House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, Washington, DC, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:03 a.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Howard P. ``Buck'' McKeon (chairman of the committee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. HOWARD P. ``BUCK'' MCKEON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA, CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
THE CHAIRMAN: The committee will come to order.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. The committee meets today to receive testimony on the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization budget request for the U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Africa Command.
Joining us today are Admiral Samuel Locklear, General Lloyd Austin, and General David Rodriguez. Thank you for being with us.
Admiral Locklear, thank you for adapting your schedule to accommodate the Mid-Atlantic snow and ice.
He is not here, but one of my good friends that sits on this committee from Minnesota told me he was for global warming now. They have had 50 days below zero this winter.
The scope of this hearing is immense and it is doubtful that we will address all of the important issues we have here today, so I encourage members to submit questions for the record.
However, I do think the composite views of these three commanders provides an interesting and interactive opportunity to discuss the changing strategic environment, the global demand for forces, the implications of budget cuts and force reductions and risk among the commands.
Today's hearing is a study in contrast. The crisis unfolding in Ukraine is a sobering reminder that military strength, presence, and staying power in the world still matter.
And just yesterday, we received a budget request and new defense strategy that continues to cut our military strength and reduces our ability to respond to crises around the world.
The President's assumption that the tide of war is receding and that we can safely reduce American hard power in favor of soft power to assure our national security lies in stark contrast to reality. The majority of our vexing security challenges emanate from your three regions of the world: deterring an increasingly assertive China; preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; denying Al Qaeda and its affiliates safe havens in Afghanistan and elsewhere to launch attacks against us and our allies; and stemming the violence and instability in the Middle East and North Africa within the context of the Arab Awakening.
These actors and others are surely watching how the United States responds to Russian aggression and some might be emboldened to further test U.S. resolve.
Our allies and partners are also closely watching. But in contrast, they worry about U.S. disengagement and the staying power of U.S. security agreements.
The administration has committed to a rebalance to the Asia-Pacific while also sustaining a heightened alert posture in the Middle East and North Africa.
How well are we doing both? A declining defense budget, reduction in troop strength and force structure, and diminished readiness, suggests that we can't do both; or if we do, we do so at an increased risk to our forces and their missions.
Nevertheless, the Department's new defense strategy and budget request take us down this path. I hope you can provide us with your best military judgment on the advisability of such an approach; how the strategy and budget reflect your mission requirements; and the implications for your command's force structure and needed capabilities.
This is a challenging time and we appreciate the leadership and counsel that you all provide us.
STATEMENT OF HON. ADAM SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM WASHINGTON, RANKING MEMBER, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome to our very distinguished panel. We very much appreciate your service and your terrific work for our country.
As the President--President, sorry--you mentioned the President, I almost called you the President, Mr. McKeon. As the chairman said, you know, we could do a hearing entirely on, gosh, a dozen different issues from each of your regions. So, it is going to be an interesting challenge as we touch upon all of those topics and the challenges that are there.
But the chairman does correctly point out that at the top of this is the budget. It is certainly what we are thinking about.
You live with whatever budget you are given and then you go out and try to meet the challenges that each of your commands offers, you know; but the focus on the budget and where we go is an important part of what we do here.
I will say that it is wrong to assume that the President's budget reflects the President's opinion about, you know, where we think defense spending should go.
What the President's budget reflects is the top-line number that was given to him by this Congress; that is the amount of money that we all collectively decided to spend on defense.
So, I hope we will not waste a lot of time here saying that, ``Gosh, I wish the Administration would spend more money on it.'' If that is what we want to do, then we as Congress should get together and pass a budget that spends more money on it.
I have yet to see a proposal to actually do that, because apparently, we both want to dramatically cut what government spends and then complain about the impacts of what happens when you dramatically cut what government spends.
But the top-line number is the top-line number. That is what the President set the budget to.
And all I have really heard from the committee thus far is complaints about the things that were cut. And if we don't cut some of those things--if we don't do a base closure, if we don't make some savings in personnel, if we don't retire the A-10s or mothball 11 cruiser ships--then we have billions upon billions of dollars to make up somewhere else in the budget.
And I hope as we go forward, we will have that discussion.
We as a committee will honestly say, ``Look, I don't think we should mothball those 11 cruisers, so here is where I am going to make up that $5 billion from the cut.''
Or alternatively, as the President has done, he sent us an additional $26 billion in spending on defense with the offsets to pay for it. Now, they are all offsets that the majority of Congress doesn't like--they are increases in taxes and a variety of different things.
But if you want to spend $26 billion more on the defense budget and find the savings elsewhere, then that, too, is a conversation we should have.
But to this point, since the budget has been released, all we have heard is an endless string of complaints about what is cut and an endless string of complaints about how the government is spending too much money.
That sort of hypocrisy is not going to serve our national security well. We need to resolve that issue and figure it out.
I will also point out that on the Ukraine, there are a whole lot of complex issues at work there, in terms of why Russia does what it does. I don't think the United States defense budget is really one of them. Because back in 2008, when we had a defense budget well over $700 billion and George W. Bush was President, Putin felt no limitation whatsoever on going into Georgia and essentially taking over two separate provinces, which he hasn't given up, to date.
So there are a lot of complex issues at work here. I hope that we will understand them in their full context and work out in a nonpartisan way to try to find out what the best solutions are.
Now, given your different areas, I will just touch on one I think is most important in each of yours.
Afghanistan, we are very interested in, General Austin. As, you know, President Karzai continues to cause us problems by not signing the Bilateral Security Agreement [BSA]--how you think we should best handle that.
I don't believe that a zero option is the right way to go. We need a presence past the end of 2014 in order to continue to secure the transition that we have worked so hard to secure in Afghanistan; but how do we get there, given the fact that we can't get the BSA signed?
General Rodriguez, particularly interested in Somalia and the Horn of Africa where AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] is most active, and the partnerships that we have built there. I think it is a real model for how we can have influence without having to spend as much money or commit as much troops.
Our working relationships with Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, as well as others in the region, have really been a huge force multiplier in a critical part of the world. Curious, how that is going forward.
And then of course, in Asia, you know, our ongoing relationship with China. I was deeply encouraged that China and Taiwan not long ago had their first, I guess China would be reluctant to call it bilateral, let's just say their first meeting in forever. And I think there is some promise there. On the other hand, there are still many, many challenges in terms of how China overreaches on a variety of different issues, so I would be curious, in your viewpoints, as to how we work that out.
Again, thank you very much, we have a lot of ground to cover. I will yield back, and I thank the chairman for this hearing.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Admiral, you want to lead off?
STATEMENT OF ADM SAMUEL J. LOCKLEAR, USN, COMMANDER, U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Thank you, sir. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Smith, and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. For 2 years, I have had the honor and the privilege of leading the exceptional men and women, both military and civilian, throughout the United States Pacific Command [PACOM]. They are not only skilled professionals who are dedicated to the defense of our great Nation, but within Pacific Command they serve as superb ambassadors and truly represent the values and strengths of our great Nation. We continue to work to ensure they are well-trained, that they are well-equipped, and that they are well-led to meet the challenges we are facing in the 21st century. So, I want to publicly thank them and their families for their sacrifices.
So, when I spoke to you last year, one day ago last year, I highlighted my concern of several issues that could challenge the security environment across the Pacific Command area of responsibility [AOR], which, in my view, I look at it as the Indo-Asia-Pacific. Those challenges included the potential for significant humanitarian disasters; an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable North Korea; the continued escalation of complex territorial disputes; growing challenges to our freedom of action in the shared domains of the sea, the airspace, and cyberspace; growing regional transnational threats; and significant challenges associated with China's emergence as a global economic power and a regional military power.
And during the past year, we have been witness to all of these challenges, and our forces have been very busy attempting to secure the peace and defending U.S. interests throughout half of the globe. We have done our very best to remain ready to respond to crisis and contingency, although that we have assumed greater risk. We have maintained focus on the key aspects of the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, strengthening our alliances and partnerships and improving our posture and presence and developing the concepts and capabilities required by today's and tomorrow's security environment. And we have done all this against the backdrop of continued fiscal and resource uncertainty, and the resultant diminishing readiness and availability of our joint force.
I would like to thank the committee for your continued interest and support and I look forward to your questions.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. General Austin.
STATEMENT OF GEN LLOYD J. AUSTIN III, USA, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
GENERAL AUSTIN: Good morning. Chairman McKeon, Ranking Member Smith, distinguished members of the committee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear here today to discuss the current posture and state of readiness of United States Central Command [CENTCOM]. I appreciate your strong and continued support of our men and women in uniform and their families, and I look forward to talking about them and the exceptional contributions that they are making on behalf of this command and our Nation.
I am pleased to be here alongside my colleagues, two very distinguished warriors, Admiral Sam Locklear and General Dave Rodriguez. I will join them in making a few brief opening comments, and then I am prepared to answer your questions.
I have been in command of CENTCOM for about a year now, and it has been an incredibly busy and productive period. We have dealt with a number of significant challenges to include the revolution in Egypt; the civil war in Syria that is severely impacting neighboring countries; Iranian aggression and malign activity; the perennial fight against Al Qaeda and other violent extremist organizations; and of course, our top priority, which is the operation in Afghanistan.
The central region is an area fraught with turmoil, political instability and social upheaval, and economic stagnation. And while some may view it as a perpetual trouble spot, I don't believe that to be the case. When I look around the region, I see great potential for lasting improvement. But progress requires a clear understanding of the challenges and the particular circumstances.
Much of what is occurring in the CENTCOM AOR is the manifestation of the underlying currents at play in that strategically important part of the world, and foremost among them are the growing ethno-sectarian divide, the struggle between moderates and extremists, the rejection of corruption of oppressive governments, and an expanding ``youth bulge'' comprised of young, educated, unemployed, and often disenfranchised individuals.
And so, by understanding these currents, which are the root causes of the disruptive and destructive behaviors in the region, we and others are able to help mitigate the effects. We are also able to identify and pursue the many opportunities that are present amidst the challenges. And that has been and will remain our focus at Central Command. What occurs in the central region has shown to have significant and lasting impacts on the global economy, on our vital interests, and those of our partner nations. Thus, it is critical that we continue to do what is necessary to maintain our influence and access and to contribute to strengthening regional security and stability. We are also focused on building the capacity and capability of our allies, while further improving our military-to-military relationships.
I have traveled extensively over the past year throughout the Middle East and South and Central Asia, and I have talked at great length with senior government and military officials about the challenges and the opportunities present in the region, and I can assure you that the opinion and support of the United States is still widely sought and highly valued. Our regional partners have seen what we are able to accomplish, and they respect and appreciate our leadership. Our military relationships are as strong as they have ever been, and they are indeed the foundation of America's strategic partnerships with almost every country in our area of responsibility.
The year ahead provides significant opportunities for the United States, together with our partners and our allies, both in the region and beyond. Opportunities to achieve diplomatic and military successes that will further contribute to improve security and stability in our area of responsibility. And certainly, while we remain pragmatic, we are also hopeful that the opportunity provided by the P5+1 [United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany] and the Joint Plan of Action, for example, will have a positive outcome, and that could fundamentally change the region for the better. We are likewise encouraged by the tremendous progress made by the Afghans, and the opportunity that exists to establish a lasting partnership with the people of that country. It is a partnership that we want to have going forward, and the people of Afghanistan have made it clear that they want the same thing. And these are just two examples.
The reality is that there are a number of opportunities present in the region, and the CENTCOM team stands postured and ready to do our part to pursue them, while also addressing the various challenges that exist in that complex and most important part of the world.
Ours is a very challenging mission, and it is made even more difficult by the realities of the fiscal environment; but given the enormity of the stakes, we will do what is required, and we will continue to work closely with and support the efforts of our colleagues across the interagency, to ensure a whole-of-government approach that provides for lasting and positive outcomes.
Ladies and gentlemen, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coastguardsmen, and their families, have worked exceptionally hard over the past 13 years. I have had the honor of serving beside them in combat. I have been privileged to lead them as they did difficult work, under some of the most difficult conditions in the world, and I have been humbled by their acts of absolute selflessness, as they have made enormous sacrifices on almost a daily basis in support of the mission and in support of one another.
