tv Foreign Policy and National Security Conference Representative Mac... CSPAN December 3, 2016 10:00am-10:46am EST
job training. that would lessen their stress be a betterand also productive citizen as well. host: that's hasha from dallas, texas. go ahead. you bring up. one of the things that we know is another one of the high promises of america's promise alliance is young people should have the ability to serve and the ability to take part and serve their community. i think programs and workforce development programs for young people that allow them to engage in the community and allow them to engage in work -- in meaningful work experiences, that is so important. along with that, when we think about the school dropout age in many countries is 16. as a parent, i would hate for my children that think they could drop out of school and they were
16 years old and not be expected to finish and graduate. those are things we can look at as well in terms of raising that age. an assistant professor at the boston university school of social work at a research fellow at the center for promise. thank you for joining me. guest: thank you having me. host: that does it for us on "washington journal." we are again tomorrow, talking to the heritage foundation, discussing the legal potential voting in the united states. we also talked to melissa yeager, a senior staff writer at the sunlight foundation on president-elect donald trump's businesses. a panel from the guardian news and media discuss u.s. european relations under a donald trump administration. we will see you then. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪
>> a house armed services chairman mac thornberry of texas talks about military readiness. then, ranking member ben cardin of maryland discusses global challenges. after that, u.s. central command chief general joseph hotel -- votel discusses the u.s. fight against isis. >> now, house armed service mac thornberry on military readiness. in the national defense authorization act. for fiscal year 2017. from the foreign-policy initiative forum, this is about 40 minutes.
>> thank you, chris. this is great for me to be here with you and chairman thornberry. we will have a conversation that will touch on a number of topics and we will take some questions. i want to talk first about readiness. before i ask you the first question, we are going to talk about current readiness of the military. i think we can safely say that the report is not very good at all. a lot of things you could say in the last few years are responsible for that. a lot of agencies. but not the house armed services committee. we are grateful for your leadership and the consistent way you have stood up for american security. welcome. mr. thornberry: i appreciate it. mr. talent: i thought i would give you an opportunity to talk about the personal tour you have engaged in recently in a number of american military installations. i think you followed some of those abroad. and asked a lot of questions and learned a lot of things.
but realy talked about day to day readiness issues. so maybe even talk about what you found what the implications are. mr. thornberry: thank you. i appreciate your kind words. but i have to say, i did not fully appreciate the state of our readiness. and, the damage that has been done by sequestration, by the high pace of operations, a combination of factors. at least until i started talking with the people who were trying to live with it every day, and as you mentioned, earlier in the year i started traveling to various installations here at home, talking to pilots, aircraft maintainers and others. some of their stories, you just cannot forget. for example, one of the pilots brought me over to his f-18, and said ronald reagan sent this
claim to bomb qadhafi in 1986. it's my plane. something when i was in flight hit part of the plane, i had damage, we could not get the part to fix it. this was the pilot talking. i am taking my family through a military museum and seeing an f-18 on static display in the museum, and get the bright idea that maybe i could borrow a part from the museum aircraft. so he had to work his way through the museum bureaucracy and the dod bureaucracy to make this happen. took a part off the museum aircraft, it turned out the holes were drilled in inappropriate places. in the early 1980's it did not exactly fit. he had to come up with a plan b. but as i continue to talk with
others getting planes out of the boneyard -- and that extends beyond the flying. we have had testimony from a navy captain, his ship was tied up in dock so they can -- could take 13 parts of it to put on other ships that they had to deploy right away. so what we are doing is cannibalizing. and what goes with that, we do not have enough aircraft available for training. our folks are not getting the training they're supposed to get. so you get this cycle that is headed downward. until you talk -- one other thing. you have these old aircraft, to stay with airplanes for a second. you are really stressing your maintainers to keep them flying. i spoke to maintainers who say, i am not seeing my family any more at home than i was when i was deployed because we are literally working seven days a week, often 12 hours a day.
the depots get backed up and there is a cycle that just gets worse and worse. you are right, i followed one squadron to the middle east. i saw the problems they were having getting ready to deploy. once they got over there they took a plane to borrow stuff. they had not enough experienced eyelids so they had to manage the experienced pilots and less experienced pilots in their missions. are they bombing isis? in this case, yes. is it an incredible stress on the force? yes. it takes its toll over time. i think what we are seeing, and is not just anecdotes, you're seeing it in accident rates for all the services going up.
