tv Senate Armed Services Military Command Confirmations CSPAN December 4, 2018 9:30am-11:16am EST
right. what this has is the complete legal arguments on either side of the argument. these are difficult issues, we accept that, we are all grown up. and all of these things like national interest, negotiation and security, people aren't interested in that. we want the full effect. and made some simple legal points to show the full debate has not occurred. yes, i will. >> we are going to leave the british house of commons here and return here to washington, capitol hill, where senate armed services committee is about to meet holding confirmation hearings on the lead of u.s. military special operations and u.s. central command. oklahoma senator jim inhofe is chair of the armed services committee. live coverage here on c-span2.
[inaudible conversations] >> the committee meets today to consider the nominations of general frank mckenzie for central command and general richard clarke to be special operations command. of course, we appreciate very much your many years of service and will expect when you are recognized for your opening statements that you recognize your families.
it's a very important part of your being here today. we do have a-- some required questions and i'd ask you to answer these questions so that-- audibly so we'll be able to hear your response. the first one, have you adhered to the laws and regulations governing conflicts of interest? >> i will. >> i will. >> all right. do you agree when asked to give your personal views, even if those views differ from the administration in power. >> i will. >> have you assumed any duties or undertaken any actions which would presume the outcome of the confirmation process? >> no, sir. >> no. >> will you ensure that your staff will comply with deadlines for requested communications including questions for the record in hearings? >> i will. >> i will. >> will you cooperate and providing witnesses and briefs in response to congressional
request. >> i will. >> i will. >> with those witnesses be protected from reprisal for their testimony or briefings? >> they will. >> yes, sir. >> do you agree if confirmed to appear and testify upon request before this committee? >> i will. >> and the form of communications in a timely manner when requested by dually constituted committee or consult with the committee regarding the basis of good faith denial. >> i do. >> i will. >> thank you both for your decades of service to our country. we appreciate the great work that you have done. the committee recently held a hearing to discuss the findings of the national defense strategy commission. their report says the commission unequivocally that the nds is not adequately
resourced. it's clear we must provide sustainable and predictable funding to make it reality. during the hearing, the-- by the way this commission-- have both of you read this commission report? >> yes, sir. >> yes, i have. >> it's one of the best reports in my years of experience i've heard and put together, it tells a lot of the hard truths, you don't like to talk about, but our condition is today and what we need-- how we need to improve it. general mckenzie, the nds commission report noted that the national defense strategy talks are about accepting more risk in the middle east, but was vague on where that risk might be taken. for example, in the fight against isis or containing iran or in afghanistan. look forward to your views on what accepting more risk in the middle east might look like.
general clarke, if confirmed you will be responsible for ensuring our special operation forces are trained and equipped and ready for the mds and confront threats across the spectrum. so appreciate your being here today. we are going to be interested, particularly, in your comments on our constitution in both -- in the threats that we are faced today. senator reed. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and like to join you in welcoming the nominees. thank you both for your willingness to serve in positions of great responsibility in the department of defense and would also like to thank your family members who, like all military families, sacrifice so much for the security of our nation and thank you all and i would also note with a heavy heart the loss of the u.s. 5th league
commander over the weekend. i think i share our colleagues as i extend our condolences to his family and friends who all who knew him. you'll lead command at the forefront as noted on mds as indicated. the long-term strategic competition with china and russia are the principal for the department and required sustained investment. goes on to say the department to counter regimes such as north korea and iran and decrease terrorist threats to the united states and consolidate our gains in iraq and afghanistan while moving to a more resource awsustainable approach. and likely for significant changes for the commands you've been asked to lead. and centcom, more efficient structure and utilization and
and maintaining impact carrying out operations and will be considerations for centcom in the coming years. with respect to u.s. special operations socom, the role of operation forces in the competition with near peer adversaries. given that special operation forces have been heavily committed against violent extremists groups since 9-11, socom will look if it's adequately met in the future. given the high operational tension on special operation forces socom will need to be careful any additional facilities do not overstress the force. i hope both of our nominees will discuss the nds on the command if they lead and mitigated. and the chairman said we held the national defense strategy
commission to discuss their news of the nds. the commission report states there's a relative balance on critical issues and strategic, development and implementation. and goes on to say voices were relatively muted on the center of u.s. defense and national security policy undermining the concept of civilian control. when i read the commission's report i was struck by these observations and consequences that such an imbalance could have on the development. defense policy. the impact it could have on the military personnel serving in the department and how it may shape the advice to the president. as senior joint staff i hope both nominees will share their thoughts on the commission and how the policy maker would affect the leadership of socom and centcom respectively. the socom commander and conflict or the-- in particular, section 1922 of
the act of 2017 enhanced the role to serve at the service sec for and like official responses of oversite of and advocacy of special forces operations. i look forward to hearing your views on the implementation of these reforms and how the socom partnership can be further strengthened. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator reed. >> i will now hear from our witnesses. we'll start with you, general mckenzie. and your entire statement will be made a part of the record, so where you are. general mckenzie. >> good morning, chairman inlove, ranking member reid and members. commitment. it's an honor to appear before you today as the president's nominee fob the next commander of central command. i'm grateful for that trust. if confirmed i'll look forward
to continue serving our nation alongside the dedicated and disciplined men and women of the united states central command. i'd like to introduce the committee to my wife marilyn, my best friend and partner an all of our years of service, i receive. credit and attention, marilyn quietly supported not only me, but the men and women of the joint force in our assignments. i'm proud of her and thankful for server-- her service and my son graduated from the class of 2007 and served two tours in afghanistan and marine officer. he's now employed in the railroad business in alabama. here is his wife kristen and my sister andrea. and grandsons, three and five who might not wisely not chosen to inflict on the committee today. i'd like to talk about the officer seated in exto me. in my opinion the president could not have nominated anyone better to be the next socom
commander than rich clarke. he's a moral, strategically minded officer. if confirmed i look forward to the opportunity to march alongside him across the theater. i would like to pay a breie bri the commander votel. our nation is stronger because of his selfless service. the 20 countries that make up the u.s. centcom area of responsibility are as richly diverse and unique as any in the world and present a set of vexing challenges. we have vital strategic interest in the area of responsibility and need to stay engaged to address these issues. under joe votel, central command has fostered outstanding relationships through that area with senior civilian and military leaders from egypt, jordan, the gulf states and across central asia and he's worked with tirelessly with our department of state,
agency for international development and a host of other government and nongovernment organizations. i pledge to continue that interaction. the work of our colleagues in the department of state is critical and if confirmed supporting them will be a very high priority for me personally. and interaction with partners across the region will also be a matter of great importance. i hope to lead a new generation of centcom professionals to carry on the work of general votel and those leaders who came before him in meeting these challenges. centcom remains a dangerous theater of war and we've seen the cost as recently as last week. i am certainly mindful of the burden be burr we have born in the past and i'd like to mention my commander scott stearney, he'll be greatly missed. and the secretary of defense within the authorities, you have provided combatant commanders and moreover i will be open and transparent with you and the rest of congress.
