Special Operations Commanders Testify on Force Readiness

The U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services hears testimony from special operations commanders on efforts to sustain special operations force readiness and transform the force for future security challenges. Witnesses include: Army Lt. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, commander of Army Special Operations Command; Air Force Lt. Gen. James C. Slife, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command; Navy Rear Adm. Hugh W. Howard III, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command Marine Maj. Gen. James F. Glynn, commander of Marine Forces Special Operations Command.


Good afternoon everybody thank you for being here. The emerging threats subcommittee meets this afternoon to receive testimony from the leaders of the U. S. Special Operations command service components. We look forward to hearing how you are shaping our special operations forces in line with the priorities laid out by the National Defense Strategy and what more we can do what we can do to ensure the readiness of your forces for the range of missions they may be asked to conduct in coming years. First I’d like to welcome our witnesses today. Lieutenant General Sleith, Commander of U. S. Air Force Special Operations Command. Lieutenant General Braga, Commander of U. S. Army Special Operations Command, Rear Admiral Howard, Commander of Naval Special Warfare Command and Major General Glynn, commander of U. S. Marine Forces. Special Operations Command also hope you will pass along our sincere appreciation For the service and sacrifice of the approximately 74,000 men and women of SOCOM and their families. The special operations community has achieved so much for the nation in the last 20 years but it’s also born a significant burden in doing so. As our strategic priorities evolve. We must never forget the people that make our special operations capabilities so effective as SOCOM Commander General Clark stated during his posture hearing earlier this month, soft creates strategic asymmetric advantages for the nation across the spectrum of conflict. Their enduring value resides in the ability to adapt and to combat asymmetric threats including in the gray zone, employ precision and surprise to achieve strategic effects and conflict or crisis build access, placement and influence through sustained partnership with foreign forces and support allies and partners resilience and resistance efforts, all providing discreet options when conventional action is impractical or not desire. General Clark’s testimony builds upon the recently released Special Operations Forces vision and strategy that lays out an ambitious 10 year roadmap for realigning special operations capabilities to support the national defense strategy. The threat posed by violent extremists remains present and are soft will remain at the forefront of keeping pressure on terrorist networks to prevent them from conducting attacks against our homeland and interests overseas. Successive national defense strategies have rightly emphasized a more resourced, sustained, sustainable approach to counterterrorism and long term strategic competition has become the primary strategic focus. Our special operations forces have a central role to play across the spectrum of competition crisis and if necessary, conflict with our strategic adversaries. Even when U. S. Forces are not directly involved in hostilities, as has been widely reported, the persistent engagement of U. S. Special operations forces with their Ukrainian counterparts over a period of years as undoubtedly contributed to their success in degrading the larger and more heavily armed Russian invasion forces without going into details of our current support to the Ukrainian forces. I hope our witnesses today will discuss the lessons learned from our engagement with Ukraine and how they can be applied to shaping our special operations forces for the future. As agile as our soft community is Adjusting to the demands of long-term strategic competition will not be easy after more than 20 years of sustained counterterrorism and stability operations. Our soft will require not only new skills and capabilities but also new operating concepts to make best use of their limited capacity and ensure their activities are fully integrated with conventional and interagency partners. A concept described by the new National Defense Strategy as integrated deterrence. During today’s testimony I hope you will address how your commands are preparing our special operations forces to support the requirements of the geographic combatant commands while balancing the high demand for special operations capabilities around the world. I hope you will also address our efforts to ensure that our Special operations forces remain a respected and trusted forced by reinforcing a culture of accountability blast but most certainly not least. I hope you will update us on efforts to support special operations families as they manage the stress resulting from the frequent and demanding deployment of their loved ones. I’ll now turn to our ranking member senator Ernst for any opening comments that she may have. Yeah thank you. Mr. Chair and thank you gentlemen for being here today. I apologize for my tardiness. A number of us will have other committees will pop in and out as we can but again I appreciate you appearing in front of our subcommittee and also thank you for your continued service. Um not just to you but to your command teams as well. We want to recognize those N. C. O. S. And leaders that participate in your roles as well. Um So of course the testimony that you provide today will play an important role in this committee’s work on the National Defense Authorization Act and the Men and women of Special Operations Command have been at the forefront of our national security over the last two decades and have undertaken some of the nation’s most challenging missions. They’ve inflicted serious damage to al Qaeda to ISIS and other terrorist groups that want to harm us. And while the counterterrorism mission will remain an enduring requirement for our special operators, the force must transform itself to deal with the growing threat posed by china by Russia and other state actors. This will require modernizing the force updating training and tactics and employing innovative operational concepts. That is why I included in last year’s N. D. A. A. A provision requiring a Special operations joint operating concept for competition and conflict. I look forward to that being developed and delivered to this committee this year in order to support efforts to modernize the force we need to provide them with the resources they need to fight and win in a future fight. President Biden’s budget request is woefully inadequate in this regard. The fiscal year 23 top line request for so calm is the same as it was last year despite a significant increase in threats as we all know a flat budget equals a budget cut. This reality is only exacerbated by the rising inflation So come estimates that its fiscal year 23 budget request is actually $1.3 billion 9% less Then its fiscal year 20 budget Using constant dollars. This represents a significant decrease in SOCOM is buying power and hampers its efforts to modernize the force. That’s why this committee needs to look at SOCOM unfunded requirements list and do what it can to help address these shortfalls. I hope our witnesses will tell us where they are facing the most pressing shortfalls and describe the impact on their ability to accomplish the mission. Lastly and most importantly I want to talk about the greatest capability and soft our Special operations men and women. As the first soft truth says humans are more important than hardware. That’s why I’ve been so supportive of the preservation of the Force and Families initiative Created after Admiral Olson’s testimony in 2011 that the forces quote beginning to show some fraying around the edges. End quote hotel has been instrumental in taking care of the physical, mental and spiritual needs of our operators and their families potus truly is a readiness builder for the force. I look to our witnesses to describe how they are using positive and other programs to ensure our troops and their families get the support they need. Thank you. Mr. Chairman thank you Senator and store will now begin with witness statements. We’ll start with Lieutenant generals. Life commander of U. S. Air force special operations command generals. Life well good afternoon. Chairman Kelly. Ranking member earns distinguished members of the committee. I’m honored to appear before you today as the commander of your Air Force Special Operations Command. And I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to speak about the employment of our nation’s special operations forces in the future operating environment on behalf of myself and our command chief Chief Master Sergeant Corey Olsen and the 21 a half 1000 airmen we served together. Thank you for the support and resources provided by this committee. Uh since our last testimony last year, the National Defense Strategy describes a strategic environment street substantially different from the one in which we’ve operated for the last two decades after sock like the other soft components finds itself at a strategic discontinuity, a moment in which the future should not be considered a linear extension of the past but rather as something different altogether. Such inflection points require transformation. My goal today is to describe in greater detail some of the