you're seeing consequences, these readiness shortfalls. and we have got to turn it around. last thing i will say is, it is morally wrong to send people out on missions for which they are not fully supported and fully prepared. and we are kind of doing it. we are not fully supporting them, and that is wrong. we have to turn it around, no matter what. mr. talent: that is a powerful statement. as you know, if those problems are existing across all the services, we know the day-to-day readiness is one of the last things this system wants to sacrifice, because it is embarrassing to everybody. if they are sacrificing that, what is it say about the long-term readiness issues that you have also talked about so far? mr. thornberry: i do think we make a mistake, both the military and those around it, by
seeing readiness as some sort of a code for our unit. it is broader. the only way you're going to make some of these aircraft squadrons ready is to get them airplanes. you can only do so much with the 1980's that are way beyond their flying hours. i do think it is important to look at readiness more broadly. not just units, but individuals, and also, our capability to deal with the variety of threats for high-end, to others that we face. mr. talent: the irony is that this is happening because of the desire to save money. and yet it will cost so much more, as you know. and you warn of the colleagues it is cutting off your nose to spite your face.
getting a concentration of energy to do something about it is a lot harder. mr. thornberry: it is like not fixing a roof. one day you will have water in your house. just think about the cost of that. that is a small example we can all relate to. across the military that is what we are facing. mr. talent: i love your museum example. when we do finally take these platforms offline, some will show up at the antiques roadshow. and they will say, what can i sell this for? you have got to laugh or cry. so we have a new president coming in. who gave what i thought was an outstanding defense speech with a very good defense plan over the summer, i would love for you
to comment on that if you want to, but one of the things i like is the emphasis in it not just on capabilities on technological, the technological edge that we are losing and need to maintain, but he did focus on numbers, capacity, and there has been a tendency in the last few years -- the defense panel and others, for people to get so in love with capability to offset -- that is important that they forget numbers. do you want to focus on that issue or how you see it going forward? mac thornberry: i agree, i think his focus on building the military is exactly right as was the piece you wrote that chris mentioned. numbers do matter. part of the reason we are challenged right now is we don't have enough aircraft -- i will just continue with that example. we are all flying more and more hours, and that is part of the cycle of how hard it is to get things ready if you don't have
enough, and what you have got, you are flying the wings off of. what else is true, i was recently in the asia-pacific region, you can have more capable ships -- we had this debate all the time with the obama administration. it can need more capable but only in one place at one time. you have to have numbers to cover geography. these days, when you have such a huge array of threats from russia and china, iran, north korea, terrorists that not only have gone away but are spreading out in more places, there is no substitute for numbers. final point is, like with aircraft, we can wear out our people this way. day after tomorrow in the house, we will pass this year's conference report for defense authorization bill.