I am incredibly proud of them, and I know that you are as well. Chairman McKeon, Ranking Member Smith, and members of the committee, thank you for continuing to provide the capabilities, authorities, and resources that we need to effectively execute our mission in the strategic environment that I have described. And most importantly, thank you again for the strong support that you consistently show to our service men and women and their families, particularly those associated with the United States Central Command. I look forward to your questions.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. General Rodriguez.
STATEMENT OF GEN DAVID M. RODRIGUEZ, USA, COMMANDER, U.S. AFRICA COMMAND
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: [Off mic.]
THE CHAIRMAN: Is your mic on, General?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: It is now, sir.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Smith, members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to update you on the efforts of the United States Africa Command [AFRICOM]. I am honored to be testifying with General Austin and Admiral Locklear today. In light of the expanding connections between Africa Command, Central Command, and Pacific Command, I think it is fitting that we are appearing before this committee together.
Africa Command is adapting our strategy and approach to address growing opportunities and threats to U.S. national interests. In the past year, we have seen progress in regional and multinational cooperation in counterterrorism, peacekeeping, maritime security, and countering the Lord's Resistance Army. The successes to date of the African Union mission in Somalia, French and United Nations activities in Mali, and the African Union's regional task force against the Lord's Resistance Army are examples of this progress.
Along with this progress, Al Shabaab remains a persistent threat in East Africa, and is conducting more lethal and complex attacks, as demonstrated by the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi last September, and the attack on the Somali presidential palace last month.
Terrorist groups in North and West Africa are more actively sharing resources and planning attacks. And while piracy rates are stable after a steep decline in East Africa, they remain at concerning rates in West Africa.
Our tailored contributions to building partner capacity and enabling partners are critical to mitigating immediate threats in countries like Somalia and Mali. By supporting the gradual development of effective and democratic African security institutions, and professional forces that respect civilian authority, our shaping activities also reduce the likelihood of U.S. involvement in future interventions in Africa.
Our expanding security challenges in Africa make it vitally important that we align our resources with priorities across the globe, strengthen and leverage all our partnerships, and increase our operational flexibility.
Sharpening our prioritization and deepening partnerships will help to mitigate risks and increase our effectiveness in a dynamic security environment.
Our Nation will face tough decisions about risks and tradeoffs in the future, and Africa Command will continue to work collaboratively with other combatant commands and the Joint Staff to provide our best military advice to inform decisionmakers about managing risk in our area of responsibility and beyond.
Thank you for your continued support to our mission and the men and women of Africa Command, who, every day, do their absolute best to make a difference for the United States.
The ranking member was correct that the Secretary and the Joint Chiefs did not set the top line on the budget. The problem that we have, though, is--I think we cut too much out of Defense. I think probably most of the members of this committee agree.
And the budget that they presented to us didn't take into account sequestration. I know the media gave a lot of attention to the cuts in the Army, that would take the Army down to the lowest level since World War II. And the number was 440,000. But when they presented that budget in an earlier meeting to us, the Secretary and General Dempsey--they said that 440,000 would be if sequestration went away.
If sequestration remains in effect and kicks back in at the end of this budget deal that they worked out for the next year, the troop level would actually have to go down to 420,000, which is even worse than the budget that they are presenting and talking to us about.
What I would like to ask you gentlemen specifically--the reduction in troop strength and the force structure and the program terminations and delays--how will they affect your ability to meet your mission requirements and manage risks?
The Secretary said this budget would cause increased risk. What are the most significant gaps and shortfalls that you will see in your commands as you move forward, given this budget?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Thank you, sir.
The problem for the Pacific Command is several fold. One, it is--about 52 percent of the world is in the Pacific Command. Much of what we do in the Pacific Command, because of vast size--the fact that there are five of our treaty allies that are there. A growing number of partners. A growing amount of our economy, growing number of national security--or U.S. security issues in that region. A rising China--those things all make a security environment that is more complex, not to mention, a very unpredictable and increasingly dangerous North Korea situation.
So, what we have endured in the last couple of years with the changes in the fiscal environment through sequestration is a requirement to try to keep the forces that are forward, they have to--what we would refer to as the crisis response forces--those that would have to be able to respond quickly on the Korean Peninsula, that have to be able to respond should one of our allies be threatened.
The services, through our request, have had to move readiness from the rest of the global force, in particular, the force that is here in CONUS [continental United States]--and to push it in our direction so that we can keep those forces that have to do something quickly ready. And they have done that.
But it was at significant expense of the follow-on force. And the follow-on force are really what provide the deterrent value of the joint force, in general, in the Pacific AOR.
So, the forces that would have to follow immediately on any crisis or contingency that come from the United States--the readiness levels, in my view, are unacceptable to be able to support that in the timelines that we would need. This has created a number of years, based on the projections of the budget, for the services to recover that readiness in the force that we have today.
So, how has it impacted me otherwise? It is also--I also rely not only on the forces that are forward, but I rely on rotational force, particularly in the air and maritime area. Of the 52 percent of the world, only 17 percent of my part of the world is landmass. It happens that 6 out of every 10 people in the world live in that 17 percent. But the other 83 percent would be what I refer to as ``grand commons''--``global commons''--that have to be protected from a cyber or space, maritime, air perspective.
And so, we will, because of the readiness of the force today--the depressed readiness of that force--the ability for the services to provide the type of maritime coverage, the air coverage of some of the key elements that we have historically needed in this part of the world for a crisis response have not been available to the level that I would consider acceptable risk.
GENERAL AUSTIN: Well, Mr. Chairman, as you know, Central Command is responsible for a smaller piece of the globe, but we own about 90 percent of the problems currently that our country is facing in terms of issues that have arisen. And my concern with a shrinking budget would be whether or not the services would have what they need to provide trained and ready forces in a timely fashion.
I would be--I am further concerned about their ability to refurbish that critical equipment that we have used extensively over the past 13 years or so while we have been engaged in combat. And in addition to that, there are critical enablers, like ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance], that--you know, as the top line decreases, we have less of an ability to provide those critical enablers that I think have been game changers in our fights in the past.
So, overall, Mr. Chairman, the ability of the services to provide those trained and ready forces and the critical enablers are what cause me greatest concern.
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Sir, in the AFRICOM area of responsibility, the biggest risks that we see in the future are mainly in the intelligence area, as General Austin talked about. The intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets, as well as the intelligence personnel who support AFRICOM--many of them have been funded by OCO [Overseas Contingency Operations]. So, we are challenged in that area.
We also have a significant amount of activity going on throughout the area of responsibility, and in very, very small elements. So, I worry about medical evacuation and personal recovery and mobility assets, some of which, you know, were challenged during the past year because of sequestration and because of the readiness levels that those mobility air and-- both helicopter and fixed-wing aviation assets were allowed to maintain.
THE CHAIRMAN: I can remember years ago when Duncan Hunter was chairman or ranking member. He used to carry a little card that showed all the different shortfalls that you have each pointed out in your specific commands. And I remember what we did at that time was we asked if you had an additional amount of money, what would you buy? And I remember some of the things were bullets, canteens, tents.
Basically, we were well under-equipped. And I am hearing the same thing. It is just different things, but it is the same thing--that you have needs that are unmet through this budget, which puts us at greater risk as we go forward.
I appreciate your frankness and your ability to relate to us what your needs are.
MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I will pick one of those regions of the world.
General Rodriguez, can you tell us a little bit about-- update us on the situation in Mali and sort of West and North Africa, where you see the threats? Exactly how they have evolved in Mali and Libya, in sort of the very unstable part of the world where Al Qaeda and various affiliates are active. What are the groups we are worried about? How are we progressing in terms of being able to contain those threats?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Yes, sir. Thank you.
In northwest Africa, the threats that are there are from Libya, and really, only into CENTCOM area of responsibility in Egypt. And it stretches down through the Maghreb and Sahel regions down to northern Mali.
The challenge in Mali was a very fragile situation with the government and the military leadership. And after Libya fell, there was a surge and a tremendous amount of fighters who flowed in and out of there, as well as arms, ammunition, explosives that have spread throughout the region. That is what caused the challenges in northern Mali, which both the French-- initially, an African Union force, and now the U.N. [United Nations] forces have disrupted and moved a little bit north out of the challenging areas in northern Mali, where they had a new election, and have started on the road to rebuilding that country.
But between there and Libya, those support networks and movement of arms, ammunition, explosives, as well as personnel, continues to create security and stability challenges for those countries.
And we are working with all of them, as well as working with our partners, mainly the French, but also the Italians, the Brits, the Moroccans--have all worked to support the efforts, as well as the Turks in Libya.
So, what we are trying to do to help out the challenges in northwest Africa is work in a multinational effort, as I said down in Mali, 9 African nations going up to 16 are helping to participate there and regionalize the effort.
And in Libya, four of our European partners and another African partner are going to help to build that security forces up there.
They will continue to be challenged by borders and their inability to disrupt the movement and the flow of fighters and equipment, but we are going to continue to work to regionalize that problem and help all of them build the capacity to do it.
MR. SMITH: Are there particular groups in that region that you think pose a transnational threat, or is it, at this point, primarily local conflicts?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Most of them are local conflicts. Obviously, they have the will and the aspirations to do more than that.
In the--from the European perspective, of course, they are much closer to the problem, so they are extremely concerned about the illegal movement of personnel and equipment and terrorists in their southern border.
And it is--will depend, obviously, on how much pressure that we can continue to put on them with our--you know, in cooperation with our allies, whether they will be able to expand their capabilities outside the region.
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: The ones--the most troubling areas are in eastern Libya and southwestern Libya right now. But they flow and move, again, where they, you know, have the weakest government and security infrastructure.
And gentlemen, I literally have dozens of questions, but I want to get my colleagues in there. We have had opportunity to speak before the hearing. So, I thank you for your service.
MR. FORBES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Admiral, Generals--thank you for your service and for the service of all those who serve under your commands.
You have heard two lines of questions really set forth before this committee--one is that we should be limiting ourselves to asking questions about how much do we have to spend and how do we best allocate those dollars. Many of us reject that limitation, as I believe does the chairman, and believe we should also be asking what do we need to do to defend the United States of America?
In asking that second set of questions, there are some who will characterize that as an endless chain of complaints about cuts. We reject that characterization.
We believe that it is an endless chain of warnings, warnings that the most expensive acquisition the United States could have over the next 10 years would be cheap armies and cheap navies.
And to that, Admiral Locklear, you have the distinct privilege and responsibility of having under your command a body of water that both the President and the Secretary of Defense have said it is absolutely crucial to the national defense strategy of this country over the next decade.
Is it fair to say that almost all, if not all of the countries in that region, the Asia-Pacific area, are actually increasing their navies at this time?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: I would say as a general statement, that is true. You know, we have 7 of the--it is the most militarized region of the world; not only navies--we have 7 of the 10 largest armies in my AOR; we have all the largest navies.
And many of our allies and our partners are growing maritime capabilities because for many decades, they relied solely on--primarily on the U.S. as an underwriter of maritime security--since World War II. And they focused internally on their militaries--on internal security.
And as they have become more prosperous and more--in some cases, more democratic, they have become internally more secure, which is a good thing; it led the rise of Asia.
But at the same time, now, they are looking at their commons and they are saying--into their economic zones--and they are saying, ``How do I know what is going on and how do I protect it?''
So, they are building an ever more aggressive navy; submarine forces, high-end military capabilities.
MR. FORBES: Admiral, would it be fair to say that virtually every major contingency plan we have for that region--that our aircraft carriers are at the point or the front of that contingency plan?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: I would say that in my AOR, that aircraft carriers play a significant role in any crisis or any contingency, whether it is a reaction to a humanitarian disaster like we just had in the Philippines, which was reacted to almost simultaneous at occurring by the aircraft carrier and the forces that were there and then the Marine forces that came in and helped the joint force buildup.
But in any crisis or contingency, for this--for now and the foreseeable future, they play a significant role.
MR. FORBES: Do you see, based on current situations, any gaps in your carrier deployment that you either have now or see in the foreseeable future?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: From my assessment, the global demand on maritime forces in general, which include our aircraft carrier force, far exceed what the Navy is able to resource.
So, it has implications that push risk in my direction when those forces that I would need--I believe that acceptable risks are not available because they are either not ready or they are somewhere else in the world.
MR. FORBES: And we can argue over the number of ships that we should have in our Navy--some think 306, some 313, some 346.