changes we are implementing to ensure our airmen, the disciplined professionals who represent our competitive advantage remain relevant in the emerging operating environment. As the department embraces integrated deterrence as the framework concept of our defense strategy. The aftershock of the future will have to balance among five focus areas to compete with our pacing adversaries. First half sock will generate advantage by campaigning in the gray zone, operating across the spectrum of visibility and attribution. We’ll use our force to create dilemmas and uncertainty and present cost imposing problems for our adversaries. For instance, the development of an amphibious capability for RMC 1 30 transport aircraft will enable runway independent operations, extend the global reach and survivability of the aircraft and provide access to the enormous portions of the earth’s surface covered by water that doesn’t currently exist. Secondly, we’ll engage as part of the broader joint force, employing our unique and sensitive capabilities to create windows of advantage and SAP adversary strength. In order to do this effectively, we’re transforming our training and forced presentation models. Our fourth generation process is made up of four phases, each five months in length. The phases include a reset phase, individual unit training, as well as joint and collective training. Prior to commitment as part of the Joint Force, we’re path finding, a new capability that we refer to as mission sustainment teams. These 58 person teams are comprised of 22 different specialties and allow our airmen to operate out of austere regions with the agility. The future operating environment requires Our airmen will spend the 15 months of the fourth generation cycle training and skills above and beyond what their normal task might entail. The end result is a team of multifunctional airmen integrated into our tactical formations that can provide limited force protection, air transportation services, bed down subsistence and operational contracting, support an aircraft and personnel safety to include exploding explosive ordinance disposal. By building these small agile teams capable of operating and disaggregated fashion. In austere sites will create dilemmas and uncertainty for our adversaries. Third of stock will remain poised to respond to global crises and contingencies wherever and whenever required in increasingly contested environments. We’re employing our fourth generation model to produce mission command echelons at a higher state of readiness than previously has been possible. Our fourth generation model will prepare, train, certify, verify and validate our airmen and their command teams are ready for alert and deployment Taskings. These airmen will be trained to respond to short notice Taskings while employing and maneuvering and militarily and politically contested environments. This will reduce the current risk commission and risk of force by providing continuity of leadership. Fourth sock will more efficiently disrupt violent extremist organizations to ensure they’re unable to mount external attacks on the U. S. Homeland and do so in a cost effective manner. Our armed Overwatch program’s light footprint, rapid deployment ability, multi mission utility and much lower operating costs per flight hour will enable us to do more missions with fewer aircraft than had previously been possible. Finally, aftershock will remain focused on the specific tasks and missions assigned to so calm under the Unified Command Plan and the Joint Strategic campaign plan. Chairman Kelly, ranking member Ernst distinguished members of the committee, the nation, the Air force and US Special Operations Command appreciate your time today and giving me the opportunity to talk to you just a little bit about the aftershock of the future. Thank you. General Lieutenant General Braga, Commander of U. S. Army Special Operations Command, General Chairman Kelly, ranking member Ernst and distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to represent the 36,000 exceptional, exceptional men and women of the United States Army Special Operations Command 2800 of which Are deployed right now across 77 countries. I’m proud to accompany my teammates. See the left and right of me that I’ve had the honor and privilege to serve in combat. Senator Blackburn for her behalf. I’d like to thank on behalf of the entire command. I’d like to thank her and express our gratitude for her support and upgrading Jeremiah Johnson’s silver star for his Valorous actions in tongo, tongo. Thank you. Joining me today is commands are Major Michael Weimer you socks. Senior enlisted advisor. Mike really represents our people. Mike has served the nation for 29 years deployed to combat 19 times since September 11, 2001. He’s carried with him a new York city Fire department patch as a reminder of our solemn responsibility to protect the nation. On the 20th anniversary of 9 11. We were fortunate to stand with hundreds of our army Special Operations team mates while Mike returned that same patch that he carried on multiple objectives around the world to the men and women of F. D. N. Y. On the crowded and emotional streets of Manhattan as a symbol of our solidarity. It’s an honor for both of us to serve with the brave men and women of the army special operations community who were the first in in the last out of Afghanistan. As we approached memorial day, we are reminded of the selfless sacrifices made by our soldiers And their families over the last 20 years, Especially the more than 1700 gold star family members. This year, we will inscribe Staff Sergeant Ryan Canals one of our psychological operator Chins Warriors As the 378th name on our wall. And we will never forget every component of the army Special Operations command contributed in Afghanistan from our special operations aviators and filling rangers in the dark of night to our civil affairs teams operating in austere conditions. Two green Berets riding on horseback through the mountains. Your army special operations had an impact and protected the homeland without fail. I assure you, we remain vigilant in protecting the homeland as we wait. Our efforts to the priorities outlined in the National Defense strategy. Use a sock supports the joint force through irregular warfare, campaigning for integrated deterrence while simultaneously preparing for high end conflict. It is vital that we address these challenges with strong inter agency, international and joint relationships to preserve our advantages over our nation’s adversaries. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrated President Putin’s determination to impose his will in blatant disregard of international norms, rules and behaviors. Our existing partnerships and forward presence in the region. Demonstrated strategic value when options were needed following the invasion of Crimea. Over the last 7.5 years, army special operations deployed to assist our fearless Ukrainian partners in support of building their resistance capability and resiliency. As we apply lessons from this crisis to train organized, equipped, deploy and campaign. We remain resolute in our resolve to address our nation’s most consequential strategic pacing challenge the people’s republic of china. There is no sanctuary from the scope and scale of the threat. We remain steadfast in our confidence that this generation of army special operations soldiers will build upon the legacy of those who preceded them and uphold our promise to protect the nation without equal. We are committed to maintaining your trust and continuing our complete transparency with Congress and the American people. I thank you for this opportunity and look forward to answer your questions. Thank you. General Rear Admiral Howard, Commander of Naval Special Warfare Command. Go ahead. Chairman Kelly, ranking member Ernst and distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to report on the mission readiness of naval special Warfare. I’m honored to update you and the American people and humbled to do so alongside force Master Chief Bill King Who have served with for 31 years. My report to the American people is shared with humility, humility sharpened through the complexity and risk of our mission. The threats that face our nation give us urgency to accelerate distinctive and irregular capabilities from the maritime flanks of our adversaries for integrated deterrence in our nation’s defense, I am confident that we are delivering the disruptive and necessary change to be ready for what the nation will ask of our force. Our comparative advantage is our people, This nation’s greatest treasure. Our seal operators, combatant craft crewmen, more fighting support teammates and families who alongside our gold star families form a highly reliable team. The team fused together and enrolled with a common purpose trust and candor, creativity and resilience. We fortified a culture of continuous assessment and development and design new character, cognitive and leadership attributes assessments across the career continuum. We’ve implemented and improved a more rigorous selection for all leaders, officers and senior listed. A process that includes psychometric testing, peer and subordinate assessments and a double blind selection panel leveraging data science encounter bias approaches to increase precision and objectivity of leader selection and assignment decisions. We recognize diversity as one of our greatest sources of strength to solve the hardest problems and we are making significant investments with the navy to directly engage