thank you for considering me and i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you. general clarke? >> chairman inhofe, ranking member reid, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today regarding my nomination to be the next commander of the united states special operations command. i'm grateful to the president, secretary mattis, and chairman dunford for the trust and confidence in this nomination. serving our nation has been the greatest privilege of my life, and i come before you grateful and humbled to be considered for the opportunity to continue to serve with the thousands of dedicated soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and civilians in the special operations command that have been and remain on the front lines around the world to keep our nation safe. i'm honored to share this table with my friend and fellow joint staff member, a marine for whom i have the greatest respect due
to his intellect, his knowledge of the region, and as a leader who applies common sense touch to every problem. there is none better than frank mckenzie, to assume the u.s. centcom mantle. if confirmed, our preexisting relationships and shared mutual respect will benefit the fights we have against terrorism and specifically in the centcom aor. in the audience is my wife and soulmate of almost 30 years, suzanne, my bed rock and my best friend since we first met in berlin american high school and who has been tremendously supportive of countless army families during numerous deployments. she is accompanied by our son will, a senior in high school, our daughter madeline is a college junior in boston, and is unable to join us, as she gets ready to close out this semester at tufts university. suzanne and i are fortunate products of proud army families that instilled the values of
duty, honor, country, upon us from the earliest age, while suzanne's mom and dad cannot be here today, we are grateful for the attendance of my parent, dick and gail clarke and thankful for both of our father's service as career army officers to include combat in vietnam and the korean conflict. i would like to thank general tony thomas for his leadership and example, not only as commander of socom for three years, but throughout his storied career. it is an honor to be considered by this committee to follow in his footsteps. most importantly, i would be remiss if i failed to acknowledge the fallen and their families who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. the human toll hits close to home and serves as a close reminder of the considered responsibility of this position as four of our fallen were all socom warriors. the special operations forces
provided critical capabilities and options for challenges to the department and our nation as a result in large measure to the prescient leadership of this congress with the enactment of the nun-cohen amendment. and our world continues, violence with regional stability and threatening our interests. and intend to contest our vital national interest. the united states requires capabilities across all elements of national power and special operations remain a critical part of it. and if confirmed, i pledge for the most lethal special operations forces the world has known. thank you mr. chairman, and ranking member for your consideration. >> thank you. we're going to be confronted
with some difficult decisions, to kind of set the stage for it. in 2010, the budget was-- we used constant dollars, 2018 dollars. in 2010 the budget was at $794 billion. in 2015, using the name constant dollars it was down to 586. now, that's a drop of 2-- well, actually 24% the best way to look at that. so, that's where we found ourselves. and so consequently we made the decision for fiscal years 18 to go up to 700 billion, fiscal year 19 up to 716 billion, and the strategy or the agreement, i should say, both of you read that commission report, and you remember in that report they talked about the necessity of
increasing the minimum increase of 3 to 5% over inflation. now, that's what everyone agreed on, that's what the chairman joint chiefs of staff agreed on. that's what the secretary agreed on. now, when the president came out with the original budget, it was 733 billion dollars for the fiscal year 20. if you do the math on this thing and go to 716 to 733, the increase is 2.1% which is actually below the amount that they are-- that everyone has been prescribing and saying it's necessary to meet the competition, the different competition than we've ever had before, at least in my opinion. i would like to ask both of you to comment on that as you consider in light of that, the 733 to be a floor as opposed to a ceiling. what do you think, general? >> senator, thank you for the question.
the 733 figure was arrived at by the department carefully looking at the requirements of the national defense strategy. it reflects our best projection of a strategy informed budget. we recognize there could have been a higher number as you said 3 to 5%, but we also recognize that the department exists within a larger government and puts and trades part of the process. anything below 733 would increase risk and that would be manifested across the force. we are in the process now, very carefully across the department, examining the details of what the nature of that risk would be. who would it be imposed upon and the nature of it. >> general clarke? >> sir, i associate myself with general mckenzie's remarks, and would state that the sustained predictable, but the key is the adequate funding that is required by the department, and once confirmed by socom look at
what that specifically means for socom's budget, whether it's in readiness, whether or not it's in technologies, required or whether it is what we're doing forward. >> i appreciate that. in my opening statement we talked about our peer competitors russia and china and it's difficult for those of us on this side of the table, when we're talking to groups outside of government, to explain to them that in some cases both china and russia have things that we don't have. i have a long list of things, including statements on our artillery, we are outgunned, outranged. so, we have problems that i don't think we had before. now, from socom's perspective, what's the best way do you think to confront these problems that we have not experienced before? >> senator, you talk about the things that we don't have.
what i would qualify is things that russia don't have. and we have those that we've looked at and you're familiar with the joint military, and the other thing that we don't have, senator, that those two have are allies and partners and our position around the world, and specifically socom do provide us with that advantage. >> general mckenzie, there's been a lot of talk about the f-400 and the threat to the united states and the coalition force in syria. what's your thought about that, evaluating that and how much of a threat that is. >> senator the s-400, once activated will increase the threat to our forces and those of our coalition partners flying over syria. there will be a manifest difference of the capability of the system depending whether it's manned by the syrians or russians and we're working to figure out how it's actually going to be executed. >> thank you, senator reid? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and thank you, gentlemen.
as i mentioned in my opening statement, the national defense commission talked about the private civilian leadership and interaction with the military and we talked about it previously. for the record, just your reaction to those comments, there's several possibilities, one, they could be noting the absence of civilian leadership by not enough people having been confirmed yet or nominated or they are not involved in some way, shape sore form or there's a gap, a cultural gap between the civilians in the military that's growing. general mckenzie, you start and then general clarke. >> i believe the final decisions are made by civilian, final policy recommendations are made by civilians. when all is said and done the secretary makes the decision and probably the last one in the room is the honorable john
root. i argue for my observation, much of this stems from the slowness of filling appointed positions within the department early on. i do not believe this reflects a structural or cultural problem, but a temporary problem and if it existed it's largely been corrected. >> senator clarke? >> senator, i concur with general mckenzie's comments. the thing i would add, i work daily with second rood and you opened with your statement, socom, the aspect of the solec given direct authority over socom. i welcome that. i think that having the civilian leadership, i clearly understand the military civilian bounds and will work closely and directly with asd west if confirmed. >> thank you, again, let me address this question to both of you because it involves both of your commands and that's the
situation in afghanistan, which is becoming more complicated, and it was always was complicated, but, again, we've lost several service members this week. general dunford said up in the halifax conference that we were in a stalemate. how is that stalemate affecting our operation start with general mckenzie and then general clarke, in addition to the ambassador on the ground, what role will he play? this will be one of your principal missions, general mckenzie? >> senator, i believe the operation is largely stalemated and i agree with the chairman and his assessment what's happening on the ground. i believe, however, what has changed or new with ambassador, that's a new element in the equation we haven't had before, trying to come to reconciliation and an end state to conflict.
