's necessary to support the afghan security forces. and the problem is this decision has to be made reasonably soon because we're not going to go from 9,800 to 5,500 in a couple of days at the end of the year. the process has to start this summer. and i think it would be a mistake, particularly given the taliban served notice in the last few days that they don't view this struggle as over by any matter of means. 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, just want to associate
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myself with the comments that were made about the border. and the 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 militarize the border, but to the extent we can coordinate better, utilize the resources that will you have, general, in your capabilities, to work with our civilian authorities, that's i think a very, 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 indigenous people, some russian troops, not necessarily identifications, we're not
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talking about armies and tanks coming across the border in a conventional way. are we developing a strategy and a 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. mr. scaparrotti: yes, senator, i know from personal experience that ucom, socom as well as the other coms have gathered and we're studying hybrid warfare. it presents a problem because it's actually 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? general: it challenges the norms and the authorities that our forces have in order to react. so we are working on how best to handle this, the authorities,
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the doctrine that we need in order to -- and the capabilities in order to deal with this type of conflict. mr. king: let me ask a question of both of you. the chairman of the joint chiefs recently mentioned that he would like to see an update to goldwater nichols to account for the realtime need for the co-coms to be in communication with the president in the case of an emergency. we've been talking a lot about goldwater nichols throughout this year, in preparation for our national defense acts coming up. what is your thought -- what are your thoughts about the cocom with the chain of command, what do you see as the potential improvements to the goldwater-nichols organizational structure? general? i guess general applies to both of you. mr. scaparrotti: goldwater nichols has produced the officer
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i am today and the force we have today that works well as a joint force. however, i do believe that 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's a need for the change. i report to the secretary of defense, and if i'll report to the secretary of defense and the president. but i think what we need in this environment is we also, and i think what general dunford was suggesting, is we need the ability to have agility in our decision making and deployment of assets. very few of these challenges today are limited to one cocom. there are multiregional, multifunctional, multidomain and challenge the structure we have today and our ability to be as agile as our challenges or adversaries are. mr. king: we have to be sure
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that our organizational structure allows our agility? mr. scaparrotti: yes. mr. king: general robinson? general robinson: i agree. the landscape has changed. the most important thing of all of this is the agility and ability to work with each other. mr. king: my time is up. i hope you'll supply your thoughts, perhaps in writing, after the hearing because this is a topic of active consideration by the committee and having people of your experience and wisdom would be very helpful to us. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. mr. inhofe: the questions i was going to ask were asked by senator graham. i would ask you, general scaparrotti, in your memory, in your history , in your service, have you ever seen a time when this country is more threatened than they are today? mr. scaparrotti: no, sir, i haven't. mr. inhofe: general robinson, all you have to do is repeat the
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performance you gave us and you'll do a great job in this new position. i want to mention a few things to make sure, because i wasn't here until just now, to make sure they're in the record. first, due to the proliferation of technology, the number of countries possessing ballistic missile capability continues to increase, with countermeasure, greater range and accuracy. general mann testified last week, quote, nearly 30 countries possess ballistic missile capabilities with approximately 50 different variants of ballistic missiles and currently 13 new intermediate range and eight intercontinental ballistic missile ranges under development. since signing the iran deal, which was a disaster, iran has conducted at least three sets of tests on nuclear capability ballistic missiles. the latest test had, quote, israel should be wiped off the earth, end quote, inscribed and
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had a range of up to 1,250 miles. general vogel, centcom commander testified last month that iran has been more aggressive since the nuclear deal, i think we understand that. on 9 february, james clapper assessed, quote, that north korea has taken initial steps toward fielding 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 there is some confusion as to who is in charge of homeland security. do you think some of the changes should be made? ms. robinson: i know, if confirmed as commander of northcom, that i'd work closely with the interagency, the department of homeland defense , homeland security, if confirmed --
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mr. inhofe: so you'd be in constant contact. ms. robinson: yes, sir. constant coordination. mr. inhofe: in light of everything i said, are you confident in the intelligence we're getting on north korea's and iran's capability, ballistic missile capability? ms. robinson: given my recent experience, and time i have spent in the pacific and focused on north korea i'm confident and , comfortable with the intelligence we're getting. sir, i would have to come back to you about iran because i have not been focused there to give you an accurate answer, if confirmed. mr. inhofe: i've never been all that confident. it's a scary thing when we know all these things i mentioned, the statements i made, that's reality. that's today. general scaparrotti, let me ask you a question. i've been concerned for some time about the capabilities, a lot of our presence historically -- friends who have historically
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been by our side are now kind of in a position with russia due to the fact that they control, russia and iran between the two of them control the 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 national gas is 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 this, 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? mr. scaparrotti: we talked about the hybrid warfare 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 we can to relieve them of that dependence as a form of coercion.