But let's put that on the table for a minute. If our Navy were to go down to 250 plus or minus ships, could we remain a superpower, based on your analysis and professional military judgment?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, I don't know that the size of a military is the only element of being a world power. But I do sense that world powers are globally dispersed in the maritime commons--probably in the air commons, as well as upcoming cyber and space commons.
In my estimation, a navy that is--the Navy that we have today--can't support the global requirements. I mean, when I was a young officer, I never considered that we would be contemplating operations in the Antarctic, but that will come-- probably in the very near future.
I couldn't have found the Horn of Africa probably on a chart--or wasn't familiar with it. But now, we operate routinely there.
I would have never anticipated that there would be the kind of tensions in the vast South China Sea over territorial rights and fishing rights--or in the East China Sea.
And so, I can't tell you at what number we would no longer become a global maritime power, but we are getting close.
MR. FORBES: Okay, thank you, Admiral.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
MS. SANCHEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, gentlemen, again, for being before us.
I have a question for PACOM commander. Admiral, before I pose the question, I understand that countries like Vietnam are asking for a closer military cooperation with the U.S. as a result of the East Sea maritime dispute.
I know that it is--that you are the military guy, but you do sit in on the civilian side as policy is being made.
And I would strongly urge you, along with the Department of Defense, to take Vietnam's human rights issues into consideration before committing to any maritime security package--because I believe that this country has been really terrible in its human rights issues; they continue to say they are going to do something and then they just get worse.
With that in mind, Admiral, can you provide this committee with your observations on the evolving security challenges presented by the ongoing maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas?
And from a contingency standpoint, I mean, what would you consider would be our role if things begin to devolve and get out of hand, with respect to those disputes?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Thank you. And first, I would very much take your comments and counsel on the human rights.
We track very closely with the State Department; we follow their lead to ensure that--and the Department of Justice to ensure that we are within the boundaries of what is legal to be able to do. And we are very sensitive to that because--for all the right reasons.
If you take a look at the territorial disputes, you ask yourself, ``How did this all happen in this generation?'' Well, what--why has it--it has just now popped up.
Well, reality--they have been around for a long time. But there hasn't been much motivation to have to deal with them.
There were plenty of fish resources; energy resources weren't that important. China was not on the rise that it is today.
And we didn't have, until the 1980s, which we are not a signatory to--we didn't have the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, which defined how you would lay out what belongs to you and your EEZs [exclusive economic zones]--your economic zones.
So, all that culminated in this century where now everybody--all these nations taking a look at, well, how do I ensure that for my sovereignty, that I have access to these in the way that I see them?
So, in the East China Sea and in the north there, over the Senkaku Diaoyu Islands, there is the issue between China and Japan that you are all very familiar with.
In that case, I think we made it clear--the role of the U.S. and the alliance with Japan and that those islands fall within what we consider a mutual defense treaty boundaries. And that has been stated widely by the Secretary of State; and so, we would--that is kind of the policy there.
How that will play out in the long run between the Chinese and Japanese would be speculation. But at this stage, we are watching it very carefully.
In the South China Sea, if you take a look at all the overlapping complaint--claims, it looks--it is like chicken soup. I mean, it is so complex--who would own what.
And so, there is really--it might be the only way forward is for them to use the international law--international tribunals to be able to come to agreement. And we have seen successes of that throughout the AOR where countries come together--they get a tribunal to be able to look at it and then they accept that.
What is complicated, though, I think is the perspective that the PRC [People's Republic of China] or China has on their claims and the way that they are approaching those.
First, they don't--they take a historic view of the South China Sea and they have a--what I think is a loosely defined historic nine-dash line, which basically gives them the entire fishing rights and mineral rights and EEZ rights to the South China Sea.
And this is in direct conflict with many of their neighbors who have similar claims and are looking to protect them.
There is--PRC, or China, has also done things, I think, that exacerbated the situation by establishment of an air defense zone in the East China Sea. And you understand what the U.S. position is on that.
So, the way ahead here is, first of all, I think that the role of an ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] is important. That the 10 nations of ASEAN who have equities, particularly in this part of the world, have got to be supported. And they have--they need to come together and to have a voice on how these things are dealt with. In particular, as it relates to how they deal with China.
They very much need to go forward quickly on a code of conduct that China needs to agree with to prevent miscalculation in the South China Sea.
Our role on it is--number one, is to be able to sense and understand what is going on. So, ISR assets are very important to me in that part of the world.
And then for us to be able to share information where necessary with our allies and with our partners so that there is a common understanding of what is actually happening in there.
But in the end, these things will need to be solved through arbitration, through legal means, through international forums, and not through coercion, which, we, as a U.S. policy, do not support coercive behavior to get to your claims by any claimant.
MS. SANCHEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MS. SANCHEZ: I appreciate it.
MR. WILSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you all for being here today.
I am very grateful. I have four sons currently serving in the military. At different times, they have been under your command. And I have always had faith in your leadership and your service, so thank you very, very much.
General Rodriguez, in your opinion, if AFRICOM headquarters were relocated to the continental United States, would you be able to accomplish your mission effectively?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Sir, the Secretary of Defense--the former one looked at that, and the recommendation was to continue to leave it where it was. The strengths of keeping it in Europe is the close coordination with our international partners mainly, who are in Europe, as well as access to the continent. So, right now, for the foreseeable future, we are going to continue to leave it in that location.
MR. WILSON: And, well, if it ever relocates to the continental United States, Charleston, South Carolina, comes to mind. With military facilities and--we also have a shared culture with West Africa, so there is a relationship which is very positive.
And, General Austin, what potential options and courses of actions have we considered if the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, allowing Al Qaeda's increasing presence and influence, which is creating safe havens to attack America?
GENERAL AUSTIN: Thank you, sir.
This is an issue that the Iraqis have to solve for themselves. And I think we can and should do some things to help them, because we face a common enemy.
As you know, we have spent a considerable amount of time battling Al Qaeda in Iraq in the past. And as that enemy resurfaces, I think it is prudent for us to do everything within our power to ensure that we help countries in the region, specifically Iraq, battle this enemy. And we are doing some things.
As you know, sir, we have provided them some munitions and some weapons, based upon their request. You know, I have engaged Prime Minister Maliki personally. I have talked to their senior leaders about what they are doing, and revisited some lessons learned from the past in terms of how you combat the type of enemy that they are currently faced with.
But, again, it is in our best interest to make sure that they can address this problem and keep it from further spreading.
Now, part of the solution--a major part of the solution is going to have to be a political solution. They are going to have to accommodate the Sunnis in a much greater way. And I think that counsel has been provided to the prime minister from a number of people.
MR. WILSON: And, general, thank you very much. I had two sons serve in Iraq, and so it was, indeed, painfully obvious the Sunni-Shiite divide. And, as you say, it needs to be bridged.
Admiral Locklear, the Joint POW/MIA [Prisoner of War/ Missing in Action] Accounting Command's POW/MIA mission can assist PACOM in building partnerships with countries in the region capitalizing on the humanitarian aspect of JPAC's [Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command] mission.
Do you feel this is a useful tool for the PACOM commander? Additionally, if JPAC were not part of PACOM, but a worldwide asset, would you be able to capitalize on the mission of building partnerships?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, first, let me say that the mission that JPAC does--already, they are a global outfit already. And the mission they do is essential, I think, for how we define ourselves as a military, as a nation--the fact that we show to the rest of the world that we go to great lengths to go bring our fallen MIAs home when we can find them is absolutely the right thing to do.
I think that they do--in fact, I know they do play a significant role in our interaction with nations throughout my AOR. In particular, where we can encourage through this humanitarian mission, which--I would call it that--the access to places where we may not have access.
So, we have very successful, ongoing operations as our host, for instance, in Vietnam. And we are looking for opportunities in Indonesia. Just last year, we were almost ready to move into North Korea, just before there was a provocation. And we were not--we were unable to do that, but that would have been--an almost unheard of thing is to have U.S. forces, U.S. scientists supported by JPAC in North Korea. Unfortunately, we weren't able to survive.
If they are aligned as a--as you put it, as a more global outfit, does it impact--I don't think--not necessarily. I think any operation that JPAC would do--recovery--that was in my AOR would have to be coordinated, as it would be with any of these other COCOMs [combatant commands], should there be the requirement in their command. So, I don't see that as a problem.
MR. WILSON: Thank you. And thank you for leaving no one behind.
MRS. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you to all of you for being here, and, of course, for your extraordinary service.
Admiral Locklear, just to follow up a little bit--and I am sorry I ran in on the middle of that response, but when you look at the budget request of the $128 million for military infrastructure in the AOR, what--what about that concerns you in some ways? Do you--what is it that you really believe is so critical to do? And is this going to cover it?
And also, where else do you think we really need to be looking in terms of that infrastructure?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, thank you.
In my AOR, there is historic infrastructure that we support through longstanding alliances with Japan, Korea. And so, that infrastructure is important as it relates to the success of that alliance as we go forward. And both of those alliances in Japan and Korea, I think, will continue for the long term. And that infrastructure needs to be in place to support the alliance properly.
So, that is the kind of--that infrastructure. We also have the infrastructure that is in our territories and the infrastructure that is in Hawaii, for instance, that is important. As you look at the vastness of the Pacific--the forces that generate and the command and control from Hawaii as we look forward into Guam and we look forward into the theater--all that becomes important for us to be able to ensure that all the blood and sweat that the U.S. put into gaining access to those back in the 1940s, that we maintain that infrastructure in a way that we can access it when it is in our national interest to be able to do that.
We are also, though, not going to build any more bases overseas in other countries. We have made that decision. We are going forward with our allies and our partners to look at opportunities for us to partner together, to look for access agreements.
The ongoing operations that we have in the northern territories of Australia--where we are partnering with them to get to use ranges and to have some access on a mutually agreeable basis.
We are looking for the opportunity to close an access agreement with the Philippines that allows us to provide support to their minimum credible defense. At the same time, to be able to position ourselves better for everything from humanitarian assistance to disaster relief.
And with that, there are some infrastructure requirements that come. And I know that there is always a competition between, well, what you build at home and what you build overseas. I can assure you that when we look at this, we keep that in mind, and that we look for opportunities to leverage our allies and our partners as heavily as we can. Because they all have--most of them growing economies. Most of them have growing militaries. And we are figuring that into our long-term strategy.
MRS. DAVIS: Okay, thank you. I appreciate that.
I was looking for a little more specifics in terms of where you might see a shortfall that really needs to be addressed. And if you could provide me with that later, that would be helpful. Thank you.
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Be happy to.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix on page 147.]
MRS. DAVIS: General Austin, I think we are all concerned about what is going to happen in Afghanistan. Having traveled there on numerous occasions, and particularly, meeting with women in rural areas, as well as the parliamentarians--how do you--I mean, how do we really talk about, I think, ensuring that the strides that have been made for women, particularly, and girls in education, are not going to be lost, as we move forward--as they move forward?
I think this has always been about Afghans--securing Afghans. But at the same time, we know that it is going to take more than that.
GENERAL AUSTIN: Well, thank you, ma'am. I think it is--I mean, there is not much question in anyone's mind that, you know, the presence of the coalition here for, you know, some time in the future, will help to allow this wonderful thing that has begun to happen continue to evolve.
And, as you know, since you have been there a number of times, you know, Afghanistan was one of the most repressive countries in the world with respect to women's rights. And as we look at, you know, the impact that we have had some 13 years later, it really is remarkable.
Having said that, there is a long way to go. We fully appreciate that. But, you know, back in 2003, when I first entered the country, to think that we would have one day a police chief in the city of Kabul, and perhaps one day soon, a police chief--a female police chief in the city of Herat-- sergeants major in the Army----
MRS. DAVIS: It--sir, I guess--if I could interrupt. Is there something specific that we can point to that signals that that is being done and I can----
THE CHAIRMAN: The gentlelady's time is expired.
MR. TURNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I know many members have interest in that question area, so perhaps you could expand your answers in writing.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix on page 147.]
MR. TURNER: General Austin, General Rodriguez, I recognize, of course, General Austin, that you are the commander for Central Command; and General Rodriguez, the commander of Africa Command.
But my question to you is actually going to be about Europe--but it is not going to be about the recent change of events that have occurred with Russia and Ukraine; but it is going to be of the importance of our forward basing troops in Europe to your command.
Now, there are many in Congress--some people, even, on this committee--who question the forward basing of our troops in Europe.