one of the primary features is we stopped the drawdown on in strength on all the services, especially the army. part of what has happened is we have drawn down the numbers so much we have warned people out. for the air force, 700 pilots short, 5000 maintainers short because we are wearing people out. they can only do so much. jim talent: i am cochairing at the partisan center, secretary panetta and jim jones. when you get into these subjects as you know, it is quite interesting what you find. one of the things we are seeing is that all throughout the force, one of the reasons morale is suffering so badly is people feel like they are having to do
two or three jobs instead of one. they will do it, but you mentioned stress. over time -- these are volunteers. they don't have to stay. it is amazing that the force has held up, has held up i think as well as it has. mac thornberry: it is a credit to them. one last point on this. when you do the drawdowns like they are in the process of doing, who are you losing? you are losing the people with some experience and so forth. you lose that capability. even if you try to maintain it tomorrow, you are not replacing that experience. europe up to train recruits. don't lose them to begin with. jim talent: it is impossible. you also lose more fighters because to some extent, this is the old tooth to tail ratio, but you have to sustain the army. you do have to sustain the institutional army in order to continue as an organization, which means your strengths are
going to fall primarily in the brigades and war fighters, which is what we want to see out in the field. capacity is important going forward, and you are going to be working on what is the right capacity. we don't keep drawing down. i want to talk -- we were talking about the decline in our strength as a result of all of these factors, but that decline, when you talk about the decline of the military, it is relative to the missions they have to perform and the threats they are facing. it is part of the danger, we are not only gradually getting weaker, maybe not so gradually, but many of the potential
adversaries we are facing are getting stronger. you agree with that? mac thornberry: two years ago, when i first became chairman, we had a number of hearings. senator mccain did the same in the senate, just the state of the world. among others, henry kissinger did the comment that probably never before have we faced so many conflicts -- serious complex threats all at the same time. in addition to that, over the past 18 months or so, or committees had a number of classified-unclassified sessions where we looked at our eroding technological advantage over others, and this is another area that in some ways may have crept up on us, but if you look at it objectively, we are clearly less superior than we have been in the past. so you look at what russia and china are doing, where they are making their investments -- it
is directly focused on the way that we conduct warfare. and poses a real danger, whether it is nuclear deterrence, all the various cyber or counterspace activities -- you know, a variety of other abilities. jim talent: integrated air defenses. mac thornberry: absolutely. you look at the on russia's side, the missile work that china is doing, and they are not the only ones. because you see iran and north korea accelerating their missile testing among other things. isis is getting more sophisticated with the cyber -- the point is, we have a huge array of threats, more than we have ever faced, and their sophistication is growing, and
we have got to deal with it all. and that is the a factor. a lot of people say, we spent so much more money than all of these other militaries combined. we also have responsibilities more than anybody else combined. without us, others step into the vacuum. we are starting to see that in more aggressive activity and in the world. jim talent: yes i too deal with that, we spend more than other countries combined. i thought how best to capture the right response. it is a fair question. we want people to ask questions like that. it is apple to apples. what are we spending? these potential adversaries in their regions of the world -- china has $140 billion a year, half again that much? virtually all of the power you are getting out of that is concentrated in east asia and the near seas. so are we spending this money to maintain presence in that type
of world, and the answer is no. we are like a company that is trying to market in all 50 states, and a regional competitor is spending three times as much in five states as you are spending, and you will lose market share in those states. you are correct. we will go to questions in just a minute, so be thinking about it. time goes by so quickly. i think -- i do want to make certain we touch on industrial base issues. when you look at the buildup, and this is the difference between now and 30 years when reagan did this -- we have an incoming president-elect who i think is committed to a major rebuild of america's armed forces, but he does not have the robust defense forces like reagan did. would you talk about that? mac thornberry: i think it is
self-evident. we are down to one or two suppliers in many instances. if you talk to the major defense contractors, they are very dependent sometimes on a single subcontractor for various components. and much of the reason for that has been the erratic budgeting that has come from our political system -- not the political system. cr's, all of that has taken a toll on the industrial device. one of the things, as you know, one of the areas i have focused on has been acquisition reform, and part of the reason is, i have grown increasingly concerned that innovative companies that do commercial work and do work with the government are going to make a
decision that is just not worth messing with the government. they are just -- i have had executives with some of them tell me, that has been their calculation. it is just not worth it. and you think about what it -- the way the world is moving, the investments that our adversaries are putting in -- if we lose the innovation that comes from a whole series of companies, we will have a very difficult time defending the country. and so, when you think of the industrial age as the prime defense contractors, which is absolutely true, they are essential, but really it is a much larger group, and we have made it very hard to did business with the department of defense, and we have made it very slow to take advantage of
their innovations. while it is really important to get more value for the money we spent, what is even more of a driver for me is we have to be faster. we have to be more agile in fielding the best technology that will protect our people better but also meet the adversary. we have got to have a better acquisitions system in the industrial base, improving those relationships. it has been a very hostile one in recent times. you know, i understand you they are in it to make money. there has got to be arm's-length transaction and all that, but we have got to get back to everybody being on the same team for the same purpose in order to harness that tremendous innovation that is in the american army. jim talent: all of this -- and we will go to the questions that have monopolized the chairman for an hour and a whole, a lot of that is creating a deeper understanding and mindset among the colleague. and even within the defense or the press bring these things,
the free press understand it of how this system works had what kind of oversight and what kind of standards to hold them to are appropriate. when they are performing well, and with the $400 hammer shows something is wrong, that is hard to create that. i know -- tell me, one of the big things the chairman of the house armed services committee has to do is help his colleagues in the house understand how it is hugely important how a very different part of the government works. most of them will come in have a look at health care, education, but they don't understand this.
