HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE HEARING ON NATIONAL SECURITY CHALLENGES AND U.S. MILITARY ACTIVITY IN EUROPE
MARCH 13, 2019
- REP. ADAM SMITH, D-WASH.
- CHAIRMAN REP. SUSAN A. DAVIS, D-CALIF.
- REP. JIM LANGEVIN, D-R.I.
- REP. RICK LARSEN, D-WASH.
- REP. JIM COOPER, D-TENN.
- REP. JOE COURTNEY, D-CONN.
- REP. JOHN GARAMENDI, D-CALIF.
- REP. JACKIE SPEIER, D-CALIF.
- REP. MARC VEASEY, D-TEXAS
- REP. TULSI GABBARD, D-HAWAII
- REP. DONALD NORCROSS, D-N.J.
- REP. RUBEN GALLEGO, D-ARIZ.
- REP. SETH MOULTON, D-MASS.
- REP. JACKY ROSEN, D-NEV.
- REP. RO KHANNA, D-CALIF.
- REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY, D-FLA.
- REP. A. DONALD MCEACHIN, D-VA.
- REP. SALUD CARBAJAL, D-CALIF.
- REP. ANTHONY G. BROWN, D-MD.
- REP. TOM O'HALLERAN, D-ARIZ.
- REP. TOM SUOZZI, D-N.Y.
- REP. JIMMY PANETTA, D-CALIF.
- REP. GIL CISNEROS, D-CALIF.
- REP. JASON CROW, D-COLO.
- REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR, D-TEXAS
- REP. JARED GOLDEN, D-MAINE
- REP. DEBRA HAALAND, D-N.M.
- REP. KATIE HILL, D-CALIF.
- REP. KENDRA HORN, D-OKLA.
- REP. CHRISSY HOULAHAN, D-PA.
- REP. WILLIAM KEATING, D-MASS.
- REP. ANDY KIM, D-N.J.
- REP. ELAINE LURIA, D-VA.
- REP. MIKIE SHERRILL, D-N.J.
- REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN, D-MICH.
- REP. XOCHITL TORRES SMALL, D-N.M.
- REP. LORI TRAHAN, D-MASS.
- REP. FILEMON VELA, D-TEXAS
- REP. MAC THORNBERRY, R-TEXAS,
- RANKING MEMBER REP. JOE WILSON, R-S.C.
- REP. MICHAEL R. TURNER, R-OHIO
- REP. MIKE D. ROGERS, R-ALA.
- REP. K. MICHAEL CONAWAY, R-TEXAS
- REP. DOUG LAMBORN, R-COLO
- REP. ROB WITTMAN, R-VA.
- REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, R-CALIF.
- REP. VICKY HARTZLER, R-MO.
- REP. AUSTIN SCOTT, R-GA.
- REP. MO BROOKS, R-ALA.
- REP. ROB BISHOP, R-UTAH
- REP. BRAD WENSTRUP, R-OHIO
- REP. BRADLEY BYRNE, R-ALA.
- REP. SAM GRAVES, R-MO.
- REP. ELISE STEFANIK, R-N.Y.
- REP. SCOTT DESJARLAIS, R-TENN.
- REP. RALPH ABRAHAM, R-LA.
- REP. TRENT KELLY, R-MISS.
- REP. MATT GAETZ, R-FLA.
- REP. MIKE GALLAGHER, R-WIS.
- REP. DON BACON, R-NEB.
- REP. JIM BANKS, R-IND.
- REP. LIZ CHENEY, R-WYO.
- REP. PAUL COOK, R-CALIF.
- REP. JODY B. HICE, R-GA.
- REP. PAUL MITCHELL, R-MICH.
ARMY GEN. CURTIS M. SCAPARROTTI, COMMANDER OF THE U.S. EUROPEAN COMMAND AND NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER EUROPE
AND KATHRYN WHEELBARGER, ACTING ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, TESTIFY
SMITH: I'll go ahead and call the meeting to order. Welcome all.
One little housekeeping item, the timer -- well, actually they appear to be working now. Miraculous. The timers were not working but now they are.
Today we are having our posture hearing on the European Command, and our witnesses are Ms. Kathryn Wheelbarger, who's the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs -- good to see you. I think the last time we saw you it was your first hearing before Congress. So welcome back as a veteran now -- and General Curtis Scaparrotti, who is commander of the U.S. European Command, and once upon a time, when -- when I represented Joint Base Lewis-McChord, was the commander out there and did an outstanding job for our community. So I appreciate your leadership and it's -- it's good to see you again.
There's a lot going on in the world, and certainly there's a lot going on within your jurisdiction. We appreciate you being here. We appreciate your leadership.
There are a number of issues. I think the most pressing thing in terms of the European Command right now is maintaining our strong alliances within NATO.
Certainly it's important to meet the needs and demands right now that are present in Europe as we try to deal with Russian interference in elections and democracy writ large. Also obviously what's going on in the Ukraine and elsewhere.
But it's equally important to make sure that we maintain those alliances, because our allies in NATO are helping us throughout the world, in Afghanistan, in Africa, in the Middle East. Those alliances are crucial to us meeting our national security objectives, not just in Europe but throughout the globe.
So would love to get an update from you on where you see that, how we are doing with our NATO partners, and how we can work to make sure that we maintain that alliance.
Towards that end, I think one of the most crucial items that we're going to talk about is the European Defense Initiative and making sure that we maintain that. The president's budget cuts it and also puts it into OCO, which makes our European allies uncomfortable.
SMITH: At this point, OCO may sound like it's supposed to be an emergency, but it seems like a rather permanent emergency, so they should feel better about that. But certainly the cut in the spending of EDI is concerning. Because I believe, General Scaparrotti, you have said that in order to present the credible deterrent that we need to stop Russia from doing anything in Eastern Europe, we need more forces, more -- well, we need more in Europe to be able to put ourselves in that position. We've made quite a bit of progress in the last couple of years, but there is still more left to be done.
And that of course is the overarching issue in that part of the world and, regrettably, in more. And that is Russia's malign influence. And would love to get your perspective on, you know, both what you think they're going to do next and how best we could deter that.
Because I think their objectives are very straightforward at this point, as I've liked to put it. They want to make the world safe for kleptocratic autocracy. That is their form of government. And to do so, the number one thing they try to do is undermine confidence in democracy; make people believe that democracy really doesn't work, really doesn't provide for them.
And the frightening thing about that is it's kind of working. If you look at polling data in the U.S. and across the world, support for democracy is lower than it's been in quite some time. And a lot of that is because of the efforts of Russia to undermine it. And not just the elections, but to stir up division and hatred within Western democracies to undermine people's confidence in their government.
Now, I firmly believe, and I'll go ahead and channel George W. Bush, that freedom works. Economic and political freedom makes the world a safer and more prosperous place. And the degree to which Russia is successful in undermining it, the world will be a less prosperous and less safe place.
So we need to make sure that we work to push back on that. The European Command is going to be at the center of that because of Russia's presence. And as I mentioned, also because of how important our European allies are in prosecuting this fight.
And with that, I will yield to the ranking member for his opening statement.
THORNBERRY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I join you in welcoming our -- our witnesses.
General Scaparrotti, I understand this may, unfortunately, be one of the last times that you testify before us. If so, I want to go ahead and thank you for your service.
You have been assigned two of the most difficult jobs that I think anybody in the military can be assigned, as our commander in Korea and now as our commander in Europe. Both of those jobs have required working with allies. Both of those jobs have required facing formidable adversaries. I think that fact that you have held both of them are a signal of the trust and respect that your colleagues and many of us have put on you.
And -- and so, I'd -- like the chairman, I am interested in your views on the state of the alliance.
I would slightly correct the chairman that it's not just George W. Bush who believes freedom works, it has been Republicans and Democrats for the last 70 years have invested in a world system of systems and we have put our money and our blood and treasure into the idea that -- that freedom works.
As you and I have talked before, members of Congress, including members of this committee, try to play a constructive role in the NATO alliance. You've got folks on the interparliamentary union, you've got regular visits back and forth not only with parliamentarians but with defense officials. A number of us were able to see you at Munich several weeks ago.
THORNBERRY: So I do think it's important to know your view of the state of the alliance today, especially versus when you came there three years ago.
Secondly, related to the alliance, NATO has made a significant decision to modernize our nuclear deterrent, and I -- I think we need to hear and focus on -- from you the importance of that decision and especially how it relates to Russia, and we'll I'm sure have a number of questions related to that.
Finally, I noticed you made a little news when you testified in front of the Senate maybe last week that we were not yet as prepared as we needed to be to deal with the range of threats coming from Russia and Europe.
I would be interested in -- and I'm sure you will in your testimony -- talk a little more about that. I'm particularly interested in your perception of the state of our forces that are rotated through EUCOM, because it's been a major effort of this committee to improve the readiness of our forces over the last couple years, and so I would -- it would be interesting I think for us to hear -- it's not your responsibility to make them ready -- but you're a consumer of that readiness in a way, whether you are able to tell the difference.
As the chairman said, there's lots of issues to discuss, we look forward to both of your opinions as we do so. I yield back.
SMITH: Thank you. I believe Ms. Wheelbarger is going to go first.
WHEELBARGER: Yes. Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Thornberry, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for inviting me back again, this time to testify on policy matters related to the EUCOM theater alongside General Scaparrotti.
General Scaparrotti has been a great partner for me in particular for the past few years and an impressive leader his entire career, so it's an honor to appear with him here today. Our policy approach to Europe, like other geographic areas, is guided by the National Defense Strategy, which recognizes the importance of Europe and our NATO allies and partners.
We recognize as well the national security threats particularly from Russia and China that mark a new chapter in global great power competition. The history of the 20th century proved that our core U.S. interests in Western values, economic freedoms and democratic legitimacy require us to defend our Western allies against threats from authoritarian regimes.
SMITH: And I'm sorry, you're close, but if you could pull the mike...
WHEELBARGER: Closer again, OK. SMITH: You can move it other there. WHEELBARGER: There you go.
WHEELBARGER: Sorry. If future war were to come, and hopefully it never will, our troops will be at the front lines because we cannot thrive alone in a bleak world of dictators and autocrats, and this is at the heart of our Article Five commitment.
Over the course of 70 years, NATO continues to provide an integral means for the United States and allies to defend our interests by collectively deterring potential conflict, thereby saving lives, saving dollars and saving our way of life.
And over the last five years we have successfully built increasing multi-lateral pressure against Russian aggression through sanctions, diplomatic expulsions, coherent condemnations and significant increases in NATO spending and reforms.
Our European allies and partners are also beginning to grasp the security threat posed by an increasingly assertive China. Some of China's recent investments in Europe's critical infrastructure to include telecommunications, ports, railways and cutting edge technologies are a threat to NATO security in unity.
In the face of this volatile world, our defense policy objectives in Europe are focused on improving our deterrence and confronting Russian activities that threaten a free and open international order.
The department is also focused on countering the increased malign activity of China, maintaining partner support of our efforts to handle Iranian aggression and working with our allies and partners to counter the continued threat of terrorism.
As the chairman mentioned, some of our closest allies and partners in Europe are deployed alongside us in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and beyond. The United States alliances, partnerships and overseas presence in Europe are invaluable force multipliers for the United States.
They allow us to project power and defend ourselves forward, maintaining a credible nuclear force and a robust presence in Europe enables DOD to dissuade aggression as we position our forces forward to be prepared for the fight -- to fight the away game if we must.
The department is focused on encouraging an increase in the amount and quality of NATO burden sharing to ultimately benefit the entire alliance, including the United States. Our teams are engaging with partners and allies daily to ensure that NATO is adapted to today's conditions and able to deter Russian aggression and malign Chinese influence. Our alliance knows that our threats are shared in meeting their commitments on defense, serves all of us.
In some specifics, NATO's eastern flank from the Baltics to Bulgaria has been a recent focus of our posture response to an aggressive Russia. We have rotated forces to reassure our allies and deter Russia and welcome contributions to enhance forward presence in Baltic Air Police missions.