the military effort that's stalemated is one of them. the diplomatic effort is alive and pursued now by he and other actors in the region. >> general clarke in particular, since most outcomes still remaining on the battle ground field are terrorist elements, in fact, a number of them, i think a long, long list, so that special operations would be concerned going forward with these threats, even if there was some political settlement in another dimension. so, could you comment? >> senator, you hit the nail on the head. the al qaeda presence remains in the region and isis presence that is there currently pose direct threats to the homeland and that's where the socom and the task force that's in afghanistan continues to support general miller's efforts. the other piece in the afghan
strategy that i would highlight is the effort to realign our forces with double the amount of afghan commandos to be able to help with the strategy, to put the pressure on the taliban and i think that that effort is bearing fruit and socom will remain in direct support of general miller and general mckenzie throughout this effort. >> thank you very much, gentlemen. mr. chairman, i must recognize general clarke's father because without his tutelage i would never have survived plebe swimming at west point and so i owe you a lot. thank you, sir. thank you. >> dually noted. thank you, senator read. senator wicker. >> general mckenzie, let me follow up with senator reed's questions. how significant is it that afghan government controls 72% of the geographic area now and
controls only 56% of the country? >> it's concerning, but not a critical factor. they've chosen to defend areas where if the population exists and meant trade off and giving up more sparsely populated areas. you always would like to control more, but does reflect most of the country is under their control. >> so a lot of these areas are sparsely populated? >> many are. i would note you prefer to eventually control more than we have now, but that i would agree with that. >> okay. and you mentioned, ambassador's efforts. we're optimistic about that and we think that he, at least from my standpoint, he knows the issues, he knows the people and i think will be well served there. what would letting up on military pressure do to his diplomatic efforts at this point? >> so, we believe that it's important to convince the taliban, even as we're in a
stalemate, so they are in a stalemate and they will be unable to find a path to victory on the battlefield and the forces on the ground. it's critical to remain unrelenting talent with the taliban, the diplomatic approach which the ambassador embodies. >> now, let's differentiate the parties there. how large would you say the taliban is in terms of manpower in afghanistan? >> sir, i would say 20,000 or more, depends who you choose to do the counting. it's a substantial, you be is -- substantial amount of people on the ground. they're not a monolithic mass. >> there are different opinions and loyalties within the taliban? >> sir, they are. >> in terms of counterterrorism, we are fighting isis, al qaeda, and other terrorist organizations. tell us about them, in the size
and strength of the organization? >> sir, isis is a fairly small organization, hundreds of thousands, probably low thousands, in eastern afghanistan. they pose a direct threat to the united states by aspiration. however, right now, they're severely constricted by our operations and the taliban has put pressure on as well. al qaeda much smaller, but with good global interconnections and maintain an aspirational goal to attack the west and the united states in particular. what keeps them from being able to do that is the direct pressure maintained on them every day by the ct forces in the region assisted by the eco system part of the afghan army ap afghan government and that's part as well. >> to what extent do our military and diplomatic leaders, are they able to assess public opinion in afghanistan about our involvement? >> sir, i believe the
department of state monitors that through a variety of polling mechanisms. they look at it pretty hard and they have the lead for that element of the campaign. >> okay, they have the lead for it, but what is your impression? do the afghan people wish we would leave? or they're happy that we're there and support our effort to fight these terrorist organizations and bring the taliban to the table? >> senator, i believe the afghan people are weary of war. they're a proud people and in general prefer not to have occupation forces as some of them would view it in their country, but they also recognize the brutal of the taliban regime. ...
a lot of afghans don't want the taliban to remain to come back and reassert themselves either. >> they remember those days prior to 9/11, do not want them to return. >> that is very clear. >> what do we say to the families of the 13 american serviceman who have been killed in afghanistan this year? or the 1000 afghan forces that have been killed and afghanistan this year? >> we are protecting the homeland of the united states from being attacked. that's what you say to the americans and that's a a clear, visible, tangible effort that we can honor them for. for the afghans who have died it's an attempt to come to a long peaceful political settlement in the country and that is an honorable goal. afghans and americans who died in action and afghanistan have all been pursuing honorable and reasonable objective. >> does the afghan military in
better shape from top to bottom than it's been in recent years? >> i think it's in better shape. it has a long way to go. i believe it is better shape. >> thank you. good wishes to you. thank you for your service. >> thank you, senator wicker. senator shaheen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you both for your willingness to consider taking on these assignments at this critical time in our country. i want to go, general mckenzie come to another hot spot in the middle east, syria. i i appreciated your meeting wih me last week and i think at that time i raised that concerns that had based on my visit there this summer, that we made significant gains in northeast section of syria and have beaten back isis and life is returning to normal for the people who live there. i'm concerned about the fact
that right now there is a hold on the stabilization funds for the part of syria. so can you talk about how we can continue to maintain the gains we have their with out that stabilization my? >> senator, thank you for eventually to maintain our gains we're going to have to resource what follows which is local security under supreme control general speaking east of euphrates. that will require monetary assistance that come from this country. also, i think from partners in the region we need to step up to the plate because of problems in syria are closer to him than they are to us. your point is exactly right. the long-term solution has to be a stability solution but it has to be local and appropriate resource. average a challenge. >> i agree with you wholeheartedly. one of the things we've heard from the administration is that
they support the enduring the feet of isis and what doesn't look like to you in the middle east? what does that mean, the enduring 50 divisive? >> senator, the enduring to the devices is not going to be the absence of isis. isis is defeated in the lower euphrates river valley is going to transition to an insurgency and there are going to be continued attacks from isis and derivatives of isis both in the region and really globally that article would be those attacks typically would be of intensity at of the scope where they are able to be content by local forces that would not necessarily require our systems. i want to emphasize it won't be for a while it will be pretty, it won't be silent. there will be pockets of continue to crop up. >> thank you. general clarke, one of the things that we heard from the commission report on the nds from administer edelman was that
he question the nds suggestion that we are at a point where we can take risk in the middle east of terrorist attacks in or to address the major power conflict -- in order -- facing again. can you talk about how we should balance those challenges? >> yes, senator. the first thing the nds allows us to do and i think it's important is look our strategies and look what we're doing in prioritize. we still have to maintain the counter terrorism pressure on those that are most likely and aspire and want to attacked in her homeland. we have to keep the pressure. but at the same time special operations command is uniquely qualified with its experienced operators, with the material of the force and with the
relationships that we've established around the globe with many of our partners through our theater special operations command that exist inside each combatant commander to be able to give a global look and a look at how our partners who those great powers, specifically russia and china, that through our ask we can counter some of their online activities. >> and would you agree with the conclusion that the commission drew that right now we got to do more if we're going to be proactive about addressing the gray zone issues with russia and china and also some of the cyber threats? >> senator, i do. one of the key aspects of the national defense strategy is expanding the competitive space. secretary mattis was clear on that. and i do believe that so, as is typically about the capability
-- socom -- allow us to expand the competitive space going forward and if confirmed i should the committee that i will personally look into this. there is a committed report from socom that is due to this committee in the springtime and a lecture i pay attention to a report. >> good, thank you. also i'm at a time but can you just briefly address the additional challenges that you see socom facing with you taking on the responsibility for wmd? >> senator, the weapons of mass destruction mission that was given to socom two years ago didn't come with no resource of it became with almost 100 personal positions from stratcom. but the same approach that socom takes to countering the violent extremist organization which, it has a global responsibility can still be applied to the weapons of mass deception mission, it's the appropriate mission for
socom and i know general thomas has taken on wholeheartedly and if confirmed i will design. >> thank you again. thank you both and thank you for taking time to be within. >> senator fischer. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, gentlemen for being here today. general clarke, in your answers to senator shaheen you and i discussed the same issue, when we see a focus now in great power competition with russia and with china. what does that do for your forces? i have been told for many years that they are heavy demands on socom and the demand far exceeds the supply that we have. you seem to be saying that working with partners and allies is going to pick up even more of that extra man that we're going to be facing. did i understand you correctly? >> senator, i think we could
allies and partners is a critical component to this. i would also say we are already worked with allies and partners in most places through our theater special operations command. >> where do you think the focus needs to be for the resources that you would have been? and in many cases you may be limited resources that you're going to have. what is the investment going to be? what are you going to prioritize the revenues you receive? >> senator, i believe the most important aspect of socom are the people. the people that are performing the mission where ever it is whether his counterterrorism, countering terrorism in syria, iraq, afghanistan, or whether they are inside the theater special operations command, for example, inside the european
command where their weight with our allies and partners. they are conducting training with special operations forces from nations that are within nato and within russia and europol. >> would you be asking for increased numbers of personnel? >> senator, right now i believe that the personnel within socom are adequate. i think, if confirmed by this committee i will take a very hard look myself at how this applies to great power competition. one thing i would highlight is we should look at all missions across the globe as the sick address reprioritize with the nds, and the special operations command should only do those missions that are suited for special operations command. and those missions that can be adjusted to conventional forces should also come should go to those conventional forces so we have to look at i prioritization
of requirements. >> omissions the missions that e more suited to command, with those the counterterrorism, rather than great power? >> senator, i do believe there some unique capabilities within special operations command i didn't talk about the specifics but things like military information support operations is one aspect, civil affairs, and our military information support professionals that exist within the theater a special operations. some are actually stationed in embassies around the world in support of the chief of mission at those embassies. those help build networks so no, i'm not advocating for additional resources but in looking for make sure that the people are prioritized in the right places. >> and i would say i would certainly support any resources that you need to complete the missions you are given. >> thank you. >> general mckenzie, according
to the gao's october report on afghan security, the afghan national defense and security forces have improved some fundamental capabilities such as high-level operational planning, they continue to rely on the united states and coalition support to build several key capability gaps. where do you believe the biggest shortfalls remain in terms of the security forces ability to conduct its missions, and how to believe the united states should work to make the afghan forces more sufficient, self-sufficient? i know we come in your follow up here to senator wicker we were talking about the losses that we suffer as a country when we lose braid military men and women, the afghan soldiers and police come just last year alone lost more than the total that we have seen in the american death toll in '17 years.