Many times, I think it is a result because Congress misses the nexus of the importance of having those troops forward deployed for even your jobs and your positions.
So, I wanted to ask you if you could, please, help make that connection for us. Could you please describe what effect it would have upon you if we did not have our troops forward based in Europe?
And also, how do they enable your ability to carry out missions in Africa and the Middle East, moving critical supplies and supporting the missions that you currently have-- and also, in missions that you might foresee?
And does it assist in, also, your ability to maintain international partnership? If you would, please, gentlemen, describe those resources that we have in Europe and how they are important to your commands. General Austin?
GENERAL AUSTIN: Well, certainly all the forces that we could have forward deployed that they are within support distance--reasonable distance to be able to quickly support us--it is value added. And I would say further that if they are stationed in the Central Command region, that is even better.
But, you know, we have seen a number of examples of us using those--some of those capabilities; most recently, I think as everyone watched the potential strike against Syria, you know that there were forces from both Central Command and European Command that were involved in that planning and potential execution.
We have shared, you know, capabilities throughout; you know that we have made good use of the hospitals that are based in European area. We have used that region to transit, in terms of providing supplies to our soldiers.
So, it has been of great benefit and----
MR. TURNER: General Austin--and I appreciate your statements of how it assists. But, you know, my understanding would be that you wouldn't be able to do the job you do if they were not there. Is that correct?
If suddenly that asset was not there for you, wouldn't that significantly impact your operations?
GENERAL AUSTIN: It would have an impact, yes, sir. But----
MR. TURNER: General Rodriguez--your view?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Yes, sir. Those--first of all, the relationships with our European partners are critical because they are also helping--working together in our multinational efforts.
They also provide the majority of the forces that I employ on the African continent and we have now put together some great force-sharing agreements where they are much more flexible.
So, every which way you can think of, whether it be supportive forces, supportive bases, or logistical support, the bases in Europe are critical to our mission in Africa. Thank you.
MR. TURNER: General, thank you.
Admiral Locklear, as we now look to Russia having invaded the Ukraine, many are concerned that the adventurous environment might result in China taking action against either the Philippines or Japan.
Do you have similar concerns that the current environment might encourage activities that we are all concerned about?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, my assessment today is that I don't have a lot of concerns that what is happening in Ukraine with Russia would motivate a change in the current status in the East China Sea or the South China Sea. So, I don't see that having a bearing. I am watching carefully what is coming out of the general press and what is being said by the diplomats in China about it; and my sense is that they are looking at this carefully to make sure that they--their perspective as a global leader--that they are having a measured perspective on this. That is my take of this----
MR. TURNER: Admiral, quick question--are you more concerned about China's perhaps involvement with the Philippines or Japan, with respect to territorial conflicts?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, I am concerned about them both. I would say that in the--probably if I were going to look at it from the Chinese perspective, I think they are very clear of the position in the East China Sea--the U.S. positions there.
As it relates to the broader, undefined areas in the South China Sea and the U.S. role in that position is less clearly defined. But we have been pretty firm on ensuring that every-- all the claimants understand the U.S. position on no coercion, no change to status quo.
MS. BORDALLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And Admiral and Generals--welcome to the hearing.
And Admiral Locklear, I welcome you particularly because you have been able to brave the snowstorms and be here.
Admiral, Guam has maintained a robust depot-level ship repair capability for several decades now.
So, in 2005, the ship repair capability assisted in the emergent repair of the USS San Francisco, which ran into an underwater seamount. The repairs helped to keep the submarine operational until it could return to the West Coast for comprehensive repairs.
How important, in your opinion, is the depot-level ship repair capability with a dry dock capability to your responsibilities in the Pacific AOR?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: So, very important.
MS. BORDALLO: Very important--thank you.
Another question, Admiral, I have for you--this past December, the governor of Okinawa signed a landfill permit allowing for the initial construction of the runway of Henoko.
Now, can you comment on the significance of this event and what that means for the realignment of Marines on Okinawa?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: The signing of the landfill permit and the beginning work on the facility at Camp Schwab is not directly connected to the realignment of Marines. So, the realignment of Marines will go forward based on other initiatives such as infrastructure that has to be built in Guam and things like that.
That said, I would say that, first of all, we are very happy that the government of Japan got the landfill permit signed.
I think it is an indication of the government of Japan's commitment to the alliance and the changes necessary to make the alliance endure for the future. So, we are happy that it got signed.
MS. BORDALLO: Thank you. The final question is also for you, Admiral, and addresses a developing issue. I would like to address the issue of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing in the Pacific AOR.
Several of our allies and partners in the region are complaining about illegal fishing in their respective EEZs. Now, in some cases, this overfishing is causing economic and security impacts.
Can you comment on the significance of this issue and what more the U.S. can do to combat this destabilizing activity?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, I think the likelihood of illegal fishing in Oceania will only go up as the global fisheries and supplies of fish becomes under more pressure and fishermen move to places where the fish actually are, which I think remains a reasonable amount of stocks in Oceania.
Most of the nations, or most of the folks in Oceania-- island nations do not have the capability to properly, adequately monitor and understand what is happening in their economic zones. So, the ability for them to be taken advantage of to their economic detriment is growing.
The Coast Guard in the Pacific and the U.S. Navy in the Pacific work closely together to support, where we can, programs that allow us to help the nations monitor their economic zones for illegal fishing.
It is not comprehensive. It is the best we can do with the resources that we have over a vast, vast area.
MS. BORDALLO: Thank you very much, Admiral. And I agree with you on the Coast Guard; I think we are undermanned and certainly could use more help in that area. Do you agree?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, I have to refer that to the commandant of the Coast Guard. But I have always been amazed of how much our Coast Guard does for how small it is.
MS. BORDALLO: And a vast area that they have to look after. Well, thank you very much.
MR. CONAWAY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, thank you all for your service; I appreciate that.
General Austin, can you talk to us a little bit about the missions and risks associated with the residual force level less than 10,000 in Afghanistan after this year? And also, what is your best professional military judgment on what would happen in Afghanistan in a zero option?
GENERAL AUSTIN: Well, certainly I think a zero option would be very problematic for the country of Afghanistan. I think the military would fracture because of a lack of support, both fiscally and our inability to provide advice and counsel-- further advice and counsel to the Afghan security forces.
I think it would also be bad for the region. I think we would see significant hedging activity with the key countries in that region; and again, that would lead towards greater instability for some time to come.
With respect to the size of the force, as you know, our leadership is currently undergoing a decisionmaking process to really determine what that size of the force is going to be going forward.
I would just say that the size of the force is always based upon what missions you are trying to accomplish. Our principal missions, you know, going forward, will be to continue to advise the Afghan security forces, also to counter terrorism and you--as you know, sir, that is why we went there in the first place--to really push back on the folks that attacked us and take away their capability to do that in the future.
And so--as we do those things, I think it is necessary, also, to be able to provide force protection for the force that is deployed.
And as you evaluate what is required to accomplish those missions, you know, the smaller you get, the greater the risk is to the mission, and the greater the risk to the force. So, those are the things that we have to balance out.
MR. CONAWAY: The--whatever cap is set, would personnel associated with the example of Bagram, the world-class trauma center there, would they count against that cap? In other words, the issue is, we currently have, for the last, all these years, enjoyed an opportunity to save lives--battlefield injuries--that--under the golden hour and those kind of things by having Bagram there, the trauma center there is an important issue.
Will that go away under smaller forces? And we, in fact, begin to lose men and women----
GENERAL AUSTIN: Well, certainly----
MR. CONAWAY [continuing]: To combat injuries that would otherwise not be lost?
GENERAL AUSTIN: Yes. Pardon me, sir.
Certainly, as, you know, we determine the size of the force, we will have to figure out what is required to support that force. And all of the forces there will be accounted for in that--whatever the number is.
Pivoting over to the Gulf region--we have two Air Force bases there, military bases there that are currently funded under OCO. If that is unable to pivot to the regular budget, what impact will losing the base at Qatar and UAE [United Arab Emirates] be to our ability to operate?
GENERAL AUSTIN: Well, these are critical capabilities to us, sir, in terms of our ability to respond rapidly to contingencies, our ability to provide command and control. And I think, you know, going forward, it will be essential that we maintain those capabilities if at all possible.
MR. CONAWAY: All right. And just for this public forum, can you give us a quick couple of seconds on efforts with respect to getting Sergeant Bergdahl back?
GENERAL AUSTIN: Well, I can tell you, sir, that, you know, I am committed--my entire command is committed to getting Sergeant Bergdahl back. I just met with his parents in December. They came down and spent 2 days in my headquarters, and we walked them through all the things that we were doing to get Bowe back. And that remains at the top of my list to get things done. And, you know, so we will--I give you my guarantee that we will remain focused on that.
MR. CONAWAY: All right, I appreciate that.
Real quickly, Admiral, the--for years now, our boats transiting the Strait of Hormuz have been working against not having some sort of incident occur with the Iranian boats-- those kind of things. As we work in the South China Sea, do your boat drivers have the same kind of focus on what are the rules of engagement there?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, as I said earlier, we have encouraged the ASEAN nations, who operate out there, too, to pursue a code of conduct, particularly over the territorial disputes. But when it comes to maritime forces that are operating there, in particular, I assume you are referring to our interactions with the PLA [People's Liberation Army]----
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR [continuing]: Navy, the Chinese Navy. We have mechanisms in place where we have dialogue. I mean, we have a--in general, our relationship with the Chinese today is cooperative, but competitive, and we know where there are areas where we have friction. And we do operate in close proximity to each other. And we have mechanisms that are run in my headquarters through--in Beijing, where we get together and talk about those issues so we can have a professional atmosphere. And so far, I would say that we are doing pretty well with each other, operating in those regions and respecting each other's professionalism and operating together.
MR. CONAWAY: All right. Thank you, gentlemen.
MS. TSONGAS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you all for being here and all that you do to defend our country in a very dynamic and challenging world. So, I thank you for that.
And, as we have heard some comment sort of debating the impact of budget cuts on all that you do, I am very mindful of what Admiral Mullen said some years ago, that--he has said, quote, ``I have said many times that I believe the single biggest threat to our national security is our debt.'' So, I also believe we have every responsibility to help eliminate that threat. We must and will do our part.
And all that we are doing today is really in response to a daunting Federal budget deficit. So, I appreciate the tough choices that you are having to make.
I also remember another hearing in which a gentleman who--I wish I had his name before me--said that ``a strategy without restraint--without fiscal restraint is not a strategy,'' and that ``fiscal restraint is really a forcing function.'' It forces some very difficult choices, but some--perhaps in the end, better choices. Because we have to think very thoughtfully about where to put our efforts.
So, if we want something different, what we really need is a more balanced approach, and we look--in which we look not just at cuts across the discretionary budget and elsewhere, but also ways to bring revenue into the equation.
So, this hearing is really a very important part of our way forward. And I appreciate all that you are doing.
I am currently the ranking member of Oversight and Investigations, that subcommittee on this broader committee. And it has conducted a series of hearings involving the Department of Defense's response to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. And as a result of those hearings, the majority published a report of major findings last month.
One of the report's major findings was that the, quote, ``U.S. military's response to the Benghazi attack was severely degraded because of the location and readiness of U.S. forces,'' unquote.
However, another one of the report's major findings was that, quote, ``The Department of Defense is working to correct many weaknesses revealed by the Benghazi attack,'' unquote.
So, General Rodriguez, can you please talk about to the committee what changes the Defense Department has made to correct the issues that the Benghazi attack revealed? And in doing so, could you please address changes to the posture of armed aircraft, ISR platforms, and quick response ground forces?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Yes, ma'am.
First, the top of that list is the cooperation and coordination with the entire Intelligence Community as well as the State Department, so that we all have a common view of what is happening out there to ensure that the indication and the warnings are the best that we can possibly make them.
The second thing is that we have moved forces and we have more capabilities ready to support challenges like that across the continent. We now have an East Africa Response Force stationed in Djibouti, an Army and Air Force combined--or joint force there to respond to situations at 15, or 15--excuse me-- of the high-threat, high-risk embassies across Africa. We also have a Special Purpose MAGTF [Marine Air-Ground Task Force] Crisis Response stationed up in Moron with--it has both air and ground assets. And we also have a Commander's In-Extremis Force that is now stationed in Germany at the European bases, as I said, that are so important to us.
