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NEWS | March 9, 2023

DOD Officials Testify About Homeland Defense Before House Panel

By Jim Garamone DOD News

WASHINGTON -- When Army Gen. Henry Knox became the nation's first secretary of war in 1789, the primary mission of the War Department was simple: Defend the United States of America.

That is still the priority mission for Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III today, but the complexity has obviously increased, and the threats have multiplied.

Competitors are trying to take advantage of gaps in protection to put the United States and other Western Hemisphere nations in danger, U.S. officials responsible for defense of the homeland told the House Armed Services Committee today.
Melissa G. Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs; Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command; and Army Gen. Laura J. Richardson, commander of U.S. Southern Command, described the challenges confronting the nations of the hemisphere, which range from actions by China and Russia and run all the way to transnational criminal syndicates.

Dalton said the 2022 National Defense Strategy states that China is the pacing challenge for the United States, while Russia remains an acute threat. "In addition to building conventional and nuclear capabilities, we are concerned that [China], in particular, is using nonkinetic means to subvert our ability to project power," she said.

The strategy also mentions threats emanating from North Korea, Iran and global terrorist networks.
The homeland has to be braced to respond to threats to logistics and supply chains, and natural disasters — like hurricanes, severe storms, earthquakes, fire and floods — must be prepared for, she said. "These hazards contributed to instability and migration, creating conditions that state and nonstate actors can exploit," she said.

"We are doing more than ever to deter, defend and defeat aggression from competitors," Dalton said. "We're using an integrated deterrence approach to harness conventional cyber, space and information capabilities to raise costs for our competitors while reducing their expected benefits of aggression."

Dalton also touched on missile defense and cyber defense efforts, saying "Investments in modern sensors and infrastructure are vital to homeland defense against airborne and maritime threats and to our ability to project forces."

She went on to say that climate change is opening up the Arctic, and that requires a national strategy for the Arctic region.

The United States is working with neighbors as part of the new Defense Operational Resilience International Cooperation program "to build our partners' early warning capabilities to reduce the need for DOD [Defense Department] assets for disasters and other emergencies. We are deepening partnerships with Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Chile, while reinforcing democratic institutions' civilian control of the military and respect for human rights and the rule of law."

VanHerck told the representatives that this "is clearly the most complex and dynamic strategic environment that I have experienced during more than 35 years in service."

Competitors are making gains on the U.S., but he maintained the U.S. military remains the most powerful and professional force in history. "However, we must take action now to stop the erosion of our military advantage," he said. "Our competitors' actions and ambitions are global and all-domain in nature, and our competitors have the capability and intent to hold our homeland at risk above and below the nuclear threshold and in multiple domains to achieve their strategic objectives."

VanHerck gave the House panel his priorities. The first is domain awareness: The ability to see and detect potential threats in all domains. The second is information dominance, which he defined as the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to process data more rapidly for strategic advantage. His said his third priority is decision superiority, which is the dissemination of data and information to the right leaders at the right time from the tactical to the strategic level.

VanHerck said his last priority is global integration. Leaders need to assess threats and information with a global and all-domain approach.

"I believe the greatest risks that our nation faces right now is our inability to change and adapt at a pace required by the strategic environment," the general said. "Homeland defense must be recognized as essential to contingency plans at home and for power projection abroad. And it is vital that all military planning account for that reality. In an area of incredible innovation and technological advancement, inflexible and outdated processes are a greater impediment to success than many of our competitors advancements."

Richardson emphasized the closeness of ties among the nations of the Western Hemisphere when she addressed the panel. She said the region is still under assault from a host of crosscutting transnational challenges that directly threaten the United States. "In the past year, I've traveled in the region, meeting with leaders to better understand these challenges and the threat they pose to our mutual interests," she said. "The world is at an inflection point: Our partners in the Western Hemisphere with whom we are bonded by trade, shared values, democratic traditions, family ties are feeling the impacts of external interference and coercion."

China continues to expand its economic, diplomatic, technological, informational and military influence in Latin America and the Caribbean, she said. China has the capability and intent to overturn international norms to advance "its brand of authoritarianism and amass power and influence at the expense of these democracies."

China has expanded its ability to extract resources, establish ports, manipulate governments through predatory investment practices and build potential dual-use space facilities, she said.

"Russia — an acute threat — bolsters authoritarian regimes in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela and continues its extensive disinformation campaign," the general said. "These activities undermine democracies and challenge our credibility."