communities that are underrepresented in our formation, we built the sustainable architecture to proactively seek out candidates that may not have historically thought of joining our ranks Since my last report, we graduated our first female combatant craft crewmen and tripled female cadre across all phases of the assessment selection pathway to bolster development of women and naval special warfare, delivering a more lethal and survivable force requires that we evolve and adapt faster than our adversaries. Over the past year we developed a plan to substantively increase investment and the modernization of exquisite across the main capabilities that provide the access and effects we must have as a nation to persistently hold your adversaries critical targets at risk. We are now holding approximately a third of our force in reserve. two more actually respond to emerging global missions and critically to conduct the urgent experimentation with innovative mission concepts for step changes and tactics and advanced technologies technologies that include artificial intelligence, autonomous multi domain unmanned systems and cyber electronic warfare and Connecticut effects. As the Navy’s commandos were tightly linked with fleet commanders, allies, partners and US government agencies to create a regular warfighting advantage of the joint force and generate uncertainty and adversary confidence escalation off ramps and greater leverage for our civilian leadership in crisis master Chief King and I are proud of our force and their service to protect and defend our great nation. We will continue to be humble stewards of the incredible trust that you and the American people place in us and we thank you for your continued support of our team and naval special warfare’s families. Look forward to your questions. Thank you Admiral Major General Glenn, Commander of U. S. Marine Forces Special Operations Command. Thank you. Chairman Kelly and ranking member Ernst and other distinguished members of the committee. Thanks for the opportunity and up to update you on the status and posture of Marine Corps forces Special Operations command. And it’s an honor for start Major Law office and I to join you again this year alongside my fellow soft component commanders and their senior enlisted leaders. Since we met last year, Marshak maintained a persistent forward deployed presence and support of six named operations across the globe and marine Raiders conducted operations in indo pacific command. Central Command and Africa Command will episodic deployments in support of European and southern commands. Our mission tailored forces continue to maximize efficiency while remaining faithful stewards of resources and continue to account for signature significantly more of the missions performed Than the size of the force 30 500 and slice of the budget budget would predict. As you’ve heard from the geographic combatant commanders, they are increasingly challenging the uncertainty of semi permissive environments. As our adversaries seek to gain and maintain influence in the gray zone, mar sok is leveraging our organizational agility predominantly our size to maximize the effectiveness of the force and provide immense benefit to the soft enterprise and our parents service competition requires special operations forces that can be active in the Gray zone and win in conflict for which your marine Raiders are postured and focused. In fact, it’s our quest to bring transparency to the gray in gray zone. Over the past year, we further developed our innovative operating concept that provides the nation with a unique capability. Strategic shaping and reconnaissance encompasses a wide range of capabilities, from cooperation with partners and allies to increasing cost to adversaries to deter disrupt and deny their objectives. The operational art of SSR strategic shaping. A reconnaissance seeks to connect the joint interagency, intergovernmental and multinational communities as they develop persistent networks that can enhance strategic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The concept supports multi domain campaigning for long term shaping and influence in support of SOCOM, the joint force and the nation and strategic strategically critical locations. As one example over the course of last year, mar Sok provided soft peculiar capabilities to the theater Special operations Command for Africom while connecting the combat power of the fifth of the Marine Corps’s 15th Marine expeditionary unit to provide capability and capacity and support of current operations off the coast of Africa. This demonstrated the possibilities in a domain approach includes that includes forward based soft operating in the laterals that can connect air, maritime and cyber elements. In this case of a marine expeditionary unit off the coast of Somalia to maintain pressure on violent extremists while supporting our regional partners as we experiment with emerging and next generation capabilities. Operations against violent extremist organization, networks continue and provide our forces the placement and access with partners and allies against priority threats. We pursue missions in littoral regions that facilitate close ties to the naval force that include fleet marine forces. Our ability to leverage these characteristics is integral to our expanding impact. As part of what our commandant calls the stand in force necessary at the persistent forward edge of deterrence. We recognize that the current and future operational capabilities rest upon a foundation that we all have in common outstanding marine Raiders and their families. To maximize continued excellence and enable new operational concepts. We must continue to safeguard and sustain our most valuable resource through programs we discussed in some detail last year. Specifically preservation of the force and family, sexual assault prevention and diversity inclusion initiatives. Each are in a different point of maturity yet they contribute to a collective organizational culture of physical, mental, spiritual and family excellence to enhance mission success and strengthen family resilience. In closing, we remain committed to providing the joint force with marine Raiders that possess unique special operations capabilities who are a threat focused devoted to force modernization and whose actions continually demonstrate our motto Spiritus Invictus or unconquerable Spirit on behalf of the men and women of Marshak. I thank the committee for your continued to support to those in uniform and their families and for your commitment to our national security. Thank you general and thank you to all of you for your statements. I’ll begin our first round of questions for five minutes here and this first question is for all four of you. Uh and since we only have five minutes we’ll have to keep it uh brief. Um for much of the last two years the department has been refining a joint warfighting concept that finds a credible theory of victory. Should deterrence fail with a near peer adversary. However, our long term strategic competitors continue to make gains through hybrid war, war warfare and coercion below the threshold of traditional armed conflict. As you all have pointed out in your statements are soft have a key role to play in this type of warfare. So as you look at what will be asked of our special operations forces for the next Say 10-15 years, what do you believe will be the most important skill sets and capabilities. And which of these will be the most difficult to develop. And we’ll start with general slide thank you Senator. As integrated deterrence is the framework concept. One of the things that we talk about in a sack is that deterrence is the noun and integrated as the adjective deterrence is the thing we’re trying to do. But integrated is how we’re going to do it. And I think when you think think about what integration means there is no force in the D. O. D. That is more integrated than soft were jointly interoperable at much lower levels, all four of us have operated with one another In combat. Since the since we were much much more junior in our careers. And so soft is integrated internally. Furthermore soft has a set of relationships around the globe, both with partner militaries and also with embassy teams that is unrivaled Aftershock was was present in 74 countries since the last time we had the opportunity to speak to this committee. And finally across the U. S. Government no part of the D. O. D. Force is more connected to the inter agency and the intelligence community than our Special operations forces. So I think that is going to be where our competitive advantage lies is our ability to integrate uh internally across the U. S. Government and also with our partners. Thank you. General Braga senator. I’d echo the critical importance of making sure we work with our international partners and intel community and your agency. It’s it’s it’s even more important as we face strategic challenges of china and Russia, we have to rethink everything we do how we live in the contact layer and seek to provide options both in during competition and should it transition to high end conflict, how do you survive? How do you shoot move and communicate? How do you live in a different electromagnetic spectrum that our adversary has invested very heavily in. So we are really looking everything from our capabilities to how we train people to make sure their survivability uh Still maintain a focus on smaller units of action having an outsized effect, be able to operate in austere locations with those partners in the contact layer, Admiral. Our