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mr. inhofe: do you believe we should do everything we can? i believe 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? mr. scaparrotti: i haven't delved into this as a policy issue, but to me it's reasonable , that if we provide energy to them it would assist both them and us in our security. mr. kaine: some of my questions have been answered. one topic for each of you. general scaparrotti, mr. ernst talked to you about turkey. i want to get into a different question. they are an important nato ally but i'd like you to talk about , the complexities of dealing with turkey, given the internal politics of turkey, especially the kurds. kurds have been wonderful
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partners for the u.s. in the anti-isil mission in iraq, obviously and the kurdistan and iraq has traditionally had a pretty good relationship with turkey. but we've also found strong partners in the kurds in northern syria and that's created significant tensions with turkey. we can't abandon a strong anti-isil partner that has been very, very valiant as the kurds in northern syria have been, but by the same token, we need to manage the relationship with turkey so they'll step up on border control and help us in the anti-isil fight. how do you see your role in ucomm in trying to work with the turkish relationship so we can keep up the anti-isil fight, keep our partnership with the kurds alive and yet manage that important relationship with our nato ally? mr. scaparrotti: i think you outlined the challenges there very well. they are an important ally. if confirmed, i'll build a close relationship with their military
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leadership and with my intent, their civilian leadership as well. they look at counterterrorism and they look at the p.k.k. as the threat. we talk counterterrorism and primarily we think isil. it's those dynamics that both of us have to realize our interests and find areas that commonly we can work together. and i think 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. mr. kaine: you talked about goldwater-nichols, i'm interested in the seam between northcom and southcom and we talked about this in the talk about drug traffic, some of that starts in mexico, but some of it andinates in south america,
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through mexico. whether it's drug trafficking or human trafficking or the my rant flows driven by violence in central america, that border between mexico and the countries to the south is really important. talk a little bit about the kind of working relationship that you would hope to form with the admiral on that border between northcom and southcom? ms. robinson: me more we can -- the more we can push everything down towards that border, guatemala and belize, the less people will migrate across our southern border between us and mexico. the admiral and i are very good friends. if confirmed i know he and i will dialogue on a regular basis to work together to ensure 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
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their efforts with that southern border. mr. kaine: thank you very much. thank you mr. chairman. , >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's been a great confirmation hearing. i appreciate both of you all's service and general robinson, as your service of 34 years, i know you're a resident of new hampshire. i'm not rushing you to retire but when you do, i hope you'll , consider north carolina as a winter home. i lived in new hampshire, i guarantee the winters are better. but one quick question for you, the -- i want to go back, i sometimes think we lose sight of the fact of the number of victims that have been victims of narcoterrorism. mr. tillis: we're talking about the opioid epidemic but we have to recognize that hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives because of the activities between south, and north,. outhcom and northcom.
