Defense leaders testify about the military posture of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea as the Senate Armed Services Committee reviews the fiscal year 2024 defense authorization request. Appearing before the committee are Navy Adm. John C. Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, and Army Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, commander of the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and the U.S. Forces Korea. April 20, 2021.
Thank you for your service to the nation and please convey our thanks to the men and women serving under your commands. This is a critical time for our forces in the Indo Pacific. China’s ambition in the region continues to grow. As does its aggressive behavior. Chinese leadership seeks greater power and influence around the world and it is leveraging a wide range of military, economic and political pressures against its neighbors to advance these goals. As our defense leaders have made clear, the United States does not seek conflict with China and strategic competition is not an inevitable march to conflict. America has long been a Pacific nation and we have deep economic and security interests in the region. During today’s hearing, I look forward to discussing how our forces can continue to improve our military posture and capabilities while also supporting whole of government efforts to compete effectively in the region. To that end, the defense department recently released its joint concept for competing, which makes clear the objective of China and adversaries is to in their words, win without fighting the concept wars that if we do not adapt to the realities of long term competition the United States risks seeing strategic influence advantage and leverage while preparing for war. That never occurs. I am interested to hear from a witness how they plan to utilize the joint capabilities in the Indo Pacific and Korea to address these challenges. Recognizing the challenges in the Indo Pacific President Biden has requested a considerable funding increase for Indo paycom in the fiscal year 2024 budget. This includes $9.1 billion for the Pacific deterrence initiative or P D I to strengthen the posture and infrastructure and capabilities of our forces. In addition, this P D investment will help build the capabilities of our allies and partners through military to military training, exercises, freedom of navigation operations and infrastructure improvements. P D I request a subset of broader department wide investments to modernize and equip the force. Much of which is focused on China as the department’s pacing challenge. Our comparative advantage over China remains our network of allies and partners in the region and globally. I’m encouraged by the progress is made through August, our military partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom, which is serving as an important test case for potential future partnerships. The maturation of the quadrilateral security dialogue or quad involving the United States, Japan, India and Australia also presents a valuable framework. Further, we have recently seen momentum in a number of other relationships throughout the region including our new basing agreement with the Philippines short cooperation analysis between South Korea and Japan and a remarkable transformation in Japan’s new defense strategy. It is my hope that these developments will provide more opportunities to engage other regional powers. However, the most dangerous flashpoint that could turn our competition, competition with China into a conflict remains Taiwan. In the past several years, we have seen a surge of aggressive Chinese military exercises around Taiwan’s airspace and territorial waters as well as an escalation in combative language from Beijing. The world has a right to be concerned to help Taiwan develop its own defense capabilities, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act. The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act included a package of security assistance tools ranging from foreign military financing to presidential drawdown authority. I understand Indo paycom is continuing to help Taiwan develop its training and war fighting concepts and I expect Congress will continue to support this effort and we know faced with these wide ranging challenges. I would like to know your assessment of indo paycom preparedness to carry out the United States strategy in the region. As we seek to more effectively compete with China, we must also manage the threat posed by North Korea. North Korea has conducted nearly two dozen missile tests this year including ICBM S and cruise missiles has reportedly stopped its routine military to military communication with South Korea. We also know that Kim Jong Un continues to view nuclear weapons as the ultimate deterrent against foreign intervention and intends to gain international acceptance of a nuclear armed state. The goal of us policy remains the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But we are not taking an all or nothing approach. Instead, the Biden administration has pursued what it describes as the calibrated practical approach to diplomacy with the North. With the goal of eliminating the threat to the United States. This approach will require smart and firm engagement with the North Koreans. But more importantly, it requires coordination with our allies and partners in the region, particularly South Korea and Japan General Lara. I would ask for your views on the partnership between the US Japan, South Korea and other regional partners in addressing North Korea’s destabilizing activity. I would also like to know how your forces are maintaining readiness through training, exercises with their South Korean counterparts. I want to again thank the witnesses and look forward to your testimony. Let me now recognize the ranking member, Senator Worker. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and I want to thank both of our witnesses for being here today. The Department of Defense’s most pressing task remains ensuring deterrence of conflict in the Indo pacific failure to prevent aggression. There would have enormous consequences, but we have already seen deterrents fail in Europe. We did not deter Putin from invading Ukraine and not doing so has cost the global economy over $1 trillion thus far brought untold suffering to the Ukrainian people and heightened the threats under which our European allies live. Our intelligence community predicts that a deterrence failure in the Indo Pacific would be much, much worse. We are entering a particularly dangerous period. Xi Jinping is the most powerful and ruthless leader in China. Since Chairman Mao, we know she has aggressive intent. He is rapidly increasing China’s military capability. His ally, Kim Jong Un has also improved North Korea’s capabilities to threaten the continental United States and our allies. The North Korean dictator has already provided significant weaponry to Russia’s failing fight in Ukraine. We also know that Xi and Putin have signed up to a so called no limits partnership. We have a lot of work to do the F Y 24 budget request before us is the last one in which significant programs and activities could be funded and fielded in time for 2027 the year by which she has told the Chinese military to be prepared to take Taiwan. That is less than four short years away. Although a portion of the Pentagon is operating on a wartime tempo when it comes to supporting Ukraine. I cannot say the same for their focus on China because this committee felt that our defense strategy was not being implemented fast enough. The Pacific deterrence initiative was created and requires the Indo Pacific combatant commander to provide an independent assessment of resources required to meet the challenge in that region. This initiative has allowed us to start moving our policies and investments in the right direction but this forward motion has come and fits and starts. For example, last year Congress authorized and appropriated an additional $100 million for planning and design activities in the Western Pacific. These funds were meant to expand our basing and logistics footprint in places such as Yap in Micronesia, tiny in the Marianas Islands and the Philippines and elsewhere. Once again, these initiatives are not fully funded in this budget. At the at this pace, it would take 25 years to modernize our basing posture in the Western Pacific compared to what we did in five years in Europe through the European deterrents initiative. Similarly low cost and high value investments. Our allies and partners remain unfunded. We still cannot effectively share communications and intelligence with allies and partners. These are just a few of the important enabling capabilities we need in the Indo Pacific, we need much more. For instance, the Pentagon still seems unserious about building the Guam defense system in a timely fashion. There are key space, cyber, electronic warfare and command and control technologies. We must accelerate as well. This committee recognizes the seriousness of the competition. That’s why the Congress led the bipartisan charge to increase the defense budget in last year’s cycle. With a set of investments tailored to our most significant operational challenges in the Indo Pacific. I’m hopeful we can do so. Again, this year, we really have to do so. Again. This year allow me to repeat the window during which this committee can authorize significant capability to deter China in the near term is closing 2027 is a few short years away. If that is the accurate uh projection, and I’m not convinced we have treated that date with the adequate seriousness. Thus far, we will need to prioritize our defense investments more effectively here in Congress. So I thank our witnesses. Uh You got quite a job ahead of you and um uh uh we appreciate what you do and want to work with you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much, Senator Worker, uh Admiral Aqua, please. Uh Chairman Reed, ranking member wicker and distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Indo Pacific region with you here today. I deeply appreciate your continuous support to all of our service members, government civilians and their families within the Indo Pacific Command. It’s my distinct honor and privilege to serve alongside these brave men and women who selflessly execute our deterrence mission and defense missions every day. Your support is instrumental in our ability to accomplish these missions, but there’s more to do and we must act with a greater sense of urgency. Every day us paycom works tirelessly to prevent conflict, not provoke it. War in, in, in, in paycom is not inevitable and it’s not imminent. However, this decade presents a period of increased risk as illustrated by a variety of things. First, the illegal illegitimate war by Russia and Ukraine. Second, the largest and fastest military buildup and malign behavior of the PR C including their no limits relationship and partnership with Russia. Third, the continuous missile provocations and nuclear rhetoric by the D Pr K. And in this theater, the threat of violent extremism is also present. Our national defense strategy identifies the PR C as the most consequential strategic competitor to the United States and the only competitor capable of combining its economic diplomatic, military and technological capabilities to mount a sustained challenge to the rules based international order sees the initiative as inco’s approach to execute the national defense strategy and accomplish our defense priorities. Defend the homeland deter strategic attacks, deter aggression and build a resilient joint force by design. This approach prevents conflict through integrated deterrence. It ensures we can fight and win should deterrents fail. And it provides the Secretary of Defense and the President with options for any contingency. There are four pillars to our approach. First is a robust theater posture. Second, a joint operations campaign comprised of lethal persistent forces forward. Third, technologically, superior capabilities to maintain our war fighting advantages in the near mid and long term. And fourth, an enhanced network of allies and partners that which any of our challengers do not have. We respectfully request your continued support for these four focus areas and recognize that any delay in one area directly affects all the others and puts the overall