contribution to integrated deterrence is principally the irregular ways and means that we deter are pure adversaries. We are prioritizing irregular partners. Regular global partners, irregular, denied access capabilities for hard targets, irregular and scalable effects in terms of capabilities that support this effort, lethal and survivable access platforms, both on the surface and the subsurface domains, unmanned systems that are increasingly autonomous and interoperable and then cyber and electronic warfare. Thank you. General Senator, as you’re aware of deterrence and deterrence theory can get can get pretty complicated. But the the biggest thing is the most significant thing in deterrence that we find as has been alluded to comes from our allies and partners and their perspective of risk and what is what is most risky to our adversaries, be they china or Russia. And so the most important part of deterrence is going to remain the relationships and the allies and partnerships that we we specifically invest in in the special operations community. The other half of your question, the hardest part I believe is that is going to be the technical aspects of we we’ve all already alluded to. Information operations and cyber capabilities and there’s been one illusion to space thus far that those are that’s gonna take education and training over time, that’s a substantial investment on all of our parts. Well, thank you when when general general Life mentioned the or the M. C. 1 30 amphibious operations. I thought that might be on the list. An Air Force guy landing on potentially landing on an aircraft carrier. Might be a skill set that would be hard to develop. Um uh And I’m very it’s easy alright. Um um um Well thank you for that and I will now recognize Senator Ernst for five minutes. Thank you so much. And of course as we all sat down and visited during your office calls we talked extensively about pota and so maybe in my second round of questions I can ask each of you a little bit more about positive and in your specific programs. But general’s life there was something that you brought up in your office called it. I would love to hear a little bit more about um your your efforts within part of to address the moral hazard and it’s something that I hadn’t put a lot of thought into. But if you could explain to the members of our our subcommittee what your intent would be as you continue to delve into this area. Well thank you senator I’m happy to do it. Uh The conversation that senator earns tonight had yesterday we talked about the three types of invisible wounds that many of our service members suffer from because of their experiences over the last 20 years. The first one is neurocognitive injury. And so this is this is really uh T. B. I. Concussive effects those types. It’s a it’s a physical damage to the brain. And so we we understand that we are focused on that SOCOM has a D. O. D. Leading program around neurocognitive health. The second invisible injury is psychological injury. And this manifests as post traumatic stress. It is the manifestation of of witnessing or being part of a significantly traumatic event and the long term effects that has on you. But I think there’s a third type of invisible injury and its and its moral injury. And these are the injuries that are incurred when we act in a way that is contrary to our moral system and we do damage to it. We do our damage to ourselves as we reflect back on the things that we have done over the last 20 years. And so I’ve experience some of this myself having made decisions in the moment to take people’s lives that I then, you know afterwards wonder was that the right decision? Uh It seemed like the right decision at the time. But what what does that mean to me now? And so as we’ve looked at moral injury as a third type of this uh invisible wounds kind of triad. We have been engaged directly with the Air Force to invest in that leg of our potus program that would attend to these moral injuries. And we have gotten commitment from the Air Force to embed a religious support team at chaplain and a chaplain, assistant N. C. O. Into every squadron level formation in Air Force Special Operations Command. This doesn’t exist anywhere in the Air Force. It, you know, I had to work hard with the Air Force to get there. But but we do have that program coming down the pike and so that’s a big win for us in the, in the pota front. And uh, with coupled with some of the other things that we may talk about senator, those are that that’s really the answer to your question. No, thank you generals life and I’m anxious to hear more about that as you continue to develop that and general Braga thank you so much. Um, again during the office call, you had the opportunity to visit with me and my team about the Ukrainian forces that you have been able to train and work with over, you know, seven years or so. It was an investment that now we see as paying large large dividends. And what are the follow on risks from the invasion in particular when we look at Moldova and Kosovo. And just in your judgment, where do we need to expand our footprint and presence in you calm? Well, ma’am, certainly I don’t want to speak for you calm and their current prioritization. But I would say we have had longstanding generational relationships in some places across eastern Europe, both NATO and non NATO countries that I think pay huge dividends in return on investment for honestly small amounts of physical footprint on the ground as we expand their capabilities. We mentioned resistance and resiliency, but it’s also interoperability. It’s that and I believe Senator Kelly mentioned that expanding the access presence and influence and when I mentioned the scale and scope of the threat of Russia and china, we won’t be able to do this alone. That’s why I talk about the international partners and increasing their capacities and their capabilities. So critical and that’s from information operations. That’s unconventional warfare. That’s asymmetric tactics, techniques and procedures that you’re seeing unfold right now in the Ukraine, I won’t go into the in this form, but it would it would be absolutely willing to go in a perhaps a closed door session of other partnerships. We are expanding right now and certainly the world is paying attention to what’s unfolding in Ukraine. That is adding emphasis to that. Wonderful. Thank you gentlemen. Thank you Mr. Chair, thank you Senator Senator Kaine. Um your thank you to all of you. Your testimony is a couple of points that I find interesting and just kind of underlying General Glenn, you talked about when you’re asked about deterrence, she said, you know, the lead deterrence we have is our network of alliances and partners and it truly is an edge where Russia and china, they’re just not really in the same ballpark with us on that, they do not have that network. And now they’re seeing how powerful a network of alliances can be. So that’s the takeaway. And then general Bragg, I liked the fact that you started with talking about your enlisted leader colleague carrying the F. D. N. Y. Patch for 20 years because it has been 20 years where I think we have leaned really heavily on special forces sort of disproportionate to your slice of the budget or the size of the of the manpower component. We leaned very heavily on you. So I have really one question that would take much longer than five minutes to answer. And maybe I’ll start General Glenn and go right to left around the table from my side During this 20 years were Lean very heavily on you largely admissions against non state terrorist organizations. They’ve had a lot of lethal capacity but they haven’t had the ability to like challenge us in the air challenge, our communications dominance, challenge some other, uh just strong areas of expertise we have as we’re now looking at the National Defense Strategy that focuses on piers that do have the ability to, you know, not have a permissive air environment or or challenges on the communication side, I suppose as special operations leaders, you have to think about new strategies and make new investment decisions to to recognize the reality of that kind of a challenge. Talk a little bit about how within your commands, you’re sort of looking at battle against, you know, great state competition and how that affects the planning and investment decisions you make. Thank you senator for that question and I think I’ll tee it up and then as we go around the horn, we can probably expand on it. Um the the notion of the gray zone is I guess where I’ll start and it’s The find is great for a reason because it’s where if if we looked at ourselves for 20 years and decided how we would want to Combat the strengths that the United States brings in the in the manner in which we have for the last 20 years. We would probably come to many of the conclusions that are that are strategic adversaries have as well. And so to your question, the choices that we’re having to determine right now is what of the seat, the counterterrorism skill sets, that the stuff that we’ve invested and developed very well over the last 20 years, how much of it translates? How well does it translate and what else that we need to be able to do? And having stood alongside these gentlemen in the past, I think I’ll conclude for the moment with our examination of cyber capabilities are examination of space capabilities and that and the integration with special operations going forward to take to narrow that gray zone, if you allow me to stop there. I know I know that I married you and I have talked about the cyber