In the Baltic States and Poland, the front line of NATO's deterrence and defense on the Eastern flank, Russia continues to use disinformation, cyber attacks and military posturing to undermine the security of the Nordic Baltic region.
DOD, with the Department of State, is bolstering the eastern flank allies through security cooperation and capacity building initiatives, to improve defense and security infrastructure and improve resilience.
In Southeastern Europe, Russian aggression has manifested itself over the past decade. Like Poland, Romania has been a forward leaning NATO ally that has been fully supportive of a U.S. presence, and we continue to review our posture in the region to ensure our deterrence is solid and we can respond to it in Article Five scenario.
Beyond NATO, Ukraine and Georgia are vital defense partners in Europe's eastern flank and Black Sea region. In the -- in Ukraine, Russia occupies Crimea and fuels conflict in the Donbass to change borders by force and undermine a Europe that is whole, free and at peace.
The United States remains steadfast in its support for Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity. The $1.2 billion in U.S. security assistance from the -- from the United States to Ukraine since 2014 helps it build its long term defense to deter Russia in the future.
The U.S. is equally committed to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It's a -- Georgia is a key strategic partner as it provides unconditional ground and air transport for us to Afghanistan and is the largest non-NATO contributor to NATO's resolute support mission in Afghanistan.
With 870 Georgians currently in Afghanistan, Georgia is the largest per capita contributor to that mission. The U.S. is developing Georgia's capacity to train, equip and sustain its own forces to preserve its independence.
Europe's southern flank also demands attention, Chinese and Russian influence as we discussed last week in Africa continues to grow, therefore the department has worked with Southern European allies in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal to enhance our forced posture to protect U.S. diplomatic presence in Africa, protect Europe and project security into the greater Mediterranean and Africa.
Bases in Greece, Italy and Spain host forced posture elements from both -- for both EUCOM and AFRICOM. Turkey is another critical ally on NATO's southern flank. Turkey contributes to coalition missions, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo, and we continue to reiterate the importance of Turkey remaining grounded in the NATO security structures.
At the same time, the United States has been clear in expressing its concern about Turkey's stated intent to procure the S-400 from Russia, which would introduce risks to U.S. and NATO defense technologies.
We thank Congress for its support in offering the Patriot FMS case to Turkey as an alternative to the S-400. We will only continue to discuss that potential sale with Turkey if it commits to not accepting the S-400.
EUCOM also covers Israel, a critical partner in a volatile region. The department supports Israel to do joint exercise, co-development of missile defense architecture and supply of advanced weapons and technology, proving our commitment to Israel's qualitative military edge. Our defense relationship is extensive, covering the range of global and regional challenges we face together.
In conclusion, with your continued support, the department will continue to meet the threats we face in Europe and beyond while increasing the lethality of our Armed Forces. Thank you for inviting me today.
SMITH: Thank you very much. General Scaparrotti?
SCAPARROTTI: Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Thornberry, distinguished members of the committee, good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today as the commander of United States European command. It's also a pleasure to appear today with Ms.
Wheelbarger, who, as she stated, we work daily and have for several years now.
First and foremost, I want to thank you, the Congress, for your support of the service members, civilians and their families in Europe. These warriors demonstrate selfless service and dedication to the Euro-Atlantic defense, the mission is essential to our national security and maintaining global peace and prosperity. We as a nation are blessed by their voluntary and exceptional service. Also, thank you for your steadfast support of these patriots and their mission.
The threats facing U.S. interest in the EUCOM area of responsibility, which includes Israel, are real and growing. They are complex, transregional, all-domain and multifunctional, this remains one of the most dynamic periods in recent history in my opinion.
Russia has continued its reemergence as a strategic competitor and remains the primary threat to a stable Euro-Atlantic security environment. While the United States maintains global military superiority over Russia, evolving Russian capabilities threatened to erode our competitive military advantage, challenge our ability to operate uncontested in all domains and diminish our ability to deter Russian aggression.
In light of Russia's modernizing and increasingly aggressive force posture, EUCOM recommends augmenting or assigned in rotational forces to enhance returns posture. EUCOM also recommends further investments to enhance European logistical infrastructure and capacity to support rapid deployment of multi-domain U.S. forces into Europe.
In addition to the threat from Russia, the risk of terrorism in Europe remains high. Despite a decline in fatalities from terrorist attacks in 2018, violent extremists present a clear and persistent threat to Europe's people and its infrastructure. Thankfully, the United States is not alone in facing these and other challenges across the Euro-Atlantic theater. As our national defense strategy states, the NATO alliance deters Russian adventurism, contributes to the defeat of terrorism and addresses instability along NATO's periphery.
Our allies and partners play a vital role in our collective security and they have made significant progress in increasing the cash contributions and capabilities to provide our common defense.
For almost 70 years, NATO has been a cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security. As NATO adapts to remain relevant and fit for purpose, we will find as we always have, that every challenge is best addressed as alliance.
Let me close by again thanking Congress and this committee in particular, for your continued support, especially sustained funding of European deterrence initiative. EUCOM's future success in implementing our national defense strategy and fulfilling our mission is only possible with Congress' support. Thank you and again, I look for your questions.
SMITH: Thank you both. Let's being with -- I think it gives a little greater insight on Russia and what you see their next steps are and what is most important for us to deter them. What -- what do we need to be most worried about in terms what Putin is going to try to do next in your theater and again, what --what are our best steps to try and counter that?
SCAPARROTTI: I think first of all, I'm very concerned about their modernization program. And we can cover that in more detail in a closed session, but it's -- it is -- its real and it's a good modernization program that he's been able to keep on track by and large. And so while today, as I noted my opening, we have a dominant force, in the years ahead, we won't unless we continue to invest as well. So that we -- we -- we pace ahead of their modernization program. And I'll speak in more detail in a closed hearing on that.
Secondly, they continue their malign influence in Europe throughout Europe, particularly in the area that they believe they should have preferred influence, along the eastern border. I believe that -- that they continue to have a goal of establish themselves as a -- as a respected global leader and that they have a goal of increasing their influence, particularly on their border and their flanks, and they'll use both malign influence as well as illegal activities to do so.
I think your next step that Mr. Chairman, I -- I am concerned about the Balkans. And we see increased malign influence there in the past year, an area that we've invested in heavily and is critical to the security of Europe.
SMITH: Ms. Wheelbarger, do you have anything to add?
WHEELBARGER: I would agree with the general. I think Russia's ability to make the West as you indicated in your opening, question its own institutions, is one of the biggest challenges we have because it sort of takes a whole of government effort to respond to it.
Militarily, I think we are very adept and I trust our forces to be able to always outmatched any adversary, including Russia, but our ability as a society to ensure that we trust our own institutions in the face of their particularly aggressive information operations' use of social media to undermine us as significant; as the general said, we see it play out daily across the periphery.
SMITH: Can -- can I focus in on just that -- that one piece of it? Because it strikes me that this is primarily bonded (ph). At the top it's an information campaign. Certainly as you talked about, general, the modernization, you know, what forces we have to deter if a war comes to past. I mean, Russia understands the cost if they do that, regardless of what modernization they do. You know, not to say that there's not a risk of that, but the risk of that happening is lower.
Obviously, if it does, it's incredibly disruptive. But what is absolutely happening, is the information campaign, is the constant effort to attack us, you know, in every medium, and social media is the focus of it, but they do it the traditional media as well and they do with through different organizations, as they -- sorry, I don't mean this in a partisan way, it's just what comes to mind -- they infiltrated the NRA here, you know --- as you know, to see what they could do to stir things up.
They have been in some cases trying to stir things up with -- with Black Lives Matter, just -- just to be bipartisan. So my concern is we don't seem to be doing much in response. It's a campaign, it -- its -- its a public information campaign, and granted its complex given social media and given how cyber works now, but at the end of the day, every campaign is simple; develop a message and deliver that message to the people you're trying to influence.
I don't see us doing that. I don't see us going out there and arguing, you know, negative campaign; here's what's wrong with Russia, OK, don't believe what they're saying. So are we organizing effort and working with our allies to fight the information battle that Russia is so clearly engaged in, and what can we do better in that area?
WHEELBARGER: I'll start. I -- I see us actually very much proactively working with the alliance to develop tools and messages to counter -- to counter this information operations efforts. We -- in the North Macedonia case, very -- I think had successes in helping them and learning from them, actually, and how they successfully sort of develop a message in the beginning, knowing how -- expecting what the Russians were going to do and sort of setting the battle space, so to speak, in terms of what the positive messages are before the Russians even engaged.
So I think in that particular context, the Russians were surprised that they did not have a larger effect. So there's most definitely more to be done. It's a challenge, whole-of-government-wise, all of alliance. I think one of the key things we can do is ensure strength and unity of messaging on the alliance itself because one of the key goals of the Russians is obviously NATO disunity. And so every time we successfully counter that with -- we have successful summits, successful defense ministerials, or we come out with advancing reforms for the alliance, I think that's one of the key ways we do counter their messaging.
SCAPARROTTI: Chairman, quick response to this is, first of all, I think that we could do more, that we have greater talent. We need more focus and energy. I appreciate the Congress' focus on this. You have, in fact, funded some of the organizations that have increased what we're doing. I think we have improved but we can do more. So things like the Russian influence group, which I co-chair with Department of State, is an interagency group that, over the last couple years, has grown. We've had greater effect and we actually have programs working particularly in the eastern part of Europe today, thanks again to the funding of Congress.
A part of that is the Communications Engagement Group, the CEG, which has been a big part of that and also would be for any response in the future. And then finally, our work with NATO. NATO actually has developed what I think is a pretty effective communications strategy and framework that they adjust over time, they've got an annual framework and then they have for specific events where things are developing. And we've actually shown that we can develop a message that has greater depth, penetration, and volume than the Russians have in the eastern side.
And we've done this on several occasions where we set out early to be proactive. So, to me, it shows that we can do this. But we need to have greater focus and make this more the norm of what we do. Because, as you said, they are pretty agile at this and they're everywhere.
SMITH: Thank you. I neglected to make this announcement at the outset; as with our hearing last week, there will be a classified session after this. Our goal is to be done by noon and to start the classified session upstairs at noon. So we'll endeavor to do that. And with that, Mr.
THORNBERRY: General, I'd like to at least try to touch on the three issues I mentioned at the beginning. If you look at the state of the troops that are sent to EUCOM, come through EUCOM, their readiness, et cetera, how would you compare it today versus when you first arrived three years ago?
SCAPARROTTI: It's absolutely better, it's much improved. The investment of Congress in particular and the focus of the services on readiness in line with the National Defense Strategy has paid off. Right now, my forces in Europe are at the highest ready rate -- readiness rates that they've been since I've been in command; it's very good. Particularly rotational units, those are delivered ready. And my commitment to the Army, for instance, in the Army's case, is to return them just as ready as they came. Because I believe I've got an experience and a training area there that allows me to do just that.
So in short, they're in -- they're in better place but readiness is something that you've got to continue to invest in.
THORNBERRY: Absolutely. And on this -- you've touched on the state of the alliance but can you just, again, give us kind of your overall perspective on the military integration state of the alliance now versus three years ago and, at least from your perspective, the political support for the alliance that you see with your two hats?
SCAPARROTTI: In terms of mil-to-mil, the relationships within the alliance, I think they're at least as strong, if not stronger. It's a little difficult for me to be unbiased in this case, but you know, over a three-year period, we worked this very hard. But when you look at what we have done in say the last four or five years, my predecessor and now, the actions we've taken are really historic within NATO.
NATO command structure adaptation; the deployment of forces to the east; the deployment of greater maritime forces at a greater schedule within the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, and actually the North Atlantic as well; the deployment of air forces for air policing, et cetera; the changes to readiness that's taking place in NATO right now. Those are -- those are really significant steps forward for NATO and that's done because we've got a very close mil-to-mil relationship, interoperability's working better, there's an agreement to work our forces in a more effective manner.
So I think the mil-to-mil is very good. On the political side of it, it is affected by the dynamics of our environment today, whether United States or Europe, there is -- there is more political tension, but again, I would point to the fact that when you come to 29 at the table, NATO has, every day, made the commitment and delivered on the tough decisions that have to be made for the security of Europe. And that's encouraging to me.