how can we more effectively support them? >> senator, thank you. one of the most important things we can help the afghans with is continuing to refine our force generation process. how they recruit, how to train and other present for actual execution. their losses have been very high. they are fighting hard but the losses are not going to be sustainable unless we corrected this problem. i know general miller direct attention and if confirmed it would be something i would like to work with him on as a matter of great importance. the other part of your question talks about the capability would provide them actually in the field. they range from close air support which they navigated to generate themselves but we still salute the system with, with intelligence, under certain situations and all the maintenance activities that go into putting a large complex army in the field. these are all areas where additional work needs to be done. these are areas that are being addressed today in the theater. >> thank you both. thank you both for visiting with
me prior to the series. i look forward to working with you in the future. thank you. >> thank you, senator fischer. senator peters. >> thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, thank you for your testimony today and also for your willingness to take on some very difficult jobs. so we all appreciate that. general mckenzie, i want to follow up on some my colleagues questions related to the national defense strategy that we have presented to us last week. i want to read a portion of the report that it think it takes a significant and i quote, while the united states was focus on counterterrorism and defeating insurgents in iraq and afghanistan, russia and china were focus on acquiring capabilities to overcome america's technological edge and operational reach. as a result, america has been losing his military advantage in a number of key war fighting areas, is a court which i think is significant and one that certainly one that is very significant to the work this
committee does and the work you do each and every day. the report goes on to suggest congress needs to invest in new capabilities and operational concepts. that leads to my concern about afghanistan where we are still spending $45 billion a year in afghanistan. and given the focus of the new national defense strategy, my question to you is, if confirmed how will you adjust requested requirements for afghanistan given the strategies focus on great power competition? >> i'd like to begin by completely agree with the nds emissions assessment for québec over the last decade and half and even longer our two principal competitors, russia and china, have carefully studied as while we have engaged principal and the sitcom. they have used that opportunity to steal a the march and made those investments based on a very careful study of our potential weaknesses. i think it's very good analysis. >> i think the way for
afghanistan is to try to reach a political settlement that is going to allow us to remove elements of our presence that of their death. the key thing we need to bear in mind as a look at if you and against it as a long-term interest is preventing -- against the homeland. we have to provide for that any potential future political settlement that is what we are looking to ambassador to work on right now that i believe that does present a long-term way forward and think we will know more about it in the near future. >> we've been hearing about this, as long as i been in congress i've been hearing about the need for the political settlement and having department of state involved so this isn't a new strategy at least in terms of what i've been hearing over many years. another thing i've heard everything i heard it again today from you as well is a necessary capability requirements for the afghan national defense and secretive forces people to like they have to stand up and defend their country. that's going to be critical to get a political settlement as of security forces in afghanistan with afghan people defending
themselves. my question to you directly is, is how far of the afghan security forces from having the capability to secure the country without the presence of 15,000 united states soldiers and marines and airmen? >> senator, i will apply equally directly. they are not there yet and if we left precipitously right now i do not believe it would be able to successfully defend their country. i think it's a conditions-based approach. we're we're going to go through this winter. we'll see how they do in the force generation face of this winter but i don't know how long it's going to take it i think one of the things that would actually provide the most damaging to the would be if we put a timeline on it. we said were going out at a certain point of time, as we've seen when we precipitously withdrew from iraq earlier come certain effects probably follow from that. senator, out of how long it will take you a you know we are working very hard. i do know you are making improvements.
know that that it would be very difficult for them to survive without come at our coalition partners assistant and we should remember nato and a number of other nations are with us on the afghanistan. >> i'm asking you to put a number on when we withdraw. i agree you cannot put just a time out there to say were going to be polling outfit you want to make sure the afghan forces have the capability to stand up and do the work on their own but we've been at it for 17 years. 17 years as a long time. what are we doing differently when it comes to the afghan security forces that we haven't done for 17 years while being focus on this? >> senator, i understand your frustration. i've been there twice. my son has been there twice. first, we are doing things in a vaguely different with the afghan security forces. they are doing the fighting. americans are still risk and is this a tragically last week americans are still going to go in harm's way and some of the may die but we're no longer doing the fighting. they are doing the fighting. they're doing it imperfectly
that with our assistance in those niche capitals we talked about before. that is a new thing. the other thing that is new and i completely understand your reference that we have been pursuing a diplomat solution for 17 years. not an event which we are now. not with an empowered envoy that is talking directly to the taliban where we have the opportunity bring them together. i think this is this is a new . i maybe wrong but i but i put s a new opportunity for us and the military campaign is in direct support of the. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator peters. senator cotton. >> thank you, gentlemen for europeans today and your willingness to continue to serve our country in your positions. thanks to your families for loaning you to our country for so long. speak about socom's budget. a time of tight budgets when some of the administration are talked about having 5% from the department defense budget. many people say but that's okay because special operations command which is buried so much of the fight will be fully
funded. can you talk about your dependence on the rest of the conventional military and how we're our special operations forces fight with them and how stable predictable and increasing funding for this conventional forces the so forth for the special operations command? >> senator, thanks. there are five special operations troops. the fifth truth of that is no special operations require no special operations force assistant i believe in that, that truth and we see it. every day in the operations in which special operations conducted. especially for longer term and during missions were special operations we need the support of the services in all of those and the conventional force. the other aspect i would be remiss if i didn't highlight is the special operations command is made up of the services. much of the recruitment, much of
the force is actually started in conventional force and came up through the ranks and they were identified as some of the best of breed in that particular circuit in which they serve and then they raised their hand and volunteered for the special operations. the services are inherently important to socom. >> thank you. general mckenzie, there's been a lot of talk this week about the implication of the national defense strategy both for central command ever special operations command, and it's focused on near peer or peer competition, what it means for the middle east, where we primarily thought counterinsurgency force over the last 15 years. but obviously there's one power in the middle east that has the resources and the power of a nationstate, iran. it's not a near competitive but has it goes only a nationstate can marshal to threaten u.s. interests. can you talk about what the
national defense strategy means for you in the central command relative to the threat of iran? >> senator, thank you. long-term enduring significant boatswain if that threat and use centcom aor is iran and iran's aligned ambitions across of the theater and indie global. that's recognized in the nds. there are five principal threats to the nation that identified in the national defense strategy your iran is one of those. it is below the threats of russia which can destroy us and china which can seriously injure us but i ran also has that capability and their exploiting their maligned views everyday in the theater. some of the central command aor, central command will be forced to do with those is first of all recognize there is going to be a force repot your to some degree concentric leman. we've already begun to see elvis of that as we talk about how often carriers committed the central command aor. it's going to require the command adopt innovative new techniques to maintain deterrence against iran because