We also have got the authority to access European forces faster to include the mobility assets, as well as the air assets that you mentioned. And we also have the capability to also access CENTCOM forces or SOCOM [U.S. Special Operations Command] forces if that is required.
We had an experience just recently in South Sudan. And just to show you the difference--first of all, the intelligence and warning was there. Now, it was good that it is closer than West Africa, because that is a different situation--West Africa. And we had special operations forces, the East African Response Force, the CENTCOM Crisis Response element. The CENTCOM knew who was their reserve, as well as the Special Purpose MAGTF, all combined to support the efforts down in South Sudan.
The other thing I think that is important to understand is that the State Department, as well as the Marine Security Guards that support the State Department, have reinforced many of our embassies. And right now, I have also reinforced those embassies, so I have three forces at Libya, Tunis, and South Sudan to support the efforts of the State Department to continue to provide the mission that they do.
MS. TSONGAS: What continues to----
MS. TSONGAS [continuing]: I lost my time. Thank you. I yield back.
THE CHAIRMAN: The gentlelady's time is expired.
MR. WITTMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Admiral Locklear, General Austin, General Rodriguez, thank you so much each of you for your service to our Nation, and thank you for joining us today.
Admiral Locklear, I wanted to begin with you. I have spent a significant amount of time in your AOR looking at the force structure laydown, looking at readiness components, understanding what is going on. Also, having the time to speak to partners in the region, having conversations with them about our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, and how they look at things. And you can imagine, they are positive about us putting the rebalance into place, but somewhat skeptical about what they have seen to this point with that.
Can you tell me this? In looking at where we are going with the budget proposals, essentially with 11 cruisers being essentially put in suspended animation, with us not having the dollars available for the USS George Washington refueling, and looking at cutting short our LCS [littoral combat ship] build? Can you tell me, in light of that, and with the tyranny of distance that we have to deal with in the Asia-Pacific, and with us rebalancing there--obviously, the naval presence there is going to be an important part of that.
How are you going to be situated with accomplishing your mission in the face of a declining naval presence with fewer ships at your avail?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, thank you, Mr. Wittman. And thanks for coming out to the AOR. I am sorry I missed you in Hawaii, but I understand that your visit was very well received.
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: It will--first of all, this isn't my--not just about maritime. There are similar types of issues that we are facing from a force availability in the Air Force, with ISR, with ``fight tonight'' forces ready for the Korean Peninsula--all those put pressure on the joint force to be able to provide it.
So, if you extrapolate a smaller, more lethal military, when it comes to some aspects of our military, and those that have to be forward, that have to be providing presence, capacity is an aspect that has to be considered. I mean, it is great to talk about how capable everything has got to be, but, you know, one ship that is completely capable or one airplane that is completely capable--it can only be in really in one place at one time.
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: So, the natural extrapolation is, is that as the world--I mean, the world gets a vote in all this. And we are not out ginning this stuff up, I don't think. I mean, it is kind of happening to us.
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: And we are giving our best military advice on how we position ourselves for a couple things. One, what is the most dangerous situations you might face as it relates to American interests. But we also are pragmatic, and we say, ``What are the most likely things that might happen?''
And then we put a demand signal on the joint force to produce resources for the most likely thing that will happen, kind of hedging our bets just in case it goes worse.
So, on the maritime domain, you know, I think the Navy is going to have a hard time. With the numbers we have, we have a hard time today. Smaller numbers would be, for my AOR--assuming the rest of the world stays the way it is--would be difficult for me to maintain the type of maritime presence that I need.
MR. WITTMAN: Admiral, let me take it down another step to drill down a little bit further in asking you specifically about amphibious and logistic ships.
As you know, in the AOR you talked about and we visited with marines here about having that presence and being able to have that first-strike capability, that forcible entry capability.
Obviously, having those amphibious ships and logistic ships are an important part of that. Can you tell me, in light of where we are going with our L-class ships, can you tell me, in the AOR, the role of amphibious and logistic ships?
How important is that to your mission set there within that combatant command? And then where does that leave us as we are looking at a declining number of amphibious and logistic ships as it relates to force readiness in the region?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, the role of logistic ships for my AOR really can't be understated--can be understated, but can't be overstated.
The reality is just because of the way we operate forward, even though we have reliable allies and partners who help us, we still have to move things around, like fuel. I mean, the PACOM AOR--I think I am the largest consumer of fuel, resources, maybe in all of DOD [Department of Defense] and maybe in the world.
And you have to be able to move that stuff around--you got to be able to move it reliably. So, what you can move around in peacetime, day to day, is much different than what you might be able to have to move around during contingency.
So, we have to have a logistics force that is not just about day-to-day operations--one that has some surge capabilities that can be able to support it.
So, we have to--the Navy and TRANSCOM [U.S. Transportation Command], they have to keep putting that in their equation; not just on the surface of the water, but also in the air.
As it relates to amphibious capability, first I think the amphibious capability of our Marine Corps will be most apparent--the need of it in my AOR. I mean, just because of the littoral nature of it, because of the history of the way the Marine Corps has operated, because of the forward forces we have that are there, and their ability for crisis response.
So, you can see, just in this Operation Damayan they had in the Philippines how quickly the Marines were able to respond with amphibious capability; that really made a big difference in turning that around--and that is just a HA/DR [humanitarian assistance/disaster relief] event. But----
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR [continuing]: They've got to be able to get them around.
MS. HANABUSA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Smith.
Generals, Admiral, thank you for being here.
Admiral Locklear, aloha. Admiral, in your testimony, you referenced the rising China and you didn't say whether it was-- you didn't use the adjective threat.
So, I am--want to give you the opportunity--that when you said a rising China, what were you referring to? And I am, of course, looking at it in terms of from your military perspective.
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, first, I mean the rise of China globally, economically, and the fact that they have the desire or the ability to be able to build a military that--what I think they believe is necessary to defend their interests, both regionally and globally; we shouldn't be surprised by that.
We should also be recognizing that as a rising China, there is benefit to the world for a peaceful, prosperous China that is transparent and that has--that participates in the international institutions and is a--I have said this before-- is a net provider of security rather than a net user of security. And I think that the future--they have the potential to be able to do that.
There are many areas where we cooperate. We have a growing relationship between China and the U.S.--mil-to-mil relationship--that is, I would say it is slow but steady and we are making progress in kind of breaking down the barriers we have to understand each other. And this is an essential part, I think, of having a peaceful, prosperous, stable China that has a military that helps.
They can have a significant role in what the outcome of North Korea is. And so, we need to encourage that.
What's frustrated them, though, however, is what is kind of happening in their own backyard as it relates to their relations with some of our allies and our partners. As I said earlier, their kind of ambiguous claims on their--territorial claims in the South China Sea, establishment of air defense zones; these all complicate the security environment and make us wonder.
Their military is on the rise. They reported today they are going to have a 12.2 percent increase in spending--just got reported this morning. And that is just what we can see; there is much more that might lie below that.
So, whether the military rise--I think that is a given; it will. The question is, is it transparent? What is it used for? Is it in cooperation in the larger security environment that its neighbors and that we as a Pacific nation want them included?
So, that remains the question; to see how they proceed. Some of the things that have happened in the last--since I talked to you last that have--in their own back--in their own local areas--have called into question how they are going to progress.
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: But----
MS. HANABUSA: And one of the frustrations that we have had is that we have had people come in and testify in the same seats that you are in and a lot of them feel--seem to feel that the administration doesn't have a clear China strategy.
In other words, are they a threat or are they somebody that we are going to deal with economically or try to develop some kind of a global relationship with? But how can you do that out of the context of the military threat?
So, for example, we also do know--we hear words like the ADIZ [air defense identification zone], A2AD [anti-access, area denial]; and we also know that we have the Scarborough Shoals issues--plus you even mentioned Senkaku Diaoyu today; and we also have the issues with Taiwan Straits.
And in that context, we also know that they have very good short- and long-range ballistic missile capabilities; they have cruiser capabilities; and, of course, they have cyber capabilities.
So, in that context, now, how prepared do you feel that you are now, in light of this budget, for the PACOM AOR, as the PACOM commander? Can you meet all of these threats if the threat size rises?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, I would say that the preeminence of the U.S. military power globally will remain in place for a long time; and that even a rising China won't be able to, be able to globally threaten that.
I think where we have the most concern are in the region where we happen to have four or five very important allies to us, where the PRC has introduced some of their military capabilities that, on the surface, would appear to want to deny access to the United States and limit our ability to defend our allies and to protect our interests in that region.
So, they have focused much of their military spending on those things that--I mean, they understand what they think are our weaknesses and our--and they focus their--it appears that they focus their industrial capability on being able to go after those.
So, what we have to do--we have to have--whether the Chinese ever use these or not, they will probably proliferate. And so, these are challenges that will go not just in the local AOR, but they are going to proliferate into other parts of the world over this century.
So, we have to be aware of what they are; we have to have the right research and development in place and we have to fund the types of capabilities that allow us to maintain our dominance and our asymmetric capabilities for the--where we have significant ones--and we do have significant advantages.
MR. FORBES [presiding]: The gentlelady's time----
MR. FORBES: Time is expired.
The gentleman from Nevada, Dr. Heck, is recognized for 5 minutes.
DR. HECK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you all for being here today. Thank you for your long and distinguished service to our Nation and your commitment to our men and women in uniform.
General Rodriguez, when we look at some of the other commands around PACOM, there are roughly 330,000 military and civilian personnel assigned within its AOR--CENTCOM, about 90,000.
And then we come to AFRICOM that has a lack of dedicated assigned forces, which seem to be perhaps constraining the command's ability to conduct long-term and robust planning and execution of missions on the continent, as well as creating some risk to the command's ability to respond to crises.
What, if any, requests have you made to address these constraints and mitigate the risks, and what is the status of those requests?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, sir. We have requested an allocation of forces that go year by year by assignment and we have been given a Special Purpose MAGTF Marine force; we have also been allocated a regionally aligned brigade from the U.S. Army.
And then we have also got approved the force-sharing agreements with EUCOM [U.S. European Command] to also access some of their forces to be used on the African continent.
As we look forward, we have asked for a regionally aligned division from the U.S. Army, as well as an intelligence brigade, minus from the Army, and a Theater Sustainment Organization, which is a tailored organization less than a brigade, as well as an engineer unit.
So, those are the things that we are asking to be allocated to us in the future.
DR. HECK: And do you know the status of those requests?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: It is working through the process. It will probably be another 3 or 4 months before that decisionmaking process gets completed, sir.
DR. HECK: And where is the Special Purpose MAGTF located?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: The Special Purpose MAGTF is located at Moron, Spain.
DR. HECK: And the regionally aligned brigade?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: The regionally aligned brigade--the majority of the forces forward are at Djibouti. But they participate in exercises in theater security cooperation throughout the continent, sir.
DR. HECK: And the allocation by year--approximately how many forces are being requested in that yearly allocation?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: I would have to get you the exact number. And I will get that to you afterwards, sir.
DR. HECK: All right. Thank you.
[The information referred to is classified and retained in the committee files.]
DR. HECK: I mean, obviously we are very concerned about-- especially in light of the situation in Benghazi--making sure that AFRICOM has the resources necessary to respond in a timely manner. So, please keep us apprised; keep me apprised of the request for those additional forces. We will----
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Will do, sir.
MR. CONAWAY [presiding]: Gentleman yields back.
Ms. Duckworth, for 5 minutes.
MS. DUCKWORTH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, gentlemen, for being here. I was disturbed to see that this year's proposed cuts to the National Guard's end strength and the seemingly escalation of words over the readiness threat levels for the National Guard and Reserve Forces. I would like to address that a little bit.
General Rodriguez, you just talked about forces that are dedicated to AFRICOM. You didn't mention the State Partnership Program at all. Can you touch on what role they play?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: I can, ma'am. Thank you.
We have eight states that are over in State Partnership Program. They perform a great role in building relationships, as well as building capacity of our partners.
We have just expanded North Dakota from one country to three, and we are also putting more requests in to get a couple more State Partnership Programs. So they have been a long-term benefit to us in Africa.
MS. DUCKWORTH: Thank you. General Austin, can you speak a little bit to the role of Guard and Reserve forces in CENTCOM for example, in the past year? Roughly how many flight hours were flown by Guard or Reserve pilots? The amount of work that is done by Guard and Reserve medical staff and hospital facilities in theater and the like?