THORNBERRY: OK. And finally, I know we'll touch more on Russian nuclear doctrine when we go to the classified session. But we had an outside witness testify last week that, in his view, this -- Russian doctrine of "escalate to deescalate" was not real; that they didn't really believe it, that it was just kind of for show to scare us. This committee may be asked to make some decisions about whether to continue our nuclear modernization that 29 nations have agreed to.
In your view, are the Russians serious when they openly talk about a use of nuclear weapons as a regular part of their military doctrine?
SCAPARROTTI: Yeah, I'd like to get into that more in the closed session, but I would just say that I think it's a part of Russian doctrine and their way of warfare, if you will, traditionally over time. And I wouldn't say it's -- I would say it's "escalate to dominate" is the way they look at it. And if you look at the modernization of their weapon systems today, I think that you can see how those, in some scale of escalation, could be used to do just that.
And I think they're actually being developed for that reason. And I can get into that in more detail in the -- in the secure session.
THORNBERRY: OK. We look forward to that. I yield back. SMITH: (OFF MIC)
LARSEN: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General and Ms. Wheelbarger, thanks for coming so few -- I guess it was last month, several of us were in Brussels at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, meeting with members of parliament from NATO countries as well as those who were seating in North Macedonia had representatives there for the first time as folkswere -- thanks for not starting my clock, too, by the way. I'll take seven minutes. (LAUGHTER)
Darn it, why did I say that? Just trying to be respectful of everyone else here. I guess I want to get to the point about, one, North Macedonia's annexation; our Senate has to act on that for our purposes. But it brought up other questions about the Balkans, the fact that North Macedonia was there and others as well as current allies like Croatia. You mentioned Balkans as your number three --top three in terms of Russian -- Russian --Russia causing problems there. Can you be more specific here in this setting and about what Russia is doing in the Balkans that causes so much concern for existing NATO allies as well as North Macedonian as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina?
SCAPARROTTI: Sir, I think generally speaking, their efforts or to undermine any movement toward integration with the -- with the Euro-Atlantic, E.U. NATO, et cetera. That's their general objective in every case throughout the Balkans. Primarily they do this through disinformation, they do it through funding and support for French parties. They don't -- they don't necessarily just determine whichever side it might be on as long as it's undermining the present government in any forward movement within those governments.
And we see -- we see that -- and as I said, I think that's stepped up in the past six or eight months within the Balkans. I would also say that Montenegro's accession to NATO, now the 29th member and North Macedonia, who would potentially be the 30th, I believe, is -- is exactly what Russia did not want to see. I think they'll continue to try and address this with North Macedonia, just as they tried to interfere in Montenegro's succession.
LARSEN: Yeah, and because it's an alliance, vis-a-vis, each alliance member needs to approve North Macedonia. It's not a 50 percent plus one, its everybody; everybody's in.
SCAPARROTTI: Each nation.
LARSEN: Yeah. So is there a specific EUCOM role that EUCOM is playing, or is this more of a NATO role or State Department role to -- to counter this specific set of circumstances?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, EUCOM has a role in it, and you know within -- within these hybrid activities, or activity below the level of conflict or indirect activity, we have precise military capabilities that we bring to bear primarily having to do with the military information support. Some of our soft capabilities, for instance, cyber capabilities, but then the last thing is, we work very closely with the interagency and I'd like to think that we're one of these places that pulls everything together.
I have within my J9, an incredible group that does this and I have people from Treasury, State, USAID, FBI, Homeland Security that help us ensure that we can address this as a -- as a whole of government approach appropriately, and that's what it really takes to counter this. So I think that's one of the -- one of the major things we do in EUCOM to help counter Russia's activities,
LARSEN: If I can jump across the Black Sea to Georgia and either of you can answer this. Russia is occupying two areas of Georgia. The Georgians are very interested in -- in getting in line and to get into NATO eventually, I certainly support that. Do you have -- what would be EUCOM's concerns or the Pentagon's concerns about -- about a country like Georgia, which has territory that's occupied, from pursuing -- continue to pursue a NATO membership? Yeah, it's probably -- it's probably a civilian answer.
WHEELBARGER: We obviously have a very close working relationship with the Georgians they're one of our key partners, we're doing everything we can to -- and -- and build up that their own defenses, ensure that they can train and equip for themselves, as I said in my opening. I think the fundamental challenge is entry into NATO immediately. You question whether you're you in Article Five scenario by near entry because they are -- 20 percent of their territory is occupied.
So that is the particular challenge when we look at their potential movement forward that we -- we as an alliance have to think about and manage. But we are doing everything we can in the meantime to encourage them to stay close to us. They are -- they're -- they're one of our key partners. We just met -- I just met with them last week and it's -- they do all they can to stay close to the alliance and we want to continue to encourage that.
SMITH: That's about (ph) all the time we have, so I'll go to Mr. Wilson.
WILSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I would like to thank General Scaparrotti for providing this map. I think it -- its -- the American people need to know the success of the American military of NATO, that we currently have a greater spread of freedom and democracy in -- in Europe and across the world, because of the American military presence providing freedom and democracy for countries that didn't have it. In particular, I was an election observer in June 1990 for the general with the new -- the elections in Bulgaria.
It was so exciting to see that country come to life, and over the years I've worked with it to see the development of Novo Selo, the training base there with young Bulgarians, Americans are training together. I've had the opportunity to visit MK airbase in Romania, again to see what was formerly a Soviet airbase, a Warsaw Pact airbase, now on so important in the a global war on terrorism. With that background, can you let all of us know how important it is, the relationships that we have with our Black Sea allies of Bulgaria and Romania?
SCAPARROTTI: Yes sir, it's very important. As you noted, the bases you just named are -- are a couple of those that are accessible to not only us, but -- but are NATO allies as well. When you look at the Black Sea region, the criticality of that, its -- its actually the collection of allies in the Black Sea working together that provide the deterrence for any malign activity, Russia's malign activity and secures their freedom, actually.
So it's vital and it's a very close and robust relationship, Romania in particular over the past two years, its develop the force within NATO, that area -- it's the -- it's a forward presence there as well, common to the that's up in the Baltics, and its connected with the joint forces' increased maritime activity by both United States and the NATO as a writ large, as well as air policing. So
it's critical in and its -- it's a great partner.
WILSON: Thank you -- thank you for your success, but the success of American military really needs to be recognized. Germany's the home of so many extraordinary American military facilities, partly fueled by natural gas. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently building the largest military hospital, The Rhine Ordnance Barracks Army Medical Center near Kaiserslautern, Germany, which is a sister city of Columbia, South Carolina, and we're very grateful. General, you're a graduate of USC, a gamecock.
We want the best at Kaiserslautern, but the concern I have is the reliance of Germany on Gazprom, on gas -- from natural gas from the Russian Federation. We've already seen how they cut the gas off to the people of Ukraine. What concerns do you have about the reliance of providing the proper fuel for our facilities?
SCAPARROTTI: Well we -- we actually watch that closely in terms of fuels that we can provide, fuel oil, et cetera. We have separate contracts to ensure that -- that it's, you know, a safe and secure provision for our forces.
And then within -- within natural gas, et cetera, as we look forward to the Rhine Ordnance, we're-- we're doing a study there to make sure that we secure its energy needs as well in the future if there were a conflict, or that -- that energy source could be put at risk primarily because, as you know, about 30 percent across Europe, of their -- particularly their INF (ph) needs are provided by Russia.
WILSON: Thank you very much, and Madam Secretary, a great achievement was to place American troops in Poland. It was a message to the Russian Federation that we're serious about defending our NATO allies.
I had the opportunity last summer to visit with President Duda in New York and of course he was so happy to be explaining how they would like to provide for a permanent military facility in Poland.
What's the status of negotiations on developing that -- the provision -- the facilities in Poland?
WHEELBARGER: Well as you know, the Poles have made a very generous offer to us to contribute additionally $2 billion, perhaps more, to have additional U.S. forces and capabilities stationed in their country, that negotiations are actually ongoing this very week.
Undersecretary Rood is meeting with his counterpart, the deputy secretary, in Warsaw -- I think it's today actually, it might be tomorrow. But the -- we have a very -- we've come forward with we think a very serious, robust offer.
And we're just -- we're working out some of the technicalities this very week. And we -- we hope to have a solid foundation to work from coming out of this meeting today.
WILSON: Thank you very much. It's great to see U.S. Polish relations. Thank you. Thank you,
SMITH: (OFF MIKE) I'm sorry, Mr. Garamendi.
GARAMENDI: Thank you, general, for your service here and all of these years, and Ms. Wheelbarger similarly. The question of Poland just came up and it's a question of permanent versus rotational. General, you spoke to the rotational issues in that you're receiving trained and prepared troops and then you're sending them back just as well.
Would you prefer that or would you prefer permanent or is there a combination?
SMITH: I'm sorry John, could you pull that microphone a little bit more in front of you there? I can't really hear you. Thank you.
SCAPARROTTI: Yes, and the question of whether permanent or rotational forces, particularly in Poland, I think it's a mix. I am perfectly content with the -- with the large forces that we're rotating today. I get a ready force, I send it home ready, and the other thing is, is I get a large component of our Army that's been to Europe and understands the mission there.
So there's some goodness in that. Some of the enablers, et cetera, some of the headquarters, a more permanent base is helpful because of the relationships you build and the mission they have. So you'll see a little bit of a combination there from my point of view.
GARAMENDI: Ms. Wheelbarger, the issue of a permanent base, you just spoke to that timeframe. Are we looking at an agreement sooner or later or this year, next year, what's -- what's the situation?
WHEELBARGER: Essentially the -- the discussions that are ongoing right now in Warsaw, if we come to an agreed terms on the foundation of -- of our offer and their acceptance of that, we would then go to the State Department and seek the authority for the State Department to then be the lead negotiator for again the actual technical agreement that would be -- that signed.
I don't think in terms of the actual agreement between two countries, we're looking at probably six months to a year for that to be, you know, finalized. And then I were defer to my military colleagues for the actual physicality and infrastructure requirements and when that -- when that would actually come to...
GARAMENDI: It's a couple of years -- two to three years off before we'd be dealing with an actual base and the money for that base................ OK. General, you spoke about the information campaign, that what is being done is good but it's not enough. What's it take to do enough?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, I think that we need to have more people involved in it and more resources -- people and engagement in terms of...
GARAMENDI: Can -- can you develop a specific plan and get it to us like sooner -- like soon?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, it's not really mine to develop. You know, it -- it's really a whole-of- government approach. I think that we've -- within the rig (ph), for instance, we have a plan that -- for progressive improvement, and it's nested under our embassies' objectives in each of those countries. And I think that was a good start for us. But for instance, with probably a little more resources behind that, we could do what we're doing at a faster pace.
And again, that's a whole-of-government approach. It's not a EUCOM one. I happen to co-chair it.
GARAMENDI: In your position as co-chair, could you give us your best thoughts about the extent and the money necessary?
GARAMENDI: Because we're in the process of developing that. General, you also have recently spoken about the A-400 (sic) and F-35 in Turkey. I believe you raised this question at the Senate and your answer was they're incompatible. Are you still holding that position after a week and a half of...
SCAPARROTTI: Yes. I do believe that we shouldn't provide F-35s if there's an S-400, you know, in Turkey. I would say that we're -- we're continuing to work this. Turkey's an important ally. We work with them every day. I know their leaders well and our intent is to maintain them as an important ally and NATO ally into the future.
GARAMENDI: With that, I will -- OCO funding. The OCO funding has been reduced in the president's budget. We'll deal with that but the question is should you have a permanent baseline funding rather than OCO funding? What effect does the -- I think I'm out of time? I'll let me colleagues pick that up later.
SMITH: Actually, you bluffed us there. It sounded like... (LAUGHTER)
It sounded like you were done, so we zeroed it out. But as far as we know, you're out of time. So, Mr. Turner.
