Navy Adm. Samuel J. Paparo Jr. testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee about his reappointment to the grade of admiral and nomination to commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, February 1, 2024.
The committee meets today to consider the nomination of Admiral Samuel Varro to be the next Commander of us Indo Pacific Command or Indo Paycom. Admiral. Congratulations on your nomination and thank you for stepping forward to lead at this critical time. We’d also like to recognize your family, particularly your daughter Regina who was scheduled to be here. Uh And um in a few moments, Senator Roo will formally introduce you and let me thank your family for all of the years they’ve dedicated to the service of this nation and the navy. I’d also like to thank the cor endo page com commander Admiral John Aquilino, who will retire later this spring, Admiral Aquilino has served the nation with skill and honor for nearly four decades and we congratulate him on his retirement. Admiral P. You are well qualified to lean in O Paycom as the current commander of the US Pacific Fleet. You have led our maritime forces in the region during a momentous time. You bring a record of successful leadership around the globe and command experience at all levels of our military. If confirmed, you will lead America’s military forces in the most consequential theater in the world. The Indo Pacific, there is a common understanding that the future of our national security is tied to our competition with China. This competition is occurring right now across every field of national power, military, economic, political, technological, and more maintaining America’s advantage will require a whole of government effort. But Indo Paycom will continue to hold the leading edge of our strategy. As Indo Paycom commander, you will need to understand China’s competitive tactics, develop new competitive tools of our own and integrate our activities with those of our allies and partners. For several decades, the People’s Liberation Army has studied America’s way of war and focused their efforts on countering our advantages. China has invested in offsetting technologies like an access and area denial systems, artificial intelligence, unmanned vehicles, hypersonics and of course nuclear weapons. Further Beijing has leveraged a combination of military and civil power against its neighbors, including state graft, economic pressure, coercion and deception. China has sought ways to achieve its national objectives while avoiding a direct confrontation with the United States military. As the defense department’s new joint concept for competing states, China seeks to win without fighting. The strategy warns that we do not adapt our approach to compete more effectively. The United States risks ceding strategic influence advantage and leverage while preparing for a war that never occurs. Indeed, the document warns that the US could lose without fighting just as Chinese leaders have studied America’s way of war we need to study theirs. With that in mind. A I would ask for your assessment of how China is evolving its competitive strategies and objectives. I would also appreciate your views on what military and non-military factors are most likely to impact Chinese decision making with respect to potential action against Taiwan and our regional partners. Indeed, our network of allies and partners will be the decisive factor in this competition. We have seen the power of this approach through the coalition effort to support Ukraine and this strategy should continue to be pursued in the Indo Pacific as well, particularly as we strive to deter Chinese aggression against Taiwan. We are making good progress through networks like Aus and the Quad which is made up of the United States, Australia, India and Japan. Each of these partnerships provide valuable bru for the future. There has also been momentum in a number of other relationships including our new basin agreement with the Philippines, a remarkable transformation of Japan’s defense strategy and and historical cooper operation announcement between South Korea and Japan Admiral. I would ask for your views on how we can build upon these multilateral efforts and pursue more opportunities to engage our partners in the Indo Pacific Admiral PPAR. If confirmed, you will lead Indo paycom at a critical time. I am grateful for your willingness to step forward and meet this challenge. Thank you and I look forward to your testimony. Uh When Senator Wicker arrives Uh I will ask for his testimony uh if you want to deliver it or to submit it for the record. Uh At this point, I would like to call upon Senator Runo to introduce you for your opening statement. Admir PPAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and welcome Admiral and uh to you and your family. Congratulations on your nomination. I’m here to today to introduce uh Admiral Samuel PPAR. President Biden’s nomination for the next Commander of us Indo Paycom. And as the chairman noted, this area of res responsibility is one of the most critical to our national defense. As Commander of Indo Paycom, Admiral P Power would be responsible for all military operations in the Pacific. A priority theater with great and growing strategic importance for the US and our partners and allies. If confirmed, Admiral P power will be responsible for operations in the Pacific and integrating multiple components including US, forces in Korea and Japan Us Special Operations Command, Pacific, the US, Pacific Fleet, US Marine Forces, Pacific, us, Pacific Air Forces and US. Army Pacific. He will, he will continue protecting 65% of the world’s oceans. This is why the Indo Pacific area of responsibility is so important because it is geographically the largest combatant command. So in addition to 65% of the world’s oceans that you have to oversee, uh you will be overseeing 66 significant defense sites which are home to 375,000 US military and civilian personnel serving in the region. In this role, Emir Popara would also be in charge of overseeing the military’s presence in Hawaii which is home to all branches of the military with 14 key military installations and more than 55,000 active duty service members and their families. Hawaii’s Central Pacific lo location has been a significant military location since Pearl Harbor was established in 1899 and continues to be invaluable for strategic defense in the Pacific. As a senior military officer on island, I will look to arm PPAR to lead on all issues in Hawaii including the successful permanent closure of the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility on Oahu and transparent open communications with the community. While we have made great progress in safely refueling Red Hill just this week, new reports have emerged regarding tap water and air quality issues from navy water system users near Red Hill leading to testing of the water. I continue to hear from families impacted by Red Hill and the continuing impacts they face underscoring the need for an Indo paycom commander, familiar with this issue and the work that lies ahead to permanently safely close Red Hill and remediate the area while protecting our communities. I have shared these concerns with Admiral Paro and my expectations for him if he is confirmed. Indo Paycom Command is a critical role especially as we work to counter threats across the region from Russia, China, North Korea and others and that’s why it is important. We have a commander who understands the region, the threats we face and the communities in which our troops serve. Mr. Chairman Admiral P Paro has dedicated his adult life to serving our nation with more than 37 years of service in the navy. And as us Pacific fleet commander based in Hawaii, he currently oversees all naval operations in the Pacific before becoming PAC Fleet commander. Admiral PPAR served on numerous operational and staff tours around the world and was also a top gun fighter pilot. I know he will speak more about his background and his remarks, but suffice to say his experience is extensive, that experience informs his leadership mentality to quote him never ready enough end quote, which I appreciate as chair of the readiness sub-committee of S ac that mentality will serve him well, if confirmed as the next Indo Paycom commander, he will have his work cut out for him. In addition to ensuring the readiness and operational capabilities of troops in our priority theater. The next Indo Paycom commander will face many issues with wide impacts on the state of Hawaii. In addition to Red Hills closure, Admiral Papa will also play an important role in the renegotiation of land leases between the department and the state of Hawaii for several critical training areas including Pohakuloa training area on the big island. These negotiations will significantly impact the way that training is conducted in the state and could put at risk. The continued training of land forces in Hawaii, if not successfully and mutually concluded an understanding of and appreciation for Hawaii’s unique culture and history are vital to any Indo Pean Commander’s success. Having lived and worked in Hawaii for several years. Admiral Papa has shared with me his interest in developing Hawaii’s defense industrial workforce and collaborating more closely with Hawaii. These universities and institutions. I’ve appreciated having strong working relationships with Amo Aquilino and his predecessors at Indo Paycom. And if confirmed, I look forward to working with Amir Papa to support our troops, our communities and our national security. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Senator Rono. Uh Admiral Mc Farrell, uh Senator Wicker has arrived. I’ll recognize the statement, then I’ll recognize you for your statement, Senator Wicker, what he’s saying is you’re eventually going to get to talk Admiral. Uh Let me, first of all say though, um that this is a special day in the life of one of our committee members. Um Senator Sullivan will be retiring from the Marine Corps this afternoon. He’s certainly not retiring from the Senate or from this committee. But I want to uh mention that to our fellow members of the committee and to congratulate um Senator Sullivan on his service to the United States and, and I wanna welcome you and thank you for your service. You’re clearly carrying on a proud tradition. Your grandfather served as an enlisted sailor during World war two. Your father served as an enlisted marine. I speak for everyone. When I say I’m grateful for the legacy of service. I’m confident that you are exceptionally qualified to lead our forces in the Pacific. We need another great leader to take the Baton from Admiral Aquilino for this important command. Senior defense leaders have stated before this committee that the United States is facing the most dangerous national security environment since World war two, nowhere is that fact more evident than in the in the paycom theater. Beijing has conducted the largest and most rapid military buildup in modern history. Surpassing our own military in many categories. The Pentagon’s most pressing task remains deterring conflict in the indo pacific failure to prevent aggression. There would have an enormous, would have enormous consequences. Trillions of dollars would be wiped away. The loss of lives would be enormous. Admiral. If confirmed, you would take command at a time of great challenge and you would be a crucial part of our ability to overcome these difficulties. You’ll be part of history, sir. In the South China Sea, Beijing wants total control. China continues to undermine the Philippines legitimate maritime claims at uh second Thomas shoal firing water cannons and lasers at Filipino vessels. China is also intent on destabilizing the Korean Peninsula by refusing to enforce sanctions or apply any pressure to the Kim regime. China is actively encouraging an arms race between North and South Korea, the United States must be prepared to meet that challenge through resolute support for our allies. South Korea and Japan. This will require our uniformed leaders to provide honest and realistic assessments of the relevant threats and enemy capabilities. Congress has required the commander of Indo paycom to provide an independent assessment of the resources necessary to meet the challenge. If confirmed, I trust you would continue to be open and direct about what you need. There is much more that we can and should do. The Pacific deterrence initiative has failed to transition into a real tool of budgetary change. At the Pentagon. We’ve made minimal progress in bolstering deterrents in the Western Pacific. The United States must also improve our munitions procurement and production. Deterring conflict will require the defense industrial base and the Pentagon to build the right systems in sufficient quantity at the speed of relevance. We need an operational joint task force but so far that wish that directive in fact remains unfulfilled. The enabling infrastructure is not expanding fast enough to support distributed military operations in the near future. We have barely begun building contested logistics plants. This will include taking a hard-nosed look at what we need in order to maximize our operational capacity on strategically vital Guam and on other islands in the 1st and 2nd island chains that would be essential in a contested logistics scenario. The United States alliance structure needs further modernization and we should include command and control and joint planning operations. We cannot wait for conflict to begin to make these updates. Congress can help deter war in the Pacific but our window to do so is rapidly closing. We need to build on last year’s work uh with um this year’s NDA A Admiral Porro. I think you’re exceptionally qualified and I look forward to working with you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Senator Worker, Admiral Parro. Your statement, please. Good morning to all chairman Reed ranking member wicker distinguished members of the committee. Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear. Senator Hirono. Thank you for the kind introduction. Senator Sullivan U ra Marine. Congratulations, sir. I thank the president and the Secretary of Defense for the Trust and confidence in this nomination. I have great admiration and gratitude for my friend and mentor, Admiral John C and Laura Aquilino. Uh as they transition from 40 years of dedicated service to the nation. I’m grateful to the committee and to Congress for your continued support of the members of the armed services, their families and dod civilians. They are our nation’s very best and your support enables their success. I serve as commander of us Pacific Fleet. I’m a sailor, a naval officer and a fighter pilot, but foremost, I’m a husband to Maureen Connolly Paro and father to our six Children, Regina, her husband Christopher Samuel, his soon to be wife Katie Elizabeth John Joseph and Michael. Together we’ve served at 15 duty stations around the world and each of our Children has attended more than five schools. Most of our Children have attended three high schools. I’m so very grateful for their wisdom. In the case of mentors. My greatest mentor is Maureen, whose wisdom and serenity have been my greatest influence throughout my life. Our family is from Delaware County, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My single mother, Suzanne PPAR as a young mother gave up her dreams uh to raise my brother and my sister and I working in a barbershop in South Philly and a makeup counter. My dear father, a former enlisted marine and a shipyard worker also had tremendous influence in my service. I’d like to also acknowledge Maureen’s late parents, her father, an army veteran, the late Jim and Regina Connolly and our sisters and brothers, all of whom are located in that southeastern Pennsylvania area. We have a very close knit and rooted family that give us strength and keep us rooted through the many moves around the world. I’d like to acknowledge my mentors in all services uh above the chain of command and maybe most uh assuredly below the chain of command, my commanding officers, but also leaders from the hardest working, most dedicated young and listed to the senior most admirals and generals who guided and mentored me. Most of all, I’d like to thank the senior noncommissioned leaders, the chief petty officers, the sergeants major, the Gunns and the first shirts who’ve guided me. The senior NCO core is the strength of the joint force and is the asymmetric advantage of the American joint force as commander United States Pacific fleet for the last three years. I have led Indo Paycom maritime component and integrated operations of the joint force for deterrence in the Indo Pacific. Other operational tours include United States Central Command Director of Operations, Director of the Air and Space Operations Center in Al Qar. I’ve served with the US Air Force flying the mighty F-15 Sea Eagle. I’ve also served with the US Army as a provincial reconstruction team commander in the eastern zone of Afghanistan and the Nuristan province and have had operational tours including operational command in Japan and having deployed flied and flown and served uh throughout the Pacific and the Indian Ocean region. Um as stated by the chairman, ranking member and Senator Roo, it has never been more critical for the joint force along critically with our allies and partners to operate confidently professionally and responsibly together. We strive to maintain regional stability in this consequential theater and safeguard the sovereign rights of nations through posture and dynamic operations and exercise our joint and combined operations are increasingly frequent complex multilateral interoperable and interchangeable. But as Senator Hirono stated, we must never consider ourselves ready enough. We must always be improving our position if confirmed. I pledge to work with this committee to ensure that we meet the top defense priorities in the national defense strategy and most especially deterring conflict. As the Pr C, our pacing challenge continues to escalate its aggressive behavior. The PR C is our only competitor with the will and with the capability to reshape the international order to suit its autocratic preferences. We’ll work closely with our interagency, teammates and our allies and partners as we also face the challenge of Russia of North Korea and violent extremist groups. If confirmed, I will ensure that we maintain the overmatch that preserves stability today tomorrow, next week and for the decades to come. Thank you, Chairman Reed, ranking member. Thank you very much, Admiral. Uh I have a series of standard questions that nominees must respond to. Please uh respond appropriately. Have you adhered to applicable laws and regulations governing conflicts of interest?
Yes, Senator, have you assumed any duties or taking any actions that would appear to presume the outcome of the confirmation process?
No, sir. Exercising our legislative and oversight responsibilities, makes it important that this committee, its subcommittees and other appropriate committees of Congress receive testimony, briefings, reports, records and other information from the executive branch on a timely basis. Do you agree if confirmed to appear and testify before this committee when requested?
Yes, sir. Do you agree when asked before this committee to give your personal views, even if your views differ from the administration?
Yes, Senator, do you agree to provide records, documents and electronic communications in a timely manner when requested by this committee, its subcommittees or other appropriate committees of Congress and to consult with the requester regarding the basis for any good faith delay or denial in providing such records. Will you ensure that your staff complies with deadlines established by this committee for the production of reports, records and other information including timely responding to hearing questions for the record. Yes, Senator, will you cooper in providing witnesses and briefs in response to congressional requests?
Yes, sir. Will these witnesses and briefers be protected from Reprisal for their testimonial briefings?
Yes, Senator, thank you very much admirable Burrow. Uh We are in the moment uh a historic moment uh conflict in Ukraine conflict in the Middle East tensions in the Indo Pacific. One of the issues uh revolving around Ukraine is uh I think China is looking very closely at what we’re doing and our current difficulty in providing resources to Ukraine is not going unnoticed in China as the CIA director burns pointed out, no one is watching us support for Ukraine more closely than Chinese leaders. One of the surest ways to rekindle Chinese perceptions of American fecklessness and stoke. Chinese aggressiveness would be to abandon support for Ukraine. Do you concur in that observation, sir, I do concur uh Russian failure to achieve its aggressive, uh its aggressive uh uh actions directly, a deterrence in the Western Pacific and directly reassure partners our key strategic uh competitive advantage. And so uh the most decisive thing we can do in a mo moment and absolutely necessary is to pass the supplemental in your view, sir. I do agree. Thank you. Uh What are the lessons do you believe that China is taking from the battle in Ukraine?
The first is uh the fir the first lesson is uh instead of seeing the Ukraine conflict and decide this is too hard uh their intention. On the other hand, is, is to take note of the actions of Russia in order to effect a short sharp fait accompli conflict that presents a fait accompli to all of the world. And so rather than take the strategic lesson of the futility of aggression, instead, it is doubling down on their ability to shrink strategic operational and tactical warning and act quickly. Now, uh another aspect of the supplemental is the direct support to our military $2 billion in military financing for the Indo Pacific uh which I presume is absolutely critical. I also want to commend Senator worker. He’s worked very hard to get uh additional money for our industrial base and our submarine industrial base. Um This is necessary I presume in fact critical. Is that your view?
Absolutely critical. Yes, sir. And in the Indo paycom that will help you dramatically help Taiwan to uh take the lessons of Ukraine themselves and turn them on the Chinese. Yes sir. Taiwan itself is taking the lessons of uh of uh Ukraine and they’re acting with dispatch and I have great admiration for that and it, it will directly aid deterrence in the Pacific with tremendous leverage. Thank you, sir. Uh One of the perennial questions with respect to the United States relations with Taiwan is the issue of strategic ambiguity. You are operating under the Taiwan Relations Act which is ambiguous at best. Um This question came up, came up repeatedly. Uh when Avril Haines was here, the Director of National Intelligence, he said it’s adopting an explicit commitment would be deeply destabilizing, would solidify Chinese perceptions that the US has been on constraining China’s rise including through military force and would probably cause Beijing to aggressively undermine us interests worldwide and in fact accelerate their their interest. What’s your perception of the this issue?
My view, Senator is that the Taiwan Relations Act, the three communiques and the six assurances have served the nation well for the last 45 years and there is no ambiguity for the joint force. There’s just the mission clarity contained within the Taiwan Relations Act that the department will aid Taiwan’s ability to defend itself from having matters that uh that resolve the Taiwan straight issue with force or the logic of force and that the department will be ready to come to Taiwan’s aid. So in a sense, uh at the diplomatic presidential level there, there is this their ambiguity, but in your command, you’re preparing for every potential, which includes uh active combat Yes, sir, clarity and mission focus. Uh Senator Wicker raised an interesting, in fact, very important question about the joint all domain command and control. I presume he’s gonna raise that again. So I will defer uh and uh at this point again, I will thank you for your service and your family service. And uh um I will respond, I will refrain from many comments on the football game. So then a workers uh thank thank you, Mr. Chairman. And um it II, I hope it’s clear that I, I would have asked the very same questions the chair has asked, we, we’re really totally united on the issues that he brought forward. Let me just make this, see if I can understand clearly and if those listening outside the hearing room, um understand this clearly, we can do what we’re doing to help our Ukrainian friends and still not miss a beat in managing risk in the Indo Pacific. Is that correct?
Yes, sir. In two years or the force capabilities that are relevant to deterring and the force capabilities that are relevant to prevailing in a, in major combat or operations in the Pacific. Uh I’ve not seen a single force element that has been that had where uh in the Indo Pacific for any other theater that’s contributed to uh deterrence in any of the, any of the other theaters?
And can we manage risk in the Middle East um without harming in any way your job in the Indo Pacific. I believe we can. Senator. Uh, but however, uh, the expenditures of some capabilities against a global inventory, uh, will increase some of the demand for particularly precision weapons. And, and so we need to give attention immediately to that inventory, do we not?
Yes, sir, we do. All right. Now, let me then get to the joint task force structure. Um, I, I don’t know what more we need to do on our Authorization Act annually to make it clear that we’d like for the department to carry out the creation of a standing permanent joint task force structure with three star general or three star admiral under the OPA com commander to focus on command and control war fighting. Now, um you uh um A as Pacific Fleet commander, you were dual headed as the joint task force commander within, within indo paycom. That’s correct. I am uh I continually qualify the Pacific fleet headquarters as AJ TF headquarters. As I utter these words, we’re executing a command post exercise along with Australia and Japan joint operations command. Uh I have not operated as the joint task force commander but under a different command arrangement as a supported commander, a term in doctrine and have integrated the operations and the activities of the joint force for deterrence. Are you familiar with what we believe we’ve mandated in, in the NDA A?