that is the underpinning everything else that will go on in the theater is the ability to deter iran and respond if required to. >> if iran's leadership or to miscalculate and to challenge the u.s. navy vessel in the persian gulf or say straight up the service can give any doubt the u.s. posture in the central command area of responsibility to meet that challenge? >> unconfident we can respond. what i would also can get bit, the element of risk would be the time it would take us to reassert ourselves, and we can do very quickly, the a little bit later but when it's all said and done we will reassert the status quo. >> while we talk about iran can we talk of what's happening in yemen and the extent to which iran is supporting the houthi forces in yemen and the implications for u.s. security and a partner security there? >> when we talk about given it's important to remember iran is done the response of behavior that led to the overthrow of the
government and actually create a situation that we now have in yemen itself. iran has been extraordinarily irresponsible as a nation in what they've done in yemen and that is at a large factor driving the conflict forward. >> ballistic missile launch from houthi controlled territory into saudi arabia to include the vicinity of saudi arabia's international airport in riyadh where american flight in and out of everyday. i'm not aware of ballistic missile manufacturing companies in yemen. are you? >> i am not. were confident those missiles come from another place that they are smuggled in, assembled with the rain assistance and they are employed by the houthis both against the kingdom as well as against uae. as you also irresponsibly into the red sea where vital oil transport occurs. >> my time has expired. thank you again come gentlemen. >> thank you, senator cotton. senator king. >> thank you, mr. chair.
thank you to the witnesses. congratulations on the nominations. looking forward to working with you should to be confirmed. general mckenzie, one of the recent deaths in afghanistan was a virginian army captain andrew ross who sm in both lexington and richmond, very beloved individual and we feel that very deeply, his death to give it asked a number of questions thai just want to ask this. the stalemate is disappointing and i was in halifax is woven general dunford talked about the stalemate but it's one thing to have a stalemate with 14,000 american troops there. it's nothing to a stalemate with 100,000. we are. we're down from 100,000, to 14,000 and it seems to be that's about the number that is required now to provide the ancillary support to enable the afghans to this type everywhere have any plans by this administration to significantly in the near or medium-term change that number of u.s. troops in afghanistan? >> senator, i am not aware of
any plans. >> thank you for that. let me ask you about syria. how do you understand the u.s. military mission in syria? >> the mission in serious design to finish isis, , the physical caliphate of isis off in the lower euphrates river valley. that is the principal objective. >> principal objective if one of the things i've been confused on the can is that is listed as either the objective of the principal objective. there is sort of a good faith debate in this committee and elsewhere about whether 2001 authorization for use of military force covers that objective, but many scholars believe that it does. but we also occasionally read or hear a committee meetings like this, the present administration articulate additional objective with illegal rationale is not frankly even covered by the 2001 authorization. so, for example, the united states has taken action against the syrian government twice launching missile strikes against the syrian government in
response to use chemical weapons but it's also undertaken military action against the syrian government when the syrian government has made gains against the free syrian army in space were isis is not that much of a factor. do you understand the mission in syria, the american mission in syria, to include a pushing back are tempted to topple the syrian government? >> i do not believe the mission includes that objective. >> it has often misstated both icann sectors especially secretary of state the part of the mission in syria is to provide a check against iran. you understand that as a reason for american military presence in syria? >> senator, an apostle to be at the right effect of our presence on the ground. that is not a mission that we are undertaking. >> is iran working again with isis as fortunate? >> iran is through nothing, against isis. they are pursuing other objectives there. they're intimately working against isis but not as consistent as for example, we are. >> iran is back at the syrian
government. is this your government working against isis or indifferent? >> i think they have pretty much considered the isa threat over. they're trying to crush the last minutes of opposition against the assad government now. >> we often hear its stated in press and even in this hearing part of the as number present in circa survive a check against russian influence. is that your understanding as an objective in just military presence? >> it is not. it may be a derived observed effect. it is cleared not an objective of her presidency. >> last thing i want to do is a word about the debate were having about yemen to follow up on senator collins questions and this is sort of the statement. one of the reasons that this body is considering on the floor declaration that we are not involved in, that were not to be considered or take military action as part of the sound is in the yemeni civil war. one of the recent were having a debate is a critical issue including to what we've been told by the military. we fed military leaders look at
the senate and say that we're not involved in hostilities to support either side in the yemeni civil war. when we pointed out the u.s. is refueling saudi jets on the way to bombing in yemen were told that's not assisting in hostilities. the war powers resolution 1973 defines hostilities to include aiding allies in the interesting to hostilities but with an military leadership look us in the face and tell us that refueling saudi jets on the way to bombing is not hostilities. many of the bombs that have killed civilians in yemen are made in the united states and either provide to saudi arabia via military sales or from u.s. companies but again were told the u.s. is not involved in hostilities. i think one of the reasons were having this debate on a metaphysical and he do the senate right now is we don't like being told and we are proxies for the american public, we don't like being told we're
not involved in hostilities when bombs are falling that are made in the united states. when used jets involved in refueling saudi bombing runs into human. we are insulted by that. i think we just need to be candid about what we doing and not doing, and i'm not asking for a response from either of you but i'm just saying one of the reasons we are having this made i'm convinced right now is because we have been told some things from the administration for military leadership and last months that we find frankly incredible. and we'll find that to be believable. the debate will clarify as a matter of policy from the article one branch that is supposed to be the declarer of war, military action, special against a nation, this will be a cliff i debate and to think it's one we need to have. with that, taking mr. chair. >> thank you, senator kaine.
senator rounds. >> thank you, mr. chairman. generals, i want to thank you both and your families for your decades of service to our nation. general clarke, there's been considerable discussion on the stress of the special operations force after 17 years of continuous operations and the doubling of a force during that same timeframe. can you discuss from your perspective the difference in the quality of individuals special operators in 2001 and now, and the challenges the command faces in maintaining that quality? and what do you need from congress proactively to make certain that special operator quality remains unmatched in the face of operational requirements, which we all know will not be reduced? >> senator, thanks for the question and thanks for your support. the quality of special
operations since 2001 i think is actually increased. the experience our special operations, operators have gained throughout the world and activity for which they participated have made them better and have made them stronger. i still stick with the quality is more important than the quantity, one of the soft truths. as we look at that quality, the standards have not changed. we have not lowered standards within socom in any of the specialties that support. they all have their individual stands which they have to meet. the of the peace, i would highlight for the committee is, you specifically mentioned stress on the force. as the secretary has stated, first line of effort is built and more lethal and agile force, and adaptive force. a lot about goes to readiness,
and the ratings of the force that we have. the secretary has given guidance to the department in terms of having a two to one well ray shipwrecks over every month diploid, a special operations warrior has to be back home for two months to reset so three months -- i think those things as a look at our force are crucial. as far as what congress can do with this committee can do, i think it's a sustainable, predictable funding for socom that allow it to have a special programs that it does have and unique equipment that is the recognized by this committee that is crucial to our mission. >> thank you. general mckenzie, you come into centcom during a time in which there is clearly a discussion within the senate with regards to the role that we would play in yemen.