how do you see of your role, and how do you think it is going? mac thornberry: that is a question i get every day. there is always more work to do. for me, it starts with members of my committee, and so we have had a lot of informal conversations with people that help get a better feel for that, but for example, a couple of months ago, i took 20 or 30 folks over to the pentagon. we walked around a little bit, got to hear firsthand from many of the service chiefs. i do think for all the reasons we have been talking about, nearly all members of congress feel a responsibility when it comes to national security. you are right, it is in many ways not something that many of them are used to dealing with, except we do have some key veterans who are elected. they bring their bases --
jim talent: i don't want to overstate. mac thornberry: i think you are right. there is a hunger for members to understand better what is happening in the world, about our military capability. part of our job is to help provide the information, but also to be understanding. about how that works. the rest of the story is, i don't want to explain how this very obligated bureaucratic system works. part of our job is to reform this and streamline it. the bill we are going to vote on day after tomorrow reduces some
of the bureaucracy, begins to reorganize some of the functions at the pentagon. my friend senator mccain says the most extensive reorganization since goldwater and the other in 1986. but we are not done. jim talent: all right, i am going to be a little more disciplined than you probably expected. i will take questions. chris, do i just call people? ok. so i think this hand went out first. >> hi, i am pat with defense daily. chairman thornberry, you take take frank kendles position split into. you have a chief technology officer and the under secretary for engineering. how is that going to improve how you, the speed of which you get new technology into the field, take one decision-maker's decision and make it two decision-makers' position? mac thornberry: we have put too much under atl. what i say is no criticism of frank kendall, who's done a good job.
but i am persuaded by those people who say, it is essentially impossible to make the person who is responsible for buying things efficiently the chief innovation officer as well, as well as many of his other duties. as you know, the senate bill had a very significant reorganization. but what we have agreed upon for this year is to separate out some of these functions, but also delay implementation for a year to allow the new administration to come and look at it, but also to allow us to study more carefully what the
right way is and what the implications are. part of the challenge with all of these reform efforts is, you can't take a break and rearrange things and then start again in two weeks. you have got to do the job every single day, so you still have to make sure the arrival gets to the guy in afghanistan tomorrow while you are trying to improve innovation and reform acquisition and so forth. so this is a first step in recognition that we have lost something on innovation. it is probably not the final answer. >> [indiscernible] mac thornberry: i think it is the right thing for now. it will continue to be -- as i said, we are not done on organizational reform, on acquisition reform, on some of the personnel reform issues, so i think this is a good step for now.
there is more to be done. jim talent: all right, this gentleman here. >> chairman thornberry, you spoke about the need for a new aircraft, and the first aircraft i think of is the x35, which has been delayed for a very long time. if you think about how the u.s. government could acquire new assets without that happening again, going over budget were being delayed by significant period of time. mac thornberry: well, part of what we try to think about over the last -- and really, we started this in november 2013, is to understand the problems for the f-35, for the ford aircraft carrier, for future aircraft systems. we have had some problems in the
past. and one of the things i think we can learn is, when you define requirements at the beginning, it is a very important thing, and you really need to make it difficult to change those requirements. you try to put too much innovation into a new platform, it will inevitably delay its fielding and increase the cost. and you know, i just had a member on the floor tell me about listing some of the bases, training bases for the f-35. problems are being worked through.
computer issues they have had, helmet issues, they are working through them. but you are right. it is over budget, it is too long. if it takes us another 20 years to field the next aircraft, we are going to be in real trouble. so that is part of the reason this year's bill, we really focused on incremental improvement and not committing to buy 1000 of something until we know that it works and have a separate funding stream for some experimentation. we need to experiment. but you can't experiment as you're building a program of record. and so, trying to learn the lessons of the problems we have had in the past is, is important. the answer is not to not build another airplane. the answer is, is to make these gradual steps. >> can i just add one thing? and i am going to stick up a little bit for the department here. i say this as a person who has been writing for acquisition reform as you know when i was there.