success of our deterrence efforts at risk. Again, conflict in the Indo Pacific region is not inevitable, but we cannot rest on our past accomplishments to secure a future peace security challenge threaten our very way of life as well as the peace, prosperity and stability of the rules based international order that has enabled that peace for over 80 years. The investments we make today will allow future generations to enjoy the same legacy of liberty our ancestors entrusted to us, but we don’t have the luxury of time. We must act now to preserve this free and open. Indo Pacific chairman, ranking member Wicker, thanks again for the opportunity to appear today and I look forward to your questions. Thank you very much, Admiral Aquilino. Uh General Lara, please, Chairman Reed ranking member Wicker and the distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you as the commander of the United Nations Command Combined Forces command and us forces Korea to discuss the current situation on the Korean Peninsula. Korea is as important today as it was in 1950 when the international rules based order was first challenged and successfully defended on the Korean Peninsula located on the Asian continent. The Republic of Korea is crucial to regional and global stability when North Korean communist forces invaded South Korea with the blessing and assistance of the Soviet Union and China, the United States along with the 22 members of the United Nations stood together with the South Korean people to expel the aggressors. The Korean War taught us that we must always be ready and forward postured with our allies to ensure continued peace and stability on the peninsula. I have five priorities that are nested within the Indo Pacific commander seize the initiative approach to ensure free and open Indo Pacific. My first priority is to defend the homelands, the United States and our allies. The Korean War has not ended. We are in an armistice and the Kim regime has developed capabilities that can reach beyond Seoul, Tokyo, Washington DC and the capitals of the United Nations command sending states by defending forward in this strategic location. We better protect our people and the Korean people defending forward, reinforces our ironclad commitment to the Republic of Korea. My second priority is to strengthen the United States and the Republic of Korea alliance. We must never take the alliance for granted. This is our center of gravity for deterring the Kim regime. The alliance has effectively deterred the Kim regime’s resumption of large scale aggression for almost 70 years, allowing security and stability to flourish in the Republic of Korea to develop into an economically prosperous, vibrant democracy. In contrast, the Kim regime ignores the needs and rights of the great majority of its population and continues to invest its resources in developing weapons that uses it a leverage, external leverage courses, concessions from the international community, internal leverage, maintains control of the people and ensures Kim regime survival. My third priority is to prepare for combat. This is decisive. Our alliance alone cannot deter aggression. Our power of resistance deters maintaining the highest state of combat readiness is our main effort because readiness is perishable. We must continue realistic training in order to respond to aggression and defend our homelands. My fourth priority is to build coalitions to dissuade aggression in the region. Our network of allies and partners with common interests on the Korean Peninsula represents our greatest asymmetric advantage. My fifth priority is to ensure our personnel are taken care of and prepared to execute our mission on the Korean Peninsula mission. First, people always our people serving on the Asian continent have the extraordinary responsibility of providing security and stability throughout the Republic of Korea and Northeast Asia. Our focus remains taking care of the mental, physical and spiritual needs of our service members, civilians and families. Since 1953 the United States and the Republic of Korea remain ready to deter and respond to North Korean aggression. Our mutual defense treaty expresses our common desire to live in peace with all people and governments. It also expresses our common determination to defend ourselves against external armed attacks so that no potential aggressor could be under the impression that the United States or the Republic of Korea stands alone in the Pacific area. While the United States and the Republic of Korea alliance began out of military necessity. It has evolved to become the linchpin of stability and prosperity. In Northeast Asia, the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, guardians, civilians and contractors are proof of our iron clad commitment to the alliance and ensures that the authoritarian regimes of North Korea, China and Russia cannot unmake the international rules based order. Should the ki regime resume hostilities with your continued support?
We are ready. I’m proud to serve with them and honor to represent them before you. Thank you and I look forward to your questions. Thank you very much, gentlemen. Uh General uh Kamara, you prepared testimony states that Kim Jong Un is determined to operationalize his nuclear arsenal and his developing a credible second strike capability. Your testimony also states that without outside influence, it is not a matter of if North Korea will detonate another nuclear device. But when um in this situation, do you see uh China in any way affecting their decision making uh about the inevitability of a uh another nuclear detonation?
And then uh what is the effect of the North Koreans having a credible second strike?
Uh Thanks chairman, I think uh China can play a spoiler in this. They can be supportive or they can be non-supportive in what he’s doing what we’re seeing right now in any kind of un sanctions. Votes in the United Nations. Both China and Russia continue to veto that and they continue to work against the things that we’re trying to do to maintain peace, peace and stability and with a second strike capability, uh I presume that would immensely complicate your. Yes, sir. Um I mean, it’s clear that he is in the last, you know, year plus, he has demonstrated a whole bunch of different capabilities, all of which could lead to a second strike capability. I mean, he is clearly focusing on the theater ballistic missile capability, not just on the peninsula and regionally but globally. Thank you. Uh a a uh you have difficult uh steps to prioritize in terms of investments. And one area which seems critical is the electronic spectrum. I mean, to successfully conduct operations in the Pacific. Ideally, you could disrupt uh the communication of our enemies and also their I S R and at the same time in a complementary fashion, uh disguise our assets and also have constant secure communication. Is that in your view, like the number one priority?
Uh Thanks chairman. So if you’re talking about a prioritized list, the Guam missile defense system remains the Indo Pacific’s number one priority. Uh that’s based on the homeland defense mission that’s most critical, but immediately behind it, Senator. Uh you talked about the capability uh to influence the electromagnetic spectrum. Absolutely. Uh We view it through this lens of decision superiority. Uh which means we need to be able to operate in contested space. We need persistent battle space, awareness of all things going on and we need to be able to close our kill chains with the weapons and the network that allows that to happen. And the Electromatic spectrum is critical to that. Are we putting enough resources in this budget to accelerate that process and accomplish that task?
So I’m very thankful for the department’s budget. It’s certainly strategy based. It’s certainly focused on the Indo Pacific. Uh uh that said, as you know, chairman I provided an unfunded list as it applies. Uh The secretary has got global responsibilities and as you’ve tasked in the authorization language, uh I’m responsible to provide you with a list of what Indo Paycom assesses are the critical capabilities needed to both deter and defend. Uh And we’ve provided both of those reports uh as directed by law to help inform, but it’s certainly uh been identified and my uh requirements have been fed into the department. Thank you very much. Final point. Ad you point out in your testimony. Uh This is the first time in history, the United States is facing two major nuclear powers. So a lot of the theory, a lot of the institutional arrangements that we’ve made reflect the Cold War was a Russia, the Soviet Union us confrontation just very quickly. How is, how is this change to your thinking and the thinking of your colleagues in the Department of Defense?
Thanks again, Chairman. So that certainly the no limits relationship by President Putin and President Xi is something we ought to be watching very, very closely. And what does that mean?
Uh My partner, uh General Cotton at Stratcom uh is the lead for all the strategic nuclear portions as it applies to Indo paycom. He’s a great supporting partner. Uh And that means we have to understand what does that look like as we manage escalation and deliver uh deterrents both conventionally and strategic in the strategic nuclear lens. Uh I think what uh makes sense to me and I know he would advocate for and that’s the modernization of our strategic nuclear triad as a priority threat to be able to compete in that new world. Thank you very much, Senator Worker, please. Uh Thank you, Mr. Chairman Admiral. Let me just make sure um I understand with regard to the electromagnetic magnetic spectrum that is highly important right up there bumping up against the Guam initiative. Is that right?
Uh Yes, Senator, it’s uh I would say it’s in my number two kind of pile of decision superiority behind the Guam defense and, and uh uh so in, in order for us to take care of that, we’re gonna have to fund some unfunded uh requirements. Is that correct?
Uh Senator for considerations, again, I provided the, the assets and the capabilities I think I need. There are certainly uh some capabilities I’ve asked for that provide benefit in the electromagnetic spectrum in order to execute our mission. Is it highly important that we fund this vitally important. Uh Yes, sir. I believe it is. Ok. Um Let me just ask both of you. Um There’s some people who feel our Ukraine, um our support for Ukraine is taking away from um our capability um and credibility in the Indo Pacific, particularly with regard to Taiwan Admiral. You first and then General. Uh what do you say to that?
Uh I, I, I do not. Uh the United States is the only global force capable of managing multiple threats. Uh My partner in U C is executing his mission sets. Uh I haven’t been uh impacted at this point as it applies to my deterrence mission. So I do believe we can do both. I believe we have to do both to maintain the peace. We have to do both. Oh OK. What um general um what would um Ukrainian success in this war?
Um say to the world uh about the situation in the Indo Pacific for us. We’re taking what’s going on in, in Ukraine and lessons learned, boiling it down. It, it doesn’t necessarily translate to what a fight on the peninsula would look like. Um I think the support that’s being provided, the lessons learned coming off of that. Um It, I think it reinforces how we feel about um sovereignty in a, in a country’s right to choose their future. OK. Well, let me ask you to enlarge on that. Um What is it to us?
What happens in Taiwan and South Korea, you spoke about an international rules based order and sometimes I’m troubled that, uh, that, uh, terminology doesn’t get through to the American people. What is it to us?
Uh, living in Virginia and Maryland and Mississippi and, and, uh, Nebraska and Arkansas. Um, what that, that the, um, the forces of, uh Xi Jinping and Kim Jong un not succeed in that area. I think it’s a history lesson for the American people. I mean, the blood and treasure that we put forth in World War Two and the international rules based order that we established right after that was challenged in 1950. It’s been book ended by what’s being challenged in Ukraine right now. And I think what it’s demonstrating is that we believe in, um, you know, the sovereignty of a nation, choosing their future, we believe in democracy, et cetera, free and open. Ok. A admiral. Do you see what I’m saying?