dimension of this before but I’d I’d love to hear your answer on this as well. We have and with cyber and electronic warfare with our proximity access to hard targets. We see ourselves as part of that kill chain in extending the reach of the cyber and electronic warfare enterprises. But we’re clearly at an inflection point Nationally, I think within special operations were entering call it the 5th modern era of special operations for naval special warfare. We over rotated on counterterrorism. Clearly we lost some ground in the distinctive things that only we can do and we are moving with urgency to make the main thing the things that only we can do in the maritime domain and also say that we are investing in time and space to conduct experimentation and concept development with combat validated forces and that’s important to embrace what’s in front of us, Put pressure on ourselves and deliver step changes move faster, learn faster. We could do that at lower training risk with combat ready forces and then finally the fleet integration and using the fleet and the joint force to the red team ourselves in terms of survivability and lethality. Senator, I just mentioned to to add on their first information advantage, information operations. I think we’re you know, watching it daily the strategic impact that it has. I cannot envision a future where that does not increase in importance affecting target audiences. General populations, governments armies, morale and eroding their overall effectiveness. Secondly, I mean we we started a campaign of learning the other components mentioned it, but I really look at soft space and cyber is the modern day triad. I think we owe you best military advice and options in the National Command Authority for flexible deterrent flex response options that involve and optimize those three legs of the triad for options both in deterrence but also maintaining dominance in the domains for high end conflict to the in supporting the joint force. I’m out of time. But can I let general sliced answer? Are you okay? Coach? Thank you. Thanks Senator. I’ll just briefly highlight one other thing. You know, I believe that the service components of soft are most effective when we are closest to our parents services. And I think you’ve heard some of that from Admiral Howard talking about his relationship with the fleet, it’s no different for us. And so I think one of the places where we see a value proposition for soft is enabling are particularly in uh, in conflict type scenarios enabling our broader service, uh, you know, parents to be effective. And so I think, you know, for livestock, uh, there’s a lot of work to be done in the um integrated air defense um, area as well as the counter space uh missionary. There are a lot of very um critical capabilities or adversaries rely on in those areas that I think software brings unique capability to effect. Thank you Senator. Thank you. Mr. Chairman Senator Thank you very much gentlemen, thanks for being here today. Thank you for your service and such a tough time for the world that we live in. This is for all of you. What resources if any have you asked for But not have been provided. And I’m asking it for this reason. In November 2020, acting secretary of defense Chris miller enacted the fy 2017. requirement to elevate the solid position to be on par with other service secretaries. But last May sector Austin reversed this decision bearing Solich back under the under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Solich is still understaffed and isn’t getting the routine direct access to the secretary and deputy secretary. It should as directed by the nd A. So just any comments anyone ever you have on that then? I’ll start with you Senator. Thank you. So you know, each year I think we find ourselves trying to balance our our budgeting recommendations among modernization readiness, personnel programs, these types of things. And every year we come up, you know short I think we could all find additional areas where we would like to invest in order to reduce risk. The budget that was submitted. I think Senator Ernst describes some of the fiscal realities of it but it represents a balance of risk among those areas and uh you know to directly answer your question. I think each of us have contributed to the SOCOM Commander’s unfunded priority list which reflect those areas where if additional resources were available, those would be the things we would recommend that Congress might consider investing in. Thank you General Senator at echo. We’ve submitted that in the congressional unfunded priority list and it touches upon a lot of some of the Cape bills were talking about previously. But there is absolutely impact. If you just take inflation alone, inflation alone has certainly affected our supply chain no different than any other facet of society right now. I mean, the average Increase in parts we’re talking for our helicopter fleet has gone up 31-35% and that that that comes at a trade off. So there’s always tradeoffs and prioritization decisions to be made, rebalance risk to force risked emission training readiness or deploying, you know through operations, activities and investments. That’s continual but just like the rest of the world, we’re dealing without that impact of inflation right now with as Senator Ernst said, the the flat budget. Thank you. What’s before the Congress now is an opportunity within naval special warfare to make some additional investments in a denied area. Access across the maritime flank where we maintain comparative advantage with your adversaries irregular and scalable kinetic and non kinetic effects so sweet of effects across uh a range of attribution options there and the surviving building lethality of our subsea and surface platforms. So we were given that the opportunity to make some some growth in our community depending on the congressional judgments there were on the right trajectory for what I outlined before in terms of what we’re, what we’re aiming for for a regular deterrence. Senator. Thanks for the opportunity to to comment on it. I would say that the most acute area, the place where we face the hardest choices and and they’re well known at Asd Solich and and at the SOCOM level it’s a good that’s a good team. It’s a good relation ship that supports all of us I believe. But where it really comes down to the hard choices and we when we have to make choices between equipment and people. And I think you heard that in our opening statements and what do I mean by that modernization, the investment in in the technology that’s required to compete with the likes of Russia and china. Well taken care of current operations and supporting the force in the family. And I think that that’s that’s somewhat where we’re at now in terms of how will we pay for modernization going forward? Thank you. Just one more quick question here. A recurring theme here in the Senate is that our commanders in the field don’t have enough. I s r ah just your quick thoughts, you know, commercially available options such as max are, what capabilities do they bring anybody got any thoughts on that Senator? I would offer to you that commercial capabilities are um growing at a rate that rivals organic military capabilities. And I think a key part of our s our enterprise going forward is going to be leveraging the various modalities of intelligence collection available from from orbit. So I’m interested in pursuing every one of those as part of a holistic uh air and space based I. S. R. Architecture, anybody else got a thought on macs are any other capabilities such as senator as the world becomes more connected? We need to rethink modern day, so it’s not just from things in orbit, obviously leo neo in space, but also just how the world becomes more connected and rethink uh an experiment with ways to have better situational understanding out there. Again, I think soft can be part of that solution uh with our innovation type mindset of employing commercial capability as well as government Procured capability. Animal hard, have you heard of cell drone? Yes, they have. What do you think about it? The unmanned capabilities are absolutely critical for multi for autonomous systems that give us situational awareness, decision dominance and in the case of that platform, specifically maritime domain awareness glen you’re getting things there but I would offer center that I think when we think it s are we typically think of that that vehicle and really general’s life is the one who has educated me over the course of last year that really the way forward we need to think about the the manner in which those vehicles are controlled rather than a single operator with a with a single control system on a single platform often referred to as swarming. But how will a single operator through a control system have access to any number of platforms that can do what’s needed when, when it’s needed. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Uh, I’m gonna go through our next round five minute questions. I want to start with Admiral Howard. Talk a little bit about undersea capabilities here. It’s, you know, pretty much understood that our undersea capability is we’ve got a comparative advantage to Russia and china and the ability to operate under the ocean. Uh, and I understand this is one of sitcoms priority investment areas for fiscal year 23 is the development of a new undersea insertion and exfiltration capability. So Admiral, can you just kind of, you know, step through us here, how the development process is going, How you’re working with SOCOM to extend the undersea reach of naval special operators and also a little bit about integration with the Regular Navy. You know, often as you’re developing a system and you’re trying to get it to work with something you might not, it’s not part of the development program, but it needs to work with existing hardware that can be challenged. So if you can comment on that as well. Thank you. Our relationship with our submarine force has never been closer. We we learn from working with our submarine force. You know, they’re an exemplar of a highly reliable organization which we always strive to be. We also have an advantage as a country in the undersea with our allies and partners. I was recently in Europe with several of our allies where we are collaborating on new capabilities and combined operations, the for acquisition and oversight and execution and due diligence of these programs were investing with SOCOM and SOCOM is at mile inside of my own command so that we bolster the workforce around the execution of the program. The integration that that is. We have a dependency with the Navy. There’s great alignment with Admiral guild a staff in the op Nav in nine under abril con. And then of course at Nazi, I’m confident that we’re on a trajectory to deliver the nation capabilities that are distinctive and access that denied targets in a way that’s survivable and persistent. Can you talk a little bit about, you know, some of the uh yeah requirements that unclassified, you know, what you’re looking for in this system and how the integration with the Navy is going. I know in private Prior, you know, systems we have had difficulty integrating hardware onto, you know submarines and I want to make sure that that’s not something we encounter here with this program. We’re on the right course in that regard with the Navy to expand the kinds of capabilities that we can integrate onto our submarine host with future capabilities. Were looking at extended ranges, the extended increasing payloads teeming with unmanned systems. That’s generally our strategy. We see the undersea is absolutely critical to deterrence. I think it’s a place that we maintain advantage and it’s a place where we must maintain advantage to critically deter our peer adversaries. All right, thank you. Um Senator Blackburn. Right? Uh and thank you all. We appreciate your time so incredibly much. Uh General Braga, thank you for your time yesterday. We appreciate that. And we talked a lot about china and the Chinese Communist Party. And I want to talk a bit more about that because as you know, when we look at what is happening with this new axis of evil Russia, china, Iran and North Korea. And look at the way that Russia and china and north Korea also with hypersonic, the way they’re looking at space and nuclear and cyber and hyper sonics autonomy at the there are concerns that have arisen. So talk to me a little bit about how you’re leveraging early research in emerging technologies to prevent some of the technological surprises across different warfighting domains and how are you drilling down on that? Because it’s going to require an intentionality that sometimes may not have been required in other disciplines. Thank you. Senator for the opportunity to discuss that. I think one of the transferable lessons learned from the last couple of decades is the power of network analysis and network defeat and identifying critical vulnerabilities, whether it’s a supply chain or a high end weapons system as really the whole joint forces looking at maintain dominance dominance, whether it’s Jared C. Two or the joint warfighting concept sauce role in that is I think clearly to seek out some of those vulnerabilities work amongst our joint force partners and and specifically in support of the geographic combatant commands. But leveraging perhaps the other strengths of uh I mentioned earlier about cyber and space for more holistic effect to hold at risk. Some of their critical vulnerabilities and nodes, Be it in C5 s. start their mission command platforms or or weapons systems. Would would absolutely appreciate the opportunity in a in a closed door session to go more into more detail at summer. Some of the operational aspects that we are looking at ah But but make no have have confidence that we are, we are continually experimenting and looking at and analyzing how to best take advantage of those uh learn more first and then look how to take advantage of those possible vulnerabilities in support of the joint force. And I think it would be helpful to hear from each of you and you can just give this to us in a written response. I think it’s probably a bit too much for here and then we can dig a little deeper um on that in a closed session at some point but hear from each of you where you feel like there are shortfalls and capacity and capabilities and then how we need to change is each year we’re working on the N. D. A. And as we change that focus to look at what we’re going to do in the future, how we’re going to utilize um new capabilities, hypersonic, how we’re going to utilize some of the technological innovation that is coming our way. I think it would be helpful to us as we go through to figure out you know where you all see where the differences in what we perceive and what you’re dealing with every day as you are going about your task. So if I could ask you all for a written response I would appreciate that. Um I also want to turn a little bit to ai and assisted decision making. Um We have I would say probably at this point because of issues are we have volumes of data and video feeds that could be used in um to establish really kind of a routine and also an abnormal activity line. And I think it is important for us to know how you all are using big data analytics to look at this and how you are going to expand the utilization of big data in order to accommodate and backfield limited personnel and knowing what you’re going to do with those analytics and how you’re going to utilize AI would be helpful to us. And um I guess I’ve got five pages of questions here and I am out of time. So Mr. Chairman, I’ll send it back to you and we’ll have some things for the record. Thank you all. Thank you. Senator and senator Ernst Yes, thank you so much. Um and I’m going to go right back to positive and I think as we have all sat down and and visited about the things that are important for our forces, especially in uh the realm of SOCOM, it does come back to preservation of the force and family and so I know general’s life we had started with you, you talked a little bit about moral injury and what you’re doing to um combat those effects. And what I would like for each of you to do as well is talk a little bit about and if you have any special initiatives that you have started, uh we would love to hear about those as well as other avenues that would you, you would like to see adopted throughout your forces. Um so uh general slide, do you have any additional that you would like to add And then we’ll go to General Braga briefly Senator. I will tell you that in are so positive resourcing is appropriately uh spread a little unevenly across aftershock as some of our units have greater demands for one aspect than another. But one thing that we have generally seen is the units with motif resources embedded at the unit level have lower incidences of uh ill discipline, they have lower instances of sexual assault and sexual harassment. They have lower instances of suicidal ideation or attempted suicides. And so based on some of this, uh, there there is certainly a correlation. We’re not yet sure about causation. We continue to collect data to be able to draw that. But based on the very positive results we’ve seen out of our prototype program. Uh, there is an increase in app socks poet. If investment, we have taken internal offsets in order to increase our positive re sourcing across more of our units inside of abstract because of the very positive results we’ve seen. That’s good go where they are. Yeah, thank you. How about use a sock Sen. 1st of all, thank you for your stalwart support of protests over the years. It’s men and women of Absolutely thank you. I think it’s been easy to sell when you show the physical manifestation of someone who’s had a grievous physical wound and we’ve had those type of vignettes but I do think we need a better job on the data collection phase of it. So we are starting different initiatives from our baselining are incoming Students. Again, we have about 3000 anyone time at Fort Bragg North Carolina going through our school system and identifying like a digital profile of them to help them be the best possible person, they can be across all pillars of of of pot if we’re investing and trying to be more data driven even on spiritual ascendancy and and and and falling in line with the army’s lead for spiritual assessment tool which is is at least in the academic research proven to increase resiliency and lower rates of depression and suicide and the like I am a personal huge believer of the behavioral health impact that are both our operational cycle. Uh psychologists and uh clinical workers have just made an untold amount of impact and when we even look at our formation from suicidal ideations and like we have a lower rate of of usage rate for acute care for those coming to the formation who have been specifically assessed and selected and those who have just been assigned to uh United States Army Special Operations Command. But we need a better job on the data collection. Get that too really everyone to tell the story, the good news story of positive. So we’re making