part of this is the result of when you know you are not going to have all -- you don't have the money to buy all the platforms that you really think you are going to need. so you are going to get one plane. so the pressure to put as much as you can in that plane becomes very strong. now, yes, i think -- i'm not trying to say that's the only reason. but i think we have seen that. i think that hurts future combat systems. mac thornberry: you are right. jim talent: we have got this one thing, so we have got to make sure it can do everything we needed it to do. mac thornberry: when we started f-35, the idea of having a common platform that would be adapted for the different services, you think, that could work. but it was much more complicated i think than anybody realized. jim talent: we can do a whole hour on that idea and how that has affected as you know. i'm going to go back there to that gentleman who has been waving his hand. i think we're going to get a real good question here. there is no way to pick these sorts of things. >> tony bertuga, representing
the noble defense trade press. for chairman thornberry, in the compromise version of the authorization bill, you ended up halting the increased, but billions got stripped out for f-35s and lcs. everything else. my question is, do you plan to come back for those in the next legislative cycle? do you think those remain high priorities, and he will try to get an authorized next year? for senator talent, you praised the incoming administration. do you have any plans on playing a role? jim talent: do you want to go first? mac thornberry: i am just happy you get a question like that. my hope is that the new administration will come to us with a supplemental request as soon as they get their feet on the ground. it was disappointing that in
order to get this bill done now and to stop the in-strength hemorrhaging that we were not able to have as much funding as the house had originally had. as i mentioned before, the only way you are going to fix some of these old airplanes is to build a new airplane. and so, that's part of what we had. but my hope is, and i think across the aisle, recognition of the fact that sequestration, 21% cut over four years in the defense budget, as well as the pace of operations has taken its toll. so there is, i think, interest to try to make up some of that ground, and what i hope is the new administration will come with a supplemental, and that we can put back, and for me, the top of the list would be the things that had to drop out now and then, of course, go to next year's budget as well. jim talent: i would love to see a supplemental too.
i really loved the president-elect's defense speech when i read it. i loved the tone. i loved the issues he took on and the way he took on. i am going to support that whether inside or outside of government. i would be very interested in doing something inside of government. we have had some -- i have had some discussions with the transition. i also know enough about cabinet building, having watched it in a number of instances that, you know, he has to pick the people that fit, that he feels the most comfortable with, and then also fit the overall pattern. they are working their way through a lot of progress. i've been watching and pleased with the appointments i've seen so far. so they are going to work it out. i am going to support that plan inside or outside of government. because there isn't anything more important to america's
national security or i would also argue to donald trump's domestic agenda of regrowing the manufacturing base in this country. and i think it's been an untold story. he is starting to tell it. one of the reasons we have lost a lot of manufacturing is because we have underfunded capacity these procurement programs over time. yes, sir. and then i will go back over here. >> peter humphrey, i am an intel analyst and a former diplomate. wondering about two things. in what fantasy world did preparation for two major regional conflicts disappear? and secondarily, the future is made of swarms of small things. how do we get the pentagon to realize you want to buy 1000 toyotas instead of one lexus? they keep missing the boat on that and creating giant aircraft carriers. one torpedo takes out a huge amount of our capability. that's crazy.
mac thornberry: well, both good questions. i've already forgot the first one. oh, the two -- i'm sorry. this year's defense bill will abolish the qdr. too much time, effort for nothing. and part of our frustration is, that it becomes, became a budget justification document, not really a strategy document. and so, that really gets to what you are talking about. we have adjusted the two mc kind of approach just based on the budgets, rather than the other way around, rather than looking at the world, trying to see what, ok, what sizing construct makes sense for the world we're facing, and then develop the budgets to support them. so we have provided a different system of kind of thinking about the world with an outside group
at the beginning and, you know, not trying to recreate the qdr but trying to do this differently. because that has definitely not been successful. i think there are people in the pentagon who are very interested in this swarming idea. and i certainly am. i have had a number of folks that have provided me with some material to read and help think about this, whether we are talking satellites or whether we are talking other sorts of capability. but you get to the heart of an issue, you can think about and say, ok, that makes sense, but still you have cultural bias in a certain direction within the institution. and i think part of our job in congress is to break through some of this cultural bias that prevents us from looking at these different options.