International rules based order. What’s it to us in Tupelo?
Yeah, thanks, sir. So, so what it means is freedom of navigation, right?
So think of goods and services flowing unencumbered through, uh wherever they need to go to get to the people of the world. Two thirds our ability to purchase the products we need for everyday life. Uh I don’t know if it’s on the purchase side, but when we talk international rules based order, it’s certainly on the delivery side. So two thirds of the entire global economy flow through the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca. And if you were to not have a rule set of orders, and there was a country that believed they could uh meter, monitor uh task tax or impact that set of prosperity, right?
That’s what it would mean to the to the people of America. When you talk about the international rules based order, the ability to fly anywhere that rules allow uh the US standing in the region as it applies to being an assured partner uh in the vicinity. Those are the kind of the stakes and what it means when we talk about the international rules based order, the the value of the word of us leaders, you’re saying?
Absolutely. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Senator Senator Shaheen, please. Thank you and thank you both for your service and for being here this morning. Um India is a key partner. It’s a member of the Quad. It’s the only member of the Quad that maintains such a close and ongoing relationship with Russia, including continuing to acquire additional weapons from Russia. Are there more steps we should be taking to discourage India from that, maintaining that relationship with Russia and try and encourage them to adopt more of the positions of other members of the Quad with Australia, Japan with us. Uh Thanks Senator. So India has been a tremendous partner. Uh The partnership is only growing, it’s strengthening, we have similar security concerns. Uh we have people to people ties. We have certainly deep relationships uh with the Indians, they buy our equipment, we’re interoperable in the military to military space. Uh Their Chief of Defense General Chao and I have a, have a terrific relationship. So I think what we need to do is keep fostering this, the world’s largest democracy with similar security concerns. We have to continue to work together in order to ensure that uh the United States and India’s relationship grows. We certainly support the increased multilateral aspect of it. So the quad is not a military uh agreement, it is an economic and diplomatic relationship, but the coord nations come together often to practice and rehearse and we’ll continue to do that. Well, thank you. I agree. I think it’s very important. Um And as we look at the growing relationship between China and Russia, it has an ever increasing role to play. So, thank you. Can you speak to how the expanded security agreement between the US and the Philippines enhances our posture and how it can serve as a model for other nations?
Thanks, Senator. It’s uh critically important. Uh So uh one of five mutual defense treaty allies in the region, the Philippines, uh our history goes back a very long way as, as everyone knows, uh the increased sites that have been concurred to and I thank the secretary for his work there as we’ve proposed those sites that expands the areas that we can rehearse and exercise with, with the Philippines. Uh but the critical nature of the Philippines its strategic location and the, the partnership that we have uh those sites are critical. So in more than likely in next year’s budget, you will see an ask to do planning and design work in those sites. They’ve just been announced. So there’s no money in the 24 budget to start work in those additional four sites. But you do see uh other requests uh to build up the current sites in the Philippines and our operations there. Uh Our partnership with the Philippines is critical and is that helpful as we’re looking at other partner nations in the region to be able to show what’s happening in the Philippines?
Are they looking at that as um something that they’re willing to consider because they see that agreement. Thanks Sarah. I think all the nations in the region are looking at the threat and realizing they need to take additional actions. Uh The Philippines uh as a model for how we operate together, but it’s certainly not alone. We’re doing the same thing with the Japanese General Camera is working with the South Koreans. Uh We’re working with our Australian counterparts. We’re doing the same with our Thailand alliance. Uh So it, it’s a model and it’s expanding and we’re looking at all nations to, to deliver those same capabilities together with the United States. Thank you. Um I really appreciate the leadership that in has taken on the Women Peace and Security Act. And um I think it serves us well um all around the world. But can you speak to the advantage that that gives us over China?
Um when we are looking at how we can engage women more fully and the contrast that that presents to what China is doing. Certainly Senator. So the contrast is clear when you think about Jingjiang and the treatment of uighurs and understand that that goes on, you know, that’s a problem set that China has to face in one of our asymmetric advantages, right?
So our our ability to care for all people uh no matter what and the women Peace and Security Initiative uh that was begun in before me and that we continue has been helpful. In fact, I was just in Papua New Guinea a couple months ago with my counterpart, General Goa. Uh and that’s where our next uh seminar is coming up, followed by one in Japan. So it’s, it’s about people, it’s about respect, it’s about treating people fairly. It’s what we stand for in the United States. We’ll continue to do those things. Thank you very much. Thank you both. Thank you, Senator Senator Fisher, please. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you both for being here today and thank you for your service to this country. Admiral on your unfunded uh requirements list. You included a requirement for funding to accelerate the development of several munitions, including the S M dash six, the army’s prison, uh prison weapons system and the maritime strike, Tomahawks. What would those capabilities provide and why do you assess that it’s necessary to make those investments in 2024?
Uh Thank you, Senator. So as we always, uh, look at lessons learned, certainly one that came out of the Ukraine conflict was the ability to ensure that our stockpiles were correct with the right number and the right types of weapons uh in capabilities. So in the Indo Pacific Command, uh we have those requirements identified, we can talk specific uh classified if we need to. But bottom line is the entire joint force is required to help deliver effects to both deter and fight and win. So from the land component uh Maritime strike, Tomahawk prism increment two, those capabilities to enable the uh MDT F from the army, their new formation, a multi domain task force and from the Marine Corps and the Electoral Marine Regiment. Those are the capabilities that those forces need to bring with me or bring with them uh in the region to do the missions assigned. So that’s why I’ve advocated for those right types and right number, right. Thank. Thank you because it uh it was a lesson learned uh from Ukraine, the uh much, much faster rate of um of than planned for, especially in expending all those munitions there. So thank you for including those uh on the requirement list. You also have on the unfunded priority list. Uh a requirement for an additional $511 million for Indo Paycom campaigning. Uh Why is campaigning in the Indo Pacific particularly valuable in what types of exercises or activities would this additional funding be used for if Congress would authorize it?
Thanks Senator. Uh So the delivery of deterrents through the lens of paycom sees the initiative approach. Campaigning is one aspect of it and that means persistent forward forces operating with our allies and partners in the region forward every day. So when we talk about our operations and exercises, we do 100 and 20 exercises a year with our allies and partners, but that’s not 365 days. So for the days, we’re not exercising. I am also looking to ensure that our forces are forward prepared and operating with our allies and partners every day. That’s what those campaigning dollars are requested for. That is to pick up the force and move it forward into the theater in places where they can operate with our allies and partners and it, that that money is not to do maintenance. It’s not to do depot level sustainment. It is for transportation costs to be able to move the force and sustain the force forward, which is extremely important, not just for the exercises, um but also for future planning. Correct. Yes, ma’am. Thank you. Uh, with a, the security partnership that allows us to share significant capabilities with our closest allies. We hear a great deal about pillar one and the sharing of nuclear propulsion technology with Australia and that is an important part of the agreement. However, through pillar two, the partnership allows for greater cooperation across multiple lines of effort. What do you assess to be the prime areas of opportunity to increase that coordination and extend and extend uh partner capabilities and capacities?
Senator. That first, uh our partnership with the Australian is uh so critically important. Again, a mutual defense treaty ally, the Australians have shared blood and treasure with us in every fight we’ve been in for over 100 years. So I commend my partner, Angus Campbell and uh all of the Australian leadership. Uh They also are concerned about the security environment, which is why Aus is so critical for both peace and prosperity as we share submarine technology and deliver uh us Virginia class submarines and follow on types of submarines. But in pillar two, there’s also a ton of capabilities. If you highlighted the most critical that I think we can get at fast, there are some cyber capabilities, there are space based capabilities, there’s some undersea capabilities. Uh And then there’s some work in the form of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Uh There’s others, those I think have the most promise for near term delivery of capability and the United States is stronger when our allies are stronger as well. Correct always. Thank you. Thank you very much, Senator Fisher L, please. Thank you. Um Admiral A Alino Indo Paycom is the first combat command to have a Space Force Regional Command Center. How is us Space Forces Indo Pacific integrating into Indo Paycom?
And can you discuss how you’ve built the Guardian skill set into your regional exercises like Cobra Gold and Bali Catan?
Yes, Senator, thank you. Uh I really appreciate General Saltzman S team along with General Dickinson to, to set up the first uh component at Endo paycom. So General Maser is my component commander uh and the criticality of his efforts to synchronize our effects under sea on the sea, above the sea and space and cyberspace is something that the US can do better than anybody on the earth. Uh The space component is critical, critical, they’re enabling capabilities uh extremely valuable and working with our allies and partners in this domain is also important uh in gold, which is our uh most recent exercise in Thailand. We actually put in place a space component as a part of that exercise we’re doing it in, it will be included in all of our upcoming exercises uh wherever and whenever we can, Talisman Saber as well with the Australians northern edge uh as a part of our event. So it it’s now just normal ops. Um The House Armed Services Committee earlier this week, you noted that the strategy and approach with regards to the pr C is competition and not containment. Can you expand upon why that difference is important?