GARAMENDI: (OFF MIC)
SMITH: You sounded like you were done. Go ahead.
TURNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you both for being here. I want to echo Joe Wilson's -- thank you, general, for the map that presents the march -- as Joe Wilson was saying, the march of freedom. I know when you present a map like this, you don't have to start with where we were in 1989 and I appreciate that you do because it gives us the perspective of Russia's view and also where we have come from. So thank you for giving us that perspective.
General, I want to speak to you first as the -- as the other title that you have, the supreme allied commander of NATO. General -- the secretary general of NATO, Stoltenberg, is going to be addressing a joint session of Congress in honor of the -- he's been invited to address a joint session in honor of the anniversary for NATO. When -- the NATO Parliamentary Assembly just had its meeting in Brussels, and he was addressing our group at the NAC, he indicated that, as of next year, it will appear as if the Wales charge of increasing to 2 percent expenditure will reach -- increase expenditures from our NATO allies to 100 billion additional funds spent.
Could you speak to a moment as to how the coordination of that is happening? As increased dollars are coming into NATO and Stoltenberg clearly has given Donald Trump's beating the drum as a credit for the success that we're having of the steep climb that is happening over the past several years, how is that going -- how is it being spent? And are they working with you as supreme allied commander to make certain that's efficient?
SCAPARROTTI: The -- first of all, it's true, and that's based on the request for plans by last 31st of December, this last year, each nation was required to turn in their plan for meeting the 2 percent as well as the other -- the other requirements; 20 percent of that amount toward modernization. And so, as you look at that, that's the basis of what has been 4,100 -- $41 billion to date, will be $100 billion by 2020, as you stated.
So a couple of ways that works. One, that is in defense spending. So that -- that naturally builds both readiness and capability within each of the nations that are then provided in capability as well as contribution by those nations. And we've seen in NATO, over the last couple of years now, an increase in both capability and contribution. That's the first way that you see it. The other is, is when we go through the NATO defense planning process, which determines any gaps that we have, what modernization we need or capabilities that we lack, it then assigns that to nations.
And nations in NATO, you agree to your modernization then you're committed to it. And that's the other area where we see that increase in funding being important because we -- just as I said for the United States, all the nations face a need to modernize, just given the change in our security environment today, the character of war as well as our competitors' capabilities.
TURNER: For both of you -- I appreciate Mr. Garamendi's question on the F-35 and the S-400 in Turkey. We had a prior conversation before we came out here. As everyone knows on the committee, I've worked pretty diligently on the issue of the S-400 and our opposition to Turkey having the S-400. But I'd like, if you will, just take a moment, each of you, to give us a commercial as, we really do want Turkey in the F-35 program, right?
I mean, it's not that we want to take the F-35 away, they are a partner. It's not just that we're using this as an excuse. The S-400 is a real problem but at the bottom line, we do want Turkey in the F-35 program. Correct?
WHEELBARGER: Yes, absolutely.
SCAPARROTTI: I agree. And we want them to continue, as I said earlier, as one of our key allies. Very important place in the world.
TURNER: Excellent. General, I come from Dayton, Ohio, the site of the Dayton Peace Accord Negotiations. The Balkans continue to be an area of focus. I've been very concerned that after the
-- what I believe is an unworkable long-term constitution was adopted as part of the Dayton Peace Accords, the Balkans have language -- languished. Bosnia-Herzegovina frequently loses our focus because people don't believe there's a risk there. General, is there a risk in Bosnia-Herzegovina of violence?
SCAPARROTTI: The stability you see today is just kind of a veneer in my view. I don't expect it to have the kind of confrontation we had in the past but there's -- there's one increased tension to Russian interference. And also, I think, as longer we go without some forward progress here, the people begin to lose hope, that in fact that desire to be integrated into Europe is -- is being diminished.
TURNER: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. SMITH: Thank you. Mr. Courtney.
COURTNEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Scaparrotti, last year, when you appeared before our committee, you testified that Russian submarine activity was at a level that we hadn't seen since the 1980s. I noticed on page five of your testimony, again, you talked about the new guided missile submarine, the Severodvinsk. So I -- I take -- is it your testimony today that that hasn't really changed from a year ago?
SCAPARROTTI: That's correct, and I'd like to talk to you about that in particular in a closed session.
COURTNEY: Great. Well and -- and -- I think a topic which is certainly not classified is that, you know, the submarine fleet attack subs is at 52 today, it's -- it's slated to go to 42 with retirements of the Los Angeles class.
Given the capacity issues that you expressed concern about last year publicly, that decline, how would you describe, you know, the challenge that would face your successor if it were to go unmitigated?
SCAPARROTTI: Well I think, you know, one it's -- it's really a Navy issue to determine their size and how they provide it, but for me I have to maintain at least the -- the capacity that I have today and -- and look to an increase probably in the next couple of years, in order, I think, to be a credible deterrent.
COURTNEY: Well last year, again on a bipartisan basis, we did authorize going to three a year, which the administration opposed at that time. A couple of days ago, they did come around to the position that, again, this committee advanced on a bipartisan basis, so hopefully that dip will not be as pronounced for -- for your successor. In Ukraine, where the, you know, naval incident occurred back in November, just to -- I met with Admiral Voronchenko from the Ukrainian Navy, who again described the fact that the sailors -- there were about roughly around 20 sailors that were captured during that incident.
He -- he indicated that they are now being held in prisons in Moscow. Could you talk a little bit about just sort of, you know, this outrage in terms of the latest?
SCAPARROTTI: Well I -- I think it was an -- an outrage in the sense that Russia blocked their passage to the Straits. The Ukrainians made a decision not to force the Straits and turn around and depart. It was actually on departure that the Russians fired on the ship, seized the ships and took 24 sailors and they still have them in custody today in Moscow, a breach of international law.
COURTNEY: Cause those -- that -- those -- their boats were in international waters, right?
SCAPARROTTI: At least one of those was in international waters by the time that they were literally heading out, and it was -- it would have been clear to anyone that they had decided not -- not to confront Russia on this at that time.
COURTNEY: And I guess a couple of the sailors were actually cadets, who were out there as -- training exercises. I mean it was definitely not a hostile mission that they were engaged in.
SCAPARROTTI: But I think this is representative of the -- you know, of the actions that Russia is willing to take in order to, in this case I think, enforce or establish their control of those Straits, as well as the Sea of Azov, which actually is governed by both nations, Ukraine by an agreement.
COURTNEY: So in terms of, you know, the -- the budget and your efforts to assist Ukraine, is -- is -- is there any naval, you know, assets or equipment that were going to try and boost them?
SCAPARROTTI: We -- we have and will continue to work on a maritime basis out of EUCOM with their naval forces. We've got a -- a good relationship with them and there are -- there are increases now with USAII (ph), or the -- the funding that we put forward in Congress here for maritime assets. Two ships in particular, iron-class (ph) patrol boats...
SCAPARROTTI: ...in order to begin to replenish their Navy, as well as other assets.
COURTNEY: Thank you, and lastly, you described sort of the progress that our NATO allies are moving towards in terms of two percent GDP defense spending.
SCAPARROTTI: So sir, within -- just to give you a basis today, we've got eight allies today that meet the two percent. There are 10 that have committed to be there by 2024. In other words, their plan is there and they've got a plan that -- that demonstrates that.
And you know, I -- I've seen a steady growth in this in terms of the dollars that have returned. We've got to continue, in my opinion, to discuss with our allies the meeting of those responsibilities, because in today's security environment they need to invest and they need to modernize.
COURTNEY: Well the cost plus 50, which says that the -- these countries have to pay for housing plus 50 percent, I would rather they spent the money on military equipment and readiness than -- than frankly a -- a -- a policy like that.
So anyway, I yield back.
SMITH: I'm sorry, that's worth pursuing for just a second. We -- there have been a lot of stories about this cost plus 50 proposal. Do your -- to your knowledge, is it real? Is it something that is actually being talked about at the White House or the Pentagon?
WHEELBARGER: I would say with respect to our NATO allies, in particular our European presence, we really are focused on reaching the commitments that they've already committed to...
SMITH: I'm sorry, that's a different question. WHEELBARGER: Right.
SMITH: Right, if you knew it was a different question -- anyway, point is I'm trying to get at the are we truly saying to our allies that, you know, we want you now to pay the cost plus 50 percent of our presence, whether we're -- that I know it's, you know -- in your portfolio, it was broader, so it's not just Europe.
Is this something that -- that the Pentagon and DOD is talking about, whether it's in Japan, in Europe or wherever our troops are stationed?
WHEELBARGER: That's the piece where I have to defer to the -- our IPSA (ph) colleagues who do cover the Pacific, because my -- my understanding is those conversations -- that -- that rhetoric came from conversations in the -- from -- from the Pacific. I'd -- it's not -- it's not a conversation we've had in my portfolio at all.
SMITH: Yeah, well just for the record, I -- I think that would be a monumentally stupid approach. Our -- our troops are present in these other countries primarily for our benefit, our -- at least for mutual benefit.
And as you can see, it's -- as we've seen in Japan and elsewhere, it's incredibly strategically important for us to have that presence. It can be difficult and you know, if we start pushing our allies away, I think that's a huge mistake, but that's just for the record. Mr. Lamborn?
LAMBORN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Ranking Member Thornberry already asked you about readiness, but I'd like to continue that train of thought.
I see that our enhanced funding and readiness is due to two things, we had a bipartisan budget deal for two years that ends later this year, and we had -- we have an administration, the Trump administration, that's very serious about increasing defense spending.
So we're in a good place comparatively speaking. However, if we go backward, if we don't have another budget deal going forward that keeps defense spending at a high -- high enough level, what's going to happen to our readiness?
SCAPARROTTI: Well I think -- as I said, I think predictability is a big -- is an important part of this. We've got to be able to see in the out years what we think our spending will be in order to balance modernization and -- and readiness, as well.
And I think if we were to go back to sequestration, for instance, it'd be devastating, as it has in the past because then you can't -- you can't balance that tension very well. One of them is going to -- is going to have to suffer or probably both.
LAMBORN: OK, thank you. On Ukraine, you've already talked about that some and I appreciate that. I've been there and I'm aware that the people fighting for Ukraine are very brave and they're making the most with what they have.
In fact, they're even exceeding some of the expectations, developing new uses for the equipment and armaments that they have in some creative ways. And you talked about the navy; I appreciate that. But what more can we do or should do to supply lethal aid to land and naval forces to accomplish what you say here is the first line of effort to deter Russia? You know, this is the front line of deterring Russia.
SCAPARROTTI: Well, I think, first of all, we -- we've got a program. We work closely with Ukraine in a couple of areas. One is the training piece of this and building capability, but we're building capability so that they can continue to train themselves. So for instance, I'm about to transition from training battalions down to brigades and above because they've established the ability now to begin training their companies and battalions. That's progress that we're making.
We're also shifting, probably -- if you look at the training, compared to reform, in working at a defense institutional level, we're shifting more to that with a greater perspective on that, primarily because, to help them most now, we've got to start helping them with their security strategy, with sustainability of a -- of a, you know, a security force and those kinds of things.
And then finally, more to your equipment question, now you'll see in the latest -- the latest program that we provided to Congress that those -- that equipment that's in our recommendation is based on what they and we agree they need. Within that, there are some lethal aid, sniper weapons, ammunition, et cetera.
And there's also a maritime component that I talked to earlier. But I would tell you that that equipment set is based on what their chief, their chairman, equivalent has -- has told me, as well as our counterparts, as we work with them.
WHEELBARGER: I'll just add as well to a more political level, we continue to help and encourage Ukraine to have the kinds of defense reforms and institutional reforms necessary to sustain the fight over the long-term. That includes anti-corruption efforts within their defense industry, as well as helping them develop sound, stable (ph) relations or to -- to be able to address this.
LAMBORN: Thank you. And for either one of you -- I was in Germany last month also, and there seems to be some schizophrenia. Germany's a very influential company, the dominant economic power of Europe. But on the one hand, Angela Merkel was the leading proponent for sanctions against the Russians after the invasion by the Russians of Ukraine.