i don't mean many small is always the answer to everything. but we have to look in that direction, just the cost benefit ratio for a host of reasons. so i think that concept as well as others is maturing. it is involved in some of the third offset stuff. and again, part of our job is to nurture that even when the institutional interests are to squish it. jim talent: that's a great answer. if i can just add one thing on that, i think you are so correct. it is a balance that you need. we were talking before about the perceptions of congress as an institution, you know, the larger body of people outside of the committees, who you know, have a role to play in this decision-making. this is what i think the
building needs to understand is that those people like to see tangible things for the dollars that they spend. right? they are not all that up necessarily on all the gradiations and differences. but when you spend a lot of money on planes, you like to see planes. i think if the pentagon understood that that's the way to make everybody feel as if we are getting value for dollars, then there is going to be a little bit less pressure on some of the bigger programs to produce quickly. there is a perception issue involved here too as well as one with poor structures. let's take one more, which i'll let the chairman answer rather than sticking my nose in. i said i'll come back over here. we'll get this gentlemen right here. >> congressman, thank you. i have a question about technological superiority. when it comes to russian's
capabilities, we haven't seen it in a while. given the dubious nature of the t-14 armada take and the new fighter jet, is it possible we are overestimating russian capabilities with regard to a military scenario with a usa. if we reorient ourselves, will we lose out on the capability to wage the wars we usually do with technologically inferior enemies? thank you. mac thornberry: i do think the point is we have to be prepared for the range of contingencies. so there are folks who say ok, counter terrorism and counter insurgency is behind us. we need to just focus on the high-end threats. we don't have that luxury. we have this huge array from sophisticated to less sophisticated threats around the
world, and we have to be ready for them all and maintain competency for them all. but it is true that the 15 years of where we have focused on counter-terrorism have meant that we have neglected training and other things for the high-end sorts of threats. i think we're pretty clear-eyed about the threat that russia presents. i don't think anybody says their military has as much capability as ours. but you need -- we have to be realistic about where they are putting their time, effort, and money. so for example, they continue to crank out new nuclear weapons every year. we don't. we haven't built a new nuclear weapon since about 1990. and we are trying to keep these old machines, you know, safe and reliable.
but russia is putting a fair amount of effort into that. and you have read what they say about the tactical use of nukes to make up for conventional inferiority. we, we know what they are capable or at least their level of sophistication in cyber. we, you know, they have had some demonstrations, i believe, for our benefit, in syria. so they can't match us, but they don't have to. and if you see some of the recent press reporting about deployments they have made in clinnengrad, it is concerning. part of it is to effect a political purpose, especially in eastern europe. and we have to deal with that. jim talent: well, i want to keep the chairman sensitive to your time, and i want to be sensitive to your time, chairman. thank you, chairman thornberry, you have been a fine fellow
today, and i am sure you are ready for the new administration. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] member ben cardin talked about various global challenges, including russian aggression, the syrian civil war, and u.s. human relations. this is about 45 minutes. christopher griffin: good morning again. chris griffin with the foreign policy initiative. if you are just joining us, it is a pleasure to welcome senator ben cardin, who is the ranking member on the senate foreign relations committee for our next discussion on the role of congress and foreign policy in the trump administration. he will be moderated by ambassador kristen silverberg,
who is managing director for this system of finance. kristen is well-known and well-respected among all of us in washington. in particular for her service during a number of senior capacities during the bush administration, united states ambassador to the european union, assistant secretary of state for international organizations, also in the white house and in baghdad. it is great to have a speaker and a moderator who share what for us is an organizational interest in the promotion of human rights and democracy and strong american leadership in the world. i ask you to please join me in welcoming senator cardin. and the ambassador, thank you very much. [applause] kristen silverberg: senator, it is always an honor to hear from you. you know, i have dozens of topics i would love to talk about. i thought i would just hop right into it and hopefully save about 10 minutes at the end for audience "q" and "a". when we first scheduled this. i was confident we would be