Yes, sir. And uh have you, do you have any dedicated staff to carry out the joint task force responsibilities. Um The chair and I and I think the members of this committee overwhelmingly are united that we need a three star billet and staff actually in the hundreds to carry this out. Yes, sir. I augmented the staff, we augment the staff with reservists and with M BEDS from the other services when we execute as A as AJ TF staff and for the US Pacific fleet uh in order to achieve at scale and in time would require the augmentation of several 100 permanent staff across all services. Uh It seems to me we’re really not ready unless we do that. Is that correct?
We’ll be readier when we do, sir. Ok. So uh what more do you need from the Congress?
What more do you need from the members of this committee in this regard, sir?
Uh I have clear guidance from the Congress uh from the NDA A and uh if confirmed, I pledge to work with this committee and the department with dispatch, Mr. Chairman, I think we have a very explicit statement from the witness. I concur. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Senator Worker, Senator Shaheen, please. Thank you and congratulations Admiral on your nomination. Thank you to you and your family for all of your years of service and thank you for taking time to meet with me yesterday. Um I wanna, I appreciated both senators Reid and wicker’s questions about Ukraine and as I understood. Um Senator Wicker asked if we can do what we need to do in the Indo Pacific and still help Ukraine. I actually understood you to say that um not only can we still do what we need to do in the Indo Pacific, but it actually helps us with deterrence from China if we support Ukraine in their efforts against Putin. Is that, is that an accurate assessment of what you said?
I am sure it has a direct and positive impact on deterrence in the Indo Pacific. Thank you. Um One of the things I appreciated in our conversation yesterday was our discussion about the importance of our diplomats um in countries throughout the Indo Pacific. Can you talk about why that’s helpful to you as somebody who’s trying to help maintain stability, both Chairman uh Reed and uh ranking member wicker among all noted that the, that the asymmetric advantage among the allies and partners is our alliances and partners and accordingly, the chiefs of mission are the prime movers in affecting those alliances and partnerships and not just the chief of mission, but all of the heroic foreign service officers and all of the people uh that work there uh at the embassy, I have close relationships and tremendous admiration uh for the diplomatic corps and they are our first mover in our key asymmetric advantage. Um Thank you, I agree with that and it does send a message to those countries if we go for long periods of time without ambassadors in place. Does it not, it, it raises concerns in the countries about how important we think they are to the United States. It certainly doesn’t, uh, demonstrate commitment. Thank you. Um, our public shipyards, um, such as Portsmouth, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are expanding and modernizing facilities for us, domestic and Aus efforts. Um, it’s one of the areas where we still have a competitive advantage with our undersea warfare. And I wonder if you could talk about how um important Aus is going to be. You mentioned the importance of our allies and partners and how is that going to be helpful as we’re thinking about deterrence?
And what do we need to do to ensure that that continues to move along in an expeditious way?
Aus is a generational partnership that combines all of the talent of the United Kingdom of Australia, the United States against a key asymmetric advantage in our undersea dominance. It’s absolutely critical for deterrence in the 21st century and we must affect the improvements in the shipyard, integrated optimization program to bring our public shipyards with this world class workforce up to 21st century industrial standards so we can meet the threat at scale. Well, thank you. I know Senator King and I both agree with that. Um Last night and this morning, um FBI, Director Ray was all over the news talking about the um irregular um and cyber intrusions that China is prepared to make in our infrastructure in the United States and the advantage that it would give them one of those other areas is around the information um sphere and information warfare. Can you talk about how important you think it is for us to engage in um being able to respond to disinformation. It is uh you know, absolutely critical. Uh It, you know, we as an open society with freedom of speech have an inherent vulnerability to this. Uh The PR C sees that vulnerability to information operations, that is a societal strength, is freedom of speech and our values. And we’ve got to work. Uh We have to work very hard. And uh Director Ray also talked about uh the um talked about the penetration of much of our critical infrastructure uh throughout the country, also critical that we close those gaps and we’re ready to counter. Um Well, thank you very much. My time has expired, but I also wanna again, commend you and everyone at Indo paycom for all of your efforts on women, peace and security and recognizing how important that is to stability. Thank you, Senator Shaheen, Senator Fisher, please. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome Admiral and thank you for your service to this country and that of your family. The 24 National Defense Authorization Act. It extended the Pacific deterrence initiative as well as the requirement for the Commander of Indo Paycom to provide an independent assessment on resources for the Indo Pacific if confirmed, how would you use those tools to work to effectively communicate, not just with Congress, but also to the American people on what investments are needed in the Indo Pacific and why they are needed. Senator, as the, the Pacific deterrent initiative is a uh is uh different in its makeup than the European defense initiative, European deterrence initiative. And accordingly, the expression of those priorities goes through the prism of the integrated priorities list of each of the components, a tight connection between us indo paycom and to ensure the coherency of the service. Uh expressions of those elements within the Pacific deterrent initiative is important. I submit a specific Indo Pacific integrated priority list to the Chief of Naval Operations that is focused on the Pacific uh for that, for those elements that are uh not within that uh in accordance with title 10 US code section 222 alpha. Uh I I am required if confirmed to submit a 12 xx report this year. It will be 1202 that explicates those unfilled requirements that do not go through the components in a, in a tight lash up. And uh and so uh uh following my oath and the letter I signed and the pledge I made to Chairman Reed, um I will do so with a strict focus on our military capabilities and and submit that same report to the department as required without presupposing the outcome of our fiscal year 25 budgetary decisions are there capabilities?
Um, and you have alluded to the priorities that are out there. But are you looking at things like munitions specific other, uh, weapons systems that you would prioritize based on your experience that you’ve had with pack fleet?
Yes, Senator. And, uh, if confirmed, I’ll, I will meet my obligations to share those many are at a classified level and I will make myself available to the members. Thank you. Uh When we, when we look at what’s going on in North Korea, you know, last month, they announced that it, that they would no longer strive for peaceful reunification with South Korea and it continues to advance its nuclear weapon program and develop their strike capabilities with recent development developments in mind. Can you comment on how important our extended nuclear deterrence commitment is to the United States and South Korea alliance?
Senator absolutely critical the Republic of Korea is the linchpin of peace, stability and security in the Pacific. We seek a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, whatever the public statements uh as, as a military commander, I must look at the capability development and to be able to pace that to deter that extended deterrence, particularly with us, strategic forces is absolutely essential. Do you assess that the security dynamic on the peninsula is changing in any way?
And if so, can you tell us a little bit about what you see?
Uh I can’t speak fully to it because I’m still the Pacific Fleet commander. And in my current role, I would support uh General LA Camera uh in a, in a, you know, in a uh General LA Camera, United States Forces forces cor uh but the changing dynamic is, is continued saber rattling, continued proliferation, uh a greater volume of uh of testing and weapons demonstrations on the part of the North. And in response uh South, South Korea has uh has increased its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities in the vicinity of the North. And so despite the public statements, it continues to be tense. What, what’s your assessment on the deepening security assistance ties between Russia and North Korea?
It is concerning uh deeply, it is symbiotic. It closes gaps each for the other providing conventional weapons to Russia from North Korean industry, uh providing sanctions, evading uh materials and high end potentially high end technology to North Korea. In all cases, it runs counter to the principles of peace and stability in the Indo Pacific and globally. Thank you, sir. Thank you, Senator Fisher, Senator Hirono. Please thank you Mr. Chairman to ensure the fitness of nominees to serve. I also following two initial questions of all nominees who appear before any of the committees on which I sit since you became a legal adult. Have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?
No, Senator, have you ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to this kind of conduct. No, Senator Emer, you noted the importance of, of our allies and partners as uh a very critical aspect of our asymmetric advantage and uh this includes our compact nations partnerships. So I’d like you to acknowledge the importance of congressional action in support of our negotiated compacts with Palau Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. The compact of free association is absolutely critical for multiple reasons. Uh The first is the People’s Republic of China is attempting to drive a wedge through traditional partnerships and through tra traditional people to people ties um across the Pacific, they employ corruption and elite capture to do so. Uh the COFA States on top of a moral duty as a result of uh years and years of partnership uh with the COFA States are historical ties, our people to people ties. In fact, a a little known point is that uh young people from the Cofa States enlist in the US armed services at higher rates uh than us citizens do. And I’ve had the honor of serving with uh Yap Islanders, truck, Islanders and Pompeii Islanders uh throughout the course of my career. And uh and then finally, uh in accordance with the sovereign wishes of the COFA States, they offer tremendous potential for a theater posture that will aid the joint force and the Allied force in achieving the principles of expanded maneuver in conflict in the Western Pacific. Thank you for acknowledging the importance. And we have this year of we have the important duty to um approve these compacts and let’s get it done. I know that you are aware of my focus on infrastructure. Uh I’ve had discussions with you and of course, I mentioned uh the what happened at Red Hill. And so over the last few years in Hawaii alone, there have been water main breaks, power outages and spills, including of course the catastrophic events at Red Hill as well as unnecessary dry dock replacement. Although you will not be directly responsible for improving infrastructure in Hawaii. Yours will be an important voice on the issue especially as it impacts readiness if confirmed. How do you intend to approach the infrastructure challenges in the region including in Hawaii?
Senator if confirmed?
The first is a critical eye with worst case thinking and that’s a critical eye to look at the at the critical infrastructure and uh have a risk management standpoint that looks instead instead of saying, I hope it’s going to be ok. The approach to say, how can this go wrong?