But on the other hand, they're accepting the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. And every time she's asked about it, she comes up with a different rationale for doing it, almost like they don't really know why they're doing it. What -- what -- what can we do to help the Germans be more in sync with us in opposing Russian aggression?
WHEELBARGER: I think you start by -- you were very correct, that the -- Angela Merkel has been very key on sustaining the multilateral sanctions efforts. And from a political level, one of our key messages is having the Germans help us make sure that we sustain that over the long- term.
In terms of recognizing the -- sort of the threat to European and German security from their reliance on Russian energy sources, that continues to be one of our major diplomatic efforts at very senior levels to encourage them to diversify their energy sources for the good of their own security, as well as the good of the alliance.
LAMBORN: Thank you.
MOULTON: Thank you both for being here. General, I'd like to talk about the United States response to Russian activities in EUCOM. Now, the U.S. Army in Europe states that Atlantic Resolve, an exercise to counter Russian influence in the region, involves three types of rotation, armored, aviation and logistic.
According to the Army's own facts sheet, Atlantic Resolve involves over 8,000 soldiers, 87 Abrams, 125 Bradleys, about 90 helicopters and over 1,000 other various vehicles, which doesn't even include the constant rotation of fighter aircraft from the air force. Do you know the approximate cost of Atlantic Resolve to date?
SCAPARROTTI: Not off the top of my head, but I can provide that...
MOULTON: Can we get that for the record? I'd also like to just -- I imagine just simply the fuel cost for this exercise is extremely high. It'd be great to get those costs for the record as well.
SCAPARROTTI: I will. Could I make a comment on that? MOULTON: Sure.
SCAPARROTTI: The Atlantic Resolve exercise is literally the name that we give to this deterrence operation that's ongoing. So it's not, in and of itself, just an exercise. It is, in fact...
MOULTON: It's a deterrence operation. SCAPARROTTI: ... a deterrence operation.
MOULTON: Exactly. It's -- I couldn't agree more. It's incredibly important. Now, last year, four Army Stryker vehicles collided in Lithuania, sending 15 soldiers to the hospital. And within hours, an anti-American blog claimed a child was killed and posted a doctored photo of the incident. Now, this is Russian hybrid warfare, and Russia is using it actively, aggressively, against us today. How much are we spending on cyber warfare in Atlantic Resolve?
SCAPARROTTI: In terms of -- within Atlantic Resolve itself, it's not a great deal of money, in terms of the cyber business, but we do spend a good deal of time training troops and then providing the capabilities. So in that...
MOULTON: So since we're talking about Atlantic Resolve, which, as you said, is the deterrence operation, and Russia is literally -- this is how Russia's attacking us today. I'd like to get for the record how much money in Atlantic Resolve is being sent -- spent on -- on cyber and also just how many cyber personnel are involved.
You know, myself, I went to Eastern Europe with Chairman Thornberry in 2015. And that delegation really opened my eyes to just how pervasive this Russian hybrid warfare is and how active it is today. Among other things, we learned about U.S. Army tank drills in Poland.
The Poles were very excited about this. And speaking to army officers there on the ground, I got the impression that they felt Putin was probably laughing at us, that he was busy undermining European governments of our allies, and we're conducting tank drills like it was 1950.
So a young captain, like the one I was speaking to there, if he understands this mismatch, he can't take the money that he's allotted to spend on fuel for his tanks and put it into cyber to protect his unit, can he?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, listen. I -- here's -- here's a couple of responses to -- to your trend here. First of all, when you look at hybrid activities, it doesn't -- it's not -- you're not going to see a great amount of money within, say, even EDI against that. It's about 10 percent. Because it's not about the amount of money, it's actually how you use your resources. And in a good bit of it, like the response that we had to that accident and then their attempt at disinformation, is built within the standard cyber information apparatus that we have in Europe.
And we did -- we did respond to that very quickly and effectively, pretty much killed the -- killed that disinformation campaign quickly.
MOULTON: So you've also stated general, that this requires a whole of government approach, and I certainly appreciate that. The main U.S. counter-propaganda program is the Global Engagement Center funded by Department of State. Would you recommend a 24 percent cut to the Department of State?
SCAPARROTTI: I -- you know, how much that is, is not mine to say. MOULTON: Would you recommend that?
SCAPARROTTI: I would recommend that we fund the State Department, to the extent that they can do the critical job they need to do. And we depend on that in Europe every day.
MOULTON: General, I'd just like to say. You're the commander of EUCOM, and I have deep respect for the incredible responsibility you have. But whether Russia's attacking us through the Fulda Gap or through the internet, it's your responsibility to protect our allies and our troops.
And I just hope we're modernizing in the right ways. Ms. Wheelbarger, you said that the most important thing we can do to counter Russia in disinformation campaigns is to project strength in unity of message in the alliance itself.
So if were to say, describe NATO by saying, quote, "They us want to protect against Russia, and yet they pay billions of dollars to Russia. And we're the schmucks paying for the whole thing." Would that project strength in unity of message on the alliance?
WHEELBARGER: I'll just say the unity that we've seen over the course of the... MOULTON: Well, how about answer my question?
WHEELBARGER: ...last four or five...
MOULTON: Would that project strength and unity if I were to say that? WHEELBARGER: I think encouraging the alliance...
MOULTON: Just yes or no, Ms. Wheelbarger. WHEELBARGER: Could you quote it again?
MOULTON: How about whether the president questions whether we would come to the defense of Montenegro if they are attacked, our newest NATO member? Raising that as a question, does that project strength in unity of the alliance?
WHEELBARGER: I think we should encourage all NATO allies to stay on message that we have a strong Article 5 commitment to the entire...
MOULTON: Now, I would argue that that might start with our commander in chief. Thank you. SMITH: Thank you. Mr. Scott.
SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Many of my questions have been asked, but with regard to Turkey, it's not just the issue of the S-400. I have no doubt that the Russians would give the S- 400s if that would -- without a feed (ph) of Turkey if that would -- if that would disrupt NATO. So certainly they're an important part of our alliance.
My concern is that they have in the past held U.S. embassy personnel against their will. Now, these are Turkish citizens that worked for the U.S. embassy. Have those issues been resolved as the Pastor Brunson issue has been resolved?
WHEELBARGER: I think the U.S. government recognizes both the importance of the alliance with Turkey but also that there are trends in their domestic space that are concerning to us, and we will continue to have those difficult conversations with our Turkish counterparts on their human right -- human rights record or other aspects of our relationship.
I don't think all what we would call perhaps inappropriate detentions or political prisoners have been addressed, and we need to continue to do so over the course of coming weeks and months.
SCOTT: I just -- I want to make sure that we take those detentions as seriously as we would take the wrongful detention of a United States' citizen. Those are State Department employees and they should be treated with the respect that they deserve.
And General Scaparrotti, you've talked a lot about personnel and training and the resources that you needed. You mentioned gaps in the testimony with Congressman Turner. What recommendations do you have for elimination gaps in coverage, and what about your ISR requirements? What percentage of the request for ISR are being met? I can't hear you.
SMITH: I don't think your microphone's on. There you go.
SCAPARROTTI: Sir, in terms of gaps, the ones I'm most concerned about is ISR, which you just mentioned. I'd prefer to talk about how much of that's being met in the closed session, but I...
SCAPARROTTI: ...I can do that immediately after this. Maneuver force -- in terms of size of my maneuver force, there's some key capabilities there that I require yet and then also in the maritime domain, some key capabilities there. And I can talk in details on those in the closed session.
SCOTT: OK. Also interested as well in the transport related challenges of that area, but I yield the remainder of my time, Mr. Chairman, and I'll see -- look forward to the closed session.
CARBAJAL: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Ms. Wheelbarger and General Scaparrotti, thank you for being here. Please describe to the best -- as best as possible in an open setting the current state of Russia's efforts to utilize influence operations to interfere with elections in the United States including what is the role of the Russian government and military intelligence?
Have we learned any lessons about the best way to prevent Russian interference in U.S. elections? And what should be doing to accomplish that including or -- and, should I say, and whatever subversive activities are the Russians engaging in?
Representative Moulton alluded to cyber as something more extensive that is happening. If you could touch on that, that would be great.
WHEELBARGER: As we've discussed previously today, a key component of Russia's strategy is to undermine the electoral systems of both -- of the western world. That includes the United States. I think we have made significant progress over the course of the last couple years of really understanding their intent but also harnessing whole of government tools to do something about it, to understand specifically not only what their intent is but how they go about operationalizing that intent.
Some of our knowledge and how we've countered it, I would recommend we move to the closed sessions to go into more detail. I think this is -- there's always more to be done because this is an area of conflict quite frankly that is rapidly innovative and constantly changing.
So it's one of those areas where we are going to -- we can't stay -- we can't say, "we did well last election. We don't need to worry about the next one." We constantly have to evolve, innovate, and make sure that we stay on top of what their capabilities are to be able to counter it both in cyber but also in the broader messaging domain.
SCAPARROTTI: Senator, I agree. It's both cyber and information confrontation from their viewpoint active not only in the United States in our election but within Europe as well. And EUCOM has a part to play in this and did in this last most recent activity to counter their interference. Now, I would like to leave the rest of that, as Ms. Wheelbarger said, to the closed session.
CARBAJAL: I think just in general what I -- what I and many of my colleagues up here want to be assured of is that, one, we're really tracking it, and two, we are countering it because our democracy's at stake and we saw what transpired in the last election. And we can't just sit idly by to learn about it. We really need to be aggressive ourselves in countering, and I look forward to hearing in a closed setting more about this because it's a really, really great concern. Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
SMITH: Mr. Cook.
COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Scaparrotti, it's good to see you again. I had a couple of concerns about some of the past exercises, and one of the exercises that Colonel Ellis where he had -- oh I don't know -- I think it was 21 vehicles that came from Poland all the way across to -- to Georgia, crossing the Black Sea, the Danube (ph). Absolutely incredible. And I think they lost one vehicle that broke down.
And the one thing that scared me was -- and I've mentioned this before, was the E.U. and the fact that for some reason they didn't get the word. They were a real problem in terms of the border police crossing. And it was primarily Romania, which I was very, very concerned about.
I hope we do that -- those type of exercises again. I thought the troops, they were exceptional. The vehicles just very, very impressive and we're on the tail end of it. And by the way, Joe Wilson was on that trip, I think he has 10,000 pictures of that. If you want to see, he has copies that probably go to recent election campaign. But no, anyway, any comments on that, whether our relations with the E.U., because sometimes they seem, I'm not going to say as much of an enemy as the Russians, but they do -- can be a problem.
SCAPARROTTI: Yes sir. So, EUCOM working with NATO and NATO with the E.U., all of us together, we've taken a crack at this problem and it's about -- it's a function of our mobility capability within Europe and it's the customs and laws that are different at every border.
We have been successful in an agreement among the nations that of specific timelines for the passage of military vehicles in crisis and then for trainings, so that's the first step. Now the step we're trying to do now is get that agreement down to the person at the border. And the way we're doing that is, is we continually rotate forces, whether it's for exercises or for the rotational force, we're using different roads, different rails, different trucking companies, different ports, different airports in order to exercise that muscle throughout Europe.
So, we've exercised 22 different sea ports, I think 24 or 26 different airports three years ago to move brigade was difficult because of the rules of and because of the availability and the muscle memory. This past month, we moved four brigades simultaneously across Europe and that is real. That's a real advance in what we're able to do now.
COOK: It just crossing the Black Sea, we had a few problems with, I don't know, the Maritime Administration or what have you. I hope that's been resolved. They've never done that before, but if we're going to reinforce across that large body of water that's going to be important I guess.
I want to shift gears a little bit. Kind of got involved in a -- it's kind of a foreign affairs problem, but I was very supportive of Gibraltar. This subject has come up, I've wrote a letter or signed on it.
I got a nasty letter back from the government of Spain and I had actually had the Catalonians in my office, I entertain everybody there, but I was a little perturbed on the politics of -- I thought they had overreacted. I'm a big supporter of the Brits. They've been a friend a long, long time. It's close to Rhoda.