GENERAL AUSTIN: Well, ma'am, you know that the support that has been provided in Afghanistan has been a tremendous help throughout. I would have to take the question for the record to get you the exact amount of hours that have been flown by Guard forces, but it has been substantial throughout the AOR. And they have contributed in a meaningful way.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix on page 155.]
MS. DUCKWORTH: Thank you. Admiral Locklear, can you speak a little bit in your AO [area of operations] as well? You just came back from Thailand, I believe, last month with Cobra Gold. Looking at Cobra Gold and Garuda Shield and all of the exercises that go on there, what role do Guard and Reserve forces play in your AO, in PACOM?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, they play an important role, even though sometimes not in large numbers. They bring some capabilities and capacities that are important to the AOR. So, very appreciative of them. We have seven State Partnership Programs in my AOR. There are areas that we would like to grow those in.
MS. DUCKWORTH: Okay. General Austin, I would like to touch a little bit on the line of questioning that Mrs. Davis, my colleague from--the gentlelady from California had started on Afghanistan, and what we are doing specifically to grow women leaders in both the Afghan military, but also their police forces. Can you speak a bit more to that?
GENERAL AUSTIN: We continue to focus on recruiting more women into the force, and to train those women to assume greater roles of responsibility. Right now I think the ratio is about 1 percent of the total force is female. But having said that, I think we are working a number of lines of effort simultaneously. It is refreshing to see that we have our first fixed-wing pilot that has recently been trained and so there are more to follow in the pipeline. This is--as you know, ma'am, it is not an easy task. But I think where we are now, based upon where we started, is we are a long way away from a start point. And we will continue to emphasize--work with the Afghans to continue to emphasize this going forward.
MS. DUCKWORTH: What are we doing specifically with being able to put these women in, say the Afghan--the police forces out into places where they are needed? When I visited Afghanistan last year, one of the things that the women told us was that they didn't trust that they could go to the local police or military to report abuse, or report issues because there were no women there. When I spoke with the women in the military, and also their police forces, they said that--well, there are not even barracks there with bathrooms that they are allowed to use. So they can't be forward deployed to those areas. And if they can't get out there, then they can't do their jobs.
GENERAL AUSTIN: Yes, ma'am. This is a challenge. And, you know, it is something that we are going to have to continue to work with the Afghan leadership on in moving forward. Again, I think there is a police chief that is going to take a position in Herat, which is out in the west as you know, in the near future. That is encouraging. But we are going to have to continue to emphasize to the Afghan leadership that, in order to get the women out to where they need to be and provide the right protections for them, there are things that they are going to need to continue to focus on. And we are just not there yet. So.
MS. DUCKWORTH: All right. Thank you. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
THE CHAIRMAN: [presiding]. Thank you. Mr. Scott.
MR. SCOTT: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Gentleman, thank you for being here today and General Dempsey testified that the world was going to continue to be unpredictable, complex, and dangerous and would continue to surprise us in many unpleasant ways, before the Senate. And Admiral, I know that while we can have a plane or a boat, it can only be in one place at one time. And that brings me to an issue that all three of you have talked about, which is the ISR platforms and how we can use that as force multipliers. Certainly something that we can provide that many countries can't.
And the JSTARS [Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System] fly out of my district. It is a platform that we have hoped to recapitalize so that we can get more intelligence to you in a faster manner. But if you could each speak to theater- wide ISR capabilities, whether or not you feel like they are properly resourced and what roles the JSTARS have played in each of your areas of command?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, I would say from my PACOM perspective, our ISR requirements are underresourced. And that is including our ISR resources for the Korean peninsula, as well as the growing number of places that we have to keep track of throughout this AOR. And that is not just in air-breathing ISR, it is all the way from your national technical means down all the way through HUMINT [human intelligence]. And so each year I make those requirements known to the DNI, Director of National Intelligence, about what my priorities are. And we are seeing some improvement, but we are still underresourced.
In the area of JSTARS, the JSTARS--I think every COCOM would tell you that they are--that JSTARS play and the capability that the JSTARS bring is just critical. The first, it provides--in my AOR, it provides a combat battle management capability that is important if I get into a comms [communications] or denied environment. So if my command and control from my central command nodes is cut off, which is highly likely in a conflict in my AOR, and this will--and that command and control capability is critical. It also provides unique capabilities with moving target capability, that-- important for, like General Scaparrotti in Korea, as he tries to keep track of the fourth largest army in the world that is in position to be able to strike Seoul within minutes. And so those type of capabilities, I think for my AOR, are very important.
GENERAL AUSTIN: Well, sir, it is--likewise, ISR is a critical part of what we do in terms of warfighting. And even in those places where we are not engaged in kinetic activity on a daily basis, they help us remain aware of what is going on in the AOR. I have about--currently about--because of the fight in Afghanistan, about 85 percent of the inventory focused on the CENTCOM AOR. That helps me with activities in Afghanistan, but also helps our efforts as we prosecute the fight against terrorists in ungoverned spaces like Yemen and in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] and other places.
That is about 62 percent of what I, you know, requested. Because you know, it is just not in the inventory to give us everything that we need. With respect to JSTARS, I can tell you that as a commander in the--a division commander in Afghanistan or a core commander in Iraq, the JSTARS platform was very, very helpful to us in prosecuting the fight. As Sam said, you know, moving target indicators--moving target indicator capability was really, really beneficial. And that command and control capability--that helped to augment was also very good.
So an essential part of what we did in the past and certainly, you know, the more of that we can get, the better.
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Yes, thank you. The JSTARS capability, as both my partners mentioned, is usually important in Africa. It is good because of the broad space that it covers, and also bridges the gap between the national technical means and the smaller, lighter aircraft to better focus their efforts on where to look. As far--far as the entire intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance efforts, everybody needs more, so we are working with our partners to help do the intelligence sharing, which is so important. Because the situational understanding we have to have in AFRICOM AOR to be able to respond quickly is usually important to all of us. So we work with all of our partners on that.
MR. SCOTT: Thank you gentlemen--do you have----
MR. SCOTT [continuing]: The ISR that you need.
MR. GARAMENDI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Several things here. Mr. Chairman, you started off the hearing talking about the budget. The President actually provides some $24 billion additional over and above what was originally in the--and my understanding is that at this moment, the Republican caucus is rejecting that $24 billion additional dollars for the military. I know that is not where you are, but you might look more closely at the options and opportunities that the President has provided.
Also the sequestration, which we constantly talk about here, came about as a direct result of the threat to default on the American debt. And that led to the sequestration and the compromise that was put together at that time. I know some members of this committee did not vote for that, but the option was to default on the American debt. That was brought to us by the Republican caucus.
General Austin, your written testimony really focuses much more on the social, economic, and political issues in your command. I am delighted that you did that. At least in your written testimony. Here, we tend to focus more on the military side of it. But it seems to me that you are correctly paying a great deal of attention to economic development, social development, education and political development in your region.
Without that, we are not going to be successful. We have spent $1 trillion in Afghanistan, $1 trillion in Iraq. It is debatable whether it was a positive outcome or not. That is still in doubt. So I really urge you to continue to do that, and to continue to focus the attention of your command on those issues. And, I would appreciate hearing a comment on that, if you would, sir.
GENERAL AUSTIN: Yes, sir. I certainly agree with you that in order to address the issues that exist in the region, and in order to work to push things in a direction that trends more towards security and stability, it is going to require a constant whole-of-government approach. And as you have pointed out, sir, the military is an instrument of power, but it is only one of many.
And so, I think we are going to have to work more closely with our partners in the region, to use everything that is in the inventory to push things in the right direction, and take advantage of opportunities.
MR. GARAMENDI: I really appreciate you are heading in that direction, at least your testimony indicates that is where your mind is, and I think that all is to our benefit.
I also want to push back on Mr. Wilson, who thinks you ought--thinks Mr. Rodriguez ought to be located in South Carolina.
I think that would be a particularly unwise thing to do, General Rodriguez. You appropriately pointed out Africa and Europe have a long history together. And to be able to be in Europe, working with our allies, who have that history in Africa, is extremely important.
South Carolina is a wonderful place, but it is a long way and significantly disconnected.
I don't need your comment on it. I am pushing back here, so that people are aware, if he tries on the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] to move you, I will push back. I hope others do also.
With regard to the ISR, General Rodriguez, if you could comment briefly about what you, specifically, need. And I am concerned here about the U-2 and its longevity or whether it is short or long is not yet clear.
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Yes, sir. Well, you know, again, based on the prioritization and decisionmaking in the Department of Defense, you know, we get the share that they think is best.
It is a little bit less than both what CENTCOM and PACOM get, but that is, you know, a prioritization that they continue to, you know, are forced to make.
And I think that what we are trying to do is creatively figure out how we can, you know, leverage all our allies, all our African partners, to both do that. European countries also have ISRs so we are trying to leverage all that.
But we are going to continue to be a risk and a challenge because of the inability to source all the ISR that is needed.
MR. GARAMENDI: Yes, I would just--I am sure the committee is aware, but I will point out to those of us that are here and for the record, that the Air Force has flip-flopped three times on what to do with the Global Hawk. It now apparently is in line to continue. It is an asset that--you need it in the central--in Mali and in that area.
The U-2 is presumably scheduled to be--to go, and what is going to replace it?
These are fundamental questions. All three of you spoke to the need of ISR. That is gonna be a major issue.
And, with that, Mr. Chairman, my 1--2 seconds over.
And, just to correct the record, the President actually put in $56 billion in his budget over and above the budget deal that was worked out between the House and the Senate last fall and signed by the President.
Twenty-six billion dollars to go to defense and $30 billion to go to social spending, which continues the trend that he had had in previous budgets where we tried to solve the budget on the backs of the military, taking half of the cuts out of the military, when they only account for about 17 percent, 18 percent, of the budget.
MR. NUGENT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I want to first of all thank the two generals, not snubbing the admiral, but both of you have commanded two of my sons, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and now in AFRICOM, one of them who is currently deployed. So I want to thank you for your service and your leadership. It has been well received by their parents, that is for sure.
Admiral, as it relates to CHAMP [Counter-Electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project], and for those that are unfamiliar with CHAMP in the committee, it is a microwave emitter that is utilized, can be flown to disable and knock out enemy electronics.
Air Force has had a successful test with CHAMP. It was placed on a cruise missile. They expect deployment out in 2020, 2025, because they want to develop another platform, which I am not opposed to.
But currently, we have an excess of cruise missiles. We have the ability to outfit some of those with CHAMP. That could help, I would think, in PACOM particularly, as a stand-off weapon, but one that doesn't have any collateral damage, doesn't injure or destroy anything, but does knock out the enemy's ability to target.
Do you have any comments as it would help in PACOM?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, to the degree that we use the entire electromagnetic spectrum to our advantage, and in any potential contingency or conflict you would try to deny the advantage of any potential adversary that--their capability to use it.
Things such as the microwave emitters, those types of technologies, are of a growing importance in a more technically sophisticated world. Having the capabilities that something like that demonstrator would provide in my AOR would be an important aspect of any planning I would do.
MR. NUGENT: And I would think getting it in 18 months versus--like I said, I don't disagree with the Air Force's projection to do something reusable in 2025, but to have it available to you in 18 months, to your inventory, at least, to make decisions as to how you move forward, would that be helpful or not?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, I would say that of course the Air Force will have to speak for the decisions they make on that, but I understand the significant pressure that they are under to try to make good decisions. So we have a joint force, and want to ensure that we make near-term investments that, such as this, that they facilitate the longer-term investment.
So if this particular platform was a proper stepping stone to a greater capability in the future, why wouldn't I want it sooner than later?
MR. NUGENT: I don't disagree with you.
Changing somewhat to General Austin, it was just reported in the news, reference to Israel interrupting a flow of weapons by the sea, coming from Iran, or at least manufactured in Syria, but through, you know, through the Sudan, that was going to go to Egypt and then over to the fight as it relates against Israel by Gaza.
You know, all the discussion right now with Iran is referenced to their nuclear capabilities. But, you know, as we move forward, right now, we see them as it relates to, you know, conventional arms, supplying and, you know, they are terrorists, support of terrorist actions throughout the world, but, in particularly as it relates to Israel.