You mentioned the water main. Uh when we unearth that water main, uh we found that it was 75 years old. Uh Red Hill itself was 80 years old at the time. This focus on critical infrastructure is gonna require critical thinking. It’s going to require integration among the components and leaders holding each other to account. And holding the services to account to ensure that the foundation of the joint forces, the bases, the pier, the airfields, uh the refueling points are going to support uh combat operations. And by doing so, support deterrence, you mentioned that your father was a shipyard worker. So II I know that you have an appreciation of the importance of the four public shipyards including Pearl Harbor. And one of the biggest uh uh issues that we’re gonna face is the dry dock replacement to enable us to repair and maintain our ships. So that is uh an, an uh an infrastructure uh that I, I would like you to pay particular attention to as we go forward. I uh mentioned Red Hill as a symptomatic of the importance of public engagement. And uh you know, I’d like your commitment that you will continue to focus on how important it is to basically repair the breakdown in trust and questions that arose as a result of the handling of the Red Hill situation. So I would like your public commitment that you will be uh you will continue to focus on restoring trust between the people of Hawaii and our military in Hawaii. If confirmed, I commit myself to it. Senator. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much, Senator Roo, uh Colonel Sullivan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman uh Admiral. Great to see you. Thank you in your family for your exceptional service. I think you’re extremely well qualified. I certainly plan to provide my strong support for your confirmation. I also appreciate what the chairman said about Admiral Aquilino and his wife, Laura. They have also undertaken exceptional service to our country. I hope when your change of command comes, that Admiral Aquino’s service to America is not over. I highly doubt it will be over. Let me um focus on an issue. I know you’re focused on now and your current bill, it, the Pr CS focused and rapid naval build up has highlighted our own shipbuilding deficiencies. Numerically, they now have a larger navy, roughly 370 ships to our 291 ships last year. They added 30 ships to their fleet. 15 were large surface combatants including cruisers, destroyers and another aircraft carrier. We added two at the same time are the current Biden budget shrinks the navy. It’s going to be shrinking our navy for some time if deterrence fails and we go to war in the near term with China, we have to fight with the fleet we have today. You’re very aware of that fleet’s capabilities. Can you describe the impact of the Prc’s naval build up and how we need to equip the joint force to deter and defeat the PL A navy today should conflict occur. So the the PL A navy has been on a histo an historic trajectory these last 25 years and uh and uh while we are, I am confident that we would prevail uh in combat. It is a concerning trajectory. We overmatched in the indo, we are not overmatched, but I don’t like the pace of the trajectory. And in answering the question on the other capabilities that could be brought to bear is uh we’re, we’re a joint force that thinks in a multi domain mindset and that is the kind of formations in maritime terrain, those are forces on land that can affect events at the maritime that can shoot, move, communicate and impose costs against the naval force to augment the na the Navy force at sea. And then further the 21st century capabilities, unmanned capabilities from the seabed uh to the heavens that can also also uh effect. Let me sorry to interrupt. I, I got a few more questions. I I want to talk about some of those forces uh while test that you’re gonna be in charge of while testifying in front of the Congress in 1935 General Billy Mitchell often referred to as the father of the US Air Force said this, I believe that in the future whoever controls and then he said a piece of strategic territory, this territory, this land um controls the world. It is the most strategic place on the planet. Do you know what piece of terrain Billy Mitchell was talking about Alaska, correct?
Um Now with regard to Alaska, you will own the forces in Alaska that includes over 105th generation fighters, uh the 11th airborne division of the US army. Those will be under your command. I, I like to do just a quick geography test because sometimes even our four star admirals and generals miss this, which forces are closer to Japan, the joint force in Alaska or joint force in Hawaii, Alaska. How about which forces are closer to Korea forces in Hawaii or Alaska Alaska Center and one more Taiwan Strait, which forces are closer to the Taiwan Strait, the Alaska Senator. Thank you, admiral. Um You’d be amazed how many uh four star admirals and generals don’t pass that simple geography test. So, um did you get those very quickly?
Two summers ago, we had a joint Russia China naval task force, seven ships that was off the coast of Alaska. We sent 150 ft coast guard cutter to intercept it. Was that appropriate?
Was that a show of American deterrence?
You had, it was a risk that the joint force to took in putting force elsewhere and it’s a risk we’d rather not take. So this summer, we had an 11 ship joint Russia China task force naval task force off the coast of Alaska, we sent four destroyers and P eight. Si think that’s a better answer. Could you commit to if we do that again and they’ll do it again next summer with a bigger joint task force hit them with an appropriate size response. I will intend to do so and we’ll do so across the joint force. Senator. Thank you. Uh, final question, Admiral. I know you’re very well read. Very, very smart. Um Have you happened to read this book, this Kind of War by Tr Fehrenbach, the classic Korean War history. Yes, sir. My dear son, uh, gave it to me for Christmas. He was, when he was at the naval academy. I have it on my shelf. Well, he beat me to it because I was gonna give it to you. But um every one of your Marine Corps and army senior officers will have read it. The lesson is very simple and it, it’s a great book. I highly recommend it. I give it to everybody who’s up for senior positions, particularly civilians who don’t know a lot about readiness in this administration. But the lesson is this 1945 we had the most fearsome lethal military probably in the history of the world. Five years later in 1950 our military couldn’t stop a third world peasant army as an invaded South Korea, literally. And thousands of young Americans died in the summer of 1950 because we had weak civilian and weak uniform, military leadership. So I would just commend you to read this compliments to your son for getting it to you before I did. But it’s a really important book. And I worry as we’re shrinking the army shrinking the navy, shrinking the Marine Corps at one of the most dangerous periods we’ve seen since World War Two. Not enough members of the Pentagon know what’s in this, have read history. We can’t repeat history. We can’t have another task force Smith and um, appreciate you, uh, taking a look at this book, I’ll reread and he, he stole it back, so I’ll accept it. If you give it to me, I will give it to you. Thank you. Now that we’ve settled that Senator Rosen, please. Well, uh thank you, Chairman Reed for holding this hearing. And admiral, I want to thank you for your service to our nation. Congratulations on your nomination. We had such a great visit last week talking about uh computing and cybersecurity. My civilian Cyber reserve pilot program, I look forward to working with you on all of that, but I really want to focus. Um Now for a moment on space and cyber resilience. So in our meeting last week said the first battle in future conflict is likely to be fought in the cyber and space domains. And so could you elaborate on what steps you would take if confirmed to further prepare our forces for the challenges in these domains and how you would ensure that our capabilities are not just current but also adaptable to the rapidly evolving nature of cyber and space warfare. And I don’t know how I follow up. I don’t have a book to give you computer program perhaps Senator uh in saying that the the first battle will be space in Cyber. It’s because in the 21st century, the next advantage is who can see, decide and act faster. And increasingly we’re dependent on our cyber networks. And in our constellations uh to be able to see, understand, make sense of and to act and accordingly, we must build the resiliency of our constellation of sensors on orbit uh as well as our constellation of or of sensors from the seabed to the, to the Carmen Line. It must be resilient and there must be redundant. It must include the elements of graceful degradation. So that when one thing is out, it’s just a small loss uh incapability, but it’s still, it still provides uh enough and we’ve got to work tirelessly to close those gaps. Um Thank you. Well, and I want to build on that uh Brazil resiliency, particularly in uh Taiwan. So this last year’s NDA A includes the Taiwan Cybersecurity resiliency Act bipartisan legislation that I introduced alongside with Senator rounds to expand military cyber security with Taiwan to help them counter these cyberattacks from China building in that resiliency, redundancy, all of those things. So if confirmed, what other allies and partners in the Indo Pacific region, would you prioritize for our cyber collaboration, Japan uh Republic of Korea Australia, of course, and there’s already tight partnerships uh among them all, but we can never be satisfied. Uh II I work really with every state that is an ally and partner. And that’s a deep list. Now, that’s the key advantage. But all allies and partners that are willing to work with us um are, are, are, you know, key focus of that effort, creating this broad net of cyber resiliency really important. And again, you work with everyone, so you’re a coalition builder and this is really important, not just in this region but every region. And of course, the Houthis recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. It highlights how less sophisticated adversaries can disrupt international commerce and challenge the freedom of our navigation. And I’m increasingly concerned about the capabilities, of course, as you are and everyone’s been talking about sophisticate, sophisticated adversaries, China, for example, to take similar aggressive actions like they’re doing um in the Red Sea in the Indo Pacific. So how does in Indo Paycom, how would you plan to co uh collaborate with allies and partners in the region to share the responsibilities and resources?
So there is freedom of navigation in the Indo Pacific. We see the challenges we have now co coalition building. And uh one of the key efforts within this is uh currently under the current under under Admiral Aquilino is the Indo Paycom mission network that is going to create secure layers of intel sharing where it’s just not us sharing with allies and partners, but it is all of the allies and partners sharing to build a common picture of malign activity at sea which will give all of the allies and partners the ability to act quickly and to counter the threats. Like you said, intelligence cybersecurity, this is key for our maritime defense. So could you talk a little bit um in my last few seconds about how increased joint training programs could really benefit our mutual defense capabilities and this op interoperability and collaboration that it supports our joint, our joint training programs. And I, I’d like to especially acknowledge our state partnership programs in being absolutely critical in raising the capability in bringing skill sets to each other and learning from each other as well as building the people to people ties that will help speed the coalition along when we reach that unforgiving hour when we need it. Yeah. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. You’ll back. Thank you, Senator Rose and Senator Scott, please. Thank you, Chairman Emerald. Thanks for being here. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your commitment. Uh Thanks. Uh We had a great conversation the other day, so the world’s pretty dangerous. Um uh We weren’t able to deter Russia in Ukraine. We walked out of Afghanistan. Now we got the hoodie shooting at us. We’ve lost uh two seals, three servicemen and women. Um We watch what Hamas did. Um We watch how much money Iran has. Um We look at the what uh Senator Sullivan said the size of the Chinese military versus, you know, what we’re doing the trajectory. So if you’re, if you’re Xi Jinping, what are you thinking?
Well, first Senator, I’ll share with you and acknowledge the surface and sacrifice of our five fallen heroes along with their family. I, I think uh you know, I, I can’t, I can’t directly express Xi Jinping’s uh attitude, but I do see the actions of the People’s Liberation Army and I see uh a all I see a undaunted effort to extend its aggression as a Revon, revisionist and expansionist state to reset the borders based on the logic of their military power. And I think we’re we we are in a global environment that has increasingly disordered, increasingly chaotic. The logic of rules is being replaced with the logic of power and we must as a nation uh counter that logic with comprehensive national power across all levers of statecraft. So we have a lot of servicemen and women stationed in the Inter Pacific. Uh We spend a lot of money in the, in the Pacific. So if you’re talking to just an average American, that’s writing the check. What would you tell him why?
