Hearing of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee - Opening Statement of Rep. Rogers, Hearing on U.S. Strategic Forces Posture and the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request


Date: March 7, 2018
Location: Washington, DC

"We're here today to discuss the Posture of U.S. Strategic Forces and the FY19 Budget Request.

I'll start by introducing our witnesses - we have appearing before us:

General John Hyten, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command.

And, the Honorable John Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

Thank you both for testifying today and for your continued service to our nation.

Today's hearing is the first in a series this subcommittee will hold to examine the Fiscal Year 2019 President's Budget Request and what it means for Strategic Forces programs and policies.

And, there is plenty to talk about.

Just this past month, the Administration released its Nuclear Posture Review, which reaffirmed the comprehensive nuclear modernization program initiated by President Obama and suggested a few modest tweaks to policies and programs.

Most notably, the NPR recommends pursuing two supplemental capabilities to the existing triad modernization plan:

They are:
(1) modification of an existing submarine launched ballistic missile warhead to provide a lower-yield option; and
(2) redeployment of a sea-launched cruise-missile capability, similar to the nuclear Tomahawk that was retired in 2010.

Although much of the attention has focused on these areas, one of the most important aspects in my mind is the level of continuity between the Obama and Trump NPRs, which the media seems to disregard.

The other point I'll make here about the NPR, and this applies equally when we talk about changes in space and missile defense, is that the nuclear security environment has deteriorated dramatically in recent years.

There's no better example that I can think of than this quote from the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review: 'Russia is not an enemy, and is increasingly a partner.'

Well, if you heard President Putin's speech last week and his boasting of four new and horrific nuclear weapons Russia is developing and fielding-and you still think Russia is 'increasingly a partner' - then I have a bridge to sell you. Great power competition must be acknowledged.

We must apply a critical eye to our space and missile defense missions, just as we've reassessed our nuclear mission.

Unfortunately, we don't yet have the Missile Defense Review - but I am hoping it will be released shortly. And I expect its findings will support the themes of the National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review.

While missile defense has received a recent significant boost to its funding with the FY18 Budget Amendment and the FY19 request there is still a lot more that must be done. Particularly in space sensing and directed energy capabilities for missile defense where I believe we need to be more aggressive - and to borrow General Hyten's phrase - go faster. North Korea and Iran show no signs of slowing their pace, and we can't either.

On space, last year's NDAA mandated a number of organizational changes and provided enhanced authorities to the Air Force as we transition to acknowledging that space is a warfighting domain.

These were the first steps down a long path in the right direction. Much remains to be done here to ensure we're postured to both successfully deter a conflict in space, and if need be, prevail over any adversary if a conflict extends into space.

I have tremendous faith in the men and women of our space cadre, I want to make sure we're not hamstringing them by failing to provide the right tools for them to succeed.

I've heard the Air Force talk about a number of promising ideas - such as disaggregating our space capabilities among many smaller satellites instead of a few larger ones, but what I've seen so far in the FY19 budget isn't convincing me we're heading in that direction fast enough.

Lastly, I'd like to acknowledge the special contributions of one of the audience members today to the mission of USSTRATCOM. Mrs. Laura Hyten has gone out of her way to consistently demonstrate her commitment to helping military families and has provided the foundational support to her husband as he leads the men and women of USSTRATCOM. I'd like to acknowledge the sacrifice she makes to our nation, and thank her for making perhaps the best choice she's ever made in marrying a man from Alabama. Roll Tide!"