Is the position that we are taking--I mean, we are so focused on the nuclear development. Are we losing sight of the fact that Iran poses other threats besides just nuclear?
GENERAL AUSTIN: I don't think we are, sir. I think, first of all, if we can--you know, we are very pragmatic about the P5+1 and our efforts there.
But if we can get that done, I think it will make a significant difference in the region.
Certainly, a nuclear Iran is something that no one wants to see.
But above and beyond that, I agree with you that Iran presents a number of other threats to the region. Their ability to mine the straits; their ability to conduct cyber attacks; their ballistic missile capability; and, of course, the issue that you just spoke to, the activities of the Quds Force and their efforts to spread malign activity, not only around the region, but across the globe.
And I think what the leaders in the region remain focused on are all those other things in addition to the nuclear capability.
So, certainly the folks in the region haven't lost sight of that. We have not lost sight of that.
But, again, if we can get the P5+1 negotiations to the right place, I think it will make a significant difference for all of us going forward.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr. Barber.
MR. BARBER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank the witnesses not only for being here today, but, more importantly, for your long and distinguished service to our country and to the people in your command.
Like many of my colleagues, I was quite disturbed and very concerned when the Secretary rolled out his proposed budget cuts last week. And I know we will be hearing more about it tomorrow.
In my view, this is absolutely not the time to hollow out our military or to eliminate critical air and sea assets. And I hope we can find a way forward that does not allow that to happen.
I would like to discuss a particular proposal this morning with you, and that is one that I think you know has generated considerable debate. And that is the mission of the A-10.
I am proud to represent many people in my district who are associated with Davis Monthan Air Force Base, many of the pilots who fly the A-10. At that base, we have the 355th Fighter Wing, which supports and operates 82 Warthog and trains the next generation of A-10 pilots.
And I think you all know that this critical platform to our military arsenal has been updated with new electronic packages, new wings, which will extend the life of the A-10 for another 15 to 20 years. It has already been flying for 30, but it has got a lot more life left, given the $1.1 billion we have invested in upgrades.
This fighter plays a crucial role, in my view, in protecting our troops on the ground, a role that just cannot be suitably replicated by any other aircraft in our inventory.
In fact, Major General Bill Hix, deputy director of TRADOC [Training and Doctrine Command], has said the A-10's ``complementary mix of precision, area fires, sustained coverage, persistence, responsiveness, and moral and physical'' impact on the enemy provides a capability that should not be overlooked.
And, as you know, the Warthog provides dynamic close air support at high altitudes, where attack helicopters can't fly, such as the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, and it can fly low and slow, and in tight places, close spaces, something aircraft, other aircraft cannot perform with the same effect.
General, the President's--President Obama's budget would divest the entire A-10 fleet to reduce costs.
And with countless sorties flown by the A-10 in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have proven lethal to the enemy, in support of ground troops during firefights, I ask you, General, how would the loss of the A-10 mission affect CENTCOM's close air support capabilities?
GENERAL AUSTIN: Is that my question, sir?
MR. BARBER: Yes, sir, General Austin.
GENERAL AUSTIN: All right, thank you, sir.
Well, as you have indicated, the A-10 has provided a tremendous service to the forces on the ground over time. And I have seen it do wonderful things in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Having said that, you know, it is--actually the domain of the Air Force to really kind of figure out how to balance their requirements, you know, how to balance readiness and force modernization and end strength going forward.
As a combatant commander, you know, what I care about is when I put forth a requirement to support our troops, that the services can provide that support--credible support and in a timely fashion. And if the Air Force determines that there are other platforms that can deliver that, I would have to defer to their judgment; but again, it has provided credible and sustained support to our troops in combat.
MR. BARBER: Absolutely agree with you.
When I talk to the men and women of the Army down in Fort Huachuca, which is also down in my district, they have told me over and over again that when the Warthog shows up overhead they are going to have a much better day. And I think we need to make sure it is continuing.
I would like to pose a similar question, Admiral, to you. It is my understanding that PACOM's strategic approach relies on the A-10's assured presence to meet the demands of the military contingency mission. Osan Air Force base in South Korea, which houses the 51st Fighter Wing, employs a premier close air support A-10 fighter squadron, has more fire power to provide closer support than its counterparts and at a cheaper price.
If the A-10s in this region, Admiral, are divested, what capability will fill the close air support gap that would result, and at what price?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, first let me say that I am very proud of the forces that--A-10 squadrons that operate in support of the Korean peninsula and in support of all of our operations in the PACOM AOR.
I am in the same position that General Austin is in, that, you know, the--given where we are today with the budget, and given the way we're in the future, the services are having to make hard decisions. And this is a decision that I have to defer to the Air Force on if they have to come back to me and be able to show us what will replace this.
There are capabilities out there. Clearly they don't exactly parallel what the A-10 can do. But, we will just have to--when this platform goes away, we will have to use what the services can resource and produce and we will have to readjust our plans to be able to minimize the amount of risk, assuming that we can do that.
MR. BARBER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Bridenstine.
MR. BRIDENSTINE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to clarify, contrary to the comments by my colleague, Congressman Garamendi, the President is not serious about increasing defense spending. What he is very serious about is holding proper defense spending hostage to social spending.
To start, I would like to quote the Assistant Secretary for Defense--Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Katrina McFarland. Her quote is, ``Right now, the pivot is being looked at again, because, candidly, it can't happen.''
She says, ``Candidly, it can't happen.''
Admiral Locklear, would you agree with that assessment or not?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, I wouldn't completely agree with it. I mean, I think there are shades of how you have to answer that question.
First, the pivot is not just about military. We have got a lot of different aspects. So there are trade agreements, there are activities with our allies--if you come to my headquarters we are moving forward with the aspects of rebalancing. We are working hard on the alliances, on the exercises to underpin them. We are moving our force structure into places we need to.
The real question is, is whether or not the force that Congress will eventually buy to give us, is it adequate for the security environment that is changing? And my AOR has changed significantly--in my lifetime it has changed dramatically in this area.
So whether or not we can resource to meet the challenges and remain the preeminent guarantor of security in the Pacific area, I think that is the question.
MR. BRIDENSTINE: Thank you, Admiral.
General Rodriguez, in your testimony you talked about some of the challenges you face with assets, including ISR, Medevac, crisis response, and my understanding is for some of those funding issues that you are having, you are actually turning to OCO funds, Overseas Contingency Operations funds, which should not technically be used for this. But can you share with us your testimony on ISR and other asset shortages that you might have?
As I mentioned in testimony, the ISR shortages that we have, you know, are less than half of our support--requests get supported. And on the personnel recovery and Medevac is about the long ranges that we are challenged with in AFRICOM that, you know, puts our people at risk at distances that we have challenges supporting.
And, on the crisis response forces, the challenge that we have is really in Western Africa where we don't have access agreements, overflight or expeditionary infrastructure to support ability to move closer when the indications and warnings are increased or there is an increased threat level to those high-risk, high-threat embassies in Western Africa.
MR. BRIDENSTINE: If you had your optimum order of battle, what kind of assets would you need and where would they be located?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: I would have some improved expeditionary infrastructure across West Africa so that we could go in and out of there as required based on the situation and then some increased ISR assets to support the entire Intelligence Community's ability to understand the situation as best as we possibly could on the ground so we couldn't get surprised.
MR. BRIDENSTINE: As far as mobility assets, can you describe the situation there?
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: The mobility assets that we are talking about are multiple different types of platform, mostly air movement as well as helicopter movement and the long-range capability of the V-22s; it would be a combination of all those things.
MR. BRIDENSTINE: Thank you.
And, General Austin, I just wanted to get your take on what looks more and more real would be the zero option. Obviously the President has had some phone calls with the President of Afghanistan--or Afghanistan, and those have not gone well.
If we end up in a zero option in Afghanistan, can you describe to me, do you believe that would be stabilizing or destabilizing?
GENERAL AUSTIN: Well, I certainly believe it would be problematic for the country of Afghanistan, because I think the military would struggle, or the security forces would struggle going forward, because of the possibility of a lack of resources and also lack of mentorship.
Now, to be fair, going forward, our goal is to transition responsibilities for the security of Afghanistan to the country of Afghanistan, and we have been working hard at that for 13 years now. And so, as they stand up capability, what we want to do is stand down and trend towards a more normal relationship going forward.
And so, you know, we are hopeful that we can do that, and I think if we can do that, and we are there to help mentor them a bit more, then I think it will be extremely beneficial.
But again, the goal is to have the Afghans do this for themselves at some point going forward.
MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have some specific questions for Admiral Locklear about the number of carriers that we need. But, before I get into that, just revisiting the budget thing a little bit. The President is very, very serious about increasing the defense budget.
You know, he put together his strategy 3, 4 years ago. At the time there was considerable concern that that strategy didn't spend enough money, but it spent a heck of a lot more money than what we wound up spending in 3 years and what we project to spend going forward, as a result of the Budget Control Act, as a result of sequestration, as a result of a whole bunch of different issues.
So make no mistake about it, the $26 billion that the President has asked for, he is very serious about, because that is, you know, what meets the strategy that they had put in place.
But yes, it is fair to say that he understands that a country does not simply stand on how much money it spends on defense. He cares also about infrastructure, about transportation, about investments in research. And it is the entire discretionary budget, that defense is slightly over half of, that has been most devastated by the Budget Control Act and by sequestration. And we, on this committee, document with great detail the impacts that has on our defense.
But, outside of this committee--and certainly in our districts--the impacts we have seen on transportation, you know, our infrastructure is just way behind. The impacts we have seen on investments in research, on education, on Head Start, on a whole lot of programs that are very important is just as real.
The President is serious about both.
Now, as Mr. Forbes and I had this epic battle about--you know, what to do about the budget, there is a clear disagreement about how to handle the larger budget. The President wants to get to that vision of the $56 billion by increasing taxes and making cuts to entitlements.
You know, he put a proposal on the table a year ago for the Chained CPI [Consumer Price Index], you know, which was very controversial. He has not been at all unwilling to go after the entitlements. And the problem that we have collectively as a body, House, Senate, President is we can't get to a point where we get an agreement on raising taxes or cutting entitlements, which then forces us into a discretionary budget that is lower than most of us want.
Some are very comfortable with it. You know, some, you know, very conservative folks want to cut everything including defense. I know the chairman battles that in his own caucus. There are some on our side who are more than comfortable cutting defense. But, overall, we cannot get an agreement to get to that larger number that the majority of us want, because we are unwilling to raise taxes and cut entitlements.
Now, on the Republican side, they say we don't need to raise taxes, and we have had that argument, but it is not President is, you know, interested in cutting defense. He put his plan in place 3 years ago that had us spending a lot more money than we are currently talking about spending, but all of these other fights, over the overall budget, have shoved us down to a number that is very problematic--I will agree with you on that.
It is a matter of how we get an agreement.
Which brings us to the point that I started with, we are where we are. We have the top line that we have. And the worst thing that this committee and this Congress could do at this point is to fight every single cut that has been proposed to hit that top line, because where that leaves us, it leaves us with a hollow force.
If we will not make the cuts in base infrastructure, in personnel costs, whether it is the--you know, the A-10 on that side, the 11 cruisers that we want to mothball--if we don't do that, what happens is readiness gets cut, because then you are down to the last thing and you cut down on training, you cut down on equipment, you cut down on maintenance.
A hollow force is not about the size of the force. It is about whether or not the force you have is trained and equipped to do the missions that you are asking them to do. And if we don't make some of these other cuts, that is where we are likely to be.
Now, I am wide open to ideas, all right. If someone says, ``Hey, can't cut the A-10,'' okay. Show me the $3.5 billion. All right. Can't do the personnel cuts? Show the $700 million. Show me the $5 billion for the cruisers. But if we simply say no, no, no, no, no, at the end, we wind up with readiness in a very bad place.
On the carrier issue, you know, I have heard everywhere, I think I heard Mr. Forbes say at a forum we were at last week that we are in a 15-carrier world, that ideally, to meet our requirements, we would hit 15 carriers. But I also happen to know that a lot of folks very high up in the Navy think that we could survive quite easily with 10, 9, or even 8 carriers. That the 11 carriers are primarily about presence more than they are about warfighting capability, and there are a lot cheaper ways to establish presence.