First uh 60% of the world population, 60% of the world’s economy and seven of the world’s 10 largest militaries is in the Indo Pacific. And if that disorder extends to aggression in the Indo Pacific, we risk greater conflict, we risk proliferation that makes the world a more dangerous place. And so success in aggression. Uh uh Anywhere in the Western Pacific has a direct effect on the security of the United States. The uh the integration of the economies particularly in semiconductors. Uh According to many think tanks could result in uh up to a double digit contraction in GDP, greatly affecting people’s lives and their well-being. And then finally democracy and our values, which is the ties that connect uh for all of those reasons. it is in America’s direct physical interest to deter conflict by being ready to fight and to win. How important is Taiwan uh critical for the reasons that I spoke to earlier even more so, uh in the case of the economy. So if China continues to build their economy and eventually, you know, they would have about three times the number of people if they continue to build their economy and they build economy bigger than ours, is that a threat to the United States, one would hope not. Uh You know, I uh I, I wouldn’t think, I don’t think we’re competing on who has the bigger economy, we’re competing on values. And uh for me, what I’m looking at is I’m looking at the military instrument and in many ways, the military instrument is directly related to the economy and, and what I see uh is generational and concerning in terms of the activity in the buildup of the PR C. We talked about this a little bit last week on the um recapitalization of the C one thirties. I think the Air Force has done about 50% National Guard has done about 35% marines are 100. Uh but the Navy is at zero. Does that concern you?
Yes, sir. We, our logistics enterprise is built on the principles of efficiency over, you know, over the, over a time when we were focused on regional conflicts now under the contestation that we see from actors, um we’ve got to build a logistics enterprise that’s based on the principles of effectiveness under fire. Can you tell me the importance of having a defense alliance with the Philippines?
Uh It is one of our oldest alliances. It’s based on close people to people ties. It is key geography within the Western Pacific and uh and uh our continued commitment to our defense alliance with the Philippines has the same effect as our alliances and our security guarantees throughout the Western Pacific that. But uh the, the people to people ties are very important to us. The values ties are important to us and the geography. Thank you, Emma. Thank you, Senator Scott, Senator King, please. Thank you, Mr. Chair, Admiral PPAR. Congratulations. I enjoyed our visit the other day. Um The chairman’s opening comments referred to AC CP strategy drawn from uh Chinese military tradition of uh to win without fighting. Um And he referred to the danger of, of losing without fighting. Uh I’m also worried about the danger of losing while fighting. I think our fighting forces uh second to none and yet you can lose while fighting if you fight the wrong war and if you allow wrong wars to di direct resources and attention away from the most critical, I’m very, very concerned about the escalation of the Middle East right now. Um I think we need to provide support for allies. Certainly, I think alliances are strong but the US being involved in an escalating war without a congressional dialogue for the American public about whether that would be wise is really troubling me. The US is protecting global shipping through the Red Sea only the UK is joining with the US and our military efforts against the Houthis. The transit of ships through the Red Sea is global. Uh There aren’t a lot of us flag ships that go through the Red Sea and so protecting us, ships, us, flag ships, us military assets, of course is something we should do. But when we take on the, the global burden of protecting others and they are not participating in it, that’s the kind of thing that diverts attention and resources away. Uh from what I believe our most significant challenges should be that should be directing our efforts going forward. Uh Let me move now to some questions. Um Your next position involves commanding personnel for multiple services to maintain the free and open Indo Pacific. You’ve just commanded the naval component of Indo Paycom. So brag about the service members dod civilians and their families and the value that they bring to the Indo Pacific region. I Yeah. And um for all members of the committee, I would welcome you to join us on a ship visit and to see what you can see in the young people’s eyes that stare back at you and the commitment and at fleet and family service centers and child development centers just to see the dedication of our service members and the dedication of their families and uh what they do within their families uh in order to bring their licensure to places and to find meaningful employment for working families. But um for all the discussions about the, the joint force um that your brain chemistry is instantly transformed when you see the intellect, the dedication, the esprit de corps, the cohesiveness of the joint force. And so, um it’s just such, it’s a and, and uh it’s great. It’s just great to get out there and to visit with the fleet uh to hear their concerns and always their concerns are not. Can I have this or can I have that?
But it is how can we do our job better?
It’s absolutely inspiring. Thank you, Admiral. Um Senator Shaheen asked you questions about August. I’m very focused on that as well. A lot of the work on pillar one with respect to submarines will happen in Virginia. Um And she already asked you a little bit about that. Uh Let me ask about pillar two. A lot of the discussion has been about prepping for the pillar one submarine industrial base and working with Australia on first Virginia class subs. But then their development of an own, their own industrial capacity to produce nuclear submarines. Talk about the kind of more open ended but equally exciting pillar two capabilities in this uh AUS framework. Very exciting cyber unmanned seabed warfare among them, uh unmanned capabilities. A I um all of these are have important, important, key leverage, making effects on the ability of the joint and the allied force to fight. Uh just in November. I was in Sydney Harbor where US Pacific fleet conducted integrated battle problem 23.1 uh where sailors, marines, airmen, soldiers from the United Kingdom, from Australia and from uh and from the uh from Indo paycom, all assembled uh to begin the real work of sharing technology of sharing information of combining the talent to achieve those key 21st century advantages that will augment uh the asymmetric advantage of our submarine forces. Um exciting every bit as critical as pillar one. Let me ask one last question. You’ve talked about alliances. Aus the quad Senator Scott asked you about the improving us Philippines mill to mill relationship. What’s the reaction in the Indo Pacific region to the US Japan Republic of Korea summit that was held in 2023 at Camp David I think that at first, I applaud the courage of the leaders in the Pacific who came to that, that accord. And we have implemented it directly now in advance in uh of uh of North Korean threats. Uh frequently being postured in position uh to count to be able to be ready to defend. If instead of a test, it’s an attack. We’re seeing the fruits of it at the operational level already every day. It’s historic and it’s inspiring. Thank you very much. I yell back. Thank you, Senator Kin. I will recognize Senator Tuberville, but I will also uh ask Senator King to preside as I go to the banking committee. Uh Thank you, Admiral Senator Tuberville, please. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Admiral for being here. Congratulations. Good visit yesterday. 375,000 military and civilian personnel. That’s a huge, huge undertaking. Uh We’re glad you’re willing to take that on. Uh We talked about the uh KC 46. Uh We have a uh I think about 10 or 12 1 30 fives in my state of Birmingham. Looking forward to the KC 46 given with the issues and delays with delivering the 46. What concerns do you have about the availability and the quality of these aircraft?
No concerns about the quality. Uh And uh uh uh I’m not yet in the duty position but uh uh for the airmen who maintain them, I have perfect faith that no aircraft is going to fly until it’s ready to fly. Uh I do, I do have concerns if confirmed uh about the ability of the joint force to refuel what will be a dynamic force operating in the air from bases on land and at sea?
And we’ve got to have a consistent critical eye and if confirmed, I’ll work with you and with the members of the committee to be clear about the requirements are and we can close those gaps. Do you think the 46 has the range that we’re gonna need in the Indo Pacific with all refueling aircraft, uh air tankers can bucket brigade themselves. Um II I, I’m not, I’m not savvy on the, on the precise range and it’s always a choice between how much gas it takes to get to the point where you’re refueling and how much give there is uh at that point. But uh I am concerned about uh about the joint forces ability to refuel a dynamic force operating in the air. We talked with switch gears a little bit, we talked a little bit about the Philippines. Uh What’s your biggest concerns at the moment there?
What do we need to do more or less for the Philippines?
Philippines are under intense pressure with uh uh aggression against uh their lawful sovereign rights and their eez. Uh And uh because the Philippines are a sovereign partner, our uh our charge is to be ready to come to their aid as they desire as they navigate that problem along with us, for them to know that we have their back uh at all times. And we’ve got capability that is ready to assist them in their defense of their lawful claims and they’re not claims their rights and they are settled in law. How is the uh uh us Vietnam Security Corporation regarding what’s happened in the South China Sea?
How has that changed in your eyes?
We applaud the uh the essential double elevation to strategic comprehensive partnership with, with, with Vietnam. Uh the the main areas for our cooper operation presently right now are in the manner of medical and uh unexploded ordinance removal and medical training. We stand ready to partner with them more deeply as they uh and we’re ready to partner with Vietnam as deeply as, as they want. I remember asking uh Admiral Aquilina when he took over, getting ready to take over uh what his number one want and need was for the Indo Pacific. And he said an aegis system at Guam. Do you have any thoughts?
A multi layered, effective, capable, integrated air and missile defense system uh from the surface of the ski sea to the heavens to defend the 170,000 Americans in Guam, the American homeland. It would be my number one priority if confirmed, you know, being the PAC commander. Uh what was your thoughts?
And when did you first find out about the balloon that came from uh China uh I guess about a year ago um represents um aggression. It was brazen. Uh it was collecting information to give the PR C an advantage. It violated the sovereignty of the United States. It was deeply concerning. When did you first find out about where was it at?
Where was it located?
When they, when you got the call?
Hey, we got a balloon flying over. I was the Pacific Fleet commander and accordingly was not in the air defense business and it was over the continental United States when it came to light. And that was a different area of responsibility, the United States. When you found out not in the Pacific, I, I did not have a close view of the balloons trajectory. Thank you a on behalf of the chairman, Senator Kelly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and uh admiral. Good to see you again. Uh My uh brother Scott and your training command classmates since his regards. Um Admiral uh being the only US merchant marine academy graduate uh in the Congress, I play pay close attention to our maritime strength. China is the world’s largest shipbuilder and controls most of the merchant ships in the world with over 5500 vessels in the United States flying under the American flag. Uh We have about 80 ocean going merchant ships and I’m concerned about the size and the capacity of our US merchant fleet. And how this is a risk to our national security. Uh Admiral as you know, an in insufficient commercial maritime capacity impacts peacetime trade and supply chains. But the more important part of this is it will hamper our ability to supply our own troops in a conflict. And this is a capability that we can just turn on overnight with a switch. I mean, we need investments now to be ready for tomorrow. So admiral, how do you assess the challenge of China’s numerical advantage uh in a conflict?