most recently at a think the discussion was you which you didn't get an opportunity to respond your thoughts concerning the role that this country plays in the activity in yemen today. i don't like from your perspective, based upon what's going on there today, your thoughts about the need to either support the efforts bear to come to a peaceful resolution, and what the role of our nation should be in trying to bring all of the different sides to the negotiating tables, and a critical need at this juncture to maintain a steady course. if you talk a little bit about the role that you see now from a policy perspective? with regard to activities in yemen. >> senator, thank you for the question. when we look at human there are two things would look at in the most important thing remains the ability to play direct ct pressure to al-qaeda on the
arabian peninsula and to isis on the arabian peninsula we should all remember before 2001 an attack against a u.s. warship initiated by aqap down and ate was actually one of the early attacks of this long without we're in now. i have an aspiration to attack the united states. there prevented from generating that only because of the direct pressure the remains on them so that is clear unequivocal national interest of the united states. senator, up with the best solution in yemen would be a negotiated solution that would are hopeful beginning to make see the leading edge with martin griffin and of the members of the united nations that are tempted to bring parties to a cease-fire and will allow for distribution of food and houthis bear a large may of the blame for not disturbing that food but an attempt to get to a situation where the large fraction come, t two-thirds of the publishing of yemen, is that food risk now can be appropriately addressed. i think that is an important thing. i believe our ability to participate and tried those discussions require that we
remain in contact with both uae and the kingdom of saudi arabia. >> thank you. i time is expired. and keep both for your service. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator brown. >> senator warren. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you general clarke and general mckenzie for being a today. would go back to yemen. for over three years the saudi arabia led coalition warplanes refueled with arms anissa from the emirates bombing yemeni territory to counter iranian-backed militias as part of a dangerous proxy war between saudi arabia and iran. and this week the senate advance the resolution that would if it became law cut off all u.s. support for saudi-led coalition bombing campaign in yemen. so i just want to make sure that we're all clear about what's going on. i think will be helpful to the american people to understand how we have directly contributed to the situation in yemen since
march of 2015. 2015. we seem to have had some challenges in getting this on the record. so let me start here. general mckenzie, we provide both intelligence support and military advice to the saudi is for targeting houthi allied forces unit. is that correct? >> senator, it is with important exception that intelligence we're providing them is not target level intelligence. >> welcome it is intelligence -- make check. are you saying we provide intelligence support and military advice, is the right? >> that is correct. >> and until november 11 of this year we refueled saudi-led coalition strike air force that palm these targets in yemen come is separate? >> senator, that is correct. >> and saudi aircraft routinely drop both guided unguided bombs, some of which are sold by u.s. defense contractors, drop them
on these targets in yemen, is that correct? >> senator, that is correct. >> suite that intelligence. we've got refueling. we've got bombs. without military advice. you and i talked yesterday about a military relationship with saudi arabia, and i know that you think continuing the campaign in yemen is in our interest, but i respectfully disagree on this. yemen is a largest community in crisis in the world. millions of people on the brink of starvation it is the worst cholera back outbreak in modern history. thousands of the civilians have been killed. thousands more wounded. children have starved to death. neither side is winning this proxy war and the yemeni people are suffering. i think it is time to read i would our relationship with saudi arabia in light of its actions not only in yemen but with the assassination of journalist jamal khashoggi.
and we need to ask ourselves if the benefits of this relationship with saudi arabia is worth the cost, if this kind of behavior continues. and that's what i cosponsored this bipartisan resolution that would stop our involvement in saudi military operations in yemen, and less congress provides specific authorization for it. -- and less. as but one other area one have time, that is the nuclear deal between the united states and five partner nations, and iran, that placed iran's nuclear program and the limits and inspections so that it could not develop a nuclear weapon. so far this deal has worked and iran's compliance has been verified repeatedly by international inspectors, but president trump is put this deal of risk when he unilaterally withdrew the united states and oppose all sanctions on iran that were meant to be suspended as a condition of iran's compliance with the agreement.
the director director of natiol intelligence worldwide threat assessment from this year said in part the iran deal has quote, extend the amount of time iran would need to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons from a few months to about one year, and will commence enhance the transparency of iran's nuclear activities. general mckenzie, do you agree with intelligence community assessment? >> senator, i do agree with the assessment. >> and aside from the current nuclear agreement, at this time are you where of any alternative binding diplomatic agreement that would prevent iran from developing a nuclear weapon? >> senator, i am not. >> and since the trump administration violated the nuclear deal by unilaterally withdrawing from it and re-imposing sanctions, has the iranian government significantly reduced its destabilizing activities? >> i read in destabilizing activities across the region were active before, during, and
after. >> okay, so no effect. there's no other binding diplomatic agreement to prevent iran from developing a nuclear weapon, no iran's government is a bad actor but i think it's easier to counter iran's destabilizing behavior if it has no nuclear weapon that it would be if it did have nuclear weapons here iran maintains itself in compliance, and i believe the president should res reckless decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions, because the deal makes america safer safe d makes the world safer. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator warren. senator ernst. >> thank you, mr. chair. gentlemen, thank you very much for your years of service to our wonderful, great uniter states of america. i want to thank your families as well for being here today. we understand how important they are to your success as well. so thank you very much.
we understand that socom and centcom have been really centrist and our fight against terrorism in the last 17 years, and now that we see the national defense strategy rightly prioritizing the great power competition with adversaries like china and russia, we still have to understand that there continues the fight that catechism fight, the fight against ceos in the centcom region, so as my position a subcommittee chair on emerging threats and capabilities, i do look forward to continuing to work with you and focusing on the middle east so that we put as much pressure on those organizations as possible. so thank you for the great work in that area. senator reed, i know earlier you said as we focus on families that mr. clark and been very helpful to you for what to acknowledge, for you in iraq's
links? >> as i was in of excellent and very graduate it because of that. but i know your daughter is probably the best swimmer in a class. >> well, she is a swimmer. i won't say the best swimmer. but because we do focus for heavily on our families and especially with soft, it is very important that we focus on all aspects of our special operators, whether it is your training and qualifications, the families support. it is very important, and general clarke, you brought up the soft truth that exist. there are five of them. one of them is the special operations cannot be mass-produced either. and on friday i had the honor of attending naval special warfare command in coronado where i have the great honor of securing the
latest hell week class with the newest bides there as well as speaking to the stt, the seal qualification training course before their pin on their tridents. these young men really have spent months and months, if not years enduring some of the toughest physical and mental challenges known to our fighting men and women. and we want to do all that we can to support them. this has been discussed earlier, but the pool of qualified folks that are able to go into special operations is very small, and you would not they come from all service branches. so what can we do to further recruit and retain the best of the best, knowing that we do need these elite special fighters?