Now, before my friends down in Norfolk freak out, I understand the industrial base argument. Okay. If you shrink down to 10 or 9 or 8, do you lose the ability to build any in the future? And that is something we certainly will need to talk about. But Admiral Locklear, from a strategy standpoint, you know, could we not have a very effective national security strategy with fewer than 11 aircraft carriers?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: In my view, you could not.
MR. SMITH: Are there folks high up in the Navy who disagree with that view, without naming names?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: I don't know who they are, if they do. If they do, they haven't been out and about very much or understand the utility of aircraft carriers as it relates to global security environment rather than just fighting wars.
MR. SMITH: Just listening to internal dynamics, and I don't know if you are a part, but when we were talking, when folks were meeting to talk about how to hit this cap that we are all frustrated about for different reasons, were there not some in the Navy and some in the Pentagon who said that one of the ways to do that, they would support, would be reducing from 11 aircraft carriers?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: If they did, I don't know who they are. I mean, I am sure you could find someone, but I am not--wasn't privy to that argument, and I--to be honest with you, I can't see a--I mean, unless the world changes and the role of aircraft carriers can be subsumed by something else, which they can't, at least in the Navy and the military bill today----
MR. SMITH: So spin that out for me a little. What is it, that if we had 10 instead of 11, that we couldn't do that would place us at risk?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: If you look at your defenses only in the context of can you fight a war----
Admiral Locklear [continuing]: Then the numbers of carriers that you--first of all, you have to get them there quickly. I mean, war is going to start more quickly than it did in the last century, so you have to be generally present with some things to be relevant in the early stages of any conflict. So, we made that investment in nuclear aircraft carriers for a lot of reasons, because they can just stay forward, as you know, they have significant strike capability, they also have a huge deterrent value, otherwise other countries, you know, like China, wouldn't be building them.
And they have the ability to be there in what we would call phase zero in day-to-day operations----
MR. SMITH: Let me pause you on just one piece there.
At the moment, China has built one, and that they got from Russia, and it is not exactly incredibly capable, so China has been at this for quite a while, and they haven't built any, so I am not sure that is a good argument.
On the other side of it, I mean, I am not--I accept some of your broader arguments, but I am not sure that is an effective one.
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, they have announced they are going to pursue a fleet of four just in this past year.
But we don't build carriers because of Chinese carriers.
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: So, if you think globally today, you effectively have a 10-carrier force with 11 that is coming. The demand signal day to day from Syria, to Iran, to Korea, to the South China Sea that demand this asset be there because of the sovereignty issues, you don't have to have somebody's permission, because of the strike capability, because of the command and control capability they bring----
MR. SMITH: And as security, any other ship that we could send out there?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Yes. Absolutely.
MR. SMITH: Yes, I take your point in that. We have other ships. We have cruisers, we have destroyers, we have submarines, we have other things we could send in for that same reason. What, and again, this is more of a thought experiment, because I think these are the type of thought experiments we are going to need to have in order to get to a budget that makes sense, what is it about an aircraft carrier that these other ships don't bring to forward presence in deterrence?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, they bring about 40 strike aircraft that are going to have, from Super Hornets into the next generation of F-35, stealth capability. They are going to have MV-22 capability. So there is this, I mean, to try to put that on another platform, you would end up having basically----
MR. SMITH: Well, no, you wouldn't put it on another platform. The other platforms, what they bring, is they bring standoff weapon strike capability. They bring cruise missiles and a variety of other things; not implying that you have to fly in and shoot. So that is the tradeoff there.
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: That is true, but I would say that a lot of what you do with aircraft carriers is you use them before you actually start shooting. And so the ability to maintain air and space and maritime dominance if you--if you are only going to rely on missiles that you fire and it is when the shooting starts, then you limit, you know, you start to limit the space for decisions to be made.
MR. SMITH: Understood. Let me drill down a little bit on that.
So, aircraft carriers give us dominance that has nothing to do with what they could shoot. What is that, exactly? What do aircraft--what do aircraft carriers do that give us that sort of dominance outside of actually having to shoot?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, first of all, they take with them-- you know, generally go in an aircraft carrier strike group, which has other maritime assets with it, including cruisers and destroyers, that capability to interact with submarines, U.S. submarines that go with them.
MR. SMITH: Understood, but the aircraft carrier is not necessarily required for that. That is part of that strike group, but the strike group is, I mean, that is just the way that we have assembled it, so----
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: The aircraft carrier is not required? I don't----
MR. SMITH: No, I am asking, to some degree. You know, if you have a strike group, why does an aircraft carrier have to be part of that?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, we have deployed strike groups in the past. Then, we had battleships that were the centerpiece of a strike group. And we didn't like the options that those assets that became very expensive and kind of arcane provided for us. But we haven't seen that same change in the value of having U.S. sovereign aircraft carriers that can produce credible strike capability forward in places where we want to manage the crisis in our favor, and if crisis occurs, be able to respond quickly. And that is the value of having a carrier forward in my AOR.
MR. SMITH: Okay. And you feel strongly that 11 is the number that we need at this point.
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, you have about 10 now. We can't support the global demand. And so, I don't know how you get to a better equation. We have tried--the Navy has tried very hard to kind of get into a resourcing rate that ables up the presence capability. But, one thing for sure, in my experience is that part of the U.S. global leadership is maritime dominance, where we choose to have it. And at the front of that maritime dominance, which starts to become very important, particularly in the world we are in today, are the capability that aircraft carriers bring.
MR. SMITH: Okay. Thank you very much.
MR. COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have got a number of questions, and I will try and be quick. But, Admiral, I know it has been a long day with everything, but I just want to resurrect this question about the U-2s.
And, I will stay away from the A-10s and full disclosure, I am a Marine officer asking an admiral with two Army officers an Air Force question, but my concern is about Korea and the U-2s and the situation there. The U-2 has had more than nine lives, you know, ever since 1960, going forward. And I always thought it was based on a cost-benefit analysis that what you got for that high-altitude platform in bad weather and everything else, it has been around, and I noticed that it is out of the budget. I am going to stay away from the A-10s and all the other stuff.
But in your opinion, right now, doing that, because of Korea, do you weigh in on that at all? Would you prefer to still see if it has got a lot of miles? I was one of the ones in 1968 to want to get rid of the M-16, and it is still around, so sometimes improvements can be made, and if you could just quickly comment on that.
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, I think when General Scaparrotti comes to see you, he will be able to give you a detail of how he figures the U-2 into his plans, but in general, the U-2 today is central to the ISR plan for the Korea peninsula. It has capabilities that you just well articulated. I don't, you know, need to go through those again. But, I think in the dialogue that the Air Force has had that said, ``We just can't afford everything.'' So, we want to go, and we have to go in the direction of these unmanneds. They have other, broader capabilities, and we have to merge the capabilities that the U- 2 bring and put it on these unmanned platforms, which, the unmanned piece is not a bad direction for the future. I mean, that is a good direction for us.
So, to the degree that this decision motivates the ISR capabilities to be migrated onto those unmanned platforms in a way that services the warfighter demand, that is, I think, that is an opportunity, but it has to be realized.
MR. COOK: General Austin, real quick, we have had different briefs about the equipment coming out of Afghanistan. And one time I heard there was $21 billion to $22 billion worth of equipment, and the Marine Corps, last brief, said they had a lot of their equipment that came through Pakistan. Do you have any estimate on how much gear we still have left right now that is--we have got to get back and the clock is ticking. Could you address that, briefly?
GENERAL AUSTIN: Yes sir. In terms of vehicles, there are probably about 17,000-plus vehicles in-country and there are about 3,000 or so, well, there are a number of containers there that we will have to redeploy as well.
MR. COOK: Coming through Pakistan, primarily, or is that the port of choice, or the country----
GENERAL AUSTIN: We use number of routes, sir.
MR. COOK: Depending upon how we--okay.
GENERAL AUSTIN: Southern ground LOC [line of communication] in Pakistan, predominantly, is about 44 percent of our inventory goes down that route. We use multimodal, you know, flat out transfer at some point, and put it on a ship. Other means.
MR. COOK: Yes sir. The MRAPS [Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles]. You know, we had a brief, a couple months ago, about, and I don't know, I think the thing has changed, the number was that they were going to chop up, or the old ones or what have you. And then I look at the situation in Iraq, unfortunately, Fallujah, where the Iraqis can't--they have tried to come back and seize that. They ran into a number of IEDs [improvised explosive devices], and based upon that--the situation which really hasn't changed in a couple of decades, almost, are we looking at the number of MRAPs that maybe we want to put in part of the pre-position forces or expand that? Has that been revisited at all because of----
GENERAL AUSTIN: The services have done extensive work, sir, to determine what their needs going forward are, both in pre- position stocks, in both to support their training efforts back at home and their rapid deployment efforts as well.
MR. COOK: Okay. The last question I have is about Egypt, and of course the situation with the buying Russian equipment and the helicopters in the Sinai. How do you feel about the Egyptians obviously want more helicopters to combat that terrorist threat in the Sinai. Do you have any comments on that?
GENERAL AUSTIN: Well, certainly, I think that they have been clear about their need for more Apaches from us to, excuse me, to support their efforts. I think that certainly, you know, we should support them when we can support them, and again, once you know, if our leadership decides that that is the right thing to do, but clearly they have a need. They are in a fight in the Sinai. They are great partners from a military perspective, and I think we want to maintain that partnership.
MR. COOK: Thank you very much, I yield back.
THE CHAIRMAN: Yield back.
I enjoyed the discussion between the admiral and Mr. Smith about aircraft carriers. I would like to make a couple of comments about it, and I would like to ask some questions of the admiral about that, too. You know, I think one of the main things that we benefit from with our strong military is--goes back to the comments of General Eisenhower, President Eisenhower. We hear a lot about beware of the military industrial complex. But he also said, be so strong that nobody dares attack us for fear of annihilation. And I think, because we have had a strong military, continue to have a very strong military, it keeps us out of war. And that is--should be, hopefully, the ultimate goal. I know that is what you work on every day, to keep our young men and women out of harm's way, and that is something that I think that the aircraft carrier goes a long way, as a deterrent, if we never had to use them.
The fact that we have them keeps us out of probably many conflicts. By having 10, and this is what I would like to ask you, Admiral Locklear, we have 11. One of them needs to be refueled. So, that cuts us down to 10, and I know in the budget they are saying they want to hold off on refueling that one, so basically, we are going to just take it out of the service and then decide later, I guess, what, that is the plan with that, and with the 13 cruisers. But, if we have 11, or 10, what is their position? I mean, 10 aren't all forward at all times, right? How do you position those?
ADMIRAL LOCKLEAR: Well, with the exception of the George Washington, which is forward-deployed in Japan in support of the alliance and in response to the Korean peninsula, the remaining 10 of them are distributed on the east and west coast of the United States. So, the cost-benefit of having a nuclear carrier that can stay deployed for a long time with the capabilities that it has is that it is also, the cost is that it is a nuclear carrier, and it requires care and feeding to be able to operate these things for 50 years, and with an industrial base that is generally pretty small to be able to support it.
So, there is a requirement by the Navy to be able to get these things through their required maintenance to be able to send them back out. So, there is a turnaround ratio. Now, in the case of the kind of day-to-day world we are in, with the number of carriers today, the Navy struggles to meet the carrier demand signal from basically CENTCOM and PACOM. In fact, they can't do it. I mean there is--they can't meet it, and they will tell you that.
In the case of--and so that is in your kind of normal, day- to-day managing of a very complex security environment and the role that those carriers plays in it. So, we have two or three to four carriers out at any one time, that is a lot in kind of steady state. Now, in the case of a larger conflict, where you had to go to a contingency, you may require three, four, five, six aircraft carriers, and then those would have to be surged; but in my case, it takes a while for things to get out and to get surged, and you may not have--the ``flash-to-bang'' in Korea is about a day, and you are going to have potential for a million people dead in a day. And so, thinking that we are going to surge a large capacity for the United States to get on top of that particular problem will just put us--creates issues for us.
So, I guess that was a long answer to your question. That the entire force has to be looked at as an enterprise that pushes out the carriers in peacetime on the ability to be able to manage, provide that forward presence that is critical, I think, to our security.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you all for your service. Thank you for being here today. Appreciate your patience, your indulgence, and thank you to the men and women that serve with you. Would you please convey that back to them, of how much we appreciate them and their families and the sacrifices that they make on a daily basis for us. Thank you very much, the committee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:31 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]