I think for me, Senator, the the ability to compete uh is really a non-adversarial type relationship, which is, I think what the United States seeks. Uh The pr C believes we are trying to contain them. There is no doubt, despite the President’s comments, the Secretary of Defense’s comments, General Milly’s comments and my comments, right?
We seek peace not to pro provoke conflict. Uh So competition is important. There’s things we’re going to agree on, there’s things we’re not going to agree on. That’s what competition looks like. Well related. Last month, Secretary Austin testified before this committee that he thought it was important that great powers have the ability to talk to each other and manage crisis. But reports indicate that his outreach was not answered by the PR C during the tensions in February over the high altitude balloon. Are you engaged with your counterparts in China’s Eastern and Southern military districts?
And from your perspective, why would such engagement be important?
I certainly think it’s valuable uh to have relationships and be able to have conversations whether it’s for positive reasons or in times of concern. So, uh it’s been important for me, I have not had counter contact with my counterparts uh either in the Eastern Theater Commander or the Southern Theater Commander, although I’ve had standing requests to have a conversation now, since I’ve been in this uh position. Uh We have invited our counterparts to the Chiefs of Defense conferences that we do 2 to 3 times a year virtually and once a year in person and will continue to seek their attendance to those important events where we can come together with all of the regional military leaders to have conversations. I’d be grateful if you do establish that contact, that you update the committee because this is a priority that we can deconflict. Yes. Um Similarly, the department has focused on one health surveillance, meaning an integrated public health approach, considering human and veterinary diseases, food and environment monitoring, environmental monitoring. For years since well before the pandemic COVID-19 focused us all on the intersection well framed in the one health concept. Can you address any programs or initiatives within Indo paycom based on the one health concept and how those are serving to protect the health and security of the American people?
Thanks Senator. So we certainly support CDC in this important initiative uh as it applies to pro we don’t have any programs. What we do have is exercises. So in 2021 we did an exercise directly uh focused on this issue. We’ll do it again in 23 we remain linked with the interagency, especially in the wake of COVID. Uh the importance I think came to light, right?
And the fact that we do not have any working relationship with China made the work with regard to covid’s beginnings, middles and end really difficult. So that’s why your role is so important in these long term national security goals. General Lara Kim Jong Un has launched 12 rounds of missile tests since January. Some of these tests have close in time to our freedom shield exercise with South Korea. But several of the tests predated that exercise. Can you fill us in on what your assessment is driving the recent surge in dangerous activity?
Uh His eighth Party Congress in 2021. Um Senator, he laid out a trajectory. He is doing that right now. I think he is reacting to our training. Uh Since President Yun has come in, we’ve increased our ability to not just do command post exercises but field training exercises. Uh The challenge is when we tell the uh the timing of it gives him an opportunity to plan to, to uh use that as a reaction to us. But um he is, he is on a course that he said in 2021 he’s moving out on it. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much. Uh uh Please Admiral. I wanna continue along the line of questioning about Taiwan’s capabilities. Uh I know that there’s a backlog of weapons transfers to Taiwan that has to be addressed. Um but not every kind of weapon in the world is backlogged. Um So while we work in that backlog, I want your professional assessment on whether an appropriation of F M F funds to provide Taiwan with weapons that are not backlogged weapons such as mines might be helpful for them and also helpful to increase deterrence in the Western Pacific. Uh Yes, Senator. So the delivery capability uh to enable our responsibilities on the Taiwan Relations Act is important and to get it uh to the people on Taiwan is critical and the capabilities we’ve laid out uh have that we’ve coordinated and identified inside the department. Uh There are many that could be done very quickly. Could you could you just give us kind of a handful of the top priorities of what additional F M F funds could get to Taiwan of weapons that are not backlogged. Uh I think what I give you is the capability set. I can’t tell you which specific ones are backlogged. But if you think about anti-aircraft capability, you think about anti-ship capability in a variety of forms, whether they be missiles uh mines, uh but those capabilities would be critical. Um There’s also the possibility of a, a Taiwan focused presidential drawdown. Would your answer be the same for that?
That, that also could help surge some of the capabilities of Taiwan that they need to improve deterrence in the Western Pacific, just like F M F funds would. Uh Yes, sir. Absolutely. And I thank Congress for uh taking a look at that and ultimately uh for the presidential drawdown authority, not only for the authority to do it, but ultimately to backfill it if, if uh if possible is critical. Ok. Uh You’ve also expressed concern about the loss of any combat power in the theater as uh the ranking member on the air land power subcommittee. I’ve been particularly concerned about the fact that our air Force is characterized by shrinking inventories in an aging fleet going back 30 years. Now. Um I wanna be clear, I’m not talking about changing our Global Force Posture. I know there’s been um a lot of angst if you will about moving aircraft around from the Western Pacific and from Germany and Alaska. So I’m not talking about that. I, I’m talking about adding more capability to the Air Force as a whole. Um Given the importance of air power in any kind of conflict scenario in the Western Pacific with additional F-15 E X S and F-35s in the Air Force inventory, enhance your efforts to deter conflict. That certainly would senator, especially when you talk about the increased capability and capacity that might come with that fifth generation advanced uh and uh the fourth generation capability uh that exists in the E X. Uh those capabilities would absolutely help deliver deterrent effects. Thank you. General, North Korea continues to develop new capabilities and make new threats to the Republic of Korea and to the United States and other friends. They recently tested a solid fueled intercontinental ballistic missile. How does that change your assessment of their capability and why would that be an important advance for North Korea over their traditional liquid fueled missiles?
No, thanks, Senator. It poses some challenges on the indications and warnings. Um Again, moving, he, he laid out his plan, he’s moving towards it. It’s continuing to demonstrate a couple of things. One, um he meant what he said and, and two, um he’s continuing to um you know, be able to develop this capability even with sanctions and even with COVID and lockdowns and things like that, he’s been able to continue this uh this development. And why exactly does the introduction of a solid fuel missile uh reduce your indications and warnings?
I’d rather move that to a classified setting. So, ok, I just, I think sometimes uh we get kind of um accustomed to these provocations from North Korea and we overlook the fact that they are in fact improving their nuclear forces capability. And it’s not just the same old, same old, I can assure you, I’m not distracted now. I know you’re not, but I think some people here and, and when they see the news in the United States are, and I think it’s important that we be mindful that they are making technological progress that is alarming in both the nature of their nuclear forces and also the ranges of their missiles. Thank you both, gentlemen. Thank you, Senator Senator Kelly, please. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Um Admiral Aino um as we spoke about, uh uh this morning, I just want to get a little bit more detail on the uh compass call electronic warfare mission. You know, there is, um no doubt that the next con conflict that we’re involved in will be heavily fought and potentially one in the electromagnetic spectrum. And A, as our adversaries uh evolve in their E W capabilities, it’s critical that we maintain our competitive edge here by being ready to protect our own assets and also uh attack uh our adversaries capabilities in the electronic warfare spectrum. So the E C 37 B, the new compass call capability uh that I worked on on this committee uh to increase uh the procurement of will enhance blue force lethality and survivability. And I’m, I’m really proud that this capability is gonna be hosted uh in Arizona, Davis, Mohan Air Force Base. So, Admiral, what impact would the compass call have in indo paycom if a crisis or conflict emerged?
Thanks Senator. So it’s uh absolutely a part of uh our set of capabilities that we believe we would need to employ. Uh the new capability of the compass call is critical along with all of the other electromagnetic uh support uh capabilities that come from all the services. Again, this is gonna be a joint service fight. Uh The compass call supports not only the Air force but the rest of the joint force. So it’s critical and I know you’re not a E W guy, you know, being a former uh F-14, you know, pilot who served, by the way with my brother, I think aboard the Yike. Um but can you speak specifically about the E C 37 B and what critical capabilities that it can deliver that might not be available on any other platform?
Uh So keep it in the unclassified space. Uh the ability for our force to operate in contested space is important. Our ability to have persistent battle space awareness is important and then any capabilities to do any disruption actions that we’d like to take are important. And has it recently been used in any exercises?
Uh I’ll have to get back down on that, sir. Ok. And then, uh you know, finally in, in your uh professional uh military opinion, how many compass calls do you think that your theater in, needs to ensure Blue Force survivability if we were to be in a conflict specifically with China?
Uh Sir, if it’s ok, I’ll get back to you in a classified setting on that. And then general, can you, can you also comment on uh the necessity for a strong uh electronic warfare attack uh capability on the Korean Peninsula?
Yeah. Yes, Senator. Thank you. Um, I, I need that but I also need the ability to train at that level on the Korean Peninsula which we currently don’t have uh either on the rock Air Force or us Air Force. Side. So we’ve got to go off peninsula to get some of that uh training for our pilots to be able to operate in, in the, in the E W, what, what threat area and then uh admiral back to you on the navy’s E W capability. How do you currently assess where the United States Navy is specifically with uh the aircraft carrier battle groups?