Has that been on your radar or is this just something that I should ignore? I've got enough political enemies without having more in Spain.
SCAPARROTTI: It's been on my radar, but I know it's -- these are policy issues for the most part. It's my -- it's on my radar because of the importance of the passage.
COOK: OK, and last question on Sweden and Finland. Haven't heard much about them. Lately there was talk about are they -- is there a possibility they will ever come into NATO? You comments -- Joe's comments about submarines I always remember, this shows my age, that the whiskey on the rocks scenario and you younger members can read the history books about that.
SMITH: Analogies aside, if we could get a quick answer to that, because we're kind of close to time.
COOK: Yes sir.
SMITH: Sweden, Finland, NATO.
SCAPARROTTI: Sweden, Finland, great allies, working closely with NATO. I -- my sense is, there's an increasing awareness of this in those countries.
SMITH: All right, thank you. Mr. Brown.
BROWN: Thank you Mr. Chairman, General Scaparrotti and Ms. Wheelbarger, thank you for being here today. General, in your written testimony you stated -- and I know you've been asked about it today, but I want to drill down a little bit.
You stated that 16 NATO countries are now on pace to reach or exceed the two percent mark established under the Wales commitment, one more than you expected around this time last year, so that's progress.
However, in addition to the amount that is being spent on defense, we need to ensure that our allies are spending on the right capabilities and the right equipment. There is a NATO mandated spending threshold of 20 percent of defense expenditures on major equipment and research and development, yet according to a CSIS report done within the last year, only 11 of 28 member countries meet this threshold. The question is, are there specific capabilities that we need more investment in from our allies?
SCAPARROTTI: The -- today there are 15 now at -- with the 20 percent, which is a -- which is a growth and I think 11 that said by their plan they're going to meet that 20 percent.
We give them specifically, each country given that the makeup of their nation and their location, their capability, specific capabilities that we need within NATO and that's the way that's determined, but generally, I would say that the larger things of long range precision munitions and platforms that use those munitions, Integrated Air and Missile Defense are two of the larger things that are fundamental to security today and what we need in Europe.
BROWN: Thank you. And so, you're confident that sort of like the balance of capabilities between nations and their ability to fulfill those requirements, it's either in place or on track to be in place?
SCAPARROTTI: I think the system to ensure that we get the right things noted to each of those countries in place and -- but we have to continue to monitor whether or not they deliver that capability.
BROWN: Thank you. Ms. Wheelbarger, on the same line of question, in 2016 the International Board of Auditors for NATO found that under the NATO Defense Planning process, the process by which defense planning activities are harmonized across NATO, NATO struggles to deliver capabilities in time to meet dates set by its commanders and agreed by the NATO nations, I realize it's a two-plus year old audit.
The question is, what can be done to better ensure member nations are investing in the right capabilities and setting goals for national or collective development of capabilities and sort of building on what General Scaparrotti mentioned. So, we've got to stay vigilant. Is there anything in the process that we might do better?
WHEELBARGER: Well, I will just highlight one of the initiatives coming out of the last Summit which is our 430s initiative, which is to have -- increase the readiness across the domains of the NATO allies and watching that be implemented over the course of the next couple years I think will advance significantly what you're talking about, which is ensuring that not only that we're meeting -- our allies are meeting number targets, but they're actually meeting the capability requirements and have the readiness of forces to be able to move in a timely fashion to actually address burgeoning threats.
BROWN: Thank you, with the little time I have remaining, just following up on Mr. Cook's question about essentially freedom of movement. Last year, general, asked you about freedom of movement, I asked you to rate, green, yellow, red; you may remember, you gave it a yellow rating. And a few weeks after you testified, the E.U. released an action plan to create a military Schengen zone through a series of operation of measures that tackle physical, procedural and regulatory barriers which handle military mobility. Using that same traffic light evaluation system. How would you rate the freedom of movement in Europe and -- and what could we do to improve it?
SCAPARROTTI: I think it's -- I think it's definitely improved but it's still yellow. Some of this takes investment in both rail and road, particular bridges and tunnels that meet our military needs. So it's one of those things, for instance, the E.U. is putting about $7 billion into this. That's got to go into the right things at the right places. And we in EUCOM have been an integral part of -- of mapping this mobility problem out and where are the things that we need to invest in.
BROWN: Do you know whether the investments in infrastructure that can be related directly to freedom of movement for military purposes, whether that counts against the two percent?
WHEELBARGER: In certain instances, yes. BROWN: It does?
WHEELBARGER: If it meets military requirements, certain investments under NATO standards will -- will apply to the two percent.
BROWN: Thank you. I yield back, Mr. Chairman. SMITH: (OFF MIKE)
BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General, I was very pleased to see the recent deployment of a THAAD battery to Israel. I like what it says to Israel, but I like even more what it says to people that might wish Israel ill. I'd like to know from you specifically what does this add to our missile defense posture in the EUCOM AOR?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, it -- you know, a -- a missile-defense -- an integrated air missile defense system is -- is -- is developed in a layered -- the best ones are in a layered system, this one adds a -- you know, a high-altitude, very, very good air defense system within Europe. And importantly, it also gives us the opportunity to train with and -- and work with the Israelis within a -- within a very good system that they have as -- as well. Which is something we need to do, given the mission to -- to support that defense.
BYRNE: Do you see us having other needs for THAAD batteries or THAAD deployments in the EUCOM AOR?
SCAPARROTTI: Yes, I do. And you know, it's a part of our system. Again, it's -- it's -- it's -- and -- and linked in at times with us would be very helpful.
BYRNE: Do you see other needs changing in EUCOM with the end of the INF treaty? SCAPARROTTI: I do.
BYRNE: What would those be?
SCAPARROTTI: Well I think that first of all, we -- we've been aware of the deployment of -- of the SSC-8, for instance. So there's a whole of government approach, there's also a multi-domain approach simply from the military that -- that, you know, we've already looked at. But we've got to begin to -- to look at what our response is holistically and work with our allies on that. And we're in the process of doing that now.
BYRNE: So -- and maybe you can't be more specific in non-classified setting, but can you be more specific than what you just said?
SCAPARROTTI: I'd -- I'd prefer to do that in a classified session.
BYRNE: I understand. Let me shift over to the three Baltic nations. There was at least a couple years ago a lot of concern about our ability to fulfill our requirements under the NATO treaty with them. Where do we stand on that today?
SCAPARROTTI: Sir, within the planning or the defense of the -- of the Baltics? BYRNE: Yes, sir.
SCAPARROTTI: Yes, well, you know, NATO's made good progress there as well. I mean, we've not only produced a plan, we're on a revision of the plan already from lessons learned. And you know, it's we in EUCOM from the U.S. perspective have troops in the Baltics all the time as a part of -- of our planning as well and interoperability. So I think it's advanced a good deal, it's not done. I mean, I -- I think we've got some work to do yet.
BYRNE: And I know that Ukraine's not a part of NATO but I know that you watch it and are involved with it pretty carefully. Do you feel like the Ukraine is making any progress in their efforts to push back against Russian aggression?
SCAPARROTTI: I absolutely do. I see the -- the effectiveness and the confidence in their -- in their troops on the line of contact. It's -- it's definitely changed in the time that I've been in command. They're confident and good, disciplined, hard -- hard troops.
BYRNE: Mrs. Wheelbarger, do you have some more you'd like to add to what the general just said about the situation in Ukraine?
WHEELBARGER: Yes, I would add at an institutional level there's also a healthy recognition in their leadership that they have to not only improve and continue to -- or continue to improve their military capabilities.
But again, as we discussed earlier today, improve their -- and reform their institutions, address their corruption challenges within their defense industry as well as build and develop a sort of civ-mil relationship within their ministry of defense that they've actually made significant progress on and we're going to continue to impress upon them the importance of continuing that progress, particularly if they want the whole of the U.S. assistance to be able to be utilized.
Congress put a certification requirement for half of our assistance to go forward to make sure that they're making progress on -- on that -- on -- on these reforms. And they are making significant progress, including passing a national security law recently that they're now in the -- in the phase of implementing.
BYRNE: Well I just want to say that I really appreciate what you've said; it actually is confirming what I've been observing but wanted to sort of hear it from you. It seems like we have made a lot of progress with Ukraine in the last couple of years. Frankly, I got on this committee, and one month later is when Russia came and literally took the Crimea. And for two or three years there, I got to tell you, I was pretty worried about where that was heading. But it seems like we have turned the situation around or they've turned that situation around with our and others' assistance.
And I just appreciate the more aggressive stance that we're taking in helping them and I hope that we'll continue that. And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
SMITH: (OFF MIKE)
KEATING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to thank the general for meeting with us too, just over a couple weeks ago in Europe and for taking the time to meet with our delegation, with the speaker and the people that -- accompany her (ph) like myself and we had the opportunity to discuss issues that way.
One of my roles was not just as a member of this committee but also as chair of Europe, Eurasia, Global Energy, Environmental Issues and Foreign Affairs. And I recall the conversation I had with former Secretary Defense Mattis one time, to ask -- you know, just saying that a lot of the investment issues, a lot of the trade issues they were engaged with, I remember saying to him that may not be directly in your lane, general, when it comes to Europe and NATO issues.
And he stopped me right there and he said it's definitely right in my lane in terms of those issues. And you've had -- you mentioned the threat of China. When I came away as recently as a couple of weeks ago, looking long range at the challenges that we have and our European allies have, China was front and center in my mind coming home with this -- kind of strategic investments they're making. Not necessarily economic investments, but investments in obtaining intellectual property and to undermine some of the alliance or compete with -- in a better way of phrasing it -- some of the alliances we have with our people.
Could you comment on the nature of these and the challenges and the threats, potentially, of these Chinese investments in the European area with our NATO allies as well? I come away, every time I think of this, thinking that's where one of our primary focal points should be.
SCAPARROTTI: Yes, sir. If -- if -- if you take a look at Europe and you had a map before you and we could line -- we could draw a circle around every seaport, airport or critical commercial property that they've invested in as an economic investment. One, you'd be surprised at how much -- how many circles there are on that map, in key places, in key ports and airports as an economic -- as an economic investment by them, but they're security related as well.
And so, you know, as Secretary Mattis said, you know, when I'm talking to my counterparts and ministers of defense, that's one of the things that I point out. I want to make sure they understand this isn't just about economics, it's about security also. And in the -- in the closed session, if you desire, I can go to a little more detail on that.
KEATING: Good, maybe more specifically too and generally, one of the things we're moving on the in Foreign Affairs Committee as well is giving alternatives with U.S. exports for energy and bolstering that. We all know that Russia has used that as a weapon in the past.
Can you comment on the importance of strategically of having diversity of energy in Europe as well?
SCAPARROTTI: You know, I think it's critical because as we -- we've got plenty of example of Russia using that as leverage with countries and within Europe about a -- you know, it's about a third of the fuel oil and about a third of the liquefied gas that -- that they depend on Russia for that generally, but some countries it's above 75 percent of their -- you know, some of those countries, 75 percent of their need is given by Russia. So it's absolutely a security issue and diversity helps them be leveraged by Russia in specific ways.
KEATING: Yes, and finally Ms. Wheelbarger, you mentioned about Poland and the discussions, I don't know if you can mention this in an open setting, but part of those discussions in issues, like the ones were having with Poland right now in terms of military, do they include concerns about China and, you know, Huawei and other related issues as an example?
WHEELBARGER: I can assure you that in all our conversations with all our European partners, we make very clear the threat of Chinese investment or development of the telecommunications infrastructure in Europe.
The specific negotiations right now in Poland are very -- are very tied to the nature of our enablers and presence there. But again, throughout Europe, our concerns with the Chinese building their telecommunications infrastructure and the significant importance that has to our security footprint as well as the ability for us to be confident in the security of our communications, both private communications as well as military, yes.
But I'm not going to say it's part of the negotiations going on right now. KEATING: Thank you, I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
SMITH: (OFF MIKE)
DESJARLAIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Scaparrotti, you mentioned the great power competition requires that we maintain a credible strategic deterrence. What contributions will our modernized nuclear triad system contribute to European stability and security to the NATO alliance and to our homeland defense specifically in regards to the B-61 and the W-762?