Uh in the Indo Pacific Senator. Uh I believe that the current size and scope of the US merchant fleet um is a vulnerability uh as discussed earlier. I believe that uh we have a force that’s sized for efficiency but uh has not been examined from the standpoint of effectiveness under fire. And is that uh affect how you plan for operations today?
And how do you how you project power across the Pacific Ocean?
It does, it does in fact, and it is a limitation for how forward we could put combat capability and sustain combat capability that was in maritime terrain and as the future Indo Paycom commander. Um how do you plan to address this maritime capacity issue in close partnership with my fellow uh COCOM uh if confirmed uh us trans Transportation Command um identify those shortfalls uh along with my, with my through the integrated priority lists of our components, not just sea lift and airlift and then uh a as necessary um communicate as required by law. So in recent years, Congress has focused on rebuilding domestic industries like uh you know, critical minerals, microelectronics. Uh manufacturing is semiconductor chips. It’s been a big focus of, of the uh of the Congress and we’ve made, you know, some great progress there. We’ve got more to do. Uh and this, you know, certainly supports our national security needs, but also our domestic economic security. Would you agree that there could be national security benefits to a similar kind of focus on the maritime industry?
I would strongly agree. Thank you, Admiral and admirals, you know, logistics uh will be, you know, it’s gonna be critical to, you know, any future conflict. And uh um what else besides, you know, a focus like we’re doing with microelectronics, what else do you think we could do to be addressing this strategic vulnerability now, with the force we currently have today?
Uh I think there are a number of uh of initiatives such as the Department of Defense’s replicator initiative that uh seeks to gain scale with innovative practices and by and by uh um closing on design and invoking small business in increasing the defense industrial. Um I think another key point is uh to understand the opacity of the uh financial community and the extent to which investments in the PR C through their civil military fusion directly could confer to weapons building that could affect and uh could harm Americans on the battlefield. Well, Admiral, thank you. And I look forward to working with you on trying to solve this problem. It’ll, you know, clearly, if we can, if we can make some progress here, it’ll be in furtherance of, uh, you know, stronger, you know, operations in the Pacific and the ability to sustain if we ever do, you know, wind up in a conflict. Thank you on behalf of the chairman, Senator Cotton Admiral. Congratulations on your nomination and thanks for your service. Uh There was a report in Bloomberg last month uh leaked from uh intelligence assessment saying that Xi Jinping had purged numerous of his military commanders especially and his rocket forces for corruption. It further said uh that American officials had concluded that uh Xi was so doubtful about uh the capabilities of the PL A to execute an operation against Taiwan given this corruption. But now that operation was less likely to happen um without commenting on the veracity of the intelligence report that was leaked. Ca can you say does that corruption which I I think everyone would accept happens in the PL A and in China writ large um influence your thinking about what you need to deter Chinese aggression towards Taiwan. It does not, sir. And it must not. Uh I I’ve got to adjust to the capability that we see. I see more activity further afield, greater force assembling in objective areas. A shrinking of strategic and operational warnings and I must be focused on capability instead of intentions if confirmed. I, I think that’s very important. I think part of our role, um when we read intelligence reports, whether we read them in the intelligence reports or in the media is to always express some healthy skepticism. Um as Churchill said, uh about civil military relations, it is always right to probe. I think that’s especially true whenever the conclusions and intelligence reports are comforting or reassuring what we would like to believe and and maybe most true when those comforting, reassuring conclusions are then leaked to the media, um you mentioned capabilities. Um We’ve spoken in the past about the very challenging strategic and tactical situation you would encounter in a fight in the Pacific ranging from logistics to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Uh What us capabilities gap gaps currently exist in your theater and what capabilities will you prioritize most highly?
The um Raisin posture that I spoke of with?
The Pr C increasingly requires persistent stare. Uh And ISR is uh inherently due to the ephemera of the capability blinking, the closer we can come to a persistent stare from the seabed to the surface of the sea, distributed throughout geography uh in the air and in the constellation, all of it, you must sum to a persistent stare of uh of Pr C forces in response to this shrinking strategic operational, tactical warning. And how about countering their ability to do so. It is uh counter what’s called C five ISR Command control, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting um behind homeland defense uh is the number one priority for us. Indo paycom. It has been the number one priority that I’ve communicated to the chief of naval operations in my integrated priority list. And if confirmed, uh it is, it is the enabling capability to counter that, that will bring victory to the allies. Thank you, Admiral. On behalf of the chairman, Senator Warner Warren. Sorry. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and congratulations Admiral Popara on your nomination. So if confirmed, you will oversee one of the most dangerous national security threats. North Korea reports indicate that North Korea has shifted to a more aggressive posture against American troops and allies in the region. And in just the last few months, the country has fired off hundreds of missiles as it has increased its military capabilities. North Korea is one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world. So one question is where the heck are they getting the money to test these new weapons?
You know, this is not free and one answer is Cryptocurrency. North Korea uses Cryptocurrency both to evade sanctions and to raise revenues from cyber hacks against banks to strikes on crypto exchanges to ransomware attacks against American businesses and hospitals. North Korea has been using crypto to generate revenue over the past five years. It has stolen at least $3.3 billion worth of crypto and those dollars matter. Experts estimate that half its missile program is paid for through crypto crime. So Admiral Popara is North Korea’s reliance on Cryptocurrency to evade sanctions and fund its illegal nuclear and missile programs, a threat to our national security and the security of our allies in the Indo Pacific. Yes. Senator most certainly. All righty. You are not the only one to recognize this threat. Your predecessors have been ringing the alarm for years. Uh Former Indo paycom commander, Admiral Davidson, who was appointed by President Trump warned his committee in 2021 that North Korea’s crypto crime allows it to quote, raise illicit revenue to support its weapons development program. To underscore the sheer scale of North Korea’s reliance on crypto. Consider that nearly a third of all crypto stolen last year was stolen by North Korea and that its hacks are on average 10 times more lucrative than those linked to other actors. You know, no one needs crypto more than Kim Jong Un. North Korea’s success in evading sanctions and funding its weapons program with crypto also undermines our security elsewhere, North Korea is selling missiles and ammunition to Russia helping Russia evade sanctions so that it can continue its war against Ukraine. So let me ask you, Admiral Papa would cutting off North Korea’s access to crypto and making it harder for other countries to evade sanctions, strengthen our global security. Yes, Senator directly would you like to say more about that uh Cryptocurrency inherently with its opaqueness uh is um is a key enabler worldwide for proliferation uh for terror for illicit trafficking, including illicit trafficking in drugs. While Blockchain methodologies are if uh have have promised for assurance of financial transactions, this particular use of it usage of crypto which is backed by nothing but emotion uh directly aids illicit trafficking, terror crime, uh human trafficking and uh and proliferation of weapons and makes the world less secure. Well, that’s, that’s pretty definitive. Admiral. Can I just ask you what is it that you think makes crypto so attractive to countries like North Korea and uh illicit arms dealers. People can make money outside the eyes of the law and it provides a moral hazard whereby people can do bad things without fear of punishment because it’s opaque. All right. So you hit it right on the head outside the eyes of the law. In November. Treasury asked Congress to give it more tools to crack down on crypto crime and money laundering. 20 senators, Democrats and Republicans have put together a bill that delivers exactly what treasury called for. You know, it’s not about who should regulate crypto to protect investors. It’s about dealing with the most urgent crypto problem in front of us ensuring that countries like North Korea and terrorists, drug traffickers and other criminals can’t use crypto to undermine America’s security. I’m looking forward to working on that bill. With my colleagues and looking forward to working with you, Admiral. Thank you. Thank you very much, Senator Warren, Senator King, please. Thank you, Mr. Chairman Admiral. Your testimony today has been extremely important, informative and important. And one of the aspects that was so important were your initial answers to the questions from the chair and the, and the vice chair in terms of the undermining of our deterrence in terms of the, the People’s Republic of China by unilaterally abandoning Ukraine. Uh Just to confirm you view our leaving Ukraine to be a significant diminution of the deterrent that we’re presenting to China. Is that correct?
Yes, sir. I think that is very important. Now, one other aspect of that is the effect of this, of leaving Ukraine unilaterally on our allies. How would Japan and South Korea react to that action?
All of our allies and partners are under pressure. They’re under coercion from other a from actors such as the People’s Republic of China. And uh frequently it’s not just coercion in the military sphere but uh across all levers of state craft. And uh and they’re staying with the alliance, they’re enjoining their national power to the United States is directly related to their confidence in us partnership when it is so committed and accordingly, uh our US security partnerships worldwide have a direct impact on the cohesion of our alliances and partnerships and any effect on that imposes costs on the quality of deterrence. As our allies and partnerships are have our greatest leverage in deterrent. The important deterrence has probably been used. I’ve been counting. I think we’re up to about 25 times in this hearing, deterrence is based upon two things, capacity and will. We can be usually we talk about weapons, but Ukraine is all about will we, we’re, we can supply the capacity. The question is will. And as you point out, it would undermine the deterrence. Not only of the actions of China, perhaps toward Taiwan, it would certainly change Xi’s calculus. Will the Americans actually be there, which would be an important part of his consideration but also undermine, as you say, the confidence of our allies. Short question, we’ve talked about the South China Sea. We’ve talked about dis disputes with China. Would it be in the national interest for this body to ratify the law of the sea treaty?