As we talked about, there’s a critical importance for that electronic attack and electronic support capability. It’s inherent and interwoven into the carrier strike group uh formation. Uh It, it is also used to support the rest of the joint force. So those uh F-18 G growlers are critically important. It is uh one area where uh Ukraine is currently, you know, struggling um when you know, the, the Russian electronic warfare capability is, you know, out matching, you know, them at this point. And I think it’s indicative of how important electronic warfare is in any modern combat. So thank you, Admiral and thank you, General. Thank you, Senator Kelly, Senator Rounds, please. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, gentlemen. First of all, let me begin by thanking both of you for your service to our country and your families as well. Uh It is appreciated and sometimes we don’t say it enough. Uh Gentlemen, to both of you, I’d, I’d like to begin along the same lines with regard to spectrum issues. Um There has been a discussion about the separation or the sharing of certain parts of the electromagnetic spectrum in order for our country to continue moving forward in five G development. But the area in particular that I want to focus on is the area which is the 3.1 to 3.45 gigahertz band. It’s especially sensitive because we’ve already had testimony by naval officials including Secretary Del Toro, specifically regarding the uh the use of uh that part of the electromagnetic spectrum with regard to radar. I’d like to continue that line of questioning and provide each of you an opportunity to discuss the importance of the 3.1 to 3.45 portion of the spectrum with regard to protecting our forces and perhaps a little bit of additional color with regard to how critical that part is with regard to the physics of that area of the spectrum. Admiral Aquino uh Senator, we certainly operate in that spectrum. So as we look at uh the potential sharing and how we’re gonna do that, uh We certainly don’t want to have any uh place where either our capabilities are impacted by other use. And as always as good stewards, we don’t wanna be impactful to any other use. So I think we’d have to look at it very closely and figure out how we could uh make it work fair to say that uh uh the uh the current radar systems that our most advanced destroyers use is using radar systems that operate in that area. Correct. Uh Yes. And it is a variety of joint force capabilities that operate in that spectrum to include uh missile defense uh from at sea. So that there’s, there’s certainly some critical capabilities there that include the island of Hawaii. Uh So the ages system on Kawaii uh in Kawaii is certainly the uh operates in that spectrum uh along with other missile defense capabilities you general. So I’m gonna have to take that for the record. That’s both my expertise. That’s fine. Thank you, gentlemen. I simply think that it’s very important that we understand. We, we have a, we have an operational or we have a, a commit, we have a committee which is working right now on, on sharing that information. There are some people that would like to move forward with uh including a sale of that part of the spectrum. And I think it’s just simply not responsible for us to allow it to happen until after the commit. The complete report is completed in September. And that’s the reason for asking the question. Uh Admiral Aquino Cyber and space remain critically important domains to us national security. Could you briefly explain how you integrate your operations with cyber comm and space com?
And do you believe the F Y 2024 budget adequately supports our ability to effectively address the growing cyber and space threats in the Indo Pacific?
Thanks, sir. So I have a space component as we just talked about, I also have a cyber component as a part of our operations development and planning and campaigning. Uh Those teams are plugged directly into the physical domains, the ships, the submarines, the airplanes, the ground forces and we synchronize all those operations. Uh General Nakai, General Dickinson and General Saltzman are great partners. They understand the missions that I’ve asked, they understand my priorities and they’re taking all actions to support uh our efforts. Thank you. We’ve talked about the use of land mines and other capabilities in which to shape a battlefield. General camera. Can you talk a little bit about the need to be able to appropriately shape uh battle positioning on land in the Korean Peninsula and the need to have those battle shaping capabilities. Thanks, Senator, I mean, the Demilitarized Zone is probably one of the most heavily mined areas in the world. Um And to be able to integrate uh to prevent shape, move, um disrupt the enemy’s ability to, to move over land is extremely important to the ground force commander. Do you continue to have discussions about the deployment or the the ability to deploy appropriate treaty, appropriate um capabilities?
And, and we’re, we’re talking about land mines basically, but those of a modern era that we can control in terms of when they’re available and when they’re neutralized. Yes, that’s as we go through in our exercises. Um mind clearing and mobility exercises um is, is all part of the field training exercises that we do, not just in the digital world but on the ground. Can you do your mission appropriately without access to those types of tools?
I don’t believe so. Thank you, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Senator Senator Orange, please. Thank you, Mr. Chair, gentlemen, thank you very much. Um Admiral Aquilino, let’s uh talk a little bit about the Indo Pacific. It absolutely is the priority theater and, and side of our pacing threat. Um Thank you for your defense. If God forbid, the United States would ever cross swords with China. Uh The defense of our nation really does depend on, on you. So, thank you. Um I wanna talk specifically Admiral about uh the land based systems dod reports that China fields more than 1250 ground launched ballistic missiles and ground launch cruise missiles with ranges between 505,500 kilometers. And how many ground launched missiles of that range?
Does the United States field?
Uh None that I’m aware of at this time. You’re right. Zero and of the programs under development. How many exceed 3000 kilometers, which would be the outer ranges of your area of responsibility?
Same zero. You are right. Admiral. Thank you and admiral. What military advantages would this gap provide China with in any future conflict?
Well, Senator certainly is in their strategy. Uh and their design is to keep us out of the theater. So uh our ability to operate in that space is critical as I discussed. And admiral, would you agree that ground launch theater range strike systems could buy down some of that risk in your A O R?
So Senator, the, as we said, the entire joint force would be required uh both to deter and to fight and win if need be the ability for the land component to deliver those weapons. And again, those are articulated in my 12 54 report as requirements uh that I’ve, I’ve identified that we need. Uh It certainly expands our ability to provide multiple dilemmas. Uh And they’re directly involved in our approach, multiple dilemmas is a good thing. Um And Admiral, would you further agree that dod should study options for deploying those ground launch theater range, strike uh missiles in your A O R. So, uh I don’t know about the study. I can tell you we’re doing it right now, Senator. So our exercises our operations as a part of the multi domain task force and the, the Marine Lateral uh regiment. Uh The forces are preparing when that capability is delivered. Very good. Um Thanks and I, I’m glad uh to be leading an effort to build the rings of fire uh in, in Peco along with Senators Manchin and Congressman uh Gallagher in the House. Um We feel that that’s important for your capabilities. Um Admiral, you spoke a little bit uh with Senator Wicker about some of the Ukraine tradeoffs and I wanna drill down a little bit on that, um, and be a little more specific. Um, so let’s, let’s talk about Ukraine as applies as it applies to Taiwan has our support to Ukraine depleted any munitions that are needed for Taiwan. Uh, not at this time. So a little different fight, a little different capabilities that are needed. So just to be very, very clear, the, the fight that’s ongoing between the Ukrainians and the Russians, the munitions that we are providing to Ukraine at this time are not degrading capabilities that are necessary for the fight that might occur in Taiwan. Uh That’s correct, Senator. Ok, thank you. Um So we do have a lot of discussion about this ongoing in the Senate and in the House, there are those that say we cannot complete both missions we shouldn’t be helping in in Ukraine. I agree with you, Admiral Alino. I agree with you General La Camera that we must maintain our assistance to Ukraine. It will not at this point degrade what we are doing as we look to the East. Um So I want to thank you both for making that very clear today and I do hope that other members of Congress understand this need and plainly put it is for the defense of our nation and our global standing that we ensure success with the Ukrainians. But we also cannot take our eye off the ball when it comes to any fight that might occur, whether it’s North Korea, whether it’s China. Um So thank you, gentlemen, very much for being here. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Senator Senator Rosen, please. Well, thank you, Chairman Reid. I really appreciate you holding this hearing. Thank you both for your service to our nation for being here today. And I want to associate myself with uh um my colleague, Senator Ernst on how we have to do all of it. And then all of um our standing, our safety and uh around the world matters and uh appreciate your service there. And so we’re gonna go right into it, Admiral Aquilino and talk about maintaining our technological edge because we’re all talking about China. They’re leveraging state funding to accelerate their own military modernization efforts across key domains. They’re rapidly advancing in areas like A I robotics cyber and of course, hypersonic, domestically, global competition for a skilled workforce, declining investment in R and DS dod S contracting challenges and the stem workforce gap. They’re unfortunately all eroding and they’re hurting our technological edge over China. And so it’s why I’m working to establish a public private partnership program to accelerate the scaling production and acquisition of innovative defense technologies by creating incentives um for investment right here in American, small businesses working in this space, we have to be nimble. So, Admiral Aquilino, how might a public private partnership that spurs private sector investment and advanced defense capabilities Um How do you think that could help us maintain our technological edge with China?
Uh Thanks Senator. So as I articulated my testimony, right, that the ability for the United States to go faster to deliver deterrent effects is critical. Uh The innovation that exists in the United States is second to none anywhere on the globe. So any actions that would deliver outcomes in support of our deterrence effect would always be welcome. Thank you. I think using the imagination and innovation partner is always a good thing. And another place that we really have to do that is our cyber security and our cyber security cooperation in particular with Taiwan, because we’re acutely aware of the threat that China poses in the cyber domain. China has used Taiwan as a testing ground for its cyber capabilities and its recent cyber attacks have forced Taiwan to harden their defenses. So it’s why today I’m introducing with Senator Rounds. He’s not here right now, but Senator Rounds and Congressman Gallagher bipartisan legislation to expand military cyber security cooperation with Taiwan. So again, Admiral Molino, do, how do you assess Chinese cyber threats to Taiwan?