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i'm not going to go become and cover the landscape except to say it would be helpful for us to shed light on it. 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 interdict as many as we could. first, do you agree with that? and what kinds of things can we do to step up our game there, not at the expense of other important priorities but this is a critical priority. this is killing more americans than just about any other terrorist activity going on today. ms. robinson: if confirmed, 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 the agencies and interagency to understand the problems that you're just talking about. i know interdiction is important and i know getting after the , networks is important. and so where is the interagency, where is d.h.s., where are law
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enforcement agencies trying to get after that for me to understand that and if confirmed to be able to support their activities. mr. tillis: i'm glad you recognize that working with the mexican military and 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 hemisphere. general scaparrotti, you mentioned earlier about stepping up partner relationships with europe. can you give me just a brief synopsis of the state of our partnerships in terms of their countries' specific efforts to budget and fund the things that we need to do to make it very
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clear to russia that this will not end well if they continue their aggression? and thirdly, just the general messaging within the region, the words that the countries are conveying to their people and to the region consistent with what you think our object i haves -- objectives should be in that area. mr. scaparrotti: first, with respect to our partnerships, we have 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 1,000 casualties alongside of us. i think that's an indication of how good they can be and what we share. i do believe that as a part of the alliance and 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? mr. scaparrotti: we do have work to do there. out of the alliance of 28,
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there is five that have 2% or more of g.d.p. and nine increased their spending. as you know from the wales summit and looking ahead to the next summit, that commitment is one thing we're focused on. in terms of communication, i feel confident to say that those on the eastern flank are communicating very seriously about the need for strength and defense in light of russia. mr. tillis: because of the proximity. mr. scaparrotti: to the south you have a different but just as important threat. one of the important things that, if confirmed, i need to do is recognize all our threats and help our allies to be unified. mr. tillis: in closing i want to associate myself with senator graham's comments and also just make the point because people watch these hearings and take a lot from them. i don't think there's any
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serious discussion among any member of congress that would suggest that anyone thinks a withdrawal from nato makes sense and the rhetoric in the political circles now should not be confused with anything that we would seriously consider. i find that unimaginable. thank you all. i look forward to supporting your confirmation. senator mccain: 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 1,000 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 1,000 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.
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>> thank you, senator. i want to followup on senator kaine because i have been concerned also with the kurds, our support of the kurds, i know there are kurds and now the northern syrian kurds seem to be valiant fighters. mr. manchin: we don't seem to be second-guessing, are they going to turn on us, give our weapons to someone else who will use them against us. that's the only group i see we don't have that concern with. but looking at the turks 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
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with that? mr. scaparrotti: 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. senator manchin: you can take that for the record. to find out where we stand. they have been cooperated. they are not getting this up -- if they are not getting the support and 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 strain for us not to make sure they get it directly. mr. scaparrotti: they've been a reliant and one of the best combatants we've allied with in our fight in isil and syria. if confirmed i'll work closely with the combatant command, sent come and socm in support of this -- centcom and socom in support
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of that. mr. manchin: i was in argentina, the president was christina kershner. she has been replaced by someone who is more pro-western than she. we were talking about the drugs coming thru argentina, have they made a commitment to help us fight the drug trade? ms. robinson: i don't know the answer to that right at the moment. what i will commit to you is my relationship with admiral tid if confirmed to watch that and again to push things down as far as we can on the southern border. mr. manchin: you can't go any further south than argentina. if you can get that information, that would be helpful.
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our people are frustrated. we are getting no help at all. they were letting it come through. ms. robinson: yes, sir. mr. manchin: i think all of us agree that nato -- we should be part of nato. the bottom line, the frustration is we know the sacrifices they have made and they've come to the aid in defending the united states but they still haven't made a commitment. the 2% of their g.d.p. but there's no quid pro quo, there's no penalty for that. do you believe that there's a way we can hold them more accountable? if they are not coming up to the 2%? mr. scaparrotti: 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 i, as i said, i do believe that within the alliance, the commitments that we make are
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very important for the strength of the alliance. mr. manchin: on the ballistic missile defense and most importantly with canada, i understand they're going to engage again, be involved in missile defense? ms. robinson: from what i've 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. mr. manchin: if they do, would that reduce our systems to the north? or would they be reinforcing our efforts? how would that play towards what we are doing right now? ms. robinson: i don't have that information right now but if confirmed that's something i will look into early on. mr. manchin: i have one more, i
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think. russia, the whole thing, i think senator donnelly talked to you about the russia flyover. would our ships, were we in the right to shoot down if we desired to do so with their aggression? mr. scaparrotti: not knowing the complete circumstances i can't answer that. mr. manchin: turkey has taken action on russia before and i , think russia understands that turkey would continue to take action. i think there's a concern that we won't and they were wanting to see how far we would go and i'm not advocating that we should have shot the plane down , but i understood that secretary kerry described it as a reckless, provocative and dangerous act. and he was not wrong in saying the u.s. ship would have been justified to shoot down the russian plane.
