“Welcome to the first subcommittee hearing of the 112th Congress. I would like to commend Mr. Langevin on his leadership in the 111th Congress and congratulate Ms. Sanchez on her selection as the new Ranking Member. I would also like to welcome our new members of the subcommittee: Mo Brooks; John Fleming; John Garamendi; Scott Rigell; Dutch Ruppersberger; Austin Scott and Betty Sutton.
“Since we organized at the end of January, our subcommittee has conducted several overview briefings on various aspects of the strategic forces portfolio. Just yesterday, officials from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for Policy and U.S. Strategic Command briefed members on the Administration’s nuclear policy and posture.
“Today’s hearing provides our subcommittee with the opportunity to review the Status of U.S. Strategic Forces. Since last year’s strategic posture hearing, a number of notable events have occurred and several new policy documents have been released that affect our nation’s strategic posture and which ultimately frame the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget request.
We will hear from four distinguished witnesses. In our first panel, we are joined by: General Bob Kehler, the new Commander of U.S. Strategic Command; and Dr. Jim Miller, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
“I believe the committee’s oversight is further enhanced through additional perspectives outside of the traditional Department of Defense witnesses we hear from. Therefore, I asked Dr. Bill Perry and Dr. Jim Schlesinger, the chairman and vice chairman of the U.S. Strategic Posture Commission, to provide their views on our nation’s strategic posture and the changes that have occurred in the last few years. Dr. Schlesinger was unable to join us today; our thoughts are with him. I appreciate Dr. Keith Payne filling-in for him.
“I want to thank each of our witnesses for appearing today, and thank them for their service and leadership.
“I will keep my comments brief to allow ample time for members to ask questions. However, I would like to highlight four areas of concern that I hope our witnesses will address here today.
“First, the ink is barely dry on the New START Treaty and Administration officials are already discussing further nuclear force reductions. The assumption appears to be that more arms control and deeper cuts to U.S. forces is desirable and puts us further down the path to ‘a world free of nuclear weapons,’ a vision the President described in his 2009 Prague speech. We must be careful here. The President admitted in that same speech that this vision is unlikely to be realized in our lifetimes. We should slow down, let the treaty ink dry, and reassess where we are. Our security requirements should guide the feasibility and desirability of further reductions, not the other way around.
“One reason for caution is uncertainty: none of us can predict the future. China is ‘rapidly upgrading its nuclear capability…and is trying to reach parity with Russia and the U.S.’ Russia would have us trade away our missile defenses, conventional forces, and space capabilities to secure another arms control treaty that reduces their tactical nuclear weapons. In the last few months, NATO has reaffirmed that nuclear deterrence is a core element of alliance security. In the last week, a senior South Korean official suggested the U.S. reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula for deterrence and assurance. There are long-term implications of a rush to reduce our nuclear forces that merit thoughtful consideration.
“Second, the Nuclear Posture Review and Section 1251 Report made several promises with respect to the modernization of our nuclear warheads, delivery systems, and infrastructure. Based on what I have seen thus far of the Fiscal Year 2012 budget request, I am initially encouraged that the Administration appears ready to honor these promises, at least this year. But there is much work to be done, and I remain concerned about the long-term commitment to these investments—a responsibility shared by the Administration and the Congress. We have been handed the bill of deferred maintenance. We must ensure that these timelines are met and these promises are kept.
“Third, I have seen solid progress in the Administration’s implementation of the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) for missile defense in Europe, and a significant improvement in their engagement of Congress from where we were a year ago. This work is commendable. I met with NATO parliamentarians and NATO officials just last week and was pleased to see how far the missile defense discussion in Europe has advanced from three years ago.
“Some of us remain concerned, however, about the Department’s hedging strategy for defense of the homeland in case the long-range threat comes earlier or technical issues arise in the development of a new SM-3 interceptor. I came away from our PAA hearing last December believing that the Department’s hedging strategy was hollow. I hope our witnesses can discuss the progress being made to add detail to the hedging strategy outlined in the Ballistic Missile Defense Review.
“Lastly, I would ask our witnesses to discuss what they see as the key challenges and opportunities in national security space. I am particularly concerned about the health of our space industrial base and our export control policies, and finding the right balance between protecting our national security interests and strengthening our industrial capacity.
“It goes without saying that these are challenging economic times. I am committed to working with the Department to identify efficiencies and better ways of doing business. With that said, we are a nation fighting two wars. And, it is our subcommittee’s responsibility to ensure our strategic forces are kept viable in both the good years and the bad.”