And how is indo paycom working to expand military to military cyber security cooperation with Taiwan to strengthen the deterrence and raise the cost of escalation for Beijing?
Yeah. Thanks Senator again, in combination with my uh partner, General Nakai from cyber comm. Uh we always look to strengthen uh allies, partners and friends, networks so that they’re secure and that they can uh have a, a confidence that the things that they’re putting out in their own networks are uh not being read or in, you know, impacted by other nations. And we do that across the theater. So, uh we certainly have uh actions undergoing to ensure that as a part of our approach in, into paycom. Uh and it’s a part of my own funding list is something called the mission partner environment. So to talk to those allies and partners right now, I have 13 separate networks that’s costly. They’re at risk. And what we are attempting to deliver is a single pane of glass that allows us to communicate securely in a cyber safe way with all of our partners across the region, no matter who at the level at which we can share. So we’re gonna demonstrate that uh and we’ve demonstrated already uh with one of our partners and we’ll expand that uh as we our ability to scope and scale it. But it’s, it’s certainly uh it’s the only way we’ll be able to operate with those allies and partners in a way that gives us confidence. No, I agree with you on the single point of entry because 13 separate networks leaves a lot of points of vulnerability and too much to manage. Um In the few seconds I have left. Um I want to talk about your uh state Partnership program in Nevada. We have the Nevada National Guard. We have our partnership with Fiji Tonga and most recently Samoa to support Indo Com’s mission. I’m gonna go pretty fast here in the South Pacific. We can uh help you with maritime Security and Humanity Assistance goals. And so uh given their strategic locations, the small island nations particularly again vulnerable from threats to China. So how can our state partnership program, how can it be leveraged to bolster the cybersecurity programs in the Indo Pacific?
Um that where my Nevada National Guard is. Uh so we view those relationships through the National Guard and General Hokenson is also a great partner in support of that. A matter of fact, we just signed a recent one. I was at the signing uh in one of the Pacific Islands not long ago. So expanding that building those relationships helped build trust uh and all of that leads towards uh increased interoperability and capability in cyber and all the other domains?
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Senator Rosman, Senator. But please thank you, Chairman and um General Admiral. Thank you both for being here. Uh Admiral in very real terms. What is the strategic significance of the Taiwan Strait and more broadly, why should we be maintaining a free and open?
Uh why is maintaining a free and open Indo Pacific matter to Americans?
Uh Thanks Senator. So certainly uh Taiwan itself is in a strategic location as it applies to the transfer of two thirds of the global commerce around the world. Uh It, it matters as it applies uh to the international rules based order. In other words, if a single nation is allowed to describe, uh what will be allowed to, to sail, fly anywhere that they choose. That’s not what the like-minded nations of the world uh have signed on to. Right. There’s a coercive potential. Uh There’s increased cost potential, there’s insurance hike potential. I mean, the, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th order effects are enormous. So, uh all of those things are what matter to the global nations. Thank you for that. You know, when I think about this, I think about how important it is to work with and empower our allies and our partners to ensure that no one nation can dominate such an important region militarily and sticking with you. Admiral. I’ve got a few questions. I’d like to ask about our foreign military sales process. Uh And I’ve asked questions of other uh geographic combatant commanders as well, so I’d appreciate on the first part. Just simple. Yes or no. And then at the end, I’ll give you some uh chance to expand if you will. So, is the current F MS process, is it fast and flexible enough to meet our foreign partners security needs in your A R and that’s the yes or no. Is it fast and flexible enough to, I’d like it to go faster. So that’s a no, I take it. Um Does the transfer of U defense articles build our partners capacity to provide for their own defense?
It does. And is the United States still the security partner of choice in your A O R for almost all of the nations?
Yes, sir. Thank you. Is the United States at risk of losing that security partner of choice status to China?
I think it’s an area of competition uh that we have to ensure that we execute our roles and make sure that uh we’re, that we in alignment with all those like-minded nations are moving towards the AAA region that supports the benefit of all those nations. Is China increasing arms exports to any countries in your area of responsibility. Uh They are. So could you explain how the foreign military sales challenges are impacting strategic competition with China in the Pacific?
So the F MS program for the United States uh Senator uh helps us ensure that we’re interoperable with like-minded nations. Uh We are certainly not gonna plug in any of the PR C capabilities into our systems. It builds confidence. Uh We have the best capabilities on the globe. Uh Also a lesson learned from Ukraine. So uh continuing to share, operate, coordinate and exercise with those partners, uh increases their ability to defend themselves and it increases our partnerships. Thank you. So, Admiral, how comfortable are you with the defense industrial base, ability to produce the munitions necessary to meet your requirements. So I’m I’m uh extremely impressed with all of the defense industrial base. I’d like them to go faster. Thank you very much uh Chairman back. Thank you, Senator Senator Ron, please. Thank you, Mr. Chairman Emerald Aquilino and General, a cameo. Uh Thank you very much for your service and for being here and Emerald, always good to see you. So uh when we met recently a a you made it very clear that uh you are the re responsible person for missile defense of Hawaii. In this year’s budget request, there is money for our dual use radar and this is a good step but certainly will not be the last as the supported commander for the mission. Do you believe the services and your fellow combatant commanders are providing you the capabilities you need for the defense of Hawaii now and into the future. Uh Aloha Senator. Thank you. Uh I am absolutely responsible for the defense of Hawaii. I am supported by a variety of great partners. They understand their roles. Uh They understand uh the stakes. Uh I certainly haven’t added concern since I live there. Uh But bottom line is Hawaii is defended and uh we will continue to defend it. The, the additional capabilities we’ve asked for will enhance that defense. Thank you. Uh The compacts of free association between the US and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The Federated States of Micronesia and Palau are currently up for renewal and you and I discussed uh the importance of the compacts when we met and uh and they are vital to our ability to maintain a free and open in the Pacific. The co agreements include support for co a citizens who can come to our country without visas. A very special category of uh lawful, lawfully present people in our country. So until the policy change in the late 19 nineties, these co a citizens had access to federal benefits with the, while the access to CO A benefits is not directly within your jurisdiction, effective compacts are critical to our ability to operate in your A R R A. Do you agree that strong compact agreements including honoring our commitments to the people of the Compact States and nations are particularly uh those who choose to live in the US is critical to our ongoing operations in the Indo Pacific. Thanks Senator. So the, the, the compact agreements are absolutely critical to the defense of the United States. Uh Those are partner nations that we have deep history ties with. Uh as a matter of fact, uh the compact states per capita send more service members to the United States military than anywhere else. So they have proven to be patriots. Uh and they’re, they’re tremendous uh friends. So we defend them like they’re our hometown and we will continue to do that. Uh So that’s critically important now, as you articulate, not in my lane, but the United States takes care of people. Our ability to ensure uh the uh the broad spectrum of human rights and taking care of people is a part of our DNA. So I certainly support that. Thank you very much because as a totality of the commitments that we have to our compact nations that um the dod which very much, of course in our country, that very much benefits from these compacts that again, while it may not be in in your lane as to their ability to access federal benefits. That is a very important component of our partnership. Uh and our close relations with our compact nations, Ilina across your theater facilities in Hawaii, Guam, Japan and Korea are in a state of disrepair, impacting our readiness and ability to mobilize forces quickly failing pipes, moldy barracks, intermittent blackouts and uh frankly lackluster repair facilities run counter to our military and community needs. How does uh the deferred maintenance of our infrastructure really resulting in massive facility failures such as at Red Hill?
How does that impact your ability to conduct deference in your deterrence in your A R?
Uh Thanks Senator. So as you know, the infrastructure and support and funding for the for the service uh infrastructure comes through service budgets. But when, when we took a look at the most recent uh specifically the water main break on Hawaii, I, I took a look through the lens of readiness on we ought to be able to identify where we’re concerned and not just in Hawaii, we did it in Korea, we did it in Japan and the other places throughout the theater for me to be able to understand our readiness. So, uh we undertook a study. Uh My team is reviewing what that looks like and Senator, when we complete that study, I’ll be glad to come back and brief you. Uh I have advocated for those uh investments into the infrastructure to deliver the readiness we need for the force. But uh again, I owe you an answer on that. I think it’s really important because as we establish priorities for the dod and for all of the services that the deferred maintenance is becoming ever ever larger and it results in the kind of catastrophes that cost billions of dollars. So I appreciate your leadership on this. And we know as far as I’m concerned, we need to have a much better uh plan on how we’re gonna keep up with the maintenance of all of our facilities across our country as well as indeed the world. Thank you very much. Thank you, Senator Reynolds, Senator Scott, please. Um General, thanks for hosting me last uh Independence Day and um got them in a lot of your and a lot of them were from, from uh Florida. So thanks for doing that. If uh if North Korea invades and, and was able to take over South Korea would have any impact on the, on the American family. Yes, I believe it would. I mean, what would happen?
What would be what?