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mr. scaparrotti: i don't have the detailed information to make that call. it is absolutely reckless, unjustified and very dangerous when you've got our operations going on as well. mr. manchin: is russia just pushing the envelope and the limits of confrontation to test the western resolve or the united states' resolve? mr. scaparrotti: i think they're pushing the envelope in terms of our resolve, and in terms of international norms and international law, purposely. mr. manchin: thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me follow up on that lineup is tuning. -- questioning. do you think we need to establish, announce and implement more robust r.o.e.'s, particularly with regard to our navy? this isn't the first time that it seems r.o.e.'s were very weak. obviously we had navy sailors taken hostage by iranians in the gulf. what do we need to do here to bolster this and send a message
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that we're going to act more forcefully? mr. scaparrotti: sir, i think, and i'm not sure that r.o.e.'s forces are operating under at this present time, i mean the exact rules of engagement, but if you look at our rules of engagement generally, joint staff rules of engagement, they always have the right of self-defense and to act in self-defense, so i'm confident that they knew that, and if it was a security concern that our commanders know they have that right and can take that step. i think more what i would say to you is, is that 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 in specific scenarios. >> if confirmed, will you take a look at that issue, our r.o.e.'s leading to these aggressive behaviors in the baltic sea and
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the gulf? mr. scaparrotti: yes, sir. mr. sullivan: let me turn to another area. both of you have enormous areas of responsibilities, one place where you overlap is the arctic. as you know, 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 -- and i just passed out something that's reflected in the chart is the -- in order to address some of the challenges we have cocom operational seams in the arctic, northcom is for the arctic, and pacom controls most of the forces. i want to ask one hypothetical.
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hypothetically, if russia decided to deny access to vital u.s. international shipping in the arctic region, which is growing tremendously, which combatant commander would respond to that threat? mr. scaparrotti: this gets into the issue we talked about earlier. most of our threats today are across the boundaries of cocoms. if it were in u.s. ucom's area, i would take the lead and the others would primarily be in support of that. mr. sullivan: but if it were shipping in the bering strait, it's kind of in your area, but not really. we had an amendment that addressed this, had the secretary of defense to focus on the operational seams with regard to putting together a n arctic strategy. if confirmed, working with
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admiral harris and pacom, will you focus on trying to address this cocom operational seam that certainly can be worked through, but seems to be a challenge? ms. robinson: if confirmed, i commit to you i will focus on the arctic. it is a complex place, it's becoming much more congested, and i will focus on understanding comprehensively what that is, along with admiral harris, and come back to you and talk about what should we do. mr. all van: general scaparrotti? mr. scaparrotti: i will. mr. sullivan: the ndaa last year focused on the secretary of defense. because of these 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 o.s.d. to make sure that those requirements from the congress
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are fulfilled? ms. robinson: yes, sir, i commit to you to come back and talk to you about what i learn. mr. scaparrotti: yes, sir, i will. mr. sullivan: let's talk quickly about the european reassurance initiative. i think a lot of us are supportive of that, but a lot of the focus, as you mentioned, is in the east. given what we talked about here, do you believe that that e.r.i. 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. mr. scaparrotti: yes, sir, i think that e.r.i. 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 we need to look at that, if confirmed, i
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will look at as i move forward. mr. sullivan: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> congratulations to you both on your nominations, and general robinson, to your landmark nomination. hope to see a speedy confirmation of you both. general scaparrotti, i want to return to a concern a few senators have addressed, russian aircraft flying by first one of our ships, and then one of our aircraft in northern europe. i am sure you are not aware of all the circumstances to specify a response, but does activity like that call for some kind of response? mr. cotton: yes, sir, it does. it endangers our crew members, our ships, and does require response of some type. mr. cotton: is that because with no response, it emboldens putin russia to probe further? mr. scaparrotti: i think they need to understand what's acceptable. we're flying and sailing in international waters in the baltic, and we have every right to do so.
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mr. cotton: need that response be symmetrical? lest we fly by one of their ships or aircraft? or could it be asymmetrical, for instance, the zeppelin showing up on the border of ukraine or russia? mr. scaparrotti: i say we should keep everything on the table. mr. cotton: and whatever the spots -- the response may be, vladimir putin needs to understand it is a response. mr. scaparrotti: yes. mr. cotton: i want to talk about something we discussed in your current role in korea, cluster munitions, and the coming band on them that have a rate below 1%. what's your understanding of how many cluster munitions in inventory today fail to comply with that policy? mr. scaparrotti: i couldn't answer that accurately. i will just tell you that my experience with the munitions that i have in korea, i would
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lose just about all of them, of my clustering munitions for use that i have stockpiled today. mr. cotton: what is the department of defense's current policy or plan to address this problem? mr. scaparrotti: 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 those munitions don't have the same lethality as those we have today, particularly against armor. and presently, for those that are not just -- that are not envisioned, but are actually munitions we know we could build, we don't have a plan that replaces them in the numbers we need. i would say that's true in korea, because i'm very aware of what our requirements are. mr. cotton: is one of those solutions air busting so-called traditional gum bombs and using them near targets? mr. scaparrotti: that's an option.