>> senator, one of the most important things we do is work through the services for that. it's critical that the services also have the tools and means, and a love that is funding. as a secretary said last week, and this is not just an all volunteer force but this is also a recruiting force of our nation. we have opened up as you well know special operations forces across all genders. we want the best of the people who have the physical, , the intellectual, and the desire to serve in our special operations community to build a circular special operations community. and then specifically, some of the things this committee has done is provide the tools and the resources for soft to be able to take care of its service members and families and specifically the preservation of the force and family program, and the warrior care that is given to our socom operators as a soft specific -- cooperative
to work in the shadows. after working places that are sensitive, , things they can't talk about, and to have, to have a program that specific to their needs of them that on the front lines but not only the families are waiting for them to come home, this has been a critical part for our special operations command and i think this committee for the. >> yes, and thank you. and thank you for acknowledging coders. i was going to drive that next because it's an incredible combination of support for our warriors as well as for our families, which again i want to acknowledge are so very important to them in the surf in your organization as well as women. but i was able to also while i was at coronado spent some time with their team and visiting with her psychologist. i think it's incredible that were actually able to embed our psychologist with our various teams of operators across the force and understanding that we
not only to make sure he that they are physically and spiritually ready but also mentally capable to drive on to the next mission. so thank you so much. again, gentlemen, take you for years of service and your families to god bless you for the great support that you give. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you both. it's good to see both of you again, aloha. this come to the two questions ask of every nominee who comes before any of the five committees of which i sit. it's part of my responsibility to make sure the fitness of nominees for all pointless for senior positions, positions of power within the administration. i'd like to ask each of you the following two questions. i'll start with you, general mckenzie. since you became a a legal adut have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?
>> never, center. >> general clarke? >> never, senator. >> have ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement relating to this kind of conduct? >> i have not. >> no, i have not, senator. >> thank you. general mckenzie, i'm concerned that there is not enough effort being put to our diplomatic regions in the centcom region and about this up in our discussion earlier when we met. the fact that we do not have an ambassador to egypt or pakistan damages result nominated ambassador to saudi arabia suggests that the meditation has a take all of the steps that should to support diplomacy in the region. would you support fully staffing the diplomatic missions in the region and work with them to increase regional stability? >> senator, i will. >> that means lending your voice to the fact the way to fill these positions. you mentioned in your testimony,
general mckenzie, that we are in the military stalemate in afghanistan. and, in fact, that's also acknowledged by chairman dunford. and the only path to peace in afghanistan is a diplomatic path. general mckenzie, and your response to questions from this committee you said that there is a role for pakistan in reaching this kind of settlement. so why did you say that courts are there any indications that pakistan wishes to play that kind of the role with regard to afghanistan? >> senator, i do believe that any solution in afghanistan is going to require the assistance of pakistan. it has to be original solution, such as a solution centered in afghanistan. it is in pakistan's long-term interests to have a government in afghanistan that is stable, that they can do business with. i think pakistan has not shown indications i and part over the last few years of being a serious partner in this regard.
ambassador has had a meeting with the pakistanis seem to see if we can find some way forward. it will be hard to reach the sun without some form of assistance from pakistan. >> and he said that pakistan is still not acknowledge that it has a potential major role to play. >> probably pakistan knows very clearly that their systems will be required to reach and in state in the knesset think the best way is to make it attractive to them so that they see is in the best interest to get. >> i think when used the words like attractive to them, that you said they want something from us in return for playing any kind of a positive role in bringing about a reconciliation. which by the way reconciliation in afghanistan means that the taliban will have a role to play, a major role to play in the for the governance of afghanistan. >> i believe it does because i could briefly, i'd like to correct an early remark. i noted the size of taliban afghanistan of the 20,000
probably would say is actually about 60,000 thousand, revise that earlier number. >> general clarke, , you ask soe questions about the nuclear deal that the united states entered into with other nations. you said today that iran has not ceased or cut back on its his e activities in the middle east before doing for after the nuclear deal. the nuclear deal didn't have anything to do with stopping iran from these kinds of activities in the middle east, correct? >> senator, that is correct. >> why do you think the president used iran's ally and activities east as the reason for unilaterally pulling out of the nuclear deal? >> i can't speculate. >> i think that's called a rhetorical question. let it get to you, general clarke. how many personnel are there in
socom? >> senator, 70,000. >> 70,000. and you testified today that socom should only be involved in those missions suited for socom and that mission suited for conventional forces should remain or go to the conventional forces is this the alienation clear within the department of defense? is that reflected in what socom does? >> senator, i believe the sector has been very clear in those lines that socom should be specific to socom missions. so i don't think there's any, there is any issue into delineation within the department of defense for the. >> this is because of our understanding that socom has been deployed often to the point where there's major stress on socom. i think you mentioned that there are attempts underfoot, ongoing
i should say, to relieve the stress on the deployment to socom. so is that because of the understanding that the delineation from what socom should be doing and what are conventional forces should be doing really needs to be adhered to? >> senator, with the publishing of the national defense strategy and looking at the organization of the force it's given us very good opportunity to we look all of our diplomas can look for the forces are to make sure socom forces are, in fact, dedicated to the missions that are most important. and i specific to special operations forces. >> thank you. thank you both for your responses to our questions. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator hirono. senator kyle. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i join my colleagues in thanking you gentlemen for your willingness to continue to serve our country and also join those
of noted the families and the sacrifices they make. i join in that thinks as well. there's been a great deal of discussion here today at the new national defense strategy and the commission report on that strategy. i had the good fortune of both serving as a member of that commission to the time that we finished our deliberations, and then having gotten appointed to the senate. now, i'm in a position to value something about it. one of the thinks this help bring attention to what the strategy and the commission's report about that strategy really require. i'd like to just make, , and thinking your reaction. everybody has noted the fact that the new defense strategy, that secretary has dramatically reprioritize u.s. interest, putting the potential threat from china and russia at the top of the list and then relegating the threats from countries like
iran and north korea and the terrorist threats to a subsidiary level and that's in contrast what we've been doing over the last eight to ten years. what the commission has noted is that that re-prioritization has certain consequences. one of the consequences is what we spend our money on. the money will need to be spent on being able to defeat and, therefore, this of course is the key, deterring russia and china from ever seeking to have conflict with us. that means that we going to have to come instead of putting our first available dollars into readiness, to support worn-out troops and equipment that's been used in the middle east, for for example, will have to put the first dollars into long-term expensive research and development and acquisition projects to take advantage of a lot of new technology and to try to blunt some of the new technology that these adversaries have developed
against us. this has to do with hypersonic and directed energy and space of all of those things that require some new ways of conducting war. it requires some continuing work and greater dedication to the modernization of our nuclear deterrent. unfortunately, some bills are coming to all at the same time. not only the life extension of nuclear weapons and the result of the laboratory complexes, but also all three parts of our triad wearing out and, therefore, having to be redeveloped and deployed at the same time. as has been of cost upwards of $1 a trillion dollars over 30 years, but that's still represents at its peak may be 6.2 or 3% of the defense budget or we're going to have to position come take