Yes, sir. You’re, you’re about the 20th flag officer has answered that question in exactly that way. I hope the Senate will start to listen uh to the to our people that are on the front lines that understand how important that would be. Uh One of the things that concerns me most urgently about the relationship with China in the South China Sea is the danger of miscalculation, the danger of mistake, the danger of, of some uh uh misunderstanding that would lead to an escalating conflict. Do you feel that we have sufficient uh military to military communications with uh the People’s Republic of China in order to deconflict a potential uh a potential uh situation that should not be escalated but could be Senator as yet. I’ve had no contact mill to mill as the US Pacific fleet commander. And uh my boss and my mentor, Admiral Aquilino uh has had limited and seeks more for the that’s a danger to not have those kinds of communication links. We’re left with their activity with uh the uh with the, with the guidance that we give the force and their public statement and accordingly, we must divine their attentions, divine their intentions and act accordingly with better information. We have lower risk of miscalculation. I would rather have, I would rather have us understand directly from communication, their intentions rather than trying to read the tea leaves or divine it as you suggest. Uh Finally, uh the nature of war and the nature of war is changing, fundamentally, hypersonics, directed energy. Cyber uh clearly the, the next conflict will begin with with, with Cyber. Are you satisfied that the Navy and the joint force in the Pacific is at a place where it needs to be in order to fight the next war rather than based upon strategies and tactics from the last war. Senator, I’m never satisfied with our readiness, I’m confident, but I’m paranoid and we’re working constantly. And if and when re additional resources are required uh to be more resilient in that first battlefield, you’ll know it from me. I, I hope you really press on that because all of the aircraft carriers in the world aren’t gonna work if they, if GPS is gone, if there’s no way to navigate, if, if they’re uh targeted for by hypersonic. So, uh this is, I think one of the most important areas is to press the entire military establishment on electronic warfare, hypersonics, directed energy and I I appreciate your answers. Uh Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Senator King, Senator Fit, please. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good to see you Admiral and really appreciate our time in my office. We had a chance to visit. Um as I mentioned in the office, as we consider your nomination, the threat posed by uh Communist China grows every single day in my view. I I think you, you share that assessment, this and other challenges around the world. Put the navy at an inflection point and the tone set by the next commander of the US. Indo Paycom will prove critical in strengthening our relationships with important partners in the region. So we can collectively deter the rise of China your potential future actions. As Commander of Indo Paycom will be watched and judged by the world as you know, uh we trust, you understand the weight of the task that you’re taking on and if confirmed uh must demonstrate the United States resolve in the region by ensuring peace through strength I have three questions. So uh you know, limited time we have here, but the first is um uh just a few short years ago, Admiral Davidson was in front of Congress uh and made an alarming assessment that China uh would have the necessary capabilities to invade Taiwan by 2027. Uh Do you share that assessment?
I know that in public statements, uh uh the PR C intends, intends to be ready by 2027 but that’s related to nothing other than the 1/100 anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army. In fact, I think they’re working to be ready every day and they could go and we’ve got to be constantly vigilant. There’s no holiday between now and when they may go and we must be ready now next week, next month and in the decades to come, what more do you need um to effectively deter that uh if confirmed, I’ll work with the committee across the joint force uh And with the department to ensure that I’m, I’m clear in what those requirements are in accordance with my oath. Thank you. Um In addition to this invasion scenario, uh one of my concerns uh is where the CCP starts ratcheting up tensions through a blockade of Taiwan. Um The island nation imports 98% of its energy and is heavily reliant on food imports to feed its population. If the, if the pl A navy was able to successfully implement a blockade it would not only uh um be a problem, I think for, for that island but creates a ripple effect um around the world. How would you as Indo Paycom Commander?
Make sure that China knows that the costs of imposing a blockade like that or other acts of war against China would be deterred or about how dire it would be. Senator. You’re bringing up a great point, which is that if we’re just planning for an evasion invasion, we’re leaving a, a wide range of military options unplanned for. And so planning for deterrence and planning on response uh across the range of military operations and plans are nothing planning is everything. As Dwight D Eisenhower said um is, is critically important and the Taiwan Relations Act provides the department no limits on what we should plan to. We should plan across that range of military operations if so ordered by the commander in chief. And then lastly one question I wanted to, to touch on, I think we talked about it in the office a little bit, but we’ve, we’ve seen recently increased activity, I think in this sort of gray zone aggression uh by the PL Navy in the South China Sea and particularly directed against the Philippines. Uh a key ally of ours in my view uh in areas like the, the Second Thomas Shoal. How do you see uh that gray zone harassment aggression evolving over the next few years?
And uh do you see it growing in complexity and frequency. What’s your assessment of that?
I do see these gray zone operations which is uh malign activity that does not necessarily risk uh full blown acknowledged combat. Uh This is done in the form of law fair. Uh Declare a law, wait a minute, wait until people think that it’s symbolic. Then push maritime militia into the space uh under the fig leaf of Fisher folk or something like that, then push law enforcement into the space under the fig leaf of protecting the maritime militia and then comes the uniform military as it tries to uh wrap with its tentacles uh through its its expansionist desires. And we must close every asymmetry with symmetry, us coast guard partnerships are absolutely critical uh and uh indispensable to our success and then strengthening our allies and partners uh in intel sharing for what those activities are. To me, law fair with law fair, gray zone with gray zone. And it must be across all agencies within the Department of Defense and all of the levers of state craft for the United States of America and our allies and our partners. Thank you, Admiral and thank you for your service. Thank you, Senator Smith, Senator Manchin, please. Thank you very much, Admiral. Thank you very much. It was enjoyed to visit also and uh thank you for your service to our great country. Uh uh First of all, I want, I want to uh reaffirm what I think, uh, Senator Hirono about Taco A and you and I spoke about how important that is and you laid out to me about how important it is and also the service of the people from those areas have given to our country. I appreciate all that. We really need to double down to make sure they understand that we’re behind them. I’d like to talk to them a little bit about technology and that’s going to be project pele, it’s basically a small marginal reactors. We’re talking about micro reactors now. And really, I haven’t seen dod kick in the way they should have kicked in because it tremendously helps. I think, um especially in the Pacific, we have your supply chains can be a little bit challenging at times. This reactor can be housed in a 20 ft shipping container. It provides five megawatts of power continuously for three years. Uh In comparison, uh you need six diesel, large diesel generators and 9 million gallons of fuel to do the same job. So I’m hoping that you can bring that to the attention and the urgency, especially into Pacific, what it would do because technology is almost there and we’ve been doing, we’ve been running the entire military fleet almost on these uh micro reactors for many times on our ships, submarines and all that. So I don’t know how high and that’s on your priority list. I don’t know if that’s been brought to your attention. It’s, it’s, uh, it is compelling and, and, um, of course, um, uh, as a naval officer, um, I’ve got some, I’ve got deep connection with naval reactors and, um, if confirmed, uh, you, you can count on, uh, uh, inquiry and as able uh, support for feasible solutions across sectors, try as much as they can to advance this technology as quickly as possible. But in the military, the way you all would have the amount of needs you would have showing in most harsh and adverse conditions would be tremendously, tremendously important for our country to be able to have that opportunity. But also showing that it works and the savings, I think in burn pits and everything else we’ve been going through and the Pay Act we’ve had to do and all the different things. It’s just, this is a tremendous opportunity for us to cure a lot of our eels. The other thing I’m concerned about is efforts such as Force Design 2030 for the Marine Corps. Uh they demonstrate modernization in deliberate manner, but also trying to continue to outpace us and uh building of ships and uh munition output and things of this sort. What’s your concerns on that?
Are we going to be able to meet that challenge or do you think that uh this is the proper way to go?
Well, first I uh for Force Design 2030 does not relieve the joint force of its crisis response capabilities nor to my awareness uh has the Marine Corps in any way walked away from the crisis response mission and uh particularly the Marine Corps in close partnership within the Navy Marine to Marine Corps team crisis response isn’t uh a Marine Corps mission. It’s a Navy Marine Corps mission and it’s also uh a joint force uh mission. And so, uh I think uh conceptually, uh we should be always challenging our assumptions about our force designs. When we’re looking off into the future, we should be planning to worst case scenarios and closing gaps. And if confirmed, I’ll work uh continuously. Let me ask you this question as far as you know, you’re going into the hottest area. I think we have as far as direct engagement if you will in the Indo Pacific right now, what’s the greatest challenge?
I mean, we hear about and I know they’ve asked you questions concerning the timing on Taiwan, maybe uh coming to uh whatever uh that uh outcome is going to be and what time period, but also what they’ve been building up as far as China and shutting down the shipping lanes, making it almost impossible for the Philippines to be able to what is the greatest challenge we have that you’re gonna be able to be faced with and think you have to meet the highest priority, the trajectory and the aggression, the trajectory of the pl a the People’s Liberation Army across all of its services and uh its activity and its aggression. That itself is the greatest challenge and to be able to uh day to day deter conflict by the dynamic demonstration of allied and joint operations to show the ability to impose costs. And if and when conflict comes, it is that C five ISR in space and cyber that shall be the first battle and will be either the enabling capability for the joint force or the Achilles Heel for the PL A. If that day comes one real quick, if I can, uh I get mixed signals on, basically, we have said that we’re going to defend Taiwan if they’re attacked, but yet we don’t acknowledge them and we still acknowledge a one China policy. People back home asked me. So why are we, why do we have a one China policy?
But yet we don’t recognize them and yet we said we’re going to fight for them. Is that confusing?
Not to the joint force senator?
Because the joint force, our mandate is the Taiwan Relations Act, which is the department shall support Taiwan with defensive systems and the defense department shall be prepared to thwart uh an invasion of Taiwan. Um And, and that mission clarity for the joint force. Yes, sir. We’re behind Taiwan. The joint force is ready to defend Taiwan and must be critical thinking and continuing to make itself uh in the, in the face of uh of a, of a uh of a concerning PR C. Thank you, Admiral. I appreciate it. Thank you very much. Sorry, Mr. Chairman. Uh thank you, Senator Senator. But please thank you, Chairman, Admiral. Good to see you again. Uh enjoy the conversation in my office and even more in your office out in the Indo Pacific. You’re a wonderful host. It was very insightful. Uh you know, some seem to seem to think that if China successfully seizes Taiwan, then the China problem that we have is it’s over and that the United States won’t have to worry about China anymore. You know, in these people’s view, Taiwan is really all that Beijing wants. So do you agree with this line of thinking or do you worry that Beijing’s ambitions go beyond Taiwan?
And if China seizes control of Taiwan, do you think it will consolidate its gains and then seek to use force to expand its control in other areas?
I I do not agree by which I mean, I do not agree that all the problems are over if and if the Taiwan matter would be settled by force. Uh uh I and that is evident in their uh in the Pr C’s behavior uh in the kind of force that they’re building uh is a force that lends itself to power projection and not just Taiwan. Yes sir. Uh in the Senkaku in the South China Sea. Uh And then even in the maps that they publish in open source is an ever expanding zone?