efforts in that to not only with smarter based the SOCOM solution but also Human council human factors dashboard that we’re working on at the youth level. Thank you Admiral. No, thank you. One of our data advantage capstone initiatives is around and understand seeing the data in a way where we can more accurately. Particulate measures of effectiveness, understand needs just say tremendous effort on our team to stigmatize mental health issues, the care that we have embedded is transformational from our ops psychologists are chaplains and an emphasis on neurocognitive health as well. And then lastly, just say that veteran health and extending thinking about motive into our veteran population. This is where we’re partnering with outside of government entities and bringing those best practices to our veteran teammates. Great, thank you. Admiral General Glenn Senator. I’ll likewise thank you for your continued support of Poet. If I think I’ll take a different tact than just flag an area where I think all of us should pay attention with with the with a shift in the future of what military healthcare is likely to be. We find ourselves focused on on potential gaps between potential we as we’ve known it and the areas where it has extended that and and our need to walk it back if you will to fill in gaps that that seem to be created and I’ll give you an example. Well you’ve heard several references to mental and behavioral health that that that specialty care is an area that we’re paying very close attention to going forward because you can see that that’s going to be a persistent need and and access to that is I know it’s challenging across the enterprise, not just military healthcare, but that’s that’s that’s an example of an area on the plus side we talked about this in office called but for wider awareness. SOCOM is investment in our our opportunity to work on the cognitive performance side. Our ability to baseline folks who join Marshak and now we can watch them over time Is already interesting. I think it’s going to become fascinating over the course of 5-10 years. Absolutely. Thank you all so much. Mr. chair. Thank you senator. So I just returned from visiting our allies and and service members uh couple stops in Poland and Germany. It’s clear that us special operations forces, you know, connect as a significant force multiplier for our strategic partners including when facing off some well armed adversaries. And I think nowhere is this more apparent than in what’s going on in Ukraine today. As I mentioned. And I think you General Braga mentioned during our opening remarks. Um reports have indicated that Putin’s army here is stalled in Ukraine um because of the direct support in training special Operations forces of the Ukrainian military Um since the invasion of Crimea in 2014. So General Braga, I know that you can’t comment on any specifics in this training. But can you discuss some of the lessons learned from Ukraine regarding the use of army special operations capabilities as the U. S. Military continues in this pivot towards great power competition with Russia Senator. Thank you the opportunity. I think there’s lots of lessons learned that can be applied elsewhere. Although other parts of the globe are not certainly the same um from our information. Ops and psychological operations civil affairs teams on the ground right now, working with the multitude international non government organizations supporting the people of Ukraine and certainly our special forces uh, teams who have been there again for multiple years now helping them. I mean the credit really goes to the Ukrainian people in the Ukrainian military. We just helped them a little bit along that journey. But I do think what is an untold story is the international partnership with the Special Operations forces of a multitude of different countries. I won’t, I won’t name the number right now but they have absolutely banded together in a much outsized impact to support Ukrainian, soften the Ukrainian military and their efforts right now that I think is a great news story and I think I think that really bore out from the last 20 years of working together, sweat together, bleeding together in different battlefields on different continents. And some of these partners are new, There’s been a coalescence and adjoining of that unity of effort. It’s absolutely inspiring to see uh, that in itself is, I think you mentioned earlier is something that our adversaries desire to have that we have and that’s really a gold standard. Those international partnerships that can be part of the solution moving forward. Certainly we’re taking tactical lessons learned and immediately trying to apply them to our school houses and other foreign partners for everyone to learn as this unfortunate conflict continues to unfold? Yes, sometimes it’s not ideal to share those lessons learned is do you, do you have any examples um, that you’re comfortable? Well, it’s impressive to see. Just open press. You see the the the impact that manned and unmanned drones and and and uh teaming is having. I think that is a absolute critical growth area for the United States Army Special Operations Command. It’s one of our modernization priorities. One of our seven modernization priorities. I cannot envision a future battlefield without increased ever increasing manned unmanned robotics and the application of aI to maximize their effect and impact on across all warfighting functions. That’s something we’re looking at extremely closely and only seeing growth in future prioritization resources training and even possibly we’re experimenting of what type of M. O. S. As branches specialties are inside the Army Special Operations Command. So it’s not just an additional duty, it’s an actual specialty. Can you, can you comment a little bit about how the the cultural and language training that army special operations operators receive and how that has helped in training um, our special operations partners in other countries, senator, it’s imperative that we are both the culturally attuned uh, and and speak the language now do we speak the language of every country we go to. We we can’t really match that up but we we try and we put a lot of effort into it. It’s a baseline requirement coming out of the special forces pipeline. It’s maintained throughout through sustained training and perhaps most importantly as we geographically aligned. I mean our our special forces groups and in their civil affairs and psyops teams, They stay reading online, we’re working in all geographic combatant commanders to this day and many of them have not taken their eyes off the ball to support the Gcc commander’s priorities there, be it simply teams, military information, support teams or special forces ODS or even Aviation detachment uh Advisory Detachment, their operating around the globe and support of every GCC commander’s priorities. But language is absolutely critical to being part of that interoperability. It’s not just equipment and it also shows that you care before I turn it over to Senator Ernst here for the third or I guess 4th, 3rd round of questions. Um and I know this has been a focus uh that the army has had for decades this language capability. But for general sliced Admiral Howard, General Glenn, is this uh you know, something that your special operators are also focused on or is it a capability you would like to integrate into the force in the future? Senator specifically for abstract because most of uh most of our operations deals either directly with aviation or with the integration of air and ground capabilities through joint terminal attack controller and and things of that nature. Uh English is the international language of aviation as you know, and so what we have found is that our partners generally prefer to do those security force assistance type activities in English because it is what they, what they deal with in the aviation world. So we don’t see a demand signal for increased language capability, although to general brogna’s point about cultural uh cultural training, cultural awareness and those types of things. That is an area of investment for us as we think about security force assistance. Thank you Senator. We have a modest investment. I think it’s calibrated the right way and we also make an effort to increasingly identify candidates that are coming in with natural language capabilities. Senator, language and culture have been part of our training pipeline since inception. And so every Every critical skills operator that is created or has been created over the course of the last 15 years goes through a language unique to the theater in which we intend or they are most likely to deploy. So as you would hope like we have recently shifted to to some of the more significant languages in indo pay calm they are to including mandarin Chinese. Thank you. Senator. Yes, thank you. Mr. Chair and I know our vote has been called so I’ll I’ll just be brief and if you can provide brief answers as well. Um, I did mention a little bit in my opening statement. Uh the fact that so calms budget is flat for this year in what the president has submitted. So we know that that’s less buying power with the rate of inflation out there. So if if you can um talk through the impact that that will have on your ability to train and resource Uh and mobilize than your forces. Um I also noted that SOCOM submitted $650 million dollars in unfunded requirements to buy down risk and to accelerate modernization, which really further reinforces the inadequacy of the budget as presented by the president. So if you can just