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mr. cotton: would it be an option that lacks lethality? mr. scaparrotti: if you were to use unitary munitions to replace a cluster munition, you'd have to fire three to five munitions in place of one. so just logistically it creates a problem as well. we need to develop effective cluster munitions that meet the law, and my recommendation would be that in the interim we retain cluster munitions we have today. mr. cotton: are you aware of any u.s.-produced solution to this problem? mr. scaparrotti: i'd like to take that for the record. i am aware of some solutions that we are working. when you say u.s. produced, i'm not sure who is working on those products i'm aware of, so it's probably best i take that so i can also answer it in a classified form as well. mr. cotton: thank you.
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and this is obviously of most famous concern on the border between north korea and south korea, given russia's probing throughout eastern europe and the middle east, how important is this issue for you in the new job after confirmation? mr. scaparrotti: it's very important. i would point out that russia has used cluster munitions in the ukraine themselves. with great effect. mr. cotton: i thought so. vladimir putin and others cite historical grievances for their activity in places like that you toplaces like the ukraine bolster themselves domestically. three grievances in particular, the collapse of the warsaw pact, collapse of the soviet union, and nato expansion into those historically russian-dominated territories. do you think that's a fair account of what's happened in the post-cold war era? mr. scaparrotti: if i'm following you, i would say that -- i can't say
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it's clear, but i believe that putin's view is that, that russia is being constrained by the international norms, international norms established by the west, predominantly 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. mr. cotton: given that countries lithuania,, latvia, and estonia have chosen freely to join nato, do you think there's any truth to his claims that these are lands traditionally oriented toward the east? mr. scaparrotti: 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 choice as to the type of government they have. that's what we've supported as
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part of our values, and we are in support of today. mr. cotton: and a final point he makes about nato expansion is that this is aggressive toward russia and could threaten their territory and sovereignty. has nato been investing in large scale armaments that would launch a massive invasion of russia? mr. scaparrotti: no, sir. and, as you know, nato, for nearly 20 years, reached out to russia with the idea that they could become part of the security that nato provides to all of europe as a partner. they have refused that hand at this point. mr. cotton: and to look at it from the other direction, has russia been investigating and defensive buildup, say, building tank ditches on its border with nato or moving in other kinds of massive defensive weaponry to forestall the supposed nato invasion of russia? mr. scaparrotti: their modernization of forces is significant.
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it's developing credible capability that we've seen on display with their first out of area deployment into syria, for instance. and the weapons systems they deployed there. finally, if you look at the area access or denial, those areas that they've established, i think there's ample evidence of that. mr. cotton: based on their historical record as well as their own investment, it suggests to me that putin's words about the west may be ofther classic campaign disinformation. thank you. saidccain: the general they anticipate further russian military activity, separatist russian activity in ukraine. do you agree with that assessment? mr. scaparrotti: the indications i've seen, i believe that's true. mr. mccain: do you believe we
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should be providing defensive weapons to ukraine? mr. scaparrotti: sir, i believe we should provide the weaponry that we believe they need to defend their sovereignty and that they're capable of using. mr. mccain: do you think they need and could use javelin? mr. scaparrotti: i think there's a requirement for an anti-tank weapon like javelin in their situation. mr. mccain: 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 and execution, and now we're looking at a couple of months from now. so i hope you make that a very high priority. general robinson, i'm glad you're going to go down to the border.