She said both China and Russia exploit the presence of transnational criminal organizations and work to amplify their destabilizing impact on democratic governments, spreading violence and corruption throughout the region and beyond.

"Their fentanyl-laced cocaine contributes to the deaths of Americans in cities and towns across the country," she said. "The good news is that working with our very willing partners leads to the best defense, and we must use all available levers to strengthen our partnerships with the 28, like-minded democracies in this hemisphere, who understand the power of working together to counter these shared challenges."



U.S., Canada, Japan and the Philippines Conduct Multilateral Operations
240616-N-N0824-0100 PHILIPPINE SEA (June 16, 2024) The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Gregorio del Pilar-class patrol ship BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS 17), front, sails in formation with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JS Kirisame (DD 104), and the Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Montreal (FFH 336) in the Philippine Sea during a multilateral Maritime Cooperative Activity (MCA) between Canada, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States, June 16, 2024. Participating units include the Montreal (FFH 336), the Kirisame, the Andres Bonifacio, and the Ralph Johnson. MCAs demonstrate a collective commitment to promote and strengthen regional and international cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. Ralph Johnson is forward deployed and assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest DESRON and the U.S. 7th fleet’s principal surface force. U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (Courtesy Photo)
June 17, 2024 - U.S. Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and Armed Forces of the Philippines conducted a Maritime Cooperative Activity (MCA) in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone, upholding freedom of...

Strengthening Military-Civilian Relations and Partnerships on Global Health Security
Civilians, defense and security partners within the Indo-Pacific region participate in collaborative panel discussions during the Military Civilian Health Security Summit co-hosted by the Australian Defence Force and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Sydney, June 17, 2024. Established in 2018, the MCHSS symbolizes a unified commitment to address global health security challenges and provides an opportunity for participants to share valuable insights and enhance regional readiness by improving coordination and collaboration between military and civilian entities. USINDOPACOM is committed to enhancing stability in the Indo-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies and deterring aggression. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Austin Riel)
June 16, 2024 - SYDNEY — The Australian Defence Force and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command co-hosted the Military Civilian Health Security Summit in Sydney, June 16-17, bringing together 23 Indo-Pacific partner nations, international organizations,...

U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander Travels to Indonesia
Adm. Samuel J. Paparo, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, conducts an inspection with Vice Adm. Erwin S. Aldedharma, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Navy, during his first official visit to Indonesia as USINDOPACOM commander, June 13, 2024. The U.S. and Indonesia share a deep and enduring strategic partnership, anchored in shared values of democracy and a commitment to the rules-based international order. USINDOPACOM is committed to enhancing stability in the Indo-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies, deterring aggression and, when necessary, fighting to win. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Bellino)
June 14, 2024 - JAKARTA, Indonesia — Adm. Samuel J. Paparo, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, visited Indonesia June 11-14, to meet with senior military and government officials as the two nations celebrate the 75th anniversary of...

Joint Task Force Micronesia Holds Assumption of Command Ceremony
Adm. Samuel J. Paparo, commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, and Rear Adm. Gregory C. Huffman exchange salutes during the Joint Task Force – Micronesia assumption of command ceremony on Andersen Air Force Base, June 14, 2024. During the ceremony, Rear Adm. Gregory C. Huffman assumed command, and will serve as the first two-star admiral in the area in over 70 years. The establishment of Joint Task Force – Micronesia reflects the commitment of Department of Defense to support our pacing challenge throughout the region and bolster homeland defense.
June 14, 2024 - Adm. Samuel J. Paparo, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, presided over the establishment ceremony of Joint Task Force-Micronesia (JTF-M) at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam on June 14, 2024, where Rear Adm. Gregory C...

613 Air Operations Center strengthens ties with Japan’s Air Defense Command in landmark agreement
240612-F-UX259-1023 (June 12, 2024) Japan Air Self-Defense Force Col. Kohei Kurachi, Commander of the JASDF Air Defense Command Air Operations Center, and U.S. Air Force Col. Chris McFarland, Commander of the 613 Air Operations Center, sign the AOC and ADC standard operating procedure agreement, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jun. 12, 2024. The two air forces work together to increase readiness, interoperability and support peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Rob Webb)
June 13, 2024 - In a move aimed at bolstering bilateral cooperation, the U.S. Air Force 613th Air Operations Center has signed an agreement with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force Air Defense Command at Pacific Air Forces Headquarters...