very briefly again, General Saif will start with you. If you could talk about the impacts and what that will have on training modernization. Resourcing Senator briefly, it delays uh you know, any resource shortfalls, delays our ability to modernize, it delays our ability to maintain the force at the highest state of readiness. These are all balances. They’re part of the risk calculus. And so I think you see as you characterize it, the SOCOM unfunded priority list are those things that SOCOM believes well by down that risk to uh to a lower level than where we’re carrying it right now. Thank you Senator. I echo the obviously the unfunded priority list will help by down that risk by accelerating some of the capabilities were looking to expand upon that. We’ve been, we’ve been talking about. I mentioned briefly that inflation is absolutely having an impact. It affects our flying our programs or pair of parts repair engines and and that’s certainly have an impact. And what is that ultimately result in is is you know, at the other end reduce readiness if you don’t have the way to keep your aircraft maintained and your cruise up to speed just from an aviation type aspect. So it certainly has an impact at the ultimate end of the day. Can you put forward less into the, into the theaters to support the geographic combatant commanders? If there’s, if there’s less resources and I’d say that’s that would be something we have to look at as we maintain and re stack our prioritization between training, readiness, modernization and employment. Thank you Admiral. Where I have a concern is really in readiness and the ability to what we’re seeing with the focus on experimentation and concept development for step changes to be ready for what’s ahead. We’re seeing an increase in in requirements for for for that experimentation and concept development and and to get ready where I see your concern going forward is in unmanned systems multi domain with an emphasis on software, not hardware that gets to the autonomy and interoperability we have to win as a nation in in that, in that capability space. Thank you Glenn or General Guillen Excuse me. Major Glenn sorry, demoted you horribly. I am so sorry. General Glenn, I’d go back and do that all over again a better day and age. Maybe senator as a component without major platform. It boils down to people and our kids. So so the choices in modernization, investments in modernization. How quickly can we go after the technological capability and expertise to understand our electromagnetic signature and our digital footprint and to have an awareness of the of our adversaries. That would be one the pace at which that change will occur is going to be impacted by re sourcing. The alternative is to maintain a less as has been alluded to by the other commanders, a less ready force or present a smaller force offering around the globe, which is not obviously not what we want to do because we have longstanding relationships with allies and partners that we want to sustain but but that that’s where we’re at as a component when it comes to that that budget situation. Thank you. So I think all of your statements just further emphasized uh that we do need to have growth within this component within SOCOM and the budget um to make sure that you are able to modernize, to make sure your readiness does not suffer um to make sure that we are able to fill the ranks and continue to fill the ranks in the future. Uh You know, I’ve always had it hammered in my head to assume prudent risk but at what point does that risk no longer present itself as prudent and I think we need to continue to move forward with a robust um budget and it is something that I will be pushing for as we move into our budget cycle through appropriations and with this National Defense authorization act. Um and with that I will have no more questions. Um and so I’ll turn it back to you. Mr. Chair. Thank you. Thank you, Senator. Instead if that um I’ve got a I’ve got a few more, I want to try to get through them briefly um So we can get to this vote at 30 minutes, people start to get nervous and so Um generally life, you know, so comes during a contract award for maybe up to 75 armed Overwatch airframes and uh you know, this would provide reconnaissance and strike capabilities to small geographically desegregated teams of special operations forces. Can you articulate, articulate the requirement for the armed Overwatch program and explain why a new platform is more affordable and effective than existing platforms, including you know, certainly for, you know, ground attack, the 8 10, but also for reconnaissance, something like the MQ nine and just you know, a little bit about on the requirements and the affordability, effectiveness aspect of this. Thanks for the opportunity to talk about it. Senator. So a couple of aspects of that. First of all uh our methodology for supporting our forces on the ground over the last uh several decades has really boiled down to the development of what we call an air stack over objective areas. And so you’ll typically have single roll specialized platforms, a c one thirties, a tens um uh MQ nine’s U 28. You you have the stack of airplanes over an objective, each platform providing a niche capability to the force on the ground that averages in terms of cost per flying hour over $150,000 an hour is what it costs to generate kind of the typical stack for that. As we look at having a multi role platform uh in the armed Overwatch um in in the armed Overwatch concept, Uh that kind of multi role uh set of capabilities comes down to something less than $10,000 of flight hours. So it is a much more efficient way to do that further. It allows us to push those platforms further forward into more austere areas where they can operate, co located with the ground teams that they’re partnered with and so not having them have to fly from, you know, hundreds of miles away, but rather being partnered with the ground team that they’ll be supporting in places that have very austere aviation support with a very light logistics footprint is really what we’re after Senator. How do you resolve the issue of something like an A C 1 30 gunship being able to lay down a massive amount of, you know, you know, fire to the ground with something like 86, you know, with a limited, is there, has that been wealth well planned and thought out? Senator? I think I would say it depends on the mission uh that is um being contemplated. And so clearly there will be missions that require more deep magazine fire support than what a an armed Overwatch platform might have. But the idea of the armed Overwatch platform is it’s a modular capability. And so you can outfit the aircraft with a robust suite of sensors that will exceed what is available with most um dedicated I. S. AR platforms today. Or you can outfit the plot the platform with a robust suite precision munitions. Uh It really depends on the mission. And so clearly the armed Overwatch platform is not a panacea for every tactical situation that a ground force might find themselves in. But for what we envision the enduring counter ve o mission looking like we think it’s a prudent investment. And when do you feel that the contract award will be made, Senator? I think we’re um uh in months. So this summer I expect to see a contract award all the back and forth with industry that proposals have been received. All the questions have been answered and at this point the source selection team is going through their deliberations and it’s going to make a recommendation uh to the milestone decision authority at SOCOM here in the coming weeks and then a contract will will probably be awarded in the prior to the end of the summer. Thank you. I have one final question for uh general Braga. Um you know at present, you know, sometimes obtaining approval to drop a bomb um is a lot easier and getting the permission to send a text message. So have you seen any improvement in the ability of your psychological operators uh to gain the authorities and permissions necessary to operate effectively in the information information and environment. And if you haven’t, I mean what more do you think we need to do? Senator? I have seen some improvement in my professional opinion in order to match the sheer capability and capacity of adversaries collectively, all of us need to be expand that capability and we need to be able to move at the speed of the information environment, which is faster than perhaps we’ve been used to in in in the past. So I think it requires new relationships. Certainly we are investing our own resources into expanding that capability and information ops to support our psychological operations forces. Um But it’s it’s new ground for all but it’s it’s it’s what what we need to do in order to succeed both in competition and actually see for a role in high end conflict as well. Um So we have a long way to go. We’re on a journey. We’ve seen some improvements. We’re dedicating resources, times effort, effort and training towards it. But absolutely look forward to working with the leadership at the pentagon and our interagency partners to inform you of any recommended changes moving forward? Alright please do. And my door’s always open to all of you. I know Senator insist as well, so anything you need um you know, we wanna we wanna help also want to thank you um generals Admiral for participating in this hearing today. And I look forward to continuing To support you and all the men and women at SOCOM, all 74,000 and this hearing is adjourned. Thank you.

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