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you'll find this time of year, it starts getting very warm there. and you'll also find that it's very hard on the 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 so that we can better coordinate our activities on the border with secretary johnson. the answer to this, 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
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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. and again, that is technology. so, with the rise of isis, we have an additional, now, threat on our southern border, and that is the threat of terrorists coming across, and so your
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involvement, with full respect to passing it, is dramatically increased. i hope you understand we have the threat of terrorism, and we also have a flood of manufactured heroin, and we also have a flood of children who come from the three central american countries and also put enormous strains on our capabilities on the border. one program that i -- amongst others i hope you look at is 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 we need -- you need to go to the border, but i would like to see close coordination between you and the secretary of homeland
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security so that we can use the best talents that we have. have no doubt that this is a crisis in the northeast and the midwest, the drugs alone, not to mention the threat of terrorists coming across our border. if those threats are true, and i believe they are, then your involvement is greater than it has been in the past. senator king, did you want to -- >> senator blumenthal. mr. mccain: senator blumenthal. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. mccain. i want to emphasize how important senator mccain's comments are to all of us engaged actively in our state in this war against an epidemic. it's a public health hurricane that's sweeping our country and affecting the quality of people who are available to you, our military, doing your job very
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actively and responsibly in recruiting new men and women to join your forces. this public health hurricane is undermining the recruiting effort insofar as it diminishes the quality of people available to fight in our military, tearing apart families, causing heartache and heartbreak -- i think you used that word, general richardson. i released last week a call to action with 23 specific recommendations focusing on health care, on law enforcement, on overprescribing of painkillers, on a variety of areas where i think the nation needs to do more and do it better. and in my public comments i have talked about the interdiction challenge.
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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 any of the other missions that you have. i just want to second what my colleagues have said. i'm not the first, but i want to emphasize the point that senator mccain has just made so eloquently. i want to go to another topic that you have also been asked about, general scaparrotti. i am very concerned about our submarines, undersea warfare capability force. i know you're very much aware of it, have been asked about it. the continued building of our virginia class at the rate of two a year, at some point, will collide financially with the ohio replacement program.
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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 emphasis of our adversaries on undersea warfare capability, not just the russians, but the chinese. i think in the course of that, article 1 of the comments from one of our military leaders was that 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 are welcome to, whether this this program continuing our building of two virginia class submarines every year with the highway replacement are important, in fact, vital to our national defense. mr. scaparrotti: yes, senator.
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i defer the numbers, etc., to the services responsible for that, but i can say personally that i think that we have dominance undersea today, that it is our asymmetric advantage, and that it's very important that we continue to maintain that advantage, particularly in light of the challenges you noted. i think that both of those improvements to our submarine classes are necessary. ms. robinson: sir, i would just echo what general scaparrotti said. mr. blumenthal: i know i've heard it said from that very place, from others, general robinson, and i know that you share the view strongly that we should have an asymmetric
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superiority in this area, but i think the specifics are very important. it's not enough to just generalize about it. i hope that when you say you'll defer, you bring, both of you, a lifelong expertise and experience to these views that i think are very, very important for our civilian leaders. ms. robinson: i probably then misspoke. i agree with general scaparrotti said. i apologize if i said i defer. mr. blumenthal: he said he deferred. what i'm asking, very bluntly, is that you not defer. i know that's also easily, more easily said than done, but i have such respect for both of your views that i hope our civilian leaders hear them, and i hope that you will emphasize
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that this asymmetric advantage in undersea warfare is vital to our future. i think i have talked enough. i defer to you, general robinson and general scaparrotti. mr. scaparrotti: if i can be clear, what i meant by that was, it's really a service decision, but i assure you that if confirmed, i will be clear in my advice and needs to the c.n.o. with respect to those programs. and particularly after i have a close look, if confirmed, as the ucom commander at my needs there. mr. blumenthal: i appreciate your views. thank you very much. thank you for your service to our nation. >> very briefly, general scaparrotti, talking about the submarine, undersea capability. i was in iceland and struck by
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what a strategic place, one of the most strategic place on earth. we are now putting ph's back in their. p-8's back in there, there. in i hope that that might be an area that you will be in active consideration of further of reinvigoration of that capability subject to working with the people of iceland. but it sits right astride the greenland-iceland-u.k. gap and it's, as i say, the facility is amazing, and i think it would be one that we would do well to do some concentrating on. mr. scaparrotti: senator, i agree with your concern and agree with the importance of the location and our capabilities in that gap that you described.
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mr. king: mr. chairman. mr. mccain: i look forward to moving your nominations through the united states senate. this hearing is adjourned. mr. scaparrotti: thank you, chairman. ms. robinson: thank you, chairman. [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]
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