So if you were gonna say, hey, this is why we should have troops in South Korea. How, why we should make sure that South Korea remains as an independent country. What would you tell, uh you know, in the American public?
I would tell it’s an important piece of ground. It puts us on the Asian continent. It’s a demonstration of our ironclad commitment to the region and peace and stability in the region. I think South Korean’s economy is important to our economy and that regional stability. And I believe that a challenge to that would have impacts on the United States. Are there any products or services that would be important that we’d be American system would be without, would it matter to, to the average person that wants to go buy something?
No, I believe in capitalism and competition. I’m sure they can find another product elsewhere. I think it’s, it’s more of an intangible. Uh Then it is a tangible admiral. Would you, what would you say about the same?
Would you say the same thing about um Taiwan?
How would that, you know, if they, if China invaded and they were able to win and took over Taiwan, would it have any impact on American families?
Yeah. Centers. Uh First of all, the integration of the global economic network is critical and there would be multiple touches on the Taiwan piece, specifically, the high end semiconductors is critical to many things we use. So there would be a, there would be a drastic impact uh if we were not able to replace it in some other way, there’s no doubt about that. And do you have any idea what percentage of uh high end ships are made in Taiwan?
And how, how much of an impact that would have on cars, any electronics we do. Uh almost all of them and I don’t know what that percentage of impact would be, but it’s be broad for both of you, for Korea and for Taiwan are the governments of South Korea and Taiwan. Are they doing everything they can to defend themselves because it’s not the easiest thing in the world to, to one get to Taiwan or two to have the resources to be able to defend South Korea. So for each of you, you know, could you just tell me how, um you know, how important it is and do we have the right resources?
Are they doing the right things?
I mean, so as far as I can tell Taiwan, I mean, I, where they have eight month conscription, I mean, they haven’t armed their citizens. I mean, I mean, it seems to me that would be some of the simplest things to do, have a stronger military arm, their citizens. Same with South Korea. Yes. Senator. So in the, in the wake of the Ukraine invasion by Russia, I think uh if you look at that and if you look at a variety of actions that have gone on in the region, there’s a real concern to include on the island of Taiwan. If you look at Hong Kong, right, who’s next?
And if you look at Ukraine and the linkage between Russia and China, there’s a real concern. So uh I have certainly been encouraged by that recent actions for conscription and other things that have been taken. I think there’s a real seriousness. Now. Is that true for South Korea?
There’s a, is a little bit complicated because right now, uh we have a bilaterally agreed upon transition program to get them to where they would take over one of my commands. Combined forces command. They’re on the right trajectory to do that. Uh The agreement is that it’ll be standards based and not time based. Um And so we’re moving in that direction to, to make sure that that happens. Sure. So, uh Senator brought up, uh and I think some others have brought up our military, industrial complex ability to provide weapons. We’re way behind. We know in, in Taiwan, what do you think the federal government ought to be doing to make sure that, that our defense contractors, you know, move faster, uh, because uh it, it’ll make your lives easy, especially in Taiwan if they had all, if they had was a $19 billion worth of, of arms that they’ve ordered that we haven’t provided to them. Yeah, Senator, the certainly the president’s budget as it was submitted has got a component of a multiyear on the munitions piece which would be very helpful. I think sending that uh consistent demand signal is what industry needs. Uh That said as the most innovative nation on the world. Uh I would hope that the industrial base could take that combined with other actions and move faster. All right, thank you. Thank you, Chairman. Thank you, Senator Scott, Senator Duckworth, please. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Uh Good morning, gentlemen. Um I’ve been emphasizing the importance of our partners in Southeast Asia in particular um with every chief and combatant commander that has come before this committee today. Um uh I think we can do much more to bolster these key relationships uh to support the entire Indo Pacific region. And there are some nations that we have not uh um managed those relationships uh uh in the last few decades in the way that we have in the past. Um in August, I plan on taking several of my colleagues to the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand in particular, um where we’ll focus especially on this issue, the many important opportunities that our nations have to partner together. Admiral Aquilino. In your testimony, you highlighted in paycom enhanced exercises with 14 partner nations like Indonesia Super Garuda Shield. And, and, but beyond these, you know, Cobalt, Gold, Garuda shield. Once, once a year, once every other year, exercises in, what are the ways does your command plan to deepen cooperation with our allies and partners in Southeast Asia in particular, including those nations that maybe we’ve not dealt with on a regular basis, like Vietnam or Cambodia and some of the other nations. Yeah, thanks, Senator. So, uh, the exercises certainly are a critical component. Uh, as you know, my partner, General Santino in the Philippines. As a matter of fact, I’m flying to the Philippines on Wednesday to go to an event with him and uh our Japanese counterpart, uh we have agreed to across the region, the Chiefs of Defense uh and myself to work towards more many and multilateral sets of engagements, whether they be meetings, tabletops, exercises or operations uh for more consistent and uh more direct uh ability to operate, be interoperable and to, to execute our mission sets all for the defense of the region and to keep it safe. So, uh we are doing a ton, there’s almost no events, we do unilateral anymore. Everything is done with allies and partners. Uh in Thailand, General Sherman is a, is also a good friend and partner. Uh I went to Cobra Gold kickoff. We spent some time together. We laid out what else we could do. And uh again, we continue to look for those opportunities. We’re always prepared and planning for any H ad A support that might be needed. Uh Right. That’s, that’s uh us taking care of humanity. Should it happen to any of those partners?
So, we’re plugged in across the board and I only see it getting uh more robust and, and more effective. Yeah, I think also there’s intelligence sharing that is important. I know the, the, the uh Singaporeans kind of had AAA cell there. That, that helps with limited intelligence sharing. There’s so much that you can do. Um uh uh My, my colleague, uh uh Senator Rosen talked a little bit about Cyber. Um I informed her that uh in 2021 we actually pass um legislation that authorized a pilot program that enhances cyber security, uh partnerships with our forces with those of Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. I’m now planning on introducing legislation to expand this important program to include Malaysia and the Philippines. Um In this year’s N D A A and Aquilino, can you comment on the value of direct engagement with our overseas partners to help build their cyber skills?
You, you sort of touched on this a little bit. Um But I, I think it is really critically important beyond just speaking directly with us, but also with sharing with one with, with each other within the region. Yeah, thanks, Senator. Um certainly our ability to share information and coordinate cooperate is absolutely dependent on the cyber security of those systems. Otherwise it’s just getting to places where it shouldn’t go. Uh You mentioned the C T F for the the counterterrorism information force in in Singapore, right?
It’s also critical that that sharing gets directly into those facilities to prevent any violent extremism, multilateral multi nations uh to deliver those effects. So, like I said, General NACA has taken great strengths to ensure those neighborhoods have the cybersecurity. They need our investment in the mission partner environment contributes directly to that through the zero trust mindset to ensure we can do it. Thank you and, and um uh General Lara, I’m really interested also in us Korea cyber security partnerships and, and you mentioned this in your testimony. Can you expand on that a little bit here?
Uh Well, we’re also working with General Nakai and his folks and we’re also working with the South Koreans. Um We have our own mission partner environment networks um for us to be able to communicate. Um It’s not only important when dealing with the uh South Korean military, but also in the United Nations command the Sending States and making sure that we can, you know, coordinate with uh with, with those countries. Thank you. Are you a chairman?
Thank you very much, Senator Duckworth, Senator Solomon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, gentlemen. Thank you. I think uh the country needs to know what an excellent job both of you two are doing in your respective theaters. So want, want you to hear that from this committee?
You, I think both you doing an exceptional work for our country. Um I wanna last, last year in the N D A A, this committee, by the way, unanimously put in a provision for a uh floor of 31 A ships, 10 big deck A uh the commandant two days ago testified just how important that was for force projection crisis response all over the world, for the Marine Corps and the Navy. How important is a robust, uh compliment of AMP fibs uh for your theater. Uh Both of you. Uh So Senator, thanks uh the amphibious radio group as it applies with three ship AGS is certainly important to uh our ability to deter and uh as well as our ability to fight and win. And uh I’ve articulated the requirements as it exists from Indo paycom uh into the C N O as a part of his development approach. Now, he owns the whole globe. So, uh right now, uh our requirements are met and we uh have advocated to ensure that those requirements are not divested or uh that they uh somehow reduce general a fibs force projection crisis response. Um Yes, thanks, Senator. Uh We live on a peninsula. Um Having that capability available. Uh allows me to give uh multiple options or multiple dilemmas uh to any adversary who would uh try and disrupt um peace and stability in, in the, in the region. Admiral. We’ve talked about the different kind of deterrents of factors with regard to the C C P’s decision, whether or not to invade Taiwan. Of course, there’s the ability, which has already been talked about here for Taiwan to defend itself, uh which is in the Taiwan Relations Act, the ability for us if need be called upon by the President to help in that regard with our allies. But there’s also this what I call a third level of deterrence, which is economic, financial energy to put forward a very comprehensive suite of sanctions with us and our allies to say to Xi Jinping and others, hey, if you actually undertake a violent military invasion of Taiwan, here is the massive sanctions that are going to your economy. When you think about all instruments of American power, the way the Chinese do, how important do you think that third level of deterrence could be because we all want deterrence. No one wants a war in the Taiwan strait. But we also know if it’s gonna be started, it’ll be started by the Chinese. How, how, how important is that to look at from the level of deterrence as well?