Admiral, would it be harder for the US and its allied forces, the joint force to deter defeat Chinese aggression. If Beijing is able to seize control of Taiwan and station forces on Taiwan, it would be a challenge geographically and uh it would also be a challenge in terms of the cohesion of our alliances and partnerships who would have seen a um who had, who have seen the potential failure of an American security agreement. How would the Chinese threat to us territories in the Western Pacific like Guam and the Northern Marianas change if China is able to seize Taiwan and position forces there?
Northern Ame, Northern Marianas and Guam are America and it would be under greater and direct threat. Thank you. Uh Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Millie testified that strengthening Taiwan’s asymmetric defenses is vital not only to bolster deterrent against China, but also to reduce operational risk to us forces who may be called to help defend Taiwan?
Do you agree with the former chairman’s testimony?
I do sir. Would you elaborate on that actions that Taiwan takes to strengthen its own defenses, have a 3 to 1 leverage against aggression. This is military doctrine on uh assault ratios and uh accordingly to the extent that Taiwan can make itself uh a porcupine with sea denial capabilities with the ability to uh to defeat an invader um at sea under sea in the air uh to the, to the invasion. Beaches has 3 to 1 level in the investment in its ability to defend itself and ensure that the strait, the the tension in the straits are resolved peacefully and not by coercion. Thank you. So is it fair to say that the United States should be doing everything possible to get Taiwan, the asymmetric defense capabilities and associated training and other support required to defend itself against the Chinese invasion. The scale of the support is a decision of the commander in chief and of the Congress. I support any effort that makes Taiwan stronger. Is it fair to say that Taipei also needs to be doing everything possible to strengthen Taiwan’s defenses, including by increasing Taiwanese defense spending and making necessary defense reforms, for instance, to Taiwan’s reserve forces and cons conscription program. Yes, sir. I agree. And if confirmed, um I will stress that. Thank you, Admiral. Appreciate your time today. Chairman. Thank you very much, Senator Budd. Uh I’m informed that Senator Duckworth is on her way here as a result. I will take the opportunity to ask an additional question. Um We’ve talked a lot about equipment funding, et cetera, but one of the essential factors is the will of the people to resist and to fight. Uh can you evaluate uh the situation on Taiwan in terms of their uh commitment uh and their capabilities in my uh in my discussions with uh with the Taiwan forces, I have seen um a, a greater focus on the kinds of operational capabilities that would make Taiwan more able to defend itself. I see those investments as well. And so I am seeing it conceptually, I’m seeing shifts in the culture of uh of, of Taiwan’s military doctrine, uh becoming more joint of seeing the problem clearly with defensive uh capabilities and in a will uh to mobilize their young people, you know, they’ve recently increased the levels of their, the, the the time of their uh conscript conscription. And so at, at uh at the levels for my uh for the, for the uh my interlocutors, uh I am seeing that manifest itself. Let me uh further ask, you’ve mentioned this before and I think you’re exactly right. The uh key factor in our military competence is the skilled professionals and noncom commissional officers. Um We owe them a lot uh to what extent are we focusing on developing that skill and expertise in Taiwanese forces?
I am seeing that Senator and if confirmed, um I think we should redouble it um particularly with our command sergeants major, our fleet master chiefs um at that level and uh the relationships that we have at senior levels, we must mimic if not redouble our efforts among uh the professional NCO Corp. It strikes me one of the reasons that the Ukrainian forces resisted so well and had so much flexibility and initiative uh at the company level and below is that they’ve been trained by us special forces since 2014. And that I think showed itself uh one of the greatest issues and it’s been mentioned several times. Here is congested, contested logistics that has been wholly and said an army moves on its stomach. II A navy swims on its stomach, I guess is the analogy. But uh this could be the real choke point in terms of operations in the Pacific. And can you tell us what your uh plans would be, what your emphasis would be in terms of logistics?
So we avoid that Senator I, we’re gaming at uh we’re gaming modeling and simulating at every level to identify those gaps. And um it’s, it’s almost a misnomer. We talk about contested logistics as if it never were contested. Logistics are always contested and executing. The joint function of sustainment comes under all of the same pressures and all of the same fog and friction that maneuver, that fires that all that all of the joint functions uh come at uh at the service level. Uh We’re seeing invaluable games and simulations that are informing our ability to sustain the force in conflict. And if confirmed, I’ll continue to work with this committee to identify what those gaps are for rapid closure. I would assume your experience in a provincial reconstruction team reinforce the the nature of logistics and the fact that they all are contested. That’s that experience you draw did did indeed it was um it was uh kind of essential to my formation as a joint officer. I think you’re, that’s an excellent uh experience to have when you assume the joint command. Uh We’ve also uh talked about the uh developing relationships between the Japanese and the Koreans. I’ve traveled over there uh uh several times and there was until very recently, uh lingering distrust because of the history of those two countries over this century in the previous century. Um uh You’re seeing though I presume a real uh cooper spirit and uh a new generation of leaders that understand the threat is not from either of those countries but from China. Is that correct?
I do see it firsthand. Uh Senator at the senior level, there’s no faking the chemistry uh between the senior leaders that I see and more directly and probably more tellingly. Uh the Pacific Fleet headquarters is a deeply partnered environment with not liaison officers but uh embeds officers uh from other countries with enhanced clearances who do us jobs for a US command Pacific fleet. And to see the chemistry between the multiple uh J MS D at the Japanese officers that are in the headquarters and the Korean officers. And um and although it, although it is a complicated and difficult history, I see a bright future. Wonderful. Thank you with that. Let me recognize Senator do horses for her questions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman for uh waiting on me, Admiral PPAR. So good to see you again. Good morning. It’s um welcome to you and your family and congratulations on your nomination. Um And thank you for our wide ranging discussion uh on Tuesday. Should you be confirmed?
I look forward to working with you to deepen relationships and integration between the Indo Pacific Command and Transportation Command. We had a good discussion on that. Transportation Command plays an important role in providing unique logistical capabilities to geographic combatant commanders like Indo Pacific Command. Any conflict in the Indo Pacific region would pose significant logistical and maneuver challenges for the joint force. Further complicating trans com’s already difficult mission. I will always be this committee’s fiercest advocate for resourcing Transportation Command and ensuring that the command’s hard working men and women are able to in any circumstance. Admiral. If confirm, how will you work with Transportation Command to ensure the two combatant commands, war fighting requirements and planning f factors are integrated and supported by rigorous exercises and experimentation center. Absolutely indispensable this relationship and the intellect, the energy, the drive the expertise at us Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base. Those relationships are absolutely critical. They must be uh honest relationships uh where we hold each other to account. Um you know, in the best in the best and most team oriented way. But um in deterrence in competition in crisis and conflict, uh it’s, it is very likely the most important COCOM Cocom relationship we have. Can you expand on that with um uh how you would ensure a unified and coherent plan to address the logistical challenges that forces operating in Indo Paycom A O would face in a contested environment specifically. Yeah, as Eisenhower said, plans are nothing planning is everything continued planning within the two commands is what builds the habits of mind and habits of action that not only allows the force to plan for every contingency but to also execute against every contingency when every plan fails at first contact with the enemy. And so it’s that habit planning relationship, the critical thinking, uh the uh combining on a common vision of the operational environment that consistent planning is that that’s gonna deliver not just a resilient plans for conflict across the spectrum, but also effective execution and teamwork when the unforgiving hour comes. Thank you. Uh I’m part of the teamwork that works in the Indo Pacific region. Um uh is the State Partnership for Peace Program. Um It’s really important to maintaining a free and open Indo Pacific. Um And I think it’s a great opportunity that uh uh is existing that will enhance interoperability and strengthen our allies and partners in mail to mail engagement. Um Can you chat with us a little bit about how you would plan to use the National Guards uh SPP program to strengthen both our relationships with our allies and partners in the Indo Pacific, but also to just in greater engagement uh um and, and exercises as well. Center across the Pacific, across the Indian Ocean. Uh These state partnership programs have got tremendous leverage to build those partnerships to build partner capacity for us to learn from each other. And one of the unappreciated benefits of the National Guard is that in addition to excellence in the military occupation, specialty of each of the Guard service members, they also frequently bring to bear other civilian skill sets that just add value uh to the program. So uh in the Indian Ocean region uh in Bangladesh, in Sri Lanka, uh across the Southeast Asia, across the South Pacific, uh it pays dividends every single day has huge um impact on the ability of the theater to operate. And this, I say just at the appreciation level as the Pat Fleet Commander, if confirmed, I’ll learn even more and go even deeper into the state partnership program. But as as Chairman Reed said, you know, I’ve got a lot of experience with the National Guard. So kind of a a lot as a function of the my time in Nuristan. So already a kind of a deep appreciation for what the Guard brings to the fight. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Would you indulge me with one last question on aeromedical um evacuations?
Thank you, Admiral. I would love to talk about if um a medical evacuation of uh wounded um during uh uh a kinetic conflict, I would love to hear about your ideas to leverage our allies and partners in the region to address indo um pay coms a medical care capacity constraint if there were a conflict in the region because we talked at length about the tyranny of distance and there’s no golden hour because it’s, you’re gonna have to fight your way in to get the wounded. You have to fight your way out. And even Guam or Tripler is still hours and hours away, sent it through wide travel throughout the theater. You know, over 37 years just haven’t had the honor of visiting so many places. Uh And then uh among countries that actually have licensure uh here in the United States, we should be creative about how we’re gonna think about delivering care uh particularly in environments with mass casualty among allies and partners. And so, in addition to looking after uh our capability at our naval and our military hospitals, uh we should also be constantly gaming on uh our medevac capability, our casa a capability, our csar capability, our getting patients to role two ro role one, role, two, role three care and being uh creative in the ways that we partner um across the theater. And you mentioned in our office call, uh the opportunities that could be gained from a partnership standpoint uh to train more deeply across that. And if confirmed, uh I pledged to work with you uh to bring that kind of creativity to bear against this. Really, our first duty as commanders is to look after our people. Thank you, Admiral. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Senator Duckworth Admiral. Thank you for your testimony today. Thank you, particularly you and your family for your distinguished service to the Navy and the nation. Uh We will move aggressively on this nomination. Uh With that, the hearing is concluded.