advantage of allies and position ourselves as close as we can get the potential is a conflict that we are to have to have more sea and air transport because the new strategy calls for having to move things around in the event of a conflict that we don't have enough now to be able to have everything we need in every theater against every potential enemy. so we would have to reposition forces from europe to southeast asia, for example. we also noted, the commission noted the forces southeast asia are not necessarily want you want to fight a land war in europe are quite welcome a land war in your forces and not necessarily the ones that would be has to be senator potential areas of conflict with the chinese in southeast asia. meanwhile, though we'll do our best to do all of that with the capability we have, we understand that the with the risks that will have to be taken. where are those risks? unfortunately, fall right into your lap because they do with the threat you have to do with
all of the time. i did want ask you if you understand that that is the strategy that is being suggested here? to understand the risks to that strategy that the commission has notified, has reported on? and to tell us just a little bit about your thoughts on. i know, general clarke, he said we need to sustain a predictable funding and that's exactly what the commission said we needed in addition to more of the top fine about three to 5% above inflation. so your thoughts on all of that. >> senator, i'll begin venture over to rich jerk i was the j5 in a prior life. which relieve me in that job as i was present in the creation or i'm intimately and i embrace the principles that has been a recognized that in my aor in particular if confirmed that the would-be increase risk we will have to be prepared to shift forces but but i think the anso that, just to slip one thing to
briefly talk about would be a to examine all problems globally and we have a thought process in mind that would allow us to rapidly shift forces across the globe to respond to my the sentiment for simplot is what we know that term, the term of art we used inside the joint staff it but because those margins that you described have grown so narrow, they are no longer purely regional solutions to anything. every solution even a regional one pass of a global component. i pause there. >> senator, as the current j5, having relieved the gentleman sitting next to me, also familiar with the national defense strategy. the central idea also the national defense strategy is to compete, to deter and to win. i think that competition aspect so that we compete and were able to deter because we don't haveo fight the fight, it does go to the readiness of the force and does go to the technologies that
are required to be able to deter enemies but i think that is a palace where to look at. it's going to be up to the second to determine where those risks and inputs are going for but it's something where very thinly with and support the national defense strategy. >> gentlemen, i would just conclude. the commission concluded that the strategy could be a very effective strategy it adequately resource, , and that's the cavet we attached to it. i think you again very much for your testimony. .. to the short-term and long-term threat posed by iran. >> the most significant long
and short-term threat is iran and iran's ambitions in the theater to a great level. >> how do you assess the impact of the president's decision pulling out of the iranian nuclear deal? >> i would say iran's malign behavior in the theater hasn't abated from before, during or after the nuclear deal and the other demands i see like the development of ballistic missiles, activities in syria and yemen and other nations. >> let's take one point piece at a time. in terms of ballistic missiles, what are we seeing? what is their capability and what is the threat of those ballistic missiles? >> iran has chosen to substitute ballistic missiles, both short, medium and long-range for their paucity of aviation assets. they have aggressive development a program going forward including aspiration to develop and icbm. >> how close do you assess they
are to having and icbm that could hit the continental united states? >> what they are testing, we launched -- we watch their space launch vehicle. we have seen in other places around the vehicle, technology is easily transferred from a space launch vehicle to and icbm of significant range. >> what would be the national security threat posed to the united states if iran could acquire nuclear weapons? >> should iran acquire nuclear weapons, i think they have been opposed to us for many years so you can only speculate what they might do with those weapons but i can't imagine anything good will proceed from iran possessing a weapon of great ability to destroy. >> how would it impact the region if iran were to become a nuclear power? >> it would be destabilizing in the region, would lead to other nations pursuing nuclear
weapons, the worst of all outcomes for us which would be widespread proliferation of those weapons. >> describe for this committee iran's conduct in terms of spreading, fomenting and funding terror. >> the humanitarian tragedy we confront in yemen is the trial of iranian ambitions in yemen and their support for hezbollah like state proceeding directly from them. we see the same activities in syria as well where they are actively participating in supporting government of bashar al-assad and all the proceeds from that at the terror he inflicted on his own people. just to say two examples. >> what has been the state of the iranian economy? following our withdrawal from the nuclear deal? >> pressure remains on the
iranian accurate -- economy. we looked hard but i believe there is pressure on the iranian economy. remains to be seen to work with other countries that seek to circumvent some of the sanctions on them. don't know the answer and i'm not the best person to describe that but i believe there is pressure on the iranian economy. >> even with that pressure on the economy have you seen any indications of their scaling back terror activity funding of hezbollah and other terrorists? >> i have seen nothing change. >> what is your assessment? we saw significant protests against the ayatollah and the mullahs. what is your assessment of the degree of unrest and dissatisfaction among the iranian people with the regime? >> it is an authoritarian
regime that responds very harshly. i haven't seen anything. and the intelligence community will have a better look at that but i've seen nothing that characterizes as spreading or threatening the fundamental nature of the iranian regime. >> we have seen in the past that iran has a long history of making promises and breaking those promises. what do you see as the likelihood of them having initiated or will initiate a nuclear program working to develop nuclear weapons? >> we should watch very closely. we should watch very closely that possibility. >> thank you for your service. >> senator nelson. >> general mackenzie, that was a very good dialogue with senator cruise. i commend you for your quick
and sharp responses. given the fact that the us supported coalition has routed isis in syria, iran -- iraq, what is next? and we've your answer in with not necessarily just isis but al qaeda and other groups in the area such as yemen, anyplace that there is chaos, some of the regions of north africa, the horn of africa etc.. >> thank you for that question. i will say this. we are seeing the military campaign in a rack where the government is in the process of seating itself, we are prepared to move forward to build
partner capacity activity with the government of iraqi going forward. we are seeing some success. i don't want to oversell it because isis is still active in pockets in iraqi but iraqi security forces are generally proving effective at squashing them when they appear. i believe long-term success for isis will not be the complete disappearance of the entity but the ability of local security forces to deal with the problem when they arise. that is interact. in syria we are close to finishing the physical destruction of the caliphate. and transition to a counterinsurgency. more activity will be needed. the solution in syria we would like to see is a politically informed solution where all parties have a seat at the table and we will see how that goes forward but the military component is coming to a very near end. i wouldn't want to put a timeline honest but it is close. yemen, we maintain unrelenting
pressure on isis and the arabian peninsula as well as al qaeda in the iranian peninsula because it is the last entity to successfully generate an attack against the united states in 2009 and christmas, the christmas day bomber, and iran is not helpful at all. they fermented and began the civil war that now exists in yemen and amid suffering to that part of the -- and if i were to pull back and finish by saying the largest strategic deal is we are close to finish the physical heart of isis, and similarly suppressed, it will require continual pressure to prevent them resurging. they also have tentacles that reach out into sub-saharan africa and in other parts of the world and that is where the larger coalition of nations that have the same interests we
have in preventing the return of isis will be a critical factor as we go forward. >> what is the latest on our baghdadi? >> he is a scared man running for his life in the desert near the euphrates river. >> obviously that is a major goal, to get him as we try to mop up the caliphate. >> i would note as long as you are concerned whether you are going to die in the next hour or so it is hard to plot attacks against detroit. >> there you go. general clark, tell me, since so calm is involved in all
these areas, sometimes you might have, even though you have gotten a lot of resources over the years, you have to worry about getting stretched. what can the congress do to help you so you are not getting too thin? >> thanks for that question. a follow on with what general mackenzie stated, the global view of the threat and looking at the flow of fighters, looking at the messaging that is going across the boundaries and in order to have that, to ensure that socalm is not stretched too then we need the sustained and predictable funding for our budget going forward.
>> general mackenzie, do you see us troops continuing to help mop up isis and our qaeda even in areas that are contested like yemen. >> yemen in particular we provide the capabilities to go after al qaeda. our view would be create conditions where local security forces contain those threats. we are not at that level but it remains our clear goal. >> thank you, mister chairman. >> thank you, senator nelson. and thank both witnesses for your patience and your families for being here to support you and we are adjourned, thank you. you bet.
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