Nonmilitary factors. Yes, Senator again. So the military lens is certainly my lane as a positive of this. But as I look at the Chinese approach uh for in all forms of national power assault on the international rules based order. Uh I think it’s critical that the United States and it’s also a part of this integrated deterrent strategy. The secretary has tasked us so that all forms of national power have to come together. Uh And the economic lever is a pretty big one. So uh I concur uh admiral, you and I went to Northern Edge two years ago. Impressive. There was a carrier strike group there, couple 100 aircraft uh doing knife fighting in Jay Park. Really uh great training for the whole joint force. Um Can you talk a little bit about how important you think Northern Edge is in Alaska for an exercise that brings together all of our services, but also our allies and what we can demonstrate up there in the great state of Alaska. Uh Yes, sir. Alright. So Northern Edge, as a matter of fact, it’s gonna happen here and again this year in the not too distant future, uh certainly important for uh us to be able to operate in places that uh that we’re comfortable operating. We can train to high end tactics and capabilities. Uh That said all of our operations or exercises are important across the globe. Uh Northern Edge is usually one of our largest general. I I uh was actually out left the left the hearing here for a few hours. I greeted a uh group of um well, I greeted an honor flight from Alaska. They just arrived uh World War Two Vet Korean War vet Vietnam vets. I I love doing this. I never miss when the honor flights come in. We’re at the Korean War Memorial. Um I wanna publicly and I’ve done it a few times. You and I have talked about do a shout out to the Korean government and the Korean people who just spent over $20 million adding a very important element to the Korean war memorial, which is the wall of honor. All the US and Korean killed in action. I encourage all Americans to go look at that. I want to thank again the Korean government, Korean people because they paid for that. They paid for that. It’s pretty special. Um How is it going with the new government?
I had the opportunity to meet with the new president recently in terms of their commitment to not only defense but one thing that I’ve seen that looks very promising is a new focus on us, Korea, Japan relations. Training. The trilateral aspect of our defense in Northeast Asia is really important. How, how do you see that going?
And I, I, I, I want to compliment the new government. They seem to be really putting their shoulder into that and I think it, it helps for our deterrence and defense in the region. What’s your view on that?
Yeah, thanks, Senator. Um, in the last year we’ve been able to increase our combat um, uh, readiness and, and focus not just in, in uh, command post exercises, but at the addition of field training exercises, we’ve been able to bring in two carrier strike groups. We’ve been able to do multiple ballistic missile defense exercises. Um We talked about the other exercises that the Admiral does inside of the theater that we’ve been able to participate in. So President Y has really been focusing on combat readiness. Um And uh as you discussed with the trilateral piece, um the threat is real to the region, uh K J U when he fires his missiles, you know, he sends messages to not only South Korea but to Japan and the United States and the capabilities. Um And I think the president is showing tremendous leadership in the region to move forward uh to secure, not just the Korean people, but the American people. So the trilateral relationship is deepening and getting better from your perspective. It is. Yes, sir. Great. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Uh Thank you both for your service. Uh Admiral, I wanted to ask, I know there’s been some discussion, there’s $19 billion worth of weapons systems that, that the Taiwanese have ordered that they haven’t gotten. I think you and I share the same belief that we need to have a greater sense of urgency with this. Um as they face a potential invasion from communist China. What other weapons capabilities do you think that aren’t going to take that long, are really important for the Taiwanese to have to defend themselves that could get there in short order?
Yeah, thanks, Senator. So again, without going into some specific uh systems, but uh again, anti-air capability, anti uh ship capability uh delivered in a variety of me means whether it’s missiles, mines or other things. Uh I think there’s some of those that uh uh you know, with some innovative work could be delivered faster. Um Admiral, a few days ago, the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines made some significant threats against Taiwan and the safety of 150,000 Filipinos living in Taiwan. This kind of egregious comment is exactly why many countries in the Indo Pacific are deepening defense cooperation with the United States. As you’re aware. In addition, China continues to conduct provocative operations in the South China Sea, harassing Filipino vessels with lasers and sailing Chinese warships near Filipino holdings in the South China Sea. There’s been a commitment my understanding to accelerating capability development of the Filipino arms armed forces during the recent two plus two meeting to include helping manila acquire priority defense systems and platforms. Admiral. In your view, what are the next steps uh we should take um with the Philippines. So the uh uh in support of our mutual defense Treaty, uh we are providing uh a variety of capabilities and training and uh actions with the Philippines. I think uh the Posture initiatives are critical. So for the United States to be successful in executing our responsibilities for the defense of the Philippines, those Posture initiatives, the new eco sites and delivering that capability and infrastructure uh is critical and then we can uh always continue our operation together exercise BACA is going on. It’s the largest event uh in the region for the land component. We’ve also synchronized at sea. Uh This is in this particular exercise. It’s led by the Marine Corps, but it’s uh integral with the army, the Navy and the Air Force as a part of a. So those continued demonstrations and interoperability is the next piece we can do. I think it’s just such a key and strategic alliance for us that the Philippines would you support?
You mentioned infrastructure?
Would you support a permanent base on the Philippines?
Uh I think that decision uh Senator would be uh certainly critical for the Philippines. I don’t think the Philippines are looking for permanent us bases, that’s their sovereign territory. I think what we’d like to be able to do is operate with them in places uh that they would allow us to go uh at this point in time. Ok. Um Admiral and General Missouri, as, as you both know, proudly hosts the entire operational fleet of the B two spirit bombers. Uh Could you both discuss in general terms, the significance of the air leg of the nuclear triad to your deterrence missions?
Uh Yes, sir, certainly. Uh The foundational aspect of our strategic nuclear deterrence lies in the triad. So the B two S uh the S S B N and the ICBM force that modernized force is critical uh to ensure that uh our conventional deterrent is foundation based. So uh for the China portion, uh and the rest of the Indo Pacific region, it’s absolutely critical and we demonstrate it aligned with our stratcom partner fairly frequently and General camera can talk to that. And thanks Senator, I, I mean, it’s, it poses multiple dilemmas. We get questioned about our ability on extended deterrence. Um And I think it just another demonstration of the capability that we bring to, to any fight worldwide. And what, what has been the reaction from our, our friends and adversaries, what, what have you witnessed their reaction to that capability uh for us?
Um On, on the ally side, it’s again, you know, we’re, we’re looking at this fight from a joint combined interagency multi domain and this is just another uh arrow in our quiver uh that we continue to demonstrate um with the testing that um K G U has been doing and the support that I get from A and pushing uh assets. A again, it’s just allowing us to build combat readiness uh which we haven’t been able to do. Yeah, I think from the rest of the region center, it’s also important for them. Uh The Australians have allowed us to do two B two bomber detachments out of Amberley. Uh So that shows to me that the capability is important for them uh as well as the rest of the region. And we operate whenever possible to demonstrating that bomber capability in the theater. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Uh Thank you very much, Senator Smith and uh gentlemen, thank you. I have one additional question. We are currently at an impasse in uh confirming uh general officers including I believe the seventh fleet commander. And so a what impact does this have on your readiness and uh the uh impact also on uh the officers involved in terms of their both family situation and also their uh opportunities outside the service?
Yeah. So uh thanks for that operationally, I’m gonna have no impact because the seven fleet commander is not going anywhere until the proper replacement is in place. So, uh I think the real impact you articulated, right?
It’s the personal uh advancement, it’s the personal development, it’s the family understanding and predictability. Uh Those are the places. So will it hinder our ability to continue to maintain uh the right people in the right jobs to be able to then potentially advance and take the next right job?
Absolutely. Yeah. Again, it, it, it seems a situation where uh for the next several months you could get by. But at that point, uh people who are next in line to step up will consider other options outside the service. And in fact, we’ve seen uh this situation in the Navy. Uh because of other uh situations, tailhook froze an entire cohort of officers, uh other incidents in the navies. And as a result, valuable individuals just couldn’t be promoted, had to retire. Uh, and if this persists this will have a serious detriment on redness eventually. Is that correct?
That’s absolutely right. Senator and, uh, or Chairman Glenn Defense Marine is the other example I would think you would, I think of inferring to. So it, uh, we did have, uh, impact to really quality people in a lot of cases. Uh, general lock, uh, camera, any other comments in this regard?
Uh No, I, I agree with that, you know, I mean, the uh the general officers that I have, I’m not giving them up um until, but again, it does stagnate this the next set of um you know, general officers or flag officers that are on current promotions lists that are not confirmed. Um So it does, you know, the 2nd and 3rd or long term effects that there’ll be impacts and then when do people decide to leave and you might lose quality?
So I think there’s a potential long term. No, I do too and I, I hope that we can move quickly and return to what regular order and the custom, which is that uh individuals who serve the nation for 30 years or more have been selected based on their merit as military officers, not any other reason by panels of other military officers uh can be confirmed routinely by the Senate unless there’s some particular specific issue with an individual candidate. And that’s my hope so. Thank you. All gentlemen, for your trust for me today.