SCAPARROTTI: Well specifically it's -- I think it's just simply that strategic deterrent is the -- is a foundation of our deterrence, frankly it's the most critical part and we've got two adversaries, at least the two prominent adversaries in Russia and China who are well into their modernization.
So our triad has to be modernized and in order to present that credible deterrent, and I think the investment that's being made is correct and it's necessary.
DESJARLAIS: And do you think the low yield -- the development on our part is essential?
SCAPARROTTI: I do, I can -- I can talk to that more in a closed session, but I think it plays a vital role in this, yes.
DESJARLAIS: OK, you mentioned China and Russia's advancement in their modernization. Can you elaborate a little further exactly where they're at compared to where we're at or where we need to be?
SCAPARROTTI: I -- I missed that, sir.
DESJARLAIS: I said, you mentioned where China and Russia are at in their modernization, how does that compare and contrast to where we're at or where we need to be?
SCAPARROTTI: They're more advanced in theirs than we are.
DESJARLAIS: OK, in your testimony, you discussed Russia's whole of society approach towards undermining U.S. and European objectives. Among other things, you specifically mention Russia's use of religious leverage; could you elaborate on this whole of society approach and specifically what is meant by religious leverage?
SCAPARROTTI: For instance, in -- in Eastern Europe, the Orthodox Church is a very fundamental part of the fabric there, of lives. It's -- and it's the Russian Orthodox Church. In -- in some countries like Ukraine, they've made a decision to have a separate orthodox church, Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
That is being contested by the -- by the Russian leadership and by the Russian government itself. They -- they -- and I believe that they promote the Russian government's messaging and preferences through that religious capability.
DESJARLAIS: OK, I also have another question or two about ISR and hypersonic development; I think that would be best served in the classified setting. So thank you and I yield back.
SMITH: (OFF MIKE)
DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you both for being here, and General Scaparrotti best wishes to you as well. I wanted to go back; I know you had a discussion about NATO and the uncertainty that may perhaps our allies have in the region. I wonder if you could just really speak to that specifically what you see and whether there is an acknowledgement even here, how would you like to see that better promoted of the really the benefits of the alliance to the United States.
Do you feel that that's been undermined to a great extent, minus -- minimal extent, could you -- could you speak about that a little bit more?
SCAPARROTTI: Well I think that first of all, you know, there's a recent poll that I saw and I can't quote where it came from, but it stated that at least the support within the United States public for NATO had come up this year, I saw it when it was in Brussels here not long ago.
And that's a good indicator of the conversation we've had about NATO and our public's realization of the importance of the Euro Atlantic security. So I think that's improved actually because of the debate.
There's a part of this, and I think it's true in Europe, where we had gone a long time period where we really didn't talk about NATO, we just kind of assumed it's important, everybody knew that.
So this discussion has actually helped in some ways. The second I would say is what we need to do is we need to understand that we need to -- we need to be collaborative with our allies.
The nations in NATO understand that each nation in its sovereignty makes decisions and that they won't always be in agreement among -- you know, among the allies. But what they ask for is collaboration.
And so, you know, that's what I would say is probably the most important, is making sure that we bring them in, that we're talking to them. When we did the INF here in the latter two stages in December and February, we were in discussion with them and we got a strong statement in support of that, because we worked it as we went through it.
DAVIS: Ms. Wheelbarger, would you like to respond to that as well? If you could incorporate also the whole of government approach, we -- we -- you know, we talk about that, but we also know that often at the State Department, our diplomatic efforts and the fact that we don't have ambassadors in places that we should, that that certainly compromises our ability to project power -- soft power if you will.
WHEELBARGER: Sure. So, the NATO alliance is obviously a military alliance, a security alliance, but they have a diplomatic component as well. And there's foreign ministerials as often as there are defense ministerials. So it is very important that the alliance -- as we are with all our partnerships, quite frankly, that we look at them in a whole-of-government context. Our country teams are very important around the world. Obviously, having ambassadors in place helps us a great deal and having stability and continuity of messaging and highlighting the importance of our partnerships.
So I do encourage the Senate to move forward on any pending nominations because I feel it is extremely important to our ...
DAVIS: Do you feel that -- that that has been true, that we've been able to counter some of the Russian disinformation campaigns that we've seen? Has that approach worked?
WHEELBARGER: I do think we are having successes. As we discussed earlier, we could most certainly always do more. We do need to make sure, for example, the Global Engagement Center that we discussed earlier today is as robustly staffed and pushing forward as their mission as they can be. We are -- we are in close coordination with them on a daily basis to try to encourage as much interagency cooperation and forward-leaning activity as we can.
It's -- you know, it's a monumental challenge to try to stay both strategically on message but tactically agile in this space. And it's something that I do actually think we've seen successes as -- both bilaterally as well as in the alliance in getting after the information operations challenge.
DAVIS: Yes. General, you've seen a lot in the European theater. What -- what is it that wouldn't surprise you if you were to look at a paper two years from now and see some changes?
SCAPARROTTI: What would surprise me ...
DAVIS: Just a little of the, what keeps you up at night question. But I'm just wondering, as you're -- as you're leaving, what you can share with us in this setting that we ought to pay attention to.
SCAPARROTTI: Well, I kind of usually answer that in two ways, frankly. One is that -- that we're in close proximity with Russian Forces in a number of areas today. And at times, they're very aggressive in their -- in their activity. And that I'm concerned about. We have very disciplined forces but Russia will occasionally put our -- particularly our ships' captains in a tight spot with their maneuvers. And that's one. The other is ...
SMITH: I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to wrap up so we can get to other people. If you had a quick summary? I don't want to cut you off midsentence, but ...
SCAPARROTTI: And the second one -- the second one is Balkans. DAVIS: Thank you.
SMITH: Mr. Bacon.
BACON: Thank you, Chairman. And I appreciate both of you being here today. Very grateful to hear your -- your thoughts. And General Scaparrotti, I think forward presence is a big part of deterrence. And of course, over the last 25 years, we've cut that down by about half in your theater. I also think a big part is training and equipping our allies in the forward line there. And you've talked a little bit about Poland; we're having some negotiations now.
Can you talk more about the Baltics? Because I think they're the most vulnerable. What more can we do to ensure or build deterrence with our Baltic friends?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, we -- we are now presently making sure that we -- we have troops there, as I said, just about all the time. I think to do more is to continue to build their capability with them, to have our forces present. We try to rotate our units out of that rotation. We unit there (ph) as quick -- as often as we can. So that's one, we got to continue to work with them. We need to continue to understand their plan, vis-a-vis ours, so that we know that we're nested. I think that in terms of our capabilities and theirs and indirect activity below the level of warfare is very important there because that's really Russia's first -- first objective. And we can do much in that area as well. And then probably intelligence. Because there, again, we're best as allies.
They have some -- some very good intelligence capabilities that we just don't have.
BACON: I've been very impressed with all three states in my travels there. Is there any interest or need for permanent air basing there, or surface-to-air missile type basing, in any of those three countries?
SCAPARROTTI: I'd rather go into that in a closed session.
BACON: OK, thank you. Getting to a question that Mr. Wilson asked about our energy reliance on Russian gas with some of our bases; if I understood you correctly, you're saying you're studying this reliance on Russian gas now to include the new hospital?
SCAPARROTTI: With respect to the hospital, in fact there was a requirement in the NDAA to look at it from that perspective. My understanding is that's working through this ...
ACON: But we all put that in the NDAA last time. Because I am concerned -- I was the commander at Ramstein at one time. So I happen to know that some of our bases there, to include the new hospital, do intend on using Russian gas and it concerns me. Because in a time of crisis, the Russians could just turn that off and -- and is our concern well-founded? Or are we missing the boat here?
I just would love to get your impression of those. SCAPARROTTI: No, it's well-founded.
BACON: I've talked to some folks and if we are using this Russian gas and it gets turned off, we could be -- we could see some of our facilities down for two or three weeks. And I just think we have to have that resilience. So I guess I -- I would just make sure -- I would like to make sure I have your commitment or, or the EUCOM's commitment, that they're looking at this and building a resilience plan.
SCAPARROTTI: You do. You have that and you also can be assured that we look at how other fuels, et cetera, that we have to have, that we've got an assured delivery. So we look at it across the board.
BACON: Thank you. One last question on ISR. You've brought it up two years now that there's been a shortage. And I'm going to talk a little bit more about it here shortly. But there's a proposal, I've seen one, in the Pentagon that talks about doing away with our manned ISR and relying on space or RPAs. In a phase zero environment, how reliant are you on manned ISR right now?
SCAPARROTTI: I'm reliant on manned ISR, in a large way. But I would also ...
BACON: It's a loaded question, I realize. I just didn't want to hear how important it is to you because I think we need to keep it...
SCAPARROTTI: It's very important. But I also think a mix is important too. BACON: I agree.
SCAPARROTTI: A man -- a man in the loop there and driving it gives you some capabilities that an unmanned one doesn't. So I think both are important.
BACON: I absolutely agree we need a mix. But I don't think walking away from manned ISR anytime in the near future makes sense. Because I think in phase zero, that is a lion's share of your intelligence production. Is there a EUCOM requirement to utilize the -- the F-35 has extraordinary amount of sensors on board. And day-to-day operations in a phase two environment, that would be a big source of intelligence. Is there a requirement there to get that information off the plane, back to the AOC so the joint users can use that data?
SCAPARROTTI: Yes, there is. I can talk about that in closed session as well but it's an incredible aircraft.
BACON: That's great to hear. I yield back, Chairman. SMITH: (OFF MIC)
SHERRILL: Thank you. Thank you both for being here to testify today. I actually served at CINCUSNAVEUR as a Russian policy officer when it was in London. So I can tell you from personal experience how key our alliances are and our ability to project our power. And we have heard testimony in this committee about how key our alliances will be in our new National Defense Strategy.
So I think -- I was particularly concerned about reports from the Munich Defense Conference about the success of Iran in courting our allies, as we've seen a growing kind of schism between the United States and our traditional allies in Western Europe, politically speaking, at the very least.
And I was wondering if you -- I know you spoke a bit about Iran in the opening statements and I was wondering if you could comment on what you're seeing with respect to the influence of Iran and what we are doing to combat that influence.
WHEELBARGER: The -- our European partners obviously have some differences of opinion on some issues with respect to Iran, the JCPOA being one of them.
From our perspective and the Department of Defense are goals of the last two years have been very much to stay aligned at a mil-to-mil or MOD level to make sure that we have a shared understanding of the threat, particularly the -- the multi-nature of it whether it be the cyber threat, the ballistic missile threat, you know the Maritime threat.
And so our view is to -- we've done -- most of our work is focused on making sure aligned in how we see the threat and what joint effort, whether they be planning or -- or messaging we can do to contest it.
So we actively engage our European partners. It's true that we -- again, we have differences of opinion about the JCPOA and we've been attempting to keep the mil-to-mil and MOD relationship strong so we can both understand the threat and be prepared to respond if we -- if we can and need to together.
SLOTKIN: And do you think that is resonating with our allies that they understand the threat that Iran poses?
WHEELBARGER: I do think there is an increasing understanding and particular with respect to the ballistic missile challenge, I think the threats emanating from Yemen, in particular into Saudi Arabia and UAE that pose a significant real day-to-day threat to our partners in that region and -- and potentially risks a regional conflict in a way that nobody wants to see.
There is an increasing understanding of that challenge. I mean we're even seeing some of our European partners start talking again about sanctions that related to the missile programs. So those are the sorts of activities that would -- that the Department of Defense is very much focused on with respect to Europe and Iran.
SLOTKIN: Great. And then just to give some context, do you have a sense of what percentage of the telecom infrastructure at China has been involved in, in Europe?
SCAPARROTTI: What I'd like to do, I can give you that in the closed session but it is -- I would just say that there's substantial involvement in -- in telecommunications in specific countries, some included NATO -- NATO countries.
SLOTKIN: Great. Thank you both. I yield back
SMITH: Thank you. As I mentioned at the outset, we have a hard stop at noon as the questions have sort of generated here. There is a lot of stuff to talk about in a classified setting. So I'm going to stick to that, which means in all likelihood Mr. Gallagher and Ms. Luria are the last two people who are going to ask questions unless they do it really quick, so we'll see. Mr. Gallagher, you're up.
GALLAGHER: First of all, I would agree with what the chairman said earlier that any cost plus 50 demand on our allies would be, I forget the adjective he used, monstrously stupid, something to that effect, stupendously ill advised, extravagantly dumb. I just think it's the wrong to be sending that message and like to go on record as agreeing with chairman in that regard.
I didn't want to pull the string on the earlier line of questioning, General Scaparrotti, help us tease out sort of the operational implications of companies like Huawei and ZTE signing contracts with Germany or take your pick, European allies. Just what does that actually mean from an operational perspective, how does it affect you as a theater commander?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, we're concerned about their telecommunications backbone being compromised in the sense that particularly with 5G, the bandwidth capability and the ability to -- to pull data is incredible.
And with that system you also tend to get an Internet of things. So its influence is much greater. This is -- this is a big difference from 4G and because of that, it would have critical impact on our ability just to communicate with those nations, some of which are NATO nations. Now secondly, if it also was inside of their defense communications then were not going to communicate with them across the division defense communications. And for the military that would be a problem.
GALLAGHER: Are there ways to mitigate that problem from your perspective besides convincing them not to sign those contracts in the first place?
SCAPARROTTI: Probably best to ask to someone that does this, but to my knowledge right now, to be sure that we have a secure system, I don't know of one.
GALLAGHER: Ms. Wheelbarger, do you have anything to add to that?
WHEELBARGER: Yes. Having looked into Huawei quite a bit a few years ago, I realized the challenges of even having a mitigation plan or strategy for the 4G infrastructure given the sort of generational shift that it is between 4G and 5G. I am not aware of something that would give us the kind of security we would need to mitigate the challenges this would impose on us.
GALLAGHER: Appreciate that. General, I know you're a ground guy, but something we're trying to pay more attention to, on the Seapower subcommittee is mine warfare, since War World II sea mines have damaged or sunk four times more U.S. Navy ships and all other means of attack, do we have a capacity and capabilities gap in the Mediterranean with respect to the Russian mine threat? Just would be interesting thoughts on that.
SCAPARROTTI: Within that capability we rely on our -- on our allies to provide part of that. I think with our allies we're -- we're doing pretty good. But as a U.S. only, I would say we probably have a gap but -- but we again that's one of those were, you know, you look at your allies what capabilities they have and where can they do a mission so that we can apply our capabilities in other areas. So I'm -- I'm pretty comfortable with it right now.
GALLAGHER: And then there was an earlier line of questioning, I forget form who that seemed to suggest that investments in tanks in Eastern Europe were not as efficacious as perhaps investment in cyber or it was an either/or scenario. I'd like to give you a chance to respond to that. I mean what role do systems like tanks play doing deterrents by denial in -- in Eastern Europe?
SCAPARROTTI: Yes, I'm glad you allowed me to come back to that. It's not an either/or.
Today's world this is a multi-domain environment that we're in and the Russians have a very credible and increasing mechanized armor capability, particularly in the -- in the -- in our East across the border. And you can't say it's simply one or the other. It's all things cyber connected to that.
GALLAGHER: I appreciate that and I yield the balance of my time.
HILL: You ready? I just didn't have my stuff out. Give me a moment. Ms. Luria, can I trade with you?
LURIA: Well, General Scaparrotti and Ms. Wheelbarger, thank you for being here today. General Scaparrotti, in your prepared remarks you noted the increase in Russian maritime presence in the eastern Mediterranean and the deployment of the submarine deployment (ph) in the northern Atlantic and the past 15 years we've really focused our naval efforts in both the CENTCOM and the PACOM AORS.
Does this submarine deployment and other Russian naval activity increase the need that you have for U.S. naval present and EUCOM?
SCAPARROTTI: Yes. That's the basis of my -- my request for increase. We, for instance in the Med, we saw the largest to grouping of Russian ships in probably 15 years. It was, you know, eight caliber shooters, 12 ships total.
LURIA: And so to add to that public reporting shows that those Russian ships are also operating in coordination with the Chinese in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean is that correct?
SCAPARROTTI: I wouldn't go so far as to say in coordination; they do train together from time to time in small numbers.
LURIA: So NATO has four standing NATO Maritime groups, SNGMs. I'm particularly interested in SNMG1 and 2, so in the past three years has a U.S. provided consistent rotational presence for both of these maritime groups?
SCAPARROTTI: I think we -- we provided the presence that they expect. We rely on our NATOs to fill -- you know, our NATO allies to fill those mostly.
LURIA: So we don't consistently participate? Am I correct in saying that we've only participated in the last four years when were the flagship in charge of the group?
SCAPARROTTI: Usually when we're the flagship. That's correct. But we typically have ships that are also at sea in other areas. So I think, again, this is one of those where you look at what capabilities you have and what nations can provide and what we're best a providing.
LURIA: So you know, having operated with NATO allies, I know that it takes a long time to fold in, to become proficient in the C2 architecture operating with NATO. So if we don't consistently operate with our NATO allies and have that practice and officers and crews who are knowledgeable about how to integrate with those C2 systems, does it really reinforce our commitment to NATO that, when we show up to the fight, we're ready to fight in a coordinated way?
SCAPARROTTI: We -- we work in a C2 architecture with NATO every day, 24 hours a day. And we can -- we can bring a ship in and out, connect and disconnect. We keep that architecture, both air and sea, up.
An example of that was the fires (ph) into Syria (ph) with two of our NATO allies, put together in about 72 hours, a very intricate, high-end mission. And we executed it time on target. So to your point, we do have to work with them, but it doesn't necessarily mean they've got to be in that group. But we do have to work with them throughout exercises and day-to-day.
LURIA: OK. And shifting topics, did the navy provide your requested carrier presence in F.Y. '19? And saying that this is an unclassified setting, would you classify that as roughly one-half, one-third of what you requested did you actually receive?
SCAPARROTTI: I would say no, and it was less than half.
LURIA: And we've shifted to the Optimized Fleet Response Plan, the OFRP, and that creates more surge capability than it does actual deployed capability for our naval forces. As a combatant commander, which of those two is most important to you for doing your mission?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, again, mine is predictability. LURIA: Right. So is it ...
SCAPARROTTI: And -- and ...
LURIA: ... more important for you to have presence in the Mediterranean, in the Northern Atlantic, or to have the ships ready a week away, next to the pier in Norfolk and Mayport (ph)?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, to answer your question, the -- the -- the system that the navy has shifted to has actually given more capability at the times that I need it in very large ways, like Trident Juncture, and in an unpredictable pattern, you know, for our adversaries. So it has improved. It's not everything that I want. LURIA: OK, thank you. I yield my time.
SMITH: Thank you. If I may, Ms. Hill, I'm going to do this a little awkwardly here. Just not worth getting into, but we're going to take Ms. Hartzler and Ms. Hill before we get done. Well, we'll just do it that way. So Ms. Hartzler, we recognize you for five, and after this, I recognize Ms. Hill for five minutes.
HARTZLER: Great. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'd like... SMITH: You are not obligated to take all five, however. But...
HARTZLER: You bet -- you bet. I'm going to talk quick, follow up on two lines of questioning from earlier. To expand a little bit, you mentioned and we talked about the Chinese influence and -- in Europe and their economic presence. You mentioned the seaport investments, airport.
But last year, we had a joint military exercise between China and Russia. And I don't believe we've talked about that yet. And so, can you discuss some of China's military objectives in the region and what we should take away from such partnership events as the 2018 Russia and China war games?
SCAPARROTTI: Well, I think it was just to show some unity when they can. Those -- they did take part in a -- in the war games in Russia's eastern command this year. But while significant in the fact that the two were working together and we should recognize that, it was not -- it was not all that that Russia promoted it to be.
And again in terms of their operations within Europe, again, it's in small numbers not -- not highly involved operations when they do it, or at least exercises. But it's becoming routine. And - - and again, we need to -- we need to pay attention to that. I think their objective is -- China's objective is to just show their presence in Europe, and it's not only in an economic way, but in small ways with their military.
HARTZLER: OK, great. And we talked about the infrastructure issues, the freedom of movement. I was encouraged to hear about moving the brigades and the advancements we've had, been specifically with railroad track gauges, this is something that came to our attention through this committee a couple years ago and I've been -- I've been really trying to focus in on this, and can you tell me kind of what is being done to address some of these challenges?
SCAPARROTTI: That is predominately, as I noted before, that's the work that we're doing through NATO and E.U. to focus that infrastructure funding that they're doing on things like that, and that's one of the major ones. It's still not resolved.
HARTZLER: Is there any discussion taking place about changing the railcar capabilities versus the gauges? I'm just -- I come from a farm equipment background and my first thought was, why can't you just have the wheels on the actual railroad car be able to move in move out?
SCAPARROTTI: I don't know the answer to that question.
HARTZLER: All right. Well, might be something worth pursuing. But thank you very much and I yield back. Thank you.
HILL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman for dealing with me, making the situation awkward, particularly when I sit down at the wrong chair and can't find my questions. But Ms. Wheelbarger and General Scaparrotti, thank you for being here.
In 2018, Greek officials said that there was irrefutable evidence that Russia was working to interfere with negotiations over North Macedonia's name change and its accession to NATO. Can you describe what that was as what the U.S. and other alliance members' counter response was?
WHEELBARGER: Yes, I think we saw the basic behavior that we typically see from Russia, which is information operations, attempting to sow discord within North Macedonia, to suggest that NATO was not in their future, that the east was the way (ph) to their future. So it was really across the spectrum of what we see from Russia.
I think what I -- we said we discussed a little bit earlier, they did not have the success they were expecting. I think in some ways I heard from the North Macedonian's recently that Russia efforts to undermine NATO actually worked against them.
NATO had a very strong standing within North Macedonian society and that we were able to -- the North Macedonians themselves did a very effective job in countering those messages and getting out in front of the messages before they were even sent from the Russians.
SCAPARROTTI: I would agree.
HILL: Great, thank you. And what has the U.S. been doing right or wrong in the Balkans? And I'll continue with that so you don't have to answer multiple things. But what risks still exists and what more should be done?
WHEELBARGER: As General Scaparrotti said earlier, the Balkans remains one of our areas of most concern. It has a historical legacy of fomenting discord. I think the Russians are very much active there to -- whether it be religion, ethnicity or other aspects of society. In all these countries, they are seeking to pull -- pull them apart and pull away from the West.
I think in terms of what we can -- we can always do more to influence their decision-making and try to bring societies there along to the west. I think a particular concern for us right now is the ongoing challenges of between Kosovo and Serbia, and we really -- we have to serve (ph) a whole of government effort to try to get them back to the table to resolve their differences.
I think we could probably be better making sure, just in general, that our messages as a government are -- are aligned, so they understand clearly that -- that we want them to negotiators amongst themselves and that we see them being in both Serbia and Kosovo, is they were to do so quickly.
SCAPARROTTI: I would just leave it at that in the sense that you know, I think a -- a redoubled effort within Kosovo and Serbia for their resolution of those problems, as well as what comes beyond the Dayton Accord within Bosnia. Just a -- a renewed focus from the west, I think would go a long way because the people need to see that we're still -- we're still engaged and supportive of their desire to look west.
HILL: And when you say consistency, where is that disconnect there? What -- where do you see that manifesting in?
WHEELBARGER: Maybe for closed-door, I can explain little bit more. But I just think we -- we need to make sure that we are always explaining that -- that all of their tools should be on their table to solve this and bring to normalization in the best interest of those two countries. There's ongoing disputes about the tariffs, for example in Kosovo, and how we should be addressing that challenge. I think we need to be putting this always in the broader context, as what's the best for the two countries.
HILL: Thank you so much, and I yield back. SCAPARROTTI: Thank you, sir.